Monday, October 05, 2009

JD's Take: Daemons Are Forever (Simon R. Green)

Guilty Pleasure. Those are the words that I find myself hiding behind as I try to summarize the world of Daemons (and the first book in the series: The Man With The Golden Torc). Starring Eddie Drood (AKA Shaman Bond) who is a rebellious member of the Drood family, the all-powerful family that has been secretly protecting humanity from all things supernatural, extraterrestrial, magical, super-scientific, and generally weird since time immemorial. They fight secret battles clad in invincible golden armor and they control the governments of the world, all without rumour of their existence ever reaching the mundane humans they protect. Oh, and obviously there are some James Bond overtones.

Sure, it's a ridiculous world, and the events of the books don't do a terribly good job of making it seem convincing. That's the second biggest flaw with this series so far: you suspend a truly epic amount of belief to swallow the story. The biggest problem with the writing is that Green has a really bad habit of using the same phrase more than once within a couple pages. It's jarring as hell to hear a distinctive phrase like "wind of fury"[0] twice on the same page, and it happens over and over throughout the book. I think it annoyed me in the first book too. Basically: it needs a crueler editor. There are other problems as well: the characters sometimes act out of character and the much-vaunted invincible armor is pretty casually penetrated by any and all foes of the Drood family up to and including a guy in a bar.

That said, the writing is fun, the plots are fast moving and engaging, and I find the books to be highly enjoyable fluff. I like that, unlike Bond movies, the world changes and the actions of the characters have lasting and meaningful impact. The first book shifted rather dramatically the world in the second book, and that's a nice thing to see and rare in modern-fantasy-serials. There's a lot of very fun side-characters and world-building weirdness to enjoy, and the supporting cast is definitely one of the strengths of the series. I mean come on! Jack the Ripper is a recurring character and they've dubbed him "Mr. Stab". Just like the first one, I found myself flying through the book in obsessive-mode and thoroughly enjoying it... I just felt a little guilty when anyone asked what I was reading.

The short answer: these are books that are best described as "fun", and left at that. I'll certainly keep picking them up... in paperback.

[0] Not an actual example

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