For the last Chapter By Chapter review set I had trouble choosing from one of three books, and put it up for a vote. I still don’t know why I can’t get audience participation or feedback most of the time but the only one who voted was a friend of mine who has been trying to get me to review a Doctor Who novel so The Time Travellers won out rather easily. That left two books and I decided to choose the next one. It’s the only part of this franchise I haven’t reviewed, not counting the video games since all I have is a demo of one of them. This basically completes the franchise for now, unless I get more comics in the future or discuss the cartoon further for whatever reason.
BattleTech is a tabletop RPG in the sci-fi mold. When it came out in the 80s Dungeons & Dragons and those inspired by it were the ones you heard about so when I saw the ads in comics the idea of a science fiction role-playing game was new to me. Also grabbing my attention were the ads using the destroids from Robotech, those disposable mecha that you never heard much about because none of the main characters used them when they had transforming planes to fly, were used in the ad. Harmony Gold got wind of this and had a fit, forcing FASA to come up with original mech designs, and it was probably the best thing for them. It led to comics, video games, a cartoon, and novels like the one I’m reviewing this round. Our seventeenth book in the Chapter By Chapter review series is…
BattleTech: I Am Jade Falcon
by Robert Thurston
Here’s the story as I understand it for the BattleTech universe. In I think 3050 a group of Earth colonies known collectively as the Inner Sphere lost contact with their homeworld and fell into disarray. Various houses competed, married to consolidate power, and fought in wars using giant robots called Battlemechs. These mechwarrior pilots fought for their governments, while the group known as the Star League got tired of this proto-Game Of Thrones situation and bugged out for parts unknown. Generations later their descendants returned as a group of warring clans who all wanted to take over the Inner Sphere but didn’t get along with each other either. The Clans have a unique view of warfare, issuing balanced challenges with set rules of victory, less barbaric maybe and that’s how they saw it but the humanity of war (for lack of a better term…war is hardly humane) was lost in the process. People and planets were prizes of a challenge rather than the spoils of war. The locals don’t really connect with this form of warfare and that leads to more conflicts as everyone fights each other and the only difference between the Inner Sphere houses and the Clans are in how they fight. Anybody who knows this franchise is welcome to help me through the lore blindspots I have. Just don’t overload us with the details, just what we might need to know to follow along or find the strengths and weaknesses.
Thanks to the cartoon the most well-known of the Clans, at least to non-players though one or two other Clans like Steel Viper pop up now and then, was Clan Jade Falcon, so while the cartoon is set in a variation of the BattleTech universe and the novel presumably closer to the games, it makes sense that Roc, a division of Penguin Books, would release a novel focusing on that particular Clan. From the back of the book:
For years, Star Commander Joanna has had to live with the shame of the Jade Falcon defeat at Twycross, and the nightmares of the heroic Aidan Pryde flaunting his bloodname in her face.
Now with the arrival of the new Star Colonel Ravill Pryde, who will lead them against the Wolf Clan, Joanna must once again fight for her change to recapture the glory of her victory at Tukkayid. But will her advanced age bring her to defeat again, or will being a Jade Falcon be enough for her to take on the legendary Black Widow in a repeat battle at the Great Gash on Twycross?
The cartoon and the comics I own, some made before the Clans were added to the game, never focused much on the Clans or their lifestyle. The cartoon did give us some glimpses into Jade Falcon specifically as one of the Inner Sphere main characters were taken as a prize and decided he liked their way of life better (that’s the short version) but that was all about their fighting as mechwarriors and also had to focus on the tension between the Steiner house and the Draconus Combine as they learned to get along. We didn’t get to see much of how the Clans live, which is what drew me to this book. This novel is not only the seventeenth book in this review series but the seventeenth book in the novel series, which I promise you I didn’t plan. Remember, this was an option for the sixteenth book.
According to the BattleTech wiki, Robert Thurstson has written a number of BattleTech books, and apparently really likes the Jade Falcon clan as he’s written a few books about them. He’s also written novels based on Battlestar Galactica and the Issac Asimov-inspired “Robot City” book series, and I may have at least one book he did from the random books I have from that book series. He’s a prolific science fiction author but I don’t of any original series he can lay claim to, though not all of his books are based on or novelizations of established properties.
This is going to be annoying for me. I just shook off Op-Center’s short chapters and skipping around, and guess how this novel’s 32 chapters (plus prologue and epilogue) at least start out going with. The last chapter seems pretty long so hopefully I won’t have short chapters for long. Nevertheless I may end up combining chapters early on. We’ll see what happens as next time the prologue and at least the first chapter will be up for review as I begin reading BattleTech: I Am Jade Falcon! And remember…