Recently he released his third book in the series Mana Mutation Menace and I’ve been meaning to review it for a while. Now Brian has always been honest and helpful with his reviews of my work, so I will do him the same courtesy and put my friendship with him aside for the sake of an honest review.
WARNING: Spoilers follow.
So at the end of Looming Shadow, Eric Watley found himself mutated by a large amount of Mana, which in turn seemed to mutate him into a grendel like beast. Throughout the course of this book, Eric is experimented on to try and find a way to cure him – although this is more for the “greater good” than for his safety. As such, Eric is constantly having a battle with himself and the grendel inside him – think Bruce Banner in a Fantasy setting – and the grendel threatens to cause a serious kerfuffle.
With the upcoming Mana Mutation Summit, Eric suddenly becomes the centre of attention – and not for the right reasons. Pretty soon, everyone from Dark Gods to Ordercraft worshippers are after him, each with their own reasons for wanting to control/kill him. And if they can’t get to him, they’ll get to his friends.
You know, it sucks living a fantasy world! XD.
Ok, but in all seriousness, this was an interesting read in the next chapter of Journey Into Chaos. It’s a slight change from the usual “there’s a big bad, go kill him” kinda vibe that you normally get in Fantasy stories. Actually, I felt there were a few parallels between this story and Captain America: Civil War as it had a similar idea of a summit where people where trying to find a solution – only for things to get messed up by a group of bad guys. I did feel that the more characters that were introduced to the plot that the story was in danger of getting convoluted, and sometimes I got confused as to who were supposed to be the good guys and the bad guys. But that’s probably the idea – there are no real heroes or villains, just those who have their own agendas.
Whilst we’re on the subject of characters, I must admit it’s been a while since I read the last Journey Into Chaos novel, so I had trouble remembering some of the characters. I had to go back and re-read certain bits again just to make sure I understood. Also, and this is especially true in the case of the Tricksters and the other Demi-God like characters, sometimes they just appeared in the story without too much explanation. Of course, it was later explained WHY they were in the story, it just would have been nice if I had a bit of a heads up.
Just a slight warning, if this is your first time reading Journey Into Chaos, you may get a little confused by the Fantasy world. Whilst I do like the idea of a “real life” world mixed in with a High Fantasy concept, there are times when I’m not too sure the world itself knows what it wants to be. As such, it can get quite jarring when it mentions a character using magic in a sword fight – then the next moment they’re playing online RPG’s. Thankfully, the world doesn’t feel unbelievable in anyway. After all, I used to watch Masters of the Universe and that often mixed technology with fantasy.
I don’t really have any complaints with the story. I understood what was going on and I also felt a bit sorry for Eric when he struggled to control the grendel inside him. He does get some pretty brutal moments though – the fight with Gruffle the Troll made me go “Holy ****!” at one point. There were only really a couple of instances where I felt the story was slightly undirected, and I had no idea why they were going to this place or that place. But otherwise it was pretty easy to follow.
What I like about Brian’s writing is the unpredictability of this series. I like it how he takes the stories in different directions, so you aren’t sure where the plot will go next. It doesn’t always work, and sometimes comes across as a bit jarring, but mostly it’s interesting and fun. At least he tries to do something different with a lot of Fantasy tropes and conventions, so that alone is work the price of the book.
Mana Mutation Menace is probably the darkest of the stories in Journey Into Chaos so far and has some pretty intense moments. Only occasionally does the story veer off a little bit and characters do things that might make you scratch your head. But it all comes together in the end and there are some fair humorous moments. Journey Into Chaos, as a series is kinda like an anime in book form. Sometimes it’s crazy, sometimes serious, but with a nice world and colourful characters. I’d probably suggest reading the first two books to get an idea of the characters and world first, but as it’s own part in the series, this is nice continuation.
I give Mana Mutation Menace 4 stars out of 5.