Colin Templeman profile
Place of birth: London
Now living: Southend, Essex
3 favourite authors
- Frank Herbert
- Arthur C Clarke
3 favourite books
- Lord of the Rings
- The Way of Wyrd
3 favourite films
- Dark Star
- Pulp Fiction
This is the third of Toby Frosts Chronicles of Isambard Smith and I have to say upfront that its really one for the fans. By this I mean that firstly its pretty much a requirement to have read the previous two books in this series in order to be familiar with the characters, their relationships and previous plot elements upon which this tale draws. Secondly, and rather more poignantly, I got the impression that perhaps Frost is beginning to tire of having to continuously innovate humorous situations for his creations since I found this book to be the least funny of the three. Whilst it certainly has its moments of hilarity (the names of the Yullian Gods for example), they were noticeably fewer than in previous Smith adventures and the net had been cast further afield in order to find them.
The bottom line is this is still an enjoyable light read for a sci-fi comedy geek. Toby Frost writes books that seem to fill a specific niche: that is books for the commuter or the frequently interrupted (system administrators I'm looking at you). You can pick up his books, read a few pages and put them down again without losing the thread of the story and still enjoy an amusing diversion. As I said previously, whilst the comedy elements are less frequent than in "Space Captain Smith", the story is stronger overall and I felt it was a slightly more positive experience for that.
Space Captain Smith captures the ethos of the British Empire at the height of the Raj and transposes it into Space in the 25th Century. The British Space Empire vies for control of the galaxy with several other power bases the mightiest of which is the evil Ghast Empire - a race of humanoid insects that slavishly obey the wishes of their revered leader: to eliminate all humans!
Because the reader is dropped straight into the thick of it, I believe Pandemonium is really fodder for existing fans of Hellblazer rather than casual readers. That isn't to say it wouldn't prove to be an entertaining read for the uninitiated, but at £14.99 retail for the hardback, most casual readers I think would baulk. But those fans previously acquainted with Constantine's complex character will doubtless derive the most from this particular novel. For them it pays in spades. Get it.
Whilst this review may come across as negative, overall I genuinely liked Sherlock Holmes vs Zombies, even if I didn’t love it. The story was good and the Steampunk elements made it a pleasantly diverting way to spend a couple of hours indulging in pure escapism. For the reasons above and at the somewhat daunting full retail price of £14.99 I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it as a must-read. But if you see a copy for under a tenner, you could definitely do a lot worse … especially if you’re a fan of Zombies!
To be fair to the author, it's a tough undertaking to successfully work within the strictures of a framework defined by a third party. When one considers the number of other derivative works such as books based upon films, films based on video games etc. only those people with a proven track record establishing their own work tend to successfully interpret the work of others - leaving the rest of the offerings to languish in a sea of mediocrity. Whether T.S. Church was engaged to expand the Runescape franchise or was self-motivated to contribute to it (I suspect the latter), he evidently threw himself into the undertaking with commendable enthusiasm. It's unfortunate that his inexperience coupled with the inherent constraints of working within the well-established Runescape format combine to hobble his inaugural novel. Certainly his battle writing prowess augurs well for future tales though if based within the Runescape world I doubt I would bother to read them myself.