The Nightmare Hero by Amin Emilio Aun Joven

(2005-11-12)

Imagine an ultimate universe where all other universes are contained within metal books in an endless hall. Palidan Torvic has been created from the sum of all heroes, villains and warriors who exist in the various universes in order to defeat the evil which manifests itself in different ways. He is the ‘ultimate hero’ and must perfect his skill in order to defeat the ‘ultimate villain’, Zarcod Malicus. As we follow his journey the reader is invited to join in the learning as questions are raised which serve to expand your way of thinking. What does the term ‘God’ really mean? And is anyone actually entitled to claim that name?

I was instantly intrigued by this story as it contained some highly original ideas and from an early stage I was immersed in the unique environment. The idea of a hall of books containing the numerous universes out there was particularly good in the way it helped to incorporate obstacles (such as when the villain follows the hero to a world and destroys it). Where do you go when you know that your presence will mean the place’s downfall? This feeling of complete isolation and hopelessness really tugged at my emotions and made me feel empathy for Palidan. The author’s way of writing in the present tense was strange to get used to and at times I thought that perhaps it might be better to use traditional past-tense, but he handles this novel method excellently and it definitely suits the story.

I loved the series of events as Palidan grows up – how we see both his learning and the things which are shaping him to be the character he is, while still being provided with a good level of entertainment along the way. I was eager to keep reading as I knew the story was being set up for some huge event, yet I could not predict what it could be. This element is probably the highlight of the story – taking the reader into unchartered territory and getting them to use their mind in order to try and figure out where things are headed, but being one step ahead and being able to provide a surprise. The layout of this book is perfectly suited to this relatively short story. A lot of sci-fi/fantasy books tend to be over-zealous in the way they have a tale to tell but get distracted by the creation of a new world and put in excess description. Here we move swiftly from one area to the next and the focus is solely on the main ‘hero’.
 Overall I thought that there was some amazing characterisation and liked the vivid pictures formed in my head from the descriptions of new and intriguing races/people. I sometimes found it difficult to follow the conversations however as the author did not always state who is speaking. I quite often found myself having to read certain exchanges several times in order to understand them. I felt that the quality of writing deteriorated about halfway through the book in all areas: grammar, typos, spelling and structure. This gave the impression that the author had been in a hurry to finish writing and had not even bothered to revise his work in order to keep the high quality he had started with.

Finally, I think that the first poem in the Appendix (‘The Nightmare Hero’) should replace the one finishing the story as it was well written and would have been a more suitable conclusion. ‘I am the Titan’ was a poor finish to the story and I have to say that I lost interest in the remaining poems contained within the Appendix after reading the first three. They did not add to the story and I found them difficult to read, very often being repetitious and lacking any kind of flow or rhythm. I felt disappointed that ‘The Nightmare Hero’ turned out to be only a mediocre book as it had begun so well. With additional revision this book could be a truly great story as there are some amazing ideas and original concept.

Reviewed by Helen Kerslake

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