The Enemy's Son by James Johnson (Erth Chronicles: Book 1)

One truth is clear. 'Whatever is, is right.' Alexander Pope

The Enemy's Son is the debut novel of Derby-born author James Johnson and was first published in 2008 by Mam Tor Publishing Ltd.

The Enemy's Son follows the story of Jeradon and Pirian Horncastle, father and son, outcast from the flying city of Newton to fulfil their destinies on Erth. I immediately liked The Enemy's Son, it is pure fantasy and offers wonderful escapism. The story opens and you are thrown straight into the action and there are, thankfully, not dozens of character and place names that sometimes goes to make the beginning of a book confusing. The main characters are Pirian and Jeradon Horncastle, a father and son and both memorable characters. Pirian is slight and sickly while Jeradon is powerful but with a dark past, they contrast each other well. Pirian will resonate strongly with many teenage boys; not physically strong but intelligent and with hidden depths.

Jeradon's stomach lurched as the descent accelerated. The fall seemed to last a lifetime, the noise and chaos unbearable.
Pirian clutched his father, while Jeradon held onto him, protecting him at all costs.
The skiff hit the water with such force that it immediately broke in two. Each half stayed afloat, as the huge waves rolled in front of the night sky. Lightning struck and for a brief second caught the chaos in slow motion, as the sea lit up around them.

From: The Enemy's Son: Chapter Four

The Enemy's Son is written in the third person narrative and this is a non-linear story, told with the aid of flashbacks to Jeradon's violent and bloody past. The setting of the book is described in vivid, almost multi-coloured detail, every setting lifelike and real. James Johnson was able to describe well the feelings and attitudes of the main characters throughout the book and it was a great story, not only a fantastic fantasy adventure but also a thought-provoking insight into today's society.  My favourite moments in the book where when Pirian and Jeradon visit The Father in an ancient city. This chapter was told to perfection, it not only moved the story along but also filled in the missing gaps and answered the questions that had arisen in my mind.

The Enemy's Son is a comment on the world today and paints a nightmare landscape of where it may be headed. I read the book in a flash, the short concise chapters make for a fast-paced and action-packed read. Frank Herbert's Dune and David Gemmell's Jon Shannow novels come to mind when reading The Enemy's Son; these are the books that I would use if I had to compare. The Enemy's Son is not just about the book (which fortunately is very good), but also about the complete experience. I have never before come across a debut novel that also has a dedicated artistic following that brings the pages of the book itself to beautiful and striking life. To enjoy Enemy's Son completely you must submerge yourself in the art as much as the words and if (unlike me) you have artistic talent you can also become part of the experience. I would not hesitate in recommending The Enemy's Son to lovers of the science fantasy genre and look forward greatly to the second book in the series. The Enemy's Son offers a complete fantasy experience.

7/10 The Enemy's Son offers a complete fantasy experience.

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