02 February 2012

Review - Gods of Manhattan

I'm already slipping behind in my reading challenges. While I know I'm not going to reach the 150+ goal I hope to make a much better showing than the 60 I read last year.

After doing some heavier reading I decided to read some fiction. Back during a Borders clearance sale a book caught my eye. It had a really cool cover and I figured, "what the heck, 80% off is worth it for the cover." So I picked it up. It was Al Ewing's Gods of Manhattan, part of the Pax Britannia series.

(image from Amazon.com)

The book is set in an alternate universe where it appears technology is more based of steam-tech than regular science. There were going to be potentially cool characters like Doc Thunder, the Blood Spider, and El Sombra. Pulp adventures in a world that won't limit it to our history. Lots of potential.

Overall the book is well written and does have some interesting characters. The story had many references to events that the characters were involved in years earlier and all the back story felt real in that 'comic booky' sort of way. It feels like a 'lived-in' world which helps enhance the realism of the setting.

Basically a man is murdered, a man who was long thought to be dead and who wasn't a very nice person to begin with. That death leads to a chain of events that will grow to threaten all of Manhattan, the United Socialist States of America, and possibly the entire world! Nice flow of action as the events progress and escalate.

While there are multiple main characters Doc Thunder got the most 'screen time.' Despite that I got the feeling that El Sombra was THE main character of the story. There was a rather interesting supporting character who is Doc Thunder's chef; a man who made a very interesting deal with the Devil. Too bad that wasn't developed a bit more... but then again that would have distracted form the main storyline.

There was a hints of modern day politics being thrown in. There were a couple times I got pulled out of the story because I felt like I read something from the comments section of a news article. None of it ruined the story, it was just a little distracting.

Some of the main characters are in desperate need of development. For the Blood Spider there is no development, he is a one-dimensional character whose only motive seems to be murdering minorities. The Batman/Shadow-type character is actually a fascist? I've seen that on numerous occasions; nothing new there. In fact it was done much better in From the Notebooks of Doctor Brain by Minster Faust.

That being said there is one highly used character that will never get old. Although he did not make an appearance he was mentioned.... Hitler's brain in a jar! Well something like that was mentioned anyway.

Overall the story is interesting. Not too many surprises, but there are plenty of nice pulp & comic book schticks to be entertaining. There was a bit of a mystery, some good action, and plenty of great concepts. The writing was well done for the most part.

Nice looking cover too....

Some of the main characters are weak. Blood-Spider is very one-dimensional, Doc Thunder is a bit better but I would have preferred if he was a bit more on the level of Doc Savage instead of an early Golden Age Superman. El Sombra was almost as fanatical as Blood-Spider but had a little more to him. I'm sure he got great development and back story in his own book, El Sombra, which predated this one.

Overall I would recommend this book to any one who likes pulpy action or who wants to explore a world that is filled with great potential. I'll be returning to Pax Britannia at some point. The cover of Dark Side of the Moon looks cool.... of course you can't always judge a book by its cover.

PUBLISHER: copyright 2010 by Rebellion.
AUTHOR: Al Ewing
GENRE: Science Fiction, pulp adventure, some steampunk elements
ISBN: 978-1-906735-86-9
2012 CHALLENGES: 150+ Reading Challenge 2012, 2012 Read 52 Books in 52 weeks, 2012 A-Z Book Challenge, 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge, Steampunked reading challenge

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