Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Jul 4, 2007


I'm not a big fan of Joel Rosenberg, but I thought I would give this book a try anyway, primarily because I liked the title. Well, the book was okay.

The main difficulty I have with Rosenburg's writing is that nothing he writes is any fun. He conveys nothing that makes me smile or laugh or feel delighted. I can't hold a frowny face for the entire time I'm reading a book. Heck, I can't even stand to be frowny for an entire hour. Yet this is the essence of his writing. His books sit on the spirit like a lead brick.

It doesn't help that he writes series fiction, either, so every one of his novels contain elements that are important to the meta-story (whatever it is) but not to this particular novel. Paladins is essentially about men that carry "live" swords; swords that are inhabited by a particularly strong soul. These swords grant great power, but it is a dangerous power, difficult to wield and placing great strain on its wielder.

That's all well and good. So explain to me why he decided to set this fantasy story in an "alternate history" where Mordred beat King Arthur and established a huge British Empire? Not to mention that there are mythological creatures like Morgaine running around? How do these two elements fit together? When you write a novel, the setting should be no more and no less than a vehicle for presenting your story, whatever it is. It should not be this weirdly disconnected world that you invented because you could.

The best characters in the book are pushed hither and yon by the whims of other players, the story ends with a hideous deus ex machina scene (the king comes in and rearranges everything), and everything is grim and defeatist. Not my favorite novel by far.

Rating: 2.0


Toiler said...

"Paladins is essentially about men that carry "live" swords..."

With a setup like that, it OUGHT to be funny.

"My name is Bertrand and this is my friend Russel." He brandishes sword.
"Hello Bertrand. Oh! Your friend is so long and shiny!"
"Indeed!" He thrusts it back into its sheath, his eyes blazing with pride.

Anyway, crude jokes aside, I agree that humor is a great way to reduce tension and keep the reader happy (not to mention the writer, by the way).

Jennifer Snow said...

I don't mean that the book should have to be funny, but I think that books should at least contain elements of benevolence. This is probably a sense-of-life issue, but I'm not going to positively review a book that is nothing but doom and gloom.

joelr said...

Sorry you didn't like it; thanks for giving it a try.

Jennifer Snow said...

Hey, I'm glad I tried it, too, even if it wasn't my cup of tea. At the very minimum it was an opportunity to think about the world from a different perspective and write a review. I'm trying to get back on track with the writing here.