SPEAR OF DESTINY

By Jaspre Bark

Reviewed by Christopher Teague

I can remember reading in my youth those Commando comics, with their gung-ho action and iron-jawed heroes. Then, later in life, the First Person Shooter came along for the PC; games that put you in the role of that lantern-jawed hero taking the fight to countless hordes of evilness.

The FPS-format grew, embracing all manner of storylines and plot ideas, with many developers and publishers rushing onto the bandwagon - some were good, some were just plain awful.

Rebellion Games, a little-know very small developer based in Oxford, produced an FPS called Alien vs. Predator on the Atari Jaguar (a console that really should have beaten Sony's Playstation to the #1 spot...). The Jaguar failed to sell, yet Rebellion were noticed and they made many more games, and became one of the largest - if not the largest--independent software developer in the UK.

Keen to protect their Intellectual Property, Rebellion launched a publishing imprint to produce spin-off novels - a very brave and innovative move: I can't think of any other book based on a computer game. Spear of Destiny is one of their launch titles, and this daring move shows promise.

SoD is not a great novel, nor is it bad - the basic storyline concerns Karl Fairburne, an American elite sniper in 1945, working behind enemy lines, whose mission is stop a German general from defecting to Russia, along with his plans for producing a weapon of mass destruction and destroying the USA.

Bark's writing is professional, and the story zips along, but the main problem is the fact it is based on a computer game. It feels very episodic; Karl has one mission, yet within that he has several other smaller tasks, which is a very game-orientated approach. Even the sections in-between remind me of the animated cut-sequences to explain key-points of the game.

All the characters are your typical WWII archetypes, but due to the "pulp" nature of the story, I wasn't expecting anything else.

As stated above, there is nothing intrinsically bad about the book, yet there is nothing of real note which makes it rise above the other books on the shelves. If you're a fan of Sven Hassel or a keen gamer, then this could interest you. Whether the book would appeal to the game's target audience, mainly teenage boys, I do not know, but I hope it does since Rebellion deserves kudos for such a brave move.

Spear of Destiny by Jaspre Bark. Paperback, 320 pp, £6.99. Published by Abaddon Books and available in all good bookshops, or online from Amazon

Website: - www.abaddonbooks.com


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