Holy Crap, That Was Great
Sorry for my crass review title, but again--holy crap, that was great. You are obviously a well-read, intelligent individual, and those qualities shine through in your writing through your literary references (Kipling's "If" was used to great effect) and your various quotes from historical figures. I was also quite impressed at several of the political stances you took--in today's culture, I think it is beyond rare to find an artist who has politically conservative sensibilities (and who can actually write an enthralling fictional story). I am so happy that you reached out to me on my "ReviewMe" post, as we seem to share some very similar political ideologies (I'm assuming, of course, that you share the views of your protagonist, Adrian Marshall). Just reading the various acts of legislation and your outline for government in this book, you absolutely have my vote if you ever want to run for office.
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Your world-building is also quite good--I truly believed in Amity as a country. As stated, you went to great lengths to describe its legislation; you also went to great lengths to describe the mechanics of its government, the feel of its news media outlets, and the biographies of several of its inhabitants. Even characters who I initially thought would be minor, like Zabek, were given full, rich biographies. Zabek could have easily been just a one-note tough guy, but you fleshed him out and made him far more terrifying.
The setup is solid as well, and though it reminded me of the setup for the television series "Designated Survivor" (I don't know if you've seen it or not), it definitely went off in its own unique direction; whereas the show explores a new President struggling with his new position of power, your story takes a guy who is confident in his vision and allows him to execute it, thus focusing more on the creation of a new political atmosphere as opposed to focusing on a personal struggle. I almost found this to be a modern-day remake of Thomas More's "Utopia" (though obviously your book proposes an imaginary capitalist society rather than a socialist one, as More's did), in that it's more about the structure of an ideal government than it is about characters.
That's not to say that the characters and the main story aren't good--quite the contrary. I found the rivalry between Marshall and Montgomery to be one of the most fascinating aspects of the plot. The idea that these two men, who are superficially enemies on opposite sides of the political spectrum, highly respect each other as they play their game of high-stakes chess, reminded me of the respectful rivalry of Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty. Their conversations provide some of the strongest scenes in the book. Marshall's comaraderie with his Vietnam buddies, his complex relationship with Claire, and his strong marital bond with Joanna is also very well-explained. And honestly, with the amount of subplots you're juggling here, I was quite impressed with your ability to hold it all together and drive each thread to work in one cohesive story.
There were a few things that I thought you could maybe improve on, but they are relatively minor, so I don't think any stars need to be detracted from this excellent work. The reason I am pointing these issues out is to be constructive, and by no means to belittle the good work you've done here. (NOTE: A FEW SPOILERS AHEAD) The first issue I found was that you have a few grammatical and spelling errors--however, they were few and far between. Most of the writing here is strong, and I think that you could very quickly fix this in a revised draft.
Some of the dialogue is also a bit clunky--specifically, there are scenes where the characters are talking in an almost robotic fashion. These are usually scenes where you're trying to drive the plot forward and are using the characters as a mouthpiece for exposition, but it also occasionally occurs due to the characters coming off as too smart to be real. I love Adrian's journal entries, especially the quotes at the end--however, when you have characters use really sophisticated words and make obscure quotes, they almost come off as too smart to be realistic. This doesn't happen often--like I said, it's a minor issue. It makes sense for Adrian to have these super intelligent journal entries, but in casual conversation, the references and sophisticated vocabulary occasionally come off as a bit too much.
There's also a lot of repetition of plot points throughout the book that is not entirely necessary. It's okay to repeat plot points, and I appreciate it when a book reminds me of something I might have forgotten otherwise, but every so often you do it just a bit more than you should. For instance, in the dinner scene with Adrian, Claire, and Tom, you have Adrian relay the entire story of how they stopped Tom from getting blackmailed. We just read that, you don't have to tell us again. Instead of relaying that plot thread over again, you could simply state that Adrian explained to Tom what happened. There are other instances in the book like this, and I think you could whittle them down in a similar style--I would then use the newly found space to add even more characterization and fun dialogue that isn't so focused on delivering exposition.
There is also some repetition of the phrase "auspicious day" in Marshall's journal entries towards the end--I'd just swap one of the two uses I saw for another phrase to keep it fresh.
My final main critique has to do with the last part of the story and its relation to the title. I LOVE THE TITLE! I love its mention throughout the story. However, when you get down to the end, there wasn't really a huge price that Adrian had to pay for changing the political structure of Amity. He died, yes, but that was due to his cancer--there was no repercussion for his political actions. He died as a beloved figure. It would make more sense based on the title that he died tragically as a martyr for his cause--he changed the government to work brilliantly, but maybe Montgomery is able to successfully paint him as a villain using the fact that he never took care of his biological son, Thomas, until recently. Then, Marshall would have paid the price of having people despise him, but he still changed society for the better. I don't know if I would go with that ending exactly--I'm just spitballing ideas, and at the end of the day, this is your story. I did like the ending you have, but my point is that there is no real price Adrian pays, as he has almost no critical flaws--he's too perfect (unless I'm missing something, which very well could be the case). As a side note, while I'm talking about the whole Thomas thing, I thought you let Sam and Randolph off way too easy for their involvement in the murder of the young lady. Sure, they didn't directly kill her, but they knew about it and continued to pay the man who did it without even thinking of going to the police. Their punishment didn't seem fitting, although it did allow for Sam to publish a fantastic final article about Adrian, so I see why you let him live (and while on the note of Sam Montgomery--he is a fantastic villain, and I LOVE how you made a journalist out to be a villain, as most stories now paint journalists as martyrs in search of the truth, which is increasingly not the case in reality anymore).
Again, these are minor complaints. Overall, I loved your story, your writing, your political sensibilities, your world-building, your characters, and your pacing. When I first read your blurb, I was worried--I am not a huge fan of political thrillers. I am currently reading "The Dark Tower" series by Stephen King, so you can tell from that that my fictional taste lies more in the realm of science fiction and fantasy than it does in grounded political thrillers. However, I was almost immediately drawn into your work, which just goes to show how good it really is. I not only look forward to hearing your thoughts on my novel, as I think you are a truly gifted writer, but I also look forward to buying a copy of this in book form when it is published professionally--it is that good. I don't see an option to give you a vote for the novel contest--please change that, because this is the best book I've read on this site so far.
PROS: Intelligent, complex story; fleshed out characters; amazing world-building; excellent political ideas.
CONS: Occasional grammatical and spelling mistakes; title inconsistency; a little too much exposition at times; occasional clunky dialogue.
THIS BOOK WAS AWESOME, KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!