The next book I’m reviewing is Obsidian Son, the first book of the ‘Nate Temple’ series by Shayne Silvers. The books is billed as a supernatural thriller, but it was more of a modern/urban fantasy thriller with some overtones of detective drama and comedy. There were aspects of the book that I really loved, and some other aspects that I really hated.
But first, the premise. The protagonist, Nate Temple, is a tough, wisecracking, handsome bookstore owner whose parents owned a multi-billion-dollar tech company. He also happens to be a wizard. In this world there are wizards, werewolves, living gargoyles, the monsters and gods of Greek mythology (albeit quite a ways past their prime), and all kinds of magical shtuff. The story takes off shortly after Nate’s parents die under mysterious circumstances. Soon Nate’s bookstore is being attacked by strange incendiary women, Nate’s magical powers start going haywire, and everybody in town is in search of an ancient book about dragons. Nate’s investigations lead him into the thick of a plot by scheming, shape-shifting dragons to establish the Obsidian Son, a kind of dragon übermensch who will usher in an age of dragon world domination.
It’s a fun concept, made even more fun by the comedy delivered by the book. There’s great banter among characters and great wisecracks from our hero, but even apart from that the situations and scenarios in many cases are genuinely hilarious. Saying too much about them now would spoil the jokes for potential readers, but the jokes are definitely a strength. The action is written as it should be in a thriller. It’s fast, it’s vivid, the details are all there, it’s all working great. There’s only one thing about the action that doesn’t work so well: Nate Temple is so powerful that he never seems to be in any real danger. The reader never has to wonder if he’ll survive a fight. With his plot armor securely in place, the fights have a somewhat cartoonish quality to them. His absolute wealth also allows many problems to be resolved simply by throwing money at them. That’s not so bad though. It’s entertaining anyway. It bothered me a little that there really wasn’t really any character development in the book, but it’s a thriller. It’s entertainment. I can accept that.
There’s one big thing that did bother me about the book: the majority of female characters in the book served the primary purpose of being (to use Nate Temple’s term) “eye candy”. Every single female character has supermodel looks wear skintight clothing, when they wear clothes at all. The dragons vying for domination consist of a kingpin-like figure and his “harem” of females, all of whom appear as usually-naked supermodels when they are in human form. Nate Temple’s love interest (whom he doesn’t mind forgetting about when he’s ogling the other female characters) does literally nothing in the entire book except be sexy and serve as the love interest. The story could follow its exact same plot without her ever appearing. As far as I remember, the only exception to the every-woman-is-a-sex-deity rule was one elderly Christian secretary who was just in the story for one comedic scene in which she reprimands Nate for being too sinful. Now, I’m not about to try and be the moral arbiter of the genre. And, there’s nothing wrong with a character being attractive. But with the exception of the elderly Bible-thumper, every woman in the story has sexiness as their first and most defining characteristic. Their value to Nate starts with their sex appeal. It bothers me. As I said, the book is just entertainment. It’s not going for anything profound. Still, it bothers me, and I can certainly see it bothering other readers.
So, I can recommend this for fans of action and thriller novels, and for fans of modern fantasy, and for readers who live in the common ground between the two. The writing is not at all bad and I had a lot of fun reading it. I’d like to hope that if I read any of the author’s other books, I won’t find in them the same issues that I found in this one.
And now, the plug. If you liked this book review, you can see my others here: