Starless Night (The Legend of Drizzt #8)

Published Post author

Starless Night Book Cover Starless Night
The Legend of Drizzt
R.A. Salvatore
Fantasy
Random House TSR
July 30, 1992
Paperback
320

I can find no answers in Mithril Hall....The apparent serenity of Drizzt Do'Urden, the brooding quiet, will show me nothing of the future designs of the drow. yet, for the sake of my friends, I must know those dark intentions. And so I fear that there remains only one place for me to look...

The Underdark. A place of brooding darkness, where no shadows exist, and where Drizzt Do'Urden does not wish to go. The noble dark elf must return there, though, must go back to find his friends in the gnome city of Blingdenstone, and on to Menzoberranzan, the city of drow. Only then can Drizzt discern what perils might reach out from that dark place to threaten his friends in Mithril Hall.

he finds allies where he least expects them and enemies he htough long gone. His scimitars slash at monsters too evil to reside under the sunlight of the surface world, while his inner strength wrestles with the tumult of emotions assaulting the noble drow when he looks once more on his dreaded homeland. All the while Drizzt must fend off the weight of guilt he carries for a dear friend lost to him forever.

 

Along with being the 8th Drizzt book, Starless Night is book #2 in the Legacy of the Drow storyline. We saw in the last book that the drow are very interested in Mithral Hall. And Drizzt, being the edgy protagonist that he is, feels like it’s all his fault. If they weren’t after him, they wouldn’t have come here, and his friends wouldn’t have died. Unfortunately, Drizzt is playing up the wrong trope with this particular logic thread. So, he goes off, alone, to deal with a problem that is tens of thousands of foes strong. And of course, his friends must chase after him to prevent this foolishness.

I make it sound all dramatic and sappy because it is. While this series has gotten generally less trope-y as it progresses, the tropes are strong here. I don’t think I’ve been this unsurprised with how events play out since The Crystal Shard. The writing is better, you can see how Salvatore improves over time, but the story is fairly bland. Granted, we readers know from the start that Drizzt’s assumptions are wrong thanks to the epilogue at the end of the last book. And a character with flaws is always better than a Mary Sue.

Now, despite the fact that the Legacy of the Drow is 4 books, the first three read like a trilogy. Even though this is book 2 of 4, it feels like a middle book. At the same time, it’s still a fairly self-contained adventure. Yes, it follows up the last book, but you could skip over book #7 and still understand this one well enough. And while plot threads are left hanging by the end of this one, it’s not really a full-fledged cliffhanger. Which is nice; I like being able to pick a book up without feeling like I need to re-read the last one.

But on the whole, this is kind of a low-point in the Drizzt series. This book is more about Drizzt himself than a greater story. Which we’ve already done in his backstory trilogy. I get that these series can’t be big plot all the time, but the character development felt weak. It’s like if you took an episode of a 30-minute show and stretched it out into a 90-minute special. Like, it works, but, it could have just been 30 minutes without anything lost.

Nonetheless, the quality of the series overall is enough to convince me Starless Night is just a pothole. I’m fairly confident the next book will get back to the big battles and other good stuff.

May 16, 2021

Flag in Exile (Honor Harrington #5)

Published Post author

Flag in Exile Book Cover Flag in Exile
Honor Harrington
David Weber
Sci-fi
Baen
September 27, 1995
Paperback
443

Hounded into retirement and disgrace by political enemies, cut to the heart by the murder of the man she loved, and bereft of confidence in herself and her abilities, Captain Honor Harrington has retreated to the planet Grayson to take up her role as Steadholder while she tries to heal her bitter wounds.

But the People's Republic of Haven is rising from defeat to threaten Grayson anew, and the newborn Grayson Navy needs her experience desperately. It's a call Honor cannot refuse, yet even as she once more accepts the duty whose challenges she fears she can no longer meet, powerful men who hate and fear the changes she's brought to their world are determined to reverse them. They have a plan ... and for it to succeed Honor Harrington must die.

Two irresistible forces are rushing together to crush Grayson between them, and only one woman uncertain of her capabilities, weary unto death, and marked for murder-stands between her adopted planet and its devastation.

 

Flag in Exile follows up Field of Dishonor with Honor returning to Grayson after her duel with Pavel Young. Now while we still get to see Honor doing her thing commanding ships, this book is interesting because it also puts her in a government role. We’ve pretty clearly established at this point that she knows how to lead from a military position. But now instead of sending ships into battle, she’s leading reforms on an underdeveloped planet. A planet that’s in the middle of political and cultural upheaval thanks to her own actions back in book 2.

Now, the last book showed us that Honor is damaged. She’s been through a lot both throughout the series and beforehand. Paul Tankersley’s death pushed her barely controlled temper over the edge in the last book and we saw how much that anger fueled the fires of her vengeance. But…the vengeance is done. She’s had revenge and now she has to keep living. And with everything she’s been through, there’s a lot of survivor’s guilt going on here. Throwing herself into a constructive project is downright therapeutic for her at this point. Until, of course, something goes wrong.

Anyone who picks up a real-world history book can tell you that when a society goes through a big change, there are always people who do everything in their power to prevent it. Usually, these are the people for who the new change is bad. Your career is copying manuscripts by hand? Destroy those newfangled printing presses! Burn them! Same thing applies to cultural changes. You’d think those people who are in positions of power want to share that power? They didn’t get there through years of walking over other people hard work to make other people’s lives better. What are you, nuts?

But when evolution is suppressed, it makes way for revolution. And it helps that Honor is something of a Mary Sue. Seriously, look at the body count this woman has left in her wake. Look at the reason she’s hanging out on your planet right now! Why do you think messing with someone like that is a good call?

Anyway, another solid entry in the Honor Harrington franchise. Space opera at its finest but with a different focus to stop the series from getting stale. Looking forward to seeing where Honor’s adventures take her next.

May 9, 2021

The Wheel of Osheim (The Red Queen’s War #3)

Published Post author

The Wheel of Osheim Book Cover The Wheel of Osheim
The Red Queen's War
Mark Lawrence
Fantasy
Harper Voyager
May 5, 2016
Paperback
656

From the international bestselling author of the Broken Empire Trilogy, the thrilling conclusion to the Red Queen’s War...
 
Mark Lawrence’s “epic fantasy” (The Washington Post) continues as a reluctant prince returns from the bowels of Hell to engage in his greatest battle yet—among the living and the dead.

All the horrors of Hell stand between Snorri Ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued. For Jalan Kendeth, getting back out alive and with Loki’s key is all that matters. Loki’s creation can open any lock, any door, and it may also be the key to Jalan’s fortune back in the living world.

Jalan plans to return to the three w’s that have been the core of his idle and debauched life: wine, women, and wagering. Fate however has other plans, larger plans. The Wheel of Osheim is turning ever faster, and it will crack the world unless it’s stopped. When the end of all things looms, and there’s nowhere to run, even the worst coward must find new answers. Jalan and Snorri face many dangers, from the corpse hordes of the Dead King to the many mirrors of the Lady Blue, but in the end, fast or slow, the Wheel of Osheim always pulls you back. In the end it’s win or die.

 

The Wheel of Osheim kicks off a fair amount of time after The Liar’s Key…kind of. Remember back in the Broken Empire trilogy where there was a time skip but also flashbacks to the time skip? The same thing happens here. Important things happen during the time skip, but we readers don’t see them until they become relevant to current-day events. Mark Lawrence really seems to enjoy doing this and it’s kind of fun cause not many other authors do it.

Speaking of the Broken Empire trilogy, there’s a lot more intersection with it here than in the previous two books. I still wouldn’t call it necessary to read the Broken Empire books first, but stuff makes a lot more sense if you have. And it’s a lot more fun when you understand the full scope of everything that’s happening.

Jalan continues to be thrown from one hard choice to another and this prince handles it like a king. Even taking to account that he’s the main character, Jalan has gotten a lot of character development. More so than you typically see in most stories. It’s not that his personality shifts, it really doesn’t, it’s more that he just grows up. Instead of going with the flow, he decides he’s tired of being led around and to control his own destiny. These changes are gradual, stretching over the course of the whole trilogy, but he’s a different man for the better by the end.

Snorri is around too, but not as much as in the first book. His disappearances are fewer than they were in book two though, thankfully. His story is much less complex, essentially just more viking stuff, but sees a fitting conclusion by the end. And all the shoutouts to Norse mythology mixed into all that were super fun.

Now, let’s talk about the ending. I will preface this by saying endings are hard. It doesn’t matter what genre a story is in or what medium you’re using to tell it (books, movies, TV shows, etc.), it is really hard to do a good ending. And if you’ve read the Broken Empire trilogy, you have a vague inclination on how things are going to end here.

I thought the ending here was ok. Not good, not bad, just ok. But I don’t really know what to say on how it could have been done better. It was upbeat, which fits this trilogy in a way that would not have fit the Broken Empire books. But it also felt a little too standard. It wasn’t quite “happily ever after” but it was close. Still, the Red Queen’s War remained strong throughout and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Certainly worth the time spent reading it and more than good enough to get me to follow Mark Lawrence’s work for a long, long time.

May 2, 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong

Published Post author

Poster for the movie ""

Godzilla vs. Kong

One Will Fall

20211 h 53 min
Overview

In a time when monsters walk the Earth, humanity’s fight for its future sets Godzilla and Kong on a collision course that will see the two most powerful forces of nature on the planet collide in a spectacular battle for the ages.

Metadata
Director Adam Wingard
Runtime 1 h 53 min
Release Date 24 March 2021
Details
Movie Media VoD
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Very good

Ah, Godzilla. You are my guiltiest of pleasures. Great cinematography it is (usually) not, but is that what any of us expected here? If you’ve ever seen a Godzilla film, or even know them by reputation, you know what to expect here. Two city-wrecking monsters duking it out plus some plot with human characters that no one cares much about. The formula has worked well for the last 67 years, so why stop now?

So, let’s talk about the monsters. We know who our stars are here: Godzilla and Kong. But despite them both being title names, the film does not treat them equally. This is not so much a Godzilla & Kong film as it is a Kong film with Godzilla in it. Which is fine. The G-man got his time to shine last time around, so let Kong have some post-Skull Island spotlight. And after the last few movies, it was nice seeing Godzilla in more of an Anti-Hero role. While he wasn’t exactly a paragon of good in the previous films, this time around he’s much more of a force of nature than an ally to humanity. More OG Godzilla, less of the competing-with-Gamera era stuff.

And then we get the humans. They…do stuff? Basically, we have two groups, one that hangs out with Kong and another that does other things. The Kong group was by far the more interesting of the two. Honestly, Group B could have been cut from the movie and it wouldn’t have made too much of a difference. Their sequences were there pretty much for no other reason than being a convenient plot device to give the audience information. “Oh hey, we’re doing this thing and by the way – world-building!” But this is par for the course for every Godzilla movie; gotta give a reason for the big kaiju fight.

Objectively, this was the strongest of the MonsterVerse movies so far. I personally liked King of the Monsters a bit better because it had a bigger array of classic monsters, particularly King Ghidorah. This one took what was established in Skull Island and expanded on it by mixing it with the Godzilla films. I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to have seen the previous films, but there are a lot of callbacks. I watched this with a friend and had to explain a few things because he didn’t remember the last few movies that well.

And the big kaiju fight at the end is one of the best choreographed fights I have ever seen. Not just for a kaiju movie, for any film. The fact that they did that in a kaiju movie makes it even more impressive. That plus everything else makes Godzilla vs Kong a close second for best Godzilla film (that honor still belongs to Shin Godzilla). Definitely a step up from the original King Kong vs. Godzilla. Memes notwithstanding. And a must-see for any kaiju fan.

April 25, 2021

Iron Gray Sea (Destroyermen #7)

Published Post author

Iron Gray Sea Book Cover Iron Gray Sea
Destroyermen
Taylor Anderson
Sci-fi
Roc
July 3, 2012
Paperback
448

n Taylor Anderson’s acclaimed Destroyermen series, a parallel universe adds an extraordinary layer to the drama of World War II.

Now, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy, the crew of USS Walker, and their allies battle an ever-growing host of enemies across the globe in a desperate battle for freedom …

War has engulfed the—other earth. With every hard-won victory and painful defeat, Matt Reddy and the Allies encounter more friends—and even more diabolical enemies. Even, at last, in the arms of the woman he loves, there is little peace for Reddy.  The vast sea, and the scope of the conflict, have trapped him too far away to help on either front, but that doesn’t mean he and Walker can rest.

Cutting short his “honeymoon,” Reddy sails off in pursuit of  Hidoiame , a rogue Japanese destroyer that is wreaking havoc in Allied seas. Now that Walker is armed with the latest “new” technology, he hopes his battle-tested four-stacker has an even chance in a straight-up fight against the bigger ship—and he means to take her on.

Elsewhere, the long-awaited invasion of Grik “Indiaa” has begun, and the Human-Lemurian Alliance is pushing back against the twisted might of the Dominion. The diplomatic waters seethe with treachery and a final, terrible plot explodes in the Empire of New Britain Isles.  Worse, the savage Grik have also mastered “new” technologies and strategies. Their fleet of monstrous ironclads—and an army two years in the making—are finally massing to strike...

 

Man, this series is really getting complex. In a good way, though, in a good way. The last book showed that while the core of Grik battle tactics is still quantity over quality, they’re starting to evolve beyond simple Zerg Rush strategies. The Allies’ technology is advancing, but so are the Grik’s weapons. And as real-world wars have taught us, with new weapons come new tactics. This isn’t a super-big surprise for our human characters, but the natives of this alternate Earth have had little to no technological development for centuries.

But before we get back to the war, it’s time for the Wedding Episode! While the love story here doesn’t quite approach space opera levels, it’s still a nice thing to have. I’m a sucker for anything even approaching star-crossed lovers territory and seeing Matt and Sandra finally (formally) together is wonderful. But more importantly, the romance feels real. It’s not the contrived “perfect romance” you see in a lot of movies. Matt and Sandra are adults who realize their situation does not make this easy. Being in a strange new world, the war and both of them being reasonable adults are all factors here. But at the same time, they’ve still had that awkwardness of two people who are in love and nervous. Great to finally see some real payoff after 6 books of that.

Iron Gray Sea also gives us a bit more worldbuilding. Not a ton, because the focus is mainly on the war now, but it’s there. Namely, more details (or at least hints) on people from Earth getting transported to this world. I wouldn’t say any of those lingering questions are fully answered here, but we’re getting there. It’s probably something that’ll never be explained in full since it’s really just a plot element. But at the same time, it’s cool to see that the characters are still speculating about it. I can’t stand one-and-done “adventure of the week” style stories where past events are just never mentioned.

Anyway, the rest of Iron Gray Sea is pretty standard fare for the Destroyermen series. We got some naval battles, the army doing stuff, Silva being Silva…you know, the works. As with all war series, the war is getting more complex as the series goes on. Things kind of have to slow down as the page count gets split between different fronts and different characters. But that’s just how war series are. The series is still a fun B movie-esque romp and I look forward to seeing what comes next.

April 18, 2021

The Legacy (The Legend of Drizzt #7)

Published Post author

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)

Published Post author

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

Published Post author

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

Published Post author

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