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Author Topic: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer  (Read 6078 times)

FaithBomb

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Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« on: 23 May 2021, 13:37:51 »
Ok, I just finished Blood Will Tell, and I have to say, it just about ticks off every box that you could want in a BattleTech novel.

First of all, character. The characterization in this book is very well done. Schmetzer does a great job getting us into the head of Danai, something that was kind of lacking in her earlier appearances, and you get an actual feel for who she is and what she wants to accomplish. You can see her as being the future ruler of the Capellan realm down the line, and you get to see her grow into her roles and responsibilities as the book progresses. That said, even the secondary characters were well fleshed out. We got just enough of Mina to be heartbroken when the vicious Republic terrorists cut her life short. You got a sense of who she was. And we get to see a bit of Xavier McCarron and Daoshen Liao as well, their nuances and their approaches to things.

The action and pacing were well done. Battles were tight, visceral, and felt important. They didn't drag on or fall short, they hit the sweet spot with furthering the plot. On more than one occasion, I was a little lost with everything being new and fancy and cutting edge, but it wasn't enough that it detracted from the book in any way. Yes, there were a few times where I was saying to myself "Can we please have a BattleMech appear that I actually recognize???" but that seems to be the book's only flaw that I see. Maybe I'm just a grognard. Either way, the book was amazing, and if this is what we're getting more of in the ilClan era, I'm super excited for that.
« Last Edit: 23 May 2021, 13:44:32 by FaithBomb »
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Niopsian

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #1 on: 23 May 2021, 14:32:31 »
This book had the "What the hell ARE those things?" segment that I was expecting out of Hour of the Wolf, vis a vis drones. Favorite part of the book, honestly.

I liked the inclusion of Mina Liao and the ex-Knight. Any author would have a difficult climb trying to get me to buy into the Capellan mindset but Schmetzer does a better than average job. The POV chapters from the RAF felt out of place. Necessary to move the plot forward, maybe, but it felt like screen time that could have gone to some of the CCAF supporting characters. Also, the thing with Baxter was just kind of weird, like it was intended to be a bigger plot point but curtailed.

But those are minor issues. My only real complaint is that I felt the book stopped rather than ended, if that makes any sense. Like we've seen thesis (I know what the state needs to do), we've seen antithesis (You don't even understand what it means to be Capellan) but we're just short of synthesis.

Still, leaving them wanting more is always a good thing.  :thumbsup:


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FaithBomb

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #2 on: 23 May 2021, 14:42:38 »
This book had the "What the hell ARE those things?" segment that I was expecting out of Hour of the Wolf, vis a vis drones. Favorite part of the book, honestly.

I liked the inclusion of Mina Liao and the ex-Knight. Any author would have a difficult climb trying to get me to buy into the Capellan mindset but Schmetzer does a better than average job. The POV chapters from the RAF felt out of place. Necessary to move the plot forward, maybe, but it felt like screen time that could have gone to some of the CCAF supporting characters. Also, the thing with Baxter was just kind of weird, like it was intended to be a bigger plot point but curtailed.

But those are minor issues. My only real complaint is that I felt the book stopped rather than ended, if that makes any sense. Like we've seen thesis (I know what the state needs to do), we've seen antithesis (You don't even understand what it means to be Capellan) but we're just short of synthesis.

Still, leaving them wanting more is always a good thing.  :thumbsup:

Well, sure, it's not a self-contained novel that wraps itself up at the end, but still.

And YES, it brings up a HUGE point. We see how hard it is to fight the Republic with all their gizmos, exactly what we would expect when the walls come down, but yet....we don't see any of it in Hour of the Wolf. We get none of the feel of trying to overcome new technologies and enemies in HotW, in the biggest fight of all, but yet we can get it here? It once again knocks HotW down by pointing out one of it's glaring failures.
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mikecj

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #3 on: 23 May 2021, 15:41:43 »
Halfway through but the only thing jarring me out of the story is a 40 year old getting lectures I'd expect an 18 year old to need.

However, this book has done more for CC background than anything else.  Jason did a great job rounding out a culture that never seemed to get much depth since the original House book.  The dam scene was great.
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Niopsian

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #4 on: 23 May 2021, 17:43:59 »
Halfway through but the only thing jarring me out of the story is a 40 year old getting lectures I'd expect an 18 year old to need.

An unintended consequence of how the fiction situation and the narrative tempo has affected these characters.

Sword of Sedition came out sixteen years ago. That's just about the same amount of time between the publication of the Warrior Trilogy and... Sword of Sedition.

Quote
However, this book has done more for CC background than anything else.  Jason did a great job rounding out a culture that never seemed to get much depth since the original House book.  The dam scene was great.

Very much so. Jason's look at how the CapCon manages to just function on a day to day basis has a great element of, I dunno, realpolitik to it. "It's all bunk. We know it. They know it too, but pretend it's real because they want it to be real and they want their lives to have meaning. We know they know, but we pretend we don't know they know, and we pretend to believe they believe because so long as we're all wrapped up in pretending together we make it through the day and on to the next one. Also, death to House Davion and the Republic."  ;D


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FaithBomb

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #5 on: 23 May 2021, 18:23:18 »
An unintended consequence of how the fiction situation and the narrative tempo has affected these characters.

Sword of Sedition came out sixteen years ago. That's just about the same amount of time between the publication of the Warrior Trilogy and... Sword of Sedition.

Very much so. Jason's look at how the CapCon manages to just function on a day to day basis has a great element of, I dunno, realpolitik to it. "It's all bunk. We know it. They know it too, but pretend it's real because they want it to be real and they want their lives to have meaning. We know they know, but we pretend we don't know they know, and we pretend to believe they believe because so long as we're all wrapped up in pretending together we make it through the day and on to the next one. Also, death to House Davion and the Republic."  ;D

And it's more nuanced than just "Oh, Space North Korea!" He does a great job of showing how it actually works, rather than having it just exist until it can be liberated by the "freedom loving" Davions.
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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #6 on: 24 May 2021, 07:40:26 »
This was an excellent book overall. I noticed a few minor spelling errors, but only a few so it didn't take me out of the story. I'm hoping we'll see more novels of this scope and character.

Only one element took me out of the story a little bit, some very American views on something that we can't talk about on the boards because of rules. But again, that was pretty minor.

I enjoyed this book. The detail was in the right places, with the characters and what they're going through. The hints of bigger and more explosive things to come was great. Getting another look inside the Confederation was also fantastic. You don't have to like a faction (although I do), but a novel like this lets you see where the Capellans are coming from, to understand their motives a bit more. Makes them more compelling as either hero or villain.
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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #7 on: 24 May 2021, 12:52:08 »
I also enjoyed this book a lot for many of the aforementioned reasons.

That said one of my favourite bits was the exploration of why the Capellan system, while alien, could also be compelling to live in. (The takedown of the billionaire was particularly viscerally satisfying — insofar as while it demonstrated that it has workarounds, but they’re different workarounds)

Also, some of the little things, like the cushions of the Black Knight hitting differently — it was /thoughtful/.

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #8 on: 24 May 2021, 13:30:53 »
I enjoyed this book as well!  I had one minor quibble.

In the TRO 3145/3150 blurbs, we heard a couple instances of CCAF atrocities on New Syrtis and other worlds.  Normally, it was a MAC unit purging a city by fire, something of that sort.  In the novel, we hear that Danai doesn't ascribe to this type of warfare--that the Ares Conventions may not still be in place, but they are something to live up to while serving the state.

I think a paragraph or two reconciling those two things would have helped my admittedly FedSuns-Centric viewpoint.  That being said, I enjoyed the novel immensely and would like more from Mr. Schmetzer when he is ready to revisit Danai!

Also, I look forward to finding out why she named her fabulous new mech "Julian."  I mean, we know who she is referring to, but a little more as to the why!

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #9 on: 24 May 2021, 16:57:53 »
I enjoyed this book as well!  I had one minor quibble.

In the TRO 3145/3150 blurbs, we heard a couple instances of CCAF atrocities on New Syrtis and other worlds.  Normally, it was a MAC unit purging a city by fire, something of that sort.  In the novel, we hear that Danai doesn't ascribe to this type of warfare--that the Ares Conventions may not still be in place, but they are something to live up to while serving the state.

I think a paragraph or two reconciling those two things would have helped my admittedly FedSuns-Centric viewpoint.  That being said, I enjoyed the novel immensely and would like more from Mr. Schmetzer when he is ready to revisit Danai!

Also, I look forward to finding out why she named her fabulous new mech "Julian."  I mean, we know who she is referring to, but a little more as to the why!

I think the Jullian thing is mentioned in one of the newer sourcebooks. The 3145s or Shattered Fortress.
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FaithBomb

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #10 on: 24 May 2021, 17:22:48 »
I think the Jullian thing is mentioned in one of the newer sourcebooks. The 3145s or Shattered Fortress.

I know it's mentioned in Legends
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Hotham

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #11 on: 24 May 2021, 19:39:09 »
Dang, you beat me to it. I was planning to post my own review, probably still will. I need more time to get my thoughts together. I can say that I enjoyed the book. Characters in recent BattleTech fiction have been hit and miss, leaning towards miss for me. Blood Will Tell was mostly hits.

I didn't understand a word of that last conversation between Danai and Daoshen, but I felt the emotion between them.
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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #12 on: 24 May 2021, 19:45:37 »
I know it's mentioned in Legends

"Instead, she chose the Black Knight for its symbolism—it is immediately recognizable on the field as a commander’s ‘Mech. And, much to the chagrin of her command lance, she gave the ’Mech a name that would remind her of her duty to the state.

She named it Julian."
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Niopsian

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #13 on: 24 May 2021, 22:23:24 »
And, of course, the majority of us being perpetually stuck in our high school years are sitting here ignoring the study on sacrifice and duty. No, we’re focusing on the more important questions, like “but does that mean she likes him?”


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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #14 on: 24 May 2021, 22:36:02 »
Well for House Davion fans, whether she likes him or wants to kill him is an important question to have answered. Unfortunately it doesn't sound like it was answered in this book. I'll probably still pick it up because Jason Schmetzer writes good books even if they're about factions I dislike and books by good authors should be bought to make it clear that writing good books, even if the author isn't as big, are what get sales.
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Templar87

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #15 on: 25 May 2021, 06:09:38 »
I enjoyed this book as well!  I had one minor quibble.

In the TRO 3145/3150 blurbs, we heard a couple instances of CCAF atrocities on New Syrtis and other worlds.  Normally, it was a MAC unit purging a city by fire, something of that sort.  In the novel, we hear that Danai doesn't ascribe to this type of warfare--that the Ares Conventions may not still be in place, but they are something to live up to while serving the state.

I think a paragraph or two reconciling those two things would have helped my admittedly FedSuns-Centric viewpoint.


That's honestly pretty easy to explain; Danai has an incredibly rose-tinted view of the CCAF in general and her regiment in particular (looks at 2 MAC's behaviour in the Victoria War). Her thinking a thing does not make it so, especially considering her lack of control over Capellan forces on New Syrtis (yes, she claims the Ki-linn and/or Daoshen ordered nerve agent attack isn't her responsibility, but I can only ask in response to that: Is Danai in command of the Capellan invasion of New Syrtis, or is she not?).






For myself, about halfway through so far, and it's a book I have highly mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it's an excellent character study of Danai, and Schmetzer's action scenes are top-notch as always; on the other, I'm getting an uncomfortable feeling of whitewash. Like, I get that a core element is, effectively, Danai being sold on the Confederation and how good it is for people to be forcefully dragged into the Celestial Wisdom's embrace, but there's an uncomfortable feeling - much like the idea in Splinter of Hope of pro-Capellan protestors on New Syrtis who are not lynched on the spot by the rest of the population (or arrested by the AFFS to prevent exactly that) after the Capellans' brutal invasion and occupation, and the liberation by the AFFS - that this is supposed to be objectively true. I don't think it's deliberate, but I can only provide my own reactions.
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FaithBomb

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #16 on: 25 May 2021, 10:05:00 »

For myself, about halfway through so far, and it's a book I have highly mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it's an excellent character study of Danai, and Schmetzer's action scenes are top-notch as always; on the other, I'm getting an uncomfortable feeling of whitewash. Like, I get that a core element is, effectively, Danai being sold on the Confederation and how good it is for people to be forcefully dragged into the Celestial Wisdom's embrace, but there's an uncomfortable feeling - much like the idea in Splinter of Hope of pro-Capellan protestors on New Syrtis who are not lynched on the spot by the rest of the population (or arrested by the AFFS to prevent exactly that) after the Capellans' brutal invasion and occupation, and the liberation by the AFFS - that this is supposed to be objectively true. I don't think it's deliberate, but I can only provide my own reactions.

What exactly is being whitewashed? I'm trying to get an understanding of the point you're making before offering comment.
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Maingunnery

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #17 on: 25 May 2021, 11:44:35 »
It was a good book of greys, even in a faction we see the good, the hardliners, and the dangerous fanatics.
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five_corparty

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #18 on: 25 May 2021, 12:42:19 »
I really enjoyed this book for pretttty much all the reasons mentioned above!

the "lessons" part was mentioned, but I really -liked- that: too often, we've seen in a main character go from running a battalion/regiment to taking over a March/House and they just... know what to do?  heck, even the US Army, not the greatest bastion of forward thinking, pulls officers off the line to learn them about their next position! (as a vet, I'm allowed to dog on my own branch, it's in the retirement briefing.  ;)

But here, she's 100% unprepared to run... anything, and to see her learn and not just magically know was a great curveball to the normal BTech conventions.

I loved the fact the author didn't pull any punches and flat out killed Mina.  Now, I'm very much an anti-fridging advocate (look it up, I'm not google  ;) ) and while this came close, he avoided the cliché because this is war, and besides Mina he also killed a LOT of people.  You can't plot armor people just because the readers are gonna like them: in war, everyone's a target. I could go on and on, but bottom line, he threaded a VERY difficult needle here, and I wanted to give that shout out to the nuts-and-bolts technique on display.

Loved the drones and such: I very much feel this was a great look at what fighting the Republic is like: high-tech gizmos and gadgets galore (you want thing-a-ma-drones? I've got twenty!) and they're all trying to KILL you!  The fact the House Troops rallied and fought forward reminds us (the readers) why the wee-lil CCAF has always managed to survive.

Anyways, I suspected that it was going to be cut short with book 2 after ilClan comes out, and so it didn't surprise me to just -end- but still, I immediately wanted to go on to the next one and see what happens next!

Templar87

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #19 on: 25 May 2021, 13:36:56 »
What exactly is being whitewashed? I'm trying to get an understanding of the point you're making before offering comment.


I don't know that I could point to one specific thing, but it feels like there's a - like I said, I'd assume not deliberate - undertone of that, "Oh, it's okay that the Capellans are conquering all these worlds, because once the populations stop being ungrateful and submit neatly to their caste assignments, they'll be objectively better off." Like, maybe it's just an artefact of the POVs we have, and I admit I'm not a Capellan fan at all, but like said, I can only offer my POV.






Well, finished it. And it doesn't really change my feelings any; I felt like the engagements with Stone's Fury were very much the highest point of the book, with it giving a genuine feel that the Capellans are up against things that they haven't run into before and that are a deadly serious threat (which from my understanding - I haven't read it yet, and tbh comments I hear on it make me really disinclined to - Hour of the Wolf absolutely fails at).
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FaithBomb

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #20 on: 25 May 2021, 13:46:22 »

I don't know that I could point to one specific thing, but it feels like there's a - like I said, I'd assume not deliberate - undertone of that, "Oh, it's okay that the Capellans are conquering all these worlds, because once the populations stop being ungrateful and submit neatly to their caste assignments, they'll be objectively better off." Like, maybe it's just an artefact of the POVs we have, and I admit I'm not a Capellan fan at all, but like said, I can only offer my POV.



Well that's the whole idea. It's easy to paint the Capellan system as evil/bad/oppressive whatever, but it's more difficult to paint a nuanced picture of the geopolitics of the BattleTech Universe. It's refreshing to see it not painted as black and white.
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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #21 on: 25 May 2021, 14:41:14 »
I think it's basically that everyone has their mind made up about the CapCon. There's a lot of things about the CapCon and the stuff it does that's reprehensible, yes. Some people will dislike the CapCon because of it, others will either relish twirling their villainous mustaches or set those things aside and like the CapCon anyway. But nobody's opinion is getting changed at this point. So all the bad shit will continue to get mostly glossed over in CapCon POV novels, and the CapCon will keep on doing nasty shit in the material written from other POV's without there being any major repercussions from it. I can see a writer just not wanting to bother with it; emphasizing the nastier aspects will just make the Liao fans feel they're the victims of broad brush demonization, and the non-Liao fans don't need any more reason to not be Liao fans.

FaithBomb

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #22 on: 25 May 2021, 14:52:27 »
It's a huge tent here in the Liao fan camp!!!
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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #23 on: 25 May 2021, 15:01:29 »
It's a huge tent here in the Liao fan camp!!!

Yeah, you have apologists for atrocities, and people who revel in atrocities.  ;)

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #24 on: 25 May 2021, 15:06:47 »
Yeah, you have apologists for atrocities, and people who revel in atrocities.  ;)

See, now you're just playing on stereotypes. Who among us in the land of fiction is without sin?
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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #25 on: 25 May 2021, 15:15:33 »
See, now you're just playing on stereotypes. Who among us in the land of fiction is without sin?

The glorious SLDF... no wait... Gutara Junction

Confederation?  We call it Tuesday.

The LCAF!  No wait... the night of rage...

For the Coordinator... oh I forgot Kentares

Marik... Anton's tantrum

Taurians!  Vendetta anyone?

ComStar!  Sarna HPG

Word of Blake!  Traps Volcano anyone?

Outworlds Alliance?  Canopus?  Davion?  RoTS?    Um, gotta check the books, BRB

And back to you Faith.







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FaithBomb

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #26 on: 25 May 2021, 15:38:48 »
The glorious SLDF... no wait... Gutara Junction

Confederation?  We call it Tuesday.

The LCAF!  No wait... the night of rage...

For the Coordinator... oh I forgot Kentares

Marik... Anton's tantrum

Taurians!  Vendetta anyone?

ComStar!  Sarna HPG

Word of Blake!  Traps Volcano anyone?

Outworlds Alliance?  Canopus?  Davion?  RoTS?    Um, gotta check the books, BRB

And back to you Faith.

Thank you!
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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #27 on: 25 May 2021, 17:44:39 »
I don't know that I could point to one specific thing, but it feels like there's a - like I said, I'd assume not deliberate - undertone of that, "Oh, it's okay that the Capellans are conquering all these worlds, because once the populations stop being ungrateful and submit neatly to their caste assignments, they'll be objectively better off." Like, maybe it's just an artefact of the POVs we have, and I admit I'm not a Capellan fan at all, but like said, I can only offer my POV.

Caste assignments?  Plural?  No, no, no - there's just one assignment for anyone who can't prove their bona fides as an insurgent supporting the regime change to the Confederation...Servitor.  If they work hard and keep their noses clean for 10+ years, then maybe, just maybe, they'll be worthy of a caste assignment.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #28 on: 25 May 2021, 18:03:43 »
Caste assignments?  Plural?  No, no, no - there's just one assignment for anyone who can't prove their bona fides as an insurgent supporting the regime change to the Confederation...Servitor.  If they work hard and keep their noses clean for 10+ years, then maybe, just maybe, they'll be worthy of a caste assignment.

Anti-Capellan propaganda if ever I've seen it. ;)
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Re: Blood Will Tell - by Jason Schmetzer
« Reply #29 on: 25 May 2021, 21:42:06 »
I will be very carefull not to break any board rule here. Its like walking in a minefield.

First: The book is good. Its readable, fluid, not boring. The battle scenes are very good, not repetitive, and have some very nice points like the "surprise" moment toward the end.

Now, the bad thing, most of the characters. Outside of the RAF guy who trained to defend his homeland and its taken away to defend a desert hellhole, and a very professional BA pilot with freon for blood, the rest of the secondary characters are forgetable at best. And while Mina Liao is used as a way to show the reader about the capellan social system, it ended sounding hollow, and way too much as some people that support certain politics ideas that i have meet in the past.

Finally, Danai, a 40 years old women that behaves and sound like a women half her age, if not more. A women trained in the Court of Canopus by a very seasoned politican (Erde, and this is repeated a couple of times), that survived the showbiz of Solaris, but have the political acumen of a Highschool graduate, and needs of a tutor to teach her basic things of politics! And also, a veteran soldier that leads a battalion (or more, can understand a thing of the Capellan ranks) but still acts and fights like she is still in Solaris 7.

I have no previous exposure to danais in fiction, what little i know from her was from sourcebooks. But this novel gave me the image of a very pampered women that still have a HUGE Daddy issue, and learned nothing of basic politics and statecraft, and learned barely the minimun about beign a military officer. I can excuse the military part, as i am not military, but i know some, officers, and they are aware that people depends of them. As for the politics, if you pay a minimun of attetion to your local political estructure, the minimun required not to be part of the mindless herd, you will have more preparation than Danai.

Lastly, two more things. I began to laugh loudly when she got had her "Maude Lovejoy" moment (you killed 6 kids!!!!). Lady, your country have made of the creating of murderous terrorist organization an art form for the last 100 years. I think its a little hypocrital from her to be offended about that. Also, while some will find "enjoyable", i founded that part about the billonaire is stupid at least.The guy is offering a way to pacify the populous faster, and just demand very little in return (be a noble). We all know the CapCom. You can use the moron until he is not longer useful, and sick the Maskirovka on him after that.

Also, WHO THE HELL BRINGS CIVILIANS TO AN INVASION!!!!??? Leave that danais in the JS, or at the very least in high orbit until you really really secured the main city, or a big area around your LZ.

PD: Sorry for mispelling and other horrors, english is not my main language.
Oh my brother, with your courage we can conquer,
In your sword I put my trust that you will honor
I will be the higher ground should you concede it
And my body be your shield if you should need it.