Death's Head: Maximum Offense (Death's Head Series #2) [NOOK Book]

Overview

With Death’s Head, David Gunn rocketed onto the scene in the most explosive and entertaining science fiction debut since Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon. Now Gunn is back–and so is Sven Tveskoeg: antisocial, antihero, anti-you-name-it, a one-man killing spree whose best friend is an intelligent handgun with a bad attitude and whose worst enemy is, well, just about everybody else.

And if Sven weren’t dangerous enough already, add in the lethal ...
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Death's Head: Maximum Offense (Death's Head Series #2)

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Overview

With Death’s Head, David Gunn rocketed onto the scene in the most explosive and entertaining science fiction debut since Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon. Now Gunn is back–and so is Sven Tveskoeg: antisocial, antihero, anti-you-name-it, a one-man killing spree whose best friend is an intelligent handgun with a bad attitude and whose worst enemy is, well, just about everybody else.

And if Sven weren’t dangerous enough already, add in the lethal alien parasite that resides in his throat . . . and is capable of bending space and time. Then there’s the fact that Sven’s genetic makeup is only 98.2 percent human, the rest being undetermined but possibly contributing to his enhanced healing abilities, superior strength, unusual agility, and notable sociopathic tendencies. The result is one seriously badass soldier with a hair-trigger temper and a chip on his shoulder the size of a small moon. These are qualities that would doom a man to prison or worse in any decent society.

Luckily, Sven doesn’t live in a decent society. He lives in the empire of OctoV, a tyrant who is part machine, part boy, part god, and all evil. Sven’s qualities have brought him to OctoV’s personal attention and earned him a lieutenant’s commission in the Death’s Head, the elite corps of assassins and enforcers whose purpose in life is to kill and die for the greater glory of OctoV.

Sven’s new assignment? Lead his ragtag band of Death’s Head rejects–the Aux, short for auxiliaries–to the artificial world of Hekati. It seems that a citizen of the United Free, an empire not only vaster than OctoV’s but far more technologically advanced, has gone missing there. Now it’s up to Sven to rescue the poor soul.

But Hekati turns out to be a vicious den of backstabbing and betrayal, where nothing and no one can be trusted, least of all the greenhorn colonel put in charge of the mission at the last moment. It looks like somebody wants Sven Tveskoeg dead.

So what else is new?


From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Further adventures-bloody warfare, loyalty tests, ethical dilemmas, the plight of innocent civilians-of ex-foreign legionary sergeant Sven Tveskoeg. Sven, now a decorated, elite Death's Head brigade lieutenant with his own squad, the Aux, receives new orders from his boss, General Indigo Jaxx: Emperor OctoV has seconded him to assist Paper Osamu, ambassador of the snobbish, highly advanced U/Free. In the blink of an eye, Sven and company are struggling to survive on a bleak, frigid chunk of rock, having been sabotaged before they could land, then assaulted by insensate savages. Naturally, when Sven finds the mission is nothing more than an elaborate test-one of his troopers lies dead-he kills the U/Free responsible. (Death, though, for the U/Free isn't permanent.) At last the real mission begins: Sven's group must recover a missing U/Free observer on a "deserted" ringworld-deserted, this is, except for enemy cyborg Enlightened, select troops and numerous hostile, savage or just plain terrified human survivors. Complicating matters, Sven must babysit and take orders from a teenaged colonel . . . Jaxx's son. Worse, the Aux find themselves fighting not only the Enlightened and the savages but an entire regiment of Death's Head deserters. In the sardonically amusing first half, Sven's snarky smart gun, the SIG-37, provides plenty of verbal firepower; the second half, much darker and more ethically challenging, presents ugly truths that no Death's Head fan will want to miss.
From the Publisher

“Gunn is an excellent storyteller. . . . ‘Action packed’ doesn’t come close to describing this tale.”—SciFiDimensions

“Sven’s snarky smart gun, the SIG-37, provides plenty of verbal firepower.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Addictive . . . military SF that moves faster than the speed of light.”—BookLoons

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345507808
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/29/2008
  • Series: Death's Head Series, #2
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 184,959
  • File size: 534 KB

Meet the Author

Smartly dressed, resourceful, and discreet, David Gunn has undertaken assignments in Central America, the Middle East, and Russia (among numerous other places). Coming from a service family, he is happiest when on the move and tends not to stay in one town or city for very long. The author of Death’s Head, Gunn lives in the United Kingdom.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The man spins around, knife already drawn, and hesitates. It’s not his fight. Anyway, he’s in Farlight only for OctoV’s birthday, unloading luxuries from a cargo ship on the edge of a landing site. And his knife is new, bought that afternoon from a stall in the road behind Golden Memories.

He doesn’t feel ready to use it yet.

A wise choice. Someone is about to get hurt, and it doesn’t have to be him. That someone is standing in my doorway. And half of my bar door swings from a rusted hinge, while the rest lies at his feet.

“Shut it,” I say.

A girl next to me does.

I am not sure she knows she screamed.

This is my bar, but it is Aptitude’s home, and she’s family. At least she is until her mother and father get out of prison.

“Sven,” she says.

“Later . . .” My gaze flicks across the room and settles on a wiry young man with a pointed face, floppy hair, and narrow shoulders. He’s reaching into his jacket. At a shake of my head, he lets go of his revolver.

Neen’s twenty-one.

In the field he’s my sergeant, but we’re not in the field; we’re on leave. So he’s running security for a bar I own on the outskirts of this city.

Raising his glass, Neen grins. He, for one, obviously intends to enjoy tonight’s show. As we watch, the man in my doorway jacks the slide on an oversized pistol and takes a slow look around to check that we’ve noticed.

“Sven.”

Aptitude is getting nervous.

I smile, but it is at another girl entirely. Wandering over, she sits on my lap and snuggles up to me. Aptitude scowls to see me slide my hand up Lisa’s skirt. What she doesn’t see is the knife I take from Lisa’s garter.

“Subtle,” says a voice. “Understated, anything but obvious.”

The intruder believes that my gun is talking about him. He has pegged my corner of the room for the comment, but he can’t work out who’s to blame. As the man lumbers over, Lady Aptitude Tezuka Wildeside leans back in her chair.

“You,” he says. “Got something to say?”

She shakes her head frantically.

Satisfied, the man starts to turn away. Big mistake. Turning Lisa off my lap, I pick up my chair and smash it over the back of his skull. He drops, but only to his knees.

“Finish it,” Aptitude says.

“Not yet. I’m enjoying myself.”

“Sven.”

Clambering to his feet, the thug stares at me.

“Yeah,” I say. “I’m Sven Tveskoeg.” How many seven-foot-tall ex- legionnaires can he see in this bar?

Behind the man stands another: Federico Van Zill, provider of protection to half the bars and brothels edging the landing fields below Calinda Gap. A rumor says the war against the Uplifted will be over soon.

That is bad for Van Zill.

As long as we’re at war, there’s a chance I’ll be killed and my troopers with me. An end to the war would mean Van Zill gets some permanent competition. Peace isn’t going to happen, of course. And it’s disloyal, unwise, and probably treasonous to suggest otherwise. However, Federico Van Zill is an idiot, so I’ve been expecting this visit.

When Van Zill’s thug pulls a knife, I laugh.

It’s huge, with slots cut into the back of the blade. The slots are meant to say, This is a man ready to drag his enemy’s entrails through an open gut wound. You can tell a lot about a man from the knife he chooses.

You can tell a lot about a woman, too.

The blade I take from Lisa’s garter is a third the size. It lacks teeth, blood channels, and other finery, but it’s razor-sharp and made from glass.

All you have to do is stab once, then snap it off at the handle. You can buy ten for the price of the shiny toy in the hands of the man oppo- site me.

When Neen flashes five fingers, a boy behind the bar breaks the news to the bettors crowding around him. The odds on our fat friend have just halved.

“Come on,” I say.

Watching my blade, he fails to spot that I’m watching his eyes. This is a man used to getting his own way, and that is a weakness. In addition, he’s impatient. So he stabs and leaves himself open, only not open enough.

I block.

And go back to circling.

Neen’s seen me kill swiftly. All my troopers have. But catching Neen’s puzzled face in the crowd, I realize he has never seen me bide my time. Kill early, kill often . . . It’s our unofficial motto.

This is different.

I’ve never gutted someone in front of Aptitude. She’s a well-brought-up girl, and I’m trying to keep it that way. That’s one of the reasons this man’s made me cross. He’s still watching my blade and I’m still watching his eyes.

The man’s still watching my blade, and I’m still watching his eyes.

Soon everyone is waiting on what happens next. And their expectation makes my attacker clumsy. He jabs so obviously, it has to be a feint. As his gaze flicks right, I know what’s going to happen.

He waits for me to begin a block before switching hands, smiling at his own brilliance. Then his brain is playing catch-up, because Lisa’s knife is deep in his stomach and I’m dragging it upward. A single rip opens him from groin to breastbone, and a tumble of guts slides to the floor.

Aptitude screams.

Lisa’s more practiced. She opens a window.

You can say what you like about the girls from the barrio below Calinda Gab, but they’ve seen it all before, probably twice. Tossing a blanket over the twitching corpse, my bar manager Angelique nods to a boy behind the counter. He can drag it out later.

“Boss,” says my sergeant. “What about Rat Face?”

Van Zill looks less smug with Neen’s revolver to his head.

“Take Rat Face outside,” I say. “Shoot him.”

“Sven!”

No need to ask who that is.

“A week ago,” I tell Aptitude, “a man refused to pay protection to this piece of shit. What do you think happened to his twelve-year-old daughter?”

Aptitude is fifteen.

She doesn’t like my question.

Turning back to Neen, I say, “Take him outside. Make sure he knows what happens if he ever comes back.”

Our glorious capital is built in the caldera of an old volcano, and smog traps heat and makes the air hard to breathe. Corpses rot quickly here, and large ones rot faster than small ones. Don’t know why, but it’s true. Lisa ends up helping the boy behind the bar drag the body out back, then fetches ice to keep it fresh until Angelique can arrange collection.

“Do I close up?” Angelique asks.

“No way.” I shake my head. “We stay open.”

The music goes back on. We offer a round of cold beers to everyone, on the house. A couple of cargo captains who were going to call it a night change their minds and head upstairs with three of the local girls.

A technician watches them go, summons his courage, and follows. He has two blondes in tow, and I’m not sure he looked closely before grabbing their wrists. No doubt, he’ll discover soon enough that one is a boy.

“Chill some cachaca,” I tell Lisa. “Make sure our customers have a night to remember.”

Drunks talk.

That thug will become a giant, his knife a razor-edged saber, my own moves unstoppable and insanely vicious . . . Our reputation will grow. That’s good, because tomorrow sees me, my sergeant, and the rest of the Aux present ourselves for duty. I need that reputation to keep Aptitude safe until we get home.

“All done,” says Neen, rubbing his fists.

“Good. Anything I should know?”

Neen hesitates.

“What?”

“Told the little shit to pay us from now on.”

I grin. It’s a good call.

“How much?”

“Twenty percent,” says Neen. “Straight off the top, no deductions. Last day of each month. No exceptions, no excuses.”

This is a farm boy, an ex-militia conscript who should be dead months back. Would be if I hadn’t taken over his troop. I wonder where he got the idea. Then I see his sister behind him and know exactly where she thinks he did. Shil is scowling, but that’s nothing new. Shil’s always scowling. We have history.

“Problem?”

“No, sir,” says Shil.

“Good.” I look around the bar. “Get drunk,” I tell Neen. “Get laid. Acquire a hangover. We ship out tomorrow.”

Neen grins. “Is that an order, sir?”

His sister sighs.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 39 )
Rating Distribution

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(17)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Death's Head Series by David Gunn

    Death's Head Series
    David Gunn


    1. Death's Head (4 ½ stars out of 5)
    2. Death's Head: Maximum Offense (4 stars out of 5)
    3. Death's Head: Day of the Damned (4 stars out of 5)

    When it's time to put down those dusty classics, the recommended high-brow literature and your lengthy summer reading list I suggest you pick up any one of David Gunn's Death's Head books. They are the Science Fiction equivalent of the action adventure blockbuster movies you've come to know and love. The stories move faster than the speed of light and are quite literally jammed with swearing, shooting and screwing (not necessarily in that order.) Between the three S's however, you'll find great storytelling, sharp dialogue and quite a few unique literary inventions. Wait! That just doesn't give justice to Gunn's work. There is backstabbing, compassion, evisceration and even a bit of technological tom-foolery. Yes, I said it - tom-foolery. How else do you explain the computer chip resurrection some characters achieve? But take my word for it this is not a cheap sub-plot to play god. There is logic and purpose behind the concept. You'll feel it before you truly understand it.

    The Death's Head books are military Science Fiction the way it was intended to be written and the way it must be read. The characters are the meanest, nastiest, toughest survival-types you'll ever meet and they find themselves in impossible situations under unbelievable odds. Yet, they still manage to stay sane and complete the missions (well, most of them anyway.) Two of my favorite creations are the talking gun (and a smart-ass to boot) and a cognizant, sentient planet. You really have to read them to understand the complexities involved. But believe me when I tell you that it's absolutely worth it. I've been reading the series since the publication of the very first book and I wait impatiently for each next installment to hit the bookstores. (I haven't done that since Harry Potter!) This is great solid, throw-back military Science Fiction and I assure you that you won't be wasting your money if you purchase every book in the series.

    The Alternative
    Southeast, Wisconsin

    http://thealternativeone.blogspot.com/

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 5, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Military Sci-Fi with a sarcastic bite!

    A great author first. A strong anti-hero that it is easy to empathize with, you root for him from the opener. Supporting cast is good, and the humor and sarcasm found is a welcome deviation from the standard milsci-fi fare. Read this, then pick up the sequel!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2014

    Vwrvgtydrwwtvrevfdyfv

    Erer travrt trestgstret teyrtecb

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 11, 2009

    Great read, goes in unexpected direction

    I really liked it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Death's Head Series by David Gunn

    Book Review - Death's Head Series by David Gunn
    Death's Head Series
    David Gunn


    1. Death's Head (4 ½ stars out of 5)
    2. Death's Head: Maximum Offense (4 stars out of 5)
    3. Death's Head: Day of the Damned (4 stars out of 5)

    When it's time to put down those dusty classics, the recommended high-brow literature and your lengthy summer reading list I suggest you pick up any one of David Gunn's Death's Head books. They are the Science Fiction equivalent of the action adventure blockbuster movies you've come to know and love. The stories move faster than the speed of light and are quite literally jammed with swearing, shooting and screwing (not necessarily in that order.) Between the three S's however, you'll find great storytelling, sharp dialogue and quite a few unique literary inventions. Wait! That just doesn't give justice to Gunn's work. There is backstabbing, compassion, evisceration and even a bit of technological tom-foolery. Yes, I said it - tom-foolery. How else do you explain the computer chip resurrection some characters achieve? But take my word for it this is not a cheap sub-plot to play god. There is logic and purpose behind the concept. You'll feel it before you truly understand it.

    The Death's Head books are military Science Fiction the way it was intended to be written and the way it must be read. The characters are the meanest, nastiest, toughest survival-types you'll ever meet and they find themselves in impossible situations under unbelievable odds. Yet, they still manage to stay sane and complete the missions (well, most of them anyway.) Two of my favorite creations are the talking gun (and a smart-ass to boot) and a cognizant, sentient planet. You really have to read them to understand the complexities involved. But believe me when I tell you that it's absolutely worth it. I've been reading the series since the publication of the very first book and I wait impatiently for each next installment to hit the bookstores. (I haven't done that since Harry Potter!) This is great solid, throw-back military Science Fiction and I assure you that you won't be wasting your money if you purchase every book in the series.

    The Alternative
    Southeast, Wisconsin

    http://thealternativeone.blogspot.com/

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Death's Head Series by David Gunn

    Death's Head Series
    David Gunn


    1. Death's Head (4 ½ stars out of 5)
    2. Death's Head: Maximum Offense (4 stars out of 5)
    3. Death's Head: Day of the Damned (4 stars out of 5)

    When it's time to put down those dusty classics, the recommended high-brow literature and your lengthy summer reading list I suggest you pick up any one of David Gunn's Death's Head books. They are the Science Fiction equivalent of the action adventure blockbuster movies you've come to know and love. The stories move faster than the speed of light and are quite literally jammed with swearing, shooting and screwing (not necessarily in that order.) Between the three S's however, you'll find great storytelling, sharp dialogue and quite a few unique literary inventions. Wait! That just doesn't give justice to Gunn's work. There is backstabbing, compassion, evisceration and even a bit of technological tom-foolery. Yes, I said it - tom-foolery. How else do you explain the computer chip resurrection some characters achieve? But take my word for it this is not a cheap sub-plot to play god. There is logic and purpose behind the concept. You'll feel it before you truly understand it.

    The Death's Head books are military Science Fiction the way it was intended to be written and the way it must be read. The characters are the meanest, nastiest, toughest survival-types you'll ever meet and they find themselves in impossible situations under unbelievable odds. Yet, they still manage to stay sane and complete the missions (well, most of them anyway.) Two of my favorite creations are the talking gun (and a smart-ass to boot) and a cognizant, sentient planet. You really have to read them to understand the complexities involved. But believe me when I tell you that it's absolutely worth it. I've been reading the series since the publication of the very first book and I wait impatiently for each next installment to hit the bookstores. (I haven't done that since Harry Potter!) This is great solid, throw-back military Science Fiction and I assure you that you won't be wasting your money if you purchase every book in the series.

    The Alternative
    Southeast, Wisconsin

    http://thealternativeone.blogspot.com/

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Bound to happen

    This one is nowhere near as enjoyable as the first 2 books. I was actually very disappointed in it. It did have some interesting information but it just felt like everything you learned in the first 2 books is now gone.

    I just read it last night and I am upset at what I read and still having problems coping with the fact it did not come close to my hopes for this book.

    I guess this is what happens when you have 2 good books. The decline is inevitable when you are writing to appease the masses and not staying true to yourself.

    There goes 6 months of anticipation down the drain. At least I will not keep my hopes up for the next one.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The third Death's Head far futuristic in space science fiction is an incredibly fast-paced thriller

    Following his last bloody operation (see MAXIMUM OFFENSE), not quite human DNA, Army killing machine Lieutenant Sven Tveskoeg takes some deserved R&R at the home of theWildside. That ends abruptly when his Commander General Jaxx sends a message to perform a cleansing mission with a new unit in his home city Farlight; the capital is in the midst of a brutal civil war; the reign of boyish looking Emperor OctoV spanning several millennia and tens of thousand planets is in jeopardy of ending.

    Sven sans his combat arm or his AI Sag handgun and his squad try to prevent a successful coup d'etat while he still attempts to avoid unnecessary collateral damage in this urban warfare zone while the enemy couldn't care less if planets are destroyed let alone a city to achieve the mission.. The intelligence is weak as no one knows that the rebels have support from the allegedly peace seeking United Free Empire that has plans to annex OctoV's tens of thousands of planets into their spans of control. However the plotting of rulers means nothing to Sven. He lives for two reasons: the promise and the kill.

    The third Death's Head far futuristic in space science fiction is an incredibly fast-paced thriller that never takes a breather once the General sends Sven on his mission (almost at the very start of the book) and never decelerates even for a breather. As the speed of light story line moves bloodily on and on, David Gunn also answers much of the questions from the previous Sven's adventures; not an easy task for a writer whose prime color in the minds of the audience is red. Readers will appreciate this bleak look at mankind in outer space still fighting one another.

    Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    dark grim outer space tale

    In the far distant future, humanity has spread across space as over time earth has become part of mankind¿s original being mythos. Three rival human groups compete for superiority at a time when Emperor Octo V claims to rule the ten thousand systems yet seeks expansion. His Octavians and the Enlightened users of the Uplift Virus are at war with one another. The third group United Free pretends to seek universal peace while manipulating their two competitors so they run the universe their way. --- The United Free assigns Lieutenant Sven Tveskoeg and his squad the Aux to find a missing U/F observer sent to planet Hekati, but before landing an explosion on board cripples the vessel he rescues his squad. However, they soon realize this is not Hekati as the U/F leadership sent them on a beta test before sending them to the right planet where society¿s sociopaths and government exiles reside. Danger prevails as Sven courageously leads his unit, but soon he and his team learn the real mission. --- DEATH¿S HEAD starts off as a dark humorous grim outer space tale, but once on Hekati turns even darker and grimmer without the humor as David Gunn argues that war is not a precision dance to the stars but chaotic hell. Sven is terrific as he is tough and loyal, but also caring as he prefers to avoid unnecessary collateral damage others couldn¿t care less if planets are destroyed to achieve the mission. Readers will appreciate this bleak look at mankind in outer space still fighting one another. --- Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2007

    I can only hope he keeps writing.

    While it may come accross as just an action flick type novel, it really has a much deeper feel in the reading. Go read it now and hope he keeps writing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Very timely sf

    On a remote dangerous desert planet, the brass whips Sergeant Sven Tveskoeg within an inch of his life before booting him out of the military for insubordination. As he struggles with his critical wounds, he finds he can telepathically communicate with the strange sentient native life form the ferox. This skill saves his life when the ferocious ferox attack the military encampment leaving no one else alive except the 98.2 % human.--------------- As Sven recovers, the Emperor OctoV orders Death¿s Head General Jaxx to locate him and test his loyalty to the empire, his ability to follow orders and his will to live. If Sven fails the exam, OctoV explains Jaxx will pay the consequences. When Jaxx finds Sven he also learns he deserted so he incarcerates him on the frozen prison planet Paradise. Sven shows leadership skills when he leads a successful revolt against the guards. Jaxx enlists Sven in Death¿s Head and sends him in charge of a squad facing suicide as they battler the emperor¿s enemy, the Enlightened, former humans changed into invincible cyborgs. -------------------------- This is a lighthearted mocking of the military science fiction in outer space sub-genre where greater than life superheroes save the day against unbelievable odds. Ironically, Jaxx is an antihero whose escapades are over the top of Olympus Mons with lampooning being the prime directive. Readers who take pleasure in intense satirical science fiction will want to join Jaxx on his misadventures in the Gunn galaxy.----------------- Harriet Klausner

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    Posted January 1, 2010

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