Immortals have been a fixture of science fiction for some time. My earliest exposure was through a series that ran from 1969 to 1971 called The Immortal. The science in the series was quite limited and most of the action consisted of our hero running from an aging millionaire who didn’t want to die. My second exposure left much of the science out and focused on a lot of sword and sorcery. The Highlander spent its time with the hero being chased by or chasing others of his kind with the intention of removing their heads. No serious reason given except the series tag line, “There can be only one!” (And yet there were so many of them.)
When I first heard about Immortal, I dismissed it as yet another in a recent deluge of Fantasy novels. Then someone compared it to The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. I have been a Dresden Files Fan for the past few years, after being introduced to Harry Dresden through the television series. I had to read Immortal to see if the comparison held up.
After reading the first hundred pages, it was obvious that the resemblance is quite superficial. Although there is plenty of mystery, none of it is solved with magic. There are demons, dragons, and vampires, but none of them are quite what you would expect. And that is a good thing.
Gene Doucette introduces the reader to a world where even the supernatural has its limits. Demons are physical beings; dragons are stupid; and vampires are usually quite likeable. Although he emphasizes the lack of magic in Adam’s world, he does introduce a magical or mystical creature – a red-haired woman who comes and goes at will.
The main character has an attitude problem, which happens to be something I like in a protagonist. And Adam, in spite of his seeming immortality, is as human as they come. Though ageless and unchanging, as the story progresses it becomes clear that Adam is not truly immortal, that he can be killed.
Overall, Immortal is a good read for the beach, poolside, or a long plane trip. It maintains the reader’s interest throughout, overcoming a somewhat lethargic start. The book begins with a lot of exposition interspersed with bursts of activity. It features flashbacks that introduce new characters vital to the story. The action in the novel is cinematic in scope, making it more of a thriller than a standard mystery. And it wrapped up most of its loose ends, while leaving an opening for a sequel.