A series of wars, terrorist attacks, and supposed natural disasters turns out to be created by ultra-wealthy businessmen with the aim of interplanetary takeover in this second installment of a trilogy.
Australian hero David Granger and his friends and family—along with Orack, a powerful, computer-generated hologram—face down a series of scoundrels bent on taking over Earth and possibly the planets Atlantis, Genesis, and Dudgeon. Like some grandiose game of Whac-A-Mole, no sooner do they knock down a nefarious “Mr. Big” than one or more new evil kingpins pop up. Eventually, Granger and his allies once more find themselves in a rousing interplanetary showdown with archvillains Dotoff and the Supreme Commander. But not before the protagonist and his intrepid band elicit the aid of legendary Arthurian magicians Merlin and Morgana. The latter takes Granger; his daughter, Susan; and his son, Robert, on a Christmas-like sleigh ride through time (“They seemed to pop out of a cloud mass and, with a slight bump, settled on rich soft grassy soil...Morgana told them they were at Camelot and the castle was the one King Arthur stole from her. The lake to the side was Loch Lomond”). Meanwhile, Orack continues to evolve from an emotionless machine to a feeling being. Unlike the first volume of the Granger saga, which tied together various episodes in the hero’s life, Johnson’s (Aussie Pilot, 2018) sequel has a more coherent, linear storyline and smoother prose. While the characters, except for Orack, are still somewhat flat, the author does render Granger and company more human than in the first installment, as in this interchange involving the protagonist and Robert: “David turned to face his son, smiled that broad smile...‘Ready as we ever will be, I guess,’ he replied, and they both strode with an identical swagger as they made their way towards the shuttle.” In addition, Johnson certainly has an eye for vivid details. But instead of utilizing his skill building empathetic players or gripping situations, he applies it mostly to describing what the characters eat: “He pan-fried the prawns in garlic and deep-fried two small fillets of fish with some squid in batter. He placed the salad on a large dinner plate and…added a single serving neatly to each plate.”
This intriguing tale mixing sci-fi and magic should appeal to fans of the series and perhaps attract additional followers.