I’m hoping that if you’re reading this, that you’ve read the first book in the Primal Patterns series, because “The Goblin Rebellion” isn’t going to make sense unless you do. The story picks up pretty much where the first book left off with only a brief recap that doesn’t help if you haven’t read book one, because you won’t understand the complexities of the world Jameson has created, and it’s seriously complicated. This is a dark epic fantasy meets hard science fiction tale with a little bit of a creation myth retelling thrown in—all these elements are present in the first book except the creation myth bit. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book, but I will say that some of my problems with the first installment were addressed appropriately, but other problems remained, and others—that were present—became all the more overt in “The Goblin Rebellion”.
Basically, at the end of the last book, Lucifer is given a teddy bear for his son that includes a powerful tool that is capable of destroying planets and creating universes. Why you’d give this to a child, I have no good reasoning for, but it happens. During the hand-off, Lucifer accidentally presses the wrong button and destroys a planet inhabited by elves, killing millions. Yes, it was an accident, but that’s a pretty costly one and some are not happy about it, for good reason. They decide to devote the rest of their immortal lives to tearing down Lucifer for killing their families, and they feel the best way to do that is by partnering with Jehovah—who is pissed he failed to destroy Lucifer’s primal pattern and now decides taking the elves pattern is the next best thing. Honestly, it felt a bit similar to book one but with Lucifer and Routan’s positions flipped. I did like that Lucifer and Sariel seemed to mature in this book, though. They felt more like the ancient beings I wanted from the first book, ones who were responsible for their pattern and needed to be accountable for all its people. Lucifer’s growth and compassion makes him a more endearing character this time around, and I felt myself wanting him to succeed and get his son back much more than I did by the conclusion of the previous book.
Even though the characters show some growth and the dialogue is better in the second book, the problem with mixing this kind of fantasy with hard science fiction remains. There’s a lot going on and it was getting hard for me to switch between the science fiction part and the fantasy elements. Jameson likes explaining the space travel and how space in general affects the time and how the magic works, and I appreciate that. But it got to be a bit of an overload, especially as the book can be rather slow at times with little action and just long periods of political maneuvering and scheming. All the ages and time differentials and light years started to turn to a number overload and I felt was ultimately meaningless as the characters are immortal and the passage of time is so immense that I question why it needed to be stated so often, or at all really. But the hardest part is marrying that with the fantasy that has more overt tones of Christian creation myth stories in “The Goblin Rebellion” then it did previously. In the previous book, if you kind of ignored the names and the idea that “angels” and “demons” were fighting, this might have been easier to get into for you, but that wasn’t the case for me.
Honestly, Jameson’s demons and angels just feel like winged creatures rather than anything demonic or angelic as their abilities are the same and the demons aren’t after anyone’s souls, so to speak. The classic lore of what an angel and demon is, is completely absent in Jameson’s novels. Normally, I’d adore flipping this on its head, but it wasn’t done in a clever way to where I felt it was a unique retelling, it was just too far removed for that. I’d have loved to just ignore all that, but when Jameson also gives us a brief retelling of Noah’s Ark (which I did enjoy how that was brought about and delivered as it felt the most thought out to me) it’s hard to view the rest of the characters as just a coincidence used for naming conventions. This is made even more difficult by the elven race, who outside of their pointed ears, technology, hive mind capabilities, and lack of wings, didn’t feel far enough removed from the angels or demons, and yet were supposed to be a unique take on what an elf has been established as. Oh, and remember, elves are also the goblins here, it’s just a derogatory term for them. Yeah, like I said, this is a complex series with a ton of things going on in each book that may be hard for a reader to keep track of and have their mind switch back and forth between the fantasy and science at the drop of a hat. Or it was for me, in any event.
My personal issues with getting into the story due to the clashing genres aside, perhaps my biggest qualm this time around was with how the women in this book were portrayed. In the first book, a lot of these tones were sort of presented, but they weren’t as overt because you had Anne, Lucifer’s wife, who had a bit more substance to her then the women in “The Goblin Rebellion”. Without her, all you have is a cast of one dimensional female characters who are boiled down to their physical sex appeal and desire to sleep with the various male characters and have their babies. Honestly, pretty much all the named female characters in this book are first introduced by how sexy the main male characters find them. When you have a world where women are supposed to be as formidable as the men, fighting in wars and being assassins and all that, it was disheartening to have them being portrayed in such a manner and with so little substance to them.
I wanted to give this series another chance because Jameson has a truly expansive imagination and is clearly a smart writer when it comes to science fiction. The idea to flip how we view Lucifer and Jehovah and creation myths on their head is pretty interesting, but coupling that with the sheer amount of characters and themes and genres just got too much for me and made it hard for me to connect with any of the characters or their patterns, or the story as a whole. Because of the complexities of this novel (and series) along with the violence, language, and sexual themes, I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone under 16 or 17, and even then they’d have to be very dedicated readers.
Even though I had issues with the characters, portrayal of women, and plot, the world building is better in this book, as is the dialogue and the character arcs of Lucifer and Sariel (the only characters I ended up caring about). Like I said, Jameson has to be admired for his creativity, even if I could not applaud his delivery. Overall, I liked this book a bit more than the first in the series, but not a great deal more, so this is going to be a 3 star rating for me (I gave the first book 2.5). And thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy!
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