The player can perform various missions for different factions, but it is not required to complete every mission available. A mission involves one or multiple objectives that include stealing, delivery, retrieval, or destruction of certain items or vehicles, assassinating targets, and destruction of an enemy camp or stronghold.
Often, a mission provides a bonus goal which may be completed for extra cash. AN missions are usually taxi and escort missions, whereas Mafia-instructed missions are somewhat more stealth-oriented, and SK and Chinese missions usually have the player take orders from one faction to harm the other one. A mission may upset another faction, although this can be prevented to some degree if the player engages the mission with stealth. The completion of a mission rewards the mercenary with cash, increase in the faction's disposition, and tips regarding the Deck of 52; it occasionally unlocks items, vehicles, or airstrikes.
Throughout the game, the player is tasked with hunting down and "verifying" 13 targets of a "suit. After every verification the player is awarded with "Intelligence" and cash, which is usually doubled if the target is captured alive. In a suit, the number cards from 2 to 10 are located throughout the in-game region, and they can be found by exploration or by receiving tips from friendly factions usually after the completion of a mission.
A "face card mission" often involves specific objectives for the faction in addition to verifying the target. However, it is not necessary to verify all members of a suit to progress through the game. The player must gain only enough Intelligence by verifying targets before the AN gives the player the Ace contract. The Ace, the most important figure in a suit, is located in an isolated, often heavily fortified area, where the player is dropped off.
The Ace contract usually consists of a variety of required and optional objectives that can be accessed in multiple routes, before the Ace is available for verification. After the Ace is verified, the player is transported back to the main region to hunt down another suit of targets. If the player attempts to leave the game world leaving N. Korea , they will effectively enter a restricted area where either the AN Task Force or the North Koreans have supreme air power in those areas. Entering these areas immediately prompts you with a warning message either by an unnamed Allied radio operator or by your support operative, respectively telling you to get out quick.
Choosing to ignore this warning prompts another message, informing that enemy planes are inbound. This is followed by three fighters appearing to shoot the player down with a large salvo of explosives that are impossible to completely dodge and tough to survive. These are areas that usually surround the province with the exception of the Black Gate until after the Ace of Clubs is verified and are marked in red. After years of military tension, the aging President Choi Kim of North Korea begins to embrace the " Sunshine Policy " of South Korea, reviving hopes of peaceful reunification of the two Korean countries.
However, high-ranking members of the Korean People's Army become disgruntled with the turn of events, fearing a dramatic loss of their power. Their leader, the brilliant and ruthless Choi Song, believes that his father, President Kim, was losing sight of "North Korea's true destiny. Both North and South Korean political leaders are shot and killed, and Song is reported to have deliberately killed his own father in the process. After the successful coup , General Song then severs all contact with the outside world.
The whole country goes "dark" for many weeks, until a North Korean freighter, by accident, was discovered to contain a small but potent nuclear weapon bound for an Indonesian terrorist front. Various intelligence agencies in the world subsequently found North Korea's missile capability to be far more advanced than previously expected.
The multinational troops toppled Song's government and captured the launch sites, only to discover that North Korea was building more nuclear warheads at another unknown launch site. The missiles were to be completed in three weeks, and only the elusive General Song had the launch codes. With millions of lives at risk, the AN had no choice but occupy the region and search for Song.
The remnants of the North Korean military fiercely resist the foreign invaders, and the AN began to be pushed back. The Russian Mafia infiltrates the country, hoping to exploit the chaos and establish a black market. In addition, Chinese and South Korean troops move into North Korea, each intent on establishing a government under Beijing's or Seoul's agenda. Unable to maintain control or find Song, the AN distributes a "most wanted" list in the form of a " Deck of 52 ," consisting of key figures of the North Korean criminal underground, businessmen, weapon scientists, and military leaders under Song's leadership.
As soon as the merc hits the ground in the middle of the chaos, the player assumes control, beginning his or her manhunt for the "Deck of 52". The mercenary can accept contracts of any factions to gain intelligence, cash, air support options, and the faction's favor.
With the gathered intelligence, or by exploration of the region, the mercenary comes across numerous "number cards" and "face cards" to "verify" kill or capture , claiming the bounties. When enough intelligence is gathered, he or she accepts an Ace contract from the AN, and breaks through to an enemy stronghold to verify the "Ace. Through various contracts, the mercenary proceeds up the "Deck of 52," and finally is given the Ace of Spades contract.
After a long battle against defending North Korean forces at the missile launch site, the mercenary manages to acquire the launch codes and disable the missiles. After rescuing the imprisoned President Kim who was in fact alive and seizing control of Song's fortress, the mercenary manages to verify General Song. Depending on whether or not the player is able to upload the abort codes in time, the game ends with a GSRN reporter stating that the missiles exploded in flight or that Seoul, among other major cities, has been destroyed. The Normans.
What little is out there encompasses the events surrounding and including the Norman Conquest of England more than anything else. There is also some scattering of historical fiction that is set with the Saxons pre Conquest, and then the Normans post Conquest. But unless you are willing to skip over into the historical romance and Chick lit historical fiction which I am not , then even I find that when it comes to historical fiction not enough is written of this era or these people.
But unless you are willing to skip over into the historical romance and Chick lit historical fiction which I am not , then even these are few and far between. When I found Mercenaries I had little expectation and if I did expect anything, I did not expect much.
I had heard nothing about the book or the two following books that make up this trilogy. I have never read a Jack Ludlow either so that was breaking new ground for me as well. Despite all my reserves going into the book I found that I actually enjoyed it and for me it was a 4 out of 5 stars book.
Mercenaries is set in Italy mostly. Pre Conquest, pre everything that the majority of people associate the Normans with. And in my experience, the majority of people seem to think they came from nowhere a few years before they set sail for England and then assimilated and vanished soon after, which technically, in regards to the vanishing, they did. Being Northmen and Vikings by blood, that's what the Normans did best. Conquer, mix with the populace, assimilate and dilute their blood.
They wiped themselves out by doing this, which isn't exactly a bad thing mayhaps as I have heard some speak of the Normans in the same breath as the word Nazis. I will give that debate a wide berth however. Kicking off on the Norman and French border in , we are introduced to our main characters as children, William and Drogo de Hauteville.
Sons of Tancred de Hauteville. Real characters from history brought to fictional life. In fact most of Ludlow's characters are based on real men. Some I was familiar with, and some I was not. The book does not stay with William and Drogo as children for long and within a hundred pages they are young talented warriors setting out to become mercenaries in Italy. They are successful in their new careers and soon cross paths with Guaimar, the heir to Salerno.
Another real life character who was responsible for persuading the Emperor, Conrad Augustus, to clash with Pandulf of Capua. Following this, William and Drogo find themselves moving on to new battle grounds against the Saracens, where they cement their reputations as formidable leaders and warriors. The flaws of the book were not too aggravating.
There is no flowery or poetic prose and I missed it. While the writing is technically okay, it lacked in historical description and the characters were rather one dimensional. I also have a grievance with the edition I had. It was over pages, but the font was more like a large print copy. Printed for those with poor eyesight. The spacing between lines was broad, and the font too big. I saw another edition had about pages and I suspect that is the edition I would have preferred to read as the large font edition messed with my concentration. Took away some of my ability to absorb the story.
This factor does not reflect in my rating though.
There is promise of a great trilogy here with the Conquest Series by Ludlow. And since this is an era that I have much interest in, which as mentioned earlier is oft neglected by historical fiction authors, I will definitely be going on to read the next two books in the trilogy.
View all 6 comments. Nov 12, Dawn rated it liked it Shelves: historical-fiction , locale-italy , read I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did.
I was expecting another half-assed, poorly written, overly macho book similar to the rest of the boys own adventure historical fiction stories already out there. I was surprised when I ended up liking the characters and finding the story quite compelling. It has it's issues with character development and the flow of the storyline but all in all I thought it good and worth finding the rest of the trilogy. View all 4 comments. Jun 15, Deborah Ideiosepius rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Anyone who loves historical battles.
Shelves: reading-challenge , europe , historic-fiction. As well as their first real battle it is an exposure to their first political encounter with the duke of the area. As result of that encounter the two oldest sons of Tancred de Hauteville decide to take the road to Italy where they find employment as mercenaries since the battle skills of Normans are much in demand there.
This is an Italy divided into states, the politics are different but even more intense; the Eastern empire of Byzantium claims some states, the Western Christians claim others, the Saracens have taken Sicily. There is historical intrigue, battles and a few very interesting characters to follow the story through. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and the icing on the cake was a mention of the Varangians at the end when the brothers go to Sicily. I finished this book and hopped straight online to buy the next two. I can't wait for more! Jan 21, Laurentiu Lazar rated it really liked it Shelves: Moreover, the author's style of writing is a bit frigid which made me feel morose and dull, and on several occasions I began questioning my decision to start this book.
Fortunately, curiosity kept me going and patience paid off in the end since the more I read, the more used I got to his style and I have actually enjoyed it. The book ends with the defeat of Syracuse, the return to Salerno and sudden departure to Melfi into Apulia. The characters are so flat and one-dimensional that I have felt no care for any of them — money and land being their only goal.
The Battle of Wits!
I particularly enjoyed the stand-off between William and the emir of Syracuse Rashid al Farza, being the only true fight in the entire book with enough detail to satisfy my deep hunger. I recommend it to persons fascinated with history. Oct 27, Beorn rated it did not like it Shelves: historical-fiction. As I already own the two subsequent books in the series I decided to make an effort with this book but it's just so bland, relatively aloof and filled with semi-pretentious dialogue that you neither empathise with any of the characters, particularly care what happens in the plot or anything you read.
Feb 16, Anne rated it really liked it Recommends it for: mature readers. Shelves: europe , historical. I found this book very interesting and above all easy to read. It is basically the stories of two families, Guaimar and Berengara, brother and sister who have had their inheritance stolen by the evil Panulf. The others are the brothers of the family deHauteville, Norman mercenaries. This book centers mostly on the first two brothers, William and Drogo. I enjoyed the intertwining of the two stories, especially those of Guaimar I found this book very interesting and above all easy to read.
I enjoyed the intertwining of the two stories, especially those of Guaimar and Berengara. I will probably continue the series. Feb 01, Mark rated it liked it. Worth reading, The book is very good, it maybe better to judge it after reading the others in the series. I gave it 3stars but it may get more after reading the others. The characters are in some ways a bit one sided, but this did improve as the book went on. Fight and battle scene are not very bloody, in fact to me very clinical clean but this me who mainly reads fantasy.
I will be reading the others. There is a lot of riding to and fro, arriving at camp, making camp, leaving, more riding, descriptions, descriptions and more descriptions and explanations and generally very little happening. Not keeping my attention, sorry View all 3 comments. Apr 25, Antonio rated it really liked it Shelves: hystory.
Mercenaries can be invaluable in that they generally are able to fill soldier roles that your faction may be weak in, such as Zuna Crossbowmen filling the Darknut gap in archers.
Mercenaries differ from regular units in several ways: they are recruited outside of settlements; they have no recruitment time and can be hired as soon as the player has enough rupees to pay for them, and each mercenary type is only available in certain regions. Mercenaries usually cost more rupees to recruit and pay upkeep than equivalent non-mercenary units.