Wednesday, January 16, 2008

David A. McIntee's Balls

Verdigris is now officially off the hook. The award for the book to fall apart the most in the final 50 pages goes to...

Sanctuary.

Why, David, why? You were doing so WELL. I was really into this book. The era of history I knew absolutely nothing about, the rich characters, the kick-arse French mercenary who is blatantly an ancestor of Sir Richard Mace given the ease with which he hijacks the plot. The dark Doctor stuff actually done well, the unavoidable disaster... it's the best Aztecs rip-off I've read yet.

But... I'm going for a marathon push to end it and 255...

BALLS!

There is no other way to phrase this. Pure balls. Balls in their most undiluted form - text. The most testicular piece of writing ever.

We know that there is a spy and a murderer in the castle - most likely the same person. We know that the spy is Robert the Apothecrary because he is a) Way too nice to everyone and b) A CHARACTER SAW HIM FOR CHRIST'S SAKE IT ISN'T A MYSTERY! But at the same time some evidence suggests that the killer is female. This ties in with the fact that Giselle is stressed out in every scene since the murder and keeps saying stuff like "OMG the Doctor's going in the library hope he doesn't find anything incriminating."

So... the Doctor goes and reveals that Robert is the spy, why what a frigging shock, and then Robert just happens to walk into the room and go "Yeah, I'm the spy" causing de Carnac to kill him instantly thus meaning Robert's motivation will forever remain a mystery. The Doctor then reveals to the room, who really aren't listening to him, that he knew this was the case because the Castellan kept a book of the herbs that Robert said he would pick against the herbs that he actually picked and knew that the two didn't match up. (?)

Which implies that the Castellan had the carefully compiled evidence that Robert wasn't leaving the castle to pick herbs but didn't realise this meant he was the spy. (??)

And he didn't draw the conclusion until the night Girard was murdered where he co-incidentally saw Robert send a message to the Church. And his first action was apparently not to tell Hugues as his inner monologue suggested but rather to get his herbs spreadsheet from his room. (???)

Whereupon despite being a former soldier and heavily armed he was easily overpowered an inexperienced and apparently unarmed apothecrary leaving no signs of a struggle on his body which is hung from the ceiling. (????)

Unless he was killed by Jeneane but she had no reason to do so and how the hell could she do it anyway?

At that moment de Carnac gets shot by Jeneane. No, not the one that was acting shifty, of course, but the one who just had the inner monologue about giving back-alley abortions to fill out some pages in a mildly 'adult' way.

Jeneane is the murderer! She did it because she wanted to steal the skull! The skull that only got mentioned about three chapters ago and is meant to be a Cathare relic - but now we're told is THE SKULL OF JESUS CHRIST! Except it's the skull of a woman. But that doesn't matter because she was going to sell it to the Church who would pay her millions! Or just kill her and take it in a couple of days time, but she didn't think that far ahead. But the Doctor reveals that the skull was planted on the Cathare's by the Church in the first place, as it so clearly isn't Jesus' skull the religion would have to disband immediately. Presumably it went a little like this:

GUZMAN: 'Sup?
GIRARD: Not much. What you packing?
GUZMAN: Skull of Christ. 6 dollars, take it or leave it.
GIRARD: Hey, if Jesus left behind a skull that would mean the Resurrection couldn't have happened..
GUZMAN: HO-YAH! I-HADDEN-FORTA-DAAAAT!
GIRARD: Don't you look a little familiar?
GUZMAN: Er... maybe I'm a fisherman or something. Anyway, take it, the skull's free! Hellfire Sale, everything must go!
GIRARD: Awesome. Now to start the coolest religion ever...


This is the plan that will make Guzman the new Pope. That, and the fact that he has killed everyone else elligible for the position.

BALLS! BALLS! BALLS!

This is just the peak of Sanctuary's falling apart, unfortunately. McIntee also started killing off characters simply because he was bored with them a few pages earlier (often involving them behaving in improbably stupid ways), padding out the story with endless scenes of Benny trying to crack Avon-style one-liners in spite of the fact the book is already over-length, and upping the number of continuity references five-fold. Yes, it's McIntee so you EXPECT continuity, but what I'm saying is that it's gotten worse. And this is a book that began with a character who was a childhood friend of Guy Estram, The Doctor bragging about his trip to Jaffa, and Benny having nightmares about the Daleks.

Also there's like three different explanations for the 'locked door mystery'. THERE'S ONLY MEANT TO BE ONE!!!

Perhaps I should take this moment to look back at the books of David A. McIntee I have read:

First Frontier: Well, only read the first 50 pages but they were unutterably terrible.
Lords of the Storm: To create the ultimate Sontaran experience McIntee has them explain their plan half-a-dozen different ways and times before they get their arses kicked by Indians.
Mission Impractical: ….hmmm.
The Face of the Enemy: Jaw-droppingly wonderful masterpiece!!!!

It’s at this moment that I have to suspect that I just keep buying the wrong McIntee novels..

Shadows of Weng-Chiang had better be good. That did not come cheap of eBay...

6 comments:

Youth of Australia said...

Do I detect a tribute to the Fry & Laurie ep where Fry is completely unable to understand the concept of fiction and storms the bookshop screaming "Reader, I married him?! THIS IS BALLS!!"

As to Sanctuary... I never finished it. The stuff in the Jade Pagoda at the start kinda killed off the enthusiasm, and the 'is Guy dead?' ending sucked. "He leapt into the frey to slaughter those that meant Bernice harm." Garth Marenghi, move over.

As such the fact there's a skull involved is a total surprise. Is there a pentagram carved into it?

First Frontier: Well, only read the first 50 pages but they were unutterably terrible.
I managed to finish it but I still don't understand the opening bit where the Master has Ace and the Doctor shot dead...

Mind you, a certain Welshman ripped off the last half of the book where a certain Time Lord is shot but escapes by falling backwards into his TARDIS and regenerating into a smooth bastard who travels back in time and masterminds the whole operation...

Oh, and the whole plot is based on the aliens in Blake's 7: Killer.

Lords of the Storm: To create the ultimate Sontaran experience McIntee has them explain their plan half-a-dozen different ways and times before they get their arses kicked by Indians.
I still boggle at the revelation Sontarans watch their TV episodes like the Cybermen do.

WTF was up with that bit where Turlough looks across the road and suddenly shouts, "OI! GO BULLY A RUTAN, YOU WANKERS!" Is that supposed to make us respect the Sontarans or Turlough? Coz niether works for me.

Mission Impractical: ….hmmm.
Well, if you get past The Blues Brothers rip off, and all the quotes nicked from City at the Edge of the World, and the appalling grasp of DWM comics continuity (it's set on the wrong side of TOATL for a start), it's... surprisingly downbeat and depressing.

The Face of the Enemy: Jaw-droppingly wonderful masterpiece!!!!
Ain't it just? Ian and Barbara versus the Master and Servalan... I love it.

Shadows of Weng-Chiang had better be good. That did not come cheap of eBay...
Well, between you and me... I loved it. It gets the characters right first time, isn't a pathetic 'same time, same place' rewrite and has lots of great visual moments. I swear I watched the scene with K9 in the chinese restaurant.

The only downer is it's also a sequel to a short story called Fallen Angel, about a gentleman burglar called Lucas Seyton (lovely guy, unlucky name), who meets the Second Doctor before the Time Lords wipe his memory.

So, basically, what is effectively just another character appears in a chapter at the start and we're all supposed to go "Oooh!" and at the end of the book, the Doctor goes, "Oh yeah, Seyton. Good bloke" but never meets him.

It's very gratuitous.

But that's pretty much the only flaw, bar the idea that Li'Sen Chang kept a well documented diary up to his death.

Good book.

IMO.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Do I detect a tribute to the Fry & Laurie ep where Fry is completely unable to understand the concept of fiction and storms the bookshop screaming "Reader, I married him?! THIS IS BALLS!!"

Well... no. I've seen about five minutes of Fry and Laurie on YouTube.

The stuff in the Jade Pagoda at the start kinda killed off the enthusiasm,

Yeah, it's a lot of technobabble to set up the fact that the Doctor and Bernice are stranded, eh?

and the 'is Guy dead?' ending sucked.

I speed-read the last 50 pages this morning. Didn't sink much of it in but the weird way that was written was pissing me off. As was the fact that the TARDIS shifted from being in an isolated area to in the middle of a town.

ALSO PISSING ME OFF:

* It turns out none of the villains were historically important, as they all get killed off anyway. Just without the Doctor doing anything about it.

* At the end, the Templars have a "Let's explain all our plans to one another for the audience" moment

* More characters dying in improbably ways for no purpose

As such the fact there's a skull involved is a total surprise. Is there a pentagram carved into it?

No. It's just an ordinary skull that these people are convinced belonged to Jesus. Based on apparently no evidence at all.

I still boggle at the revelation Sontarans watch their TV episodes like the Cybermen do.


Yeah, that bit was a little odd. Mostly I was amazed that with all of his continuity-mania McIntee missed the fact that Troughton has already met the Sontarans by the time of The Two Doctors..

WTF was up with that bit where Turlough looks across the road and suddenly shouts, "OI! GO BULLY A RUTAN, YOU WANKERS!" Is that supposed to make us respect the Sontarans or Turlough?

I dunno, can't remember. I'd have thought I would have remembered that, though, because I remember what felt like 50 pages of Turlough walking around spying on aliens...

it's... surprisingly downbeat and depressing.

Yeah, one of the many odd things about the story. Why the hell did he feel the need to kill off Dibber?

Well, between you and me... I loved it.

Well, that's a weight off my mind.

Youth of Australia said...

Well... no. I've seen about five minutes of Fry and Laurie on YouTube.
Freaky coincidence.

Yeah, it's a lot of technobabble to set up the fact that the Doctor and Bernice are stranded, eh?
Especially as it is supposed to link up seamlessly with Infinite Requiem... matches up like Utopia and End of Days.

I speed-read the last 50 pages this morning. Didn't sink much of it in but the weird way that was written was pissing me off. As was the fact that the TARDIS shifted from being in an isolated area to in the middle of a town.
Oh yeah.

ALSO PISSING ME OFF:
* It turns out none of the villains were historically important, as they all get killed off anyway. Just without the Doctor doing anything about it.
* At the end, the Templars have a "Let's explain all our plans to one another for the audience" moment
* More characters dying in improbably ways for no purpose

No. It's just an ordinary skull that these people are convinced belonged to Jesus. Based on apparently no evidence at all.
Oh. I mean, the skull of Jesus unleashing Fendahleen would at least be interesting...

Yeah, that bit was a little odd.
Yeah, and the fact they're watching Invasion of Time, but when anyone walks in they change the channel to The Time Warrior.

Mostly I was amazed that with all of his continuity-mania McIntee missed the fact that Troughton has already met the Sontarans by the time of The Two Doctors..
Or in the comic strip Pureblood where the Doctor was dubbed a hero by the Sontarans.

I dunno, can't remember. I'd have thought I would have remembered that, though, because I remember what felt like 50 pages of Turlough walking around spying on aliens...
I find it ludicrous Turlough would a pick a fight. And with TWO Sontarans?

Yeah, one of the many odd things about the story. Why the hell did he feel the need to kill off Dibber?
I dunno. I always assumed that in Dragonfire, Glitz was dumped on IceWorld or thereabouts and was waiting for Dibber to meet up with him. But no. He was killed.

And the stuff about the Valeyard being behind it all...

Well, that's a weight off my mind.
The bit where Romana becomes a nightclub singer's pretty cool, too.

Cameron Mason said...

No. It's just an ordinary skull that these people are convinced belonged to Jesus. Based on apparently no evidence at all.

It's a middle ages thing where nearly every village claimed it had some sort of religious icon.

Most villages made the claim that they had a piece of the True Cross, but some had to go a bit bigger...

Cameron

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

It's a middle ages thing where nearly every village claimed it had some sort of religious icon.


Yes, I know about that - often the ideas were indeed spread by the Church itself as a crude means to enforce the mythos and to raise revenue, and it got out of hand to the point where there were 15 gravesites for the twelve disciples in Spain.

So the idea of anyone in the Middle Ages claiming that they had Jesus's skull isn't particularly incredible... it's the idea that the entire Albigensian faith was founded on said skull, and that they could be discredited simply by revealing that the skull was actually that of a woman. And that their entire religion must subsequently be a set-up of an insane Dominican's over-elaborate conspiracy to sieze the papacy.

Apologies if my posting here has offended your NA-loving sensibilities, but I thought this book ended up a bit on the crap side.

Youth of Australia said...

I am reminded of The Black Adder...

"This is the bone of the finger of Jesus Christ. Baldrick, I see you're amazed."

"I am. I thought they only came in boxes of ten."