If you have heard of G.P. Taylor, it might be that he is (falsely) accreditted with comparing the honorable Harry J. Potter to an oft-sought after member of the female anatomy. He denied the wording, but essentially held to the sentiment. It is not without a sense of irony, then, that many of his advocates are quick to summon the name Rowling (as well as the names of Lewis and Tolkein) as a selling point to his works. He is nothing like Rowling or Tolkein, mind you, in that his world tends to be devoid of any sort of familiar happiness, honest attempts at being superbly good, or a epic mythology to act as a perfect backdrop to the stories that occupy it. He is something like Lewis, in that he focuses on individuals faced with moral decisions. Lewis can just write better.
Now, I admit that I have not read the two works that made Taylor famous: Shadowmancer or Wormwood. Nor, after reading Tersias, do I completely care to correct this oversight. Some fans have went on record with saying that one needs to read the earlier ones to to fully get the third novel, but I will take my chances.
What you have, at its core, is a allegory to the old myth of blind, but prophetic, Tersias (which strangely I have just recently read about for the first time). Tersias is a lad visited by some demonic force which gives him the power to scry. This power, expectedly, makes him valuable in a world where a good half-dozen madmen are vying for control (of South London, presumably, since they all live within a few blocks of each other). In this midst there is Solomon (the crazy man with followers), Malpas (the crazy man with followers), Malachi (the foster parent to Tersias who undergoes a transformation that Charles Dickens would have written off as too unbelievable (though Mitch Albom might accept)), Jonah Ketch (yes, the son of that Ketch...now a young thief but not a bad fellow), and...well, other people. There is something about the death of a family line, some treasure that was stalling (that durn Ketch), and the world coming to an end, again. Everyone wants Tersias, some just want him to be free. Tersias, problematically, does very little about his own fate, but take orders. Once or twice he stands up for himself, but let's not bog down on little things like plots.
Taylor surely didn't. Bah ha! Burn.
I think the main problem at the core of Tersias is not the fact that it is casted by a group of cookie cutter fellows, all of whom would have been adequate with a different telling; but that its idea of a strong control over the flow of the novel is to hurry up and get everything done. It could honestly have done with some pauses, some reflection, and some more background. It could even have had a character or two not directly related to the core plot. As it was, it plays out in a short period of time, making almost all of the plot developments seem far too rushed and a couple of them seem idiotic.
I also have problem with Taylor's rhythm of dialogue and general storytelling, but this is something kind of esoteric and it might just be me. It is almost as though he has no grasp on how storytelling works, and instead substitutes getting down pages of facts with only a faint echo of emotion and inflection. There is no voice to this novel, only words.
If you must read something else involving magic and young kids overcoming adults with the power of friendship, why the hell not? Give this novel a spin. Elsewise, stick to the Rowling, the Lewis and the Tolkein that Taylor's press people claim he apes.
As a bonus, go and read the reviews posted by fans on the offficial site. Ah, good times. Or, to quote one of the reviews: "Woooness!!!!!" The best part might be when a spam/bot gives the book a 3 out of 10. Here's a note, if you are going to spam a site, go ahead and give it a 10. Let's play nice.
Written by W Doug Bolden
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