Sunday, January 3, 2010

By Blood Betrayed by Blaine Lee Pardoe and Mel Odom

I had this book in my collection for some time, but recently decided to pull it out for a read-through. It was from the initial Mechwarrior line, designed to allow someone with little knowledge of the universe a path into the novel line.

Pardoe has a few novels under his belt, but I wonder how much influence he really had in the writing of this book? There are a lot of inconsistencies in the prose, things that have been either long established, or is widely available in the literature. For example, the background has always been that autocannons were rapid fire weapons --  a sort of gigantic machine gun. Yet the book often mentions firing a single round from the weapon. Another inconsistency is the Union dropship featured in the book carrying a K-61 dropshuttle and fighters, impossible as they're not equipped to carry shuttles to begin with, and theoretically they would at least have to sacrifice a fighter bay to carry one. Also, it has been long established that there is no "artificial gravity" in the Battletech universe, and spacecraft must use either rotating sections or acceleration to generate gravity. A few times the prose talks about the "pseudo-gravity" generated via acceleration. In the real world (as well as how it is established in the BTU), unless the craft is maneuvering or there are windows, there is no other way to determine the source of gravity -- 1g is the same whether you're planet-bound or under acceleration. According to the background, Union dropships can easily sustain 1g accelerations for as long as the fuel holds out.

The plot of the book is entirely conventional. Out on the edges of civilized space (the Periphery), a company of Able's Aces, defending the Rim Collection from the pirate band Morrison's Extractors, is wiped out except for their CO. Harley Rassor's brother was killed in the action, and his father (apparently an ex-mechwarrior with his own Commando in the barn!) sends his son to join the Aces and find out what happens.

Of course he expects the company CO Livia Hawke, and spends his time hating her as a traitor, despite the evdence to the contrary (including a red herring added in that one of the communications techs has a cousin in the Extractors -- which Harley promptly ignores). Or course Hawke is no traitor, and it comes out in the end that it was the intel officer -- along with Harley's brother -- who were in collusion with the Extractors, and forcing a showdown with Harley and his brother.

Unfortunately, this book wasn't "great." Besides the inconsistencies, the plot is pretty predictable. And while the plotpoint of Harley's brother being the real traitor shouldn't have been a surprise, it was for me since the book was not very engaging. Pardoe has written other books -- better books -- and I cannot tell if the problem was because it was co-written with Odom.

It's always dissappointing when you read a book from your favorite genre and it turns out to be not-so-great. But that is also not surprising -- even the best writers will occasionally turn out turkeys.

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