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The War God's Own
by David Weber
The War God's Own is David Weber's second fantasy novel featuring Bahzell Bahnakson, a hradani of the Horse Stealer tribe. Hradani are nasty, brutish, and tall, with pointy ears and a tendency to succumb to berserker rages. They also speak with an improbable brogue for no apparent reason.
In Oath of Swords, Bahzell fled his homeland and fought his way across most of a continent, slaying various bad guys and ugly monsters along the way until Tomanak, the god of War and Justice, managed to draft him as a paladin. In The War God's Own, Bahzell is considerably surprised and not entirely pleased to discover that a side effect of his paladinship is that the Order of Tomanak, a militant brotherhood, is at his disposal. The Order of Tomanak is rather surprised too. Hradani aren't supposed to become paladins. Hradani are supposed to still be working out the finer details of that whole "walking upright" thing.
Once Bahzell straightens matters out with the Order, he turns around and slogs back across the continent, accompanied by the usual assortment of Faithful Companions, heading back to hradani lands to confront the evil that forced him to flee in the first place.
Weber has never been one for subtle characterization; he prefers to clout the reader over the head with his hero's virtues. Bahzell is mighty! [bang! ] And he's virtuous! [bang!] And he's noble at heart despite his rough mien! [bang!] Did I mention he's really, really mighty?! [bang! bang!] After a few chapters, it starts to give one a headache.
The biggest problem with The War God's Own is the complete lack of suspense. Bahzell doesn't run into anything that he can't handle, and there's never any doubt that he'll come out on top until the very end of the book. (This is a marked contrast to Weber's Honor Harrington books, where you know that even if Honor wins, the corpses of supporting characters are going to be heaped high.)
Still, underneath the meat-cleaver writing, The War God's Own is pretty decent heroic fantasy, and it's certainly better than Oath of Swords. It doesn't exactly stand on its own, but it's not necessary to read the first book to understand what's going on. If you're a fan of David Eddings' fantasy, particularly his Sparhawk series, you'll enjoy it. If you're allergic to smug banter, however, you should avoid skin contact with this book; if a rash results, consult a doctor or librarian.
-- Christina Schulman.
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