Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Books of the Week: 5/1/2012

Another week, another batch of books. I'm pretty sure y'all know the drill by now. I read books, then review them the next week. Up on the chopping block this week we have: a Warhammer Fantasy Trilogy, a Warhammer 40K stand-alone novel, and a Star Wars one-shot novel. OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!

Daemon Gate Trilogy 
Aaron Rosenberg

For some reason, this came across as a DnD game set in the Warhammer world. An unlikely mishmash of heroes, sent off to destroy the usual McGuffin. Almost every profession in the Warhammer Old World is represented: traders, explorers, witch hunters, soldiers, you get the idea. 

Unfortunately, it's hard to keep track of all those people. This is made worse by two things. One, there are a LOT of "A" names. Two, characterization is poorly done. Most of the characters seem bland and cardboardy, which coming from me, the master of 2D characters, is saying something. The perspective switches between the characters are choppy as well. Or more accurately, the switches are choppy because you don't realize it's happening and you have to reread the last ten pages to properly understand what's going on.

Additionally, many of the characters had no real reason to be going on their mad quest. This lack of logic seemed to be a recurring theme. While the group's journey was meant to be secret, somehow half of the cast of characters managed to show up uninvited, with full knowledge of the journey's purpose. Yeah. I wouldn't be telling them about my crush on A--lalalala you didn't read that!

The Daemon's Gate trilogy also suffered from redshirt syndrome. In the first big battle, only minor characters--i.e. those without names--died. And when more characters, both minor and major, were captured by cannibal beastmen, guess who got eaten before rescue arrived? Not the travellers with names, that's for sure.

My final problem with the Daemon's Gate trilogy is that I was able to guess the "big plot twist" only three chapters in. Now, I'm not what you'd call an observant person, or a good guesser, so that should tell you something. 

Did not finish. Mediocre-to-poor writing, poor plotting and characterization, missing logic, and obvious plot twists ruined this trilogy for me. If you're a HUGE Warhammer Fantasy fan, or Aaron Rosenberg's mom, you might be able to stomach this.

Legion of the Damned
Rob Sanders.

As you might have guessed, Warhammer 40K Battles novels revolve around a single battle/siege/conflict, with some backstory thrown in for good measure. This particular novel involves a Space Marine company up against an army of Blood God-worshipping berserker rebels and Chaos Space Marines.

Of course, the nearly invulnerable, immortal Space Marines have to be humanized. If well done, this is enjoyable, but Sanders fumbles. The Space Marines come across as irritable and petty, like whiny children who bicker over who had a toy first. In a particularly stupid moment, two engage in a duel to the death while hordes of Khorne cultists howl outside. The reason for all this infighting, the loss of a sacred artifact, would be believable enough, but the cause for the loss, a genetic defect that any Marine of this particular chapter could have, seems contrived. 

Legion of the Damned switches between 1st person narration (at the beginning of chapters) to 3rd person limited in the bulk of the chapters, which is both unnecessary and annoying. Additionally, Sanders has a passion for synonyms that results in what some people like to call "elongated yellow fruit disease," where bananas become...elongated yellow fruits. Sanders tends to turn flowery at the wrong moments, and it actually became laughable at one point when he fumbled for more synonyms for "blood-crazed." 

The main battle, however WAS pretty epic, which is the main point in a 40K Battles novel. However, I'd have liked more explanation of the Legion of the Damned who appear late in the novel. 

Laughable group dynamics, decent writing, epic battle. It's not awful. 

Splinter of the Mind's Eye 
Alan Dean Foster

Horrible. This book was horrible. I managed a whole two pages, which I thought was quite generous under the circumstances, before Foster's overwrought prose stopped me cold. 

It's possible that Foster was trying to be philosophical and deep, but his writing instead manages to be simultaneously stupid, condescending, arrogant, and confusing. Twilight was better written this, and I enjoyed it more, too. 

I'm guessing this was written before Return of the Jedi (or maybe Foster just REALLY likes incest), because Luke is described as creepily, passionately in love/lust with Leia. (*shudder*). Foster would make plot-writers for hentai uneasy. 

Don't waste your time. This is the worst Star Wars novel I've yet read, worse than the kids novels, which at least had the excuse of being for kids. Creepy incest, terrible writing, not the comic of the same name. Stay far away.