Scoville Units Unite

10 Mar

Necromunda Novels

In preparation for the re-launch of Necromunda, I went hunting for a bunch of the associated novels. They were generally available as e-books for £6 each, which was their original cover price! I managed to find a chunk of them from online sellers for £6 or less, ignoring the ones that were silly money – if I enjoy the ones I now have I will go for the electronic versions.

Salvation

I started with this having trusted an online guide which appeared to show it as novel 1 instead of novel 2 in the series. Not that it makes much difference but as they are slightly related it’s disappointing.

The protagonist is Mad Donna, one of the iconic characters from Necromunda. A former noble, then ganger turned bounty hunter. Her name is a clear nod to the origins of the almost cyberpunk dystopia, a parody of the 80s view of it.

It’s certainly a fun read, but I would hesitate to call it good. The story itself is a decent enough romp, and the narrative structure is very good – each chapter broken into current timeline, flashbacks, dream sequences etc, which both coalesce together well enough. I had been disappointed it didn’t give a great introduction to the world but me mistaking it for novel 1 probably explains that. I think the greatest problem though is the series of unbelievable circumstances where only her superior skills at everything could possibly manage to get out of, and where that’s not the case it’s deus ex machina time. Time and time again. You never really get the feeling that this lone person wandering the underhive is actually gonna be in any danger that will result in capture or close death. This is even lampshaded from time to time talking about the number of times anyone else would have died a hundred times over etc.

I had read it assuming it was from the original release time of mid-90s and tried to read it with that mindset, that it was aimed at teenage boys then and would probably reflect it. Woman running through hive fighting to the death with numerous people, I expected her to be called a bitch every so often etc. I had to check though when towards the end there was a different slur used, which I can’t find on a scan-read through, and it was published in 2005. It was certainly one I wasn’t expecting and one which although teenage boys may have used was pretty unacceptable then and especially so now.

Salvation

I started this thinking it was the second book in the series. It gave a great introduction to the Hive and seemed connected to the Survival Instinct. I then checked and realised it was the first, d’oh!

Zefer Tyranus is a curator for one of the Noble spire houses, a sort of researcher/librarian and the first few chapters focus on his daily life as well as giving hints as to the underhive. He then descends into the underhive, and there are a series of adventures here. It’s all a bit of a rambling mess though. Maybe it was the big rammy very shortly after passing over from the Spire which soured me. The poorly written connection between all the antagonists and their conspiring. The Goliaths being portrayed as unintelligent is expected, but the gangs leader not knowing the name of a Spire Noble House is a bit out there for pushing that line.

The book is ok, not great, and the end seems rushed. When I checked, it was 251 pages. Exactly the same length as Survival Instinct, and 2 pages short of the next one I have queued up. It definitely felt like it was going at a decent pace to lay out the intricate plot then just finished in whatever way the author could to hit the word count/deadline/whatever.

This was a shame, as the core premise and introductary chapters had the feeling of a Discworld novel, with Zefer as a wizard and the Delaque spies skulking around as the assassin guild.

I was also partially soured on it as these books arrived alongside Christmas gifts etc, once I checked they seemed to match description ok I put them away and only dug them out in February to read. This one had been described as Former Library book. Shows definite wear, and perhaps considerable marking on inside.. It was a library book and had the sheets etc in it stuck to front pages, fair enough. When I got into it I realised 7 pages had horizontal tears in them going almost to the spine. I hadn’t noticed when it arrived so it soured me a but on the experience. Maybe e-books would have been better after all.

So overall my impressions of a couple of books on the background of Necromunda is meh. I have a couple more in the pile, but probably won’t review except to star them on Goodreads, unless they surpass my expectations. I’d say not to bother with them unless you really want to read everything you can about the fluff. Even then electronic is definitely a better route than second hand based on my experience!

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