Autorka: Lisa Smedman
Data wydania: 1998 (grudzień 1997)
Uwagi: Shadowrun #29
Cytat na okładce:
When the sun goes down, the demons of twilight will arrive
Mama Grande pojawiła się w życiu Leni jak koszmar na kółkach. Prosto znikąd, twierdzi, że jest byłym detektywem Lone Star i babką Leni. Wciąż wykrzykuje przepowiednie o rzece krwi i ogniu trawiącym świat. Ale kiedy zostaje zabita w dziwaczny sposób,, Leni i początkujący Combat Biker o imieniu Rafael zaczynają śledztwo, by poznać przeszłość Mama Grande... Tylko po to, by dostać się mroczne centrum cywilizacji Aztlanu - gdzie ofiary z ludzi wzniecają szaaleństwo, a starożytne ceremonialne gry mogą rozpocząć koniec świata!
Blood Sport (novel)
by Lisa Smedman
Plot: I was quite pleased with the plot of Blood Sport from beginning to end. From the moment I met Leni Torres and her friend Rafael Ramirez, I was caught up in a complex network of mystery, murder, betrayal, and apocalyptic visions of the coming of demons and the end of the world, with a bit of romance, faith, miracles, and wonder thrown in for good measure.
When Leni's "Mama Grande", a brain-addled old woman who might or might not have been a shaman, is murdered, apparently by renegade Aztlaner cultists, Leni and Rafael begin an investigation that will lead them into the heart of Aztlan and throw them right in the middle of a plot which, if successful, will lead to the end of the world as we know it. Never quite sure who they can trust and who will betray them, Leni and Rafael negotiate their way through the danger until they finally unravel the secret that Mama Grande had been hiding--and that she was apparently forced to reveal before she died. Using Leni's former-Lone Star training and Rafael's strength and perseverance (and sports savvy), the two commit themselves to righting the wrong that Mama Grande inadvertently set in motion.
Characters: I found the characters to be quite engaging and believable. The protagonist, Lenora Maria Antonia de Torres (known as "Leni" throughout the story) is a former Lone Star cop who lives in a basement flat in a house also occupied by her two friends, would-be combat biker Rafael and "Mama Grande," who is true grandmother to Rafael and adopted grandmother to Leni.
Leni is resourceful, tough, and remains true to both her former Star background and her lapsed-Catholic upgbringing, the latter of which becomes more important as the plot progresses. Rafael is just the right combination of youthful machismo and reliable backup; my only complaint with him is that a couple of abilities he evidences are left tantalisingly hanging and never satisfactorily explained. Both Leni and Rafael perform consistently and never break character as stranger and stranger events begin to occur around them.
The other, more minor characters are also well-drawn: the mysterious androgynous mage Caco (who makes contact with potential information purchasers through young "Chiclets" salesmen); the sinister sacerdotes (priests) of the Aztlan Temple of the Sun and their minions; Fede, the ugly ticket scalper with a secret; Teresa, young housekeeper with yet another secret; Soñador, the feathered serpent who may or not be on Leni and Rafael's side. I cannot recall a character in Blood Sport who seemed false or forced.
Setting: For anyone interested in getting a deeper picture of the inner workings of Aztlan than can be found in the Aztlan Sourcebook, I recommend Blood Sport. Everything from background on everyday life to the official ban on Catholicism to the underground resistance is covered in a nice level of detail--not too much, not too little. Not to mention some very nice background on the Aztlaner sport ollamaliztli, which sounds like a deadly combination of jai alai and basketball, and a deeper look into the dark practice of human sacrifice and blood magic.
Game Mechanics: I noted a few glitches from published Shadowrun game mechanics, but nothing to call out as gross errors. The worst thing that I saw was the reference to one person's being a "half ork" and another's possibly "having troll blood." From my understanding and every bit of published material I've seen, this isn't possible. But as I said, nothing major.
Writing Mechanics: Echoing complaints first voiced in our review of Shadowboxer, I would like to humbly suggest to FASA that they hire themselves a copy editor. While small, the errors are of a bush-league variety that should have been caught by an entry-level copy editor. The most obvious and annoying culprit was the frequent repetition of phrases such as, "The rebels gave Rafael and I sidelong glances..." (page 133). Less annoying but still a bit frustrating were typographical errors such as "tun" for "turn" and "that" for "what".
Another minor stylistic annoyance was Smedman's continued use of the "Little did I know what I was getting into" school of plotting at the end of many chapters. The story was strong enough, in my opinion, to draw the reader through the chapters without resorting to such a cheap contrivance. Once or twice, perhaps, but after a bit it became distracting.
Overall Impressions: Overall, I liked Blood Sport very much. The pacing was good, the characters strong, consistent, and sympathetic, and the plot held together nicely with no obvious holes. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in Aztlan, mysteries, religion in Shadowrun, or magical phenomena, and also to anyone who enjoys a good story.
OCENA 3,5 (max 4)
Leni is a private dick, an ex-cop. When her grandmother, living upstairs is killed, that's bad enough to make her want to bring the perpetrators to justice. But when it is done by religious missionaries, that raises her eyebrows. And when the missionaries in turn are killed at the airport, skinned alive, she thinks something more than just the usual random murder is going on. And she's right.
The story gives a look into an ancient sport of Mexico. I don't know if it really was as bloody as their future-modern adherents made it, but it certainly is enough to make the book title accurate. It also gives another look into post-Awakened Aztlan, something few books do. There's nothing particularly spectacular about the book, it's just a good read, then you move on. Be prepared for some icky deaths, though.