Quite some time ago author, John Blackport, sent me an e-copy of Raingun for review. I finally managed to borrow a Nook to read it on. Though, doing so didn’t do much to further my side of the Kindle vs Nook battle that continues to rage between my husband and I. Oh well, it was worth it.
Description from Goodreads:
Rick Rivoire is flush with money, women, and prospects. He protects his country as one of the Rainguns, an elite regiment of spellcasting cavalry.
But national policy drifts ominously into slavery and religious persecution, sparking rebellion. Joining the rebels could land Rick on a prison ship, in slave-irons — or atop the same gallows where he watched his father hang.
The alternative looks no brighter. The status quo imperils Rick’s hard-won self-respect. Supporting tyranny would doom his dream to emulate the valiant swordswoman who braved a den of monsters to rescue the lonely, terrified nine-year-old boy he once was.
Rick can’t stay above the fray forever. He must either defend a government whose actions disgust him — or risk everything he has to chase justice.
This story unfolds in a world of bloodthirsty pirates, brave musketeers, and vile monsters. Its target audience is anyone who has ever wrestled with questions of whether, and how, to risk opposing the actions of their country
I’ve had this book on my to-read list for a long time and was finally able to get around to reading it. I’m glad I did. I kind of fell a little in love with Rick Rivoire. I’m a sucker for an honourable man. I admit it, and Rick just tries so darned hard to be just and fair in his actions. He may resent the hell out of his mother, but she obviously raised him right. Though, how is a bit of a mystery. He is a lad though. He and his friends tease each other mercilessly, often at the expense of any female (whore or otherwise) in the vicinity. But then to pretend a 25-year-old soldier, alone among is fellow cavalrymen would be anything else would risk a singular lack of realism. Lets face it, not dying, food, drink and women almost certainly feature highly in the bunkhouse of any army anywhere in this world or the next. Plus, the camaraderie between him and his cadre (especially Kristoph) is just plain funny.
The book throws you right into the action and it can be a little discombobulating. There is a glossary and some explanatory information (geography, government, pantheon, etc) at the end and I would recommend reading this first. I did not do this, but would probably have been better off if I had. There is a lot to this world…I think 12 different gods/goddesses, each with a complex religious faction of their own, two nations (not including the elves), a full aristocracy, and then all of the military ranks. Then there is the currency, geography, spell casting, and monsters. Phew, it’s a lot to keep up with. I imagine this is going to be a long series. It just doesn’t seem like it would be worth setting all of it up unless it is.
There are a number of flashbacks in the beginning, addressing pivotal points in Rick’s childhood. This goes a long way toward explaining the man he becomes, but it also made the beginning of the book feel choppy. I spent a lot of time trying to catch up. 4 or 5 chapters in they taper off and the story takes on a more linear gate and reads a lot more smoothly. The writing itself has a fairly distinct cadence. There were times it felt forced, but in the end I decided that it would more accurate to say that it was used to create atmosphere. So, even if a sentence appeared a little convoluted it matched the character.
Rick spends A LOT of time in battle. The body’s ability to be resurrected multiple times and for spell casters to heal soldiers on the battlefield means he and his unit are able to be stabbed, slashed, burnt, shot and beaten over and over and over again. And they are. It’s not that it is horrendously graphic. The book isn’t, but he is a soldier during war time. The Raingun basically progress from one battle to another. This movement from field to field, enemy to enemy is actually what moved the book along. With each new altercation comes a little more information about what is happening politically in the country and another hint about what might be happening to/for/around Rick. A lot of this mystery isn’t cleared up by the end of the book. That there is civil unrest on the horizon is pretty clear, as are the reasons and players but what part Rick is to play, and he is obviously going to play a part, isn’t.
Raingun makes for an interesting contribution to the fantasy genre…I would have read it just so I could keep referring to Military Mages. It’s fun to say. I have the sequel, Resolution, which I plan to read too.
Addendum: I went ahead and read Resolution. You can see my review for it here.