First in the Angelkiller Triad, David Blalock’s Angelkiller stands alone on its own merits and draws readers quickly and enticingly into a near-future world of ecological risk, governmental control, virtual reality, and… the great Conflict. The blend of slightly changed real-world and curious technology is pleasingly low-key, adding an almost surreal realism to the tale. Time’s running out. The bad guys, who won when the Enemy was thrown down to earth, are almost ready to make their victory final. And the Army is out to stop them. Except, of course, in this dark age it’s hard to tell who's good and who's bad. Called an Angelkiller for his long years of service in this Conflict, Jonah Mason seeks to balance the needs of his colleagues against the needs of the Good and finds himself making deals with the devil. Future history is nicely given with short intriguing details—the “fall of Israel in 2037 to… the new Persian Empire” for example; political analysis is wisely kept to a minimum; and the Enemy has made its grab for “the power structure of humanity itself, increasingly a tool” in its hand. In this battle between Good and Evil, Evil won long ago and Good is fighting a rearguard action, but the elusive Master demands a curious mix of faith and obedience—a mix Jonah struggles to correctly attain. When Knights step in, the Conflict ratchets up. Lives might be lost. Virtual betrayals might become real. And somewhere behind it all a wondrous truth might shine through the veil—too bright for human eyes. The blend of gritty conflict with spiritual insight and human struggle is seamless, making this the sort of book that grabs you from line one and won’t let go, leaving you gasping for air at the end and wondering, with one of the characters, just what it was you’ve just experienced. “Judgement,” muses Mason, is after all “not something imposed, but something accepted… the awareness of one’s failings and strengths.” This book has many strengths—cyber-war, angels and demons, mystery, intrigue and more—and makes an excellent read.
Disclosure: I got this in a deal and can’t think why I waited so long to read it!