Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Call to Arms Book Review

Title: Call to Arms
Author: Mitchel Scanlon
Publisher: Black Library
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781844168132

Deiter Lanz has always wanted to be a member of "The Scarlets;" a soldier in the 3rd Hochland Swordsmen. Raised by an almost heroic figure, starting at a young age Deiter has been trained to be a soldier.The novel starts off with Deiter having his dream come true: he's the newest recruit to "The Scarlets."

Just as he gets omitted to the ranks of the 3rd Hochland Swordsmen, a horde of greenskins headed by Morgoth Ironfang attack and force The Scarlets to act. From there, everything goes down hill, as Count Aldebrand of Hochland comes to the realization that no other country would be willing to come to the countries aid. In his realization, Count Aldebrand promotes legendary General Ludwig von Grahl as leader of his armies, to fight back against Ironfang and his hordes.

There were many parts of this where I would get to a scene and be like, "Oh! This is where it's going to pick up... it's got to!" And then, I was let down; hopeful, I kept reading on, but was let down more than I'm willing to admit. There were several parts of Call to Arms, where I felt it had potential to expand and spin into something better, but unfortunately it didn't, In the end culminating with an anti-climactic battle that seemed to have been rushed and generically ended.

Call to Arms is riddled with cliches, with the typical characters that can be found in just about any generic fantasy novel, or B rated/Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie, including rather lackluster fight scenes. Especially the premise of the novel: a horde of goblins/trolls/orcs, led by a badass commander decide to invade a country, or area with no real reason other than to start a fight, and see things die. (I know, I just defined the definition of an orc.) I was hoping that Call to Arms would stay away from this. I don't want to have to compare the world of Warhammer Fantasy with that of the newly visioned Dragonlance, that's why I'm hoping this doesn't become a trend.

In parts, it felt as though Scanlon hadn't been made aware of one of the golden rules of writing, and that is to 'show, don't tell.' There were many parts of Call to Arms where, instead of having the character experience something, Scanlon has another character explain it instead. His narrative also suffers from this. There were several scenes where he switched narratives so quickly, that I kept getting lost. One moment he was writing from Character C's point of view, then the next it was back to Character A's.

I personally would have loved to have seen a few little info-dumps throughout, but sadly there were none. Maybe it's a good thing, considering I'm a new reader and all, but I was expecting just the slightest bit of exposure to any reader, whether they be new to the world, or old.

Although it would seem that I've done nothing but bashed this novel, there's plenty of good things to speak of about it. As much as it would seem when Call to Arms begins, it is not a coming of age story, which I thank Scanlon for. Too many fantasy titles these days use the typical view point of a young person in order to narrate their stories from a pair of fresh, unexpereinced eyes.

Call to Arms is my first official Warhammer Fantasy novel experience, and all-in-all, it wasn't bad. I've read worse. Therefore, I'm giving it an even 5.0 Tardis's out of 10. If you want to take a chance on it yourself, you can procure your very own copy from both: Barnes and Noble and Amazon.


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