It seems as though this epic fantasy novel by King James Version has somewhat passed me by. In fact, I had never even heard of the author. From a quick peruse of the internet it appears that King James Version has only written one novel, The Holy Bible.
Now this is a long book, really, really long. This may put off some readers but I urge you to stick it out because there are some great scenes and plots here. Admittedly some of the descriptions and dialogue are not King James Version’s forte, I’d go as far as to say he was in need of a decent editor to slim down his work and tidy up a few grammatical errors.
He does spend a lot of time telling us of various characters’ sons and daughters that we never even hear of again. I spent time while reading attempting to remember all their names so that later on when the plot twists came I’d be able to recognise them. It was like the long lists of Houses and prominent warriors that George RR Martin is so keen on including in his works. I believe that this was written before the Song of Ice and Fire books, though.
The book’s front cover is nothing to write home about, I’d even say it’s a little boring. This is a subject I’ve already blogged about and you can read my thoughts about this ←there.
As for plot twists, well – and this may be a bit spoilerish – there aren’t any. In many of the sub-plots I couldn’t help thinking that I’d heard some of the ideas before. Or maybe they were just so well executed that it just seemed that way, like a catchy song that’s so infectious you seem to remember it instantly.
Most of the novel revolves around this man (I think it’s a he anyway) who makes everything and everyone, and then gets them to sort of worship him and do what he says. If they don’t, well it doesn’t really turn out too well for them is all I’ll say here. I suppose he’s like the typical anti-hero, but an all-powerful and very knowledgeable one.
In the first half, this anti-hero, or God as he’s called, is a bad-ass who takes no shit and is quick to deal out the punishments if stuff doesn’t go his way. Which is cool I suppose, but why not just make stuff happen the way you want it to in the first place? He is omnipotent after all. I’m sure he has his reasons, though.
See, this God character lives in the sky and watches over everything from up there at the same time, which is pretty awesome. I know, quite a strange concept, a bit like a human trying to keep a thousand plates spinning at once, or something. But he’s really good at this, as nothing seems to go unnoticed by him. There’s no chance of anyone being a bit naughty down there without him seeing, and he takes no prisoners when people dis him.
But by the second half he’s become a lot more chilled out and is definitely more involved in the ‘being cool to each other’ way of thinking. He does this by sending down his son to earth, who’s also him, I think. This bit I found confusing, I’m not even sure I’ve got this right, I may need to re-read some parts of the story.
Anyway, him or his son or whoever, is called Jesus. Jesus is pretty cool and he helps people by healing them of their various ailments and telling them how brilliant God is. Although if he is God then this may be considered a bit egotistical, maybe. Again, perhaps I’ve got this bit wrong but if not, Morgan K Tanner is an excellent writer and his blog posts are nothing short of genius!
It doesn’t end well for Jesus, in fact it ends terribly. He gets called all sorts of horrible things by these Roman dudes and is nailed to a cross and left to die. But he doesn’t mind this, in fact he’s quite glad. It turns out that he was right to be not bothered, as a few days later he comes back to life to try and continue his work. Good on you!
The ending of the novel was my favourite part, and I don’t mean because it was finished. This last section was pretty horrific with terrifying beasts, thunder and lightning with smoke from a great abyss, fire and blood, locusts, a dragon with seven heads, water turning to blood, and a prostitute. Pretty brutal stuff.
I think my main problem with this book, though was the absence of a protagonist. You need one of these, especially in a novel of this genre. As a reader you need a character who, like yourself, is unaware of what is actually going on so that their learning of the world around them guides you through the story. It seemed here that all the characters introduced were already aware of who God was and what he could do.
And there was little to define the different characters from one another. They all seemed to speak with the same voice, although at times it was hard to follow who was speaking as King James Version neglected to add quotation marks. The use of Old English (I think it was anyway) took a while to get my head around, but after a while it seemed to flow pretty easily, a bit like Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk.
So in summary, I’d recommend this novel for fans of fantasy and adventure who like to be immersed in strange worlds with mythical creatures, but not for those who prefer good, well-rounded characterisation and motivation. The sub-plots did seem to go on a bit longer than they needed to but all in all it was an enjoyable read.
As someone who likes a good villain in a story I’d say that the main baddie, the Devil, was underused here and it left me craving for more of him. Perhaps King James Version is planning a follow-up where the Devil has more of a starring role.
If the author had other works to read, I may be tempted to try them but after the mammoth of this one I’d say I’m ready for something a little lighter.
Categories: book review