Unexpected. Heartwarming. Brutal. These are only three of the many adjectives I would use to describe A Special Breed of Warrior. The author, Joseph Mujwit, has done a fantastic job at writing this fiction book, which stars an unexpected character, Zip, a Belgian Malinois-German Shepard mix military dog who is deployed to Afghanistan along with his trainer and best friend, Petty Officer Todd Mitchell. The story, which is masterfully told, presents many different layers and involves readers' senses from the very beginning, with the Prologue opening on the familiar notes of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas." However, as readers can't help themselves but start humming the melodic song, they are quickly shocked out of their comfort zone when the author brings in incessant noise of riots and the constant thundering of the helicopters, thus creating a sharp juxtaposition of sounds that trap readers into the story and only let them go when the end comes.
Although the brutality of war fights to take center stage, it is powerfully overcome by the heartwarming relationship between a dog with a silly name and his best friend, who soon find themselves fighting for their lives, with a beautiful image of Zip trying to protect Todd till the very end.
The story is so well told it is hard to believe it is a fictionalized tale. Unfortunately, there are noticeable editing errors, and the book would have profited from a stringent line edit.
So, to conclude, well done to the incredibly talented author. While he thanks military personnel and military working dogs for inspiring the story, we thank him for writing this beautiful tale and for reminding us that there are indeed many who belong to a special breed of warrior.
Review by Brunella Costagliola (March 2019)
Zip is a military working dog destined to serve in the U.S. Special Operations Forces. Uniquely trained, he joins a SEAL Team and is deployed in Afghanistan's dangerous Korengal Valley with his partner and best friend, Petty Officer Todd Mitchell. Todd, the team, and their new K9 have their skills continually tested by the sinister influence of the Taliban leader dwelling in the mountains. As they battle the insurgents, the team defuse IEDs, uncover caches of weapons and withstand harassing enemy attacks. Eventually, they face dire circumstances when pursued and ultimately trapped where they make a desperate attempt to escape. The circumstances of the ensuing battle and extraction cause the team leader, Lieutenant John Kelly, to make an agonizing decision that tears at Todd's dedication to duty and his devotion to his K9 partner and friend. Can Todd and the team carry out their orders knowing that it will probably cost their most beloved member his life? Elements of Tom Clancy and Jack London come together as A SPECIAL BREED OF WARRIOR chronicles Zip’s training from his time as a pup and the special people who shape him into a highly skilled military working dog; to the orientation with his SEAL Team and their trying ordeal while deployed in Afghanistan. The novel is a tribute to the dedication of those that serve our country under the most extreme circumstances and the astonishing attributes of their K9 partners.
Book Format(s): Kindle, paperback
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 175