Friday, February 17, 2012

Runs in Good Condition

I recently finished Monica Marier's second novel "Runs in Good Condition" that takes place six months or so after the finish of "Must Love Dragons."

Linus is back from his travels with money to burn and a grateful family. Only now he finds himself swept up in a danger worse than dragons and kobolds: Politics. Nominated for Union President Linus goes toe to toe with crooked leaders, a tank of water, dancing slippers, pop singers, corsets, and even a werewolf or two. That is if he even passes the qualifying rounds… and if he can avoid planting his foot in his mouth every two seconds.

Whether you’re liberal, conservative, or nihilist, there’s nothing as impolitic as Linus Weedwhacker: Candidate at Large. 

I really enjoyed Must Love Dragons, there was a nice current of wit and humor that flowed through the action of the story and sucked a reader in rather quickly for a comforting ride.

"Runs in Good Condition" starts out a little slow for me as Linus and his daughter Irene run into a pop sensation trying to flee hordes of teenage girls who are always trying to sacrifice wispy haired boys to their gods or whatever it is teenage girls do.

From there we learn about Linus' intended plans to run for President, a goal he seems to find himself trapped in and not so certain if he really wants it even as others help/force him to limp along the way.

The story picked up a bit for me when Linus finds himself outside the city and forced to fend for himself out in the forest in nothing more than a pair of boots and his knickers. It really got into a good tempo about halfway through when Linus and Irene leave the ball on the carriage and find themselves running for their lives.

What follows is a tooth and nail fight to figure out who is trying to snuff out Linus before he can get on that podium and give his acceptance speech for president.

I was worried at first, with the climate of the election year out here in real land now that reading about more political stuff would make me want to stick my head inside an oven, but Marier can turn some of the absurdities of the process on its head and come out with a tale that makes me forget that there are even more terrifying baddies out in the real world waving babies and kissing flags.

Reagan, the elf stumping and hosting for Linus' rise to power is an interesting character, as he fights against himself and his hatred of old Linus to put what he believes is the right candidate on the throne. Wendel, a halfling with an even better reason to hate Linus than most others, really caught my mind and made me want to know more about him, as well as what really happened to his wife.

Dierdre, Linus' wife who was born a dragon but became human to marry him, is a fascinating character who always feels like she's on the verge of breaking out for a moment but then holds the family back. The spine of the giant brood as it were. I'm curious as to how she feels these many years being human, if she ever regrets giving up the power of being a dragon.

It was the B love story that worked the least for me. Some of it is due to the fact that I never got over the hurdle of the age difference between Morfindel and Irene. I forget how old Morf is (somewhere in his late teens/early twenties, I believe) but Irene's fourteen just kept striking me as so young to have marriage being bandied around.

Also, never really going much into her head, I never got why she cared for either Morf of Miles. It just felt like she had two men pursuing her so might as well choose one and one night she flipped a coin and it came up elf.

Poor Morf, getting relegated to the office of clerk/driver and love interest it felt like he really wanted to get out there, do something more exciting and dangerous but never had the chance. There was a moment after his break down when I really thought he'd leave for good and that would be a source of contention but it seemed to pass like water under a troll.

The ending felt hurried, I would have liked a bit more time to watch the contention against Linus instead of simply being told with the obvious set up for a third book. (I'm being annoyingly obtuse because of spoilers so let's say a chicken is really upset that he stole some corn.)

But despite these nitpicks I still enjoyed "Runs In Good Condition" and if you really want to know what happened to Linus after "Must Love Dragons" I suggest you check it out.

I'm waiting for more from Marier to see what follows with Linus, Morf, Wendel and the rest.

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