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Friday, February 18, 2011

The Adversary by James R. Bowman (Reviewed by Mihir)

Order "The Adversary" HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: James R. Bowman was born and brought up in Ipswich, Suffolk. He currently resides there with his family. He’s been fascinated by Native American culture and has relished his inquisitive nature by making a trip over to the American Southwest. He’s also been shortlisted for the Brit Writer's Published Writer of the Year 2010 award. This is his debut novel.

PLOT SUMMARY: Death, War, Famine and Pestilence; known to the sentient races of the Multiverse as the Absolutes, face their greatest threat since the first race made its mark on the cosmos. The Adversary, Lucifer s right hand and enforcer has decided the time has come for him to take charge instead of orders; freeing Fenris the Dread Wolf to aid him and systematically wiping out the Earth s guardians those individuals whose destiny it was to protect the world from extinction and slavery he gathers his forces, poised to strike and annihilate humanity. The world as mortal kind knows it stands to fall and the age of humans is about to end. Extinction is only moments away.

Two heroes rise to challenge the Adversary, drawn into the conflict by an Arch-Angel, two ancient Dragons and the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse themselves. Tomas a former government operative winds up trapped in Hell and becomes allied with a group of exiled Valkyrie; while Gwen is forced from her home in Santa Fe and is sent on a quest for the First Tree, the tree that seeded all others including the legendary tree of knowledge, and whose whereabouts has been forever lost in the mists of time and memory.

Success depends on their survival and their survival is threatened on an almost perpetual basis by the demonic minions of the Adversary, werewolf like Hounds of Fenris and swarms of possessed, to name but a few. For the sake of the Multiverse, humanity, every other living creature and for the pure life essence of the Earth herself, let battle be joined.

CLASSIFICATION: The Adversary is a mixture of Epic Quest fantasy and Urban fantasy, with an apocalypse impending!

FORMAT/INFO: The Adversary is 1028 pages long divided over twenty numbered and titled chapters with a prologue. Narration is in the third person via many different characters such as Tomas Walker, Gwen, The Adversary, Azaroth, Daniel and a few others. The Adversary is the first volume in a series. There's also an "Acknowledgments" section and an introduction written by the author. Cover art is by Peter Pracownik.

ANALYSIS: The Adversary was a book which got queried at our blog and the premise seemed very exciting for me. After I read the first 25 pages I decided to give it a try. The book blurb reveals it to be quite a mish-mash of genres and the book doesn’t disappoint in the size and scope of the tale imagined by the author.

The tale begins by introducing us to Tomas Walker, an ex-British agent who’s become disgruntled with his life and now has become a wanderer of sorts. He travels around and is soon beset with an otherworldly encounter which convinces him to focus on his self preservation and beguiles him as to the nature of his opponent. He soon meets up with an archangel who convinces him that he’s not losing his mind however events are being precipitated which require his urgent attention and if left unchecked could mean the death of all living things. Tomas being himself is quite skeptical however soon loses all his reservations when he is joined by the four horsemen of the apocalypse. They proceed to lay out his role and why he’s crucial to their battle.

Another thread opens up on the other side of the Atlantic by introducing us to Gwen, who has been living a life of her own but suddenly gets introduced to a paroxysmal shift in the nature of things and soon finds out that two of her best friends are more than what they appear to be. Gwen is also tasked with another responsibility as she finds out that she is akin to a repository and she has been entrusted with new powers. In the third and significantly stronger thread we get a view point in to the Titular character and the antagonist of this tale, the Adversary who has upended hell and its denizens and also whose plans include coercing the power of Fenris and many others who have similar ambitions. There are also a few more players to this mix and it will be best if I don't allude to any more of the plot.

The book is a rather large one at slightly more than 1000 pages encompasses a lengthy tale which is only the opening salvo of the entire saga which the author has planned. The plus points to this book are the author has amalgamated many mythologies and has constructed a vast global mythology to this world which might appeal to jaded Urban fantasy readers. There are also not too many characters and the tale is tightly focused on the POV characters as they travel to new places and continue their quest to save their universe. The writing for a debutant author is good however has some faults which I’ll be discussing next.

The pacing deserves a lot to be said as of there are quite some info-dumps in between as the author tries to explain the world which though required; does detract a bit from the reading experience. Another point was that the main characters of Gwen and Tomas were not fleshed out beyond their roles as chosen ones in the books and this perhaps can lead to a slight disconnect as majority of the plot unfolds around both of them (then again since this is a first book, there might be more to come in the remaining three titles.)

Lastly not all of this gargantuan effort is all that vexing, there are quite a few positives namely the imagination of the debutant author which has to be lauded for coming up with such a mythological background to this tale and his rather exuberant attempt to connect the dots amongst the various myths mentioned in the book. The characters are decently drawn out however with the drawbacks mentioned above, if the author can remedy these in the remaining part of the sage, this series can indeed become special. This book I would rate as a good debut effort with a lot of heart in it however it could very well do with a trimming of its content page wise and a rather coalescing of the plot so as to remove the tepid flow to the pace of this tale. Most readers should very well try this hefty debut from across the pond as it offers something new in terms of effort and plot while retaining some favored clich├ęs.


Geoff J said...

Just to let you know, Ipswich is in Suffolk, not Norfolk.

The Reader said...

Thanks for pointing that out Geoff :) It has been corrected.


Anonymous said...

There's evidence here that the author possesses the talent of a natural story-teller.
Sadly this un-edited manuscript shows no evidence that they can write.
At least half of the 1000 plus pages should have been trimmed to remove the endless redundancies and poor grammar that cause it to stall at almost every paragraph.
The dialogue is forced and unnatural, often bordering, unintentionally, on the comedic and the prose too bloated for this reader's taste.
Ruthless editing is needed here as is often the case with self-published texts, and if this tale is to flourish the author's vision (and undeniable work ethic) needs to be matched by a higher standard of technical ability.

Anonymous said...

Seconding the above anonymous reviewer completely - the author apparently has no idea of 'show, don't tell', and a decent copy-editor would improve the text entirely.
Paragraphs repeatedly take up entire pages, characters fail to show much emotion, bracketed explanations are contained within speech (why?) and the author seems to be somewhat more over-confident of his writing abilities than he should be.
That said, there are a few good points, but I won't be picking up the second in the series without a thorough rewrite of this one.

Anonymous said...

The Story, detail, und sub-plots are incredible.....the entire premise.....awesome....if you don't get it in the first 1000 it again....then again...

Anonymous said...

One incredible book....cannot wait for the next.....James is SO onto something.....

Anonymous said...

Methinks.....the last two comments.....may have been the author.....


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