Sunday, November 30, 2014

Carpathian

I think David Golemon needs a copyeditor.  Or a proofreader.  Something.  Anything.


I started the Event Group series with the expectation that it would be silly fun, and nothing more.  The first few books were silly, but they were also mildly entertaining, so that's fine.  Unfortunately, as time passed, the books became less about the unexplained and more about the incomprehensible ... writing.  For example, in Ripper (taking the beaten-to-death and back again trope of Jack the Ripper), I literally could not understand what was going on in some scenes.  Here's a link to my review, because I honestly cannot fathom going over that gelatinous globby mess of a book again.

And yet, there's something masochistic in my reading nature.  I'll get burned by a book and then pick up the sequel wondering, "Can it really get any worse?"

Newsflash to myself: Yes, it can.  It will.  I promise.  Enter: Carpathian.


To be fair, Golemon seems to have overcome his allergy to commas, for most of them populate the proper places in this book.  Usually.  Now we have some truly epic sentences, containing about four independent clauses strung together by random marks of punctuation.  There are also completely baffling "sentences" like this one: "The large soldier stood at attention barely Bible in the shadow-inducing tallow-fueled lamp as it spit out its weak light."  It took me a full minute to realize that "Bible" is probably supposed to be "visible."  How is a lamp "shadow-inducing"?  Would a lamp, be it very weak, not drive away shadows?  How does one "induce" a shadow, anyway?  I would also have thought that a lamp used by the Roman Empire would be fueled by oil, not animal fat (tallow).  Per this article from the Craven Museum in the UK, oil lamps were an alternative to tallow or beeswax candles.  You can't really pour tallow into a lamp, as it is solid at room temperature.

I'm sure you didn't start this review with the expectation of reading about tallow versus oil in Roman army lamps, but nitpicky is nitpicky.

And that's just one sentence.

The general premise of this book is that Israel's Exodus from Egypt didn't have divine assistance, but rather a "Lost Tribe" called the Jeddah who commanded armies of werewolves, called Golia.  Okay, let's just run with this for a moment.  It's the Golia who destroy the Egyptian army as they cross the Red Sea (which is more of a marsh than anything), and the Golia who destroy Jericho.  After the Jericho business, though, the Golia tell Joshua they're sick and tired of doing all the dirty work, so they request permission to leave and take with them a holy relic.  Joshua says, "Hmph, fine" and the Jeddah disappear, trekking north to end up in the Carpathian mountains.

Question: if the Israelites had the Jeddah and their Golia at their disposal, why did they wait so long to get the heck out of Dodge?  I mean, if you had giant killer wolves, wouldn't you say, "Right, I'm not going to be a slave/servant/hired worker any longer!" and sic them on the Egyptians pronto?

Anyway.  What Carpathian posits is that the Jeddah become "Gypsies" (the author's words, not mine).  All through the book it's Gypsy-this and Gypsy-that and Gypsy Queen and oy vey.  As far as I understand it, "gypsy" is a racial slur and has been used in really horrible ways.  I believe Rom or Roma is the preferred usage.  I felt so uncomfortable with all of the mysterious "Gypsy" ways.  You couldn't be bothered to check whether that was an acceptable term or not?  Ugh.

Aside from that, there is really no story.  Colonel Jack Collins, head of security for the Event Group, is being all flouncy about not letting his friends help him track down his sister's murderer (I guess his sister died in the last book?  Missed that).  He finally accepts that Sarah is not in love with the Evil Frenchman, Henri Farbeaux, and sexytimes are had.  Jack's best friend, Carl Everett, requests a transfer out of the Event Group, and Alice, their spunky octogenarian secretary/lady of many secrets commits a serious security breach involving an embedded spy at the Vatican.  While these characters were never exceedingly multilayered, this is like watching shadow puppets.  There's no depth at all.  A character appears, says stuff, and leaves.  It's like they used up all of their character in the first few books and are now just cardboard cutouts.  The "plot" isn't much better or any more believable.

For example, Carl Everett and Jason Ryan (who is referred to as both "Jason" and "Ryan," often in sentences directly abutting one another), fly a military jet to Rome to extract their compromised spy, realizing that a top Mossad operative is on his tail.  After many shenanigans (like, no one brought a map of Rome), they get ambushed by the Bad Mossad Guys but manage to escape.  At this point, the spy says he wants to stay at the Vatican even though he might be compromised, and Carl and Jason are like, "Okay, dude.  That's your choice."  NO.  Why did you fly to Europe to rescue someone who didn't want to be rescued and then you just leave him there as a bleeding open door to security?  This makes no sense!

The aforementioned Mossad operative is a dangerously beautiful woman with heterochromia iridium (two differently-colored eyes) which is referenced all the time.  I get it.  Her eyes are two different colors.  Congratulations!  Her name is Mika Sorotzkin, and as you may have guessed, she is in fact a "Gypsy Princess" working to gather information for the Jeddah.  Now, here's another thing that bothered me, although I could be totally wrong about this, and feel free to correct me.  "Sorotzkin" is a Slavic name.  I found a book called Jewish Family Names and Their Origins: An Etymological Dictionary by Heinrich and Eva Guggenheimer that listed "Sorotzkin" as a derivative of Soroka, which is a Russian last name, or Sokja, which would be Czech.  However, Mika is originally from Romania,where they speak Romanian (duh).  Romanian is actually the fourth Romance language (along with Spanish, French, and Italian) and is not related to Slavic languages like Czech or Russian.  So why she would have a Russo-Czech last name is just beyond me--presumably she speaks neither Russian nor Czech, but does speak Romanian and Hebrew.  Secondly, how did she end up in the Mossad without any past history?  I don't think they let just anyone walk in off the street, say they're Israeli, and then join up.  Her main abilities seem to be: having two differently-colored eyes and not aging.

I made it a third of the way through the book and nothing happened.  There was all this weird setup with a casino in Transylvania and the Russian Mafia (naturally), but nothing really ... happened.  I assume things happened in the end, because I read the last few chapters.  And dangit.  The teaser for the next book sounds slightly interesting, so help me.  That's the problem with Golemon's later books: interesting ideas but atrocious execution.

In my review of Ripper, I called it a "viscous glob of high fructose corn syrup, contaminated with e.coli and coated with hairballs."  Carpathian isn't as bad as that; rather, it's more of a neverending river of flavorless flummery spotted with stomach-churning flecks of mold.

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