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-   -   A review of Fifteen Hours from Big_Cheddars (https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/black-library-book-reviews/105911-review-fifteen-hours-big_cheddars.html)

Big_Cheddars 02-16-12 08:38 PM

A review of Fifteen Hours from Big_Cheddars
 
I don't like reading bad books. I especially dislike reading bad books that I have bought with money. I also don't like buying books that aren't what I thought they were. I thought Fifteen Hours was a novel (keyword, that) about a man learning how to become a soldier in the ruins of a city, that's what the cover sort of implied. Fifteen Hours is not what it says it is.

It is not a novel, it is as best a novella of around 40k words, I don't know exactly how much, but I know that I paid £6.50 (a novel's price) for something that I finished in about three hours. So I'm annoyed with the price and its length, and its content.

Fifteen Hours has a more simple plot than, well anything to be honest. Arvin Larn is being trained to be a guardsman. Then he goes off to war, but stuff happens and he's now on his own in a strange city with men he doesn't know constantly calling him 'new fish'. Arvin Larn then has to try and survive for fifteen hours in this city, and this is what the story is about: Larn's struggle to survive for fifteen hours. Good premise, poor execution.

The characters in Fifteen Hours are at least, well presented, in some cases. Larn is a complete rookie, and expresses complete ignorance to concepts that would be natural to anyone, even a complete rookie. His new squadmates are constantly bickering about their lot in life, while the friendly Trooper Bulaven constantly offers seemingly good advice. Larn's sergeant is a grizzled veteran with a bleak outlook on life (and if memory serves) a cigar. Don't quote me on that, but what I'm saying is that some of the characters are incredibly stereotypical. Some characters in Fifteen Hours were good, some were bad. Honestly, my favourite was a gretchin sniper that appeared for about five hundred words roughly in the middle of the boo- sorry, novella. Also in my favourites were a tech-priest that made a silly mistake concerning a certain company of rookies and sent them to the wrong planet. I liked the tech-priest because he was given almost no opportunity to expand on his life story other than that he's been doing the same job for, like, all his life.

I suppose the idea of Fifteen Hours was to project the struggle to survive. In fact that is the thought constantly running through poor Arvin Larn's head as he tries to survive, but Mitchel Scanlon presented it very poorly. The entire thing felt at times stretched. In fact, it was amazing the novella got as big as it did as you could conceivably tell pretty much the same story via something half the size. But it would be just as rubbish. The idea is good, but the story is bad, the characters are bad, the ending is bad, the entire thing is deceptive (both in price and content) and I only read it because I had paid for it and didn't quite realise how short it was.

I don't honestly know why BL published this, as in my opinion it represents a sub-standard author trying to make his big break and utterly failing, even though Mitchel Scanlon has already written an entire horus heresy novel about the Dark Angels. I don't know whether Descent of Angels was any good, but when I read it, I will approach it with trepidation. If any of you have read Descent of Angels, post a reply below saying what you think about it, because it would be nice to see what the denizens of Heresy Online think :)

Anyway, I would give Fifteen Hours a 2/10. That is my worst score ever given in a review (for anything I have ever reviewed, not just the ones on this site), and I would say Fifteen Hours is easily the worst novel(la) that I have ever bought and read.

Lupe 02-16-12 09:16 PM

Fifteen Hours was way better than Descent of Angels, in my opinion.

Granted, I did approach the former with the expectation of reading a 40K version of 'All quiet on the Western Front', which is, apparently a good mindset to be in while reading 15 Hours.

As for Descent of Angels, I guess I could say, to its defense, that it's not THAT bad. My main gripes are about long, dry descriptive paragraphs and a bland writing style that simply lacks any redeeming trait (such as Abnett's carefully studied elegance, McNeill's clean accuracy or ADB's pure poetry).

Doelago 02-16-12 09:27 PM

I read this book on a three hour car trip, and it felt like a let down. It could have been so much more in my opinion. Even though I dont agree with your score, I do still think that it was a weaker than average book.

It had some interesting moments, among them (if memory serves me correctly):



I did not like the whole fifteen hour thing. You can have cool wargear, just survive for fifteen hours. Hurrr.

Decent of Angels? Among the three worst Heresy books imo.

Big_Cheddars 02-16-12 10:21 PM

You know, I don't wanna look like I'm pandering to the masses, but I coudln't really think of a score for Fifteen Hours, it just sort of came into my head when I was thinking about it. I first gave it a four, then changed it, but I think overall I'd give it a three, since I'd forgotten about the looter guy. What annoys me about Mitchel Scanlon's writing is that it is, as Lupe said, intensely dull. He just drags things out far too much, and that's what made Fifteen Hours boring. But I do agree, all the points you found interesting Doelago, I found quite good as well (especially the propaganda!). But my favourite part was the bit with the gretchin, I just wish he'd actually shot Larn, so that we didn't have to listen to yet more of him going: But that's barbaric! It's against the rules! I appreciate Mitchel Scanlon was writing it from a rookie's point of view, but you'd think Larn was completely mentally retarded for all incomprehension he has of EVERYTHING.


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