Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Man Who Walked in Darkness, by Chris Strange

Recently my friend Chris Strange sent me a copy of his newest book available on Kindle, The Man Who Walked in Darkness, which is a sequel to his first Miles Franco story, The Man Who Crossed Worlds. As I rather enjoyed the first story I was eager to get into this new novel and see what sort of shenanigans Miles got up to in this installment. I must admit that this book has a far darker overall tone than the previous book, but it does a good job of developing Franco as a character and further developing the universe he inhabits. At the end of the book I can very explicitly see how Miles has grown as a character across the arc. Hopefully the series will continue to grow from this point and we will see continued development of both the characters and the setting.

The Man Who Walked in Darkness takes place about six months after the last novel and Miles has begun a long slide into the gutter. After some time in jail and a massive court case for the events of the last book, Miles is trying to find solace in the bottom of a bottle. However, when one of his friends shows up in the morgue with a mysterious illness, Miles is determined to find out who killed her and why. Mile's adventure will once again take him into the deadly underworld of Bluegate but as the intrigue thickens and the corpses pile up, it looks like Miles has bit off more than he can chew.

This novel definitely was a very dark character piece exploring the mostly shattered psyche of Miles during the events of the book. Miles constantly refuses help from his friends Desmond, Tania, and Vivian to try and keep them out of danger while he uncovers another dangerous Tunneling conspiracy. Eventually Miles's friends come to his aid in spite of his attempts to block them out and he comes to realize that he needs to let himself rely on other people and they're willing to take the same risks as him. I think this was a very important phase of character development for Miles and Chris did a very good job of taking us through it. The novel also introduces us to Limbus and Tartarus, two new dimensions accessible to Tunnelers with their own unique personalities. I definitely hope that future novels in the series will further expand the universe and we'll get to explore more of these infinitely varied realities.

As I mentioned earlier, this novel also has a much darker tone than the first one. Yes, there was some serious stuff that went down in the first book, but I was honestly a little surprised at the body count. Bluegate erupted into a full-scale gang war and the casualties and collateral damage left me quite surprised. This isn't to say that the change from the original book was bad, but it was in no way what I was expecting in this new novel. Once again I also felt that Miles had a secret healing factor like Deadpool because he seemed to take a lot of damage from a lot of different people and yet is still going when even the Terminator would probably take a week in intensive care. The characters even lampshade this at one point saying that Miles seems to recover quickly from such horrific injuries. Granted, the story would be a lot less interesting from a hospital bed, but it personally stretches my suspension of disbelief.

You're definitely going to have to read the first Franco book to really appreciate the second one but if you're already a fan be aware this second book has a very different tone. Still, I'm very pleased both the universe and the characters have grown and I hope to see more good work from Chris Strange in the future.

- Kalpar

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