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Thanatos Rising Kindle Edition
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How far would you go to get your PhD?
Are there any limits?
What price is too high? Your life? Your soul? Your friend's souls?
Harry Chesterton, a doctoral candidate, believes he is on a hunt for the existence of the soul. The only scientist to effectively measure the ' memory footprint ' of a soul after death is Dr. Otto Blighty, a man kicked out of Oxford as a crank and a loon, as he wouldn't reveal his apparatus for measuring souls as he wanted his discoveries kept out of competitors hands. His peers (were there any?), deemed this ludicrous, and booted him out. He disappeared.
Harry has run him to ground in Aberystwyth in Wales. The entire town acts odd, as if they are actors in a play. Even though Harry is a psychiatrist, he starts having strange compulsions that sound a lot like mental illness, or is it something evil? He is fixated on Blighty, on a Discalced Carmelite priest and a former monastery high on a hill with a very ancient and questionable past. Every time Harry tries to hike to the old monastery, something happens - he blacks out, loses memory, and winds up in his apartment hours later, sometimes with injuries and a sweet smell pervading the room.
Mr. Prior isn't pulling any punches here. This is a straight up horror tale told as if written by a PhD candidate about his subsequent hunting of an evil genius, Dr. Otto Blighty. Harry has been looking into Blighty's research and Blighty is not happy about it. When evil genius' get cranky; nobody is safe.
What do you do if you are an evil genius and a pesky but very smart doctoral candidate starts bugging you on your home turf?
Oh, btw, boy wonder thinks you are Superman. Will that keep him alive longer than a day or two?
You will have to read the book to solve this mystery and what is that sweet smell? It's kind of yummy and delicious. Makes me want to... Hey there gorgeous. My place. Actung!
The language may be thesis level, but anyone who reads the classics should handle it with ease. Come on people, this isn't rocket surgery. With a Kindle or other reader, the dictionary is built in. For print, if you have to, look up the words on your phone or computer. There is only 1 word too specialized or archaic to be in the Full Version of the Dictionary.
There is a lot of misdirection here, Prior is like a magician; he waves the fingers of his right hand so you won't know what his left hand is doing, but the clues are always sprinkled throughout the story. More answers will be coming in the next book. That's when he'll have to provide the details on Thanatos. The perfected version of humanity is quite intriguing.
Prior interconnects all of his stories, so to get some insight into who or what Harry is chasing, Otto Blighty,The Dreaded Lord of Verusia, you need to read some books. You get a much clearer picture of what the risks are to Harry's body, his sanity and his soul by reading:
Ward of the Philosopher
The Shader Series
BEFORE you read this book. You just can't appreciate the fact that Harry is unknowingly poking a cross between Carl Jung, John Dee and Satan with a stick so he can finish his thesis. Too high of a price for me. The suspense, the tension, the blood, the dead bodies, the reanimated are normal for Blighty. He is evil incarnate.
While, I agree the part about Thanatos was a teaser, the rest of the story very much reminded me of Bram Stoker's Dracula. When Jonathan Harker goes to transact business with the Count in Transylvania, he has no idea he has been set up by a creature of darkness who will steal his lady love and transform her into a vampire, while he is a bloodbag for three beauties. Chesterton is in the same position. I won't say more. Please read all the books. They are a rare treat.
The feeling of dread in both stories is identical. The clueless protagonists that are in way over their heads with little hope of success. The slow reveal of evil, without explicit details is so true to the gothic horror story that I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The only place the author went off the rails was when he included obscure references to arguments in Gnostic theology ( to people who didn't study religious beliefs), are opaque.
“Ah, but the question, my dear Artaud,” I quipped, “is whether or not you subscribe to the Gnostic dualistic position or the monistic unitive stance. If the former, then perhaps you would be good enough to point me to the exit.”
“There is no exit,” she said in mock seriousness.
“Then I suppose we’d better order some wine,” I concluded, turning my attention to the list.
I am sure there are some of you out there snickering about the humor and simplicity of this passage. To most, it's as thick as a brick.
This is a minor quibble. I loved the story. It whet my appetite for Thanatos fully risen. Excellent job Mr. Prior!
Plot/ Storyline: 4 Stars
Thanatos Rising starts with an open letter to whomever, "finds these, my memoirs." It is written by H.C. Harry Chesterton, a forty-two year old man who has had a career as a psychiatrist, but has gone back to college to earn another degree.
After reading that introduction letter, I was expecting a story that was not at all what I ended up reading. I honestly would have preferred what I was expecting to what I got. I read in bits and pieces, whenever I have time. So while I had time to read the intro, I had to stop and deal with real life things before getting back to it. I thought about the letter, analyzed it, and I built up all sorts of ideas about how the book would go. Now, I wish I had not built up all of those expectations.
H.C. explains that he is trying to return to the, "land of giants," Thanatos, to "feel the blessed release...to feel the power of my perfected frame and the sense of destiny that matters." Well, I figured, "Cool! I love fantasy stories. What is Harry like? What is his perfected self like? What is Thanatos like that he wants to return so badly?" I figured I would get a few chapters about Harry and his life on Earth to set a baseline for how different things would be on Thanatos. Then I would see Thanatos through his eyes, culminating in whatever happened to send him back to Earth, and finally a chapter or two chronicling his final attempt to get back to Thanatos.
Instead of a smoothly flowing story that follows a set path, reading this story felt more like taking a wagon-ride down an ill-repaired cobblestone road with three normal wheels and one octagonal one, bumpy and jerky, but still going.
If you are interested in Life-After-Death/ Alternate-Life-instead-of-Death/Different state of being stories, you may enjoy Thanatos Rising, if not I suggest you steer clear, this is a book to mull over, possibly in a book club, but it is not a book to sit back relax and escape into for a few hours.
For what it is supposed to be, a journey of ideas and self-exploration, it is an ok book. Not my favorite, but that is my issue, nothing about the book itself.
Characters: 3 1/2 Stars
Harry Chesterton/H.C. is the main character. The whole story is told from his point of view and other characters seem almost incidental. They seem to be present almost as if they are really guideposts for the character to follow than people integral to the story. Take his ex-lover/ex-fiancé; she goes missing after a night of sex, and he barely looks for her, and quickly dismisses her plight from his thoughts. Her current boyfriend comes looking for her; Harry loses him too, with even less care for his whereabouts than hers.
Harry spends most of the book talking about, thinking about, and searching for Dr. Cadman, who is supposed to have insights and information that harry is trying to find. Every time Harry starts to actually get close to Cadman, Harry abruptly, finds himself elsewhere with unaccounted time, gaps in his memory, and other weird things. This is part of what is so jarring about the way the story flows.
Writing Style: 3 Stars
I do not mind "British-isms" in a story, I feel the lend flavor and setting. However, I do think the language tries too hard to be erudite. I am glad I have an extensive vocabulary, but this story really stretched it to its limits. This may be a book about a psychiatrist and his search about Life, Death, Life-After-Death, and Alternate-Life-Instead-of-Death, but the language was really too much for an enjoyable read. I have friends in both the psychiatric and psychological professions, and none of them has speech that is this esoteric normally.
And struggled. My mind felt like it was in a mudpit as I read each paragraph. I could understand what the author was saying just fine.. but the attempt at a ? language destroyed any rhythm. I'm not sure what the author was trying to say with the vocabulary being used. It was very difficult to get drawn into this world and flow with it. And the occasional placement of relics of our time really threw me off. The language felt like horse carriages.. then to have a phone appear. My mind would stop for a moment before I could continue reading.
A very good story, and a tantalizing first installment in what promises to be an exciting series, but it shouldn’t be your first introduction to this author.