Sep 12, 2016

[Books] Battletech: Close Quarters

It has been a while since I've found the time to cycle around to a classic Battletech novel. I'm still making an effort to read through all of the classic novels that I had missed out growing up. And it's still a bit of a slow process given real life stuff like work and of course the many different books I try to read.

Close Quarters follows the established pattern of the time of creating stories around various mercenary companies all over the Inner Sphere. Admittedly it's a nice way you give your story a solid enough foundation to work with to explore and play around it. Playing with the big Houses can get complicated given the books still had to dance around the timeline of events established in the RPG source books. Thus creating new characters of relatively less importance does give the writer a little leeway.

And Victor Milán is certainly one of the writers who really contributed to fleshing out the Battletech universe back in the early days and his books had a very different tack to them.

Synopsis: Battletech: Close Quarters is a novel written by Victor Milán and is set after the Clan invasion in the year 3056. The book is the first of a trilogy of novels about the mercenary company Camacho's Caballeros.

The story mostly centers around Cassie Suthorn, a young woman whose life was changed when she lost her family to mech conflict and this led her to dedicating her life to taking down BattleMechs. Actions as part of a city militia that resulted in her taking down a BattleMech by herself. This feat got her impressed by the very MechWarriors she had attacked and thus how she became a part of Camacho's Caballeros. In the present day, the Caballeros have just taken a contract that has them working for a cousin of the Coordinator Theodore Kurita. It's supposed to be an easy garrison job, but Cassie's paranoia as one of the team's scouts tells her that there's more to this job that is initially apparent.

What I Liked: Cassie is an interesting character even if she starts out a little one-dimensional as they made her all about hard edges and such. I appreciated her ability to take down Mechs using mostly unconventional tactics. It made for some great moments and fun battles and I really wish there were more of them.

The Caballeros are also a good set of quirky characters and this book only gives a taste of what they're all about. I expect the rest of the books will address this area of the story.

What Could Have Been Better: The book got distracted by its weird semi-political plot and a very convoluted master plan of as well. And despite the strong opening the book has a lot of slower parts that really kills the pacing. And despite the focus on Cassie as this Mech-killing scout initially, we move on to her needing to fulfill the role of a spy of sorts and later a commando. So things got a little weird there.

And despite being set in the Draconis Combine, it didn't feel like we were on a world that embraced the virtues and principles of the Dragons. Even though the story is focused on the Yakuza-turned servants of the Dragon, it doesn't mean that this is a realm of chaos. And maybe I'm expecting too much, but it still makes sense to me.

TL;DR: Battletech: Close Quarters is still an interesting enough novel but like many early classic Battletech novels it's still rather rough around the edges. But perhaps things will feel different once I get around to the other books. The book gets 3 unconventional anti-Mech tactics out of a possible 5.

No comments:

Post a Comment