Monday, November 10, 2008

On The Nightstand

by F. Paul Wilson

I've long been a fan of F. Paul Wilson, especially the novels that make up his Adversary Cycle, the first of which -- THE KEEP -- I was lucky enough to work on when FPW adapted it into a graphic novel.

In recent years, FPW has been working on a new series of books featuring his hero Repairman Jack, who first appeared in THE TOMB and plays an important part in the Cycle's final novel, NIGHTWORLD.

These new books bridge the gap between THE TOMB and NIGHTWORLD, forming a very long prequel of sorts to the final showdown, both setting up the events in NIGHTWORLD and charting some new territory for Jack, a 'fix-it-man' who finds himself continuously drawn into a battle with the dark forces waiting in the shadows.

To be honest, the Adversary Cycle has had a profound influence on the development of the Fade stories, and my plans for the Fade novel. I studied Paul's intricate plotting closely, trying to understand how he can balance smaller self-contained stories with the larger narrative unfolding in the background. I'd never try to recreate it, but his technique suggested a few possibilities that I hope to include in my own work.

Having said all that, I get a huge kick out of the Repairman Jack books, purely as a reader. They're thrilling, fun, and highly entertaining. My only complaint is that he only does one a year, an unbearably long period of time between books, especially as he brings this part of the Adversary Cycle to a close. There are only a few new RJ novels in the works, all leading to a heavily rewritten version of NIGHTWORLD.

This latest installment -- BY THE SWORD -- brings another one of FPW's novels (BLACK WIND) under the umbrella of the Adversary Cycle. BLACK WIND is a sprawling historical epic set before, during, and after WWII. It's always been connected to the Cycle in subtle ways, but now in BY THE SWORD, those connections become more obvious and important, as Jack has to deal with the long-simmering after-effects of the events featured in BLACK WIND.

BY THE SWORD is thoroughly enjoyable whether you've read BLACK WIND or not (though I would recommend reading all of the Repairman Jack series in order). But for me, the most impressive thing is that it made me want to go read BLACK WIND again. It would at least give me something to do while I hold my breath, biding time until the next Repairman Jack book comes out.

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