Cedar Sanderson writes an interesting review of The Chaplain’s War by Brad Torgersen. I loved the book and it seems Cedar was a fan too,
The Chaplain’s War, if I must make a short comparison, is like Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. It’s half philosophy, and half soldier training, for similar motivations. Like Rico, Harry lives on a world threatened by aliens. Like Rico, Harry joins up for a war against bug-like aliens. he suffers through training unlike anything in his life previously, makes friends, and then watches them die.
Unlike Heinlein’s shorter novel, Torgerson interweaves his hero’s training in the past with the present-tense story of the interaction with the aliens, and the crisis of faith the Chaplain’s assistant is having after long years as a prisoner of war. It is handled delicately. There is no proselytizing in Torgerson’s writing. It is, simply, an exploration of faith itself. If we are not the center of the Universe, and after our death, nothing, then we are forced to consider those who live around us. This is central to The Chaplain’s War. The mantid aliens have no faith, only themselves, in a semi-automated existence that forbids them even companionship in ways humans would understand. Because of this, they relentlessly crush any sentient races they come across. They are the center of the Universe, and others are competition alone.