Saturday, September 14, 2013

Daniel Knox Series, by Will Adams

I have a lot of respect for my Aunt Alvine.  She has a philosophy when it comes to books that I just don’t understand: when she starts something, she finishes it, damn it.  The number of books that I’ve started and then walked away from is legion, but not Alvine.  She’s one of the only people I know personally who has been able to finish reading Mein Kampf, and not because she agreed with the ravings of the mad-man who wrote it; she told me that reading MK was a painful experience (morally, and as a reader – Hitler had a penchant for run-on sentences and circular logic, after all), but she finished it.  I made it 30 pages before giving up.  So, when Alvine gives me books to read, I’m a little leery – are they actually worth it, or is she just clearing her shelf of something she’s done with, and won’t read again?  She’s clever like that…

A few years ago, Alvine give my dad the Daniel Knox series, by Will Adams, which include The Alexander Cipher, The Exodus Quest, The Lost Labyrinth, and The Eden Legacy.  My dad read them, then passed them along to me with a luke-warm review.  The series follows archeologist Daniel Knox through a bunch of adventures that are based on historical people and places, such as Alexander the Great and the Garden of Eden.  I can’t tell you much more about these books, because I only read the first.

When my dad gave me these books, my first question was, ‘are the characters engaging?’ and he prevaricated.  Not a good sign.  Though, I think the problem he had with the books was that the history was wishy-washy.  To me, I found the characters under-developed and non-engaging, the history was spotty in places and Adams went for sensationalism in solving his plots, and the writing-style relied on repeated tropes that became annoying very quickly (i.e. rather than having Knox school someone on history, he’ll ask “what do you know about person/place/story X?” – the first time it comes across as a kindness from the character not wanting to embarrass another character, but after that first time, it becomes an annoying plot device the author relies on).

So, final verdict?  I would characterize these books as ‘harmless.’  They’re good for some beach-blanket reading if you’re looking for something to distract yourself but not engage in.  But, given the lack of engaging characters, the spotty plots, and the writing style, they aren’t something I’d recommend.  Usually, when I write about a series, I finish it before posting about it.  However, given I was only able to get through the first book, and had no interest in reading the others, I felt now was the time to post.  I might, in the future, come back to these books, but I highly doubt it; unlike Alvine, I can (and do) happily walk away from books that feel like a waste of time, and that what the Daniel Knox series feels like to me.

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