Monday, March 17, 2008

Land of Mist and Snow

Take one part Frankenstein, one part Lovecraftian horror, a dollop of Moby Dick, and a dose of Horatio Hornblower, and set it all during the US Civil War, and you might get something like this. The premise is more exciting than the story itself, a demon raider prowls the shipping lanes as a US naval ship built to mystical specifications launches to sink her.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, it lacks in the execution. The plot and characters are predictable, and the diary format, while it allows for different points of view, just doesn't convey the emotions and urgency of the scenes. In fact there are several characters that blur together due to this, as the writing is similar enough that you have to look closely to see who is actually being represented. Though a I ended up using this little cheat, if they believed strongly in freedom, it was one of the main characters, if not, then they're likely going to die.

We start out with our eager Ishmael/Hornblower character in Nevis, and our Frankenstein/Herbert West/Ahab in Captain Sharp. Who harnesses a spirit to guide their ship in the search for their Confederate counterpart(which runs on blood sacrifice), all the while quelling dissent by slowly but steadily turning the crew into zombies. The romantic subplot with Miss Abrams and Lt. Nevis is, well, you can tell the due course of that from the moment they meet, the foreshadowing is beaten into your head with a stick. And the rest of the cast are more or less, forgettable. The climax is more anticlimactic, and we have a typical all lived happily ever after ending, which I found quite disappointing.

On the other hand, it does have some interesting naval action, though more or less lopsided due to the nature of the ship. And it moves at a pretty fast pace, due perhaps to the fact that they skip ahead with the diary entries quite a bit. But really, that isn't much to recommend it. Personally, I'd say to save yourself the cash and pass this one by, it looks a lot more exciting than it really is.

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