Friday, December 12, 2008

"By the Sword" by F. Paul Wilson

Hate to say it, but Wilson is finally down to his last few Jack novels, culminating in a re-released and majorly overhauled version of "Night World", which was the last book in his Adversary Cycle. Wilson includes a forward in this book that explains how the Jack books will be ending, how they won't "wrap up" with each book anymore, and how he advises the reader to be on the lookout for that new version of "Night World". It makes me sad that Jack's story is almost over, but I knew it wasn't going to last forever; I read the original Adversary Cycle quite a while back and already know how it ends. Or at least, how it did end...

Jack has been contacted in regards to a stolen sword, a Japanese katana, crafted by the master metallurgist Masamune. The sword disappeared almost 50 years ago from the Hiroshima Peace Museum, and this gentleman wants it back. He can't go to the police, though, because his father was the one who "liberated" it from the museum. Thus, he enlists Jack and his services. But Jack's being taken for a ride; this guy isn't who he says he is, as he finds out when he meets the real Nakanaori Okumo Slater. As if this wasn't bad enough, Jack soon realizes that there are other factions searching for the legendary katana, including but not limited to the following:

Hank Thompson: leader of the Kicker movement, he dreams about the sword almost every night. He knows it's important to the coming Evolution promised by his father, but he doesn't know exactly how it fits. He's also still on the lookout for Dawn Pickering and her unborn child, but again, he's not entirely sure where she fits into the big picture.

The Kaze Group: Hideo Takita and three yakuza are sent by this corporation to the United States to find the katana. Hideo has ulterior motives, as well - he plans to track down and kill the man that killed his brother. And that man just happens to be Jack...

The Kakureta Kao: a Japanese cult from long ago, thought to be exterminated by the bomb in Hiroshima. A very strange group that believes in removing their senses one by one, in the most literal fashion, too. They believe the sword is vital to their very existence, as well as their ability to create the Kuroikaze, or Black Wind, a phenomenon that kills everything in its path; it doesn't create a literal wind, such as the kind that tears down trees, but more of a spiritual black hole.

Jack has his hands full and there are a lot of characters willing to double cross him and each other. This book is full of action, which is a bit of a departure for Wilson, as most of the Jack books balanced action with the human element. And speaking of the human element, Jack's girlfriend Gia and her daughter Vicky are all but MIA in this book, something that was very disappointing to me. Jack can become almost one-note at times, but his interactions with Gia and Vicks bring out his best, and I like to see that. What did make me happy is the actual introduction of Glaeken (under an AKA); he and Jack finally meet and talk, with the ancient warrior filling Jack in on some of the upcoming battle plans. It's a nice touch to what's coming up, and I really enjoyed watching these two get to know each other, as they're so obviously alike. It will be interesting to see how Wilson brings Jack's story to an end, and even more interesting to see what changes he makes to the revised edition of "Night World".

Hang on, because I think it's going to be a very bumpy ride.

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