I love action. And I love science fiction. And sometimes I wish that I could just shut down that part of my brain that cares about logic and just enjoy a story.
I get that fantasy and science fiction aren't always logical. In fact, sometimes it's the illogical aspects that make the story more enjoyable. Used in moderation, illogical surprises can flavor a story.
But reading a book that is driven by illogical elements is like taking a teaspoon of cinnamon powder. And I've watched enough YouTube to know how that goes.
Patin's fifth book in his Monster Hunting for Fun and Profit series diverges from his usual storytelling method. Previous books in this series were mostly confined to one setting, and the author would try to populate that setting with monsters and encounters that he felt belonged to that setting. The main characters always brought an element of anachronism into the encounter, using high-tech weaponry to combat fantasy creatures, but that was the main motif of the series and it was working.
The Manticores of Pristalline Paradise is all over the map, if you had a map of the multiverse in front of you. Manticores, check. Unicorns, check. Um, giant mech-armor suits? Check...
Zombies? Also check.
Vampires? Not sure.
Rakhshasas? Would you like one or two?
Sphinx god? Not even sure what that means, but we'll have one of those also.
Alien religious zealots? Why not?
There's nothing wrong with any of these elements, and Patin writes each element well, individually. But when you are finding these creatures in back-to-back chapters, you have to wonder what you're reading. It feels like the concepts for five or six different books were thrown together into one volume.
The moral themes are equally haphazard. In one chapter, the unicorns elevate the values of love and loyalty, but in a later chapter, the sphinx elevates the value of self-sacrifice. If I was a protagonist in this book, I'd be questioning what the multiverse was trying to teach me.
I'm not saying that the book was bad. I'm only saying that when I'm dungeon-mastering a role-playing adventure for my friends, I try to pick a specific setting for an adventure and then plan monsters and encounters that fit this setting. I would never pick randomly from the Monster Manual. I wouldn't do this for a book, either.
Some players would still enjoy an adventure like that. Some readers would still love a book like that. Pick up Manticores from Amazon and give it a try!