Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review: Harbingers by F.Paul Wilson (Repairman Jack#10)

Harbingers by F.Paul Wilson

***** 336 Pages Tor

Wow, just wow. RMJ #10 is no doubt my favorite in the series. Harbingers is a dark and Brutal twist in the Repairman Jack saga. I saw this book coming, but I felt like I was frozen on a train track as a speeding locomotive was coming to crush me while reading this book. As much as I think this is the best in the series I can see that many will not dig this entry in the series. I also think this book will lack power if you are not already read the previous books.

Most of the repairman Jack books can somewhat stand-alone (although they are better if read in order). I would describe this book as heartbreaking, enraging and suspenseful. The entire series is balanced on the events of this book and it’s startling twists. Everything is put into question.

After the tragic events of the last novel Jack has been laying low. A job drops in his lap when a fellow customer at his favorite bar hires him to find a missing teenage woman. When Jack tracks her down he discovers she is being used for a ritual connected to the otherness (The great evil force behind the great conflict of the story). Sounds good but can Jack save her he runs into a crew who are a part of the same conflict. The Yene├žari are an underground of fighters serving to protect the Occulus a human who speaks for the Ally. When Jack first encounters them he thinks they are kidnapping the teen, but quickly realizes they are the good guys.

Warriors in the same struggle the Yenecari want to recruit Jack and why shouldn’t Jack consider it. Sure he has always worked alone, but wouldn’t allies help. How can one man fight against an enemy as strong and vast as the Otherness. This conflict and the idea of Jack being a team player becomes the central theme of the novel. What would the Ally do to make sure it has Jack’s full attention.

The best novel in the series, no doubt in my mind. Wilson pays his readers back big time for their devotion to the series.

Spoilers:

Harbingers is a rough twist to the saga, after the end of Infernal and the death of Jack’s father and brother I thought to myself – Jack is losing everyone he loves and soon his closest loves are so going to be in danger. That meant Gia and Vicky. Since the first book he has managed for the most part to isolate his ladies from danger. Wilson was warning us as much as he was warning Jack. So in Crisscross (two books back) when Wilson devoted one of the last chapters to Gia almost being hit by a truck when she stepped off a curb I thought to myself – that is going to be important.

Wilson just clobbers the devoted readers by not only hitting Gia, but also Vicky with a truck. The death of the unborn baby that Jack was already falling in love with is heartbreaking, the power of this scene reminded me of dog death chapter in I Am Legend. The scenes in the hospital while Jack watches helplessly as Gia and Vicky fight for their lives is gut-wrenching.

If that was not powerful enough the next twist is perhaps my favorite plot twist I have read in a novel maybe ever. Jack discovers that the it was not his enemy, the otherness that is behind the attack on his loved ones but The ally and the Yinecari. The Ally needs Jacks full attention and is killing his loved ones to make sure that he can be a “Spear with no branches.” This is the darkest twist on the Joseph Cambell “hero with a thousand faces” type of heroes journey I have ever read in any medium. Jack decides he won’t be that hero if Gia and Vicky die.

It sets up a powerfully dramatic conflict where Jacks is not only willing to kill his allies but himself. It’s a powerful twist on the hero’s journey, wow. Just wow.

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