Recently, poster James sent the following comment which spurred me to jump into a two-part discussion about trilogies that I had been planning:
“Upon your recommendation, I read "Prayers for the Assassin." I thought the story was good with lots of nice touches (Jihad Cola), but the characters were standard issue thriller novel: indestructible hero; nearly indestructible but eventually destructible adversary; beautiful, smart, plucky heroine; wise/diabolical old guys (3); etc.”
James makes a good point: in essence the characters do conform to the standard thriller mode. Yes, we've seen the type before, but what Ferrigno has done with them, the world he has built around them, I believe, is absolutely original. And like almost all original constructs, this world is impossible to describe in a short space. Suitcase nukes have destroyed Washington, DC and New York City. Mecca has been nuked. The Blue states have converted to Islam, the Red states have formed a Christian Republic in the South. The moderate State Security forces are under control of the leader Redbeard; Redbeard's daughter Sarah Dougan has investigated these original attacks in a new book The Zionist Betrayal? Sarah is under attack from assassins under the control of The Old One. She is being protected by the hero of the trilogy, an ex-feyadeen soldier, Rakkim Epps. Epps has a lot of religious ideas that most American readers will not find always easy to admire. Many of the characters who you would normally classify as Good are not likable, and many of those you would think of as Bad, are admirable.
Thriller Guy is already exhausted trying to explain this world in a few sentences, and this is only an explanation of the first book. (Let's give another trilogy a try: “Small human-like creatures with furry feet and who live in holes in the ground must save the planet with the aid of a magic ring. Allied against them are the forces of Evil.” See, it's not easy.)
The thing that I find most amazing, and yes thrilling, is the sheer breadth of Ferrigno's world. His is no less original than The Lord of the Rings or any Fantasy series that you can name. Fantasy writers, actually, have an easier time of it; they can make up everything in their world. Ferrigno, on the other hand, is grounded in spiritual and physical reality. So he must bend his characters and story to a world based in existing (or theoretically existing) reality. As a writer of a series, I know how much sheer work it is to create something like this and then stick with it over a thousand pages or so. It takes over your life. It's all you can think about.
I'm not even sure I'm advising all my readers to run out and buy these books and read them. They're not for everybody. But I would like for readers in general to understand that here is a writer who could have stuck with his award winning beat, Southern California crazies, (Horse Latitudes, Flinch, etc.) but who, for whatever reasons, decided to break out into wholly undiscovered territory. For this, if nothing else, he should be admired and read. Readers who are willing to put in the time and a bit of effort will be rewarded with a look into a world unlike any imagined or seen before.
For an interesting mini-bio by Ferrigno check out his author page on Amazon.
Stay tuned for Trilogy Part II: John Twelve Hawks and The Fourth Realm.