S. Martin Shelton

Retired U.S.Navy Captain, Novelist

The Last Prophecy, Jon Land Book Review

ImageI’ve seen this book many times past. Not exactly this one book but other books, films, and tales with the same basic plot: intrepid adventurers discover an ancient and secret writing or glyph well hidden in some exotic/dangerous/gruesome local. Only some obscure university professor/retired cryptographer/computer geek can decode this mysterious writing. Meantime, eeevil (keep “eeevil”) forces conduct a virulent campaign of violence and skulduggery to prevent the decoding and to keep the adventurers at bay: usually a handsome fellow and comely lass who initially are at loggerheads, then sure enough they find love, etc. Overcoming all hazards the pair get the text decoded and sure enough it details incantations to call Beelzebub to rise from Hades to purloin our souls, or reveals the scheme of some ancient religious order/military cabal/or space aliens plans to rule/destroy the world.

Back to the book. The Last Prophecy is seriously overwritten in codswallop: 414 pages of small print in the paperback edition. The flood of words becloud the thrust of an obscure and typically thin plot. The narrative lacks coherence making it difficult to comprehend—it wanders from local to local introducing different characters with agendas that seem to be disconnected. We are inundated with ornamental minutiae that muddle the narrative making this tome even more difficult to follow—it’s just so much unnecessary word filler. Another negative I have with this book is that the author suffused the narrative with screeds about how awful/brutal/inhuman the Israelis treat the downtrodden, deserving, and debauched Palestinians. Lastly, at last, the plot is contrived to a crippling fault in several scenes as the Deus ex machina saves our daring-do characters from a fate worse than death, or even worse.

Actually, stripped with extremely sharp editing, this book would make a straight forward, interesting adventure novella of 50K words or thereabouts.

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