2017/07/07

Jeffro on The Last Kingdom

Appendix N author Jeffro Johnson tries his hand at what he calls a Brian Niemeier style post.
I’ve heard good things about The Last Kingdom, so I decided to check it out. Judging from the first episode, it’s basically Vikings meets Game of Thrones… but without the most aggressively awful elements of each.
It’s still bad, though.
Now, I’m no historian. But the Christians depicted in this are just plain stupid. From the boy disobeying his father to hurl insults at boats full of vikings, to the superstitious mother, and on to Priest that nearly drowns a boy while baptizing him. It’s embarrassing. You don’t look at this and think, “man, I wonder who’s going to win… awesome Vikings or cool British people?” You think… “thank goodness the Vikings cleaned out the gene pool to the extent that they did!”
There’s nothing in the way of tension there. And no one to really root for. And if you started to, it’s all in vain. The whole point here is to create bargain bin Ned Stark and discount Robert Barantheon as quickly as possible so they can be killed off. I would have thought this sort of cheap trick would be worn out by now as it isn’t good for much once the shock value has worn off. The thing is… for it to work, the characters have to give off an ongoing protagonist type vibe long enough that you become attached to them. These guys don’t. At all.
And the actual protagonist…? Who you don’t really notice is a protagonist until he is replaced by a guy this really, really good at standing around, looking cool? His whole arc here is a carbon copy of The Last Samurai. You know the story: dumb American/Westerner/whatever goes off to fight barbarians somewhere. Something goes wrong and he finds himself a captive within their society. Gradually he goes native, with a great desire to earn their respect. Finally, by applying a synthesis of barbarism and civilization, he does stupendously awesome things and makes the bad people feel bad.
It’s already a tired plot. But it’s especially incoherent here. The writers have already gone out of their way to establish the premise that “Vikings are SMRT, Christians are brain damaged.” But this dumb kid that enjoys invoking Woden around his priest and lying about his dad… how does he just spontaneously know to be awesome and honorable and brave (and foolish) when everyone around him is contemptible? And why would a Viking chief– who are all established is being barbarically barbarous, wild, bloodthirsty, and cruel– why would he suddenly see something of value in this boy, enough to inspire him to adopt him and so forth…?
Where do the values come from that make all of this possible? Why… they’ve essentially been mocked at and sneered at and lampooned for the preceding thirty minutes. It’s the same thing as the Game of Thrones story beats. The writers understand that these sorts of scenes have worked pretty well for other creators over the past ten or twenty years. But they have no concept of how to organically set them up in such a way that they reproduce the intended emotional response.
It is highly recommended that you read the rest. How did I grade Jeffro's attempt to righteously defenestrate a smug, secularist pile of revisionist history?

A+

For more masterful assassinations of postmodernism, get Jeffro's best selling Appendix N, now in hardcover!

Appendix N - Jeffro Johnson

Here's a tantalizing tidbit: the same artist who designed Appendix N's gorgeous cover is currently working on the cover for my own Faraway Wars: Embers of Empire. An exclusive preview of Castalia House's upcoming space opera series can be found in my new standalone novella The Hymn of the Pearl.


The Hymn of the Pearl - Brian Niemeier

And don't forget to nominate The Secret Kings for Best Science Fiction Novel in the 2017 Dragon Awards! #TeamJagi


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5 comments:

  1. Doesn't sound anything like the Cornwell books - which are awesome. With a lead character I'd expect Jeffro to approve of. Guess I'll have to watch it and see what they've done.

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  2. Jeffro once again heavily triggered fans who self-identify their taste in a TV show with their worth as a human being. LOL-worthy!

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    1. This is what happens when religious identity declines.

      Which is pretty meta when you consider the content of Jeffro's post.

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    2. Yes, without doubt. People always, *always* search for someone or something to worship. Why is that? Central question that most non-religious avoid like the plague.

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    3. Careful. That question could lead to a realization of contingency, and from there it's only a short step to You-Know-Who.

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