Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ex Libris: James Lovegrove's The Age of Ra

I've not had prior experience reading James Lovegrove though some of his works had drawn my interest before. Unfortunately, being a UK writer, it was hard to find his books locally.

So it's a good thing that US publisher Solaris had managed to sign him on for a military-SF series that combines high-tech soldiers with different pantheons of gods: The Age of Ra, The Age of Zeus and The Age of Odin.

In The Age of Ra, the Egyptian mythology is all too real and has managed to overpower the other gods in the 19th century. As such, the Earth of the current century is one that's different-- and yet still familiar to us. In this alternate history, the royal family of Egyptian Gods (Ra, Osiris, Anubis, etc.) have divided the world into their territories. Unfortunately, like any family, the Egyptian Gods squabble and fight over the pieces such that there is perennial war among the nations of the world.

The only place where they don't involve themselves is Egypt, the birthplace of their religion. But this doesn't mean that Egypt is a peaceful country, being a hot zone of warlords and a group of "free people" led by the enigmatic Lightbringer.

Protagonist David Westwynter, British special forces soldier of His Pharaonic Majesty's Service, is on a covert mission in the Middle East when everything goes wrong. But this only serves an opportunity for him to meet the said Lightbringer, who has promised to bring the gods down. Before he knows it, he's part of an uprising as a freedom fighter fighting for humanity's sake. Unfortunately, the Egyptian gods are a nasty bunch and they don't fight fair...

With this book, Lovegrove has set the tone and pacing for some action-packed reading material. Moreover, his setting is impeccable with world-building that makes us realize that this is still Earth (Middle Eastern geo-politics) and not our own (Egyptian technology like ba-infused lances that fire lasers). The concept of gods walking the Earth isn't new but I'm intrigued enough by Lovegrove's approach that I'm willing to check out the rest of the series as well.

Don't expect much from this book as characterization is sparse and the drama is light. What you can do expect is to throw away a whole afternoon reading it from cover to cover. (Rating: Two paws out of four.)

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