MINI REVIEW: PANDEMONIUM
Derek Edginton is an indie author who I've been in contact with for a good while now. I've started reading his new novel, IMMORTAL: CURSE OF THE DEATHLESS and am really enjoying it, but because I've been in the process of moving, I haven't had much time for books so I picked up his short story, "Pandemonium." It served as a nice quick fix before I began the crazy process that is moving out of one place and into another.
HOW I RATED IT
4/5 "Pandemonium" is fast paced and filled with lots of high octane action that creates an atmosphere of chaotic intrigue. It's darkly creative, but definitely moves a little fast for readers to fully connect with the characters or the world in the way they might want to.
Since this is a short story, the cast does stay pretty tight. There's the protagonist, antagonist, a character who drives the action forward and a woman of great power. One thing that is pretty interesting about the cast though is that the hero is more of an antihero and the "villain" is actually more akin to your stereotypical hero. It's an interesting role reversal, because as the reader the character who's more heroic actually comes off as being misguided and destructive within the context of this world. I also loved how everyone in Pandemonium is basically either a godly being of some kind or a witless sheep. Fortunately all of the named characters fall into the godly category and each has a unique set of skills and abilities. Basically, it was just a really fun group of characters. Even though I didn't really get to know any of them particularly well, I did like the main character and found the rest of them interesting enough to be entertained by them.
Like I mentioned before, Pandemonium is a crazy place. It's got this weird hell-realm kind of feel to it and you kind of get the sense that there aren't too many "good" guys here. There are, however, a number of different factions, though some of the deeper politics of what each wants and how they interact aren't fully explored here. I actually would have liked to see the world expanded upon in greater detail because it was so interesting. There's a lot of layers of complexity that get mentioned, but are never really followed up on and I definitely got the sense that this could be a setting for a much larger story.
The plot, like the world, also feels like it ought to extend beyond the episode that is depicted in this story. At it's core, this is really the story about a rivalry between two friends turned enemies, but there is so much intrigue and complexity wrapped around this conflict that this it's easily overshadowed by it all. That said, the ending DOES feel satisfying even though you definitely get the sense that these characters have a bit more action coming their way.
The fast pace of the plot, while certainly a slight detractor from the overall narrative, is actually a nice compliment to building the world in that it creates a sensation of discord throughout the story. This relentless stream of action helped me understand just how violent, twisted, and dangerous this place is and created exactly the type of hellish atmosphere I think the author was going for. The only other piece of fiction where the tone of a story was so in sync with its world-building would have to be the sections of Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy where the adventure brings readers to one of the elven cities.
It's not perfect and it won't move you all that deeply, but "Pandemonium" is fun, fast, and a nice quick little hit of dark fantasy. It's also pretty cheap to pick up so I'd certainly recommend that anyone give it a try if they're looking for all the action of epic fantasy, packed into a short story. The author definitely has some talent and a nice flare to his writing so that's a nice bonus as well.
"Pandemonium" is available as an eBook as well as an audio book on Amazon.