Posted on July 25, 2008 by GRIM
Simon R Green is the author of the Deathstalker books, a rollicking romp of space opera insanity that makes a good pulpy read and keeps you enjoyably engaged all the way through. This book, the first in a Shaman Bond series is set in the present day, sort of, amongst a madness of the occult and conspiracy theories and within the greatest conspiracy theory of all. This book was the launch of the new series which continues in the obvious vein with Deamons are Forever. I wonder if we’ll also see Doctor Om, Chandraball and On Her Majesty’s Occult Service before the series is out…
This book is fun, completely over the top, but fun. It traces the fortunes of Shaman Bond, an outcast and rebel from the powerful Drood family, a generational watch-guard over humanity, protecting it from all sorts of nasty, supernatural evils. Shaman Bond, Eddie Drood, it one of the very few who have fallen out of favour with the family and he continues to work, semi-freelance, in the occult underground. As the book gets going Eddie gets dragged back into the machinations of the family, whether he wants to or not and ends up causing wholesale destruction of many cults and occult forces, as well as his own family and the conspiracy within the conspiracy.
As I said, the book is fun, but it does get over the top, completely over the top. The book seems to run away with itself, there’s no sense of control or direction to the writing and it just keeps scaling up and up and up until it’s so ridiculously overblown you cannot really follow the plot any longer, such as it is. There’s one sequence on a long stretch of road where Eddie is trying to escape the various forces arrayed against him and this is the whole book in microcosm, the power level and silliness of the enemies getting stronger and stronger and stronger until you can no longer stomach it. Each enemy dispatched almost as swiftly as they appear. That theme also reoccurs through the book with enemies and allies introduced and swept out of the way one by one almost as swiftly as they turn up.
The book concludes on a down note (frankly there was no other way to end it) and may have ‘reset’ the power levels for the future books, which means they might be more sane, but that acts to the detriment of this book which, as an introduction to the series explodes like a technicolour rainbow-bomb leaving little room or scope for a sequel to go anywhere or to top the outlandish events of this book.
It is fun, it is pulpy, but where the Deathstalker books managed to walk the line of being pulpy but not ridiculous Torc jumps over the line with both feet while dressed in a chicken costume. It doesn’t just jump the shark, it jumps sea world, on a flaming motorcycle covered in cheese. It’s ridiculous and leaves little room for the following books to manoeuvre, it’ll be interesting to see how the author copes with creating stories in the aftermath of this one.
Review by James ‘Grim’ Desborough