Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: Children of the Dragon

Children of the Dragon Children of the Dragon by Frank S. Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was recommended this book by my friend Daniel as a cross between Conan the Barbarian and class struggle. "something I definitely think you will like." After having just finished it I have many conflicting thoughts.

First of all, he wasn't wrong. The book tells the story of captured brigand who ends up leading the anti-imperialist resistance against the foreign occupation by an all powerful god-emperor and his bureaucrats. Not shying away from intense violence and structural critiques, this book includes torture, repression, sexual violence, bloodthirsty retaliation, starvation, land expropriation, and other themes that would be very present in any Fanon text.

"As in Taroloweh, the Ksavra Land Decree was enforced against the barons and their stranglehold upon agriculture was smashed. Some of them yielded without bloodshed, others barricaded themselves in their manor houses and fought to the death. But all of them were drowned in the surging peasant tide.

Through the towns and villages too, Jehan carried the relentless war of liberation. Here it was the merchants and the officials, and of course the priests who were the target of enflamed mobs. Temples would be set ablaze and the priests brutally slaughtered.

Red and black with fire and smoke was the sky above Nitupsar...."

While being hyper critical of structural violence of occupation and authoritarianism, it remains cynical of the short term effects of revolutionary activity and the dislocation it can cause.

I also feel that the books handling of gender was pretty bad. While its class politics were ok, the women in the book were often depicted as manipulative if not outright crazy. (with one major exception). Instead, they were shown as the eternal victims, seldom empowered and not particularly focused on. There were also uncomfortable scenes of sexual violence which occur throughout the book as a way of demonizing the bad guys and also committed as revenge by resisting peasants on their conquerors... and they were hard to read.

If you like gritty depressing stories like Blood Meridian.. or want a conan the barbarian story mixed with class struggle. Then Read it. I still haven't made up my mind on how I feel about it.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Battle for the AbyssBattle for the Abyss by Ben Counter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was one of the grittier books in the series, a total bloodbath. Starting with the secret hidden weapon of the Mechanicum being used to wipe out the enemies of Horus before hostilities really begin... it follows the hunt for this new mega ship.

while it depicts some of the goriest space battle scenes I have ever read, its pretty damn 2 dimensional in characters and motivations. As a warhammer 40k book it fits in well in the universe. As a novel, its nothing special.

Just dont get beetween a worldeater on the verge of close quarters combat!

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

Review: Legion

Legion Legion by Dan Abnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was one of the best stories from the Horus Heresy series so far and it was not even related to any of the main characters or central plot. It concerns the mysterious alpha legion and their weird and in my opinion weak plot deviced turn to chaos.

However, where this story really shines is with its description of the imperial army and the new addition of a secret cabal of ancient alien races. Honestly I just would like to read a story about them and if they have additional back story after the incidents in this book.

it's written in a really exciting arching crescendo... but im not sure if I buy their turn, particularly after the events of the heresy when their original reasons for "betrayal" are over.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: Frantz Fanon: A Critical Study

Frantz Fanon: A Critical Study Frantz Fanon: A Critical Study by Irene L. Gendzier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am fortunate to have had Irene Gendzier as a graduate student advisor at Boston University and to be gifted this book by her when she retired. In an interesting twist of fate, I ended up finished it on a flight home from 2 weeks in Cuba.

While many people have read Wretched of the Earth and some Black Skin, White Masks, I think this book has interesting perspectives on both the strengths and influence on Fanon (particularly on Algeria) as well as his weaknesses and where he falls short. While the man has been deified for decades, its interesting to remember that he himself had distinct changes in thought and was heavily influenced by a range of struggles going on...some for which he didn't understand the full political situation. This is not to reduce the brilliance of his work, but to place him realistically in the situation in which he lived.

The particular questions on his critiques of the FLN are heavily covered in this as the revolution he so supported began to unravel in autocratic dictatorship. I recommend this book for anyone searching for the real Fanon and to examine questions of his thought that were not covered in his books. Filled with analysis and commentary from revolutionaries, and militants who knew him.... a very good read!

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Review: Descent of Angels

Descent of Angels Descent of Angels by Mitchel Scanlon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A meh book not connected in time to the main line of the Horus heresy story. It has some minor tidbits on the history of Caliban and the planets entrance into the imperium. A coming of age story written in a really 2 dimensional trite way. I haven't read past it yet, but you can probably skip this book in the series.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Review: Cuban Anarchism: The History of a Movement

Cuban Anarchism: The History of a Movement Cuban Anarchism: The History of a Movement by Frank Fernández
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have long known that Anarchists were the major factor in the Cuban labor movement for decades, but this book really filled in the long history of struggle in that country. I was both taken aback by the scale and strength of the movement, its relationship with Marti, as well as its participation well into the 1959 Cuban revolution. It also helped me further develop my analysis on the Cuban revolution and the absolute destructive role it played on silencing devoted anarchist organizations and militants.

Lastly it makes me further respect the role of anarchists in the Cuban diaspora as they are really between a rock and a hard place when it comes to being both libertarian and communist. A must read for anyone who wants an external narrative to the Cuban Communist Party and to the right wing Cuban population in the US. It is a brutal exposition of the way many anarchists in the world turned their backs on their comrades and ignored their own structural critiques in a romanticized version of events.

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