Book Reveiws

Book Review: Below

Right from the beginning, this book’s concept intrigued me. A hidden kingdom deep below ground full of monsters and treasure? A silver-tongued thief who has been fascinated with the place all his life but is definitely not going down there?

Well, well…I wonder what could possibly happen next?

Before long, I realized that in addition to being a fascinating idea for a novel, the concept also felt familiar to me. I too have felt the familiar pull of treasure hoards guarded by untold monsters. Have needed to be aware of what I might find. Have needed to make sure I am well-provisioned with the best gear I can get beforehand, and kept a careful tally of what I still have left and have been able to find on the way.

As I soon realized, and the author’s note confirmed, this is a sort of novelization of the dungeons found in many rpg games.

The adventure and geekiness is spot-on. The author makes great use of suspense and the payoff does not disappoint. But what I appreciated most was the author’s attention to detail in making this sort of concept make logical sense in the real (fantasy) world.

I could tell thought had gone into how such an ecosystem of monsters could exist. I’m planning on going into a more detailed discussion of this in a later post, so I won’t say more about that now. Except to say that I loved his mention of plagues being transferred from the fae realm to Earth, and vice versa. If such a thing actually existed, this would absolutely happen, just as it does when separate populations come into contact. Yet the only other time I’ve come across this is in H. G. Well’s War of the Worlds.

Fantasy doesn’t mean the laws of science don’t exist, it just means they are different or have exceptions. Most of the laws of physics are embedded into fantasy novels anyway, just so they are understandable to humans from Earth. When an elf fires a bow, for example, no one is confused as to why the arrow flies away suddenly, and takes a roughly parabolic path towards its target.

I also appreciated that the author didn’t feel the need to introduce a lot of crudeness, especially given the inclusion of the main character’s girlfriend in the story. She’s interesting, though I wish I had gotten to know her a bit better during the story. At times she fell perilously close into falling into the threatened-woman-who’s-only-purpose-is-providing-motivation-for-the-hero cliche, but thankfully she managed to avoid that fate.

All in all, great read. I really hope Lee Gaiteri writes more fantasy novels.