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Gears Of War: Jacinto's Remnant by Karen Traviss

01/03/2010. Contributed by RJ Barker

Buy Gears Of War: Jacinto's Remnant in the USA - or Buy Gears Of War: Jacinto's Remnant in the UK

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pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books. 400 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $15.00 (US), $17.50 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-49944-8 (pub: Orbit. 400 page paperback. Price: 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-738-9)

check out websites: www.delreybooks.comand www.orbitbooks.net <

With the final human city, Jacinto, destroyed to ensure the destruction of the genocidal Locust Horde, the survivors seek refuge. Caught in the harsh grip of winter, forced to live in a shanty town and continually harassed by the few surviving locust Marcus Fenix and his Delta Squad are sent to a remote island to assess its suitability as a new capital city. Once there, the real challenge starts, bringing together the remnants of Jacinto with the population already inhabiting the island.

'Jacinto's Remnant' follows directly on from the events within the game 'Gears Of War 2', an all-action military adventure where your gun has a chainsaw bayonet for sawing up the bad guys with. 'Jacinto's Remnant' suffers from the same problems as 'Aspho Fields', the previous book by Karen Traviss. It's not a bad book but it's not what I think players will want from a 'Gears' book. After sawing your way through the Locust Horde in the game do you really going to want to read through four hundred pages of the Gears and other C.O.G. forces adjusting to life as a civilian policing force and the problems of integrating Jacinto's population with the existing island population or will you be expecting an all action romp? If you are expecting the latter, you'll be disappointed.

'Jacinto's Remnant,' is partly the story of the re-location and partly flashbacks to the time when the C.O.G. army unleashed their super-weapon, the Hammer Of Dawn. The present day events are far more interesting than the flashbacks which I had to fight hard not to skip through and felt like little more than filler put there to tie it in to the earlier book. Also, as with 'Aspho Fields', if you're looking for action this won't do it for you as there's barely any. Instead, we get explorations of guilt, loss and the bonds between warriors. It's done well but it's also done a lot. It's hammered home and eventually becomes wearing for the reader.

As in 'Aspho's Fields' there's almost no exploration of the Locust Horde or anyone outside the C.O.G. Forces. I wanted to know more about the piratical Stranded who choose to live outside the rather Roman C.O.G. rules but only enough is given about the stranded to make them an enemy and rather a weak one at that. Action sequences are few and far between and the story takes almost a third of the book to get going. It's very slow. Although Karen Traviss goes to great pains and mostly succeeds in making the characters real, characterisation fails in other ways. No one in the C.O.G. is self serving, selfish or manipulative. If someone is doing something that appears unpleasant then they always have a higher and good reason for doing it. A little Machiavellian politics would have added much needed shading and tension.

Worst of all for me, is the book stops just as it seems to be getting going. The last couple of chapters are genuinely tense and contain interesting revelations. These are tied up in a rather perfunctory way just as the story I want to read seems to be getting going.

'Jacinto's Remnant' is an odd book. Military fiction largely without conflict and I don't know who it's meant to appeal to. Players of 'Gears Of War' will be disappointed by the lack of action and people who may enjoy this quiet study of fighting men and women will avoid it because of the associations with the game.

As a tie-in, it fails. There's no real feeling of a link with the game apart from the character and equipment names. These could easily be removed without changing the feel or tone of the book. I was hoping to find more action than in it's predecessor 'Aspho Fields' as when the author does action it's handled well. Instead, there is less. I hope any further instalments contain more shooting less talking.

RJ Barker

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