Paternus by Dyrk Ashton #SPFBO
Paternus is the second book I picked (at random) to read from the nine books that I will be reading for the final stage of the SPFBO. Details of the competition and the other finalists can be found here. Here are my reviews for Outpost and the Shadow Soul.
So, the short and pithy version of this review probably goes something along the lines of ‘what the fuck?’ Put bluntly, this is a read of epic proportions. It’s like a fantasy library exploded and somebody gathered up all the scattered pages and wove them into a story. Literally there is something of everything in here, I kid you not.
I’m not going to try to explain everything contained here, it’s not like I want to write a dissertation and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to read one. So, this is a story of Gods, myths, demons, angels – call them what you will. A story that encompasses billions of years and brings together multiple myths in a compelling and fascinating way, a story of good and evil. This is also a story of war. In a world of Gods and firstborn a thousand years is a mere bagatelle and here we have the story of a continuation of war that has spanned thousands of years but, worry not, this particular story takes place over the period of one day – all that came before will eventually be revealed but for you, the reader, just sit down and enjoy the unbridled chaos that is Paternus.
The story is told in alternating chapters that take us between the different groups of protagonists, the main ones being Flowers and Figs, Order of the Bull and Mendip Hills. There are others but those are the predominantly recurring headers. Flowers and Figs brings to us the main characters that we follow, Fi, Zeke, her uncle and his dog, and Peter. The other chapters I will leave you to discover.
Basically, as the story starts we are introduced to Fi. Fi lives with her uncle. She works at a local hospital for old folk and she has a crush on Zeke who also works/volunteers at the hospital. Fi and Zeke actually go out on a date and to cut a long story short it doesn’t go terribly well. The next day at the hospital, as the two of them prepare for a day of tippy toeing around each other in embarrassment things get a whole lot worse when a strange bunch of visitors come to visit Peter, the patient that Fi usually looks after. From here on in, the phrase ‘having a bad hair day’ becomes something of an understatement. War is about to break out and the fallout is anything but pretty.
Now, what did I enjoy about this book. It’s an adventure packed riot of action, fast paced and definitely furious. There is so much going on that there is never a dull moment and you find yourself really enjoying all the references to characters and myths that you have already read about or watched in films. In fact I think that aspect of the story is really good – I think readers always find themselves enjoying a story that leads them onto a path of discovery where they can enjoy picking up references to things they already know and can relate to. Yes, you might not know everything here, and I’m pretty certain I didn’t, but even so you can’t help but enjoy the aspects of the story you feel familiar with and also reading the twists that the author brings to those myths. The amount of world building is really quite phenomenal and the characters are actually really likeable, so much so that I felt really concerned for them at certain points of the story (plus I have to give a little shout out to Mol the dog). The amount of research that this must have involved is really impressive and to bring a story together with such a multitude of characters and threads is quite an achievement.
In terms of criticisms. Well, the whole, ‘lots going on’, is something of a double edged sword – it’s really great, but, it takes a little time to get into. I felt like I needed a good hundred pages before I really felt like I had a handle on all the characters. Now maybe I’m just not as sharp as all the other knives in the box but with all the unusual names, strange descriptions and different places there is a lot to take on board and I was almost concerned about if I was really taking it all in and, more to the point, wondering how it all played into the story. I think I would have preferred for the main storyline to be a bit more established first before the other chapters came on board. To be fair though it is all relevant and surprisingly as each of the revelations occurred I had no difficulty at all remembering who, why, what, when and where everything fit. Like I say, for a while there I wondered if I was going to really grasp the central thread but the author does manage to pull it all together. If you take my advice, the Figs and Flowers is the main storyline, the others are chapters that will play a part but don’t let them hamper your enjoyment, their purposes will all be revealed as the story progresses. My other criticism is just a small niggle concerning one particular fight sequence – and again this feeds into the whole action packed theme that’s going on here – this fight scene was so long that I felt like I needed a time out. It just felt a bit much and became a little repetitive.
On the whole though, a very enjoyable, (certainly) fast paced and action packed read. Never a dull moment with plenty of revelations that, whilst some of them you might have guessed along the way, I still think there are a few surprises tucked away here for everyone.