Outlanders 44 - Grailstone Gambit
Last Post 4/25/2008 10:50 PM by Ron Miles. 2 Replies.
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Ron Miles
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4/20/2008 1:21 AM

    This is the official thread for comments on Outlanders #44 - Grailstone Gambit

    The bibliography page is located HERE

    You can submit your own review HERE

    Be warned, this thread may contain spoilers for the book.

    "Sadly then I knew the answer. All her life she was a dancer, but no one ever played the song she knew." - The Residents
    Outlanders
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    4/25/2008 9:26 AM
    You would think that after 12 years and two major changes in direction that a series like Outlanders would have run out of stories to tell.

    The fact is it simply isn’t the case.

    Over the time it’s been published, Mark Ellis has woven a very complex and elaborate mythology for the series, as any long term, or for that matter, newcomer, can attest.

    Take into account that real life mythology and history has been integrated into the series. Mythological figures and even artifacts have been brought to life and explained. Magic, in the series, isn’t. It’s just high technology.

    That’s the thing that attracted so many readers to the series, and that’s also the reason why so many readers are quite fanatical about it.

    And, on the downside, that’s why so many of the readers have rejected, at times very vocally, the fill in writers that have contributed to it.

    But I won’t get into that.

    This particular adventure deals with the Arthurian legend, specifically with Merlin.

    When you consider how many literary wizards and sorcerers that come to mind today, such as Gandalf, Dumbledore, and even Elminster, he’s clearly the first, and even decades from now people will probably remember him before all other literary wizards.

    Simply because, unlike the other names I’ve mentioned, Merlin is based in real world mythology. Which, as is the case all cultural myths, has its origin based in fact somewhere in the long forgotten past.

    Anyhow, Merlin is reputed to be the offspring of a human woman and a demon, and he was the wizard that gave council to King Arthur, the once and future king.

    Now, take all that you know about the Outlanders mythology and especially how it relates to the British Isles. For those of you who follow Outlanders will realize that clearly Merlin is the hybrid offspring of human and Tuatha Du Danaan blood.

    Come on, would you expect anything less? Even if it is a spoiler, that shouldn’t ruin it for anyone who has yet to read the novel.

    On that note, to the meat of the review.

    The novel centers mainly on the Cerberus warriors being summoned by Fand to hep them with an issue that has arisen in the former United Kingdom.

    Although technically it’s really two plots written in one book. The first third of the book concerns the Cerberus warriors having to deal with a new group that has popped up on the radar based out of Manhattan.

    The remaining portion of the novel involves a very old foe who’s returned from the dead. Well, when he was last seen, he had a spear shoved through his guts and he was being sucked into a quantum vortex point.

    As one reviewer on Amazon pointed out, it is your typical formula driven story. But, he makes the assumption (and we all know what making assumptions does, don’t we?) that it’s a bad thing.

    Frankly, formula writing is only bad when the series remains static, unchanging. Which is the case for the vast majority of the series that are still being published today.

    But, in the case of Outlanders, it follows more of a general guideline than a formula. It deals with some aspect of human mythology and weaves it into one of the two alien races that has influenced mankind. In this case, the Danaan.

    Secondly, it has what we should always see in Outlanders… Sexy, beautiful, and intelligent women. Just look at the cover, that’s Fand you see.

    Third, it deals with an antagonist that is steeped in myth, although in this case, the antagonist has stolen the ientity of a powerful figure from folklore.

    Forth – well the integration of powerful artifacts from mythology into the storyline.

    Hmm… all things considered, we’re seeing the formula that is needed for every novel out there today. A plot, an antagonist for the protagonists to deal with, and a conclusion that is brief, but satisfactory.

    Even though the series has been published for over twelve years now, there are still plenty of stories to be told.

    This one just ties up some very old loose ends from years past and gives closure to at least one character.

    5 out of 5.
    Ron Miles
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    4/25/2008 10:50 PM

    I haven't written a review for this yet, I hope to get around to that later this weekend.  I have to say, and I feel a little guilty saying it, but this wasn't my favorite of Mark's books.  It wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it did feel to me like a whole lot of exposition in the third act instead of the usual fast paced action.  I was also a little bothered that (SPOILER WARNING) while the Big Bad was strongly introduced in the opening chapter, he then remains completely offstage until just the last few pages. 

    That being said, I still give the book an 8 out of 10.  It's a great read, it just didn't quite connect with me as strongly as most of Mark's books.

    "Sadly then I knew the answer. All her life she was a dancer, but no one ever played the song she knew." - The Residents


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