The Eyes of God: Big fantasy beefsteak, not fully cooked

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review John Marco The Eyes of GodThe Eyes of God by John Marco

The Eyes of God is a sprawling, medieval fantasy novel. The seed for the next book (The Devil’s Armor) is planted well in the first, and I hope more of the good than the bad from the first book carries over.

The Eyes of God consists of three parts. (And before that, a beautiful cover — one of its very best features.) The first is basically a rehashing of Camelot’s love triangle. The book does open very well indeed with excellent, fresh introductions of the scholarly King Akeela the Good; his handsome champion, Lukien the Bronze Knight; and his new bride, Cassandra, the beautiful seal on a peace treaty. However, even with the twist of Cassandra’s mysterious illness and Lukien’s quest to heal her, the first part fails to escape Camelot’s shadow — it simply starts too squarely within it.

The second part begins sixteen years after the first, depicting how the consequences of the first have transformed Akeela the Good into the drunken, insane Akeela the Ghost. A crippled boy, Gilwyn, born in the first part, takes center stage and finds himself drawn into the tragic current of the past, which is sweeping the kingdom and a peaceful, foreign land into an even more destructive future. This theme continues in the third part, which introduces a hidden sanctuary of “Inhumans,” persons born or made deformed, and the mysterious woman and spirits who lead and assist them.

John Marco’s main strengths are his no-nonsense writing style and ability to describe large battles. However, these are often hindered, and in places overcome, by some very poor dialogue and questionable plotting. At times, the noble/successful/intelligent characters make utterly capricious decisions that, in retrospect, seem to have been made just so that the plot could follow a fixed outline. (A minor quibble/example: over a period of years, wouldn’t even the most inept husband be able to make love in total darkness to his wife? A strange question, I know, but the book’s answer — for the plot’s sake — is apparently not.) Sporadic grammatical errors (and some typos) also distract from what could have been so much more.

The Eyes of God is a big, beefy page-turner that’s sadly on the too-raw side. Recommended as a library loan or used-paperback buy. However, John Marco does have a “feel” for storytelling that makes him one to watch.


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ROB RHODES was graduated from The University of the South and The Tulane University School of Law and currently works as a government attorney. He has published several short stories and is a co-author of the essay “Sword and Sorcery Fiction,” published in Books and Beyond: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading. In 2008, Rob was named a Finalist in The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. Rob retired from FanLit in September 2010 after more than 3 years at FanLit. He still reviews books and conducts interviews for us occasionally. You can read his latest news at Rob's blog.

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