My brother got me into British author Simon R. Green around ten years ago with Green’s Hawk and Fisher story arc. I love Simon R. Green. He is one of my favorite authors. One of his newer story arcs is his Nightside novels, featuring the not-quite-human P.I. John Taylor. The Nightside novels take place in modern day London, in the secret, dark and hidden heart of it called the Nightside where it is always 3 o’clock in the morning.
I was originally a little suspect of these books, I must confess. I had previously read all the books of Green’s I could get my hands on, the Hawk and Fisher novels and the Deathstalker series, both of them very good. However, neither of those arcs are set in modern times, so I was a little worried that Green’s graphic and extraordinary imagination wouldn’t mix well with “the real world” of London, or anywhere else for that matter. Thinking back on it now, this was really my first introduction to anything that was both urban/contemporary/modern mixed with fantasy.
I was pleasantly surprised by the first novel, Something From the Nightside. Green was the snarky, dry British writer that I’d enjoyed previously and he created such an amazing, if somewhat frightening and disturbing, place in the Nightside. Anything can happen there, and often times does. His lead character, John Taylor, is severely flawed and you can’t quite figure out if you love him or hate him. But Taylor’s enough of an underdog that you just have to root for him.
Green’s novels aren’t for anyone who can’t stand graphic descriptions of blood, guts, gore and anything else he can come up with. He is so wonderfully descriptive that you’re almost there with the characters, like it or not. I love a writer who can make you feel like you’re there. If I could meet any one of the writers in enjoy reading, I think it would be him.
His Nightside arc is currently 11 novels long, with a 12th to be released in 2011 (can’t wait!!!). I think originally it was supposed to be far less, but either her really loves this arc or his fans do. Or both. Either way, I’m not complaining.
Something from the Nightside: First book of the series and it does a good job of introducing the characters. John Taylor gets pulled back into the Nightside after years of trying to make it in real world London as a specatcularly failing P.I. I personally thought it wasn’t the best of the bunch, but it grabbed my interest enough to read the next one. B-
- Angels of Light and Darkness: Angels from Above and Below (yes, the caps are needed) come to the Nightside looking for an extremely powerful, but not quite holy, relic. Taylor is highered to find it before they do. More Razor Eddie (one of my personal favorite characters) in this one. B+
- Nightengale’s Lament: An interesting concept of a singer whose voice is powerful enough to sway people’s emotions…but something’s not quite right with her. Enter John Taylor and one of my other personal favorite characters, Dead Boy. Solid story, but not quite as good as later stories. Doesn’t add much to John Taylor’s “mysterious past”, but a good break from the overall seriousness. B
- Hex and the City: John Taylor is hired to look into the mysterious origins of the Nightside and, just possibly, his long lost and most definitely not human mother. You’re just starting to get into the meat of Taylor’s mystery with this one. A
- Paths Not Taken: This one starts off delightfully light and off beat, with a plain and simple human from real London getting lost in the Nightside. This little side bit is fun and snarky and gives you a little break from the seriousness of the rest of the book, in which Taylor travels back in time, still investigating the origins of the Nightside. He is accompanied by Susie Shooter (otherwise known as Oh Christ, it’s her RUN!) and Tommy Oblivion, the existential detective. A
- Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth: *Spoiler Alert-sorta* End to the Lilith story. I think that this story could have been cut short a bit and tacked on the end of Paths Not Taken. I liked it, but I felt it took just a bit too long. B
- Hell to Pay: This is the first novel after the Lilith War ended. I was really, really interested in how Green handled the fact that Taylor had relatively more freedom now that he changed his fate, and I was pleased to see it was done well. Taylor is still Taylor, he doesn’t let his new found relative freedom get to his head. A
- The Unnatural Inquirer: This one is just fun. Sure it still has it’s moments of gore and violence, but you just can’t help but have fun with Taylor is teamed up with a Demon Girl Reporter who is, in fact, half Succubus. A+
- Just Another Judgment Day: The Walking Man comes to the Nightside and all hell breaks loose. Again. B+
- The Good, the Bad and the Uncanny: Walker, the man who passes for law and order in the Nightside, is dying and is looking for someone to take his place when he goes. Enter John Taylor, who really doesn’t want the job. At all. But not all is as it seems. It never is, with Walker. A
- A Walk on the Nightside: This is a compilation of the first three novels of the Nightside. Since I gave them all a different score, I guess I can just put this in as a solid B.
I can’t wait for the next novel which is, supposedly, called A Hard Day’s Knight. This can, of course, change as the release date comes closer, but it seems to fit with his pun-tastic titles.