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Phoenix (The Complete Action Series)
David Alexander
Progress: 60 %
A Hard Day's Knight - Simon R. Green I had been wanting to check out this series for some time. As I tend to do, I grabbed this one out of order. I saw it at the library and it was an impulse grab. Sometimes it doesn't matter in what order I start a series. I don't think it should. Good stories should be able to be enjoyed independently, but some stories rely on knowledge of previous events. Even though this is the 11th book in the series I didn't have any problem with getting a grasp of the setting. But still, I should have started at the beginning, book one. I'll get to why in a bit.

John Taylor, a PI residing in a London "pocket universe" called the "Nightside," finds himself the recipient of the legendary sword Excalibur. Now he and his leather-clad shotgun toting girlfriend Suzie have to figure out what the heck to do with it. Meanwhile, from the events occurring in previous books, Taylor has become the new top dog in the Nightside, so he has quite a lot of new power to manage.

So it's a promising start. Unfortunately, that's pretty much it for me. After about midway through the book I was mostly reading on autopilot-- and I get the feeling the author was writing on autopilot. And this is why I think I should have started with the earlier books. After ten volumes in the series I got the feeling that Green was losing steam in this one. Now, I can't verify that until I read some of the others, but that was my impression. The plot felt a little meandering. The witty repartee and comedy I mostly found tedious. And there were episodes in the plot that gave me déjà vu feelings, like this event, or something similar, had just happened a hundred pages before. There were also instances in which it seemed like the author just pulled something out of his ass to save Taylor (like when Taylor pulled flashbang grenades out of his trenchcoat pocket to use against some thugs. Does he normally carry them around? Maybe, but it seemed contrived). By the time I got to the end I was underwhelmed and a little disappointed.

But it's not all bad, really. Simon Green seems to have a knack for creating macabre and fantastic imagery. And there were instances when the humor succeeded. (For some reason I laughed aloud when King Arthur said, "The Nightside? What the hell am I doing in that disgraceful shit hole?"). This novel hasn't turned me off. I still want to check out the first one. And those who are already fans, I'm sure, will get a kick out of this one. But it is not a good introduction to the series and just passable as a stand-alone novel. Like I said, though, it hasn't discouraged me from the others. It's just that this one felt to me like Green was just going through the motions.