Review: “Devils’ Due” + Writerly Woes

Lately I’ve been getting a great deal of “job offers” that are interested in hiring me, but want me to do some “test assignment” first. Now, I’m an extremely paranoid person by nature, so whenever I get one of those, I can’t help but worry that it’s just an elaborate scam to get me to write something for them for free.

But even if they’re not scams, I really hate the idea of these test assignments. Why should I put a few hours of work when there’s an excellent chance (based solely on the huge number of submissions these jobs surely get) I’ll simply be rejected? Why should I be expected to work for free? When you apply for a job in an office, do they expect you to work a shift or two without being paid just to see if you’re the right fit? I realize I’m relatively new to the writing game, but I’ve given you my portfolio, my resume, and a link to this here blog. How many examples of my writing do you need?

I don’t think this is right. But at the same time, I’m not really in the financial situation to be turning down any opportunity for work. So I may have to swallow my pride and just do these things. And that’s probably why companies are sending them out–they know saps like me are desperate enough to do them. They know they can get away with it.

This blog’s hits have also taken a nose dive in the last week or so, and I can’t figure out why, and that is also distressing me.

But anyway, enough ranting. It’s reviewing time!

It hasn’t much come up here yet, but I’m not just a WoW fan. I’m also a big fan of the Starcraft franchise; Blizzard owns all of my soul, not just some of it.

So I was happy to dive into the newest Starcraft novel, “Devils’ Due” by Christie Golden. It’s a sequel to (and improvement over) William C. Dietz’s somewhat bland “Heaven’s Devils,” and both are prequels to the Starcraft games, telling the story of James Raynor’s early life.

Christie Golden’s strength has always been characters, and this is once again true in “Devils’ Due.” The book focuses pretty much exclusively on Jim Raynor and Tychus Fyndlay, but both are richly represented and so true to their in-game versions that you can easily hear the voice actors in your head when you read the dialogue. The Tychus of the book is actually a lot more interesting than the one-dimensional waste of pixels he was in SCII.

The first few scenes promise a light-hearted, alcohol-fueled romp through the cosmos, with Jimmy and Tychus always one step ahead of the law, but the book quickly takes a much, much darker turn. I’m on the fence about whether or not this is a good thing, as at times it honestly got a little too intense even for my morbid tastes. But at the same time, Starcraft has always been a very dark universe, so perhaps this is as it should be. There is one character that I’m never, ever going to forgive her for killing off, though.

There are two villains in this book, but unfortunately, neither was all that interesting. One was a cliche sadist, and the other, his shadowy puppet master, was also a little shallow and was given far too little backstory. It would have helped to know more of his history and how he came to command such impressive resources. Alas, this is not the case, and the villains become little more than–exceptionally scary–plot devices to get Jim and Tychus where they needed to be. That said, it doesn’t come off quite as forced as I’m making it sound, and the story does flow well and is enjoyable.

One final complaint is quite nit-picky, and that’s that it rushes the timeline quite a lot. Jim doesn’t meet his wife until the very last scene in the book, and this means that the actual time they were together would be remarkably small. This is confirmed (and made worse) but an official Starcraft universe timeline in the back of the book, which shows that they had their son almost as soon as they met (must’ve been a quick courtship), and that he was abducted a mere three years later. Honestly, I find it hard to believe even the Confederates were crazy enough to start training a ghost at age three. I realize this is fantasy, so complaining about a lack of realism may be pointless, but I find it hard to believe a child’s psionic powers would even be noticeable at that age. Hell, Nova Terra’s psionic powers border on the god-like, and hers didn’t manifest in any strong manner until she was fifteen.

But despite these complaints, “Devils’ Due” was a pretty good read. When you get right down to it, anything with Jim Raynor is automatically good.

Overall rating: 7.9/10.

“Devils’ Due” is available on my Amazon Affiliate, along with “Heaven’s Devils” and several other good Starcraft books. Hint: “Liberty’s Crusade” and “The Dark Templar Saga” will rock your world.

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