I have a rather lengthy commute to work and that means a lot of time to myself. I use this time to think about things. If I have nothing to think about, or I am too tired to think, I used to listen to music. I should mention here that I am not a fan of music. Not like everyone else. I went to my first concert two years ago. (It was AC/DC for those interested.) I don’t have a favorite band or follow any musicians. I enjoy soundtracks, mainly soundtracks from games but I do have some movie soundtracks. So it should come as no surprise when I say I grew tired of music. Then I discovered podcasts and some podcasts talk about things I am interested in. Yet, after three or four years of those, I grew tired of them. Then I discovered audio books and to shorten the story I found out that Audible actually has books I like.
What is Audible? It is an Amazon service where you can find almost any audio book. I was rather surprised when I found a lot of the Star Wars books, books from J.R.R Tolkien, and almost all of the Warcraft books. Another pleasant surprise was to find a lot of the classic books at a rather cheap price. I will warn you. Not all of the readers are good. I got one book the reader sounds like a computer and starts and stops in odd places. So why am I telling you this? I would like to talk about the latest series of books I’m listening to. The BattleTech books.
Some might be asking “What is BattleTech?” Well, BattleTech is a miniature table top game that was created by Jordan Weisman back in the 80’s. It takes place in the 31st century. The idea is humankind has advanced out to the stars and colonized numerous planets. But not all is peaceful. There are also times of war. Yet, now when humans go to war they have at their disposal large machines of war called Mechs. These Mechs can range from 20 meters tall up to 100 meters tall and can weight several hundred tons. The universe has been split up into different states. The major states are called “houses” and they comprise of House Steiner, House Marik, House Liao, House Kurita, and House Davion. There is also the minor state of the Free Rasalhague Republic. Each state represents a certain idea and is connected to certain nations of today’s Earth.
- House Kurita is based on Japan and follows the code of Bushido.
- House Davion might be considered the British state but connect it more with medieval England. Or more accurately the Arthurian England. Their capital is New Avalon and they believe in the individual liberties and freedoms of the people.
- House Liao is based off the Chinese culture. They take pride in overcoming any obstacles history has thrown at them.
- House Marik is interesting in that their history can be traced back to 13th century Central Europe. Yet, while being European in origin they run their state through democracy, not through a type of monarchy.
- House Steiner is known as the “Power House.” It wields the best technology, warriors, and training.
The books I am listening to are Lethal Heritage, Blood Legacy, and Lost Destiny. They tell the story of how the clans came into the universe to, as the books says, take back their birthright. Now, while I have never played the miniature game, I have played all the video game. I watched the cartoons, although I don’t remember much from them. I have also read some of the technical manuals, so I know the history and future of what is known as the Inner Sphere and The Clans. So the interesting thing is I already know what will happen. I know all the way up to the next century. It is like watching a murder mystery and knowing who killed them, with what weapon and why. And to take the analogy further, I know what will happen with the other people of the story.
So if I have all this information why bother listening to the book? Well for one, I have always wanted to. And number two, there is a difference between reading a book about American history and reading a story that tells how George Washington survived the winter of 1777 in Valley Forge then comes back to defeat the British.
So what do I think about the book, or audio book? Well, let me start by saying this: These books have been abridged. Yet because I haven’t read the actual physical books, I don’t feel I am missing anything. Although the reviews say a lot has been taken out. So if you haven’t read the books yet, you will enjoy them. Christopher Graybill reads the book and he does a good job of giving each character a different voice, though the women do sound like feminine guys. But it’s understandable. They have also added sound effects to the story and while it makes for an interesting listen, sometimes the sound effects drown out the words.
Finally, would I recommend these books? In a word, yes. I would add, as I said before, these are abridged version of the original books. So for those new to BattleTech I would recommend these audio books first. Then go back and read the original books. And finally read the technical manuals. I will end saying the BattleTech universe is as rich and full as most of the other geek universes out there. (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter.)