Released: April 2014
Reviewed by: Benedict Roff-Marsh
This book is a wee bit older than we’d normally handle but I wanted to cut my teeth as a book reviewer as the last time I remember doing this was in Year 11 English (1985) where I had to read and write up John Steinbeck’s “My Little Pony”. Oh, sorry “The Red Pony”.
The other reason is that Didi tells me that Part II is on the way soonish.
Now I went into this book pretty blind because I didn’t read the back cover or any sort of blurb, so I assumed it was to be a tongue-in-cheek poke at New Agers and a Lama type person.
Not so much.
This is a post-apocalyptic novel that starts with a teenage Jackson living in a tiny village in Medieval conditions because the world we have has been destroyed by a somewhat unknown cataclysm that seems to center around lightning that happens every night and strikes almost everywhere, killing people. There is one bastion of technology and civilization, “The Company”, that regularly drops supplies to the villages.
Jackson ends up being taken by The Company and turned into a sort of super soldier destined to fight a new enemy that has arisen since the apocalypse. Lamians are a mysterious sort of snake-women that are less than kind to people*.
The book rolls along pretty quickly most of the time but at other times seems to bog down just a bit. I wouldn’t mind at all if those instances were for world building but they seem to be just odd occasions when things get explained more than they need to be. Normally those bits only last a few sentences so not really a biggie but I noticed them.
I would have really liked for there to be more world building. Why did the world go pfft? What is the lightning and why every night? Why exactly is The Company immune and able to grow inside its walled city? Some of these things are sort-of covered but it is all a bit vague.
I didn’t realize this was a trilogy so maybe these answers will arrive later as Jackson travels around and finds stuff out in his enhanced role.
I will say that I find the rise of the multi-book thing annoying more often than not. At the lieberry I find a book that looks interesting and it is Book #14 of 375 and Book #1 is always out. Grrr. More annoyingly, the multi-book thing seems to be a strategy to make four sales when in reality there should be one. I read a book, the story starts to get interesting and…
Tolkien’s “Lord Of The Rings” and Julian May’s “The Saga of Pliocene Exile” were multi-book but each book finished with a natural conclusion of the main issues in that book. It wasn’t like Frodo got to the Plasticine Era, met Gollum, got a Torc and then I needed book 2 to get the next few chapters. If that were the case it would have been about 78 books before Frodo got to nuke the Tanu back to Mt Doom.
Anyway, multi-book is a modern thing but I’d rather see it done away with, esp for self-publishing authors as just as things get going the book finishes and I feel done-out of the ending I expect from entertainment.
I understand “New Age Lamians” is aimed at young adults so there is probably a desire to make it seem simple but the lack of texture in the world did leave me frustrated overall. I have read many a post-apoplectic novel from “The Postman” to Something-I-Never-Remember-The-Name-Of where demons rose from the ground every night and the boy goes off on his own and gets lots of wards tattooed all over himself. See I may not remember the title, but I will never forget the texture of that world. This is a key to SF & Fantasy.
That said, there was something enjoyable about “New Age Lamians” and the way it rolled along. I really think that if there were more texture and explanation to the world and a whole story was told within a single book (perhaps a better title too, so I wasn’t thinking about New Agers following a Lama), then I’d have been interested in embarking on a new stage of the story which is a positive reason to want Book #2.
* Lamia is a character from Greek Mythology who is cursed by Hera to hate & devour children after her dalliances with Zeus. There are several similar legends in which similar figures develop snake qualities.