Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lisa’s Take: The Man with the Golden Torc (Simon R. Green)

If you took Harry Dresden and mashed him up with James Bond, you’d get Eddie Drood, the main character in this… er… fun little book. I hesitate because yeah, it was a fairly fun read, but I’m not sure I’m up for giving it a rousing endorsement. Hmm, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up and take it from the top.

Meet Eddie Drood, the black sheep nephew of the Drood Family – enforcers of the supernatural world. With their secret estate filled with agents and laboratories, they’re the biggest force to be reckoned with if you’re a Bad Guy. Take every spy gadget you’ve ever heard of, mix it up with every magical spell or contrivance you’ve ever heard of, and you’ll get a pretty good idea of how the Drood Family operates.

Anywho, some Bad Shit goes down behind the scenes, and Eddie – formerly a (somewhat) respected field agent – gets declared rogue. All the baddies of the supernatural world come after him, along with a healthy dose of his own family and friends. Hijinks ensue, plots are uncovered, days are saved, romance blooms, &c, &c.

Man with the Golden Torc is a hella fast read – it’s unabashed candy, and goes down in a sitting or so with no problem. That said… I really didn’t like it that much. There are a lot of cool things and ideas in the books, but there’s not a shred of eloquence in their presentation. It’s just one long string of “and then this and then this and then this and then….” The plot had no flow at all, it was just like a dam broke and cool ideas came pouring out. There wasn’t really any interesting conflict other than the major plot point, and the story had no ebb and flow – just a constant fire-hydrant-like stream.

I also didn’t give a damn about any of the characters… Eddie Drood was kind of slippery to peg down as far as what kind of person he actually was. I suspect part of the problem is that I kept transposing Harry Dresden on top of him, which gave me a mental conception of a Moral Set that Eddie lacked – he kept trying to come off as bad ass, but then I’d pretend he was actually a good guy at heart. Who knows. The secondary characters will bland and forgettable (I can’t even remember their names now, and it’s only been a week).

So… what’s the bottom line here… other reader reviews on BN & Amazon suggest that maybe I’m being too hard on this one. It’s fully possible that when I read it I just wasn’t in the mood for candy, or maybe my expectation for the genre has been set too high by other similar series. Regardless, it’s fairly likely that I’ll skip the rest of the books in the series – I’m just not getting anything out of them. Of course, I say that now when I still have a few Dreseden File books in reserve… once I’m out of those, all bets may be off.

1 comment:

JD said...

JD's superquick take:

Lisa's right in all cases, except that I enjoyed it a lot more than her, and specifically enjoyed it more than the three or so Harry Dresden books I've read. The characterization isn't nearly as good, but the world is more interesting and it was almost completely free of A) angsty whinging and B) the plot sequence of Main character has the living shit beat of him. Again. Once more. Near death, he finds a Font of Power and Determination and Wins. (which is fun, but gets old)

Basically it was a change from reading about how terribly human and flawed the main character is to reading about how, really, this guy kicks (and gets) some ass. I'm okay with that on occasion. :)