More on the Warlord

May 7, 2014

I finished reading the Warlord trilogy. Given my previous statements about the unreasonable effectiveness of fistfights in science fiction, it seems odd that I should like these books, which do involve an awful lot of punching. To be honest, the fighting scenes, although they are very important component of the story, are not my favorite parts of these stories.

Kiell often manages to defeat the toughest enemy agents with his boots and fists. Although the story makes clear that he would prefer to use firearms whenever possible (and an awful lot of enemy mooks end up felled by pistol fire), the dramatic fights against the Deathwing leaders are usually hand-to-hand affairs. However, the books go out of his way to explain why this happens again and again. The Deathwing’s arrogance is its greatest failure. Every single Deathwing agent Kiell meets passes up the chance to just shoot him dead. Sometimes, they want to interrogate him, but mostly they just want to defeat him in single combat. Kiell has the advantage of having unbreakable bones, which usually makes the difference in his battles. However, the routine does get old by the fourth book. The last time The One announced that he wanted to beat the legionary to death, I just groaned.

On the other hand, the alien landscapes in the book are often quite compelling. The Cluster, where most of the second book takes place, is a grouping of asteroids that move together and are collectively able to hold onto a breathable atmosphere. That’s absurd, scientifically. The mass required to condense a body into a spherical form is much smaller than what is needed to hold onto an atmosphere that would support Earth-like life. The Starwind, a planet-wide storm which troubles the planet Rilyn when another body passes too near its orbit, helps Kiell defeat the Deathwing in book three. A somewhat similar concept was used by Poul Anderson in Fire Time*, although neither one is particular realistic. In Day of the Starwind, nobody can apparently predict when the wind will start, until they see the rogue body approaching in the sky. Actually, with only twentieth-century technology, we can predict the positions of bodies throughout the solar system centuries in advance. Still, it makes for a pretty cool story, especially when the primary target audience is teen-aged or younger.

*Fire Time is a book that introduces a whole slew of interesting ideas, most of which turn out to be nothing but background scenery. The plot is abruptly resolved when the main characters decide to open up with ray guns.

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