Inspirius Mwanake asked me to review his novel "Angeions". It's about a group of holy super soldiers preventing their treacherous comrade from releasing a group of fallen angels. I will examine plot, character, and polish and then assign a grade.
Starting with this review, I'm going to add a disclaimer that states "If you see a term That's Written In Caps within this review and wish to read about it, go to Tvtropes".
The book starts out boring and cliché. Nixion sees the Girl Of My Dreams and then moves into Good Morning Crono for a brief school thing. When he meets the girl in person, he gushes about her beauty for the rest of the scene. Personally, I think it was a poor attempt at Audience Surrogate, and fortunately, it does not last.
Nixion disapears and Aella, the girl in question, takes over as the protagonist. Thus, the next hundred pages or so are fun, engaging, and interesting. There's time for fighting without Nixion's commentary, exposition about the main characters and world building for the setting.
Aella is an "angeion" which could be called a holy Trans-Human or Super Soldier. She has been empowered by Theos (God) to wield holy power and fight "the Dark" which is basically demons and devils and such. This book is more focused on fighting other angeion who have fallen from grace and their nephilim (half angel) mooks.
Aquarius and the Aurel family want to release a group of fallen angels called "The Forsakers". This group betrayed Theos by stylizing themselves as gods (the Greek gods specifically) and tainting their aura with the power of Diablos (Satan). Because of this, Theos Sealed their Evil In A Can a thousand years ago and the plot's conflict is Aella and her family preventing anyone from opening this can.
As long as Aella is the viewpoint character, the plot makes sense and I enjoy reading the story. This highlights the flaws in the other viewpoints.
Nixion has no personality to speak of. It's basically "Aella is amazing" over and over again. Aquarius has a pity party going on mixed with a temper tantrum. There's this big stretch in the first half of the book where only Aella is the view point character and that is my favorite part for that reason.
My other favorite part of the book is the mechanics of magic in this verse. To be an angeion is two have two basic abilities: release one's aura/spirit and absorb energy from natural and supernatural sources. Faithful Angeion like Aella can draw directly on Theos' power by reciting scripture. I like how this works because instead of a "send a Bolt of Divine Retribution upon my enemies" sort of thing, it's a "give me the strength to overcome this challenge" Super Empowering sort of thing. It's a balance between godly omnipotence and human determination. It also reminds me of Luke 17:5-6: "If you have faith as great as a mustard seed, you can tell this mulberry bush 'uproot yourself and move into the sea' and it will obey you." It's like that but crossed with shonen anime style fighting.
The final battle is long. It's about half the book. Lots of stuff happens and it is mostly interesting but Arc Fatigue sets in eventually. Aella's fight with Nixion drags on and on, also like some shonen anime style fighting. Other problems I have with the final battle include a incomplete Messianic Archetype for Aella (unusual given the setting) and many cases of What Happened To The Mouse for both the heroic and villainous sides. It feels like Mr.Mwanake forgot about them and/or was in a rush to finish the story.
The ending is a Ganiax Ending. It is confusing. I suspect Mr.Mwanke is going for an "artsy" tragic or ambivalent ending. The other possibility is a Goading Cliffhanger, which I despise even more.
There are numerous story flaws here. All but one of them directly involve Nixion. This is a heavy spoiler section so if you don't want that, skip down to CHARACTERS.
Nixion is the Amaranth, a Macguffin Boy that's needed to unlock the Dramaticus, which is the can that the evil angels are sealed into. He has no idea about this and none of the Angeion do either, initially. My problems with this are many:
1. Someone so important should have some kind of protection.
2. Why didn't anyone notice him before now?
3. If he is also Andreas, Kat's long lost brother from the 18th century New Orleans, than how did he end in Africa as Nixion? What does this mean about his family?
4. If Aella found out instantly, as she claims, then why doesn't she do more to protect him? She goes off to investigate a suspicious noise and that leads to him getting captured
5. If he is so important, why does Gal-el tell Aella not to worry about him? This question becomes more important when Aella considers the possibility that Theos sent her the vision that led to meeting him in the first place.
6. Why doesn't Aella tell him about this stuff during their six month date? Surely she has matured enough in one thousand years that she can put aside frolicking enough to tell Nixion some crucial facts. The nature of the forsakers, the truth about nephilim, her plan to escape and take him with her and then, when she can no longer do so, telepathically explain the situation to him as he leaves so Aquarius can't poison him against her.
7. If Aquarius' plan was to win over this crucial pawn to his side, why did he kidnap the boy and put him in a dungeon? He should gone with the soft sell straight off instead of isolation.
8. After fighting Nixion a couple times (and generally holding the upper hand) Aella decides to give up. She apparently forgets about her plan to subdue and bind Nixion so she can explain things later, and instead decides to let him kill her. I get the Messianic Archetype thing, but it falls flat in Aella's case because her aura is the third seal on the Dramaticus. She is not being selfish by preserving her own life. I see no reason why she couldn't block/dodge Nixion's dagger and then recite her letter. This leads to the End Of The World As We Know It.
I spoke with the author after writing this review, and many of these come down to In Mysterious Ways, The Evils of Free Will/Helping Would Be Kill Stealing and Poor Communication Kills.
Nixion is a void. The first few pages serve only to paint him as an Everyman rather than as an individual. After meeting Aella, his narration is filled with how beautiful she is; whole paragraphs about her skin or hair etc. He is a passive character all the way through, first Aella pulls him by his heart and then Mirena by his penis. His lack of intelligence is shocking. He swallows Aqaurius' lies easily despite spending six months with Theo's leading superheroine. He doubts that Theos exists after watching Aella use holy power to kill half-angels. One can't blame mind control because he knows how to resist it. Afterwards, one could replace most of his dialogue and much of his narration with "kill Aella because I think she betrayed me" and none of the plot would change.
Aella is a great character. On Tvtropes, we'd call someone like her a "Lady of War" because of her Proper Lady demeanor and graceful fighting style. She has the strong and active will necessary to drive a story of this nature. She quotes scripture and then beats down on demons and thus she's not a stereotypical action girl. She jokes around with her family. She has certain flaws like vanity and being too serious, but these make her a more well rounded character. Her only true flaw is a case of Love Makes You Dumb around Nixion.
Aquarius is the villain here. Releasing the Forsakers is his Evil Plan. The problem is that I don't know why he wants to do this. He hates Zen Aurel, the leader of the Forsakers, because he was raised as an agent of Theos. According to flashback, he was a nice guy before he learned the truth about his heritage. The only information he has about Zen personally is that he is an abusive husband. Yet he wants to release this guy because he's mad at Theos for letting that guy be his father. Even if this is the case (It's stated a couple times that Theos is micro managing the universe), rebelling against Theos turns him into the very thing he hates.
The first copy I received was rife with spelling and grammar errors. It also looked like it was fed through an online translator. Also, the prose looked immature and sloppy, like it was written by a teenager. I received a second copy when I was 3/4 finished with the book. That fourth was a significant improvement on the other three so I assume the first 3/4 of the second copy are cleaned up as well.
It's a first person narrative yet it shifts viewpoint frequently. By the end of the story, five people have had their turn at narrating. Since it shifts by chapter and three of these five people only have one turn, it is not jarring. In fact, if it were not for one of these shifts, one of my favorite scenes in this story could not happen. It's Hannora's turn during the final battle. It wouldn't have had the same impact through Aella or Nixion's eyes.
I spent more time than usual thinking about the grade for this one. I hovered between C+ and D+. I enjoyed reading it, that much was certain, thus the +. What I debated was whether this book's virtues outweighed it's flaws. In the end I decided that it was no where near as bad as another book I gave a D to and therefore did not deserve to be put in the same category.
Trickster Eric Novels gives "Angeions" a C+
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