Max Barry’s Lexicon gets 3.5 stars for its ideas and suspense. In this work of speculative fiction with dystopian overtones, Barry demonstrates literary flair with descriptions and – usually – a strong command of pacing. Though the stories are quite different in content and structurally, Barry seems to be aspiring to something like Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose in which a thriller is coupled with concepts from semiotics. Lexicon also has features in common with Dan Brown’s books including secret societies, codes and symbols.
Lexicon is usually gripping, but periodically there are too many guns and not enough imagination as the plot slows with lengthy chases. Indeed, the novel is one long chase with characters after each other, after self-discovery, after a mysterious word with lethal power (the MacGuffin in this story). There are also vivid descriptions of Australia, but, as with the chases, brevity would amplify the intensity of Lexicon. This is a 400 page novel striving to be 300 pages. Further, some of the characters seem a trifle flat with motivation driven by plot rather than being organic to the character.
Being an author of speculative fiction myself, reading this novel encourages one to be ambitious about blending imaginative thematic content with a propulsive narrative. Generally, Lexicon does a good job of this.
I write modern fantasy novels that are hopefully both exciting and literate. These novels include an on-going series about a near-immortal magician who grew up in Camelot and grew famous in San Francisco's 'Summer of Love'. He's still having adventures to this day described in The Lords of the Summer Season, The Lords of Powder, and The Lords of Oblivion. The books can be read in any order.
As author S Alessandro Martinez has stated about the series:
"Lords of Oblivion
A 1500-year-old wizard. A pair of savage druids raised from the dead. Modern day San Francisco. A wolf that takes no gruff. Blaisdell creates a fascinating world in this magical realism novel with smart writing, complex characters, and clever use of history and mythology. I was sucked in from the very beginning. I look forward to more of Bradan and Tintagel's mystical adventures.
Lords of Powder
Merlin's former apprentice, Bradan, is back! The 1500-year-old wizard, who is sometimes too smart for his own good, returns for another exciting adventure, this time in 70s Miami as he takes on the criminal world of drug trafficking. Blaisdell's smart, fast-paced writing and use of fascinating history and mythology keeps you on the edge of your seat as Bradan uses his wits, charm, and illusions to navigate the modern era and get himself into plenty of trouble.
Lords of the Summer Season
Being Merlin's former apprentice and living for 1500 years is bound to make you a few enemies. Travel back to the 60s with Bradan the wizard and his otherworldly wolf Tintagel. As Bradan juggles careers as a professor and musician, he must defend himself from his greatest threat yet: a literal god. Blaisdell continues with his clever, skillful, and imaginative writing that will keep readers eagerly turning the next page. My favorite of the Bradan books, Blaisdell dives deeper into the Arthur mythology, and brings the reader even more elements of magic and folklore, all the while weaving an entertaining tale of gods, wizards, ghosts, and 60s acid rock. Thoroughly enjoyable!"
Besides the literary side of my life, my background includes membership on a scientific advisory board for a non-profit professional organization promoting the biomedical and digital health business community in the greater Los Angeles area.
I’ve authored both basic research publications and business management articles focusing on the bio/pharma industry. My Ph.D. is in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota where I also conducted post-doctoral research in microbiology. And my BS is from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) with a double major in chemistry and cell biology.
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