The Legacy (The Legend of Drizzt #7)

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The Legacy Book Cover The Legacy
The Legend of Drizzt
R.A. Salvatore
Fantasy
Wizards of the Coast
October 1, 1992
Paperback
334

Life is good for Drizzt Do'Urden, better than it ever has been for the beleaguered dark elf. His dearest friend, the dwarf Bruenor, has reclaimed his throne, and his adventuring companions, Wulfgar and Catti-brie, are to be wed in the spring. Even the halfling Regis has returned. All the friends are united in the safety and prosperity of Mithril Hall, where streams of silver mithril run deep and dwarven hammers bang out the solemn rhythms of ancient and unending songs.

But Drizzt did not achieve this state of peace without leaving powerful enemies in his wake. Lloth, the dreaded Spider Queen deity of the evil dark elves, counts herself among them and has vowed to end the drow's days of pleasant security.

 

The Legacy picks up a little after the end of The Halfling’s Gem. With the previous plot points wrapped up, our heroes are now living easy and enjoying some peace and quiet. Until they aren’t because the plot has to come from somewhere. Most of the plot threads from the previous books are already wrapped up at this point, but not quite all of them.

Now, this is the point where the series truly becomes about Drizzt. Remember, he wasn’t intended to be the main character of the Icewind Dale trilogy. His popularity convinced Salvatore to focus on Drizzt with the prequel trilogy. While those books were good, they did have some limitations since they were prequels. Yeah, they were about Drizzt, but they were just bringing readers up to speed on his backstory. One of my personal grievances with prequels is knowing certain characters will be ok because we’ve already seen them fine and dandy further down the timeline. It just makes it harder to convey a sense of danger and suspense.

Anyway, The Legacy has a few advantages over the previous books. Now we’re focused on a single main character instead of splitting attention equally(ish) between the party. So, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Drizzt’s backstory is what drives the plot here. Being on a sociopathic deity’s shit-list tends to be problematic, especially when said deity’s followers are almost equally sociopathic.

The fact that this isn’t the first book is also a big advantage. The Icewind Dale trilogy had to do what all first books do and establish the worldbuilding and characters. Then the prequel trilogy kind of had to do it again since it’s chronologically first. This time, all that stuff is established from the get-go. We start already knowing the characters and setting, so we can get right to the plot. It gives the page count a lot more time to actually do stuff, which is wonderful.

The set-up of The Legacy is also nice. The book is broken into five ‘Parts’, which give it an almost episodic feel. The later parts aren’t quite as disconnected as the earlier ones, but they still mark stopping points in the story. Which works surprisingly well considering The Legacy as a whole is a ‘Part I’ in the new story arc. The standalone feeling of The Crystal Tower is nowhere to be had here and it’s great. You can read this book knowing we’re going to get more.

It took a little time for The Legacy of Drizzt to get rolling, but this seems to mark the point where it’s grown the beard. Looking forward to the next book for sure.

April 11, 2021

The Liar’s Key (The Red Queen’s War #2)

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The Liar's Key Book Cover The Liar's Key
The Red Queen's War
Mark Lawrence
Fantasy
Ace
June 2, 2015
Paperback
472

From the international bestselling author of the Broken Empire Trilogy, the Red Queen’s War continues...
 
After harrowing adventure and near death, Prince Jalan Kendeth and the Viking Snorri ver Snagason find themselves in possession of Loki’s key, an artifact capable of opening any door and sought by the most dangerous beings in the Broken Empire—including the Dead King.

Jal wants only to return home to his wine, women, and song, but Snorri has his own purpose for the key: to find the very door into death, throw it wide, and bring his family back into the land of the living.

And as Snorri prepares for his quest to find death’s door, Jal’s grandmother, the Red Queen, continues to manipulate kings and pawns towards an endgame of her own design…

 

The Liar’s Key picks up not far from where Prince of Fools left off. Our heroes are recovering from their ordeal at the Black Fort before setting out for their next destination. But one victory doesn’t mean their problems are over. Far from it. The Dead King still has a target on their backs as the protagonists try and deal with their own problems. So, it’s time for another journey across the kingdoms, dodging danger along the way. But danger isn’t the only thing Jalan and Snorri will encounter on their journey.

What would a new book be without new characters? That’s right, it’s time for new protagonists! As more people join the party, we start to enter Five-Man Band territory. And hey, this trope is a thing because it works. Now, I wouldn’t say that The Liar’s Key follows the Five-Man Band formula exactly, but it’s close. And as much as I love the relationship and banter between Jalan and Snorri, it would’ve been a bit much if the whole trilogy was just that. The new characters are very different and add a great amount of diversity and conflicting opinions to the dialogue and plot.

That being said, the story is still being told with Jalan as the central character. We still get to see his thoughts and how much people’s assumptions diverge from what he’s really thinking. But Mark Lawrence also incorporates something that was big in books 2 & 3 of the Broken Empire trilogy: flashbacks. Throughout The Liar’s Key, we start to see bits of Jalan’s childhood and how a few key events shaped him into who he is today. We’ve seen time and again that despite being a Dirty Coward, he’s also a Lovable Rogue. He’s got a Harry Dresden thing going where his brain says one thing, but his conscience tends to get the better of him. Though admittingly not always.

While the characters here are a lot more lighthearted than The Broken Empire’s cast, it’s the same world. The same cruel, cruel world. With all of its horrific violence and the reminder that even in a world with literal monsters, man is the true monster. And the full knowledge, of both us readers and characters themselves, that Jalan and co. are being treated like chess pieces in a much bigger game. Jalan is many things, but stupid isn’t one of them. And no one likes being treated like a game piece.

One last note, parts of this book are admittingly slow. It’s not the near non-stop action romp that was Prince of Fools. But it’s still a high-quality high fantasy adventure and I can’t wait to see how it wraps up.

April 4, 2021

The Invisible Man

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Poster for the movie "The Invisible Man"

The Invisible Man

What You Can't See Can Hurt You

20202 h 04 min
Overview

When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

Metadata
Director Leigh Whannell
Runtime 2 h 04 min
Release Date 26 February 2020
Details
Movie Media VoD
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Very good

I originally dodged this movie for two reasons. #1, from the trailer I thought it looked lame. The first part of the trailer has this whole “is Elisabeth Moss’ character crazy or is there really an Invisible Man?” thing going on. And then it’s just like, “Oh, no, there’s an Invisible Man.” And I took that as the trailer just giving too much away, as trailers tend to do. #2, Vincent Price is one of my all-time favorite actors and I really didn’t expect this movie to outdo his classic Invisible Man film. But I was bored one weekend, and then this popped up, so I watched it anyway. And I’m very glad I did.

This is one of those adaptations that’s mostly in name only. Aside from the titular Invisible Man’s last name being Griffin, this movie has little in common with the original H.G. Wells story. If you’re not familiar with the original story, it’s about a man who makes an invisibility drug and can’t change back. Now, the original movie has madness as a side effect of the formula. The book implies that Griffin was always kind of nuts and being invisible just pushed him over the edge. So, in that way, this remake is more in line with Wells’ book than the original movie was. But the similarities stop there.

Now, the biggest difference is that this story isn’t really about the Invisible Man. In older versions, the Invisible Man was our protagonist. In this film, he’s more of a driving force as we follow Elisabeth Moss’ character Cecilia (“Cee”). The whole invisibility thing isn’t really the catalyst of this story. It’s about Cee trying to get away from her abusive husband. You could remove the “Invisible Man” element and large parts of this story would still work. They’d be harder to pull off, but they could still work in theory.

And it’s really Moss’ performance that sells this film. The Invisible Man aspect puts her in a situation that a lot of people are really unfortunately in: no one believes her. The fantastical elements make her situation a lot more extreme than a real-world scenario, but that core element remains the same. And that element, in no small part due to Moss’ amazing performance, is what makes this film so good.

I went into this movie with pretty low expectations, but it’s a good movie. Not just a good horror movie, mind you, but a good movie. That is extremely difficult to pull off in the horror genre. They really took the basic idea of the Invisible Man and put an incredible modern spin on it. And this movie was made on only a $7 million budget; it looks amazing for that. Good movie in general, great movie if you love horror.

March 28, 2021

Firestorm (Destroyermen #6)

Published Post author

Firestorm Book Cover Firestorm
Destroyermen
Taylor Anderson
Sci-fi
Ace Books
October 4, 2011
Paperback
422

Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy and the crew of the USS Walker find themselves caught between the nation they swore to defend and the allies they promised to protect. For even as the Allies and the Empire of New Britain Isles stand united against the attacks of both the savage Grik and the tenacious Japanese, the "Holy Dominion"-a warped mixture of human cultures whose lust for power overshadows even the Grik-is threatening to destroy them both with a devastating weapon neither can withstand.

 

And now we’re on to the next inevitable phase of any war series, fighting on multiple fronts. The Grik are still out there but the Dominion have proven themselves to also be a threat. Despite that, we really don’t get a lot of the Dominion’s POV just yet. That’s still focused mainly on the Alliance and occasionally the Grik. One of the big things in Firestorm is the escalation of war. We start to see each side building bigger, stronger, and more devastating weapons. Everyone is getting better at fighting from experience as the infusion of new technology rapidly grows the war machine on both sides.

Things are also getting more and more split up at this point, with the POV still jumping between characters. I expect it to stay that way for the rest of this series, or at least until the war wraps up on one front. That being said, a lot of Firestorm is dedicated to build-up. As opposed to another giant battle here, we more see the work going towards the next one. This also leaves lots of time for worldbuilding, which is always nice. Worldbuilding has really slowed down to make way for the war so it’s great to see Anderson’s world explored again.

Part of me wants to say Firestorm has lots of “twists and turns”, but there aren’t really any twists. It’s just the turns. A lot happens with the story jumping around to resolve existing plotlines and get new ones going. If you’re familiar with war stories, it’s all fairly predictable. Especially war stories where new weapons are constantly introduced, which seems more common in sci-fi settings. But I don’t think anyone is reading Destroyermen expecting Herbert-level quality, so it continues to be the same campy fun.

Now, one thing I do have to complain about is the Spoiler Cover. Look, I know that this is somewhat passable for well-known pop culture references. No one complains that the cover for Free Willy shows him jumping over the rocks. But while Destroyermen is a lot of good things, well-known to the general public is not one of them. The zeppelins on the cover are supposed to be a big twist at the end of the book. They’re the purported Grik super-weapon that the book builds up to in a “surprise!” moment. But they’re just right there on the front cover. So, not so much a surprise.

That one major complaint non-withstanding, Firestorm is another good entry in a fun sci-fi alternate history series. Looking forward to the next one.

March 21, 2021

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 7: Ut Sementem Feceris, ita Metes

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The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 7: Ut Sementem Feceris, ita Metes Book Cover The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 7: Ut Sementem Feceris, ita Metes
The Saga of Tanya the Evil
Carlo Zen
Light Novel
Yen On
May 19, 2020 (English) | December 28, 2016 (Japanese)
Paperback
288

Even in the skies above the quagmire of the Eastern front, the gunfire never ceases. It's here that the Salamander Kampfgruppe has been thrust into the madness of battle once again as another cog in the machine of war. For good or for ill, the time has come to reap what they have sown. Their only hope is that they will be blessed with a harvest of victory.

 

Ut Sementem Feceris, ita Mete – As you sow, so shall you reap. The Latin titles continue to be extremely on-point in this series. Things have picked back up a bit since the lull in the last book as the war continues. The series has spent quite a few volumes focused on the Empire (not-Germany) fighting the Union (not-Russia) at this point. But it’s starting to seem like the end of that fighting is in sight. If for no other reason than both militaries are practically on their last legs. Until, of course, reality ensues.

The opening of this volume is fantastic because Tanya’s unit gets stuck babysitting an observer from a neutral country. This guy provides some outside perspective and reminds us, the readers, just how insane everything Tanya’s group now considers normal really is. War is hell but, apparently, you can get used to anything given enough time. And it is hilarious. Seeing this guy utterly horrified while Tanya just stands there with a “this is fine” face. While this all ties into the heavy diplomacy the last book really focused on, it mixes it pretty evenly with the action sequences of the earlier volumes. The action is more in the middle here while the politics are the book-ends.

Now for a lot of this series, the brass has been disconnected from the frontline troops in terms of thought. We’ve seen time and again how Tanya’s knowledge of Earth’s military history lets her predict how things will play out. We’re now to the point where the brass realizes they’re barely hanging in there. Manpower and resources are stretched to the limit; victory or defeat, the war will end soon. So, they better do their best to make sure it’s a victory. Unfortunately, the civilian leadership is of another mind and the aforementioned reality ensues.

In my review of the last book, I talked about how humans are rarely logical creatures. Even when there is an obvious logical choice, emotions often stop us from acting like Vulcans. In this case, greed is the motivating emotion. Seeing is believing and the civilian leadership has not seen the frontlines. Not to mention people tend to only see what they want to, in this case viewing small victories as bigger than they are. We see more of that here and there’s no question Tanya’s battles will be far from over in Volume 8.

5 stars for this book though. A great mix of the action and political elements I’ve come to love in this series.

March 14, 2021

Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War #1)

Published Post author

Prince of Fools Book Cover Prince of Fools
The Red Queen's War
Mark Lawrence
Fantasy
Ace
June 3, 2014
Paperback
355

The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire dread her like no other. For all her reign, she has fought the long war, contested in secret, against the powers that stand behind nations, for higher stakes than land or gold. Her greatest weapon is The Silent Sister—unseen by most and unspoken of by all.

The Red Queen’s grandson, Prince Jalan Kendeth—drinker, gambler, seducer of women—is one who can see The Silent Sister. Tenth in line for the throne and content with his role as a minor royal, he pretends that the hideous crone is not there. But war is coming. Witnesses claim an undead army is on the march, and the Red Queen has called on her family to defend the realm. Jal thinks it’s all a rumor—nothing that will affect him—but he is wrong.

After escaping a death trap set by the Silent Sister, Jal finds his fate magically intertwined with a fierce Norse warrior. As the two undertake a journey across the Empire to undo the spell, encountering grave dangers, willing women, and an upstart prince named Jorg Ancrath along the way, Jalan gradually catches a glimmer of the truth: he and the Norseman are but pieces in a game, part of a series of moves in the long war—and the Red Queen controls the board.

 

So, the Red Queen’s War series takes place in the same world as the Broken Empire trilogy. Same setting, same(ish) time, mostly new characters. I wouldn’t say that it’s really necessary to read the Broken Empire books first. However, certain things make a lot more sense if you have. And a few things about the Broken Empire books do get spoiled throughout this trilogy, so consider yourself warned.

Now despite being in the same world, the narrative in Prince of Fools is very different from the previous trilogy. Mainly because of the protagonist, Prince Jalan. Whereas Jorg was a heartless bastard who brought himself up in a cruel dog-eat-dog world, Jalan has lived an easy life. If I had to compare Jalan to another character, Tyrion Lannister at the start of Game of Thrones (before he had any character development) comes to mind. But less clever and more reliant on sheer dumb luck. Happy to live out his days in luxury using his family’s wealth, until The Thing happens.

Anyone familiar with these stories knows they always kick off with The Thing happening. Destiny calls, the protagonist is the chosen one, and a hero will rise! Or, you get someone like Jalan who has to be dragged towards the quest. Pretty sure Jalan himself puts it best, “I’m a liar and a cheat and a coward, but I will never, ever let a friend down. Unless of course not letting them down requires honesty, fair play, or bravery.” He is a dirty coward and while he certainly has a lot of luck, it’s not always good luck. The pendulum swings both ways hard for this poor bastard.

And then we get our 2nd protagonist, Snorri, who is a viking. And…that’s kind of it. He’s a viking, that’s his character. If you’ve watched Vikings or played Skyrim, you know what to expect here. There is admittingly a bit more to it than that and Snorri really helps to balance out Jalan’s character. Which is really the point; he is the stoic warrior opposite of Jalan’s reluctant/accidental heroism. They make a hell of a pair, something other characters comment on throughout the story, and spawn an epic bromance.

This is a powerful start to a new trilogy and shows a lot of depth to Mark Lawrence’s skill as an author. I say that as someone who has only read the Broken Empire trilogy and none of his other work before picking up Prince of Fools. This is the same world but it’s not the same type of story. Broken Empire was extremely grimdark while this is more of your standard fantasy fare. Nonetheless, it’s going to be one hell of a trilogy.

March 7, 2021

Willy’s Wonderland

Published Post author

Poster for the movie ""

Willy's Wonderland

Their idea of fun is killer!

20211 h 28 min
Overview

When his car breaks down, a quiet loner agrees to clean an abandoned family fun center in exchange for repairs. He soon finds himself waging war against possessed animatronic mascots while trapped inside Willy's Wonderland.

Metadata
Director Kevin Lewis
Runtime 1 h 28 min
Release Date 12 February 2021
Details
Movie Media VoD
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Good

After watching the Banana Splits Movie, I said to myself, “Hm, bet we won’t see another movie with killer animatronics for a long time.” I’m glad I didn’t put money on that. Now, B-movies about killer robots are not exactly unique. Evil Chuck E. Cheese, on the other hand, is a bit more niche. Before Willy’s Wonderland came out, everyone was saying, “So it’s just Five Nights are Freddy’s with Nicolas Cage.” And…yeah that was pretty much it. Can’t say viewers are going to go into this movie not knowing what to expect.

What I did not know, and did surprise me, is that Nic Cage plays a silent protagonist. And it works! And not in a gimmicky way like Jason Voorhees or Mini-Me either. His nameless character (credited as The Janitor) shows a lot of personality and badassery. When the evil animatronics attack, he starts fighting back like a pro with no fear or hesitation. All the other characters realize how messed up this situation is, but Nic Cage is just there with a “But for me, it was Tuesday” attitude. I never really thought about Nic Cage playing a silent protagonist before now but if it works it works.

Everything else in this movie is exactly what you’d exactly. Some horror, some comedy, and some action with all the standard tropes. Monsters in dark rooms, jump scares, teenagers being brutally killed one by one, the works. If you’re expecting anything other than a cliché horror-comedy that may or may not become a cult classic, I’m not sure why you’re even watching Willy’s Wonderland. This movie is made with a specific audience in mind and the trailer alone should let you know whether or not this film is for you.

Anyway, I liked it a lot. It did what it was trying to do with a good mix of CGI and practical effects. And Nic Cage being Nic Cage. I’m not sure they even gave him a script. They might have just explained the premise, shoved him on the set, and said, “Ok, do stuff. Cameras are rolling.” Everything here is basically what you would expect from Nic Cage, whose presence is a major selling point here. That and evil animatronics and the fact this is a horror B-movie. All hail cheesy movies!

February 28, 2021

Rising Tides (Destroyermen #5)

Published Post author

Rising Tides Book Cover Rising Tides
Destroyermen
Taylor Anderson
Sci-fi
Roc
February 1, 2011
Paperback
433

In Taylor Anderson's acclaimed Destroyermen series, a parallel universe adds a extraordinary layer to the drama of World War II. Now, as Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy and the crew of the U.S.S. Walker continue their battle for both freedom and survival, the stakes become much more personal...and much more perilous.

 

Rising Tides kicks off right where Distant Thunders left off, really being Act 2 of this story arc. With several of their people kidnapped, Captain Reddy and his destroyermen must sail Walker into new waters for the rescue. While the Empire seems like a potential ally, having traitors running loose does not make for a good first impression. Given the fact that the Empire was founded by ships from the East India Company at the height of its power, it should come as no surprise how their modern-day “Company” is behaving. Think Pirates of the Caribbean.

What Reddy can’t know, of course, is that the hostages have already rescued themselves. In no small part thanks to Silva. God, I love Silva. And they are now stuck on an island that’s just about as hospitable as anywhere else in this world. This takes us to the part of the story where the author has split the party. In pretty much any grand-scale military sci-fi series, this happens eventually. The war starts to get bigger and Team Protagonist has to split up to fight battles on multiple fronts. It’s now abundantly clear that The Grik are not the only threat in this world and the new enemies will also need to be dealt with.

The action is still a bit toned down here, but not as much as it was in the last book. Some of the action does come from military fighting while the rest is built around natural disasters and the planet’s many super-predators. This all happens on multiple fronts since the characters are scattered around now. Along with the physical danger, getting new factions involved means politics are now playing a bigger role in this war. Not to mention all the implications that the Empire’s existence has for the Lemurian religion and their newfound friendship with Reddy and his crew.

While Reddy and his crew are fully aware that humans can be bastards, this is a new(ish) concept for the Lemurians. Yeah, they’ve already fought against Kurokawa and know he’s helping the Grik. But knowing an enemy is on a ship somewhere is a lot different than talking to the person. Showing that so many other humans can be bastards demonstrates that Kurokawa is not some outlier of normal human behavior.

The events of Rising Tides wrap up a lot of subplots but also open many new doors. This really feels like the turning point where the series goes from being about one ship to being about war. And considering how good these books have been so far, I can’t wait to see where Anderson continues to take his series as it sails into new waters.

February 21, 2021

The Halfling’s Gem (Icewind Dale Trilogy #3/The Legend of Drizzt #6)

Published Post author

The Halfling's Gem Book Cover The Halfling's Gem
The Legend of Drizzt
R.A. Salvatore
Fantasy
Wizards of the Coast
January 1990
Paperback
336

Regis has fallen into the hands of the assassin Artemis Entreri, who is taking him to Calimport to deliver him into the clutches of the vile Pasha Pook. But Drizzt and Wulfgar are close on their heels, determined to save Regis from his own folly as much as from his powerful enemies.

 

The Halfling’s Gem picks up right where Streams of Silver left off. Bruenor lost, Regis and Guenhwyvar kidnapped, and the remaining companions at a loss. Bruenor may be gone, but Regis and Guenhywvar can still be saved as the companions continue forward. Now, nothing in this book is too surprising. It’s still your standard fantasy fare. That being said, now that the group is out of not-Moria, the plot does start to get more original.

Like the rest of the Icewind Dale trilogy, there are no real surprises here. It’s fairly easy for readers to guess what will happen next, but the characterization and storytelling still make this book worthwhile. Regis’ old boss, Pasha Pook, serves as the key villain here but not really the main one. Entreri is still around and technically working for Pook, but very much has his own agenda. He leads the companions on a merry chase throughout the Forgotten Realms, dangling Regis as bait to lure Drizzt into the rematch he craves.

Despite this series later being coined “The Legend of Drizzt”, things are pretty even among the whole cast here. As I mentioned in my review of The Crystal Shard, Salvatore originally intended Wulfgar to be the main character. People just liked Drizzt better because he’s dark and mysterious but still a good person. The focus does start to lean a bit more towards Drizzt in this book, but the spotlight isn’t on him just yet.

That being said, everyone gets character development here. Regis (sorta) learns to be a better person, Wulfgar continues to learn about civilized lands, and love starts to blossom being Catti-brie and Drizzt. Kudos to Catti-brie for still being a warrior woman badass and not just a love interest. Entreri also takes a more central role as Drizzt’s rival and is sure to be a recurring villain in this series.

R.A. Salvatore’s writing continues to be incredibly detailed. The action sequences are fast-paced but every important little detail is still there. Instead of just saying “this person swings his sword”, Salvatore describes how they swing their sword, why, and what their opponent does in response. It gives a better sense of the immense skill each character possesses with their weapons.

Despite all that, The Halfling’s Gem still feels like a very early story. I wouldn’t go as far as to claim it has Early Installment Weirdness, it’s just…shallow. A standard fantasy adventure in a standard fantasy setting. But considering this series started in 1988 and is still going as of 2020, I assume things pick up a bit later.

February 14, 2021

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 6: Nil Admirari

Published Post author

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 6: Nil Admirari Book Cover The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 6: Nil Admirari
The Saga of Tanya the Evil
Carlo Zen
Light Novel
Yen On
August 6, 2019 (English) | July 30, 2016 (Japanese)
Paperback
288

Through the bone-chilling winter wind, the clashes of war can be heard. Equipped with fragile weapons and machinery, Tanya and her unit march toward the Eastern front. There, Tanya realizes the primitiveness of it all, and that it'll take more than a miracle to emerge unscathed...

 

Simply put, Nil Admirari is the weakest book in The Saga of Tanya the Evil so far. The phrase Nil Admirari is Latin for “to be surprised by nothing”. Tanya has spent a lot of this series doing just that thanks to her knowledge of Earth’s military history. And just like certain real-world wars, this book deals with how it’s a really bad idea to invade Russia during winter. The characters know this and everyone on both sides starts to hunker down for the winter. So, that doesn’t leave much room for the fighting this series is really built on. It takes a backseat this book and the story spends most of its time on another component of war: politics.

Personally, I still enjoyed this because politics interest me. But it is very different from what this series has been up until now. It may be a turnoff for a lot of readers who are much more interested in the action.

So, we’ve reached the point where the story is mimicking late-WWII in a lot of ways. Particularly the political failings that affected Germany at the end of WWII. In both real history and this book, there comes a point where people start to realize the war can’t go on forever. Militarily, the Empire is at its limit and they will run out of manpower and resources eventually.

So, when you cannot keep fighting, what’s the next step? Negotiate, of course. That’s the simple, logical solution. But humans are rarely simple, logical creatures. Yes, you can look at material numbers, but how do you justify all the sacrifices it took to get to that point? The generation of young people that have been wiped out by the conflict? Should you get nothing for all the sweat and blood you spent to get here?! Depends on how much you value your pride.

And just because Tanya (and others, mostly others. Tanya’s barely in this book, actually) are debating all this doesn’t mean the war is on full pause. We do still get a few minor action scenes in here plus more battles that are mentioned rather than seen. But it’s clear to everyone that before long something is going to break. The Empire? Their enemies? Time will tell in the next book. And hopefully with more action sequences to pick up the pace.

February 7, 2021