Call of Duty: Black Ops II: Rightful King is a prologue, a profile, and a journey to the recently released Call of Duty game. Written by Michael Rudin as a e-book novella/short story, Raul Menendez, the main villain of COD: Black Ops 2 is the subject of this gripping tale that pays tribute to the idea that evil is rarely born, rather, created by circumstance and environment. Split into two parts, the book begins in tragedy. Raul must take care of his sister, Josefina, and we see how desperation drives him to dispassionate bursts of violence that are made more effective by his sense of ingenuity and insight. Raul understands the deeper issues at stake, especially amidst the poverty and destruction of his city, Managua, the capital of Nicaragua.
What surprises is the prose, which is dramatic, vividly recreating the world and diving into Raul’s mind. A lot of ground is covered and the pace is addictively frenetic. Rudin does a great job setting up the geo-political intricacies of the situations Raul finds himself without over-explicating or ever being dull. In the short space of 23 pages, we explore Raul’s relationship with his family, his world, his followers, and himself. This is not just simple COD fan fiction (no offense to COD fan fiction), but a stirring narrative that weaves together a portrait of an idealistic anti-hero as a young man. For example, here are some striking descriptions in a scene where he has to deal with a banker:
Papá will be pissed.
The banker’s knees weren’t supposed to look this way.
They were supposed to creak from behind creased khakis, two little knobs that should have turned him around, walked his lean banker body to his mean banker car and driven him back to his big banker house. Instead, they’re pulp.
Skin, tendons, tissue, cartilage, bone. Now: fragments.
Raul will never forget the banker reaching into his pocket and pulling out the wad, the comment that a thick roll of dinero was as good as any gauze or bandage. “Money cures all,” he had said that night, and tonight, the shotgun did its best to deliver on that same promise.
In the second section, readers are treated to more about Raul and the Cordis Die, the terrorist group Raul heads up. His anonymity as the head of the organization is discarded during their anniversary and the poet who uses economics to weave his lyrical metier of destruction is just warming up. It’s the perfect setup that’ll segue back into the game and there’s a particularly stirring speech Raul gives:
He explains immortality is earned, injected not into the spines of humans, but into the spine of history.
In the same way, Rightful King injects itself brilliantly into the Call of Duty mythos with a thrilling ride that also sheds light on a face of evil who also happens to embody the philosopher-warrior. This Examiner has been a fan of Michael Rudin’s work for a while and was excited to find out he’d written this e-book to accompany the Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The mix of flashbacks and stream of consciousness helps immerse readers into a very different world and whether you’re interested in the Call of Duty series or are eager for a great action-packed read, this is a high recommend. You can find Rightful King exclusively published for the Kindle on Amazon.
About Michael Rudin: Michael Rudin is the recipient of a Hopwood Award for the Novel from the University of Michigan. He is the author of RIGHTFUL KING, a Kindle exclusive rooted in the universe of Call of Duty: Black Ops II. His fiction has appeared in The Collagist and Nanoism, and has been published in five languages. As the founder of Armed Mind, a creative agency specializing in product narratives, his writing won gold in the 2012 Game Marketing Awards. His essays have appeared or are forthcoming in the textbook Creative Composition, The Journal of Electronic Publishing, and Fiction Writers Review, where he lends a hand directing marketing and development. What time he has left, he invests in training the 13 lb. pup he found trolling the streets of Los Angeles.