Monday, April 2, 2018

Book Review: Tomb of Aradia (Lost Origins Book 1) by Antony Davies

An Epic Adventure…That Takes Some Epic Reading to Complete

Do you like bigger than life, epic action/adventures?  If yes, then you may have found the right book in the Tomb of Aradia.  It has everything you could ask for.  A young, dashing protagonist, Jules, who’s a world-class, parkour practitioner, even calculating complex maneuvers on the fly (like the length of a bungee cord needed to land softly – imagine what happens if you make a mistake).  He also boasts encyclopedic knowledge over an immense range of topics.  The story boasts buried cities and ancient civilizations with strange, perhaps mystical powers.  You’ll also find globe-trotting action from Old Town Prague to a chateau in France to the far reaches of Mongolia.  It has scenes that will bring to mind movies from Indiana Jones to James Bond.  But even though it has all the elements of a spell-binding, epic adventure, their implementation hurt the pace, making the book somewhat of an epic read.

The story centers around Julian Siebeko (Jules), a young, black freelance treasure hunter.  But if you have a stereotype for that profession, I’d guess he’s nothing like it.  He’s impatient, almost hostile toward the thoughts and plans of others, yet he constantly ends up in trouble himself.  He repetitively changes loyalties among three competing factors – a group of unorthodox archaeologists, a ruthless billionaire, and the head curator of the British royal family.  Then, he’s forced to seek help from one of the others to extricate himself.  He’s also driven by an insatiable urge to retrieve a bangle stolen from his dying mother, but when he secures it, he just finds other troubles. True, the book sees Jules maturing, but the ‘go your own way, then get help’ routine gets repeated too frequently.  Additionally, some things about his character are simply inexplicable.  For such an extremely well-read and intelligent individual, he talks like he never finished 3rd grade (“I ain’t a hacker on the level you people play by, but I do what I gotta.”).  Sure, every character needs their own voice, but this one makes no sense and seems degrading.

The settings, while far-flung and in some cases exotic, are not used well.  In general, the action could have occurred anywhere from rural Montana to the boroughs of New York.  The opening scene, for example, is set in Old Town Prague, but the ‘landmark’ that’s mentioned is a “fried chicken place.”  Sure, there are KFCs in Old Town, but that’s hardly symbolic of a city brimming with incredible architecture.  And later in Rome, they “…whizzed by the fountain of the Piazza Navona,” a place that’s usually so crowded it’s difficult to walk.  The setting descriptions didn’t do anything to create an image.

So, overall, the Tomb of Aradia has all the elements of a pulse-pounding, epic action/adventure.  Unfortunately, I labored a bit watching Jules complete savant-like analyses and perform world-class physical feats, then repeat his mistakes while explaining himself using inexplicably poor language.

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