Saturday, April 6, 2013

Book Review: Swords of Waar

OK I promised a review and sorry it took so long.

After being sent back to Earth by the scheming Priests of the Seven, Jane Carver is trying to find her way back to the planet Waar and more importantly to the arms of Lhan-Lar. After discovering a vintage pulp paperback written in the early 1900s, Jane finds another device that sends her to Waar, only to find herself and Lhan accused of kidnapping the Aldhanan's daughter Wen-Jhai and her husband Sai-Far. Barely escaping the Priests, Jane rescues Lhan and company and agrees to help the Aldhanan destroy the Priests of the Seven. They also discover that the Priests have devices that have been harvesting the planet's water supply, forcing the populace to submit to their rule. But with traitors in their midst, pirates everywhere and a mysterious man who doesn't belong on Waar, Jane has her work cut out for her.

I had enjoyed Nathan Long's Jane Carver of Waar, a fun, satirical take on the genre with its bawdy humor, sword wielding action, sly references to Edgar Rice Burroughs and the more adult themes that when I heard he had written a second book I was excited to read it and see if it lived up. Well it sort of does.

After a clever opening setup with direct references to the pulp inspirations for his story, Long draws out the story too long that I began to wish he would hurry up and get moving. The arrival on Waar and Jane's escape from the the Temple of Ormolu is an exciting set piece but once Jane finds Lhan it becomes one long scene of the two bickering over Lhan's pride and Jane's place on Waar to the point I began to wonder if Jane shouldn't had stayed home. The humor from the previous book and its satirical jabs at Burroughs and the Barsoomian genre also is gone, replaced by a more straight action story. While I enjoy a good action yarn as the next person it was the humor that won me over in the first book and I wished Swords of Waar had more of that.

That said Long does provide a good narrative and some interesting twists and turns. The sequences where the Aldhanan goes undercover with Jane as a Priestess of Laef finally kicks the story in gear with a cool scene in an arena, an air battle and the reintroduction of female pirate leader Kai-La. The introduction of "the WarGod" brings a nice twist that well just imagine John Carter meets the "Mirror Mirror" episode of the classic Star Trek and you'll get the idea. The final 30 pages are also among the best I've read in a long time with non stop action and a sense of fun.

Wrapping up I'll give Swords of Waar *** out of 4. The final section rocks but the earlier sections needed more action Jane and less bickering couple. Still I hope there will be a third book (and I get the feeling based on the climax there is an opening for one).

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