Thursday, 2 August 2007
‘El Sombra’ – Al Ewing (Abaddon Books)
I’ve had a few books from Abaddon and my favourite so far has to be ‘Unnatural History’, the first in the ‘Pax Brittania’ series. I really enjoyed the darker take on Colonial Britain so was very pleased when ‘El Sombra’ popped through the letterbox (more of the same, hopefully)…
‘Magna Brittania’ is still the ultimate world power but Germany’s ‘Ultimate Reich’ is snapping at it’s heels and has it’s own designs on world domination. Nazi robots are far inferior to the British kind so the sleepy Mexican village of Pasito is overrun, by the steam driven wings of the Luftwaffe, and it’s inhabitants used as test subjects in a vile experiment. Not everyone is captured though… Out of agony and the darkest humiliation is born a hero who will take the fight back to the Nazis with a flashing sword and a laugh in the night, El Sombra!
Did you like the first Zorro film (the one with Antonio Banderas)? I’ll bet you watched the second one and thought, “not as good as the first one…” Read ‘El Sombra’ and have your faith restored in simple tales of swashbuckling heroism. We know how the story’s going to end but that’s not the point, it’s the journey that’s important and it’s a journey filled with brash heroes, evil villains and sultry women. Oh yes, and lots of sword fights! The action doesn’t let up for a minute and you could see this either being made into a movie or (in true ‘pulp’ style) becoming one of those Saturday serials like Flash Gordon or (funnily enough) Zorro. I liked the ‘pop culture’ reference to Marvel comics and the introduction of Hitler himself hints that there will be more ‘El Sombra’ stories to follow. I hope so anyway.
I would have liked to have seen some dates mentioned so I could see how it matched up with the tale of Ulysses Quicksilver. I also found it odd that the supporting cast of Nazi soldiers had more attention paid to their background stories than El Sombra did (how did he spend all that time in the desert?) The ‘enigmatic hero’ thing was handled well but didn’t quite feel right when compared to a detailed biography of every single faceless soldier.
On the whole though, ‘El Sombra’ was an entertaining read that kept my interest the whole time. It’s a definite ‘holiday read’ and while it won’t make you think weighty thoughts it will make you think “he took out six soldiers at once!?!” and “serves you right, you evil Nazi…”
Eight out of Ten