This is a review of “Kell’s Legend” the first book of Andy Remic’s “Clockwork Vampire Chronicles“.
They came from the North, and the city fell. It is a time for warriors, a time for heroes. Kell’s axe howls out for blood.
This is a cold, cold world with winter and fog and cold people and places. Forbidding mountains and a city in their shadows, it is the perfect setup for a good story. The incredible amount of blood, gore and death in this book is almost overwhelming. Innards and gore fly all over the place with other bits of bodies and who knows what else. It is rather refreshing to read something like this that doesn’t even try to shelter the reader from the ugly side of battle.
The fact that Kell is an old man with achy joints and whatnot is also new. In his sixties with graying hair and even a mostly grown granddaughter is different. He feels the stresses of a long life as a warrior, and he is even a bit of an alcoholic. He is also quite vicious, a true old warrior, and it is made clear that he does not mind leaving people behind if they hinder him in helping his granddaughter. However, even with this, the magic of his axe Ilanna negates the aches of his old body and that is a minor peeve.
Introducing vachine culture and reason for attack through Anukis’s chapters was a good way of introducing readers to the other side of the conflict. Their being a mix of vampires and steampunk cyborgs was something that I haven’t come across before, as were the cankers – the results of failed meshing of machine and flesh. The Harvesters, the various aspects of oil-magic and especially the icy fog, and the pale albinos were all extremely interesting to read about and to get to know.
Of course, there are some bad points in the book. A rather lot of them actually.
Firstly the language and the way the book is written. It is far too poetic for this sort of story and ends up simply being ridiculous and bothersome to read. Sex, blood and gore is all described with down and dirty language, but the rest is a bad attempt at bringing the rest of the book above the level of a harlequin romance novel. It does not work.
Anukis and her constant weeping. I swear the girl didn’t do anything but weep every time she had screen time. She would be determined to be strong, to hate the vachine, to get her bloody revenge for all that she was put through, and barely a page later she would be a weeping, sobbing, weak mess once more. She was so incredibly wishy-washy and so damn naïve that it became ridiculous and I really, honestly hated reading her chapters.
Women seem to be there either as bitches or as weak damsels in distress, and all of them need to be kidnapped and fucked into submission at one point of another. There are attempted rapes, rapes and figurative rapes all over the place. Kat is surprisingly okay but her character totally fails when it comes to romantic/sexual stuff despite what she might have stated earlier on. Nienna is just about the only real female character around, and Saark the only realistic male character around.
The characters were all rather weak, but it was most noticeable in the vachine Vashell. Suddenly one then and then another without any explanation or good reason, he especially was shallow and a thorough annoyance. Couple that with a drug addict queen and I started skimming through the book halfway through. Not even the gratuitous amount of blood and gore in Kell’s chapters could hold my interest anymore.
I would not recommend this book, and I most certainly won’t be reading the sequels.