Saturday, October 31, 2015

Son of the Black Sword

Two of my favorites series of books recently have been written by Larry Correia, the Monster Hunter International series, and the Dead Six series so it's probably no surprise that Son of the Black Sword is on that list too.  In fact it is my favorite fantasy book in quite awhile.


Good Question.  First off I like Correia's writing style.  It has a quick enough pace that I don't get bored, but it's not so fast paced that things seem jumpy or hard to follow.  Also I believe in his characters.  The aren't so perfect or so evil that you can't accept them.  In addition I find his dialouge kind of natural.  His characters talk a lot like I talk.  That is probably insulting to his characters, if so sorry Larry.

Second, I like the world he has developed.  It is intricate enough to be interesting, but not so bogged down in detail it's boring.  It's well thought out and consistent.  There are some things that I might do a little different, but then again I am not a New York Times best selling author and Correia is so who am I to say.

Third, I like the main character.  He is a damaged hero but he is not unredeemable, although he may consider himself so.  He is a bit overpowered, but it makes sense in context and it's not like Superman where he is essentially undefeatable.  He can be defeated if there is a foe worthy enough.  I play a character modeled along the same lines in our Friday night games so I guess I have an affinity for this.

Fourth, I find the premise of the story interesting.  It isn't entirely new, but it is unique enough that it kept my interest.  I may lose some people here.  In fact I can already here people complaining (or maybe that is just the voices in my head) "Chad you're an idiot.  This is just a rehash of (insert some lost Greek tragedy here) and it was far better in the original Greek."  Blah Blah Blah.  Most stories of this nature are a rehash of some other older story.  In fact Joseph Campbell wrote an entire book on it "The Hero with a Thousand Faces"

Campbell explores the theory that important myths from around the world which have survived for thousands of years all share a fundamental structure, which Campbell called the monomyth. In a well-known quote from the introduction to The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell summarized the monomyth:
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.[3]

In laying out the monomyth, Campbell describes a number of stages or steps along this journey. The hero starts in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unusual world of strange powers and events (a call to adventure). If the hero accepts the call to enter this strange world, the hero must face tasks and trials (a road of trials), and may have to face these trials alone, or may have assistance. At its most intense, the hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help earned along the journey. If the hero survives, the hero may achieve a great gift (the goal or "boon"), which often results in the discovery of important self-knowledge. The hero must then decide whether to return with this boon (the return to the ordinary world), often facing challenges on the return journey. If the hero is successful in returning, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world (the application of the boon).

Given that the rehash argument doesn't sway me much as long as it is done well, and I think this one was.  (Honestly I can't really think of the story this one reminds me of.  It's ticking the back of my mind, but I am kind of an idiot so it will take awhile)

Shortcomings - There are a couple things with the magic and the prophet that are almost a little too cute.  They walk right up to that line.  In the follow-on books I could easily see them crossing it.  The caste system is so odious that I want to scream, but that may be because I have a very very basic understanding of castes in Hindu society and I am not a fan.  Oh and Correia can't write women doing womenly things or romance scenes worth a crap.  Please improve on that.

So anyway there is my crappy review of what I thought was a pretty good book.
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