Unfortunately, none of the books I picked from the library on impulse last weekend turned out entertaining. C’est la vie.
THE SEA BEACH LINE by Ben Nadler is the well-written tale of a drug-addicted college dropout with a total lack of goals or focus goes searching for his possibly-dead father and for dad’s friends’ stories of the father’s macho, take-no-crap, mean-streets life. Unfortunately the good writing doesn’t make it anything beyond an unremarkable, bland novel of hustling as a street vendor, so nothing much to hold my attention—though in fairness, literary fiction is a tough sell for me (the flyleaf made me think it might be more magical realism, but no).
GOLD THRONE IN SHADOW: World of Prime Book Two by MC Planck (cover by Nicole Sommer-Lecht, all rights to current holder) has series protagonist Christopher, trapped in a neighboring fantasy world and established as a warrior, continue his plan to overthrow the monarchy by arming the peasantry with guns. This requires negotiating feudal fantasy politics to stay alive, which is more complicated because rising in rank requires experience points—er, the miraculous substance tael—so how Chris allots it to his warriors is a big part of his political stratagems. If this sounds very D&Dish (along with very Connecticut Yankee of course), I’ve read online that part of Planck’s concept here (but we’re talking second-hand, nothing confirmed by the author) is “what would it really feel like to be live in an RPG universe?”
While the political games are interesting, that’s about all that was. Christopher has no personality other than being the reluctant hero, the battle scenes are wooden and the resemblance to a D&D module becomes too distracting as it goes along. Seriously, we have the memorized-spells, clerical healing and resurrection spells (and what appears to be mud-to-rock, a higher-level wizard spell), a good/evil/neutral moral breakdown, rangers and the big bad at the end of the book is a mind-flayer. And none of it done well enough to really give a feel for what it would be like to be a low-level D&D character.
And once again, we have that most uninteresting cover image (which is 100 percent not Mr. Planck’s fault), a person standing there doing nothing. Am I supposed to get excited about the book because she has a gun? Because she has cleavage? Why is this supposed to get me to care about the book? Because I didn’t, I grabbed it off the shelf along with Swords and Scoundrels figuring I’d get one or two Is Our Writers Learning? out of them. But I figured I’d just blow this one off in a regular review because I’m still under the weather (and I even sent a third book back to the library unread, which is unusual for me. Just now I’d like to read something that I’m confident won’t disappoint me).