Decision at Thunder Rift
Just finished re-reading "Decision at Thunder Rift" by William H. Keith Jr. (1986). After 27 years and it's still as fresh now as it was then to read the first 'Battletech' novel. Its universe of 31st. century combat, not unlike the warring clans in "Dune" draws you in to a gritty realism of what it is like to be a pilot (a Mech Warrior) of a 20 to 60 ton walking machine of death!
The smell in the hot cockpit of oil, sweat and blood from 3 centuries of warfare, the patched-up Armour, and the machines weapons that cause it to over heat and shut-down just when the tied of battle could go their way!
We follow the exploits with there ups and downs of a young trainee Mech Warrior 'Grayson Death Carlye' [even the character struggles with the sense of his middle-name] pledged to finish his training and take the mantel of Mech Warrior in his father’s Mercenary regiment, garrisoned to protect an outlying world of little importance.
Suddenly his world is turn up side down, his regiment vanished his family and friends dead, unarmed and stranded on a back-water world that has turn against him. In the school of hard knocks he will have to learn that the machine does not make the man, but winning the hearts and minds of the locals and leading by example will go a long way. All he really has to do is raise a BattleMech regiment of his own, just one thing he needs to do is capture one mechanised walking war machines first!
Battle action interwoven with power struggles and betrayal, love and revenge, and danger at every turn, what more could you want?
[And with hindsight you now know that all the Mech designs are Japanese Mecha from Anime.]