Peter Hentges (jbru) wrote,
Peter Hentges

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Hurry up and wait

A classic military strategy, now being employed in the private sector...

I'm waiting for our graphics department to finish work on a series of charts that go into one job. Meanwhile, a few co-workers prep a large job for "the board." So nothing to do now but hurry up and wait.

I read (except for the last few pages which I'll finish in the morning) The Tyrant, by Eric Flint and David Drake. This is, apparently, the eighth in a series of books. It stands decently well on its own, though I get the impression that some of the relationships of characters have been built up in previous books. The premise is one of a Rome-like empire on a human-inhabited alien world that has lost the technology that got them there, being kick-started into feudalism and industrialism by the machinations of one of its high-ranking officials. A little help is provided by a non-corporeal character with knowledge of Earth events that are in this world's distant past. So a little gunpowder, a little advanced military strategy and voila! a new order emerges.

What I disliked most about the book was that it was nearly impossible to discern differences between the characters. The fact that the main character's most-mentioned offspring was female only presented itself in her memories of being raped (in the previous book, one assumes) and in a few short scenes with her child. Apart from those, she's really just her father in drag. Further, characters from all avenues of the story are flat a featureless. The villains of the story, particularly, get short shrift. No time is spent making them real people. They are, instead, mere props; faceless obstacles for our heroes to circumvent, most often in the most direct manner possible. Most are vanquished "off screen" and only appear as severed heads or making short speeches before they are ruthlessly dispatched.

I did like some of the book's examination of how, if history had done things differently, things might have turned out. Overall, however, I think the authors are far too enamored of their own cleverness. The road to victory for their protagonist is too simple; he never suffers a single set-back. Even the death of his oldest son, who betrayed him to join the enemy, is a matter of a paragraph or two and ends with the son dead.

I read this in prep for NaNoWriMo and am heartened by the fact that a work of this quality was published. Surely, the pages I crank out next month can be no worse than these.

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