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Friday, August 29, 2014

Thriller Review: The Valhalla Prophecy by Andy McDermott

Although I've had The Hunt for Atlantis and The Tomb of Hercules loaded up on my Kobo for ages, and have been eagerly anticipating my first adventure alongside Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase, The Valhalla Prophecy is actually my first encounter with the world of Andy McDermott - and I'm pleased to say it definitely won't be my last.

Yes, it's formulaic and predictable, falls prey to pretty much all the clichés of the genre, and belongs to that catastrophic excavation side of archaeology, but that's precisely what we come to enjoy. If you're a fan of Clive Cussler, David Gibbins, Will Adams, Thomas Greanias, Matthew Reilly, and the lot, then Andy McDermott is going to be another author you want to make room for on your shelf.

What sets The Valhalla Prophecy apart and makes it more than just another archaeological, treasure hunting adventure is the depth of the backstory. Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase are partners in every sense of the word, both a romantic pairing and professional colleagues. There's chemistry there, personality, and the kind of genuine conflict anybody who has ever been in a long term relationship with recognize. In this volume (their 9th outing) we also get a significant look into Eddie's past, with a mission from the days before becoming the hero we know today, including an earth-shattering secret that threatens to unsettle his marriage when it's revealed.

The use of Norse mythology is both educational and entertaining, with some interesting suggestions as to how those myths sprang to life. There's a definite Dan Brown sort of element to the archaeology there, with each piece of the puzzle leading Nina and Eddie closer to Valhalla itself, but it works. Like I said, the story falls prey to the usual Indiana Jones type clichés, with discoveries coming fast and easy, and with the need to save the world taking precedent over the desire to preserve precious historical artifacts, but it does make for one heck of an adventure.

There's also a deeply unsettling element of government conspiracy, human experimentation, and biological warfare to the story that ties the search for Valhalla to Eddie's past. It's dark and it's grim, and almost seems out of place in such a 'fun' sort of popcorn adventure, but it lends some real credence to the end-of-the-world scenario. The god and monster slaying eitr is real, and it's been used to breed horrible atrocities in the past - with at least one clandestine government agency anxious to take those experiments to the next level.

No surprises here. The good guys win, the world is saved, treasures are revealed . . . and historical sites are destroyed. It's a fast-paced adventure, full of beautiful scenery and interesting history, populated by characters you can cheer for (and against). Whether you've yet to meet Nina and Eddie or are old friends, The Valhalla Prophecy is well worth the read.


Kindle Edition, 512 pages
Expected publication: September 30th 2014 by Dell

2 comments:

  1. I enjoy an occasional thriller and when I do I want hidden temples or science gone wrong types; cliches and all.
    512 pages though, that is long for a thriller these days isn't it? At least when I look at the last few popular authors I have read.

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    1. To be honest, Nathan, I didn't even notice the length. It's one of those popcorn reads you breeze through in a few nights. It certainly didn't seem like 500+ pages.

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