Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Blood Gem (Night Spirit #1) by Robin White

The city has succumbed to darkness since the last of the white-winged angels was defeated. The city grows darker with every passing year and while that brings man new opportunities, the chaos is growing

And one being in the city thinks Raven is the key to changing his.

I always think it is a terrible idea to start a series with a novella. The first book in any series has to introduce the world setting, establish the characters, lay down some thematic elements and tell a good story as well. That’s tricky to get right in any novel, in a novella it’s nearly impossible to fit all that in

This book is a classic example of what happens when you try to ram it all in one book

It opens with Raven being kidnapped – and he infodumps a little about the world he’s in and what he is. And it is an info-dump, I can’t imagine in any fantasy world that anyone has to infodump about their species and powers. He has been kidnapped by his ex-lovers. Why they are ex is not really well explained, the relationship between them isn’t developed. What we do get is lots of innuendo and flirting and a sudden decision to nibble on the prisoner’s erogenous zones

Honestly, it’s the fantasy equivalent of the pizza boy showing up at the door and the home owner declaring “but I don’t have any change for a tip”.

They do have sex at some point and the sex scene is very long in this very short novel. Also, the dungeon happens to have a ready supply of lube and sex toys because of course it does. It’s a sex scene between a woman and 2 men, 1 man (the protag) is bisexual and the other gay (or possibly had a terrible experience with women – because we really need to keep this trope of “is gay because of trauma” alive, it seems).

Anyway, for reasons that are inadequately explained, his sexy-exes (who have various woo-woo abilities which are not explained or explored, not even their species, because they’re place holders for sex organs anyway) are working for the big bad boss, Lord Infodump.

Which is the vast majority of the rest of the book – Lord Infodump infodumping like a champion. He claims gold in the info-dump Olympics, endless pages of the city’s history, the history of a big important shiny guy who he wants to make everything good again. He did explain why they needed this guy and why it was bad without this guy and why it was particularly bad for Lord Infodump not to have this guy as well of the history of why this guy isn’t around any more and why this guy is so very special and what the city is like without this guy – dear gods there was so much explanation. In the middle of this was a painfully long and utterly awful metaphor about how people behave and what they’re really capable of, told via snails turning into crows and dragging a bucket. It may actually be the worst metaphor on self-confidence vs overconfidence there has ever been.

Worse, because any author can plainly see what Lord Infodump is doing, the lecture is interrupted with pointless dialogue snippets like him telling Raven what a very very stupid person he is for not knowing all of this already. It’s there to remind us Raven is there, otherwise it’d just be a lecture of agonising length.

We escape Lord Infodump only to meet the Ghost of Furture Infodumps who, alas, is not mute. After a series of ill-explained but apparently important woo-woo interference, we get an infodump on roughly what is going to happen in the future.

Could this be an interesting world? Possibly – honestly the long lectures just left me completely indifferent about it. Whatever potential it has is lost in this sea of unnecessary infodumping and complete lack of any plot.

As for the characters – I don’t know them. There wasn’t much in the way of character development – sex and infodumping dominated. It wasn’t helped by the dialogue – and the dialogue is bad. Really bad. It could actually have worked if the jokey, almost humourous tone of the first few paragraphs were kept up – a reflection of a protagonist who considers death an irritant more than something fearsome – but it’s all lost in the info dump and painful attempt at sexual tension.

And with it so is the story, the world, the characterisation and anything else about this book that would actually allow me to enjoy it.