A blog about miniatures, wargaming, and the people driven to ruin by them....

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Battletech: The Novels, Oh So Many Novels!


So, over the past few months, I have been re-reading (or in the case for a handful, reading for the first time) the series of Battletech novels.  I have owned all of the pre-Dark Age novels, sometimes several times over.... so currently I am missing a few (like The Sword and the Dagger, which I did own, and read twice in the past).  However, I have most of them...
I read them in publication order, which is not exactly in chronological order.  I did read other things in between, as nearly 60 BT novels is hard to digest all at one time.  Lots of non-fiction, lots of historical, after every few BT books. 

Why did I do this?  I am not really sure.  A little immersion, a little bit of trying to create a firm picture of the Battletech-verse as depicted in the novels.  Maybe.  It is somewhat hard to do as there are inconsistencies related to the wide array of authors contributing to the series, and not always even contributions from the major authors.  And its a made up sci-fantasy setting with its own laws of how societies work.


I tried to pick what I thought were the five worst novels in the series.  This is what I went with, your mileage may vary, and there were plenty of other stinkers lurking in the mix I could have grabbed too...

Ghost of Winter... don't buy it.  Its not just a bad BT novel, its just plain bad.  Star Lord... don't buy it, its pretty bad.  Freebirth... I should have liked, I enjoyed all of the other Thurston novels, this one is just kind of a silly (silly in an already silly genre) plot, and I could not really like it.  By Blood Betrayed, ok, not horrible, but representative of a number of other mid-series BT novels that kind of meander.  I found that several authors, even ones that did impressive earlier (and sometimes impressive later) work in the BT series, such as Stackpole, Charrete, Thursont, even Coleman, seem to have written mediocre novels in the middle.  This may in fact represent some editorial pressures, or factors related to the game side of the business that is not entirely the fault of the authors... I don't know.  Anyway, filling out the list is Far Country, which is not terrible for cheap sci-fantasy fiction, just that it is not really a BT novel in many ways.  The biggest is that it introduces a sentient alien race.  It used to be my #1 worst novel, but looks like a best seller compared to Ghost of Winter.

So what are my favorites?  This was much harder as many of them are representatives of linked books, min-series within the BT novels.
This list could change very easily, and I am going to cheat.  Decision at Thunder Rift, the first BT novel I read many many many years ago, and I still like it.  Nostalgia, or just setting up the typical BT overly complicated political betrayals for virtually every plot of every BT novel to follow... but I still like it.  Prince of Havoc... I like the Twilight of the Clans mini-series (yes, Freebirth is in that mini-series), I think this one caps it quite well.  Lethal Heritage, bringing us the Blood of Kerensky trilogy, and changing the BT universe a bit.  Falcon Guard, the cap of the Jade Phoenix trilogy... at one time I did not like this trilogy all that much, but found it to be more compelling this time around.  Threads of Ambition of the Capellan Solution binary.... probably Loren Coleman is my favorite author for BT novels (despite a couple that are so-so... again, those mid range books).  I could easily have included one of the Warrior trilogy, very good books for the BT universe.

Typical plot.... you show up, either the locals or more likely your boss betrays you, you lose someone close to you, fight against adversity, and overcome.  Main character is incredibly talented and able to outperform mere mortal peers. That is like 75% of the novels.  Still, fun to read if you like the background.

The Dying Time.... so basically Gressman is hired to write a book and kill off the entire Grey Death Legion.

Test of Vengeance... not a big hit with me, but interesting to have an Elemental focused novel.

Price of Glory... the most pivotal novel in the series as it impacts the BT-verse.  Loosing all of that lostech on the Inner Sphere.

Blood of Kerensky (yes, I liked this trilogy very much)... so in a very short period of time, a couple of centuries, you create a completely, I mean a completely, different society.  Hunh.

Anyway, taking a major pause before entering the Dark Age series.  Not sure about all of this, curious how the Jihad plays out.  I am sure to enjoy reading some of those, and sure to not enjoy some others.  We will see.

In the meanwhile, I will plan on reading a trio of non-fiction, nature-oriented books... A Walk in the Woods, The Wild (which I have read before), and River Monsters (book for Jeremy Wade's series).  More sunburn and mosquito bites, less man made lightning and betrayals.


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