Review of Hunter (Hunter, #1) by Mercedes Lackey

For the first novel by this author I have listened to on audiobook, I was entertained most of the way through.

Mercedes Lackey has written an infinite number of novels – by which I mean I know I will never be able to read them all. (Seriously, look at that bibliography…) Taking this one as an example, it is part of a trilogy taking place in a dystopian world full of storybook creatures and built upon centuries of fantasy cliches. However, it justifies the use of many of the tropes through clever loopholes in its own world-building. I will list some pluses and minuses.

Pluses: an easy read or listen.
Lackey does not seem any worse or any better at writing than Ann Leckie. The suspiciously similar last name notwithstanding, I was more engaged by Hunter than I was by Ancillary Justice. Whereas Lackey writes prolifically, Leckie seems to scoop up all the awards and acclaim. I prefer an industrious writer working from the shadows.

I was surprised by the dark tone, the violent action sequences and the fast pacing.
Strong suspension of disbelief is required. Humorous bloodthirsty gnome-like monstrosities and other nightmarish hoards.
The world-building actually does its job.
Functional post-apocalypse where conflict is essentially guaranteed for eternity. (I used this same approach for my serialized novel.)

Cardboard side characters.
Unlikeable 1st person heroine. Seriously, the biggest let-down is that main character. What if she had been similar to Poul Anderson’s main character from Broken Sword? It would have been a much more enjoyable read.
World-building shortcuts. Heavy reliance on cliches. Clashing tones.
Anti-religious themes that don’t seem to add anything to the plot.
The magic system could’ve been more interesting. I don’t require plausible explanations, but advanced tech + super powers without any literary invention is tough to swallow.

I actually feel like listening to the sequel’s audiobook. Despite my reservations, it was still competent. I have been a lot less enthusiastic about certain Niven, Sheckley, Heinlein, Anderson, and Silverberg disgraces.