Chris Wooding, Retribution Falls (2009) – short review, and a few words about the Witcher game.

Witcher 3 is as good as I hoped. One of the best cRPGs I’ve ever played. That means, waay less writing time. Reading… I’m safe on that front, my commuting takes an hour each way now and I’m actually enjoying it. It’s fairly easy to focus on reading, and I can always find a good seat, I’m getting the tram on its first stop. From one edge of my city to the other. Well, I don’t complain – books 🙂

So, on my way to Oxenfurt, I’ve prepared a flash review of a nice book. Witcher books – that review is coming, but I’ll need to refresh the saga before that. I finally will, hardcover, containing short stories preceding the novels, is already waiting for me to finish The New Weird. I don’t think I’ve read them this millennium… and, hopefully, it won’t be just a review of books, but also a few words about the way different mediums complement each other. If only more great book series had their video games of equal quality (and made by people so obviously in love with the source material…). Sapkowski is no Tolkien, but one thing Tolkien never had is a video game studio to make a game worthy of his writing. Sapkowski himself is sadly unable to understand that (video in Polish only, from a recent con) and repeatedly states his disregard for games in general and Witcher games in particular. Me – I see them as something great, and a hope that the new media will be able to creatively build upon the great narratives of their older cousins.

For the time being, something completely unrelated:

wooding

Before I started playing Witcher, I had a taste for some steampunk. It’s a visually interesting genre, quite popular, one that create many books of varying quality. I enjoyed Michael J. Martinez half steampunk/half hard s/f novels a lot, then I was completely unable to get into Gail Carriger Parasol Protectorate series (not annoying enough to make me write an angry review, and the worst part was no stemapunky world, but all the YA stereotypes Ola complained about lately).

Steampunk is not only novels though. Among other things, it’s excellent anime & great graphic novels.

This particular book, Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding, is an adventure story set in a secondary world with supernatural elements and steampunky technology, the most visible examples of which are powerful wingless airships dominating the skies.

It’s not a very original story. A crew of misfits and ruffians, involved in smuggle and occasional piracy, gets framed for a crime they actually didn’t commit and needs to prove their innocence before they get killed by various interested parties. Will they manage? Make a guess, but remember, three more books were published 😉

A bit like Firefly, if Malcolm Reynolds was a coward and a deserter… Also, scheming nobles, hypocritical priests, cool XIX-cent.-style chapter titles.

It’s not great writing, but it’s great fun, with style. Basic story if full of action and predictable, but skilfully executed turns. Characters are cliché, but are fleshed out enough and some have backstories that allows us to sympathise with and root for them. A bit bland, but good enough to play their parts. I surprised myself by kind-of liking Frey, the reluctant leader, and it’s really hard to make me like a scoundrel. It took three movies for me to appreciate Han Solo 😉

The golem is awesome (and its origins tragic), I hope for some development on that front.

So here I am, ordering book 2 from Amazon (Marketplace) 🙂

When you crave simple fun, enjoyable adventure, airships and pirates – take a look at this one.

Score: 7/10

I said it will be short one, I need to get to Oxenfurt today…

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One thought on “Chris Wooding, Retribution Falls (2009) – short review, and a few words about the Witcher game.

  1. Well, the fact that you don’t have time for reading and writing is the best proof of Witcher’s 3 greatness 🙂 I admire the graphics, I’m sure the story’s engaging (it must be, to make one sit in front of a computer screen for so long!), but I seriously doubt I will play it… The computer games just take waay too much time 😉

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