Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Books of the Week: 7/17/2012

Well, I must have mucked up my karma this week. The quality of books was drastically lower. What did I do differently--*gasp* THAT? NOooooooo.... Anyways, three books this week, as usual: A Warhammer 40K novel (are you surprised?), a Warhammer Fantasy novel (it looked good), and a weird steampunkish novel by China Mieville.

Dawn of War II
Chris Roberson

This is, I assume, the novelization of the game, and so there's lots of world-hopping, slaying of various xenos beasts, and general malarkey. I'm not going to try summarizing the plot beyond that.

Roberson's writing is passable. Not excellent, not poor, not even good. Just mediocre. That's about all I can say for it. 200 pages in, and nothing happens. There are some random goings-on, but hardly anything that resembles action or a plot. This is one of the longest setups in a book I've ever seen.

Eventually, things get going, and when they do, it's madness. First feral orks attack, then a whole host of other alien menaces. I get that this is tied to the game, which has to have various enemies out of necessity, but it almost feels ridiculous, the number of dangers these three (or so) planets are hit by.

The characters in Dawn of War (II) are extremely bland. I don't care about any of the cardboard, 2D characters. They're more 2D than Paper Mario, who at least has a personality. Every character is either bland and two-dimensional, or they're complete jerks. And then, at complete random, a random space marine squad remember their homeworld and decide to help rescue a village. I thought Space Marine training blocked that out? PLOT HOOOOOLE!

Roberson repeats information a lot. Either he thinks we can't remember what little background he gave his characters, or he's padding for words. I'm not sure which is worse. The plot is...there, barely. But the ending is extremely improbable.

Dawn of War II is meh. Much like the last book by Roberson, it was good enough to read once. Barely. 2D characters, thin plot, mediocre writing... It's really not worth the money you'd pay for it.

Krunk's Kornor: This book am dumber than Krunk's friend Amos. Amos am dumber than box of rocks. At least if you hit rocks together, they might make spark... This book just make thumping noise.

Blood for the Blood God
C.L. Werner

Well, Werner is usually a decent writer, so this might not be too bad. It's a Warhammer Fantasy novel about Chaos tribes locked in clan warfare who are hunted by a Chaos Champion called the Skulltaker. Guess what his signature is. Go on, guess!

Remember what I said in the last paragraph? About Werner's writing usually being decent? Well, Blood For the Blood God isn't up to his usual standard. He switches between characters haphazardly, and it's just generally not all that well-written. Better than Dawn of War (II)? Yes. Oh yes. But not by much. Some of the characters actually have personalities, but others don't. Werner did a very hit-and-miss job, it would seem.

Blood For the Blood God is just one of those books. It's impossible to capture or describe the madness of Chaos, so Werner just goes with gore and savagery. Blood and guts does not a Chaos novel make.

However, I have to give him props for the Skulltaker sections. They're what I want to call a Chaos version of Shadow of the Colossus, including a scene where the Skulltaker kills a 60-foot-tall goat-man. Yeah, that happens. I guess in a book about Khorne, you'd expect a lot of combat, and you wouldn't be disappointed. Blood For the Blood God is filled with battles. There's some treachery and intrigue, but nothing that really surprised me. This is all about the killing.

The world of Blood For the Blood God is very blah. There were a couple of set pieces, but no location that really stood out. Everything just seemed like your standard "evil nature" tropes.

Overall, Blood For the Blood God was marginally better than Dawn of War II, but not by much. Slightly better plot, the action started sooner, a few characters that actually have CHARACTER, and some awesome battle scenes.

Krunk's Kornor: This Skulltaker seem like worthy opponent. Maybe Krunk seek him out someday. Someday in very far future. Krunk am liking life at the moment.

Iron Council
China Mieville

Look, I'm not even going to try encapsulating the plot. It's steampunk(ish), involves civil war, a nomad train that lays its own rails, golems, and some other stuff. You really have to read it to understand.

Mieville's writing style is...interesting. It varies from natural and almost folksy, to an extreme of pompous "artsyness" that makes me want to punch him repeatedly in the stomach. To be blunt, I occasionally felt like Mieville was writing sections of this just to stroke his own... ego. (You think I was gonna say something else? This is a family site, you monster!) I mean, at times, I felt like I was reading something written by someone from one of my writing classes.

Moving on... There's a lot of mythology in Iron Council, but it's up to you to figure things out. I have to admit, I felt like I was part of Iron Council's world because of that. Still, it was annoying at times when I didn't understand what certain things were.

The characters in Iron Council are all good. They exist, they feel real. There really aren't any stereotyped characters--I expected one or two to be stereotypes, like they'd be in other media, but no!

I already said I wasn't going to try explaining the plot. Suffice to say that it's intricate, and that the ending was shocking.

Overall, Iron Council was a good book. Most of the time, I enjoyed it. Most of the time. When Mieville isn't being artsy, his writing is good. The plot is incredibly intricate, the characters feel real, and the world is very realized.

Krunk's Kornor: Krunk am not feel like writing anymore today. This book make his head spin. That am all.