Science fiction and fantasy
Lex Trent Versus The Gods
by Alex Bell
When we meet Lex he's up to no good. He's unusually lucky, but for once he gets caught in the act without a decent excuse, because luck will only take you so far. Facing the loss of his job at a law firm and the loss of his life if convicted, he has no choice but to flee Wither City. But Lex also gets himself enrolled in the Games. Played by the gods with human playing pieces, these contests are very popular with mortals and gods alike. If he wins he stands to gain fame and glory, but all too often the Games can be deadly. For Lex to triumph, or even to emerge wearing the same face he began with, he must outwit the gods themselves.
Alex Bell's gods are a vain bunch of self-centred pleasure-seekers, not unlike the Greek gods of legend. A few creatures from Greek myth also turn up here and there. The gods aren't the same characters as those in the Greek (or Roman) pantheons, but the influence is obvious. There are still quite a few surprises in store, even though the book has the flavour of familiar myths.
Lex is unwillingly accompanied by the dry lawyer, Schmidt. Honourable and perceptive, Schmidt sees right through Lex's scams, and in spite of his strict morals he's one of the most interesting figures. We also meet Lex's drippy brother Lucius, who turns out to be quite a contrast to his sibling. Lucius may be wet, but in some ways he has far more courage than Lex. A lot of humour comes from these characters and their interactions.
Lex is so cheeky and arrogant, and so reckless, he's like a Darwin award waiting to happen. If there's a problem with this book it's that Lex is a little too bold and extreme, and this puts him in danger of becoming predictable. However for anyone looking for an original story with light humour, a striking antihero and lots of adventure, Alex Bell's quirky world is well worth the trouble of exploring.
12th April 2010
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