Friday, February 11, 2011

A Giant's Friend by MD Grimm

A Giant's FriendCan love flourish in a time of war? Friends since childhood, Jeth and Kodie now lead an army and guard a mountain pass against the invading Carpathians. Jeth's father was half-giant, and he has always been persecuted because of his lineage. His mother died due to the bigotry of villagers, unleashing the giant’s rage inside him. Jeth has found his purpose in war. When Kodie admits his feelings of love, will Jeth find a new purpose in life?

Before they can find out where their feelings might lead them, Kodie is caught in an avalanche and Jeth must find him before the enemy does. With war all around them, can these two friends find peace that only a lover’s arms can give?
Problems from the start with this one, and I did read the excerpt, I just thought that the choppy style, full of fragments, was meant to be a slice of thought process. It's actually an accurate reflection of the other 127 pages. What isn't fragmentary is passive or muddled, and I considered abandoning this book several times over.

The author seems to have put next to no thought into her world building, starting with something as basic as names. Everyone has something recognizable in the English speaking world, plus or minus some mangling. The Carpathians in the blurb are what happens in your head because of it -- in the text they are Carpathyns living on the world of Terrya, and fighters such as Johhn and Freedricks have to stand up to them. The Sennicians have one mountain pass to defend against invaders who will dominate the world if they win, but they don't trouble to build a proper garrison -- after three years of active warfare on top of however many years of uneasy coexistence they are still living in rough camp.

So many things are thrown in or mentioned because they would be nice to have at just that moment. A carrier eagle is conveniently available to send a message for a man traveling alone, avalanches come when called, a hot bath for a large man can be filled with snow-melt and no one counts the fuel cost. A horse large enough to carry a man "exactly eight feet tall, with a shoulder width equal to four regular men and a large chest" and a relative lightweight who's only six foot five gets mentioned at the exact moment it's called on to carry double.

If he's exactly eight feet tall, I'm not anticipating any flights of fancy in the rest of that sentence, which makes the shoulders kind of startling -- my shoulders are about 18 inches across, so a regular man's would be bigger, which makes his shoulders six feet across, or more. Huh? Jeth's hung to the same standard, which rendered some of the sex scenes painful to read.

The scenes were all painful to read, actually. Even without being able to know from moment to moment whether this is a trained army or a rough militia, the war duke being seen pouncing on the commander who spends his men foolishly, by random messengers not once but twice, is going to create a morale problem. Is pouncing uppermost in the war duke's mind after an exchange that boils down to "I wasted some of your most precious and irreplaceable assets because I want you"? Both war duke and commander agreed this was a bad plan, not a good plan that didn't work out, so if Kodie is the best commander as we're told, the Sennicians are in trouble.

The battle scenes did not have any relationship to the physics of swinging a broadsword or shooting a bow, but that's pretty much forgivable compared to shattered bone and compound fractures that heal enough to travel in just a few days, without magic. A man who's so badly broken that he'd realistically need a couple of amputations if he couldn't get magical or surgical repair is not a good candidate for sex. If he's hurting bad enough to wish he'd pass out, he's not getting it up.

If there was one point in this book I can wholeheartedly approve of, it's the philosophy at the end.

This had the seeds of a really good story in it, but between the cavalier handling of physical issues, world building that wasn't there, the hand-waving that accompanied the more interesting plot points (how did Jeth approach the other giants?) and a style that was probably meant to reflect simple, uneducated men but actually felt like it was geared to children, it hasn't come to pass. One marble.

Buy here.

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