The name’s Bond, Shaman Bond. A fresh twist on an old favourite by Simon Green. ‘The Man With The Golden Torc’ charts the misadventures of Shaman Bond, also known as Eddie Drood, a member of the Drood Family, who keep the world free from all those things that go bump in the night. Their jurisdiction ranges farther that being a ‘Ghostbusters’ outfit though, rather they are called in by government when traditional means just won’t cut it.
Eddie, one of the younger agents of ‘The Family’, is allowed a little leeway in his personal life but it also makes him the perfect patsy for when a rogue Drood decides to attack the source of their power from within, forcing him to go on the run and attempt to clear his name.
Marrying Ian Fleming’s finest creation with the supernatural is an ingenious idea and one wonders why it hasn’t been done before. The best part about the mash-up is that it’s done so well. Not every problem in Eddie Drood’s life can be solved by an incantation or magic spell and there are times he has to rely on his wits and espionage skills to get by. Neither element overpowers the other, providing a perfect balance between the two genres. He also goes one better than Fleming with some strong female characters that do more than simper whenever the lead character is in range.
Eddie himself is an extremely well-written character, taking the best elements of James Bond and discarding the rest. He’s honourable when appropriate and ruthless when he needs to be. He’s also never a bore – a good thing given the book is written from his perspective.
If I must offer up criticism of this book, it’s that it moves almost too fast. A strange fault I know, but we’re introduced to Eddie, then he’s declared rogue just a few chapters later, then the rogue within The Family is revealed almost immediately after that. It obviously keeps the pages turning but I wouldn’t have minded a little more time to see Eddie in each situation rather that racing from one plot point to the next. Given that this is the first book in a series, I hope it doesn’t lead to ‘Mission Impossible’ syndrome where the main character is disavowed in all but one of the film’s franchise. I don’t believe this will be the case with this series though as there are plenty of directions to take the characters.
This is a rollicking adventure that perfectly treads the line between taking itself too seriously and being overly tongue-in-cheek. If you like spy dramas and supernatural or both, this is the book for you.
(pub: Gollancz. 362 page enlarged paperback. Price: £10.99 (UK only). ISBN: 978-0-575-07939-7)
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