Monday, December 24, 2007

Just Found This Series!

There must be something about brothers that really interest readers and television fans. Supernatural is big on television, and Rob Thurman’s new series about Caliban and Niko are becoming big hits in the paperback arena. The first two books, Nightlife and Moonshine are out now, and Madhouse is coming out in February of 2008.

On the surface, the series looks like one of the many entries into the urban fantasy arena, but the books come with a twist. Caliban, or Cal, as he prefers to be called, is half-Dark Elf (Auphe) and has some kind of dark destiny that the brothers are only now starting to get a handle on. Cal’s mother had an affair – for money – with his Auphe father and he was born, a hybrid unlike anything that had ever been birthed before. Suffice to say that Cal wasn’t born into a nurturing home.

However, what Cal did have was his older brother, Niko, who is a self-styled samurai warrior and Renaissance man. Since Day One, Niko has been Cal’s protector and mentor, a super-parent that has more or less given up his life in order to make sure Cal grew up. Cal feels tremendous amounts of guilt over this, but there’s nothing he can do about it. His life has been entirely too strange – and that’s before you take into account the two years the Grendels (Dark Elves) kidnapped him to their world and did unspeakable things to him that he still can’t remember.

The relationship between the brothers is the foundation that makes everything else work. I could constantly see them around each other and in each other’s lives. Even those times when Niko wasn’t on stage with Cal, I was constantly aware of him.

The first-person narrative Cal treats us to is often sarcastic, but also touching. He is mocking and self-deprecating, but at the same time accessibly human and easy to feel sympathy for. He’s a loner, and he’s so much an outcast that he’s dragged his brother off into the same kind of horrible existence.

The plot of the first novel is loose. All Cal and Niko are trying to do is survive one more day. We get to see them doing that, and the peek into their lives and their world is a lot of fun. Author Rob Thurman has a lot to work with, given the creations she’s thrown at her readers so far. There’s a lot of backstory that hasn’t yet been explored.

Nightlife is a whirlwind adventure that doesn’t focus on the fate of the world, just the fates of the two main characters, which should be enough for any novel, though too many authors these days forget that. I also liked the addition of Robin Goodfellow, and I hope he hangs around as a series regular.

This book is pure pulp of the best kind. It offers no apologies or excuses for what it is. I enjoyed it from the first page to the last, and had very few places where I could rest comfortably. The story and the questions it launched kept pulling me back in time and again. That’s what the best ones do. Now I’m going to read Moonshine and anxiously await Madhouse.

If you haven’t discovered this series yet, you should. There’s no overarching romance story that keeps hitting you between the eyes. This is adventure on the purest level, and adrenaline will keep you turning the pages.


Bill Bennett said...

I'll have to pick one up and give it a try.

T.C. said...

What Bill said.

Angela/SciFiChick said...

I had high hopes when I started reading the first, but it was too dark for my taste.. and not enough humor to balance it out. I didn't bother with the 2nd. Was it better?