Se­quel to thriller fun sus­pen­sion of be­lief

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS - Re­viewed by Lau­rence Broad­hurst

THERE’S a funny thing about the re­cep­tion of the four In­di­ana Jones movies. Ev­ery­one loves the first and third films (the Ark of the Covenant and Holy Grail ones, re­spec­tively), while most find the sec­ond film ( In­di­ana Jones and the Tem­ple of Doom) weak. And lots of peo­ple de­nounce the much-later, ap­pended fourth film ( In­di­ana Jones and the King­dom of the Crys­tal Skull), kick­ing it out of the Indy canon al­to­gether. The tacit de­fence of this opin­ion is that the first and third films are some­how more “be­liev­able” than the sec­ond and fourth. The lat­ter pair en­gages, it seems, both badly stereo­typed re­li­gion (the “Hindu” tem­ple) or clearly made-up stuff (an alien space­ship!) to the point of trig­ger­ing scoff­ing in­credulity. This de­fence is silly, but im­plicit. Peo­ple are ea­gerly in­clined to sus­pend be­lief and en­joy sto­ries of a pretty, divine, golden box that shoots light­ning bolts aat Nazis and of a mod­est qquaffing cup that be­stows im­im­mor­tal­ity on me­dieval knights and heals mor­tal bul­let wounds, but they grant no such favours to sto­ries of still-beat­ing hearts ripped out of chests and ex­tra-ter­res­trial space­craft that emerge from the earth. Win­nipeg writer/ed­i­tor/ blog­ger Evan Braun (work­ing in some undis­closed way with Amer­i­can pas­tor and self-styled “de­mon realm” tourist [!] Clint Byars) has al­ready writ­ten his Indy No. 1 book ( The Book of Creation, 2012). With City of Dark­ness, he scripts his Indy No. 4. There is no ques­tion there will be more in this romp­ing se­ries. City of Dark­ness picks up the story about a year af­ter the cli­mac­tic events of Braun’s first fan­tasy. The dust has set­tled. The dead have been grieved. The preter­nat­u­rally wise Rabbi is wan­der­ing the world some­where. The great dis­cov­ery of that story is again miss­ing. (One needn’t worry about the de­tails: it’s the tit­u­lar book and it is pow­er­ful.) Firmly in the Dan Brown genre, City of Dark­ness fol­lows two (and some­times more) seem­ingly in­de­pen­dent sto­ries in al­ter­nat­ing, brief chap­ters. As with Brown, it is the cheap­est imag­in­able way to build sus­pense, but it is tried-and-true. We fol­low the guy we re­mem­ber from last time: Sher­wood Brighton, a semi-crazed, hard-drink­ing whiz kid flee­ing across the globe from — you guessed it — that nasty, med­dling bil­lion­aire whose machi­na­tions drive the se­ries, but who only lurks in its pages. Think Richard At­ten­bor­ough’s char­ac­ter in Juras­sic Park but swap re­gen­er­ated di­nosaurs for re­sus­ci­tated bib­li­cal­ish gi­ants. And then we fol­low the new guy, Dario Kat­su­las, an ar­chae­ol­o­gist in Bo­livia, ex­ca­vat­ing the old­est city in the Amer­i­cas. Un­wel­come bits of dis­ap­pear­ing and death oc­cur and next thing you know this fresh face has found an un­der­ground, even older city shaped like a spoked wheel. Think of the “cor­nu­copia” clock in the sec­ond Hunger Games movie, but bury it and trade re­luc­tant mur­der­ous trib­utes for overly cu­ri­ous ar­chae­ol­o­gists and age-old ex­trater­res­tri­als. Throw in episodes of Ghost­busters- style pos­ses­sion (but sub­tract the funny), some Robert Lud­lum in­ter­na­tional in­trigue (but make it PG-rated) and quite a bit of James Bond in­sta­globe-trot­ting (but make the char­ac­ters’ clothes su­per-dirty). Also, re­mem­ber to make sure the Rabbi reap­pears and ex­plains the parts that go back to Gen­e­sis and the apoc­ryphal books of Enoch. That’s im­por­tant. It makes it more like Indy No. 1. There is a girl, too, but she is more in­ter­ested in the dead, ec­cen­tric guy from The Book of Creation than in any of her breath­ing dot­ers. And the new guy is too clouded by mem­o­ries of that other girl to re­al­ize the lucky spot he’s in. It is a wil­ful mish­mash of all these things. The pages turn eas­ily. It is not en­tirely hu­mour­less — it is silly, harm­less, good fun. The po­ten­tial au­di­ence is enor­mous, from the young to the old, from the ac­tively con­spir­a­to­rial to the lazily cyn­i­cal. The thing is, if you en­joyed the Raiders of the Lost Ark (the first Indy film), you should en­joy In­di­ana Jones and the Kin­dom of the Crys­tal Skull (the last one). You are only cheat­ing your­self. The same is true of Braun’s Watch­ers Chron­i­cle books. Lau­rence Broad­hurst teaches in the de­part­ments of re­li­gion and cul­ture as well as clas­sics at the

Univer­sity of Win­nipeg.

The City of Dark­ness: Book Two of The Watch­ers


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