Is this Ragnarok, or just California?

What can I say?

I have always been a sucker for a great tagline.

Or a good premise.

Okay, we are not talking Roger Zelazny or Simon Green's towering talents, here. Not by a long shot. But the authors do deserve a passing grade for their efforts.

To be fair, the comparison with Zelazny or Simon Green might be uncalled for,  Guy Adams and Greg van Eekhout are authors coming into their own, with their own unique styles, who probably ought to be judged on their own merits.

The passing grade has more to do with the author's failure to deliver on the expectations of their subject matter.

Take Guy Adams's Heaven's Gate trilogy, for one.  After delivering what proves to be quite an enticing beginning with the first book in the series, the author begins loosing a bit of steam in the second book, and ultimately loses it, all together, in the last book (despite the alluring cover by Jack Murray), along with, I must add, some of the major promising and intriguing characters he had developed early on in the series, which proves a major let down.

As for Greg van Eekhout's Norse Code, one cannot help but wonder whether it could not have been a much, much better book had the author put more work into it—the novel feels too much like a first draft. Or perhaps, maybe an over-laborious left-brain exercise on the part of the author—I am not sure which. Going back to my earlier comparisons with the masters, the book has none of the epic wind of a Zelazny novel, nor any of the whimsy or the creative invention of a Simon Green, nor the visionary talent of A.A. Attanasio. We are talking a great premise, here, with all the right ingredients, but something is most definitely lacking. But then again, Steven Brust, the author of the Vlad Taltos truly excellent series, liked the book well enough. He said he liked it "a lot." So, what do I know?

Personally, I blame Greg van Eekhout's shortcoming on this book on his dabbling with the writing of Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. Heck, he was even nominated for the 2012 Andre Norton Award for it—The horror, the horror. That stuff will ruin a man, or a woman, as the case may be, considering women outnumbers men by roughly two to one, among submissions of this type of fiction to publishers.  I mean, young adult literature, what's that, anyway? And how more patronizing to young adult can you be?  Damn you, Sarah Trimmer.

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