Quick Review: The Chaplain’s War by Brad Torgesen

ctwJust finished listening to “The Chaplain’s War” by Brad Togersen Saturday. All props to Brad for his successes, but I can honestly say it was a very well written piece that left me with an overall feeling of “meh”. In fact, it was as if I’d been preached to but in a very passive-aggressive way by someone with a degree in cultural relations.

The main character left me “meh”. He comes across immediately as an unlikable Millennial with a very disengaged, noncommittal worldview and it takes a really long time to actually care if he gets eaten by aliens or not (which sets the whole “meh” meme for the book.)

The overall portrayal of military people felt one-sided and cartoonish. The cliche attempt at Heinlein-ification ala Starship Troopers training narrative was another “oh, lookey at what he did” “meh”.

Another point that got kind of odd was the blending of “God’s hand” as a sort of excuse for the Deus Ex Machina occurrences that reinforced the P-A preaching. The plotting there was transparent and, frankly, vaguely insulting on an intellectual level.

However, the word-crafting was quite good. Absolutely cannot fault the writing. Plus, I did manage to finish the book, which is a rarity nowadays.

Another prop for the book is that it’s not a post-apocalyptic screed of “we’re all going die because of ‘issue X’.” There’s actually a positive ending that, while drawn out and low-emotion, at least doesn’t suck for the human race.

So, a book some might love and I feel ambivalent about and possibly an illustration of why stories I like don’t make it into Analog or get awards.

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Introit to Rogue Destiny

Finally getting back into my own work. Hard to believe its been six years since I’ve touched something, but the dates on my thumb drive don’t lie.

The work I’m starting with is called Rogue Destiny. It’s essentially a novelization of the Hell Forge short I sold to Zette so long ago. Like pretty much all of my shorts, there’s a novel hiding behind them. It’s a matter of whether or not the characters are interesting enough to pursue that drives whether or not I consider expanding them.

I’m keeping my goals simple. Finish Rogue Destiny first, then finish Spell Weaver with Kate is she’ll still tolerate me. After that, I’ll reassess.

In any case, here’s the Introit to Rogue Destiny:

Introit

Seven years ago…

Long ago, Desdre had carried two names. One she kept and used. The other she left behind along with the shattered body that had borne her soul down its first painful walk through a lifetime.

Her hands clenched inside her mittens and she shook her head to chase away old memories.

What is it about flying that tempts me into nostalgia?

She leaned forward to peer out at the world through the wolf fur rim of her cloak’s stiffened leather hood. The cold air that whipped by the opening drew tears from her eyes and filled her nose with the smell of desert dust. Far below, the great tan expanse of the Gilmoroth desert passed slowly by, a sun scorched and powdery sea of dune and wind.

She heard the leather straps of her waist harness creak when she twisted to look past the great pinions of her mount to gain a better view of the terrain, a sound muffled by its passage through the wind and the thick brown bear fur of her favorite flying cloak. For a moment, the horizon tilted and her stomach gave a gentle lurch. Then the world straightened again as her Nogrin servant, Syrr, adjusted to her change in position by shifting his great speckled brown wings to resume his level but gently undulating flight.

“Shall I fly lower, Mistress?” The wind and the cloak combined to make his question seem as if it were asked from far in the distance.

“No.” The last thing Desdre wanted was to breathe any more of Gilmoroth’s effluvia than need demanded. “How much longer until we reach Hellmont?”

“We are nearly there.” Syrr’s deep voice, as always, held nothing but the deepest respect. “I thought you were leaning out to see it. The spire will come into view as I make my final turn out of this current.”

Moments later, the view beyond her hood tilted and and spun in response to Syrr’s change in direction. A black blot upon the tan face of the Gilmoroth appeared: a massive, conical edifice of glistening black obsidian shot through at the apex by an impossibly thin, jagged spire.

“Behold,” Syrr announced after leveling off, “the final bastion and ultimate tomb of the Dark Lady.”

Also known to the meddling Grimmar and most other mortal races as the ‘Hellforge’, Desdre appended in her mind, as expectation and excitement began to bubble past the boredom of the long flight.

And now we shall see how well the machinations of the masters of Fate can stand when true Power bears its fangs.

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