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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"The Myth Hunters" by Christopher Golden


As a Christopher Golden virgin, the first thing that jumped out at me about his book “The Myth Hunters” was the writing. Eloquent, visual and commanding, “The Myth Hunters” showcases an author in his prime, in total control of a story characterized by elegant prose, tight pacing and a wickedly active imagination. In fact, Mr. Golden reminds me somewhat of a cross between Neil Gaiman, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub and Clive Barker…more mainstream fare if I dare say it. And by mainstream, I mean that the book is not only readily accessible to a wide range of readers with its easy-to-read flow and fast-pacing, but that it could easily be adapted into various formats, i.e. major motion picture, comic books, videogames and so forth, something of which Mr. Golden has had experience in with his prolific, medium-spanning background (bestselling novels, popular comic books, videogames, television, etc.).

Regarding the story itself, premise-wise, the plot at first glance seems simple & familiar enough, mayhap even redundant: a regular, everyday guy/gal finds his/her way into a whole new world – call it an alternate universe, parallel dimension or whatnot. – and embarks on an epic quest with a cast of otherworldly companions. In “The Myth Hunters”, that alternate reality is known as the Two Kingdoms, a land populated by the myths, legends & folklore (also known as Borderkind) of our various cultures, which is separated from ‘our world’ by the Veil. To me, this aspect of “The Myth Hunters” is one of the book’s greatest strengths. The world of the Two Kingdoms is beautifully crafted, possessing an almost child-like wonder à la Alice In Wonderland, inhabited by an array of memorable creatures based on real-life mythology both commonly known and obscure, all with Mr. Golden’s own unique touch of course. Alternating between the two realities, “The Myth Hunters” flows along at a great tempo, interjecting elements of suspense, mystery and visceral horror alongside the fantastical in a tale brimming with plenty of action, drama and surprises, all told with a flair that just makes the words come vividly to life. Of course, if you’re seeking something more thought-provoking and profound, then you will have to look elsewhere since “The Myth Hunters” is meant to entertain the imagination, not challenge the mind.

Now, if there is one area that could be said to be weaker than the others, then I would have to point out the characterization. Basically following the narratives of main protagonist Oliver Bascombe – who is whisked away to the world beyond the Veil on the night before his wedding – and detective Ted Halliwell (who is called upon to investigate Oliver’s disappearance), along with additional point-of-views provided by Oliver’s sister Collette and fiancé Julianna Whitney; the portrayal of our cast of players is admittedly a bit shallow and predictable. For instance, lawyer Oliver – who feels like he is living someone else’s life and is always seeking something more meaningful, perhaps finds it in the Two Kingdoms only to be torn between two worlds – and Detective Halliwell (the experienced, beaten-down veteran who has lost his family to duty and has his perception of reality tested) are both a bit stereotypical and underdeveloped, while Collette, Julianna, etc. are merely touched upon. And then there’s the slew of Borderkind, Myth Hunters, Lost Ones and various other heroes & villains, who by far are the most interesting of all the characters in the book, but are merely given superficial personalities. With a less accomplished author, this might be more of a problem, but Mr. Golden handles everything so well throughout “The Myth Hunters” that this was never really an issue for me.

One last observation…the ending. As you may or may not already know, “The Myth Hunters” is merely the first part of “The Veil” trilogy, with book number two, “The Borderkind” due out soon (March 27, 2007). With that said, let me warn you that “The Myth Hunters” basically ends in the middle of the story with many unresolved issues, so if you’re not a fan of that, you may want to wait until the trilogy is completed. As for me, this is both a good and bad thing…bad in that I have to wait for the remaining books to be released, and good in that I get to revisit the extraordinary world of the Two Kingdoms at least two more times. Plus, with subsequent volumes I believe that we will get to see further development of characters both major & minor, as well as a much deeper look into the world that Christopher Golden has created, all of which has me highly anticipating the rest of the series…

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