Fantasy/SF Book Reviews

The Internet Writing Journal, July 1998
Page Two of Two

MEG by Steve Alten

Bantam Books, June 1998.
Paperback, 337 pages.
ISBN: 055357910X.
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Cover of MEG
by Steve Alten Jonas Taylor, a paleontologist, an experienced deep-sea pilot and expert of deep ocean caverns is still tramautized by his last underwater journey -- a secret exploratory dive headed by the U.S. Navy -- which killed his two crew mates. Jonas Taylor remembers seeing a giant shark coming towards him, which caused him to propel his ship upwards to the surface -- killing the other two members of the crew. The Navy disbelived Taylor and blamed him for the deaths tarnishing his record and his self-confidence. Since then he has become a fanatic of studying the prehistoric Cacharodon Megadalon, a sixty foot shark that was nature's most vicious killer during prehistoric times. Jonas can't figure out whether he is trying to convince himself or others that the Meg could still exist -- or does exist and it is what he saw that terrible night. Taylor gets the chance to find out when an old friend Masao Tanaka, who is developing the largest whaling sanctuary ever, asks for his help in a dive into the deepest abyss on the planet -- the Challenger Deep. Not only does Jonas find the prehistoric killer, but it follows them up to the surface where it begins to prey on whatever it can find in this century's waters -- including humans. Taylor and company are forced to try and track the terrorizing Megaladon which begans feasting on everything in sight, including boat crews, surfers and whales.

This excellent debut from novelist Steve Alten is more than just a Jaws remake. While it will certainly please lovers of Jaws-type novels - it is also appealing because of its details on underwater exploration and the high-tech equipment involved. MEG is an exciting oceanic thriller about a vicious prehistoric killer that can sense one part of blood in a billion parts of water, smell its prey miles away and leap high enough out of the water to reach helicopters.

Night of Glory by Scott Ciencin

Eos, June 1998.
Paperback, 246 pages.
ISBN: 0380779838.
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Cover of Night of Glory
by Scott Ciencin In the early 1500s, Elves escaped their magical realm to enter our world. After reading the Bible, the Elves set themselves up as Angels, thereby holding sway over the humans and generally terrifying everyone they meet. Some of the Elves have forgotten who they really are, and actually believe that they are Angels. In this third book of the Elven trilogy, an evil Elf has changed places with the Elf who was supposed to be elevated to Godhood. With an evil and insane Elf as one of the Mighty, the world has gone mad with illness and terror and the Elves have a terrible plot to destroy our world. It is up to one human, Tom Keeper, to enter the magical realm to stop the evil one and save all of mankind.

The premise of this trilogy -- that a mistaken belief has Elves believing they are Angels -- is unusual and appealing. With strong, well-delineated characters and plenty of action and magic, Night of Glory is a satisfying ending to this interesting and entertaining trilogy.

Reliquary by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Tor, July 1998.
Hardcover, 464 pages.
ISBN: 0609601121.
Ordering information: |

Cover of Reliquary
by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child While on his first dive into the muddy sewer waters of the Humboldt Kill, dreaded by police divers because of its years of accumulation of feces, sludge, dead animals and mud, rookie diver Officer Snow encounters two human skeletons. Panicking and nearly drowning in the sludge, Snow is rescued along with the two skeletons he found. Investigation of the skeletons shows gross deformities and lieutenant D'Agosta calls on museum curator Margo Green and paleontologist Dr. Frock to help determine what happened to the skeletons. Green and Frock investigate with caution fearing similarities in this case to the museum beast, a strange and powerful creature that murdered museum workers and visitors a few years ago. As an outbreak of reported murders begins the investigation leads downward into the underground world below New York where decapitated bodies are being found by the underground homeless -- known as mole people.

Reliquary is an excellent sequel to Relic, a scientific thriller about a creature that terrorizes a museum. This sequel manages to contain the same level of excitement and terror, brings back the interesting characters including super know-it-all FBI agent Pendergrass set against the backdrop of the New York underground labyrinth. For those that have read Relic, Reliquary is a must-read. Those who have not yet read Relic should read it before Reliquary to get the full impact of the novel. You'll be glad you did.

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