WARNING: This post contains spoilers of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter Legion. Head over to Baen E-Books and buy the Advanced Reader Copy before reading.
No? Well, you’ve been warned.
First off, the beginning of the book was great. I loved the first seven or so chapters. Getting a perspective as to what all the characters do/behave like on their down time was great (Eat a lot, have fun, carry lots of exotic weapons. The list of all the guns the LVPD confiscated was hilarious.). Meeting international monster hunters was great. Lacoco and Pitt’s “reunion” was great. The description of the convention was great. The First Annual Monster Hunter Death-Dealing Marathon as everyone blasts out of Vegas on everything from crotch rockets to Lear Jets was great.
Pretty much everything about the first seven to ten chapters was great. I read all the sample chapters last night and then hyperventilated until I was able to buy the eARC this morning.
As much as I hate to say it, though, after I finished the book, I was disappointed. I’m too tired to be all fluent about why, so I’ll just lay it out.
I) No resolution. This may be rather petty, and stemming primarily from a desire to hurry up and understand the MHI universe, but I found the prospect of having to wait for even more MHI books before the ultimate denoument (haven’t had to use THAT word in a while) a little frustrating. I mean, it’s been three years and four books (although Alpha was a bit of a detour. Still my fave book, though), already, and we’ve got at least three more to go.
Oh well. Good things come to those who wait, and I imagine that once I have a foot-high stack of Monster Hunter novels on my bookshelf next to my arthritis medicine it will all be worth it.
II) Overdone. Again, this is all just my opinion, but Legion struck me as overdone, almost bordering on cartoonish at times. It was a feeling rather like at the end of Spellbound, where a rampaging demon the size of the Chrysler Building attacks DC. We have casinos being sucked off into . . . Heck, who knows where, dead people coming back, but not really, but kind of; and a dragon the size of an aircraft carrier flying through Las Vegas pursuing an impossibly maneuverable flying Russian tank.
It just didn’t work for me. I know the response to this will be “Dude, it’s monster fiction. Get over it,” but hear me out. The Monster Hunter series, and indeed all of Larry’s stuff (except the only-hinted-at “epic fantasy trilogy”) attempt to take place in our universe by being set in modern-day times with things around that actually exist (Las Vegas, Ford trucks, normal society, etc.). Thus, when something as astronomically impossible-sounding as a monstrous demon or all of Las Vegas being stomped on happens, it bends the rules way too far, in my opinion. This doesn’t bother me as much when a story doesn’t make any bones about trying to take place in our universe. For instance, if there are aircraft-carrier-sized dragons in the “epic fantasy trilogy” (which sounds awesome, I have to add), I probably wouldn’t bat an eye, but when an author tries to have them exist in the same world we do, it strikes me as difficult to get on board with.
III) Matryoshka Villains. Matryoshka are those little Russian stacking dolls. You know, you pop open one, there’s another, pop him open, there’s another, and on and on down to where you can barely see the doll on the inside. Larry’s villains are like this, in that there is never just The Bad Guy. There is always someone worse, always someone scarier, etc. You can see this in Dead Six where Big Eddie rants that he’s only doing something because someone even he’s scared of told him to. I find this frustrating, because it kills any sense of resolution. Matryoshka Villains show up in Legion in that Satan (or whoever the heck keeps having his mark scrawled everywhere) is even worse than the Old Ones, and then you’ve got the Others, the Old Ones themselves, Stricken and STFU . . . Oy. It just gets a little frustrating to have progressively worse villains continually pop out of the woodwork.
This is a phenomena that shows up in a few of Larry’s books, and one that I don’t think is necessary to project a sense of how big and scary the villain is. What’s wrong with having the villain continually escape the protagonists before they eventually bring him down? (As opposed to having the protagonists beat the villain, then beat his boss, then beat his boss, and then beat HIS boss, etc.)
Well. That was pretty much a novel, and probably WAY too long for a blog post. All that said, though, I still love the Monster Hunter series. The action is well-written, the exotic guns are great, and the characters and dialogue drag you like you wouldn’t believe. I wouldn’t go anywhere else for great monster-punching action, but it does sometimes leave a bit to be desired.