Sunday, May 4, 2008

Asulon 1: Back to the Future

It would be tempting to describe William McGrath's Asulon as a sword-and-sorcery version of Left Behind. It would also give a seriously wrong impression: Asulon is far better than Left Behind. (On the other hand, I did enjoy the numerous silly errors in LB. Asulon lacks them.)

Anyway... Asulon is the first installment of a three-part series ("The Sword of Fire") presenting McGrath's interpretations of End-Times prophecy in the form of a fantasy story with a prince and his friends caught up in events of Apocalyptic dimensions.

Hands up, everyone who thinks that sounds stupid.

To be honest, I thought it sounded stupid too. But somehow it works. In fact, the further you go in the book, the better it works. (This means you should not read the book backwards: you won't like it, and all the subliminal messages about the Beatles are annoying.)

Anyway, Part II: the story is a geopolitical roman à clef, so some of the people and most of the places are thinly veiled versions of their real-world cunterparts. Sometimes the veil is so thin it's practically indecent, but the story remains family friendly for teens and up. (There are lot of action scenes and moderate violence, but I'd give it a PG at most. Star Wars was at least as violent.)

As usual in this type of fantasy, we wind up with a boy, a girl, and a couple of mentor characters beginning a journey that turns out to have an unknown destination. We also have an odd mix of topical references and vaguely Narnian mythological material. Thus "Asulon" itself (presumably from a Greek word meaning "asylum, refuge") is the USA, Logres (from a Celtic root) is England, and so on. (In other cases, if you get stuck on a country name, remove the -ia suffix, if any, and read it backwards. That usually works.) Again, it all sounds odd, but the story really does work. I'll explore some of the reasons for this tomorrow.

Participating Blog links:
The Christian Fiction Review Blog
A Frank Review
Susan Kirkland
Melissa Meeks @ Bibliophile's Retreat
Geralyn Beauchamp @ The Time Mistress
Cathi Hassan @ Cathi's Chatter
Caprice Hokstad @ Queen of Convolution


cathikin said...

So this was a teaser today. Yeah, I went into this novel thinking I wouldn't care for it much, but I was certainly wrong.

Frank Creed said...

Very enjoyable to read . . . your post; I didn't have the pleasure of reading Asulon.

David said...

I felt much as you did. The names, places, basic geographical references, all seem to fit a time period other than the one he's dealing with. And yet, it works. I guess that's a mark of true fantasy...taking something that ordinarily would be out of place, and hence unbelievable, and then making it believable anyway. Bill did a great job with his first effort here.

David Brollier

Laura Davis said...

I have not read this novel but your description of it is certainly intriguing! I look forward to more reports!

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