An anti-hero with a cleanliness issue plays a divinely-created game lead by a flighty Goddess in a toga.
Age: Young Adult
First Published: 4th February 2010
Date Reviewed: 26th January 2011
Lex likes to make trouble and has a habit of stealing whilst supposedly studying law. Once, when he found himself on the run after an unsuccessful mission, he decided to hide in the church of Lady Luck. This lead to him being enlisted as a competitor in the games, three rounds of challenges organised by the gods. Now, unfortunately for Lex, his boss is his assistant. There’s nothing more Schmidt would like than to give the criminal the what for, but instead they will have to cooperate if they are to win against the odds.
Lex Trent Versus The Gods is an oft-hilarious novel revolving around the tasks set for Lex to complete. There is a touch of Terry Pratchett-like humour in it, especially at the beginning where you may recognise where Bell has got her inspiration from; but the similarity stops there and otherwise the book is unique.
What’s particularly interesting about the story is that the main character is an anti-hero but nevertheless a character you want to read about. Bell’s humour plays a big part in this and she extends it to the group of characters as a whole. Lex is… horrible. He’s not the most awful person by any means, enlivened somewhat by an OCD that ill-fits his “profession” and is thus very funny, but he can at times be uncomfortable to read about. His opposite exists in Schmidt, the lawyer who provides interest because of the oppositeness (and, incidentally, for his opposition) and his dialogue. Of particular note is a scene in which Lex and Schmidt attempt to walk up an ice staircase.
When you have similar themes running through a book, in this case rounds of a game, it can be easy for everything to blend together and for the reader to forget when different events occurred. This is not the case here, where Bell effectively colour codes the rounds and sets them in a variety of locations. Be sure that the game never becomes boring because of these differences and because of the strange goals set.
Generally, authors of fantasy stick with the bog-standard mythical and legendary creatures established in the genre, here and there creating new ones specifically for their own works. Bell partly continues this trend but also diverts her attention to ancient Greek mythology to add a sparkle to the first round of the game. It fits the material perfectly.
“Zoey is – as you say – a ridiculous name for a griffin. I suppose my grandfather thought it was romantic to name a huge, hulking beast after the woman he loved.”
The narrative is fast paced and easy to read. There are a few slower sections where the book can be put down for a while, but the pace means that they don’t last for long. There are also constant climaxes throughout the story owing to the games, and, something I absolutely loved because it’s the thing I don’t like about the fantasy genre – there is no long journey involved. When the scenery changes it’s only for a short while and compared to other books it’s instantaneous. It’s worth reading the book just for the mode of transport.
We always think of Gods as being in the sky. Bell turns this notion on it’s head.
The only thing I wasn’t too sure about was the element of luck, because although it’s completely rational (as Lex is supported by the Goddess of luck) it means that Lex’s tasks are comparatively easy. Not thinking realistically helps, as well as constantly reminding yourself that this is pure fantasy.
Where witches are made the prey for a king’s hunting party while simultaneously still vying for work, and teenagers are turned into fish for trying to trick magicians, you can be sure of a good story. Lex Trent Versus The Gods isn’t perfect, but it’s not far from it, and with a second book on its way I think it’s safe to say that what has been released so far bodes very well for the future.
January 30, 2011, 6:21 pm
This book sounds like so much fun! I love all the different elements. I’m hoping my library gets a copy when it comes out!
Charlie: I’m not sure if it’s been released in the US yet, the next in the series is almost out here in the UK so I guess it’ll be there soon.
February 5, 2011, 12:06 pm
[...] Trent Versus the Gods by Alex Bell: After reading Charlie’s review on the Worm Hole, I’m intrigued to try this new series for myself…if it’s ever [...]