#REVIEW: The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu, by Tom Lin

This will be a straightforward review, I think, as this really is one of those books where once I describe the premise you’re going to know right away whether you want to read it, and you will very likely be right: The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu is about a Chinese cowboy (I have seen the word “assassin” used to describe him, but that’s not precisely correct, at least the way I define assassin) in the antebellum Old West; the book takes place mostly in Nevada and California, neither of which are states yet. It’s a revenge story; Ming Tsu has some men he needs to kill, who have wronged him, and … honestly, if you feel like you know how the book is going to go from those few sentences, you’re probably right. There’s a slight supernatural turn that you might not expect; Tsu spends most of the book in the company of a prophet who can predict the future along with a handful of other miraculous individuals with unusual abilities, but the supernatural doesn’t really play as strong a role as you might think.

This is not a surprising book, and while it definitely gets some points for originality because of its Chinese main character– not exactly a common thing in Westerns– you’re going to have a pretty good idea how it’s going to go. No, this is a good book not because it’s breaking new ground but because it does what it does really really well, so if you’re the person who thinks you’re going to enjoy a book about a Chinese cowboy on a revenge-based murder spree, you’re not going to do much better than this book.

Not my longest book piece, I know, but sometimes they don’t have to be.

In which all I do is review things now

This week was seven hundred years long and featured hospitals and shingles— the disease, not the roof covering–, neither of which I was directly involved in, but I’m tired and utterly refuse to brain in any significant capacity right now. Luckily I have massive megacorporations providing entertainment to soothe me. So: two brief mini-reviews.

I have watched both episodes of The Mandalorian that have been released, and it’s pretty solid. It’s definitely Star Wars– the series not feeling right was my second biggest fear behind the fact that it was going to secretly be about Boba Fett, which it isn’t– and while I wasn’t sold on the music or the humor after the first episode I was right in suspecting that I just needed to get used to it. My favorite thing about the show so far is that it subtly reinforces the idea that Mandalorians aren’t actually the big tough badasses that Star Wars have been pretending they are for years– Boba Fett got killed by a blind man with a stick and a monster that couldn’t move, and the Mandalorian (who still doesn’t have a name) gets his ass kicked by Jawas in the second episode. I mean, it’s hilarious, but still. I don’t know that this is worth getting Disney+ for all by itself, but if you’re a Star Wars sort of person you probably already have your subscription and have watched the show already.

I have beaten this now, and everything I said in my early impressions post still holds: this is basically a Fallout game, only more Westerny and less post-apocalyptic, and with Mass Effect/Dragon Age-style companions. If you like that sort of thing, you’ll get along with it perfectly well, and unlike the last Dragon Age game I was actually able to finish it without dying of boredom, but I’m starting to think that unless someone does something to radically shake up how this genre works I think I’m going to tap out of it now, because long quest chains and ceaseless fetch quests just aren’t fun for me anymore. I damn near turned the game off when one character literally asked me to go ask another character if a poster he’d ordered had arrived yet, and I accidentally screwed up a quest late in the game involving modeling for an NPC and when I looked up what might have happened had I not messed it up I realized that there were 10,000 more things to do for it and I’d have been howling and throwing shit at the walls by the end of it. It’s mostly well-written and entertaining beyond that, but this game demands a bit more patience than I actually have available to me right now. I might go through it once more to see how some quests might go when I make different choices, but it won’t be happening for a while.