Tuesday, 17 April 2007
‘The Man With The Golden Torc (Secret Histories)’ – Simon R. Green.
I’m a big fan of Simon R. Green’s ‘Deathstalker’ series, it’s space opera that takes no prisoners but doesn’t take itself too seriously (George Lucas should have read these and learnt a thing or two!) Because all of the covers in this series are being redesigned I came to a full stop when I realised that ‘Deathstalker Honour’ cannot be found anywhere (unless you want to pay twenty-five pounds for an ex-library copy from America!). I emailed Jo Fletcher (editor at Gollancz Books) who suggested that while I waited for it to hit the shelves again I check out his latest book ‘The Man with the Golden Torc’. Not only did she direct my attention to a brand new series from a favourite author of mine, a few weeks later I found a review copy waiting for me when I got home. Thanks Jo!
‘The Man with the Golden Torc’ is another example of Green’s action packed yet irreverent approach to story-telling. The reader is introduced to a world that exists just at the corner of your eye, always disappearing when you turn around. All the conspiracy theories are real; so are demons, ghouls and the strange things that used to live underneath your bed when you were little. The only thing that stands between them and an unsuspecting humanity is the Drood (get it?) family, a family who will stop at nothing to protect the world. One of their top agents is Eddie Drood, fieldname: Shaman Bond (because you have to have a sense of humour in this line of work!). Eddie is the only member of the Drood family who is allowed a life outside the strict confines of the family manor but this means he becomes the most expendable asset when a routine mission becomes a set-up. Hounded by every single dark force that you can think of (and a few that you will have never even thought of), Eddie must figure out why he has been betrayed and face up to what he must do to ultimately gain revenge…
I’ll happily admit to being biased where Simon R. Green is concerned. In a world where the simple fun of Space Opera runs the risk of being stifled by Hard SF, the ‘Deathstalker’ series has been a breath of fresh air. The first book in the ‘Secret Histories’ series looks set to do the same thing for urban fantasy. All the staples are there for a cracking read; a fast paced plot (complete with car chases and big explosions) coupled with a main character that the reader really wants to succeed. Green’s sense of humour runs rampant throughout the book (as seen in the attack of the ‘CAR-nivores’ and an encounter with a President who really isn’t the one you’re thinking of!) and this onslaught does mean that some of the jokes and asides can be hit and miss. I found this easy to forgive as I really enjoyed the bits that made me chuckle.
The ‘blurred line between good and evil’ theme is in danger of being done far too much but it hasn’t yet been done quite like this. An adrenaline fuelled descent into the world of fairies and little green men that bodes well for the rest of the series. The blurb on the back says this is scheduled for release on 17th May 2007, if you’re lucky you’ll see it on the bookshelves a week earlier.
Eight and a half out of ten.