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Action, Action, and More Action



by Graeme Rodaughan, 2018

The third book of the Metaframe War saga brings with it a cascade of high tech battle scenes, where we see armored cars fighting tanks, tanks fighting helicopter gunships, and enhanced supermen fighting vampires.

Vampires? How’d they get in there?

We begin with a flashback showing the origin of series villainess, Chloe Armitage. So far, she’s proved the most interesting character in the series. That often happens when writing about vampires.

In the modern day, Chloe has set her sights on our hero Anton, hoping to use him to advance her cause. From the first chapter, we jump into and the action is virtually nonstop.

“The Metaframe War” series suffered from the sophomore jinx. The second installment had very long scenes with characters training and sparing. The characters may need to do that, but the reader can be spared. Fortunately, there is none of that in the third book—just rampaging action and intrigue, like a good superhero comic book.

The writing is good, sharp, although with a lot of cutting edge military mumbo-jumbo. How much mumbo-jumbo? I had to read this with Wikipedia open so I could look up the various MRAPs, CPUs, FN P90s, MRUs, H&K MP5s, and so forth, just so I could tell what the heck he was talking about. Rodaughan is clearly a tech junkie and it shows in almost every sentence of his books.

For readers who keep track of that stuff, this series will be a stroke book. Technologically-illiterate readers like myself, sometimes challenged by washing machines and toasters, might get left behind. The technology was a lot easier to follow when it was just coffins, crucifixes, and wooden stakes.

But the book’s definitely an adrenaline rush. Almost every page has battles, fighting, or double-dealing. I do like how we get to know some of the sideline characters, even root for them, before they are blown to bits. Occasionally, they survive, more or less.

There are a few issues with punctuation, but you might miss them as the action grabs you and carries you along. Commas are missing in places or commas are used instead of periods or semi-colons. But the punctuation problems are not rampant.

While the writing is mostly good, some lines are flat when they could easily be enlivened. Like when two warriors are “...wearing what appeared to be sunglasses, but were obviously the same technology the pair of Order operatives who had infiltrated the dungeon that morning had been wearing.” That's very awkward. Instead, how about, “They now had what appeared to be sunglasses, but this was the same technology worn by the Order operatives she'd encountered that morning.”

Other times we’re given large blocks of narrative that would play better—and more dramatically—as dialog. In particular, give the pompous character of Gordon a flunky to whom he can vent his misgivings about his American colleague, instead of reading his thoughts to learn his opinions.

On a similar note, we once again have this nameless, sexless “Raven” who is annoyingly referred to with words like ‘they’ and ‘their’. It is one thing to do that with a hypothetical person, but quite another to do it with an actual character. A better way to handle this would be to literally get in his/her head and tell the Raven’s story in the first person.

But if you love non-stop action and plenty of double-dealing, “The Metaframe War” is for you.

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