• Welcome to Hell

  • The Tasmanian Special Forces Group, Book 1
  • By: C. R. Daems
  • Narrated by: Emily Woo Zeller
  • Length: 8 hrs and 5 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (1,298 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Jolie was 3 when she found she was ugly and deformed.

She was 5 when she found she was a subhuman and an outcast. She was 7 when five boys and two girls dragged her out of the orphanage and beat her unconscious, leaving her lying bleeding and broken in the street.

She was content to lie there and die, tired of being hated and abused. But a frail old man with wispy white hair and a long beard wasn't content to let her die. He not only saved her, but he adopted her and passed on his unique martial art to her.

She was 20 when she headed to Delphi, the center of the United Systems of Perileos (USP) and the planet of her birth father, to find her place in his society.

Based on her unique upbringing, she decides to join the USP military, requesting to be assigned to the Tasmanians SFG, an elite all-male unit. The military brass is reluctant to deny her request and admit their enlistment contract permits bait-and-switch assignments. Instead, they agree to let her enter the school, thinking she couldn't possibly succeed - a Chihuahua competing against Rottweilers — and plan to make an example of her when she fails.

Although Jolie is small, she is not what she appears. But can her adopted father's art enable her to survive the treachery of the military brass, the grueling of the school, the prejudices of the instructors, and the testosterone of an all-male class.

And if she succeeds, can she thrive in the high-octane and all male environment of the Tasmanians? 

©2019 C. R. Daems (P)2020 Podium Publishing

What listeners say about Welcome to Hell

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Somewhat Mary Sue-ish

The synopsis of the book makes it out to be something it isn't. The martial art in the narrative plays a very minor role the in the story, merely as an justification as to how she can survive the training with no military experience, and her lifetime of training merely conveys above average skills in hand-to-hand combat, nothing earth-shattering.

Obviously the story is set in the future, so the sexism displayed is over-the-top even for present-day, much less a more enlightened future. This may be somewhat of a reflection of the author, who casually assumes the truth of tropes of men being more logical and women being more emotional. But the author is over 70 years old, so this shouldn't be surprising.

For a science fiction story, the technology is pretty pedestrian, nothing that would sound unfamiliar to modern-day marines. No energy-based weapons or sensor technology, still using helicopters, and not a computer to be found. On second thought, maybe our current marines are better equipped.

Lastly, the conflicts our MC engages in seem morally reprehensible. First, she sides against striking mine workers, then she assaults a planet's native inhabitants to protect human colonists, even attacking native villages containing only women and children, which surely must be a war crime by even today's standards.

So, overall, there's nothing really interesting about this book and our MC isn't particularly sympathetic, so it was a tough slog to get through to the end once I realized I didn't like it.

37 people found this helpful

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Devils should not be your enemy .. bad move

This book popped up and looked interesting so I purchased it. I enjoyed the heck out of it. So much that I am immediately looking to see what else the author his written. I figure that's a pretty darn good recommendation.

18 people found this helpful

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Really good story EXCEPT for..

Please, please, please STOP using this story as a one person monologue on womens empowerment; this story nearly manages to exclude ANY male charachters except as comical side kicks or fall guys to female empowerment. Spec Ops is absolutely about team work. The author seems to have forgotten there is no "I" IN team.Way to many instances where Fox wins the battle AND seemingly, the enture war, all by herself. Really?This posture is insulting. Also in an era or Star travel why do the soldiers NEVER have anything so mundane as arillery and air support? Again, leaving such realities out really degrades the "reality" sense of the story.

On the plus side Fox is very engaging and I like her but don't demean her achievement by cheap grandstanding of "I am woman here me roar". It's cool to see tough women and a foolish device, at best, to use an otherwise great story as a cheap political conveyance.
Enhance women you BUT DO NOT MARGINALIZE MEN in the process.!

All of that aside, I will read Book 2. If I see more of what bothers me as the ongoing central them by Chapter 5 I'll return it for a refund and never revisit the series.

4 people found this helpful

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A study in methods

This is a good one for showing that making assumptions will be a very bad for you.

4 people found this helpful

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Absurd, but fun

This book is a rather heavy handed parable on the superiority of thinking before you act and managing your emotions over charging in and pretending no fear in service of tough guy bravado. It wasn't enough that every major plot point was framed with the main character triumphing over angry bumbling fools because she took two seconds to think and clam her mind, but then every person she interacted with found it necessary to summarize the moral lesson for you by way of saying how wrong they were to underestimate her and her approach and how darned great she is.

(As a side note, I think the debates from other reviewers on sexism is a case of Poe's Law. Yes, there's plenty of over the top misogyny. But it's mostly there to demonstrate just vile the various straw characters are. It would be like an author using the kick-the-dog trope literally, then for reviewers to get enmeshed in a debate on animal abuse.)

Even so, it was an action packed adventure that I found myself engrossed by despite myself. The characters were distinctive and likable, the fight scenes vivid, and the tone oddly lighthearted in spite of the seemingly grim context. Between the absurd proselytizing and the military theme which isn't my usual thing I kept thinking I'd stop reading it any minute. Instead I got so caught up in the ride that I was done before I knew it.

3 people found this helpful

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Nice Story

I would say that this story comes off better than his series "The Black Guard." My complaint would be that the writer spends a great deal of time pushing this narrative that seems to be that guys are these lumbering testosterone-filled beasts who have a need to smash something. Other than the main character, women at times come off as being these delicate flowers who might not be able to protect themselves. In my opinion, had the writer leaned off this narrative just slightly I would've given this book a higher rating, however, with that said I believe the listener will still find this story worth the credit.

3 people found this helpful

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Nonstop action is a good description

I really enjoy many of the books authored by CR Daems and will continue to seek out his work. However, this book did not resonate with me. It lacks the quirky humor found in the first three books of the Red Angel series, or the Rhis gambit series. However, I suspect that fans of military action books will enjoy this work.

I did see an earlier review that expressed displeasure on the Male Stereotype vs Female Stereotype which is woven throughout the book. It is there and is one of the themes woven into the story to bring it to life. I did not find it "preachy" or offensive. However, I am sure that a person could infer lots of their personal experiences into the theme if they wanted. Isn't that a mark of a good author?

2 people found this helpful

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GI JANE in spaaaaaaaaaaaace...

if GI Jane was a robotic (not literally) supersoldier who never failed a task, did something wrong, or didn't already know how to do LITERALLY everything. I don't think the author understood that if the character had no room to develop in the story, the character can't develop. Space GI Jane just runs around beating up men and proving GIRLS RULE BOYS DROOL. She super-smartly Karens herself into a super elite BOYS ONLY military unit. She then serves in this rank-free military unit, is instantly the bestest super soldier EVER and beloved by her comrades and superiors alike, even before she even sees any combat. I mean, there's no story here. NOTHING to make me want to keep reading if she's PERFECTLY AMAZEBALLS right out of the gate.

1 person found this helpful

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A fun romp!

I have over 2000 books in my Audible library and a good 2/3rds are military fiction... probably 2/3rds of those are SF. This is one of my favorites. Is it the most realistic/accurate? Nah...but it is one of the most fun!

1 person found this helpful

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Exciting well written novel

If you love underdogs and wild military books this is a great book. Full of action and adventure. I love CR Daems books. I’m re-reading them all right now

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  • Jake
  • 08-06-21

Good if short

This is a good military book with lots of action. The atmosphere of a military unit is well created and stay away from the Hollywoodish military bs that we see much to often. I am a veteran of the Danish army but soldiers across nations can quickly spot if an author understands the soldiers mind or not and it does not matter if it the Roman legions or Colonial marines.
Women in combat and in special forces is a big topic in the book and I feel that Fox is a female lead with a realistic chance to pass such training.
Then my army has had women in combat since Bosnia so it isn't a question anymore just a fact of army life.
Fox is of course exceptional but unlike a heroine like Winter we are not told constantly, instead we are shown how good she is more in the way of Honor Harrington.
At times the other soldiers seem a bit too dense but some explanations are needed to fill out the plot and world.
I got the book free as part of my membership, do the same and have a go, I will get the next book for sure

8 people found this helpful

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  • AudiobookDevotee
  • 10-09-21

GI Jane in Space but Fun

This is a strange but fun book. Essentially like GI Jane (the film), a woman joins special forces, people are misogynistic, she proves herself, everyone likes her. It's a complete Mary Sue powertrip but it is really, really fun and I enjoyed listening to it; so much so that I bought the sequel and listened to it immediately after.

The characters are fine, there are some baddies but there's never any military ethics or PTSD. Everyone is enthusiatic, loves war and agrees with the main character. The main character is very much written in the I'm-not-like-those-other-girls style and immediately assumes no other woman can accomplish what she has because they're women.

She also claims to be raised in a unisex manner but plays up to a lot of female stereotypes for her male friends amusement. Her dialogue in a non-military setting isn't great. You want to skip the post-mission storytelling bits by skipping to the end of the chapter. They're only a few minutes but cringeworthy and painful but everyone cheers and applauds (as they do whenever the main character says anything in a non-military setting).

The world also makes no sense. You have a multi-planet spacefaring empire of largely humans and they train their elite trools in small unit tactics and knife fighting. They even get sent against an otherwise undefeatable group of bow and arrow weilding jungle folk. They have drones. They have infrared. Jungle bandits wouldn't keep killing off every army unit sent it.

On top of that the conflicts are small and the units sent in are always undersized. "They're planning a planetary rebellion. They've got hundreds of people. We'll send a few dozen." I'm not sure there was ever a "war" with over 1,000 people involved.

The plot is episodic but works well to get the characters in different situations and make them tense and exciting.

The narrator is also quite slow. Even if you don't normally speed up I'd recommend at least 1.1x speed. I usually listen at 1.05x and that still felt too slow.

It may sound like I've trashed this book, and I sort of have but the reason I've given it 5 stars is despite all of that stuff it is fun! Like really Fast and Furious, Point Break or Con Air, it's madcap dumb fun that you can just sit back and enjoy without engaging your brain too much.

2 people found this helpful

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  • hcapowell
  • 09-14-21

Loved it

I normally struggle with audio books but damn I was hooked from the start. Brilliant story and fantastic narration. Thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait to listen to more of this and see what crazy antics happen next.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Bob
  • 01-31-22

Average rehash of GI Jane

Emily Woo Zeller did a decent narration. Even for throaty military males.

The story itself was entirely predictable with a ton of missed opportunities. Clever martial arts master female outwits two dimensional male culture who seem to drop ten IQ points whenever she is around.

I would have loved to hear more of her adopted father's martial arts training and philosophy rather than five sentences covering seven years. Knowing senior military I would have liked the General Staff characters outlook to be less chauvinistic and more rounded. Senior officers don't talk like this book outside of movies.

Frankly the SEAL style training felt nothing like some of the books by ex members. Again there was a missed opportunity for the protagonist to show how she would cope mentally and physically with the challenges. Maybe how the martial arts training helped. Instead, she is just written as good at everything.



1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Joga
  • 09-10-21

Like it and don't know why

The narration is good. The story too. Although I am not sure why. I began listening, it wasn't boring, so I finished the book. Makes sense? Have no idea what genre this story is either. Landed here by accident and somehow am liking it. Even if the heroine is strangly perfect, and has suddenly everything going her way. Maybe the beginning of the story is so grim, you can't leave the heroine till the story ends. Wanting her to succeed. But the story is so slim on emotions, it would make more sense if I just liked the battles and the reasoning behind the moves. Certainly a new category for me.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Duncan Forbes
  • 09-06-21

A good yarn

What can I say?
A female Chuck Norris.
Story is bit corny, but still a good read.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Hean Tremaine-Tucker
  • 05-18-22

welcome to Hell

Outstanding first book looking forward to the next one. Hope the next book lives up to book 1.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs Charmaine Ilkiw
  • 05-16-22

Good story, strong heroine

Plenty of action little blood thirsty at times, but will be reading the next one.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • bente
  • 04-13-22

Not so women friendly ...

Presents itself self as progressive, but has quite a bit of subtle misogyny. To bad, the story could have been fabulous otherwise.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Jon
  • 04-06-22

Free, but still not worth it.

Consistently dull, extremely repetitive, and almost entirely predictable, with one exception: when you read about a group of stormtroopers suppressing a colonial uprising, you’d expect that the sympathetic side would turn out to be the locals rebelling against the occupiers. But no, you’re supposed to cheer for the fascist civilian-murdering company-controlled oppressors. This happens more than once. And to underline the parallel: the Nürnberg-defence “just obeying orders” is frequently used to justify various amoralities.
The main character is of course a standard Mary Sue: bland hyper-capable wish-fulfilment.
Furthermore, the unnatural dialogue makes me think the author has never had a conversation with a human in their life, nor looked up the definition of “quip”.
There’s next to no world-building going on. In capable hands, “show, don’t tell” can be very effective, but here it’s just un-immersive.
The narrator is mostly decent, but there are multiple reading errors that a competent review/edit should’ve caught.
Stay clear.

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  • Bigpallooka
  • 03-20-20

Another great read from Mr Daems

C.R. Daems generally writes coming of age stories about girls/women in a science fiction setting. This is my favorite story line and every one of his titles, while following that style is uniquely original.

I bought the eBook and the second in the series and when this came out in audio I bought that too. I have listened to and read this story 3 times in the last six months and eagerly await an audio version of the second in the series and any more in the series Mr Daems intends to write. I have recently found several novels of his that I haven't read and intend to download them shortly.

I applaud the choice of narrator. One of the issues I have is that once I have read a book I have given the characters their own voices so it can be jarring when a narrator goes in another direction with the characters. This performance felt right.

If you like this book I highly recommend his other series and novels some of which are available as audiobooks and some only as eBooks and paperbacks.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Pete
  • 08-04-22

Eye roll

Child’s G.I. Jane. Barely survives interrogation training with her own team protecting the number of “brothers” in the area, then spends the ENTIRE book telling anyone who will listen about the specific details of her secret organisation. Even a restaurant full of people. The group has been in existence 100 years and not even the liaisons between them and the army know the details of structure until they ask her. And she spills EVERYTHING. And yes, she’s the first female in the Tasmanians. Get used to hearing that in every chapter. Funny eye roll, more than enjoyable.

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  • Lauren K
  • 07-02-22

So damn good!!!

Oh my gosh this!!! Loved everything about it. This book grabbed my complete attention 10-15 mins in, and held it for the 90 minute car ride home, the rest of the night and the next morning until I finished it. Special forces/elite military + the delicious introduction and integration of (eastern/non western) philosophical thinking; inner discipline and insight practices; fighting styles of multiple martial arts and context dependent strategic thinking = brilliant!! Add to that a realistic contextualisation and portrayal of a female’s potential capacities and contributions in varying combat contexts…so damn good! I didn’t experience one instance of ‘oh come on a female would be able to do X in this way but not Y as a man’; nor ‘why is no one in this scenario thinking ahead, stopping to take in the bigger picture, processes and systems at play’; nor ‘uuuhhhh this narrator is killing me but I’ll push through’. As a long term meditator with plans to immerse myself in the Taoist philosophies, approach and practices to living, it was just the best experience to have someone create a detailed depiction of possibilities I’d only ever imagined in my own mind - specifically the different way the mind of a meditator might approach the kind if intense physical & mental testing, training, testing and work of special forces/elite military. Part of me kept thinking “thank all that has taught me in this lifetime that someone has brought these elements together, and that the audible algorithm put this in my path”. When I got home from my first listen during the 90 min car ride I was so curious to learn about the author - were they male or female? What might inspire and allow for such a succinct, precise, accurate and intelligent depiction of military and martial arts thinking and practice - more lived experience or research? And of course, what else can I read?? Upon learning the author was male, had a military history and a life long engagement with king fu/tai chi my mind was even more delighted, excited and GRATEFUL!! Grateful,m and totally enthralled because the story, the setting, the writing (descriptions of the dynamics of various combat settings - succinct with just the right amount of detail) and the choice of narrator were so excellent (imho) that I had not one moment of frustration or disappointment at a lack of believability or quality thinking; got to witness the skilful bringing together of so many things I’m endlessly fascinated by and/or engaged with; and got the mega dose of motivation and determination thanks to the perfect timely appearance of this book in my life. I almost don’t want to get on to the next two knowing the emptiness one can experience at the end of favourited book. Almost! Let me at it

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  • anmaree
  • 05-30-22

A great Listen

Although this isn't my usual genre, I was absolutely fascinated by the story, drawn in almost immediately and have already purchased the 2nd and 3rd book.
This book is included in the plus catalogue so really you have nothing to lose by giving it a shot and seeing if it hooks you in as well.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Joe
  • 03-13-22

Heavy handed but fun action romp

I love a good sci-fi military story, especially when the protagonist has to battle the odds of battalion life, not just the enemy. And stories with well written female main characters are always welcome.

This book ticks all the right boxes, though is very heavy handed in pointing out the misogyny our heroine must battle. And our heroine comes across as a Mary-Sue, with no flaws. It reminds me more of the 80's politic, without any modern nuances. But that's not a terrible thing. My wife loved listening to the book with me during a long drive, so clearly the author is hitting a target audience.

Character development is limited, but the plot kicks along nicely. No surprises. Plenty of fun scenes.

In short, the book is pure pop escapism: enjoyable but unlikely to live in my memory.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-11-22

Made me giggle

An easy read that tries to be hard hitting in places but misses. The voice is also funny in places as it just doesn't do 'tough guy' convincingly. Being an Aussie also, reading a story where 'The Tasmanians' are an elite military group, where in reality its a sleepy island on the southern tip of Aus makes me giggle. The plot is predictable and goes where you anticipate it will. A good walk the dog listen.