Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Books of the Week: 8/7/2012

'Allo, everybody! Welcome back to another book review! Only two books again this week (sorry, I've been busy proofing my own writing), a Star Wars novel and a Warhammer 40K novel. I was shooting to also have 2001: A Space Odyssey finished, but I'm reading too slowly.

Darth Plagueis
James Luceno

This is basically a prequel to the prequel movies, detailing the rise and fall of Darth Plagueis (I know I'm gonna mistype that), Palpatine's master, as well as Palpatine's own rise.

The writing is pretty good, though Luceno seems a bit obsessed with fancy words. On second thought, no, it's not pretty good. It's good. No qualifier. The fancy-word usage drops considerably after the first chapter. 

There are midi-chlorians EVERYWHERE. Jeez. Well, at least they make more sense than in the prequel movies. But, if you don't like midi-chlorians (I personally don't mind them), you might be a bit annoyed by their inclusion in Darth Plagueis. Plagueis, as it happens, is obsessed with living forever. What is it with Sith and grand plans? Personally, I'd use my Sith powers to get filthy rich, then quit Sith-ing. 

Have I mentioned how cool it is to see Palpatine's master, and the seeds or beginnings of Palpy's plans? Darth Plagueis almost single-handedly sets up the entire movie series. Whether that's a good or a bad thing depends on how much you hate the prequel trilogy, I guess. 

Luceno does have a little problem--namely, he likes to slip in references to the movie titles. And it's very obvious, along the lines of "The Sith are a phantom menace, blah blah blah." Personally, I was annoyed by it, but that's just me. 

Well, it's a minor thing. Moving on... I almost LIKED Darth Plagueis as a character, up until certain things happened relating to the prequel trilogy. Suffice to say, he, in-universe, is the cause of much of the prequel trilogy's suckiness. 

The plot is good, though I occasionally had problems following the more political aspects. There are several characters with similar names, which added to the confusion. But that's not a big deal, and it's probably my fault. I'm slow like that.

Characters are also realized well. None of them are overly cardboardy, and the major characters are nicely fleshed out. 

Overall, I really liked Darth Plagueis. Good characters, good writing, good plot, a couple minor quibbles, but nothing too horrible.

Krunk's Kornor: Krunk... Am confused. There am too much talking in this book. Not enough fighting. Politics am make Krunk head spin. Krunk...not...feel so good...

Brothers of the Snake
Dan Abnett

(EEEEE! Dan Abnett! EEEEEE!) A Warhammer 40K novel about a Chapter of awesome Space Marines, mainly following the rise of one Marine, and the fate of one planet over several decades.

One chapter in and I loved this. Abnett's a master at making characters believable, even if they only live for a chapter or two. And then, the Spess Muhreen appears. This Space Marine...is HUMAN! He's tough, but also relatable and slightly flawed. In addition, he doesn't have the ego complex that many writers' Space Marines do (*cough* C.S. Goto *cough*). This Space Marine actually CARES about the humans he's protecting. Huh. I think I'm gonna like this guy.

The plot is...decent, which is a surprise, as Abnett's plot-work is usually amazing. Brothers of the Snake is essentially seven short stories about the same Space Marine, connected by an overarching plot and recurring characters. Unfortunately, the grand scheme isn't exactly as visible as I feel like it should be. Honestly, the plot feels more like an excuse to connect a bunch of action sequences, which is a shame. I expect more from Abnett.

Luckily, the plot doesn't take away a whole lot of enjoyment from reading Brothers of the Snake. Action, as it always is when Abnett's writing, is great. He's not afraid to kill characters, so you never know what's gonna happen. 

Overall? Great writing, great characters, great action, and a decent plot.

Krunk's Kornor: Ah, this am more like it! Krunk feel better now. Action! Blood! Guts! Giant men in metal armor! Krunk feel at home, now. Dan Abnett am good at writing this stuff. Krunk like Dan Abnett. That am all.