DW Smith, $1.99, ISBN 978-0463954171
Well, DW Smith’s Wrath: Rise of the Fallen is certainly a nice change from some of the things I picked up from my unread book pile recently, as it offers something unabashedly old school—no-nonsense action adventure fantasy that may feel unsophisticated in the landscape of angst-filled posturing fantasy genre today—and executes it pretty well too.
This one is about Zeus and his fellow Olympian gods that discover that a great ancient evil is rising. Wait, things are not as simple as they going out to zap this fiend to dust; they also learn that they are not gods like they believe they are. What exactly they are, well, maybe I shouldn’t spoil it, but needless to say, by the end of this story, we are only seeing the beginning of the bigger picture here.
Now, this story is lacking on polish. Much of the story reads like a first draft of someone more interested in making his characters kick ass and break things than on silly things like characterization and what not, so this is more of an action-driven romp than anything. I don’t mind this, because the events unfurling on the pages are interesting enough to keep my attention. It’s like playing a fun video game, in a way, one in which I have such a good time blowing things up and slaying monsters by the dozens that I barely notice the plot, much less care about it.
For folks that are more discerning than me, I should point out that the author relies heavily on the reader’s familiarity with Greek gods of mythology to keep up with the cast of characters here. There are people that are not familiar with these gods, I’m sure, so for these readers, they may end up scratching their head when folks like Hera show up without much introduction. The later parts of this story have a pretty big cast, so things can get annoying for folks that have no or only surface familiarity with these mythological figures. To them, Ares and Hera and Demeter will just end up being names cluttering the pages, and my goodness, there are so many names…
For me, the one thing that really breaks my immersion is the author having these mythological gods, powerful figures that can snap their fingers to evaporate huge swathes of the neighborhood, speak like modern day sitcom characters. Zeus will say things like “Seriously?” and Poseidon will quip, “We’re gods… or something.” This story is set in a full-flown fantastical setting, it’s about a brewing epic battle between powerful factions. So, to have these people speak like modern day sitcom talking heads is a big yikes from me. It’s like Maximus yelling at the crowd, “Are you not entertained?” only to follow up with “Yeah, whatever, butt cheeks.” Total mood-killer, that.
Anyway, Wrath: Rise of the Fallen is entertaining enough that I actually look to see whether I can purchase the next title in what is clearly meant to be a series. I can’t find any sign that there is any follow-up to this, or whether DW Smith is still writing. I do find that this entire story is available to be read for free at Inkitt, though. Still, I’ve no regrets giving the author $1.99, though. Hopefully this small amount can still help contribute to the galvanization of the creation of a sequel, because I am actually at the edge of my seat by the last page, and the thing just… ends like that, leaving me high and dry and waiting for a sequel that doesn’t seem to exist. Oh well.