Poundshop Tolkien or Game of Thrones knock-off?

The Premier Inn haven’t cleaned my room properly again. They’ve left someone else’s book next to my bed, which appears to be a vile tale of human sacrifice from the Bronze Age, set amongst illiterate goat herders in the only part of the Middle East without any oil.

I don’t want to spoil the plot but it’s clearly some Game of Thrones knock-off, although without the bare breasts, where the women are virgins, whores or old crones and the men walk around muttering deep thoughts of eternal damnation through long beards, as they herd their goats. The characters are obsessed with what’s clean and what’s unclean, in a very unhealthy way.

It’s irresponsible of the hotel to leave it anywhere children might find it as it’s clearly NSFW.

The book is written as if #MeToo never happened and it would definitely fail the Bechdel test. The women are treated like property, have no voice, and no lives outside their husband’s home and relentless childbearing. It’s patriarchy on steroids.

The plot is risible, as it relies heavily upon some mythical being, or alien, suddenly appearing and revealing plot spoilers all the way through. It’s such a tiresome way of directing a story arc, even one as poorly thought-through as this one. 

The book’s superhero, who, oddly, has a Brazilian name, goes through an x-rated torture scene only sado-masochists would enjoy, to then merely save himself and disappear, leaving you thinking, ‘What was the point? Why didn’t he just save himself earlier and save us all a few hundred pages?’

If the point was for it to look like a bunch of scribblings on goat skin from thousands of years ago, translated from a dead language, they did a good job.

If you’re going to write science fiction about an alien impregnating a virgin then at least you could do it in the Golden Age of civilisation in 9th Century Baghdad, or 1930s Tokyo or 1980s Berlin, or modern day New York, where people could write and had experience of something other than mountains, deserts and goats. Why set it where everyone is ignorant, illiterate, gullible and superstitious anyway?

The author obviously has English as a second language and a love of archaic words, like some Poundshop Tolkien. Verily, it appears to be a hastily cobbled together and badly edited mess. Whoever edited it left in the same story four times, all with different facts. There’s the germ of a good idea there, in that there could have been a good book written about the fallibility of eyewitness accounts in understanding upheaval in the petty politics of primitive tribal events. It could have been a decent exploration of the origins of death cults, virgin worship and human conflict based upon fraudulent claims of divine intervention and revealed truth. Instead we get a rambling unfocused and superstitious mess. 

Was it a movie tie-in? It seems like a book-of-the-film cash-in by a no-name author. Naming it after a 1980s pop band is also a bit cheeky.

You’re meant to believe in the characters but there’s no consistent characterisation. Firstly the lead character is non-violent, then he’s leading a terrorist attack on a bank in a temple. You could interpret most of it to mean anything you wanted. What exactly is it all meant to mean? The capricious violence, speaking in tongues, paranoid delusions and seemingly drug-induced psychosis are all so badly written it’s as if the recent greater understanding of mental health had never happened.

It’s over-long, badly edited, sexist, racist and homophobic, suffers from a risible plot and inauthentic characterisation. 

Only an idiot or an academic interested in the superstitions of Bronze Age goat herders would read it. It’s no wonder there’s been no sequel. I can understand why the person who had the room before me left it behind.

I can’t find a price on the cover, but it clearly wouldn’t be worth the postage. No stars.

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