Friday, March 9, 2012

Review: "Sunset: Pact Arcanum: Book One" by Arshad Ahsanuddin

Title: Sunset: Pact Arcanum: Book One
Author: Arshad Ahsanuddin
Available: Smashwords
Summary: "With millennia-old magic, emerging romance, and ever-shifting allegiances, this inventive new series unveils a scintillating, homoerotic world of Nightwalkers, Daywalkers, Sentinels, and Humans, who battle for world dominance in the not-too-distant future.

Los Angeles, 2040. The terrorist Medusa and her followers threaten to destroy the metropolis with a nuclear bomb. One individual, the vampire Nicholas Jameson, comes forward to oppose them. 

For tens of thousands of years, the vampires, called Nightwalkers, had been entrenched in a bitter feud with their enemies, the Sentinels, those born to destroy the Nightwalkers with magic and steel. The battle drew to a close once the Redeemer offered the two sides a new path, allowing the Nightwalkers to step back into the sunlight as Daywalkers, in return for giving up the sword. 

When Nick takes on the terrorists, he exposes his powers and advanced technology that had been previously unknown to humanity. In the wake of the confrontation, the fragile peace between the races hangs perilously in the balance. Will coexistence be possible, or will the final war destroy them all?"
Source: I purchased this on my own.

Review: I'm not ever sure where to begin.

This book was pretty crazy, but pretty amazing. It starts off with a hell of a bang and doesn't really let go, though it quiets here and there to let a reader catch their breath. I'm not generally a fan of "action" (any book with a thriller/suspense style plot) books that span as much time as this one did, but it made sense here and I don't imagine it could have been done realistically any other way. The only complaint I have about that was that it left some dramatic events to be told in retrospect, when I would rather have seen them written out.

My only other issue was Nicholas. He kind of became a character that falls into what I call the Pasquinel Syndrome (a cookie to anyone who recognizes the name), which is a character that commands an unimaginable amount of love, respect and devotion from almost everyone without my seeing the reasons for it. Not to say that I didn't like him, or find him a character I could ultimately side with, but I didn't feel like I saw enough to gain him quite as much of those things as he got from the other characters; his sins forgiven too easily, so to speak, but by the end, I didn't mind it so much. He showed enough in those last events to make me okay with it, unlike other stories where I couldn't do the same for similar characters.

I don't want to divulge too much, but the stuff with Icarus at the end... I don't think a book has produced this level of emotional response in me in a long time and that's incredible.

It's funny. The first... hundred pages or so are very densely packed with world-building, it was slow for me to get through. I felt like I needed a manual to keep up with it and a flow chart for all the emotional attachments, but once I got a grip on it, it moved very well. At one early point, I worried if I could finish it but am so, so glad that I did. It was worth it. The world-building and history (both world and character), if dense up front, was amazingly complex and fascinating.

I had originally been planning to give this a 4 or 4.5 because of the issues I mentioned above and other little things here and there, but the complexity of the world-building and the last several chapters just blew me away. It's gotta be a 5 Fireballs, and I don't imagine it will be long before I'm checking out more of this series!

As a footnote, it was also one of the best packaged indie books I've seen, in terms of formatting (it gets one formatting detail right that a lot of indie books don't), editing and cover art.

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