To Tame the Sentry Being
by Michael Georgiou Published by Book Guild, rrp £8.99

REVIEW BY THEO PILGRIM

This is the first book of The  Endless Dreams Saga, by St Leonards resident Michael Georgiou. The author says that ‘the story itself is inspired by many things that are currently happening in our global climate, such as terrorism, the left vs the right and the general spectrum of the human experience’.

It is not 100% clear if the book is pure fantasy, as there are hints that point toward science fiction. The differences are quite real, but the way Georgiou handles the material leaves SF elements tantalisingly out of reach – will these emerge in later volumes, or will it remain in the ‘fantastic’? Either way, this volume piqued my interest more than sufficiently: I fully intend to follow the saga!

I put that up front as a kind of signal of my pleasure in reading this book, because it may be easy to take parts of the remainder of this review, which dip into a few negatives, disproportionately, and I’d not like to see that happen – though it is also true that one or two comments may be interpreted as criticism or recommendation depending upon the tastes of each individual reader.

The novel opens with a seemingly simple and polarised premise: two brothers, Syros & Ednon, one bad one good. This impression is slowly but effectively demolished. In this volume, at least, the polarity is not reversed, though the potential is there, rather the characters of each brother become increasingly complex. This is, in general, handled well, and, to my mind, that’s a relief, as it felt too cut & dried at first, a sin many fantasy writers commit – ditto a straight switcheroo. This is one reason I intend to grab book two when it appears.

There are one or two plot lines that seem too pat or cursory, usually relating to changes in dynamics between characters – now and again it seems under-motivated, needing more time to be convincing, though in most cases the raw materials are there, so it can be overlooked. Some of the subbing slips up too, in the last quarter of the book. Both these issues are the sort easily addressed by a good editor. I recommend Georgiou get this right in future volumes, as the book is in fact very engaging.

Here’s a thing, he also leaves quite a lot to the reader’s visual imagination. No bad thing, it enables us to create a more complex picture of the environment than is directly offered, and that is itself a skill. Sometimes it may need more texture to avert easy comparisons with other genre staples, though, of course, this could also be intended. I found there to be doses of ‘Conan’ / ‘Elric’ in parts, lots of standard ‘medieval market’ elements, and no small impression that many of the aliens and avatars, and scenarios, could be presented as Pokemon characters and worlds. It is also true that to a degree some of these sections leave the reader a trifle confused: and no doubt mostly in a good way, as teasers and hints for future volumes. Yet, still, I feel that there is definitely a ‘bits missing’ aspect to parts that goes beyond ‘wait and see’.

One puzzle, hopefully fully in the ‘wait and see’ camp, but leaving me feeling a tad short-changed: a sky god under-powered and late to the party, hmm. Interestingly, this is an area I can imagine being explained and built on in ‘SF’ terms, if the author wanted to go in that direction – as I said, the hints are there, in the corner of your eye. If he doesn’t, but keeps it more in a trad fantasy universe? I, for one, will be on tenterhooks to see where he takes the story next, either way. There’s great potential here. I recommend dipping into the book!

A final bum note, though: there is a taster for book two included at the end. Whilst an ‘endless dreams’ cycle can legitimately riff on the same notes like Philip Glass, the scenario in the taster is a bit too familiar, even for Viconians or fans of Camus’s Sisyphus… hopefully, and indeed I expect, a false impression!

Wars between species, and across factions of the humans, My Lai-style excesses, ‘Oppenheimer’ moments of mass destruction, lost civilisations, Gaian moments, characters exploding into whole new modes of being, love, hate and death… The story here impels me to want to linger longer in Georgiou’s universe, and I am betting, warts and all, you will too…


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