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No Hero Paperback – June 21, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was unsure about what to expect when I started the book. I really enjoyed the story. Buy it. Read it. Thank you, Jonathan, for writing this, and the other novels.Published 10 days ago by Henry Ackerman
Reads as if it was laboriously written from an outline. Tries to be witty but fails.Published 28 days ago by Amazon Customer
Although the book held my attention and there were a few genuinely funny parts, I felt that the book read like a screenplay. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Trina
Starts OK, but somewhere near the middle of the book it becomes
obvious that neither the plot, the world nor the behavior of the
characters is plausible enough to... Read more
Crazy, Dr. Who-ish, bloody and sometimes gross. Lots of fun and hard to put down.Published 10 months ago by ReedOn