Saturday 14 January 2012

Twilight of the Gods, by Mark Clapham (Bernice Summerfield novel)

Twilight of the Gods was the last in the series of Bernice Summerfield novels published by Virgin. It provided a resolution of several story and character arcs within the series. Perhaps I was at something of a disadvantage in reading it, as I had only read two of the Benny novels before, Down, by Lawrence Miles and Dead Romance, also by Lawrence Miles.

I think if you read Dead Romance as part of the Faction Paradox range, as I did and therefore saw that story as a standalone, you will be massively disappointed by Twilight of the Gods. Dead Romance was simply an amazing novel, one of the best I have ever read. While it touches on Doctor Who, it is something that can stand on its own merit. I find it incredibly difficult to integrate the epic cosmic horror of Dead Romance with the very average sci-fi plot of Twilight of the Gods. They feel like two different fictional universes (though perhaps if I had read the novels in between the two books I would not feel this way).

Twilight of the Gods provides an explanation of who the gods of Dead Romance are and shows them battling for supremacy on the planet Dellah. For me this completely undermined Dead Romance. In the Miles novel, the gods were a mysterious and terrifying unseen force. Here, they are a bunch of squabbling, incompetent aliens, whose leader talks like an American television presenter.

Twilight of the Gods is for the most part a reasonably decent story, but it lacks either the celebratory mood or the epic climax necessary to conclude a lengthy series of novels. The novel also lacks the sense of cosmic apocalypse that its theme demands.

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