Thursday, 28 April 2011

Wind of War

The second of the Four Winds novels, Wind of War has the "honor" of being the very worst book I've ever read.

I still don't know why I didn't just drop it at the bookstore after reading the first paragraph.

And believe me the first paragraph is just that bad.

Don't believe me? Well, I did warn you:

Warm wind shuffled through the rice paddies. Spring had come to Rokugan, and fifteen samurai on horseback had come to the villages. One carried the flag of Bayshi Zuto, their warlord, their daimyo. The soft red and black silks fluttered slightly against the pole. The horses plodded across the flooded rece field, taking care to step on solid ground. Trees to the north, east, and south defined the square edges of farmers' land, and the neat rows of dead, defrosting vegettion looked like poorly groomed tufts of hair between long furrows of dark brown water. Moving across the field was like walking across a soft, wet head.
That's metaphor for you!

So, chapter by chapter:

Chapter 1- Water and Blood, where Jess Lebow displays knowledge of In Media Res, and we learn that Bayshi Kujo has an impressive set of balls.

Chapter 2- The Dragon, where we find Hatsuko was put in a time stasis and become undecided on loving the Water Dragon for being a Smug Snake, or hating him for unleashing Kaneka and thus Wind of War upon the world.

Chapter 3- Seeking Shelter, where Hatsuko wangsts a little more, and we wonder when exactly is this thing going on.

Chapter 4- Dogs of War, Where Kaneka has his first taste of war and we find out the Akodo have a strange grasp of tactics.

Chapter 5-  Gifts and Revelations, where Kaneka comes of age and the star of the book, the Dragon Sword makes its first appearance.

Chapter 6- Homecoming, where we find out that Kaneka after a winter of luxury in Winter Court needs to take a vacation...

Chapter 7- Takada, the wretched hive of scum and villainy where most of the action will be set in is introduced, and the plot starts to become suspiciously familiar...

Chapter 8- Roof of the Broken Monk, where we realize we're reading Yojimbo starring Kaneka...

Chapter 9- Old Friends, New Foes, where we find out that Hideo and Rata are complete morons.

Chapter 10- Unmasked, where Kaneka decides to namedrop in order to get some pussy...

Chapter 11- High Noon, were we have yet another bar fight, and the villains prove once again they are utterly incompetent.

Chapter 12- The Daimyo and the Shugenja, where we find out who Hideo and Rata answer to.

Chapter 13- Fire and Blood, and yet another fight scene! I'm starting to see a pattern here. I'm also getting a sense of Dej√° Vu again, but surely Lebow would not dare...

Chapter 14- New Friends, Old Enemies, where Kaneka bonds with the salt of the earth, and we continue to wonder about the villains goals.

Chapter 15- To Lead and to Follow, yet another fight scene, and, for those keeping tabs, Lebow did dare. He is also ripping off The Seven Samurai.

Still no idea what the villains intend.

Chapter 16- A Decision, were we find that the Scorpion Clan seems to have the political acumen of a slug, and 2000 strong Scorpion armies aren't that great either...

Still no idea what the Scorpion hope to achieve.

Chapter 17- The Plain of Thunder, Akodo Pao is the greatest shugenja EVarrr!!!

Will this novel ever bother with causality and motivation?

Chapter 18- The Counsel of the Dead, Kaneka as a "Well Done, Son" Guy moment with Toturi thanks to Pao.

Chapter 19- The Hidden Way, where the Scorpion Army sucks ass or the Akodo army outscorpions the Scorpion. Which is kind of fitting supposing they are shadowspawn...

Chapter 20- Vengeance, where Kaneka returns to Takada and I have another deja vu.

Chapter 21- Sowing the Fields, where we witness yet more fighting and find out that Kaneka is capable of twirling his father's ring while charging a group of hidden archers. Truly this man has no lack of talents.

Chapter 22- The Wind of War, Where we find that Bayushi Akira, had a grandfaher called Kurosawa, and he'd like to rename the Spine of the World as the Kurosawa Mountains.

How sweet!

Now if only Lebow could make a proper homage instead of half-assed plagiarism we'd be set.

Chapter 23- The Road from Takada, Wohoo! Kaneka is a liberator freeing citizens from the tyranny of evil men. And he hates the smell of freshly disemboweled guts while doing so.

Chapter 24- Water and Blood, You've seen this already.

Chapter 25- The Calm Before... You know, I could make a series of witty puns on this chapter, or, maybe, a few cutting remarks, but quoting page 248:
"Hold tight, samurai boy, (...) This might get rough."
Literature at its best.

Chapter 26- ...The Storm, It almost over! It's really ending!

Chapter 27- The Final Foe, Just end already!!!

Chapter 28- In the Light of a New Dawn, denouement. Pointless, ill-writen but denouement nonetheless.

Generally I can read a novel pretty fast, but this book is so horridly bad that work was allowing me to relax.

What's even more disturbing is that it gets far worse the further you go. I can ignore the fact that this is an obvious plagiarism of Yojimbo,with elements from The Seven Samurai, I can overlook the use of rape as a dramatic tool, I can even ignore the villains utter lack of rational motivation, and the complete ignorance of setting politics. I won't even mention the other small myriad of mistakes, stylistical screw ups or lack of research.

The problem is that nearly everything that can go wrong when writing a story, did go wrong in this story.

Painful read.

I bought it not knowing better some seven years ago.

Learn from my mistake.

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