Monday, August 07, 2006

Grunts - Mary Gentle

I couldn't get into this at all. The concept was sound - a story written from the point of view of the orcs, who know damn well they are going to get beaten by the good guys in the Final Battle, despite their superior numbers and the righteous prancing of their enemies - and Mary Gentle's normally a good writer, but for some reason this book really didn't work. It felt clunky and cobbled-together, as if... well, as if it had started off as an internet parody and somehow been stretched into an entire book. There was no particular structure; the plot points all seemed gimmicky (orcs find a horde of Kalashnikovs, helicopters etc and suddenly start acting like Marines) and the humour was very forced. The one redeeming feature was the idea of the two nasty little hobbits, scheming and double-crossing both sides, but even that was not enough to keep me reading.

This is a short review, because I only got to about page 100 before giving up. I'd already found myself skipping paragraphs, then pages, and decided to give it up as a dead loss. Life's too short, and there are plenty of other books I'd rather spend time with.



Blogger Alice said...

Says Nerem, under the High Fidelity review:

"This is about a Westeros thread... but ARGH, I totally agree about Grunts. It seemed pretty good at first, but the Halflings in it were so despicable (especially THAT SCENE) that I threw away my book. I've only done that with Thomas Covenant's books (For THAT SCENE) and, well, Wizard's First Rule (THAT SCENE). Its terrifying that all I need to say is 'THAT SCENE'."

Hmm. I'm not sure of the wisdom of throwing away a book based on one objectionable scene; it's quite a limiting way to do things. If you actually read my Grunts review, you'll see that the nasty halflings were one of the few things I *liked* about the book - I stopped reading it for entirely different reasons.

Goodkind is a special case, it's true, and there are any number of scenes that could be viewed as massively offensive - but that's the whole point. It's not just a one-off scene that makes his books shit, it's the whole package, from the writing style to the terrible philosophy to the obvious misogyny. Comparing Goodkind's rape scenes to Donaldson's is just wrong-headed.

12:30 pm  

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