Book Reviews

Powerless (The Borders War 3) by S.A. McAuley at Pride Publishing

Genre Gay / Science Fiction / Future Earth / Soldiers/Mercenaries / Romance / Action/Adventure
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 11-May-2018

Book Blurb

He was built to be invincible.

Merq and Armise return to the States after their mission to assassinate the remaining Committee members only to find the leadership of the Revolution isn’t as stable as they had thought.


Outside forces come crashing down on a Revolution stronghold, leaving two of their soldiers gravely wounded. Merq’s history with his brothers in arms Simion and Neveed forces him into making decisions that will impact his future with the Revolution.


Merq has always identified as a soldier first. Always known who deserved his loyalty and who didn’t. But with the uncertainty surrounding the leadership of the Revolution, the mysterious disappearance of the jacquerie and increased activity with the PsychHAgs, Merq knows there are few people he can trust.


The only man Merq wants or needs at his side is Armise Darcan. But his reliance on his former enemy may be a miscalculation that will threaten everything Merq stands for.



Reader Advisory: This book contains references to violence and to genetic experimentation on children.

First Edition published by Totally Bound, April 2014.

Second Edition published by Pride Publishing, January 2016.


Book Review

This third book of the ‘Borders War’ series is no less amazing than the first two, and this was as true for me during the second reading as it was back when I devoured the first edition. If anything, and despite the fact I wouldn’t have thought it possible, the tension ratchets up further, the emotions become almost too much to handle, and the “thick fog” of political intrigue and deceptive manipulation lifts just a little—only to rapidly thicken again. I was intrigued to find out more about the new world powers on this Earth of the 26th century, allowing me to better understand some of the events and trends on a larger scale. On the other hand, the interpersonal relationships getting messier more than counteracted that effect, and the end result was me turning the pages as fast as possible, remaining glued to the story as tightly as I did in books one and two.

Merq has suffered before, but this time he is really put through the wringer. In fact, he is ground down so far, both physically and emotionally, it looks pretty bleak for him for quite a while. I had my doubts he’d ever be able to make it back from the depths of his suffering, and was beginning to fear the worst. Where he was arrogantly sure of himself and his purpose in book one, and began to see the world around him in more realistic eyes in book two (helped by Armise), he never stopped being the perfect soldier, totally dedicated to his cause. In this third book he begins to doubt and question himself and that, for a “man who was built to be invincible”, as the blurb says, is a very dangerous thing. Soldiers are not supposed to think, yet he has no choice but to begin asking certain questions.

Different from the first two books, this one really focuses on Merq. Yes, Armise plays a role (and one that makes things much worse), but the other two men in Merq’s life are the ones who push him on and cause him to reevaluate everything. And when Merq’s fundamental loyalties are challenged, when his basic trust in Armise is crushed, he has nobody left but himself to figure out if life is even still worth living.

What a scary, horrible, surprising, and cruel world S.A. McAuley has created here. Outside forces and enemies are expected to be upsetting the balance, but when the internal stability and integrity of the Revolution is challenged, I held my breath in anticipation of the threatening revelations. And let me tell you, it is pretty horrific. The ending is slightly different than in the first edition, with a nice little teaser in Armise’s point of view to make me REALLY wonder what surprises book four is going to bring. Wow!

If you don’t like books about war atrocities, extreme violence, and psychological abuse, stay away from this series. If you're curious to find out what will happen on S.A. McAuley’s Earth of the 26th century, this third book in the series is a very well-designed, yet harsh look at Merq’s role in everything and his personal growth, hard-won though it may be. If you're wondering about the power of political machinations and the effects of psychological manipulation, this is the right series for you. This third story is shocking in its honesty, moving in its emotional intensity, and very powerfully makes the point that humankind is capable of inflicting horrors on people that I’d rather not think about. If you made it through the first two books, you’ll want to read this one. If you haven’t—go back and read them first. They may be painful to get through, but they will give you the necessary background as well as grab your attention and not let go.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the publisher for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 224 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 16-April-2018
Price $2.99 ebook, $8.99 paperback
Buy Link