Tom Adams ‘The Psychonaut’ Review
Written by: Myra Gabor
Imagine knowing what someone is thinking, what his intentions are, just by shaking his hand. Or by smelling his hormones. It’s a pretty handy talent to have. And imagine that someone else who is almost ready to travel between alternate universes picks this person to be the who travels through a gateway to a parallel world. The possessor of this unique individual is Merrick Whyte.
Merrick makes his living by being the in-between as deals are made. Based on handshakes and smells, he tells the people who hire him what their potential partners are really thinking of doing with their company and personnel. His job is lucrative and he is not tied down to any particular company.
Then he meets Lazlo Karapetian, a man who believes in parallel universes and wants to travel between them. He invites Merrick to join his group to be the key to opening the gateway door to an alternate world. Some of the descriptions caught my imagination, such as the spiral hallway. Although Merrick walked behind Karapetian and knew that he always walked upright, often Karapetian seemed to be walking on the walls or even on the ceiling.
Merrick’s talent is innate. He’s never studied it or tried to perfect it as Karapetian’s acolytes have. Merrick meets one of these acolytes whose power is at least as strong as his, but Merrick can still read him and understand his ambition. However, Karapetian’s intention is closed to him. Try as he might, he cannot read past the smooth exterior. Although Merrick is excited to try crossing the gateway, he doesn’t have faith in Karapetian’s motives.
On his first try Merrick succeeds in traveling to an alternate universe. In his ignorance of how things work, he lets a bloodthirsty creature follow him back to his own world. Karapetian admits to Merrick that he wants world dominance, a benevolent dictatorship, while there are others who want the same thing and are not averse to bloodletting to get it. At least when Merrick meets the others, he can read and understand them. The two groups are yin and yang, light and darkness. Although Merrick sees the other group, the Ukurum as sadistic and murderous, he doesn’t quite trust Karapetian’s group.
There’s plenty of action, sadism, torture and gore. There’s also philosophical musings and arguments presented for both sides. Also what is almost a treatise on love versus loyalty and lust. In other words, a little bit of everything was thrown into this mix.
This book was a hard one to rate. It’s not a bad story. It’s well told, but there’s just a little too much story for my taste. We go from a man with a unique ability, which would have been enough for a full length book, to an almost love affair, to the science fiction of being able to cross to parallel worlds, to a treatise on good vs bad, to action scenes with the balance of the world as the outcome. With magick thrown in. (Yes, it’s magick with a K). It’s part travelogue, as well, as it moves from London to Turkmenistan to Rome with various alternate worlds in between. With a little of Lord of the Rings thrown into the mix. To repeat, for me it’s just too much story.
I’m a university graduate and consider myself to be widely read on a variety of subjects and with a really decent vocabulary. I don’t appreciate having to look up a new word every few pages. Here’s a sample: psychonaut (not to keep you in suspense, it’s achieving an altered state of consciousness either through drugs or meditation), sed, syncretic, hierophant, lanugo. As I said, that’s just a sample from the beginning of the book. Either you know what these words mean, or you can let yourself enjoy the story without letting their meanings worry you, or you’ll be like me and look them all up, which will slow down the narrative for you.
The basic plot is an old one. When you cut through all the verbiage, it’s that no matter how powerful or well funded an organization is, there’s only one man who can save this world from the evil one.
Although this is a stand alone book, its’ ending clues us in that more will follow. As an ebook, it takes over 700 pages to tell the story. In print, it takes almost 400 pages. It will certainly give you your money’s worth.
A thorough and well thought out review. Thanks for taking the time.