After the nuclear holocaust was over, the real killing began. Phoenix was a survivor, an expert with any weapon, a master at hand-to-hand combat. He forged his way across what was left of the U.S., driven by hatred and thirsting for revenge against the supreme ruler of an almost extinct world–Dark Messiah
Title: Dark Messiah | Author: David Alexander | Series: Phoenix #1 | Publisher: Leisure Books | Pub. Date: 1 May 1987 | Pages: 224 | ISBN: 9780843924626 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Starred Review: Yes | Source: Self purchase
Phoenix: Dark Messiah Review
Writing books that are so bad they are good is hard. It’s not like making a movie where cheesy performances or over the top special effects can make up for weak storytelling or leaden direction. There’s a very fine line in fiction between entertainingly bad and just plain bad. The problem being that whereas bad films don’t take much effort to watch (especially with friends a few cold drinks), bad books still have to be read and the only people involved are the author and the reader.
I’ve read far too many bad books in my time and for the most part they’re boring as hell. I hate DNFing and repeatedly torture myself finishing books I should flung aside after 50 pages. Happily, there was no such problem with ‘Dark Messiah’. I’m not sure there is any objective measure by which this would be considered a good book, but goddam I enjoyed it.
The book starts with a nuclear war and gets more violent from there. Hero Magnus Trench (yes, you read that right) is on a macho, solo camping and hiking holiday in California when World War 3 breaks out. He survives by looking away from the explosion and hiding in his tent (disclaimer: I can’t guarantee that would work in an actual nuclear war) and then immediately bumps into a gang of ruthless mercenaries. Coincidentally, they happen to be connected to the shadowy religious figure who engineered the apocalypse. Trench is thereafter immersed in a battle against bad guys that takes up this book and presumably the other four in the series as well.
Aside from the aforementioned ruthless mercenaries and the standard desperate looters that play a part in every post-apocalyptic story, Trench faces hordes of mutated freaks who have been hideously deformed and driven insane by a lab-produced Coronavirus unleashed upon already devastated America by the Russians. The book was originally published in 1987, so naturally the new ebook omnibus edition proudly claims that it “Predicted Coronavirus”.
Notionally Trench is trying to get back to the wife and child he left on the other side of the country, but that quest is constantly interrupted by men who he shoots or women who he enthusiastically ruts with. To say that the book has lots of sex and violence is a bit like saying Amazon is a successful company. It’s technically true, but completely understates the enormity of the truth. This is a book that delights in being as excessive as possible. Logic, human biology and good taste are never allowed to stand in the way of Trench’s mission get his end away and kill as many people as possible, in as many different ways as possible. Take this as an example:
Trench finished off the mute duo by grabbing their heads and bashing them together with such force their skulls imploded. Cranial pressure popped the eyeballs and squirted brain matter out through the sockets.
Nice, huh? It’s that kind of graphic inventiveness that makes the book such a hoot. David Alexander clearly had as much fun writing it as he wants you to have reading it. He knows it’s all nonsense and he couldn’t care less. Instead he puts his arms around you, grins knowingly and gives you exactly what you want. Sex, violence and cheesy one liners. The experience ends up being like two stoned teenagers telling increasingly tall tales to gross each other out. It’s a ridiculous hellride of a book that had me grinning and turning the pages like there was no tomorrow. It certainly won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but if you like this kind of thing you’re in for a treat.
You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.
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