Thursday, 3 November 2011

Arms-Commander (Book Review)

Generally in all reviews I’ll try to detail what’s good and what is bad in each novel, I’ll cover the few specks of quality in the worst of media and still detail the flaws in the best of it. There is nothing which Arms-Commander can be complimented on. There is not one single shred of quality to be found amongst its pages. It’s insulting, overrated, hypocritical and L.E. Modesitt seems more interested in trying to spread hate than preach tolerance. It’s the James Cameron’s Avatar of fantasy novels.

What makes it so bad? Its basic concept. The author apparently intended to use a fantasy setting to explore some moral flaws in society and outline current problems. This is a good idea which has been done with sci-fi, fantasy and comics for many years with Quatermass, Doctor Who and arguably the Dark Knight all having done this in the past. Arms-Commander attempted to do this with gender bias in society and sexism. It failed spectacularly.

Just looking at the cover’s synopsis will tell you it is going to be bad. The protagonist is a female from a matriarchal society which the book portrays as being good, desirable and everything a civilisation should be. The villain is the male ruler of a patriarchal nation and decides to invade the above society because he, and I quote, “wishes to destroy Westwind because the idea of a land where women rule is total anathema to him.” Already the book sets up the idea that women are morally superior and that having them in control is somehow the correct choice while having men in charge is somehow entirely wrong.

What follows after you open it is a painful experience in which the author endlessly bashes you over the head with the idea that intolerance and subjugation of women in any way is completely wrong. While at the same time all men are arrogant fools who only make mistakes, are crude and women surpass them in every area.
It does this with all the subtlety of an elephant playing a piano with a sledgehammer.

I got tired of this very early on. The lack of skill on the author’s part only made it harder to read and I decided to just skip to the end after dragging myself through the first half of this monstrosity. This is something I’ve never done with anything I’ve reviewed before and I apologise for that, but it did reveal the pinnacle of all that is wrong with this book: the conclusion. Like Avatar it was so utterly hypocritically bad it had me openly shouting obscenities at its pages and seeking the nearest source of fire.

The ending has the matriarchal society being victorious over the book’s patriarchal ones and thwarting the efforts to conquer the female nation and make them conform to their ways. All the way through it has shown these attempts to make them conform to be wrong and force fed the reader heavy handed messages about how immoral this is. In the final few pages it has the protagonist walking up to another nation and telling them that they will now conform to her beliefs, women will now carry power and their society and their governments dominated by females. She does the exact same things the villains were doing and it portrays her as being morally correct, not even making an effort to bring up the hypocrisy of this act.

Avoid this badly written schlock with all its ham fisted double standards, cardboard cut-outs of characters and terrible conclusion.


Arms-Commander and all related characters and media are owned by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

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