Grimzag Reviews......Rynn's World by Steve Parker
Grimzag Reviews........Rynn's World by Steve Parker
THIS CRITIQUE/REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!! YOU ARE WARNED!!!!
I don't like space marine books, there I said it.
“But why Grimzag?” I hear you cry.
“How could you not enjoy reading books about ass kicking, superhuman, psycho indoctrinated, space knights?”
And therein lies the answer. A good half of the books that GW have put out that revolve around our favourite fully armoured, Arnie wannabes seem to make little or no attempt to make the marines relatable to the audience.
They either come across as aloof and disinterested or just bland.
“That's how space marines are though. They are above feeling human emotion and should be above the struggles of the average human.”
That's great, but it makes them about as good an idea to cast as key protagonist as a killer robot with no emotions. Great as a sidekick or enemy but not really the sorta guy you want stood in the limelight for too long lest the reader realises that the guy is marginally less boring than watching a 5 day fishing tournament where everybody is dressed in the same set of grey overalls and the only booze available is non alcoholic beer.
Just because a lead character is a space marine doesn't mean that you should forgo the need for interesting development or background story. What makes space marine Bob different from his brethren? “He's a space marine and he's loyal to his chapter but doesn't remember his childhood 'cause of the psycho indoctrination”, might sound cool but it doesn't give any idea of what he's been through or how he might react in certain situations. He's a paper cut-out, admittedly one in amazing armour and with the ability to fold up most aliens into balloon animal shapes, but he's still a blank space.
It was with some trepidation then that I decided to give Rynn's world a spin. I knew the rough outline of the Crimson Fist's ork issues from other sources. Orks came, marines defend planet, someone looses a bottle rocket and nukes most of the chapter, chapter somehow crawls clear and rebuilds itself. I was pleasantly surprised then when straight off the bat we are introduced to a selection of interesting characters. Not just space marines but local dignitaries and chapter serfs as well. “Hey maybe this isn't going to be the Marine wankfest that I was dreading” I think to myself. I even started to suspect that there was going to be a set up for an explanation as to what caused the missile misfire that caused the terrible explosion. Unfortunately when the Fortress exploded it took a large chunk of my hopes for the end of this book with it. Characters that have been carefully introduced and given a personality get wiped out without having accomplished anything leaving a hole in the roster of comparable size to the one left by the exploding fortress.
We have a former chapter aspirant/serf who we are introduced to and who we spend a few chapters with, only for him to die instantly when the Fortress blows up.
There are two scouts, a sergeant and newb.. which could have been an amazing set up for explaining how the disgraced newb could have inadvertently or otherwise have caused the missile misfire but we never see them again after their brief introduction. We know they were at the fortress when it explodes so I guess we write them off too.
Throughout the whole book the same pattern is followed, characters are introduced developed a small amount and then killed off or just simply not utilised. Only Pedro and Cortez remain as constant interesting characters and they seem to be joined at the hip for the whole story so don't expect them to lend any of their leftover charisma to another area of the story. Unfortunately the fact that there are some interesting characters, even if they achieve as much as a paraplegic orchestral conductor, is about the only nice thing I can say about the book. The story is very very long with no twists at all, ,any of the space marine characters are interchangeable. In fact there is a point late on where the author seems to have forgotten the names of his captains for a while, switching between Alvez and Drakken without missing a beat.
There are setting mistakes and punctuation/spelling issues throughout, as well; marines throwing krakk grenades at ork mobs instead of frag, melta bombs being set up as booby traps and creating large explosions, Pedro himself suddenly having a combat knife instead of a sword and an ork warboss running away mid fight, for example.
Combines these minor irritations with the lack of tension build up, character development, tactical understanding and pace, and you have a novel that falls flatter than a skydiver with an anvil tied to his feet and an African elephant on his head.
My personal feeling is that the book could have saved itself by simply cutting out every section that didn't directly involve Pedro Kantor, no one else aside from Cortez (who follows Kantor the whole time anyway) actually accomplishes anything anyway. By telling the story from Kantor's point of view we don't know what's going on in Rynn's City, we don't know whether the humans and marines are holding out. We don't have random chapters about serfs and noble women who have no relevance to the core plot development. It would have halved the length of the book and improved on the whole as a result. Not one of the best warhammer books I have read but not the worst by far.