Tuesday, July 12, 2011
As before this review is of a series of books. Because of this there will be spoilers.
There’s something to be said about the type of writer like Andy McDermott. He easily reminds me of writers like Matthew Reilly (author of the Shane Schofield series) and Eric Van Lustbader (who took over for Robert Ludlum in the Jason Bourne series). Their plots are kind of redundant and repetitive, their dialogue is pretty elementary, and their action is entirely over the top. They do have one thing going for them though. Pacing. Their books are blisteringly fast. With tight, intense, fight scenes. For this reason I literally breezed through all six of McDermott’s books in about a week and a half. At one point I read two of them in one day. Those books being: The Hunt For Atlantis, The Tomb of Hercules, The Secret of Excalibur, The Covenant of Genesis, The Pyramid of Doom, and The Sacred Vault.
The books follow two main protagonists; Dr. Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase.
Dr. Nina Wilde is an archaeologist, however, she’s as much of one as Indiana Jones is. Like Indy she takes a few clues and manages to make astonishing breakthroughs that no one else was able to make in relatively short time. Like Indy, while declaring a need for archaeological integrity and professionalism they both don’t mind busting into an ancient tomb, getting what they came for, and getting the fuck out. Also like Indy government agencies come out of the woodwork for her help. She also has a mixture of Lara Croft in her as well…and is referred to as being a living Croft several times in the series. This comes from her nature of things being blown up, people getting shot, and her, literally, globe trotting while raiding tombs. The series starts out in her mid to late 20’s.
Eddie Chase is the epitome of masculinity. Shorter than many of his opponents, hairy, angry, and quick to respond with sarcasm and brutality. He leaves behind a beautiful woman in seemingly every country. He enjoys action movies and intelligence isn’t really valued very highly in his list of important things. A former SAS (the British Special Air Service or their version of special forces) soldier, he now works as a mercenary; primarily as a bodyguard…often with the aid of his Wildey gun. He appears to be trained in almost every weapon known, and is an expert in hand to hand combat. His reoccurring mentor, Mac, shows up frequently in the series to help. Eddie starts out in his mid 30’s.
Through the course of the series Nina and Eddie’s relationship progresses as such. Bodyguard-Boyfriend-Fiancée-Husband. This is key in their interactions and banter. While Nina prefers to remain serious, Eddie likes bouncing out witty one liners and an overwhelming desire to have sex…no matter what the occasion. Some of these one liners are bad, like, Arnold bad.
The plots are always the same.
Some billionaire maniac wants to recreate the world in his own image (usually through an act of almost global annihilation). To do so they must recover some ancient artifact that will help them obtain this. In order to stop them two civilians run around the globe trying to beat them to the artifact first. A whole bunch of people will die, priceless artifacts and historical sites will almost be destroyed (or totally destroyed), and several laws and international laws will be broken. Yet, because they saved the world…again…all of that will be forgotten. Usually along the way someone they trusted will actually be working against them, and some sort of jealousy will erupt between Nina and Eddie.
In The Hunt for Atlantis it’s a billionaire descendant of Atlantis that, using Atlantean DNA, wants to create a virus that will wipe out everyone who is not a descendant.
In The Tomb of Hercules it’s a billionaire who wants to create a new Atlantis of the richest men in the world. Of course, there’s Eddie’s ex-wife who wants a totally different outcome.
In The Secret of Excalibur it’s a billionaire who wants to use the sword to create some weird, mumbo jumbo, energy source. Then again there’s someone else who has an ulterior motive.
In The Covenant of Genesis it’s a billionaire…errrr…organization that wants to use the knowledge that we humans evolved after another race of humanoids to…uhhhh…create global religious chaos. Or something.
In The Pyramid of Doom it’s a billionaire who has created his own Scientology like religion. Using the remains from the undiscovered tomb of Osiris he will make it to where the only people on the world who will live will be those that worship him.
In The Sacred Vault it’s another billionaire religious zealot who wants to, in essence, create chaos and then rule the world.
Got it? Good.
The books are, like I said, fast reads. If you feel like turning your brain off and getting in on some good old ass kicking fun…it’s a good series. I would like to say that you grow attached to the characters…but I never really did. In fact, after reading six books in a row, I actually grew tired of them. There is only so much bickering between the two protagonists that you can take. Likewise the contradictory attitudes between them makes you feel less sympathetic to either of them. The only one of the two that actually seems to have any true emotional problems is Eddie, and the stories are slowly trying to pull some of those out. Nina just seems like a whiny bitch half the time. Well…a whiny bitch who won’t listen…thus causing some seriously dangerous outcomes. Remember how I said she’s more like Indy and Lara then a true archaeologist. The majority of the trouble they get into is from Eddie telling her to wait for a sec, and her bulldozing ahead. I do like how he continues to reuse bit characters. Many of them are actually more interesting than the leads.
P.S. I seriously doubt hundred thousand year old (you read that right) booby traps would still work. Just saying.
P.S.S. As a general rule of thumb...don't talk to your enemy...just go ahead and shoot them in the head. The James Bond theory of tell them your entire plot and give them the opportunity to escape is HEAVY in this series.