Saturday, June 22, 2013

Daemons Are Forever: Simon R. Green

The first line in this book is:
The name's Bond. Shaman Bond. The very secret agent.
This should give the reader a hint: This book spoofs the James Bond series, and it is going to be humorous.

Shaman Bond is the assumed name of Edwin Drood when he is living in London, in what we know as the real world. Edwin comes from a very large clan, the Droods, who live in a compound outside of London.

As Edwin, or Eddie, describes it:
The world isn’t what you think it is. Hell, even London isn’t what you think it is. There are monsters around every corner, creatures in every shadow, and more dark conspiracies and secret wars going on than you can shake a really big stick at. You never get to know about this because the Drood family has field agents everywhere, to keep the lid on things and make sure everyone plays nice. When they don’t, we kill them. We don’t believe in second chances; we believe in stamping out fires before they can spread.

My family has been keeping the world safe for almost two thousand years. We’re very good at it.
Daemons Are Forever (2008) is the second book in a series of seven books (the Secret Histories series). This is the type of series where a lot happens in the first book, and if I describe much of what happens in the second one, it can spoil the story for you.

On the other hand, this book can easily be read as a stand-alone. There is plenty of rehashing of the history of Edwin Drood and his family, and what has happened in the last book. I was grateful for all of that because it had been years since I read the first one and I needed a refresher course. Others who have read the books closer together have complained about this very element.

I found this to be a very entertaining book, and I do admire Simon R. Green's storytelling. But I will be honest and say that fantasy is just not my thing.

I did some research into the elements of fantasy fiction to try to understand why I don't generally care for fantasy. I have a wonderful book called Genreflecting: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests (Sixth Edition), which is a 500 page overview of various genres and their elements, and suggestions for reading from these genres. It is aimed at librarians, of course, but I love browsing through it.

Genreflecting (and other sources I read) defines fantasy works as being set in an internally consistent created world and including magic or paranormal elements. In some cases, the created world may be hidden from the real world setting (as much as possible); in other cases, it is the only world.

Both Daemons Are Forever and Rivers of London (which I reviewed recently) are cases where the real world exists pretty much like our world, and the world with fantastic elements and creatures is separate, or at least hidden.

I preferred Rivers of London because the protagonist is of the real world and just getting introduced to the idea that there is a world with magic, ghosts and vampires that needs to be controlled. In Daemons Are Forever, Eddie Drood's world is teeming with supernatural creatures, and he coexists and makes deals with them to save the world. But that is just me; I think a lot of people who enjoy fantasy would really like this book and the series.

My son introduced me to this series. He thought I might like it because of the James Bond element. I will be continuing the series through the third book, because I have it in house. My son is that far into the series. From what I have read, the series was intended to be a trilogy, but was popular enough to justify adding more books to the series. If we find more in the series, we will continuing reading it further.

I will leave you with this description of the Secret Histories series, from a review at Tor.com by Michael M. Jones. The review is of the 6th book in the series, and the reviewer is a big fan of all of Simon R. Green's books:
The Secret Histories has always been Green’s attempt to blend his usual urban fantasy material—the Nightside books, Ghost Finders, Drinking Midnight Wine, and so on—with a James Bond attitude. Rather unsubtly, Eddie Drood’s secret identity is “Shaman Bond,” and the book titles are also a dead giveaway. However, Live and Let Drood doesn’t just evoke James Bond, it also conjures up the spirit of The Avengers (British version) with the Department of the Uncanny. (Characters named Patrick and Diana show up, obviously named for Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg, AKA Steed and Peel and even I noticed that…)

I’ve long held that Green’s books make for excellent popcorn reading. They’re widescreen adventures, blockbusters with unlimited budgets and absolutely no restraint or sense of decorum. The body counts are high, the stakes higher, the sense of wonder undeniable. They defy genre, incorporating elements of science fiction, fantasy, espionage, mystery, and more. Green’s characters always have the best lines, the best toys, and the best poses.

This was my fourth book for the Once Upon a Time Challenge at Stainless Steel Droppings. I had committed to reading five books for the challenge, but did not make that goal. I did discover more about what I like and dislike in fantasy fiction, and have a lot of of fantasy books I plan to read in the next year or two.

8 comments:

  1. You read Simon R. Green! He is very readable isn't he? I've only read one book by him, from his Nightside series, The Unnatural Inquirer where the plot revolved around someone having evidence of the afterlife on DVD. The series feature a hidden area of London called Nightside, where monsters exist with humans. The series star is a police detective with the ability of "sight" who can find people, things that don't want to be found. He investigates the weird and unusual.

    The book was a fun read but it didn't make want to read more in the series. Fantasy is not my thing either but some writers do fall through the cracks. If I get burned out on mysteries and such and I remembered his books, I'd give him another go but otherwise, I must cite: too many books to read to add another one to the pile at this time.

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    1. Keishon, I have been interested in some of Green's other series, but right now I just have much more interest in mysteries ... and like you, so many other books on my TBR piles. I am going to check out fantasy and sci fi books at the next book sale, and maybe I will find some very affordable editions so that I can sample them.

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  2. So I love this series. I have read and reviewed them all, except for Live and Let Drood, which I have read but not done the review for yet. I'm not a huge UF reader, but the humor and the fact I want to wach movies based off these books keeps me coming back for more.

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    1. Ryan, Are there movies for these books? When I was reading this, I was thinking this could be a movie. With a lot of special effects of course.

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  3. Despite my liking for spy/espionage books, I can probably give this one a miss. My loss, no doubt but too much other stuff to get to,

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    1. Col, I liked the references to the Bond books/movies, but not sure how close the book is to Ian Fleming's books. It has been a long time since I have read a James Bond book. Now I want to read one to find out what they are like compared to more recent spy series.

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  4. Very interesting and helpful review, Tracy, but it's not the book for me....

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    1. Thanks, Moira. I would have liked the book a lot better had it been shorter, although to be honest I don't know what he could take out in this one.

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