“ Genre: Fiction / Author: C. Craig R. McNeil / Kindle Edition „
I'm a bit of a sucker for books that utilise historical facts or legends with a modern day fantastical twist and with a 5 star rating on the Kindle the book "An Atlantean Triumvirate" by C. Craig R. McNeil sounded right up my street with both title (I had to look the word triumvirate up as it was a new one on me - it was less interesting then it sounded) and premise. I have since learned not to trust authors with randomly scattered initials in their name. It certainly isn't a bad book by any stretch of the imagination with an intriguing concept and much action, and had I known when I started reading it that it was the first in a trilogy I probably would have had different expectations, but there were a few things that marginally hindered my enjoyment in reading this novel.
So, assume history is as we know it all the way up until the late 19th Century when the lost city of Atlantis was discovered by none other than mighty Blighty. The scientists and engineers of the British Empire were able to incorporate the amazingly advanced technology of the Atlanteans into modern day technology and built fearsome war machines known as dreadnoughts that allowed them to rule over a quarter of the earth's lands with their awesome power keeping peace around the globe for fear of retribution. Not necessarily the best method for long term peace. But, come the 1930s, a new discovery is made, one that may well have unforeseen lethal consequences. Previously undisturbed remnants from the height of the Atlanteans have been hibernating in the depths of the Earth, watching and waiting until finally a strange artificial intelligence known as "The Nucleus" is found and offers further enlightenment for the British Empire, but can it be trusted? Things turn sour when the British Empire falls under attack and the culprits seem surprisingly well informed and armed - could they be getting assistance from some other deadly source with even darker ulterior motives? Can the British Empire prevent disaster or will all hell break loose on Earth?
The first impression I got from reading this book was it erred a little on the side of style over substance. The concept for our altered world was pretty imaginative with interesting twists on established history purely as a result of the complex and intricate technology that features very strongly throughout from the monolithic dreadnoughts to super suits that give soldiers increased strength, speed and safety as well as the idea of "The Nucleus" - an ever evolving intelligence which whilst certainly are not all new ideas to the world of science fiction meshed well in this story to create a believable universe. But so much of the focus was on developing this foundation that I think the story and characterisation was lost a bit. The story did flow fairly rapidly with many third person perspective changes between the main characters and lots of action scenes designed to show off the technology which whilst beginning off in a fairly tense and exciting fashion, for me just became a bit repetitive and I was hoping it would move on to more interesting things...
I think the biggest problem with this was that there were a lot of characters thrown in to the mix whose lives were barely explored at all. They all pretty much stayed in the present with a few subtle hints of past dealings with each other but at the end of it all I felt I didn't know or care about any of them to a great extent, so when any of their lives were endangered I felt a detached nonchalance about the whole thing so for me the edge was taken off from the action scenes. In fact, random characters that were not long for this world seemed to have more time devoted to developing them than the main protagonists which felt a bit weird and slightly pointless. I also felt that in having too many of these action scenes the story line suffered - there was a tiny bit of political intrigue but apart from a few minor twists there was never anything too unexpected popping up with a vicious sting in the tail to bowl you over.
From the point of view of political intrigue this book had potentially quite a lot going for it. Tensions between the British Empire and the loose cannons America as well as their so called allies Germany (with Hitler as the leader) were bubbling away nicely which actually created a bit of an atmosphere to the story. There was a fair old bit of xenophobia flying around between the "Limeys" and the "Yanks" with quite a few ignorant views - if the idea was for us the reader to fully back the British Empire there was a smug complacency about them with their self-important attitudes to lesser nations that made them less likeable so this may have backfired. This is really the avenue I would have liked explored more, with spies on hand to cunningly infiltrate the enemy and thus the chance for a lot more subterfuge, but perhaps that would have taken this story into a completely different genre.
The dialogue also felt a bit strange in places, as if the author suddenly remembered they were in the 1930s and thought they'd better put in some rather stereotypical phrases - "old chap", "dashed bad show!", "dashed strange, what?", "tip top" which made me read a lot of the book with an internal posh gentry style accent which was a bit annoying, but obviously a problem of my own making. This thrown in with what felt like modern day sayings (I could well be wrong though) like "kick ass" and "work our butts off" made it all feel a bit confused, but to be honest this doesn't affect the fluidity of the story, it's just a personal grumble. Despite this, the story is very well written and easy to read, but can get a bit bogged down in description which whilst making for a very vivid picture does occasionally hinder the progress of the story and in fact the dialogue becomes very welcome to break these descriptive blocks up a bit.
I probably have come across very negatively, but I must emphasise that this really isn't a bad book despite all my harsh flagellation so far as long as you are in to the action/adventure genre. If that is your kind of thing then you will probably enjoy all the dramatic scenes of danger and fighting, and this new world with lots of futuristic technology will probably seem fascinating. For me though, it all felt a little superficial and I just felt like I needed more twists and shocks, perhaps on the political front which would have added a few more layers to this rather one dimensional story and allowed us as the reader to perhaps get a bit more involved rather than just observing the whole way through. I always felt like I wanted the story to just hurry up and move on, and it wasn't until the very end that I was finally properly gripped before the rather abrupt and unsatisfying ending made me finally realise it was not a standalone novel, which rather irritatingly means I have to continue with the series as I was ensnared at the end - damn those cliff hanger endings - clever or torturous? Answers on a postcard please.
I don't normally feel the need to mention this, but since this was a Kindle version I read there were enough spelling mistakes and missing words to actually catch my attention, so the quality of this release isn't the best either, but again just a pet hate of mine that doesn't detract too much from the reading experience. Anyway, in conclusion, this is a good, well written book in the action/adventure genre that is reasonably fast paced with plenty of action and danger, plus advanced technology for science fiction fans but this is perhaps at a cost to the substance of the story and the characters which were less developed than they could have been. Still, I am willing to give the second novel a chance in the hope that all the foundation building and character introductions are now out of the way, and that the next novel is more plot centric. I would recommend this story to fans of the action/adventure genre, but not if you're looking for a twisting plot to sink your teeth into.