Next up is Victor Milan's _A Rending of Falcons_. This book is another genre book, this time in the Mechwarrior (Battletech) setting. Genre fiction being what it is (soap opera for young men, though I like to think at a higher level of sophistication than pro-wrestling), this book was merely OK.
Victor continues with the Jade Falcon's storyline. Malvina, generator of the so-called "Mongol" doctrine (i.e. using utter brutality, far beyond the pale, to keep subject people in-line) returns to the Jade Falcon Occupation Zone. This time she has her sights set at usurping the Khanship of the Falcons.
The development of the character of Malvina is starting to get a bit unrealistic. In a genre where caricatures is pretty much expected, this character is going a bit beyond the pale. The utter brutality and lack of regard for other human life makes her worse than any of the Clans, and perhaps worse than the Smoke Jaguars (known for their brutality before their...comeuppance). She furthermore comes off as being totally self-centered, a despot and (worse) a demagogue. What's more, throughout the book I kept hoping someone would stick a bullet or some other sharp object in this turkey, but alas not to be.
Speaking of caricatures, the Hell's Horses makes an appearance in this novel, with plenty of stereotypes of their own. The Horses have appeared to have totally gone the way of the Mongol (historical peoples, not the above-mentioned doctrine), top knots, sabres, and all. Battletech/Mechwarrior has been going down this route for some time (just look at the Draconis Combine, a bunch of Samurai wanna-be's, including katana swords and dueling), but I find it dissappointing nonetheless. It would be nice to see a return to the setting as it was during the "Golden Age" (IMHO) of the House books (approx 1987-88). There was definitely a multi-cultural feel here, and despite attempts to bring it back (a memoral picture for me is in the Handbook: House Steiner, where a ethnic Pakistani or Sikh from Bolan is arguing with a merchant, turban and all), has been crushed under the iron-heeled boots of Stackpole and others...