Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review: Jane Carver of Waar

As usual with my reviews I can't come up with a snappy opening. So we'll jump into this new tale of good vs. evil, warriors and fair maidens and a hot chick with a big sword...

Jane Carver is a former Airbone Ranger who has some problems-she just killed a guy by accident after he decided to play a game of "grab ass" and she wasn't in the mood. While alluding the police she hides in a cave only to see a green glowing light. But in this case heading towards the light leads to a different outcome-she passes out and wakes up-starkers of course-on the planet Waar, a strange alien planet where she also discovers new found abilities-like super strength and jumping skills. She also discovers she's not alone. When she saves a purple humanoid named Sai-Far, she agrees to help him rescue his betrothed Wen-Jhai from a warrior named Kedac-Zir in exchange for helping her get home. And along the way the pair come face to face with a race of cat like creatures called the Aarurrh, a group of pirates and their horny female leader, gladiatorial combat, Sai's friend Lhan-who has his own secrets-and a plot to conquer the kingdom of Wen-Jhai's father. And it's up to Jane Carver to save the day!

When I first saw a mention of this on a web site my thought was "Cool, a homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs." Well it's both an homage and as the back of the book states "a scathing parody" as well. And it's more the latter than the former. I'll start with the homage part-it's clear writer Nathan Long must have read ERB since the book's setup is pretty similar: Long appears as himself, relating the tale of Jane he receives via old audio cassettes-a clever updating of John Carter's manuscript. Jane also develops super powers once on Waar, finds warriors who follow a strict code and has to stop a wedding-all things fans of the Barsoom books will know by heart. Plus there are flying creatures called the skelshas similar to the Malagores from Synthetic Men of Mars and the standard air ships.

But like I said it's also a parody-and in some cases a very adult one. Yep Jane arrives nude on Waar, curses like Richard Pryor and finds herself surrounded by a bunch of sexist aliens. In one chapter Sai reveals that it's OK for the men to fool around but the women have to remain pure-talk about a double standard. Long also pokes fun at the male warriors. Sai-Fer is actually a weak swordsman who at one point gets dolled up by a young female Aarurrh that Jane nicknames Kitten, and then seems to prove his man hood by both taking on the more skilled Kedac-Zir and becoming the female pirate captain's boy toy during their imprisonment in an attempt to prevent any harsh treatment for Jane and Wen-Jhai. Well at least he's doing it for the people he cares about. Also Wen-Jhai proves not to be the "pure" character Sai makes her out to be and-well let's just say it's more Flesh Gordon than Flash there. Kedac-Zir is also a parody of the standard villain-a huge bad guy who-thanks to a part of the warrior's code-manages to get Wen-Jhai to agree to marry him since Sai keeps blowing it. In fact one of the more humorous scenes has Kedac "rescue" Wen-Jhai by swinging into a room like Errol Flynn while Jane and company stand by unable to comprehend how their attempt to rescue Wen suddenly got upstaged.

I have to admit this collision of tones-serious one minute, comedic the next-was a little jarring but once I got into it the book was a fun, enjoyable read. By the end I was rooting for Jane Carver to come out on top and she emerges as a fun, likable character who keeps the reader interested. So if your adventurous and are looking for something different then give Jane Carver of Waar a try. But trust me, keep this away from the kids.


Pohjanakka said...

No romance for Jane?

Pity. But it does sound like something I might like anyway, so maybe I'll try it. Thank you for the review.

MCR said...

No Jane does find romance but it takes a while as she's more concerned with getting home-like Stanton's John Carter-and getting revenge on the villian for humilating her.

Hope that helps.