(2014) Mario Routi, Oak Tree Press, £7.99, pbk, 371pp, ISBN 978-1-783-33441-4
I honestly do not know what to make or say about this book. It is a YA (Young Adult or juvenile fiction) title, so perhaps I am the wrong market. On the other hand, I started reading fantasy and science fiction at the age I think this is aimed at, and I do not think I would have been impressed then.
The background premise is that a Creator (the prologue is entitled Genesis) has created a number of realms, and a number of different orders of beings. These beings (Gods, Titans, mythical creatures … and humans) end up in opposing camps and the whole caboodle is kept in equilibrium by the Sacred Flame, which another set of beings, the Orizons are to protect. Orizons are able to choose at an early age whether to be humans, and so lose any hidden powers, or become full-blown Orizons, with the ability to fly and have superior fighting skills.
At the beginning of the book proper, Rebecca Newton is on the cusp of making that choice. Through a whole series of confusing flash-backs we discover why she has now been kidnapped and by whom. The whole of the future of the human race, the Sacred Flame, and who knows what else, rests on her being prevented from becoming an Orizon.
Beyond that, everything is at full tilt – there are a number of battles (including a very sub-Tolkien siege), plots and dastardly betrayals, former enemies uniting to fight a common cause, and characters who die in one realm, only to reappear in another one thanks to the gift of the Gods. And in the midst is a love story.
I guess that this book (and the ones that follow, according to the author's note) is aimed at a young teenage, probably female, market, who have enjoyed the Hunger Games series and want more, just as Twilight has brought us a whole lot more … (you can add your own comment). Good, if it encourages more reading, but I would want them to move on to something which, I do not know, had a bit more depth. One 10-page chapter is a long, rambling love letter so gushy that I know Mills and Boon would have rejected it.
And then there is the back story. This is the bringing together of Greek, Roman and Norse mythology. Personally, I find it interesting that the author has chosen not to include any living faiths (Islam, Christianity, etc.) into his story – although there is reincarnation. Perhaps this is from fear of offense, but that has not prevented him from including sexual elements; but in a storyline which includes modern day items (space rockets, and a character is reading Lord of the Rings at one point), lack of engagement with certain issues was a surprise, especially when some of the principle characters are Gods.
Lastly, I do not believe in any of the characters. For a book to be one I might think about going back to, there needs to be touch points, places where I think, 'yes, I can buy into that', but there were none.
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