CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 9 . . . . October 31, 2014
When one adversary dies a new and decidedly more powerful foe emerges to hamper Sam’s chances in securing control of the Dreamscape from the evil Solaris, in 7 and 6, the seventh and eighth volumes of James Phelan’s “The Last Thirteen” series. From the aftermath of the previous installment’s cliffhanger, Sam emerges (although, not before being captured again by hostile forces and having his dreams harvested for vital information) to begin his search for the next Dreamer. His travels take him to the Grand Canyon and subsequently to Cody, a young recreational tour guide who eagerly alerts Sam to the location of next gear belonging to the da Vinci machine. Traversing miles of rocky terrain, they enter a network of caves—the site foretold by Cody—only to discover there is no gear to be found and they are not alone.
In 6, following a harrowing confrontation with Solaris which concludes with the detonation of a low-grade nuclear device, Sam finds himself in Moscow, transported there via an escape pod. After a bizarre dream, he awakes, dazed and confused, inside a medical laboratory. Before he can make sense of his surroundings, he is pulled from his bed and escorted to safety by an expertly trained young woman (Arianna) who he is quick to identify as the next of the last thirteen. With Arianna by his side, Sam is eager to retrieve the next piece to the da Vinci machine. But there is one problem: Arianna has yet to dream of the location of the gear, and worst still, she has been unable to accurately remember her dreams ever since her imprisonment in the same facility from which Sam was just rescued.
Secondary story arcs featuring Eva and Alex are once again incorporated within this main story. Now more than ever, however, these threads come across as underwhelming, if not almost entirely unnecessary to the principal plot. That’s a shame considering the varying points-of-view these characters offer and their ability to reveal insights and elicit emotions Sam is often unable or unwilling to convey given the heavy lifting he typically undertakes—jet-setting halfway across the globe, hunkered down in shootouts, and planning his next escape from a growing list of individuals who wish him ill leaves very little time for anything else.
The series’ overly defined plot structure, which has had a stranglehold on story pacing since book one, has somewhat relented and relaxed from its former rigidity. As a result of this, a good measure of suspense has crept its way back into Phelan’s writing. Several twists, specifically Sam’s betrayal in the caves (in 7), land with great satisfaction and importance to the story’s moving forward. Readers would be wise to hope for more of the same as the series moves towards its close, now only five books away.
Andrew Laudicina. a MLIS graduate from the University of Western Ontario in London, currently resides in Windsor, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.