Monster Hunter Legion
by Larry Correia
Cover Artist: Alan Pollack
Review by Jon Guenther
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451637960
Date: 04 September 2012 List Price $24.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Just from reading the cover blurbs from this series, one might think it's based off a video game. And having read books #1 and #2 in the series, I have to admit to a vicarious experience of game-controller induced tendonitis. However, there seems to be a notch of higher quality in the books that makes them just plain fun to read (provided you don't take them too seriously), and this fourth book in the series, Monster Hunter Legion, is no exception.
The book is set in Las Vegas where monster hunters from around the world have gathered for their first international conference. In Correia's typically dry wit, the protagonist begins by describing his favorite thing about the city: buffets. From there, the action begins and I didn't get to take a breather for the next 370 or so pages. This novel, like its predecessors, certainly does not skimp on the conflict in any way, and good conflicts make for the best stories!
One interesting thing to note immediately is this book's status in a series that alleges to have hit a major best-seller list or two. Correia's writing is top-notch insofar as the action-adventure genre is concerned, and there's plenty of violence and mayhem with firearms details for hardware fanatics like myself. I don't know that I'd go so far as to call the work best-seller material. I continue to find an inexplicable likability for the hero, Owen Zastava Pitt, but there are some other recurring characters (no less important to the story) that I felt were still somewhat under-developed for a fourth book. Correia seems to make up for this by peppering the story with more poignant scenes between the main characters, but they seem an afterthought and don't make up for deeper insights. These interchanges would not inform readers well enough who have not read previous books.
There is a mix of the science-fiction/horror genres to such a degree that it feels derivative, but I wouldn't go so far as to call this a detractor. For example, the Monster Hunters battle vampires, werewolves, zombies and mummies -- and some of them like the inimitable Earl Harbinger, leader of MHI, are monsters themselves. But they are aided by supporting characters who are Orcs and Elves, and they battle dragons and giant spiders. There's also alternate dimensions and elements of time travel, so it often left me wondering into exactly what world to root my footing. Perhaps, however, it's Correia's way of keeping the reader unbalanced and building tension, and if so it works in its own way on several levels.
One con to the book was the chief antagonist in the story, Stricken -- I feel the author missed an opportunity there. Unlike the previous books, I simply couldn't get a strong enough feel for the bad buy. He wasn't matured as a character in many aspects. Had Stricken had more depth, I might have been satisfied enough to just hate his guts but I couldn't even rise to that level, and this robbed me of the opportunity to savor some of the conflict between the villain and heroes.
While I have to admit there were a couple of flaws in this novel that I didn't notice with previous titles in the series, I still very much enjoyed Monster Hunter Legion. I highly recommend the book solely on its many good merits and because I feel Mr. Correia is a consistently seasoned storyteller who doesn't disappoint.
NOTE: Readers who have not read the previous books in the series should at least read Monster Hunter International before diving in here.