Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Books of the Week: 6/19/2012

I must have done something to balance out my karma recently. This week, every book I read was actually enjoyable. That's right! I enjoyed EVERY. SINGLE. BOOK. I'm going to die, aren't I? Anyway, this week we have: a collection of Warhammer Fantasy stories, a Star Wars horror novel, and a Warhammer 40K Chaos novel. 

Blood Money
C.L. Werner

Blood Money is a collection of short stories about one character: Brunner the bounty hunter. These stories are a sort of introduction to Brunner and his backstory, which is explored in more depth in later novels.

My first reaction was that Blood Money reminds me of the two collections of Andrzej Sapkowski's The Witcher stories. And that's a good thing, a very good thing. There are some recurring characters--like in The Witcher--the world is grey and morally ambigious--like The Witcher--and the comparisons go on. 

Blood Money's writing is so-so. It's not bad, but neither is it excellent. Additionally, it tends to get a little stiff at times, as if Werner couldn't find a better way to say certain things. 

Brunner...Well, Brunner feels pretty real, and I wouldn't want to have him hunting me. He's not immortal or particularly powerful, but he's tricky and determined. All Brunner cares about is money--he has no morals. There's a dark past to him that I suspect will be explained in the later books.

The stories in Blood Money are quite varied, bouncing all over the known regions of the Warhammer Fantasy world. You'll meet almost all of the Warhammer races, and I never felt like any of the stories were rehashes. Blood Money is occasionally funny, but it's mostly true to the "grim" side of Warhammer

Despite the occasional flaws in the writing, Blood Money is a pretty good read. Until more The Witcher books are officially translated, this will do nicely.

Krunk's Korner: This am pretty good book. It am remind Krunk of him days as mercenary. Krunk am never fight little rat-men, though. Krunk am hate rats. Them naked tails am disgusting. Krunk am betting he am better fighter than Brunner. Krunk not need fancy "pistols" to kill people. Him hands and sword am good enough.

Death Troopers
Joe Schrieber

As you might have guessed, this is a horror novel involving stormtroopers. I can't help but feel that spoils the surprise, but that's just me. I don't want to talk too much about the plot because that's a crucial part of the horror, but it involves a prison barge and an abandoned Star Destroyer.

Death Troopers takes a little while to get into. For the first few chapters, I was a bit bored, but then things started to pick up and I became more interested. The writing, overall, is ok but not great. No masterpieces of horror writing here, except for one section.

While Death Troopers isn't particularly terrifying--there are at least two characters who are guaranteed survival--it got to me a little bit. Okay, quite a bit. Death Troopers has a sort of arc of scary: first it's rather boring, then it's quite scary, then it turns into more of an action novel with just a tinge of horror. 

The villain--not the monster--has a sudden and unexpected change of heart. I'm not sure why, and it almost feels like a deus ex machina. Additionally, the people I expected to survive were the ones who survived. Lucky guess? Maybe. 

Death Troopers is a bit predictable. Had I not know it was horror, I might have been more surprised and scared. As it is, there aren't a huge number of flaws. Decent novel, decent writing, scary, but not THAT scary. 

Krunk's Korner: This am not make sense to Krunk. People am want to be scared? Why? World am scary enough as it is. Anyway, this am not frighten Krunk all that much. It am no worse than many things Krunk am seen. Like naked dwarfses. Them am disgusting. 

Daemon World
Ben Counter

Yup, this is a Warhammer novel from the perspective of Chaos forces. Such books aren't exactly rare, but all the same they aren't exactly common. Daemon World is about just that: A world entirely given over to Chaos. 

My first though was that Counter wasn't particularly adept at capturing Chaos--its horror and insanity. However, he does succeed on occasion. And to be honest, no author has ever fully managed to write Chaos well. Chaos either ends up rather un-Chaotic, or it becomes pulp villian-ish. 

Counter's writing is, as usual, competent, and even good at times. He's no G.R.R. Martin, but he's skilled enough to keep me reading. His plotting is unusually intricate for him: there are several intertwined plots, and I honestly didn't know what the master plan was until I read the last page. 

Plot aside, three quarters of this book is filled with battles. Mainly, it's barbarians against Slaaneshi cultists, Khorne demons against Slaaneshi cultists, and at the end, barbarians AND Khorne demons against Slaaneshi cultists. You have scenes like a titanic Daemon prince fighting hordes of enemies and tearing down massive walls, a sea attack on a summoned ocean of blood, and a legendary champion of Chaos killing rival Chaos Space Marines.

One thought that I had throughout Daemon World was "This would make an amazing game." I stand by that thought. There are set pieces that would make God of War jealous, and it would be easy enough to switch from playing as a barbarian to a well-armed Slaaneshi cultist to a Chaos champion to a Daemon prince itself. 

Well-written, though it falls a bit flat on its descriptions of Chaos, crazy battles, intricate plot...did I mention the battles? Someone make this a video game. It would be better than Space Marine

Krunk's Korner: Now THIS am something Krunk am understand. Battles, killing people with axes and swords! Krunk am never fight with Daemon prince, though. Him am not stupid. Never trust Daemons. They am tricksy buggers.