"Got super fast broadband right into Godís throne now then, have you?" Ė Isiah
Isiah, an agent of the Balance, is hunting down the leader of a cult group due to events in the preceding novel Realmshift. As an immortal Isiah brings almost superhero powers to the table, which might not be enough as he faces one of his greatest challenges, a group of black magicians able to shield their goals from the Gods themselves. There is no help coming from the Balance, a sort of Supreme Being, so Isiah is left to his own devices, calling on friends from other realms, and forming an alliance with the mysterious Magi who have a prophecy of their own which may or may not involve Isiah as an agent of good.
All roads lead to outback Australia as the black Magicians seek to raise their blood god Yath-vados, and Isiah with help from a number of allies seek to thwart that eventuality. Can Isiah save innocents caught up in the melee, can he stop a god from being incarnated, and will his actions be allowed in the never ending cycle of balance. From beyond death to a place more evil than the bowels of hell Isiah and cohorts battle the forces of ultimate evil as the world drips in blood!A whole bunch of people reminded me during the year that I hadnít gotten around to reviewing Alan Baxterís follow up to the critically acclaimed Realmshift. My apologises on the lack of review, it slipped under the radar, the dog ate the first copy, it dropped behind the couch, take your pick friends and neighbours. Anyway I thought I should remedy the situation, considering Baxter is quite likely to pop up on the news any day now due to a possible drinking binge with Mel Gibson leading to the terrorisation of Malibu. In case you are wondering, the books have been picked up for publication in the States, actually should be on shelves already, which of course means Baxter can charge on over to frighten the North American natives as sales skyrocket and appearances on talk shows beckon. So just remember you first heard about the books here, course weíre cool and can spot future literary superstars. Itís our mutant power, just remember that.
Like most sequels Magesign follows on from events in the first book. Okay I think you can probably get away without reading Realmshift, but you might just take a while to get the picture of what is going down without involvement in the first book. To clarify the setting, we are back in a universe where the Gods only exist via the thoughts and beliefs of the human population. If enough people believe in a deity then that heavenly being will come into existence complete with all the accessories his or her believers bestow on their Godhead. Hence Satan is hanging in hell torturing souls, Jesus is going hippy, Buddha is pounding down KFC, and the Prophet Mohamed is doing whatever Islamic prophets do in their spare time. You get the idea? Stopping things descending into utter chaos is the ďBalanceĒ, a supernatural entity that is beyond good and evil, which exists to ensure all things in the universe remain on a level playing field. The Balanceís human agent is Isiah, who gets things sorted in the human realm as required. Like his Master, Isiah is neither a force for good nor evil, he does both as required whether he agrees with the action he is taking or not.
Okay got all that, grooving to Alan Baxterís beat, getting jiggy with it? In Magesign Isiah is forced to go against the Balanceís wishes as he perceives a danger from a well hidden sect of nutters called the Ordo Novus Cruor who have some sort of fiendish plan about ready to hatch that involve the birth of a blood God. Clearly Blade wasnít available for the weekend so Isiah and a group of Warrior Magicians called the Magi join forces to battle the Ordo Novus Cruor as the cult gathers its strength in the Aussie outback. Baxter nails the build up to the final battle, happens in the last few pages yo, and I was certainly humming along with the novel as all roads lead to a certain valley of doom. I was going to drop in my usual "that dripped blood", but since it actually does I'm going to give it a miss for once.
While I canít fault Baxterís writing from a technical viewpoint, the dude can certain string words together, I think itís the pacing that will turn people into firm fans of the Writer. Baxter doesnít waste any unnecessary time getting his action happening, and constantly winds up the tension as things start to look very tricky for Isiah and his allies. Magesign gathers momentum from page to page and hits break neck speed as the final confrontation rockets over the horizon. You better hang on there kids, inexperience readers are going to crash and burn on this one. Donít worry weíre professionals here at ScaryMinds, we managed to keep upright as the twist and turns increasingly thunder our way.
Did I mention thereís a love interest thrown into the mixture? Dudes donít despair, we ainít talking no paranormal romance here!
For horror fans thereís plenty of meat on the bone, and that would be blood dripping meat if you wanted to take a close peak. Damn couldn't get away from the blood thing! While Baxter doesnít head into gorenography he certainly doesnít go prim and proper on the blade either. Thereís some unsettling concepts going down that may prey on the faint of heart but that should equally satisfy those craving a slight bit of the darker edge of the genre.
Sorry canít talk much about the delivery mechanism for this above average novel. I got myself an e-publication so if after a printed copy then youíre on your own. I would however expect a standard size paperback that can take some rough handling, say being in the same car with Mel Gibson after a heavy night of beer and bourbon shooters.
Naturally Iím out of room with about a gazillion things to add to this review. For example, this novel sees Baxter expanding his horizons to included well developed secondary characters indicating the Author is becoming very comfortable with the longer version of prose. In closing I would simply point out that if you are after a well written, enthralling read, that doesnít let up with the surprises and impact, then look no further. Alan Baxter once again delivers an excellent novel, full recommendation on this one.