WTFBC – Book 2 – Killer Angels – Review

Michael Shaara

A few more book clubbers attended this week – so we instantly got to work on dissecting the book. 

Certainly everyone found the level of detail to be fascinating – with one noting that it felt like the author had witnessed it first hand! He presented the characters is such a vivid way – not as dry historical figures. 

We also loved the way the book was structured – with either side providing narratives. Each side of the war was also given the opportunity to explain their motivations equally. The author presented no bias or perspective themselves – which forced each reader to really ponder the perspectives individually. 

The loyalty of the soldier to their leaders was something that we found very moving. Our collective hearts broke when Kilrain died – leaving Chamberlaine without his friend. It also very much fed into the relationship that became Zoe and Mal on Firefly. The fact that each riled and respected one another in no way took from the chain of command. Another very interesting side note was the role that faith played in this book. Here the faith was in one another, the generals and that God was on their side. This faith was repeatedly shaken by events out of their control. Like Mal and Zoe after the battle of Serenity when they realised that help was not in fact coming – that faith had been broken.  

Potentially an anti-war book – especially in the way that the destruction of the land and her people. We also thought that it set up the feelings of soldiers after the war – with one side a victor and the other defeated beautifully – something that is clearly visible in the Browncoats on Independence Day in Firefly. I mean, realistically Mal and Zoe were bound to have had friends on the Alliance side (heck, Inara was pro-unification) – what happened to those relationships after the war?

The role of slavery – as a motivator for war – was hotly contested throughout the book. Both sides seemed only to agree that it wasn’t that big a factor – though there were several incidents and conversations that suggested this wasn’t necessarily TOTALLY true. As one book clubber eloquently tweeted: 

It’s easy to see events as good or bad. This showed that isn’t true. Just people fighting for causes they may or may not believe in

We also loved the soldier quoted as saying that he would rather betray his country than his friend. This seemed to us to be a direct inspiration for Mal – who would rather betray his government that his crew – especially Simon and River. 

 In the words of Simon Tam 
“History is programmed by the winners”.

(On several occasions we were all distracted by what our name actually stands for. This went on for some time. We were like little kittens staring at shiny things. It was a bit sad. Also AWESOME.)

We very much enjoyed the nods that we recognized in Firefly. 

  • Blue Bellies becoming Purple Bellies
  • Using Jubal Early as an assassin
  • The soldier who had his wedding ring around his neck. Very reminiscent of Mal with his cross. Both kissed it.
  • A book clubber noted: I would liken Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain & his younger brother, Thomas, to Simon & River.

Our next book choice is:


Find fellow members on twitter by searching for #WTFBC.

Let me know your thoughts by either tweeting me @LeedsBookClub, commenting below or emailing me at



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