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Submitted by Dennis Miller
(Apr 15, 2002)
Book 1: Reflections
Book 2: The Anvil Amulet
Book 3: Wraith Tide
I have to say this series made a refreshing change from the usual run of the mill fantasy books I usually read. The pace was in all the books, very fast, and the story moved well, with very little meandering by the author. This is out and out story telling, and the pages just kept turning until I reached the conclusion.
The main protagonist, Jonathan Malone, a lawyer, discovers seemingly by accident, that mirrors can be used as portals to the land of Erebus. This is a kind of marshalling yard for the souls of the dead, and it is from here they are either sent to heaven, confined to hell, or maybe sent to make atonement.
Malone becomes the 'henchman' for God; when the great Being has a particularly dirty job he wants done, it is Malone he calls for - a pretty thankless task at times. As Malone comes to terms with this, he is also beset by the memory of a personal tragedy when he was a youngster, and he soon finds that his present task and his past are inter-linked. There is a strong cast of supporting characters, in particular an old boyhood enemy Billy, who has a hunger for power, at any price.
There is also a good sense of irony in the books, together with a fair dollop of humour. Having said that, the books are not intended as a comedy, it is just that certain sections show a wicked sense of fun in the author.
Neil Cladingboel is fast gaining an audience by way of the Internet, he has worked hard to promote himself, and he deserves the recognition in my opinion. I think it is just a matter of time until some of the bigger publishing houses get to hear his name, and I think he will be a rising star in the SF/Fantasy genre.
If I had to level any criticism, it would be the size of the books, especially that they are only readily available from Amazon.com, and the shipping for all three books can be hefty for those outside of the US. However, I do believe an omnibus edition is planned, and this would be more cost effective. But, this is a minor point, and not really down to the author.
A must read in my opinion!