Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Winner Takes All

I finished the second Hawk & Fisher novel (included in the omnibus edition I'm reading). Winner Takes All. This one isn't a mystery; it's more of a thriller. In a vague way, I was reminded of Frederick Forsyth's book about the Jackal, in that the point of view bounced around from one side of the conflict to the other so you could see what was going on at each end.

The premise of this one is that a controversial political figure needs protecting in the lead-up to an election, and Hawk and Fisher are assigned bodyguard duty (again.) This leads to a more straightforward plot than the mystery-influenced earlier book, but it's still an interesting one. There are some intriguing supporting characters, including a confirmed psychopathic mercenary woman with a fetish for setting things on fire, the two political candidates themselves, and their respective sorcerous assistants. One of whom starts the story dead, yet still active.

Without spoiling the plot, I can say that the action is very interesting; I really enjoyed the plot development. The characters were intriguing, yet not deep. They only go so far, which is fine because the book isn't really that long anyway (less than 200 pages in this trade paperback printing. If I hadn't been away and busy for the holidays, I would have read it very quickly.) The setting is explored a little bit, and the raw city of Haven proves itself again to be a character of its own nearly as interesting as the actual characters. Simon Green does manage to avoid the travelog approach though; setting elements come up when their relevent to the plot, and not otherwise. Much of the setting appears to be handwaved away; there's the Low Kingdoms, the Forest Kingdoms, the Northern Kingdoms, etc. And of course, Haven itself, which is in many ways a remarkably modern city. Or perhaps an exaggerated stereotype, in many ways. Haven is, however, a great model for what an urban roleplaying game setting could be like; there's tons of opportunity for adventure right within the city-walls, or as this novel shows, within even a single neighborhood of the city.

Because I came at Simon Green through RPGs (usually I'm the other way around; my interest in Dungeons & Dragons when I was younger was sparked by my interest in fantasy literature) I find that an interesting take. drnuncheon's Freeport story hour (which I've mentioned here before) was set in Freeport and featured two player characters, a man and a woman, both of whom were members of the Freeport Watch. The idea was, drnuncheon himself admitted, borrowed from the Hawk & Fisher books, and the broad similarities in tone and theme between Haven and Freeport made porting the idea all the easier. So, once again, I'm recomending this novel and the series in general as a great model for someone who would like to run an urban D&D campaign but isn't exactly sure how to go about it.

1 comment:

The Evil DM said...

As a gamer, I really enjoy the Hawk and Fisher tales. I love his approach to characterization. he gives you just enough info on a character to make them intriguing but leaves the rest a mystery. He also has a a fine talent for naming his characters.