Apr 27, 2016

[Books] Battletech: Assumption of Risk

I don't know why, but it always feels to me that Michael A. Stackpole has been involved in writing about many of the most pivotal moments in Battletech history. He got to write about the ascent of Kai Allard-Liao on Solaris and of course he documented the the Clan Invasion. So yeah, a lot of fun stuff.

Assumption of Risk is still pretty important in the grander scheme of things, but I'll be the first to admit that it wasn't necessarily a pivotal book. It has some interesting bits and some nice foreshadowing for future events, but the Inner Sphere does roll along well enough without us needing to know precisely what happened here.

And the ending was surprisingly important, but not necessarily epic or particularly remarkable. It felt a little confusing that way, but I suppose it all worked out for the better. On the whole, this felt like a book about the second-stringer, in a manner of speaking. These are important stories but involving those who aren't necessarily commanding the Great Houses. And that's where its charm lies.

Synopsis: Battletech: Assumption of Risk is a novel set in the Battletech universe as written by Michael A. Stackpole. This book takes place some time after Natural Selection.

Kai Allard-Liao is the current Champion of Solaris and he has used his fame and influence to improve the lives of his fellow warriors by using his stable of fighters to set the standard for rights and benefits for their people. At the same time, Ryan Steiner continues to foster unrest in the Federated Commonwealth and Prince Victor Steiner-Davion is hard-pressed to find away to suppress the efforts of his cousin. But all roads lead to Solaris as Kai's next title fight approaches and the timing used to also push forward the plans of Ryan Steiner's faction along with Tormano Liao and his Free Capella Movement.

For the most part, this book is about Kai and thus there's a lot of time spent on Solaris and a lot of time following the stories of the people based there. The fact that Tormano Liao's base of operations is also on Solaris made the world a logical venue for things plus the more obvious need for Kai to remain on the battle world. Oddly enough, what we didn't have a lot of in this book were actual battles. One of the key moments of course was Kai's title defense, but beyond that there's really nothing much to speak of here.

The book also brought back Dr. Diedre Lear, Kai's love interest during the Clan War while they were trapped on Alyina. I was never particularly fond of her given that she was all about pushing this weird non-violent agenda and she rather one-dimensional poured all of her frustrations on Kai. The fact that they seemingly brought up for those reasons only fueled that image and the end result was a relationship that I wasn't particularly keen on seeing come back. But of course such things happens and the fact that she has been hiding the existence of Kai's son did make for a plot element that just had to be explored.

A lot of the book once again follows around the infamous assassin who managed to kill Archon Melissa Steiner-Davion back in Natural Selection. You'd think that we should have been done with this character but for some reason Victor had the misguided notion that he'd be able to use him in the future. Talk about your character flaw moments.

There's a lot of maneuvering left and right, but we're talking about small plots and almost petty schemes and at times it felt like things were made out to be more complicated than they needed to be. But hey, I guess they had to make the most of what was there.

Battletech: Assumption of Risk may not be my favorite Battletach novel around despite Michael A. Stackpole's involvement. But it's still a solid enough adventure and one that has some great moments and some wonderful character pieces and that's great. Thus the book still gets 3.5 complex schemes mapped out by Torano Liao out of a possible 5.


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