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PACT

Currently at 6.12, thinking about dropping. Not bad but not my type of story either

By Pavel Sadovnikov, member

Jul 6, 2017: Straight to the point:

Cons

Long. Yeah, after previous Wildbow’s serial, Worm, it feels as quite a relief: there are only a couple of relevant side characters and side stories. Pacing is better, but still Wildbow’s turn of phrase is too verbose for my taste.

Somewhat tedious exposition. Especially in the first chapters. Everybody (mostly Blake’s rivals) seem way too eager to explain everything to him. Some aspects of magic are explained way too often but their implications are underused.

Magic loses to a gun, but almost nobody uses modern weapon. Admittedly, that’s a common problem for this type of fantasy (I’m looking at you, Harry Potter). That’s somewhat explained, but . . . Come on, Blake, just get a pistol like a [spoiler]! You don’t have to kill anybody, just aim at kneecaps! Or just punch [spoiler] in the face while she is trying to bind you!

Neutral

Solving problems by smart talking, negotiating, stealth infiltrating and/or evading attacks. That’s the most identifiable flavour of Pact. There are not much actual fights in the first half of the book. And when they do happen Blake mostly strategises and relies on allies to deliver firepower. I can’t even say he solves many hard riddles. That makes sense considering his lack of experience in magic and personal philosophy, but leaves me in mingled feelings. Have you ever tried to complete an RPG (e.g Fallout or Arcanum) with character with maxed out (in expense of everything else) rhetoric skills? Pact is book equivalent of that. That may be the most important point if you try to decide is Pact worth reading. If you like characters negotiating their way out of trouble instead of using brute force – hesitate no more.

World versus Blake. Premise leaves no choice: everybody wants to see Blake in the coffin. Repeatedly he has to overcome superiour forces and fight unimaginable foes. I generally like this dark and hopeless atmosphere but, again, IMHO, sometimes enemies release him too far too easy and/or patiently wait while protagonists are talking with each other. That may be my biggest problem with Pact: Wildbow’s introductions and main action are almost always good but resolutions are 50/50.

Dark urban fantasy setting. Some people like it, some not. It’s generally well depicted but, IMHO, some aspects are underexplored.

Non-black-and-white world. Mostly in darker shades of gray though =)

Pros

These mostly correspond to strong sides of Worm

Tense. Damn, Wildbow manges to breathtakingly describe drafting a contract!

Rationality. Oh, yes, more thought-based decisions, please.

Lack of plot armor. Ten points in favour of gruesome atmosphere – sometimes Blake just can not win the fight.

Side characters, interpersonal relationships and character developement

3 of 3 members found this review helpful.
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