Fantasy Book Review
Frost continues to deliver in the third installment of the Paladin Prophecy. Frost is the real deal when it comes to writing, having paired up with David Lynch on Twin Peaks and solo writing a bunch of novels along the lines of The Greatest Game Ever Played. It’s hard not be interested in a writer of this caliber’s attempt at some fantasy even if it is set in a young adult world. It’s almost like hearing Dave Chappelle is going to do Shakespeare. Whether or not he pulls off a compelling Othello or Macbeth you sure as hell know it is going to be entertaining.
Frost takes the urban fantasy approach. He doesn’t veer too far from the Harry Potter formula: bunch of young kids enter a school where the outrageous begins to happen. Our main character’s parents are missing/dead and he is ushered to the school by a Hagrid like character. Thankfully, it begins to find it’s own tune shortly thereafter. Our main character, Will, enters school as a late add and is inserted with four other extraordinary roommates in a school so elite that almost no one knows about it. Throughout the first two novels, each of the four roommates begin to develop powers that complement Will’s own. Will has always been fast, but as he exercises his powers they begin to evolve and expand until he could give the Flash a run for his money. The same holds true for the rest of his team, they’re getting significantly stronger as they mature. In the first two novels the team is trying to understand how and why they got into this situation.
In the third, some of these answers are revealed. Frost goes the genetics route to explain what’s behind their amazing powers. Not so surprisingly, we find out that the genetic tampering is an offshoot from the illicit eugenics programs that the Nazis gave us pre World War II. What is surprising and a lot more interesting are the secret societies that back the Paladin program. Behind these secret societies lies yet another level of power, the silent brokers behind the silent societies. Turns out our characters are smack dab in the middle of a secret war between two powerful groups that have been here for millenia.
Frost uses a couple of very cool writing techniques that brings life and relatability to his characters. The first is Will’s rules to live by. In the first two novels, these were written by his father and passed down to Will. In the third novel, Will has evolved to an extent that he has learned these lessons but is mature enough and experienced enough to start writing rules of his own. What I like about the rules is that they are a list of explicit core values that makes up the heart of who our main character is. Core values is a term that is bandied around a lot in business but very few people actually know what it means. Core values means that these are the ingrained values that draw lines that you will not cross. In business, they should be serious enough that you will hire by them and fire by them. This firing also includes customers who push you in a direction that would require you to break your core values. Frost does a wonderful job of turning every situation our characters find themselves in to a test of Will’s core values. While Will doesn’t always succeed in the short term he never gives up his integrity and so his core values remain sacrosanct. In the traditional definition of the word, this is what a paladin is, one who never gives up his own integrity no matter the situation.
Frost also does a good job of managing the interplay and dialog of a lot of different characters at once. This is tricky, with a lot of characters in the same place at the same time it is very easy to lose track of each of those characters’ personal agendas or worse, have one of these characters fade into the background and no longer contribute in a meaningful fashion. Frost does a masterful job of weaving this delicate balance in a way that all the characters evolve around the different situations in a very natural progression.
It’s a good, fast read and well worth your while. My only complaint with these novels is that they are not long enough.