Sunday, April 24, 2016

Review: Quag Keep

Quag Keep Quag Keep by Andre Norton
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

So, back in my much younger days I was part of a subculture that got into a game called Dungeons & Dragons. You might have heard of it. Well, back then I was aware of some novels that were based on the game and published by TSR, the company that put out the game books and all the other stuff. I read some of them, and I enjoyed the hell out of them.

So now I find that the very first novel written about the Greyhawk campaign world was actually penned by a Science Fiction Grand Master.

Yeah, I was all in. I jumped in, with plenty of 70s and 80s music in the background (RIP Prince), and was ready to go....

And then...after. I feel like I've been walking through the Sea of Dust because seasonal allergies are a bitch and my mind kept wandering to anything but this book.

Except...when I made myself read it. I was all 'huh?' much of the way. It started out kinda cool, with these mysterious dice built into bracelets that our heroes couldn't remove. And they were tied together to do some quest that they would never in a million years done otherwise, much less with each other. I mean, there's a Lizard Man in their party!

"You can't trust the scaled ones! I told you!!"
"What about your pet pseudo dragon?"
"It's not a pet! She's my friend!!"

Well, I did play D&D as I said. It did seem that there was always one asshole in the bunch. It was like a rule. Berserking super tall and super strong killer fighter dude that can turn into a big ass boar at will (and back again) and has a pet familiar that has about all the powers he doesn't, effectively giving him the ability to do anything...

...except fucking think.

So I gave Norton a pass on the superbarbarian-racist-wereboar-douchebag. Every party had one.

Just like we always had a...

...cleric. Check.
...thief. Check (Bards are trained in thievery. And music. How cool is that?)
...strong guy that isn't an asshat. Check. elf. Because even back then we had race quotas.

Now, first rule of having and elf in the party is that you have to mention that he is an elf in every single sentence that he is involved in.

Clerics always say prayer-type shit and act all wise even when they have not a clue.

Strong guys don't have to do much besides kill shit and avoid slimy monster traps. Because there are always slimy monster traps.

But maybe I set my expectations too high. I mean, Grand Master is writing this, right?

So I expected coherent sentences. I expected the writing to be phenomenal. Well, okay if we give her another pass because this is adolescent gaming nerd tie-in shit, fine. But at least make the sentences correct.

Have you ever seen a run-on fragment sentence? It's possible...

And here's what I never saw in my gaming days. Describing every single fucking thing as "alien".

"What is that in our path?"
"Why, it looks strange. It looks..alien?"
"Yeah, you have the right of it. Alien. I mean, only an alien would look so...alien."
"Indeed. Alien."

No shit. Ripley didn't encounter this many aliens. I counted 35 instances of the word "alien" in the text of this relatively short book.

Alright, so I had to rant a little to justify my 1 star rating. There was some stuff to like, but Norton wrote all of that right out of the story. It must have been an alien thing to do.

Oh, and I see that there is a sequel this book that came out years later.

Yeah, that's how I'd feel if someone came at me with Return to Quag Keep.

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