A Great Outline
The novel begins with some clever ideas: the Egyptian gods Thoth and Set are actually aliens from another galaxy. Then we see Heinrich Himmler rise to power with Dr. Frankenstein's help.
Those are cool ideas, yet neither of these bits are fleshed out as well as they could be. The overview of Himmler's ambitions would have really come to life as dialog between him and Frankenstein. Instead, this partnership of horror and evil incarnate comes off surprisingly flat.
Their ally, an American banker, speaks in a brash tone befitting an audacious businessmen of the 1930s. Other times, he speaks the same stilted phrases that Himmler himself uses.
The heart of the story begins with our engaging villainess, Chloe Armitage, This part too suffers from being told in overview—at first. Had her thoughts been converted primarily to dialog with the evil Cornelius Crane, the whole thing would have played better.
Once the action begins, in a hail of bloodshed of which Rodaughan is a master, the story definitely picks up. The book focuses on Chloe, in the last days of World War II, but also upon a child prodigy, Angelina.
The book is basically one long scene, with otherworldly revelations and action galore. Despite a sluggish beginning, it's an adrenaline rush from then on. The writing is a bit rough here and there, with a preponderance of passive voices. But the characters and plot are on-spot. Rare for me, I could not put Part I down after the prologue and finished it in one night.
The climax is fantastic, touching on a Lovecraftian horror that is all the more horrifying for falling within the outer reaches of plausibility. The final denouement is fitting for this portion of the Metaframe series.
In Part II, we are back to current time and the established characters. However, there's no particular connection between this Part and the first Part, beyond the appearance of Chloe Armitage.
Rodaughan spends a great deal of time inside some of his characters' heads, as they brag about their grandiose schemes with unquestionable certainty. Only Louise has a speck of self-doubt or worry, which makes the rest of them come off rather monomaniacal. I don't believe this was Rodaughan's intent, but honestly, I found myself skimming over entire pages of this stuff. Simply presenting those thoughts as dialog with any other character would have brought those scenes to life.
Example: “Mekra’s spirit was nearby, guiding his actions with inspired suggestions and kind advice. Her words were liquid honey within his mind.” That would be so much better as a scene between Mekra and Akimitsu, where we hear those suggestions and that advice.
Rodaughan is capable of writing great dialog, like when Crane makes a confession to Chloe. I just wish we saw more of it.
The Metaframe has been a great series and Rodaughan is a good writer. He takes a backseat to no one when it comes to writing action. On the other hand, those lengthy monologues inside someone's head wear me down. Events seem to stretch out more and more, so that there's really very little advancement of the plot from the beginning of a book to the end. Despite the incredible actions scenes, not much happens on an emotional level.
One nice thing that's developed in the series, even if it's an added layer of complication, is having more than just three groups in contention. Besides the vampires and the two groups of rival vampire-killers, we have the vampires' human servants, a second group of rival vampires, a third group of vampire-killers, and a species of dino-men. Wait, it gets even more chaotic: within most of these groups is a traitor or two. No complaints; that makes the series more realistic.
For the first time, we see Mekra, the first vampiress, in action, and fans of Chloe Armitage may find a new female vampire vying for their affections. The dialog Rodaughan gives her is lilting and seductive and I found myself rooting for her over the pretentious Crane... or even the Slaynes! And a number of previously-established characters won't make it to the end.
However, sentences like “The vampires where twice as fast” and “The Shadowstone and Romanian military and paramilitary positions where overwhelmed” just shouldn't happen. Sadly, even if 'where' was replaced with 'were', those sentences would still be in the passive voice. Nazis (a plural) are often referred to as Nazi's (possessive). Other examples include: “Two other thing’s he’d learned” and “Fortunately, they are a solitary creature.”
Similar boo-boos can be found on most pages, and that takes away from the reading experience. This book could really use a final edit.