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No Hero Paperback – June 21, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Arthur Wallace Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Wood creates vivid, intensely human characters and his perfect sense of timing keeps the book bounding along at a quick pace. A funny, dark, rip-roaring adventure with a lot of heart, highly recommended for urban fantasy and light science fiction readers alike." - Publisher's Weekly

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Product Details

  • Series: No Hero
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books (June 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597802824
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597802826
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,160,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By H. Bala TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cthulhu and a shellshocked British bobby walk into a bar...

In the oversaturated realm of urban fantasy, what's another book, eh? Jonathan Wood's NO HERO features smart but somewhat stodgy British copper, Arthur Wallace, who is absolutely unprepared when the world requires him to play action hero. As a child, young Arthur Wallace was inspired watching TANGO & CASH and he ended up joining the Oxford police force. Arthur lives by his mantra: W.W.K.R.D.? ("What would Kurt Russell Do?") But what can Kurt Russell do when nightmarish other-dimensional creatures known as the Progeny menace our reality? Arthur Wallace and cosmic threats go together like chicken soup and a slap in the face.

Investigating a series of seemingly random serial killings, Arthur catches a whiff of the supernatural and promptly gets recruited into MI37, the secretive government agency what takes on paranormal incursions. Except that MI37, low on credibility, is abysmally budgeted and so very close to being mothballed. It's quickly evident that Arthur, stepping out of his familiar world of police procedural, is no Agent Mulder, is not dashing, doesn't spring into action with panache or wicked moves. The author plonks him in interesting company. His field team is constructed of a foul-mouthed Scottish sword-wielding chick harboring massive psychoses, a chemist/thaumaturgist who is a Nervous Nelly and a walking run-on sentence, and a Goth computer chick who provides tech support. The dysfunction will flow.

And the Progeny aren't even the most frightening element. The Progeny's mission is to effect the crossover of their masters, the Feeders, from their dark world into ours. An opposing faction are the Dreamers, elusive figures who can reshape reality at a whim.
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Format: Paperback
Now this is a good one.
The premise reminds me very much of Charles Stross's Laundry novels: underfunded British secret department using magic to protect our world from Lovecraftian horrors. Stross's is nerdier, because the main character/narrator is a programmer, whereas here the main character/narrator is a police detective who watches too many action movies and is drawn into the secret department when he's too good at his job. Stross's is also more of a satire on British bureaucracy, whereas this is more of a straight urban fantasy thriller, a bit like the more action-packed parts of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files.
Not that it isn't funny. Arthur Wallace, the narrator, has a keen self-deprecating British sense of humour even in the middle of battling magic-distorted creatures under the control of other-dimensional mindworms out to destroy our entire reality. His habit of asking himself "What would Kurt Russell do?" is referenced perhaps two or three times too often, but despite his self-doubt (from being so thoroughly out of his depth in a universe that suddenly includes magic and aliens), his mistakes and his belief that he's "no hero", he manages to provide the leadership that the reduced and neglected team at MI37 need.
If you're actually British or know the difference between British and American language, you'll notice that the book has been translated into American (presumably a market thing). At first I was wondering whether the author was an American doing a good, but far from great impression of being English, but he actually is an Englishman living in America, and the references to "bangs", "fries" and "Mom" are therefore intentional. I found it slightly distracting but not too much so, and now that I know the reason it probably won't bother me in the second book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a great fan of Jim Butcher whose character, Harry Dresden, is well-developed and thus, lovable. I went into this novel with delight and found it difficult to understand the characters at the beginning of the novel. The story progressed well but I did not empathize with Arthur. I will write this criticism off to a first novel in a series and I plan to purchase the second novel in the series.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I grew up during the 50's when men's magazines were dectective magazines, westerns, or war magazines. They were full of lurid or purple prose. Which at the time was exciting for a young boy. However those magazines and the young boy are a thing of the past. This book has some very novel ideas but they are buried under some of the most annoying prose I have read in a very long time. The author, being English, indulges in what he thinks is English humor that being when one character starts a sentence and goes off on tangent in the middle of the sentence only to say sorry and then finish the sentence. Only when Shaw the head of MI37 talks does the story makes sense. The action scenes are very clear and sharp, But that damn getting lost in a sentence raises its ugly head and screws up everything. I just want to beat the author with his own book. So if you are a fan of Monty Python you might like this novel, if you are not you have been warned!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Urban fantasy. Not really into it. Nowhere near enough space battles. But, I had read a few articles by author Jonathan Wood and liked the sense of humor that showed through everything I'd seen, so I thought I'd give it a go. I wasn't disappointed.

No Hero is fun and funny. Not sitcom funny, more Doc Martin funny. The novel is a mostly serious, world-in-peril thriller told from the point of view of Arthur Wallace, competent if insecure police detective, whose current case brings him to the notice of a Men In Black-style agency known as MI37. MI37 is charged with defending the world from all threats from beyond--on a budget. The agency has seen better days.

To staff MI37, Wood creates a set of characters grounded in the real world in spite of the paranormal nature of their charge. Arthur's teammates are much more in the know than he and not always reliable. His leadership often involves little more than running along trying to keep up. There are no heroes here. Just people fighting their own personal battles as well as the Big One. Arthur struggles to understand his team's motivations and doesn't always get it right, but throughout the story the bond that begins to develop is touching and believable.

The novel's humor comes mostly from Wallace's internal monologue as he tries to makes sense of this new view of reality, leads a team who may or may not be on the same side, and constantly questions his own ability to deal. He's never quite sure he's up to the task and well aware of his tendency to whine about it. Wood does a great job of weaving his humor throughout a serious story without stepping on the tale. Not an easy task. The action and threats are real and the humor fits neatly within.

I've haven't read much urban fantasy so I can't really say how No Hero compares, but this one is a good one. I look forward to Wood's future work.
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