Relics, by Tim Lebbon

In a world where cyclops, satyrs and nymphs are as real as the dinosaurs of the past, Relics is another creative take on the folklore and myths famous throughout humanity.

The novel follows the story of a young couple, whose comfortable lives are soon thrown ever deeper into an underground world unknown to most, where ‘relics’ remembered only in tale and lore are discovered to be only all too real. Curiosity soon turns into a fight for survival, as Angela and Vince are balanced between a fantastical world and the devastating greed of mankind.

The modern age hosts a plethora of classical mythical beings cast in a variety of ways, and Relics is certainly another example of this. Whilst the premise of the narrative is entertaining enough, the ingenuity and style required to make such a classically-fueled novel truly stand out was however somewhat lacking. With a number of clichés and some slightly forced background additions to the narrative, Relics was unfortunately missing the lustre needed to take it a level above.

Despite this, with plenty of action and a few twists and turns, Relics is still an enjoyable and creative read, told at a pace that will hold your interest from start to finish.

Length: 384 (Titan)

Overall Rating: 2.5 stars

 

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Imperium, by Robert Harris

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Politics, corruption, power – Imperium.

Imperium is told from the perspective of a highly able and literate slave, Tiro, following the story of his master Marcius Tullius Cicero, a great orator, lawyer and above all politician. The pair bear witness to the classic strive to ultimate power within the great Roman Republic, highlighting the dark deals, bribery and sheer ingenuity required to make it to the top. This is certainly in likeness to a Roman ‘House of Cards’, bearing the same dramatic trials and tribulations which make for highly compelling drama.

In the final decades of the Republic, Harris tracks this demise through a detailed narrative of its orcastrators. Legendary historical figures such as Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar are characterised in their glorious nature, but also in what was likely their true selves: ambitious, dangerous and entirely unstoppable.

Harris has an absorbing writing style, placing his reader in the heart of Roman life. Great events remembered throughout history are delved into more deeply, unearthing the corruption and strifes necessary for their accomplishment.

With a wealth of historical knowledge, and the use of Cicero’s own recorded speeches and letters, Harris captures real historical fact within the compelling compound of literature. Imperium is a thrilling narrative, which will have you following the exhilarating political manoeuvres from over two thousand years ago as attentively as if they were occuring today.

Length: 403 (BCA)

Overall Rating: 5 stars

The Incorruptibles, by John Hornor Jacobs 

25246213In a land built on steampunk contraptions and demonic beings, The Incorruptibles mixes the dangerous ingenuity and extravagance of ancient Rome, with the hard corruption of the wild west. Along with a dash of fantasy, this cross-genre novel harbours both ingenuity and intrigue.

‘The Hardscrabble Territories’ are an unforgiving land, filled with all manner of terrors, where roughened men seek solace for their sins in the fiery depths of the bottle. Damnation is not only rife, but physically apparent, as demon spawn and hell fire fuel mankind’s greed. Jacobs’ gritty western dialect and fluid description creates a harsh yet vivid world of ever-present hardship.

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The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden, By Jonas Jonasson

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Exotically imaginative and audaciously funny, The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden is another wonderful example of Jonasson’s witty and entertaining writing style. Following on from the success of his debut novel, once again Jonasson spins an irreverent and impossible narrative, born from small beginnings surging ever on towards the large and the great.

 

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Ordinary Thunderstorms, by William Boyd

9781408802854Ordinary Thunderstorms is a novel which certainly isn’t lacking in momentum, wasting little time in diving into its fast paced narrative. With an assortment of colourful characters, drawn from all parts of London society, this is quite a different read compared to Boyd’s other novels. Though any thriller faces the potential of being labeled as being somewhat commercialised, Ordinary Thunderstorms is still absorbingly fast paced, varied and highly gripping. 

 

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TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann

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Human nature transcends time, ever offering violence upon the innocent, cruelty bred from war. Following a number of timelines and characters, Transatlantic explores the strifes of humanity, which echo on throughout history.

McCann’s subtle links and recurring themes underlying his plot certainly make for an interesting read. As the novel progresses, what at first appear seemingly unrelated stories become delicately intertwined, passing down through generations. TransAtlantic delves through history, shedding light on the unchanging nature of life for all our past ancestors, from violence to love, and hope to woe. Under the backdrop of an ever aggrieved Ireland and the fragile promise of America, McCann skillfully relates the hardships of humanity from a variety of characters, whose lives merge into one another’s in the slightest of ways.  

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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami 

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Recently unemployed, Toru Okada spends his time cooking, ironing shirts and napping. For a protagonist, he is rather quiet. However, when the sudden disappearance of his cat coincides with a plethora of peculiar phone calls, his life takes a serious turn for the strange.

From the ordinary to the fantastical, the known to the unknown, Murakami spins an odd yet compelling tale. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a story laced with thought provoking philosophies and mysterious imaginings. With a cacophony of characters, each bearing their own absorbing tales, some truly violent and unsettling, but all imbued with the strange nature that Murakami is famous for, there is ever a new surprise waiting to be revealed.

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