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This novel starts out in the first few months of World War One. It is evident to anyone who has at least passing familiarity with the war that so many of its iconic images have yet to be developed. For instance, the trenches that give this series its name are only just being dug in temporary fashion as both sides come under heavy artillery and machine gun fire. Steel helmets aren't worn by either side yet, and the usual "charge across an open field and get shot to pieces" tactics are in full swing. Several well-placed hints by the author indicate how various developments are going to come about in the months and years to come, little "Easter eggs" for knowledgeable readers.
The story also features a good cast of characters, from the roguish shirker who'd rather be plundering farm houses than stand sentry duty, but who is still the man you want with you in a fight, to the stuffy officers eating their lunch with porcelain and silver while shells drop all about, to young educated gentlemen suddenly thrust nose-first into the horrors of 20th century warfare. I also liked how the story involved some of the French colonial troops, and showed the various socio-political relationships between them, the British, the Germans, and their French masters.
Overall, I think this is an excellent introduction to a series that has the potential for many volumes to come. The war has years to go and many, many battles yet to be fought before the end of 1918. I hope the author sticks to his guns, so to speak, and continues the journey his characters have started.