Warning: include(../../../incs/top.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Tower-by-Valerio-Massimo-Manfredi-.php on line 3

Warning: include(../../../incs/top.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Tower-by-Valerio-Massimo-Manfredi-.php on line 3

Warning: include(): Failed opening '../../../incs/top.inc' for inclusion (include_path='.:/opt/php54/lib/php') in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Tower-by-Valerio-Massimo-Manfredi-.php on line 3

MagazineBook reviews

Just in | Library of book reviews 

The Tower by Valerio Massimo Manfredi

. Contributed by

Buy The Tower in the USA - or Buy The Tower in the UK

author pic

Pub: Macmillan. 295 page hardback. Price: 16.99 (UK). ISBN: 1-4050-5201-5.

check out website: ww.panmacmillan.com

Valerio Massimo Manfredi is an Italian archaeologist best known as an author of novels set in the ancient world, particular the 'Last Legion' books. By contrast 'The Tower' is, except for the first chapter, set in the twentieth century, apparently some time between the wars.

There are two basic plots running alongside each other, though needless to say these connect one time early on in the book and eventually join up again towards the end. The first story concerns Philip Garrett, an American who is looking for his archaeologist father Desmond, who has apparently disappeared in the North African desert. Various clues provide his son with enough of a trail to track him down. In the process, he uncovers mysteries and encounters a variety of curious people. This plot is very much out of the 'Indiana Jones' mould, with deadly traps that need escaping from, sword-wielding enemies that need defeating and ancient tombs that need exploring.

The second plot concerns a signal emanating from space. Priests at the Vatican have made a connection between this signal and certain suppressed and possibly blasphemous ancient texts. This side of the story is real 'Da Vinci Code' stuff, with night-time assignations, death-bed confessions and papal politics. Pulling these two seemingly disparate plots together is the eponymous Tower, apparently the home of a great and ancient evil. Surrounding this Tower is the realm of the Blemmyae, the mythical race of headless people supposed to have faces in their chests.

'The Tower' draws liberally from just about every genre of adventure story imaginable. Besides American pulp fiction and conspiracy theory novels, the Arabs of the hidden city of Kalaat Hallaki seem to be lifted straight out the 'Thousand And One Arabian Nights' rather than anything recognisably more modern or even Islamic. The connection between the alignment of the stars and the ancient evil dwelling in the Tower reads like something by H.P. Lovecraft.

In other words, between the cast of characters and the things they're getting up to, this is real 'everything including the kitchen sink' storytelling. To a degree, Manfredi is saved from making a complete hash of things by simply being a good storyteller. There's no shortage of action and the various set pieces follow on from each other at such a pace that the reader doesn't have a chance to worry about any lack of detail or even authenticity. But at times, things are so vaguely explained that the reader will be forgiven for wondering who these people are and what they're up to. There's a whole sub-plot involving the lovers Arad and Amir that doesn't really get off the ground except in the broadest possible brush stroked. Something to do with a crazy mother and promises to get together only when she's cured. But it's all hazy stuff with naphtha jars, magical arrows and goodness knows what else.

'The Tower' also suffers from a certain lack of depth. The characters are all strictly one-dimensional. Philip Garrett is dutiful, his father is brave, their friend El Kassem is loyal, the bad guy Selznick is nefarious and so on. The Tower itself becomes a bit of a MacGuffin, almost a disappointment. This isn't to say that the adventure story getting out to the Tower isn't fun but, once you're there, it becomes a bit of a case of 'Is that it?'

Ultimately, this is pulp fiction of the purest sort. Where an author like Umberto Eco might have used this mixture of ancient and modern motifs and mysteries to discuss a variety of philosophical points, Manfredi doesn't really try to challenge the reader or even to edify. This is entertainment pure and simple. As it stands, 'The Tower' is a workmanlike bit of quasi-historical fiction with a splash of occult mystery and Science Fiction, b

Magazine > Book reviews

Just in | Library of book reviews

Add SFcrowsnest.com daily news updates to your own web site or blog - just cut and paste the code below...


Warning: include(../../../incs/bottom.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Tower-by-Valerio-Massimo-Manfredi-.php on line 22

Warning: include(../../../incs/bottom.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Tower-by-Valerio-Massimo-Manfredi-.php on line 22

Warning: include(): Failed opening '../../../incs/bottom.inc' for inclusion (include_path='.:/opt/php54/lib/php') in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Tower-by-Valerio-Massimo-Manfredi-.php on line 22

 

CURRENT ISSUE

July 2012

RECENT NEWS


Warning: include(../../../last5news.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Tower-by-Valerio-Massimo-Manfredi-.php on line 30

Warning: include(../../../last5news.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Tower-by-Valerio-Massimo-Manfredi-.php on line 30

Warning: include(): Failed opening '../../../last5news.inc' for inclusion (include_path='.:/opt/php54/lib/php') in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Tower-by-Valerio-Massimo-Manfredi-.php on line 30

Stephen Hunt's novels - USA


Warning: include(../../../incs/footer.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Tower-by-Valerio-Massimo-Manfredi-.php on line 35

Warning: include(../../../incs/footer.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Tower-by-Valerio-Massimo-Manfredi-.php on line 35

Warning: include(): Failed opening '../../../incs/footer.inc' for inclusion (include_path='.:/opt/php54/lib/php') in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Tower-by-Valerio-Massimo-Manfredi-.php on line 35