Jun 2, 2017

[Books] Battletech: I Am Jade Falcon Review

I started reading the Battletech novels around the time a lot of them were telling stories set during the years around the Clan invasion of the Inner Sphere. To as much as it's a rather iconic period in Battletech history as a whole, it's also one that is personally memorable, especially once I started playing MechWarrior 2.

I Am Jade Falcon is a story told from a side I didn't typically follow - that of Clan Jade Falcon. While the Falcons obivously had more books written about them for one reason or another, I had fallen in love with Clan Wolf because they were my firsts choice in the computer game and they featured prominently in the Michael Stackpole Battletech novels.

The earlier books Thurston had written for Battletech were just okay to be and didn''t particularly stand out. They were more memorable for being some of the first depictions of the Clans in these books with a focus on the Jade Falcons. But his prior books focused on Aidan Pryde, a warrior that had risen up the ranks to glory. Now this is the story of the people he left behind.

Synopsis: Battletech: I Am Jade Falcon is a novel set in the Battletech universe. It was written by Robert Thurston and is set in 3057 during the events of the Refusal War waged by Clan Wolf and is parallel to Malicious Intent.

The events of Falcon Guard culminated with a noble sacrifice by Star Colonel Aidan Pryde during the Battle of Tukayyid. Now the Falcon Guards are without a leader and Star Commander Joanna has been doing her part to keep the unit together. But now they've been assigned a new leader in the form of Star Colonel Ravill Pryde, newly blooded from the core worlds. Joanna instinctively hates the man but has no choice but to serve under him.

But from the start it seems that things aren't going to go Joanna's way in the most extreme manner possible. She's told that she's going to be reassigned from the Falcon Guards to work that feels dishonorable to her. Her only chance of limited salvation from this duty comes from a most unexpected source: Loremaster Kael Pershaw. What he offers is only marginally better in Joanna's eyes but as an aging warrior, she may not have much of a choice.

What I Liked: Admittedly Joanna was definitely one of the better characters to come out of Thurston's initial Jade Phoenix trilogy of books. Sure she started out almost as a caricature of a person, but in time she certainly grew into her own. And here she has a lot more complex issues to deal with including her lingering resentment against Aidan Pryde, her resentment against Ravill Pryde, her resentment against her age - you get the picture. Joanna will always be a very angry character,

Most of the action takes place on the ground, which is a little frustrating in a Battletech novel. But they do make up for things once the Falcon Guards face off against Clan Wolf as part of the Refusal War. And the story ends with no less than the Black Widow herself leading the Wolves in their assault against the Falcons so you know it's going to end with a pretty good battle.

What Could Have Been Better: If Joanna is a great character, the rest tend to fall to the wayside. Before it was Aidan Pryde who got the lion's share of character development and now that role has shifted to Joanna with Aidan no longer in the picture. And it's a shame given how many characters are actually in the book but you don't hear that much more from them beyond elements of the main plot that they need to convey to the reader.

And then you have the extended journey of Joanna that begins with the Falcon Guard's assignment of Twycross to her journey on a secret mission then back to Twycross goes on a for a while. And her secret mission focuses on her not being a MechWarrior and doing something she finds personally reprehensible. And Joanna not in her Mech is a rather sad thing indeed.

TL;DR: Battletech: I Am Jade Falcon is an interesting novel that show us more of the Clan Falcon side of things around the Refusal War. And it's one that gives Joanna a path to become more of a full character on her own. Thus the book gets a decent 3 reasons for Joanna to get angry out of a possible 5.

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