The Enemyís Son: Erth Chronicles Book 1 by James Johnson
Published by Mam Tor Publishing, May 2008
Review by Mark Yon / Hobbit
The Enemyís Son is a rip-roaring space opera debut novel from new writer and artist James Johnson. It reads pretty much as old-style SF with a modern twist. There are Slan-style mutants, flying cities, old-Venusian-style continental jungles and tales of a lost Erth reminiscent of Jack Vanceís Tales of the Dying Earth.
The lead character is Pirian Horncastle, son of Jeradon Horncastle. The story begins with Pirian and his father being exiled to the planet Erth from the flying city-state of Newton. His father is falsely accused of regicide, Lord Surel of Newton. Cast into the sea below the city (the usual fate for outcasts) Pirian and his father find themselves being accepted by the previously reviled enemies of the Newtonian Empire, the Rojin. Through the novel the plot develops as Jeradon and Pirian are found to be the prophets of the Rojinís future and a conduit between their future survival and the existence of the city of Newton. Meanwhile, on Newton, Piridanís mother Neeve helps fight for the rehabilitation of her husband and son, whilst also fending off the actions of the newly imposed evil Emperor, Rayal Jakahn, who wishes to see them dead.
This book should tick a lot of readerís needs for entertainment. With a utopian city above (albeit with a cost, the population there in the majority are kept docile through compulsory drug usage) and an untamed world below, filled with dangerous oceans, untamed wilderness and unfamiliar cultures, the range of environments is varied enough to be entertaining. The characters themselves are engaging, though the story isnít that original. There is a pleasing sense of greater things afoot which will no doubt be developed in later Chronicles.
However I must admit that I have problems with books that use words such as Erth rather than Earth and protronium rather than plutonium, as this one does; these are all rather old-style pulp clichťs. However if you can get past my hang-up, the book rattles along at a fast pace and the evolution of the characters is pleasing, if a little fast in places.
Nevertheless the action through the book keeps the readerís interest. For a younger undemanding audience it is great fun. The dialogue is not too cringeworthy for a first novel and the bookís traits are admirable.
As a Young Adult book, with little or no sex, some violence and an exciting (if perhaps unoriginal) story, this may be an unexpected surprise for new readers to the genre or those wanting entertainment with few distractions.
Some may be interested with the way that James has developed a community around the books. Artwork, book extracts and a discussion Forum have been created at www.erthchronicles.com for those who wish to be involved. Itís a nice idea and should encourage those who have engaged with the book to take it further.
Mark Yon / Hobbit, June 2008
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