King of Ithaca – Glyn Iliffe

King of Ithaca – how to make one of the greatest Mythological characters look ridiculous

King of Ithaca - IliffeKing of Ithaca promises to be another action-filled take on the Homerian Epic. There has been a share of adaptations to the story of the Trojan war, most focussing on the Iliad rather than the Odyssey. That was why I was so happy to see there was finally a series of books that focusses on our beloved Odysseus. It looked promising: historical fiction, lots of action, and most important: Odysseus! It’s a miracle not more fiction is written about Odysseus and his adventures, so I had my hope on this series. …But how was I wrong and disappointed.
The comments were positive in general, some even stating “If you loved David Gemmell’s Troy series, you’ll love this book”. – I loved the Troy series, but comparing this to it, that’s a huuuuge insult. Doesn’t even come close. Lesson learned; don’t trust user reviews.

The book started OK-ish, but it just didn’t get me. In stead of Ody being the main protagonist, there was also another -not really grown-up- guy in search of glory etc. etc. Can’t even remember his name. That’s how much it got me. A better developped character of Odysseus (and the others) would’ve been nice, to add some more depth to theire personae.
And what’s with all the ‘handsome’ guys?!? More or less everybody but Ody and Little Ajax was described as such. That’s getting really annoying…
The characters were changed from Homer’s descriptions. Once again, nothing wrong with that, but you just have to be able to do it. All of the characters were annoying in his/her own way. That makes it hard to sympathize.
To me the writing style feels like it’s been written by a 16 y/o. If that would’ve been the case: good book! But no…. Too much focus on the battles and gore. Some people can, but Iliffe can’t, at least not in this installment.
Obviously, this book/series is not for me going to be the new epic about the Trojan war. It appears that o one can beat Gemmell. Still it’s a pity that this book just didn’t have the right feeling to become a new epic/cool book. Guess I’m a little bit biased by having read David Gemmell’s epic Troy series.
So, if you’re new to the genre/mythology in general, and/or between 16-20 y/o, you might have a chance to like this book.

One last more positive comment; the book had its moments and the author definitely knows his classics. Throughout the book you can learn some details about ancient Greece, which is sometimes carried out nicely. But unfortunately, that doesn’t make up for the poor emotional standards of the characters or the not so intruiging storyline.
Unfortunately a missed opportunity!

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Excavation – James Rollins

Excavation, or: A bad attempt in writing an Indiana Jones action story.

Exotic Location: Check
Incan tomb: Check
Boobytraps: check
Huge treasure + golden idol: check
Creepy crawlers: check
Hat always on main character’s head: check
workers turning against archaeologists: check
evil organisation: check
Short Round (cleverly disguised as Denal): check
Mystical powers: check
Objects get destroyed/lost: check
Indiana Jones: chec… …wait… Indiana isn’t involved?!?

This book obviously shares *some* similarities with the Indiana Jones stories. Not necessarily a bad thing, because Indy totally rocks, but it just didn’t work for me in this one.
So, we have our excavation in the Andes, looking for a huge Temple with a mysterious treasury. This of course doesn’t come without any deadly boobytraps… Thus far: ok, some similarities with Indy, but ok. Then it goes from bad to worse… dialogues don’t work, characters are a bit too one-dimensional, cliché building on cliché, and don’t forget to mention the sudden appearance of zombie-like humanoid things, dwelling in subterranean locations.
The story unfolds in a series of storylines; The students that are trapped in the pyramid and bash their way through noxious bat caves (dude, since when do bats release noxious fumes? And do you really have to overreact to it? – the bats of course are also evil and attack our main characters), filled with albino actacking spiders… and the zombie-filled subterranean city to the Incan world, Philip the student left at the camp (keeps being self-centered), The evil Spanish Inquisition monks, and Henry, Sam’s uncle, and H’s love interest Joan.
What’s more in this story? The presence of a mysterious gold-like subsistence, influenced by the human mind… Centuries old Incas with a horrifying truth lying hidden and more little bit over the top actions.

What got me most, apart from the zombie-like creatures (that just kept ‘drooling foam from their mouths’), were the ‘love stories’. Too obvious, and sooo bad, especially the dialogues between the characters in question, that just missed the point of witty comments. Just doesn’t work… Further more, don’t get me started on the ending.. both of the story, and the epilogue.
This was not a good start with James Rollins. I’ll try some other novels, but this one definitely didn’t make it for me.

So, should you be reading this? If you don’t read that much it might be a good book to read, but if you have seen several Indiana Jones movies, read your share of thrillers, or simply don’t like ‘mystic’, predictable ‘Deus Ex Machinas’, don’t waste your time on this one.

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