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Pagan: An MPRD Novel Paperback – October 30, 2009
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About the Author
Andrew Chapman is an Englishman born and bred who now lives in Kentucky with a wife he describes as 'the most beautiful woman in the world' and a cat he describes as 'that stupid animal'. He is an avid wargamer, a voracious reader, and a determined author. His presence in the US is entirely legal, so there's probably not a lot that can be done to stop him.
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Quite the pity because the characters are pretty strong. Only the villains are complex; the heroes will pretty much do what is demanded of them, but that's partly a consequence of the setting. When Vampires are taking over Britain, only the cowardly and evil really get to make choices. The protagonists are aware of the consequences of their actions and still make the noble choice and that is all I can ask of them in this setting.
There is a wonderful sense of place throughout the novel. Not just England (although I think that Mr. Chapman ought to chat with the tourist bureau; I wanted to book a trip midway through the novel), the setting is a well developed "What If".
The plot was well constructed; the plot twist and subsequent reveal weren't a surprise if you were paying attention, but the author did a good job of distracting you from paying attention - much like the adversary.
I doubt I'll bother with the sequel, since I don't really want to see how guns, guns, guns and sex will fit into the Vatican. The setting was so much of the book, that if you move Pagan out of Blighty I think it would suffer.
The main character (Pagan) is a kick butt leading man, who alternates between killing vampires and having sex with one of the women on his squad (who also happens to be a werewolf). Far be it from me to say there was too much sex, but Pagan could put James Bond to shame in that department. Not busy killing vampires? Have some wild sex! Still, there was plenty of bullets and action to get me hooked on this sereis. I enjoyed this action thriller and will pick up the 2nd Pagan book when it comes out. Lofty prose? No, but a fun blazing tale!
In Pagan, Vampires are amongst us. But they're not our friends. They're not brooding, misunderstood, let's-mingle-with-humans-because-can't-we-all-just-get-along?. They're the enemy. Plain and simple. With very few exceptions, Vampires want nothing more than to dominate. What's interesting in Pagan is that the vampires WANT the human race to believe that they're all fuzzy and glittery and sexy people you take home to your mother. They use novels, television and their own news stations to spread propaganda that they're 'the good guys' too. It's actually a very interesting commentary by the author on the state of how Vampires are depicted in popular culture. The bad boys/girls with a heart. NOT so in Pagan.
Enter Jack 'Pagan' Henderson. He works for the British Ministry of Paranormal Research & Defence (MPRD), a vampire hunting force populated by ex military and civilians (including some weres and a good vamp or two) that's dead set against buying into the blood leeches' false advertising. England is at war. Where other countries (namely the USA's government, despite how its populace rails against it--very clever social commentary, that) give Vampires freedom and accept them with open arms, England is a country where vampires control the north and are fighting towards the south. With his team of vampire hunters including John and Anna (John's wife who was turned vampire but holds onto her humanity) and Marie, a civilian born and bread werewolf, they seek out to find and kill as many vampires as they can.
The team's primary mission in Pagan is to take out a meeting of The Three, including a vampiress named Glavidia. The Three are the most powerful vamps in the country and Pagan is sent in to cut the head off of the vampire army. Things go as planned. And then they don't.
The MRPD uses cutting edge tech and big guns to get the job done. This leads to very well written action sequences involving nicely plotted military tactics. One of my few gripes with this, however, is the copious use of gun acronyms. It did take me out of the story a few times but not enough to take any points away.
But this book isn't all about blowing up vampires and people going furry. It's VERY much about the characters. Pagan and his core team are all fleshed out, living entities because of Chapman's ability to color them with their back story. He uses flashbacks to good effect to tell some of his story as well as that of his teammates. The character interactions are fantastic and even the romantic aspects (yes, there is that. There's always a girl ain't there?) move the story along and brought me deeper into the characters. It's a great balance between the very human and fantastical action. Jack Henderson is a character who's hard not to like. He's skilled, but not invincible, he's good to his team, he doesn't ask anybody to do what he wouldn't do himself and he's not without a deep well of witty one liners. The fact that he's a reluctant celebrity (he's England's #1 vamp hunter after all) makes him all the more interesting.
In short Pagan is a great mix of story, action, well drawn characters, relationship drama with a little saucy spice thrown in there for good measure and a VERY good twist at the end.
Annnnd I'm rambling! It's nice to find a fresh new voice (new to me..I'm late to the party) and a new take on what can become a cookie cutter genre. Great book and I'm looking forward to more by Mr. Chapman!