Monday, September 7, 2009

Prayers for the Assassin

So yes, after putting down "Assassin" by Ted Bell last year, I've attempted another chisel-faced espionage novel. People in the literary world are always coining their own phrases. "Steampunk", "Cyberspace", "Postmodernism" (well, not that one)..........I would like to coin "Chisel-faced Espionage". This phrase is to define the sub-genre of espionage concerning characters who are exceptionally good at, like, 10 billion things (the main character in this novel is a god* when armed with a knife, can endure all kinds of pain and psychological tests, and is handsome and untouchable to boot), and also are in the top infrastructural brass: heads of National Security and Presidents, top computer hacks, the nieces and nephews of said figures who are also super-intelligent and powerful in their own way......such a conservative view of life. Only the ones with money and man-made authority are the ones who matter. But I digress.......I've completed Robert Ferrigno's chisel-faced espionage narrative "Prayers For The Assassin".

"SEATTLE, 2040. The Space Needle lies crumpled. Veiled women hurry through the streets. Alcohol is outlawed, replaced by Jihad Cola, and mosques dot the skyline. New York and Washington, D.C., are nuclear wastelands. At the edges of the empire, Islamic and Christian forces fight for control, and rebels plot to regain free will."
Rakkim Epps, a talented ex-member of the elite military group The Fedayeen, is hired by Redbeard, head of National Security, to find Redbeard's niece Sarah Doogan, a historian who ran off out of feared of being killed by the Black Robes for her discovery of a dangerous secret about the current state of the U.S., which is divided in almost the same exact geographical fashion as the American Civil War, except instead of by North and South, this is by Muslim and Christian. Add in things like the romantic relationship between Rakkim and Sarah, the partial scorn of this by Redbeard, Redbeard being blamed for his brother's murder by his brother's wife Katherine, small discussions on the conflicts and similarities between Muslims and Christians, and a murderous, anarchic and intelligent ex-Fedayeen member named Darwin (which I'm sure is purposefully named to reference the naturalist) also after Sarah under the employ of the powerful and rich Muslim The Old One, and you have this sprawling story.

I remember, a long time ago, I went to Borders with a friend, and as I was leaving, my eyes spotted this book. Rather, I spotted a book with the word "Assassin" in the title, and I was immediately drawn. I read about the future world split by religion after a nuclear bombing, and I vowed to pick this up at some point in life. That was in 2006. A couple of years later I did, and was satisfied and disappointed at the same time.

This is really a novel in the literary style of "God's Spy" (written about below), "Assassin", or James Patterson, in that it has that a seeping flatness and cliche in its writing, as well as a cast of self-righteous characters I have no real reason to keep reading about in any sequels. It is indeed informing in a lot of aspects concerning Muslim culture, structure, although nothing completely new. Robert Ferrigno also manages to paint a vivid future world, with tangible tension between the Southern Bible Belt and the newly instated Muslim world stretching from Las Vegas to New York, although there is hardly a voice for the Christians (I'm willing to bet Ferrigno was told to do this or did it himself to keep inline with the constant mentioning of Iraqis and Muslim in national media, to give people the impression they are reading something important). I also will not say the characters were completely 2-Dimensional...........

But ultimately, the only vested interest, just like "The Da Vinci Code", is to see what will happen next. To answer the questions posed at the beginning of the book, regardless of who answers them. Rakkim is slightly mysterious and headstrong (which is stretched thin in the story when it really could've just been said), but ultimately his fighting skills and ability to see the advantages and disadvantages in any given environment before a fight is what kept me interested in him, since he and a few other wholesale good guys were the only ones capable of answering said narrative questions. Those two traits were possessed in addition to a fun personality (for the most part) in Darwin. But of course, him being the only person with an actual dynamic world within his character (which is said but not shown), basically just appeared as some skilled, maniacal jester.

So, pick it up if you're still interested. As for myself, I really have to make a list of which authors are aiming for which crowds.

*God - lowercase. I believe the author is a strict atheist, so that is said in application to the world of this novel.

1 comment:

  1. [...] to the writing. Far more realist than the other novels I’ve come across, such as the dreadful “Prayers For The Assassin”. Horace expresses small emotional connections to Ibn Awad in some places of the story (even if [...]

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Bollocks, what's your bloody take on things then?