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Monday, April 22, 2024

Just Finished Reading: Ghosts of Empire by George Mann (FP: 2017) [292pp] 

London, 1927. It was supposed to be a much-needed vacation, especially after the incidents in New York which very nearly ended all of their lives. But Gabriel was a man of action, a crime fighter and dedicated enemy of monsters, so visiting historic sites in London and sitting in fancy restaurants for too long was starting to bore him. Luckily their late guest provided much of interest, especially as he arrived covered in his own blood and was barely alive. Unable to tell Gabriel who attacked him or why it was clearly time to his alter-ego known simply as ‘The Ghost’ to investigate further. It wasn’t long before his friend's attackers showed their hand again in an all-out assault using esoteric magic the like of which the Ghost/Gabriel had never seen before. There was far more going on here than a simple attack, something dark, something sinister and, so it seemed, something very Russian. The Ghost couldn’t fight such a force on his own. Even his friends, as capable as they were, would not be enough. Luckily for the Ghost he was far from alone. Operating in the shadows, watching, waiting and gathering strength was an element of the British Secret Service dedicated to fighting the Empire’s supernatural enemies. After the end of the Great War and the recommencement of the ‘Great Game’ they knew that the Russian Empire would be itching to strike at the very heart of Albion itself – and Gabriel Cross, AKA The Ghost – had just walked right into the middle of it. 

This was the 4th and final book in the Ghost series. Whilst not my favourite – that was the 2nd book Ghosts of War – this was still a FUN romp in a crazy mixed-up steampunk, Lovecraftian, gothic Batmanesque world. It did start off rather slow but ramped up quickly once the action started. Some of the characters from previous novels got a bit more into the action this time – Gabriel's cop-friends wife actually got some ‘acting’/action time here and proved herself capable with the pistol – although some got trimmed back a bit – Ginny was definitely toned down as she had become quite powerful in the last book, being inhabited by a shard of an Egyptian god and all that.... The one I really missed was Astrid, the New York witch, who I really liked and wanted to see more of. I did like some of the British spies – both the boss and the girl had some depth of character to them – and the baddies were suitably BAD although maybe a little too weak. Much of the magic work was reasonable (reminding me of Dr Strange more than anything else) but much was very well done. The final ‘boss fight’ was slightly disappointing but not too much so. Overall, it was a pretty good outing and I enjoyed it. It was interesting that more attention was paid to the use of magic in the Great War than had been hinted at before but it's possible that the general public wasn’t aware of it as the information came during an exposition by the head Secret Service guy, but that would cast the conflict in a whole different light. Personally, I’m still totally intrigued by the whole idea of monsters from other dimensions living & feeding in no-man's land. That STILL sends shivers down my back! Looking forward to more novels/series from this author. More to come. Above average stuff and, therefore, recommended. At last, a FINISHED series – time to start two more!! 

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