4.75 stars truly
"Nature is, after all, a series of cycles: seasons without end, life and death and life again"- location 55
A primary example of the beautifully written prose you will find within the pages constructed throughout this engaging read. AngelKiller` maybe 200 pages long, but this is no Sunday Shorts read. The book is thick, full of a wonderfully wrought world that is feasible to the mind's eye as a definitive reality very near in our future. The reality of the world we live in today, each time the news is turned on or newspaper read, a war being fought in the name of religion. Be it the wars across the oceans that take our soldiers away from us, to the religious and moralistic wars being waged against the LGBT community, we are embroiled in this gigantic cluster F* that has stretched into every orifice of every community since humankind first raised a fist against something that threatened the nature of his existence, not life but beliefs, ideals and darkness.
H. David Blalock presents us with the age-old conflict of Good versus Evil. Though he does not directly name any god, be it Christian or otherwise this is a similar struggle as the one between Satan and God. Yes he does borrow from Christian Mythos for familiarity sake, however any monotheistic subscriber will easily recognize a generalized structure and hierarchy from their own mythos. The names of those involved and their nature including some conventions directly relating to the Christian sect makes it a more comfortable fit for Western Cultural beliefs. However with the inclusion of a sprinkle of epicness I dare add, AngelKiller calls to question, "Is Good really winning?", in its presentation of events within the first of this series. Blalock stacks them in such a manner I was torn from my cradle of warmth and the blinders of my happy life ripped away from my face.
"The question "why do bad things happen to good people?" that plagued philosophers and clerics had a very simple answer. In the Great War between Good and Evil, Evil had come out the victor. The Truth about this was hidden from most of humanity because the victors wrote the history. In the minds of men, evil became the good and vice versa. There were, however, a few who knew the Truth, and that few, calling themselves The Army, waged a continuing war against The Enemy" - (location 327)
We are not winning, he is right. We struggle each day with the expanse of technology, each day riding the wave of temptation and someone else's Machiavellian machinations attempting to construct the outcome through greed, information and exposure. How could a millinial war of Angel and Demons compete?
It has been shown in many different dreamers works the representatives and agents of Evil usually are more with the times and willing to embrace each new temptation within the gluttonous actions and hedonistic-like sensation junky lifestyle humankind live today. or attempt too. I will not to restrict this to Western culture, even in third world countries people strive to own a piece of the future. From childhood we learn it is always a bit easier being bad than being good. Though the end result may not be as fun or rewarding.
Time and time again in all types of consumable media the personification of Good is in the form of a conservative traditionalist therefore needing to force themselves into embracing the emerging technology. Keeping up with the horned and pitchfork wielding Jones' from over on Brimstone Lane if you will. This would obviously be a challenge. The question here is how do you develop and present a believable character that fits this role. One that will still be a traditionalist but yet able to have his actions label him as AngelKiller. I guess you will need to pick the book up and find out , to give you more would spoil the experience. Plus by the end the book it a question still being explored.
"The idea of spiritual warfare had been relegated to the stigma of anti-intellectualism, of the non-scientific. With the rise of the new religion called Science, the supernatural forces that drove the subliminal psyche of humankind paradoxically became even more powerful." - (location 439)
In AngelKiller, The Army's answer to the emerging 'Religion of Science" is recruiting human representatives. Gifting them with longevity, as is the case with Mason. The Enemies hierarchy from the top to the bottom with its egomaniacal and egotistical minions, coerce through promises and trades, as it has always done; "I will give you [insert trade'] though not clear on what the positive aspect of this transaction is, the end result is The Enemy has a skin, a human body to "wear" where the actual essence, or soul of said human is no longer aware until The Enemy moves on or is forced to move on. The war still has two armies but with the complexities of modern society being played by the ancient rules of Good vs. Evil it also adds a different sub-set of rules. Only time and the promise of a series will truly explain just what is going on for these characters, especially our protagonist.
Our main character, Jonah Mason is introduced in the first two chapters with a glimpse at the beginning (or the end of his natural life if you truly want to argue semantics) and a taste of his current life. It opens with him sitting in a glider rocker on a porch, about to face the modern representatives of Evil smoking a Montecristo cigar at the end of a driveway. I can almost feel the chill in the air and the energy as I recall the passage, from both the breeze I can picture coming down the lane and the malevolence that Blalock clearly hints at with the black sedan approaching.
At first the prologue or flashback to a life before he accepted the role as a living Representative of The Master (let's call him who he is, God) turned me off. I have to be of the right frame of mind to read books based in the era of Rome, after all I am a medievalist! I balked at reading anymore. But it was a short read and I was trusting my dear friend when she said I would indeed love it. The next chapter did it! I know that when I am holding my breath or clinching my jaw to the point of needing to shake it off, my soul has been lost to the world within the pages of a book.
"He had seen men perform great feats of courage and cowardice. He had even once seen an authentic Cherub, a sight both inspiring and terrifying. He had never seen a Minion in its true form. Until now." - location 2183
A strong and solid example of this new branding and genre of speculative fiction, AngelKiller also sprinkled with alliteration and depth, driving the story forward rarely seen in today's literature. Giving "what- ifs" without actually asking or answering the question. Set in the near future, Blalock engages the use of technology in such a way we accept it as truth of a possible future. The technology is presented and constructed as such to the logical growth from the virtual world we live in today.
"It was inevitable that the interactive capabilities intrinsic in the internet should generate this kind of substructure."- (location 464) "It was the ultimate sterile, passionless outlet for man's basest instinct: destruction." - (location 491)
Being able to plug into a world as so many of us do now, Blalock has the cell The Army's human representatives able to maintain anonymity to the point the cell structure of Mason's particular group is compromised. Not completly but partially because of this handicap. Most of the cell have never met in person, could tell you where they lived or anything other than was discussed in a virtually constructed cyber-world. This speaks loudly to todays emergence of a new techno-culture that many authors bring up to where humankind is headed. Perhaps a subtle hint that occasionally we need to unplug or some ancient army may just unplug for us.
This is the first installment of what is promising to be more than "just" an engaging read. Perhaps not on the level or same arena of Ishmael (though at least sitting in the lobby of that reading room), it is closer to having nuances of fabulistic lessons and ethical questioning we as society need to have spoon fed to us. All gathered together in a nice consumable one-handed wrap! Do not shove morals and ethics down my throat people, give me something like this to read, ponder and allowing me go "hmmm". Write to me and cause me to gather at coffee shops and book clubs with a tattered paperback clutched in my hand discussing why Mason is called AngelKiller and is he part of the army of Good or does he just think he is?
"I intend to kill him if necessary." Jaelon's expression went grim and the other Knights crossed their arms and scowled. "So, they call you Angelkiller for a reason," Malthusan said - (location 1968)
I know many are perhaps wondering where is the review? I promise it was my intent to do so, and I do plan on giving ga nice two dimensional short and sweet one with a side of Angel food Cake this week, but for now my advice (and if you have gotten this far) go and buy the book, grab a notebook (or your stylus if you have a touch reader), write questions, notate & memorable quotes and moments, then ponder and think. I certainly did. I finished this book over a week ago... for the second time. The complexity of the message embedded in this beautifully wrought literary work and within stroke Mr. Blalock's `voice'. Take a chance to go `hmmm' along with everyone else that has read it. Or, if you like, go get this book, sit down and read it with a good cup of tea or a double shot of whiskey and be prepared to be thrilled and chilled, left wanting for more. By the end you will be cursing with fist in the air because the next one is not due out for three long months!*. Till then enjoy the question, is the Army of Light always good? Does evil have a place? What happens if we keep these rose-colored glasses on...