Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mini-Reviews Round 139

Here's your one-week reminder about guest posts!  I'm still a few short, so if you were worried that there weren't enough slots, don't let that stop you.  And if you've been procrastinating, you should probably get going on that!

And apropos of none of that, have a couple of mini-reviews for 400,000 words worth of fanfiction.  Yup, that can be easily summed up in a paragraph or two each, right?  Right.  Click below the break for more!

Iron Hearts: Book 3 - The Sept Lamman, by SFaccountant

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Book three of the Iron Hearts series (a 40k crossover; books one and two are reviewed here and here, respectively), wherein the Tau plot is finally revealed!  Also, war in the streets of Canterlot, Celestia really doesn't like Chaos, and a major character gets straight-up decapitated.

A few thoughts:  You know, I read this some while ago, but then only got to book four recently... and when I went back to refresh myself on Sept, I realized I'd never reviewed it.  So, let's rectify that!  As before, I'm taking the first couple of books as a given for purposes of this review; go check those above two reviews for more information (also, this is a series that you definitely need to read sequentially; you're not going to want to start anywhere other than book one).

Anyway, I have to say that this is my least favorite book in the series so far, and a lot of that has to do with Celestia: while there are certainly plenty of good reasons to be leery of Chaos, she comes off less "idealistic" than "idiotic," going out of her way to antagonize people whose good graces/amused tolerance she seems to (and at any rate, ought to) realize her subjects are depending on, and approaching all others with bemusing credulity.  That all isn't to say that I didn't like this book, mind; all the draws of the previous installments are here, Spike's mini-arc concludes in a way I found pleasantly surprising, and the Tau (well, one in particular) get some welcome personality in this installment.  Besides that, it sets the strongest hook yet for the next book... which makes it all the more mystifying to me that this is where I chose to take a nearly year-long break in reading the series.  It's also worth noting that, while this is still definitely a comic take on the subject matter, it continues book two's move away from being capital-c Comedy, toward action/adventure with plenty of comic elements.  To an increasing extent, there are sizable battle scenes which are played almost entirely straight--but bookending them, you can still expect to see some mockery of the Royal Guard's ineffectiveness against sci-fi weaponry, and aliens grumpily complaining that a pony controlling the planet's rotation is impossible even as they witness it.

Recommendation:  If you read the first two books and enjoyed them, this is almost certainly worth continuing on to.  Celestia holding the idiot ball is grating, but if you found it tolerable in the first two books... well, it gets worse here, but probably not worse enough to quit over.

Iron Hearts: Book 4 - Emerald Dawn, by SFaccountant

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  And here's the se-se-se-quel, wherein a new foe rears its green, lumpish head!

A few thoughts:  With this story, the girls are well and truly integrated into 40k-style combat--it's all bolters and psyker-stuff from here on out.  If book one had started like this, I'd have hated it (or rather, I wouldn't have been able to buy into the logic of any of it), but the author did his groundwork building up to Twilight and company running around slaughtering aliens while decked out in power armour.  That's no small feat, and I think it reflects well on the story to this point.

This story draws ponies in general more into the action, and I really enjoyed that (okay, I mostly liked Prince Blueblood, and the job Chaos found for him); even as the action moved firmly into 40k territory, the equine presence kept this from feeling like it had forgotten the Equestrian half of its crossover.  Couple that with the author's still-constantly-on-display knack for presenting humorous banter in text form and the new alien race's predilection toward rank stupidity (their assault on Cloudsdale is a highlight in the truest sense of the word), and this was a very enjoyable read.

Recommendation:  If you've made it through the first three books, I can think of only one reason not to continue on to this one: if you hate poorly-rendered accents.  Luna's still around and as mangled as ever, and the aliens speak something halfway between Cockney phonetics and "the 'k' on my keyboard is stuck."  To be fair to SFaccountant, this is a faithful transcription of how they're written in the wargame, but if that's the sort of thing that drives you batty... well, it's here.

No comments:

Post a Comment