Guns? Check. Tanks? Check. Mad explosions? Check. Insane missions? Check. Ba lance battles powered by energy from divine pantheons? Er, check. Rampant horny squabbling gods? Check. Gods running rampant over a futuristic Egyptianesque earth? Check. British soldiers in love with hot fiery women? Check, check and triple check, sah!
This is like no book I’ve ever read. And I mean that in a good way. It’s a kind of weird cross between Pratchett’s Pyramids, Remic’s War Machine (haha!), Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers and that happy frisky comedy, The Mummy. It’s an original, high-octane and more importantly, entertaining take on the premise of Egyptian Gods coming to life, or at least making their divine presence felt, and claiming dominion over a futuristic earth. Lovegrove drops into the mix a triumvirate of well crafted, interesting and fun characters, and you have the recipe for a rollicking adventure through various countries which reminded me a lot of Indiana Jones and James Bond, mixed up with a deviated version of Stargate.
Lt. David Westwynter is a man’s man, a good bloke with a good strong head on his shoulders. He’s a rough-and-tumble, likeable hero, stumbling through Freegypt after losing most of his unit. Until he meets the fiery Zafira (yes yes, I’ve heard all the Vauxhall jokes, and they’re very funny) and we thence become voyeurs on this gradually building, fiery relationship. Lovegrove writes with skill, humanity, and with some superb comedic touches:
At dawn, as much through luck as skill, David managed to catch and kill a lizard. He chiselled off its head with a sharp stone and they took turns to drink drips of its blood. Then they took turns to vomit.
I found myself tuned in (and turned on) to Lovegrove’s writing, his action, his characters and his humour. Lovegrove’s prose is as slick as his author photograph, and this man should have been picked as James Bond. If I wasn’t married, I’d woo him with chocolates, if only so I could get my hands on an early copy of the next book (The Age of Zeus, published 2010 by Solaris Books)!! Also, being a bit of an old Goth (and I mean the old old Goths, who liked The Sisters of Mercy and Bau Haus, etc), I found myself disturbingly attracted to the Nephs – the bad guys. Ace! Lovegrove has found a platform to ridicule the Fields of the Nephilim under guise of a fast-paced semi-military adventure. We have fights with monks, Scarab tanks, religious fervour and crocodiles. And mummies, baby, mummies! Dead troops fed through a Reanimation Facility (in a pyramid, where else?) to create mummy troops (with their brains in Canopic jars). Genius. As troops they’re dumb, yes, and I would have preferred a bit more zest to my undead battles, but Lovegrove does a great job of integrating these shambling rogues into the novel as a whole– and anyway, they make great cannon fodder for the Lightbringer and his guns ‘n bombs posse.
Overall then, The Age of Ra is a very good book indeed. I enjoyed it thoroughly, from the extremely professional slick writing, the interesting characterisation, tight plotting and a brilliantly realised and original setting. We have epic battles, tension and pathos. And I loved Zafira. Loved her to bits. Girl power, and all that. Zigga zig ah. For anybody who enjoys a mix of Egyptology and Action, I thoroughly recommend this book. Indeed, for anybody who doesn’t like Egyptology and Action, still check it out. In this day and age, huge dollops of originality are hard to come by, but Lovegrove has managed a feat of stunning creativity that will leave you hungering for more. Read The Age of Ra. It’s an experience you won’t regret!!
And cool artwork, by the way 🙂