FREEFIC WEEK – SERIES REVIEW: Special Forces by Aleksandr Voinov & Marquesate
Special Forces is an epic work of military gay erotic fiction.
The three cycles Soldiers, Mercenaries, and Veterans were written between April 2006 and November 2008 and have 70 chapters in total, comprising around one million words (the equivalent of around 15 full-sized novels). It is only suitable for an adult audience.
This is the epic story of a Soviet Spetsnaz soldier and a Scottish SAS soldier. Vadim Krasnorada and Dan McFadyen are two enemies who meet in the line of duty during the early days of the Soviet Union’s last war in Afghanistan. Behind enemy lines respect and finally love grow…but that’s only the official version.
It is with great love and reverence that I pay homage to my most beloved story of all time during our Free Fiction week here on the blog.
For the three people who are yet to have read Special Forces; these are the things I’d like you to know.
Special Forces is set in three cycles: Soldiers, Mercenaries (I & II) and Veterans. Today I’ll be focussing on the Director’s Cut of Soldiers as it can be read as a stand alone story and in my opinion it is the Crème de la Crème of the series.
There is nothing else like it. This is the enemies-to-lovers story which has captured hearts around the world. It’s brought people to tears, broken hearts, kept people awake night after night and amassed a league of zealot-like fans pledging undying love to this story. The trope is anything but “new ground” but none before or after Soldiers have affected people to this extent.
You will not believe the depth of emotion shown by these characters and the lengths they will go to for each other. And while you read all this you will somehow become immersed in the story so completely that you will be certain that your heart will break right alongside theirs.
Let me be frank, the beginning of Soldiers is hard work. It’s awful and brutal and the writing often seems rough and difficult to follow. There’s confusing alternating POVs, the subject matter is vile (rape) and the language is frequently crass – but all of that somehow falls by the wayside because in the end I was utterly spellbound by this story, the characters and their devotion. I watched the unimaginable unfold; and it felt like my heart was filled to the brim with love and was ready to burst out of my chest.
Special Forces: Soldiers is the story of Dan McFadyen and Vadim Petrovich Krasnorada, two Special Forces soldiers fighting on opposite sides of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Neither believes they have a home or loyalty to anything but the country they are fighting for. Neither of them believe they have the capacity to love. Their first meeting is revolting; it’s horrific and, born from that is an oath from Dan to take vengeance on Vadim; to kill the man that did the unthinkable.
Neither character could predict how worthy their opponent is. Never could they have imagined where their paths would lead and what transcends from there is nothing short of amazing. The gradual transition from enemy killing machines for the world’s superpowers to basic emotional human beings was unfathomable.
“When you’re like this, Vadim, I want to own you, and taste you, burrow all the way into your body until I feel so much it fucking hurts and your scent clings to every pore. I want to hurt you, tear you apart, fuck you until you plead and scream and bleed, and all that, because I can never get enough of you.”
It’s from this point that the magic begins. There are chance encounters and planned meetings and ever so slowly we watch as they creep inch by inch from hate to desire, from longing to need, from need to love. Their desperate, brutal, possessive, all encompassing longing for each other that turns into love; can’t live without you: love. My life stopped in the few blessed days I spent immersed in this story as every emotional heart string was pulled; love, fear, pain, longing, devastation, euphoria, despair, anger, desperation and again and foremost, love.
I will always hold this story close to my heart.
I irrevocably fell in love with the characters. Watching Dan realise his true self was like seeing the darkest night turn to the clearest, brightest day… but my heart wholly belongs to Vadim. Vadim who is cold, cruel, lost and despicable, immoral, racist and a misogynist. How did Voinov (author) transform this villain into a hero? How did Vadim redeem himself so unequivocally in our eyes? How does this monster become our darling? If I didn’t read it myself I wouldn’t believe it could be possible.
“Blood, pain and an all-surpassing lust for one man settled so deeply into his bones, the need had become part of him. Bottomless, like the touch he craved. Vadim.”
There are scenes with heartbreaking beauty. Tender, reverent care set alongside emblazoned passion. I think they may be the most erotic, explicit sex scenes I’ve ever read. Desperation beyond compare. Desire, trust, lust, angst, care; it’s all there. There are extremes in every circumstance.
Mercenaries I & II takes everything you loved in Soldiers and tears it apart. Everything we held sacred in Soldiers goes to shit – and that’s putting it nicely. Everything Vadim and Dan craved and fought for is gone. We watch as their lives are disassembled and their characters are put to the test.
There’s a scene with Dan sitting in a hotel room with the sound of a clock ticking – it will remain as one of the powerful scenes I’ve read. The characters change, Dan for the worse and Vadim is a shell of who he used to be. We see Vadim’s sanity unravel – you feel his despair and the consequences of psychological torture transfer through the pages with absolute clarity. It’s gut wrenching, hateful, traumatic and cruel. We also meet Dan’s much hated alter ego “Mad Dog” who serves as a means to remove some of his pain. Dan needs distraction, danger and adrenaline to suffocate the pain he feels. He reminds us how stupidly people behave when they’re hurting and “Mad Dog” certainly behaves like a rabid, horny, dangerous dog. But here’s the amazing thing with Special Forces: as much as it tears you apart – it also gives you so much emotion that it’s addictive. You experience the full gamut of emotional experiences. Two more unforgettable scenes; a coded message via radio link which recalls years of understanding; and a conversation on a rooftop. Both heartbreaking and joyous.
Be warned, there’s a ton of promiscuous behaviour in late Mercenaries I & II and not a lot of communication. The storyline includes new secondary characters that offer a form of lightness to what has been nearly a thousand pages of anguish and with that we see how our MCs behave while in other’s people’s company *coughs*. In Soldiers the boys were always alone and now that “Mad Dog” has entered the building, well let’s just say, he likes to mix things up. What do people (Vadim) do when they feel they have nothing to offer? What will they go along with to feel secure in a relationship? What happens when people change? But also we watch as they navigate new ground. Always tentatively and interestingly enough, very very gently for Vadim’s behalf. And then slowly, slowly there’s also some pretty intense emotional depth. You can still feel the fierce commitment/connection between Vadim and Dan but… there’s just so much more woven into the plot.
And then there’s Veterans. The final installment is just as thrilling as the previous books. Sure there’s lots of “tying up loose ends” but it made a lot of sense. Extraordinarily enough, by the end of the thousands of pages – I just wasn’t ready to let go. The end of this story is hard to accept – not because of the actual ending – but simply because it ends.
I’ve lived and breathed these characters and their life together. I’ve felt for them unlike any others before or after.
The story is in essence about survival. Not simply survival in terms of life and death, but more so the survival of dignity, pride, commitment, respect and love.
There’s something about the writing that’s just so emotive. So strong in it’s ability to grab hold of you and immerse you in the tragedy, love and desire.
“I’d die for you, Dan. No questions asked.”
In closing, this series has ruined me for every future book I’ll read and clearly I’ve been stripped bare of my usual control and guise. This is a love story for the ages and the Special Forces series is incomparable and unforgettable to me. Many people list this series as one of their all time favourites too, so I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to experience it.
BOOK INFO :
Title: Special Forces
Release Date: 2007