(Originally published on Geek Ireland)
Published by Surf Star Media, The Final Book: Gods is S.W. Hammond’s first foray into an enticing world of gods and mortals. Spanning four millennia of mortal interaction with the divine, the story follows a path that will be both familiar to Assassin’s Creed fans and at the same time something all its own. For centuries members of the Greek pantheon have found themselves stranded on Earth after a childish argument between sisters causes an upheaval among the Gods. As a result of one brash action, mankind is thrust into an age of unprecedented corruption and greed of which the Gods are powerless to circumvent. Flash forward to the late 1960’s and Zeus is reaching the culmination of his work on Earth; Project Genesis. Using technical knowledge gained over the centuries, he has constructed a machine that can create a memory link between a person in the present and a past life. Now all he needs is the right person for the job, and in USAF pilot Martin Akadian he believes he has found him. But even the great King of the Gods is not infallible and what follows is an epic tale of loss and redemption that could spell the end for mankind.
The Final Book: Gods is a story told in three distinct parts, the earliest set 4,000 years ago around Mesopotamia and the latest in modern-day America. Hammond does a great job of interweaving these different stories in a manner that both makes sense and doesn’t compromise the narrative. The book easily glides between each era, unfolding the story in a manner that makes it easy to read and understand. Unfortunately it is this fluidity of storytelling that really makes the court document pieces stand out. They feel completely out-of-place, as they are written in a style entirely at odds with the rest of the book, though their importance to the overall story cannot be discounted. Thankfully the rest of the novel is written to a high standard, and these documents are short enough that they shouldn’t cause the reader to put the book down indefinitely.
A further minor issue I had with the book was the fact that all the characters were practically perfect; Each is introduced with reference to their beauty or intelligence. Of course each of the characters is supposed to be one of the ancient Gods, so some of that might be forgiven but it certainly stood out as something that grated throughout the book. It seemed the female characters defining trait was their beauty while the males frequently, especially Zeus/William, discussed philosophy with ease. Beyond this however, each character stayed true to the mythology upon which they were based: Hera was vengeful, Zeus was frequently unfaithful, but The Final Book: Gods does take the interesting route of showing them trying to overcome their past indiscretions. In their personas of William and Pom, Zeus and Hera appear more like a loving couple than they were in the old myths, while Andi and Chloe seem to have put the incident that accidentally caused Christianity behind them.
At its heart, The Final Book: Gods takes a very interesting view of religious development and as a result has a strong message to put forward. In a similar manner to Becky Chambers’ A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet the book takes a negative view of organised religion. It is perhaps for this reason that the publisher and author describe the book as “a controversial last chapter of humanity.” Should readers be able to get beyond this ‘controversial’ theme they will find an extremely well written tome that certainly deserves a place on any bookshelf. What’s more, S.W. Hammond has revealed that ‘Gods’ is intended as the first part in a trilogy of The Final Book titles, so there’s plenty more to look forward to in the future.
(Review copy provided by Net Galley)