Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Grendel's Shadow

The Grendel's Shadow
by Andrew Mayne

When an unknown animal starts killing off settlers on a backwater planet run on coal and steam power, there's only person who can help stop the slaughter; T.R. Westwood. A distinguished professor of biology and the galaxy's greatest hunter, he's the man to go to when the local wildlife needs to be reminded who is the galaxy's top predator.

In a galaxy filled with millions of worlds, his specialty is evening the odds for the ones with technological restrictions. Rocks and spears or shotguns and canons, he'll use whatever is allowed to get the job done.

Another book review for a digital book by a podcaster! You may remember Andrew Mayne (co-host of the Weird Things podcast) from my review of Public Enemy Zero. The Grendel's Shadow is actually the first book I was introduced to by him. He and Justin Robert Young (another podcaster – also of the Weird Things podcast) produced a free podcast audiobook version of this story during the promotion of the publication of it. Being the podcast junkie that I am, I had to download that and plug it into my ears immediately.

The story was interesting in an audio medium and Justin Robert Young is a good narrator, but it didn't hold my attention as well as I thought it would. I relistened to parts of it while I drove around for errands on the weekend, but I just wasted compelled to sit down and read the actual published book until I had chewed my way through Public Enemy Zero.

The Grendel's Shadow is a good book. It's an adventure story in an alien frontier as one man tries to save the human settlers from a monster that has been picking them off. It mirrors Beowulf in its plot and its straightforward-ness. I know that sounds crazy after plowing through a few paragraphs of “sons of this guy and married to the daughter of that other guy” when Beowulf sets up who is doing what, but the two stories basically boil down to Dude Fights Monster That Is Crazy Monstrous And Saves The Day. And I do enjoy Dude Fighting Monster stories. It didn't “wow” me, but I had a good time with it.

The only criticism I might make would be related to focal character voice. There were times when the focus would shift from Allan, the reporter following Westwood who was completely inexperienced in the whole frontier survival thing, to Westwood, an experienced hunter and biologist burying personal tragedy in dangerous work, and I wasn't sure who was supposed to be the focus. While it did keep me on my toes, it was a little confusing when I was trying to figure out whose perspective I should be seeing the events through.

But I wouldn't consider this some huge glaring flaw. It's a fun book for an afternoon of adventure and I'd definitely recommend it if that is what you are looking for.

You can find more about this book over at andrewmaynebooks.com

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