A masterful melding of fantasy, history, thriller and full-throttle action.
Washington’s debut work weaves multiple storylines from across time and space into a gripping, unflagging epic. The star and narrator is college professor Mark North, whose introductory dream, violent and otherworldly, signals a past and demons that are anything but ordinary. Evidence soon mounts that his waking self isn’t exactly normal, either. He launches his own rogue investigation after a colleague is accused of sexual improprieties with students. What is initially presented as academic politics mushrooms into centuries-old intrigue, flinging North from a fictional northeastern university across centuries, continents, worlds and back. The journeys link the same core players: Knights Templar, secret societies, and deadly demons hellbent on entering and dominating this realm. Their machinations mix with campus scandals, historical battles, artifacts with special properties, ritual sacrifice, martial arts, shifting allegiances and interdimensional travel, all laden with double-dealing and physical desire. Little of this is beyond North’s ken, though he’s no Indiana Jones with a bullwhip. That initial dream hinted at more than the state of his psyche, and he meets each assailant, acquaintance and magic spell with a readiness, knowledge and prowess. In the vividly detailed fight scenes, he’s an enigmatic, engrossing action hero with enough personality flaws (anger and vengeance being high on the list) and attitude to maintain appeal. Washington offers intelligent language and an impressive command of storytelling, heavy on whiplash-inducing plot turns, while the voluminous appendix recognizes the challenge of so many characters and exotic names. A few questions are left unanswered, which will only whet the appetite for more.
A worthy twisting of fantasy and history.