448 pages, Tor Books, ISBN-13: 978-0765369475
Okay, I’ll elaborate. The Blood of Alexander, the first novel by writer Tom Wilde (and it shows) should have been right up my alley. Think Indiana Jones-meets-James-Bond as our hero, Jonathan Blake, Argo Foundation explorer, thief, superhero, etc., goes toe-to-toe with the evil and megalomaniacal Vanya and his doomsday cult in a winner-take-all race to locate the lost tomb of Alexander the Great and, using the mummified corpse of the same, conquer the world. It has it all: history and the well-told tale of past conquerors and their present-day wannabes; an over-the-top adventure, admittedly, that owes more to the Dan Brown sub-genre than the pulp serials that inspired Lucas and Spielberg; historical giants such as Alexander, Napoleon Bonaparte, and even Percy Bysshe Shelley; action, high-tech, romance…it’s all here, baby.
And yet…reading this book was like drinking flat champagne: sure, it went down easily enough, and may even quench your thirst, but there was no pizazz, no oomph, no true thrills, as you just knew that the heroic Mr. Blake was going to survive in the end and save the world and, yes, rescue his lady love, to boot. There is action aplenty, but none of it had any blood – what I mean is that I never once felt the electric thrill one gets when reading a proper action sequence; I knew, even without flipping to the back of the chapter, that all would be well and our hero would overcome [insert action trope here]. It takes real talent, I suppose, to write a boring adventure-historic-romantic-pot boiler, but Wild has pulled it off. Congratulations…I suppose.
All-in-all, The Blood of Alexander reads more like the final product of a creative writing class than it does the well-crafted tale of action and suspense it purports to be.