Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written one ~ and only one. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.
That said, here is my honest opinion of The Bones of Odin, by David Leadbeater, a military action-adventure thriller with a slight occult twist.
Characters: Matt Drake, former British special forces commando, tops a colorful, multi-national cast of good guys and bad guys, friends and enemies, psychos and innocents. The only physical description I could find of Drake has him as “well-built and capable,” but his dialogue and actions show him to be all hero and tough guy.
Drake sidestepped hurriedly, delivered a blow to the kidneys and a stiff dagger-hand to the solar-plexus. The man-beast didn’t even flinch.
An old bar-fighting adage came back to him then- if your opponent takes a hit to the plexus without wincing then you’d better start running dude, cos you’re in deep fucking shit. . .
Drake backed off, warily circling his unmoving enemy. The Serb was huge, lazy fat over solid muscle, with a forehead big enough to break six-inch concrete blocks. The man lumbered forward, arms wide. One slip up and Drake would be crushed to death, squeezed and popped like a grape. He quickstepped away, feinted right, and came forward with three instant jabs.
Eye. Ear. Throat.
All three connected. When the Serb squeezed his eyes shut in pain, Drake executed a risky dummy roll into a flying kick that generated enough momentum to knock even this brontosaurus off its wide feet.
David also gifts his protagonist with a bit of angst. As part of his recent backstory, Drake is just coming back from bankruptcy and alcoholism after the untimely death of his beloved wife. The agonizing seems behind him though, as he hurls himself wholeheartedly into the job of saving the world.
Along the way, he meets Kennedy, a New York homicide detective haunted by a devastating development in her own career. He also comes face-to-face with Alicia Myles, a former special forces teammate who has gone over to the dark side, where she can give fuller expression to her longings for carnage.
Plot: Psycho-billionaire Abel Frey is stealing occult artifacts that once assembled, will show him the way to the Tomb of the Gods, where he plans to possess the greatest archeological treasure of all time. Drake, his young computer-nerd friend Ben, Kennedy, and his friends in British and Swedish special forces must stop Frey’s private army, because disturbing the Tomb of the Gods will trigger the end of the world.
Settings: The globe-trotting story takes place in locations from Paris, York, New York, and Vegas; to Sweden, Germany, Hawaii and Iceland. Don’t look for Ian Fleming-style travel descriptions though. These locales are mostly just backdrops for mayhem. Immediate settings get enough description to orient readers in the action, however.
And occasionally there’s a vivid little gem like this description of Icelandic volcanic wasteland:
The skies overhead were laden with snow and drifting ash, enforcing a premature dusk. The sun didn’t shine here, it was as if Hell had gained its first foothold in the Earthly realm and was clinging on tight.
But a travelogue really isn’t the point of this story.
What I thought could be done better: Not much; just my pet peeve of personal description. I’d like to see Drake and Alicia Myles the way the author sees them. Lesser characters get some description. Here’s the sister of Drake’s sidekick, Ben, whom the evil Frey has captured as a hostage:
She was his property now. She sported short-cropped blonde hair, a nice fringe, and a pair of wide eyes- though Frey couldn’t be sure of the colour at this pixel quality. Nice body- not the skinniness of a model, more curvy, which would no doubt appeal to the lower masses.
This obviously says something about Frey, as well as Ben’s sister, Karin, and is nicely done. Why not do the same for the major players?
What I thought was good: I like vivid verbs, metaphor, simile, color and action — David is generous with all of them. Not much in the way of passive voice here.
Masked men descended the swaying lines, disappearing behind the catwalk. Drake noticed guns strapped across their chests as a wary hush began to spread through the crowd. The last voices were those of children asking why, and then even they went quiet.
Then the lead Apache unleashed a Hellfire missile into one of the empty shops. There was a hiss like a million gallons of steam escaping, then a roar like the meeting of two Dinosaurs. Fire and glass and fragmented brick exploded high across the square.
This helicopter raid on a museum in York to steal an archeological treasure starts off our tale, and the sounds and images of gunfire, explosions and hand-to-hand combat are never far away.
Note the nice similes — “…a hiss like a million gallons of steam escaping,” and “…a roar like the meeting of two Dinosaurs.” Though I have to wonder why “Dinosaurs” is capitalized.
David works a bit of humorous perspective in occasionally with this technique. I loved this one:
The wind picked up outside the house, rushing around the eaves and wailing like an investment banker who’d had his bonus capped at four mil.
David manages to work in some emotional development as Drake and Kennedy, both damaged individuals, begin to fall for one another. Like the settings, however, relationships aren’t the point of this action-opus.
Overall: The Bones of Odin is simply a good, old-fashioned, rip-roaring action-adventure yarn. It’s likely as as close as you can get nowadays to the lurid pulp-fiction of the 1930s, full of two-fisted heroes, and slaveringly evil bad guys. One updated difference is that women aren’t relegated to damsel-in-distress, but are just as tough, if not tougher than the boys.
The Bones of Odin is a blast — and I mean that literally.
Good job, David!
Honest Indie Book Reviews will take a brief sabbatical following these reviews, while I focus on completing ROGUE GODDESSES, sequel to AMERICAN GODDESSES. I expect to be back on the indie review trail before the end of the year.