Lex Trent Versus the Gods by Alex Bell (Lex Trent series: Book 1)

Cheats never prosper. At least that's what everyone else would have you believe. But Lex Trent knows better. Lex knows that, with a bit of luck, the quickest route to success is to lie, swindle and cheat all the way to the top. Unfortunately Lex has taken his scams a step too far… Rather than see his neck in a noose, he's forced to go on the run in a world of irritable Gods, fearsome magicians and strange beasts. But luck is still on his side, just.

The Gods' favourite pastime is The Games… and Lex has just become one of the human playing pieces. With fame, glory and untold wealth at stake, Lex isn't going to lose (especially as that so often involves dying) – in fact, he fully intends to beat the Gods at their own game.

Stories that involve mortals and their Gods have long been loved by fantasy fans and the imminent release of the films Clash of the Titans and Percy Jackson and the Olympians shows that this is still very much the case. In Lex Trent versus the Gods Alex Bell gives us the traditional elements that make these stories so appealing but comes at it from a fresh new direction with the help of a couple of neat twists.

In the traditional corner we have the orphaned farm-boy; in the “Wait a moment, that's not right” corner we have the aforementioned orphan boy as a selfish, deceitful and deceptive (prerequisites some may unkindly say) lawyer-in-training who goes by the name of Lex Trent. Lex is also, unbeknown to all, the notorious thief The Shadowman.

Authors are always encouraged to write about what they know, and with six years training as a lawyer under her belt Bell is on solid ground. Her life experience helps lend a feel of authenticity to proceedings and this, coupled with an impressive imagination, has resulted in the creation of a very believable fantasy world that bears comparison with Stewart & Riddell's Edge Chronicles.

It is also pleasing to note that the Gods mentioned in the book's title are not the Greek or Roman deities that are the norm but an omnipotent collection of meddlesome higher beings of the author's own devising.

So we follow Lex as he makes his way dishonestly around the world showing that you can take whatever it is you want (if you have Lady Luck on your side that is). The nature of Lex Trent's character poses an intriguing question; will Bell keep Lex sneaky and double-crossing until the end or - as most parents and do-gooders would hope – make him see the light and find redemption?

Lex Trent versus the Gods is, above all else, great fun. Griffins, fairy godmothers, witches, wizards and enchanted ships populate its pages and the fast-paced plot and humorous narrative will appeal to both book-lovers and computer-gamers. It's not all light-hearted though, as there is also a far more serious-minded theme running throughout the book, and that is the fear of getting old; the loss of dignity and a deteriorating mind. This is shown in the form of the soulless wake (that afflicts two characters), an illness akin to Alzheimer's and an interesting inclusion within a fantasy book. It is to be wondered just how large a part Sir Terry Pratchett's diagnosis with the illness played in this.

Lex Trent versus the Gods is a wonderfully enjoyable book with a refreshing take on a winning formula. Strongly recommended for fans of Terry Pratchett's Discworld and Riddell & Stewart's Edge Chronicles.

About the author
Alex Bell was born in 1986 in Hampshire. She studied Law on and off for six long years before the boredom became so overwhelming that she had to throw down the textbooks and run madly from the building. Since then she has never looked back. She has travelled widely, is a ferociously strict vegetarian and generally prefers cats to people.

9/10 A refreshing take on a winning formula.

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