Theatre Of the Gods by Matt Suddain
This is the story of M. Francisco Fabrigas, philosopher, heretical physicist, and perhaps the greatest human explorer of all ages, who took a shipful of children on a frightening voyage through dimensions filled with deadly surprises, assisted by a teenaged Captain, a brave deaf boy, a cunning blind girl, and a sultry botanist, all the while pursued by the Pope of the universe and a well-dressed mesmerist. Dark plots, cannibal cults, demonic creatures, madness, mayhem, murderous jungles, the birth of creation, the death of time, and a creature called the Sweety: all this and more waits beyond the veil of reality.
It’s the eternal question isn’t it, should we judge a book by its cover? Well, the book blurb for Theatre of the Gods does make some outrageous claims. I’m paraphrasing, but essentially we’re talking a surreal, mind-bending journey to the furthest reaches of the known universe and beyond. Sounds like a winner to me…oh go on then, let’s give it a shot.
This novel features quite a large cast of characters, all revolving around the quiet island of calm that is M. Fransisco Fabrigas. What can I say about Mr Fabrigas that hasn’t already been said? Joining other such curiously monikered luminaries as Zaphod Beeblebrox and Baron Hieronymus Carl Friedrich von Munchausen, he is a gentleman shrouded in mystery. A platinum intergalactic rogue who never fully knows reveals what it is he is actually planning. There is a wonderfully anarchic air to the man that’s infectious. Above all that, and most importantly, he also enjoys a good soup which I can entirely respect.
He is bearded. Never trust the beardy. They cast their beardy spells and listen to their beardy music and are profoundly insolent.*
Fabrigas does not travel alone in his adventures; there are a plethora of oddball characters to relish. The Necronaut, captain of the modestly named good ship Necronaut, is a dashing adventurer without equal. It’s probably worthwhile pointing out he is also a first class liar and womanising cad. Then there is Miss Maria Fritzacopple, space botanist with more than a few secrets up her sleeve. My personal favourites however were the ship’s bosun, Jacob Quickhatch and Lenore. Jacob is a man-mountain who’s not adverse to a good fight. I suppose it’s Lenore who really stands out though, she’s a strange one alright. Even now I’m not entirely sure who or what she was? Just a normal little girl, or possibly a slightly creepy homunculus. The jury is still out. Maybe we’ll never know?
I could try and explain the labyrinthine plot but things veer off on so many delightfully surreal tangents it would be utterly pointless. I wouldn’t wish to spoil the surprise for any potential reader. This is a book where the less you know going in the better. Think of yourself as an explorer and you’ll be fine. You just have to experience it, let it wash over you as it were. If you’re willing to take that chance then you can rest assured you’ll be in for a real treat. There is so much chaotic fun to be discovered. I fully expect readers will revisit this text again and again.
I’ve long considered the skill of writing genuinely amusing fiction, the darkest of alchemies. I’ve read a lot of fiction that raises a smile, much less which makes me laugh out loud. I can count on one hand the amount of novels that make me want to share a joke or witty one liner immediately. I’m so very pleased to report that Theatre of the Gods falls squarely into this last category. Some of the humour is in your face while other more subtle bon mots sneak up on you unexpectedly like a literary ninja. On more than one occasion my other half, Mrs Cheesecake, was prompted to ask the question “What’s making you titter like a schoolboy?” My advice, look out for the the sea shanties.
With an undeniably silly premise, but an absurd sense of joy, the author takes us on a journey across his slightly skewed vision of the cosmos. I do so love it when any writer wholly embraces the ludicrous. I was reminded of vintage Douglas Adams on more than one occasion.
Everybody try to stay limp!
Is it possible that the universal powers have finally seen fit to provide a natural successor to one of my favourite authors? Maybe, I shall certainly be watching what Matt Suddain does next with great interest. (Obviously, I mean his literary output. Anything else would be verging on stalking and probably be considered illegal and quite creepy).
Theatre of the Gods is published by Blacklist Publishing and is available from 27th June. I recommend strongly that you seek it out.
*Being somewhat beardy myself I can confirm this statement to be one hundred percent accurate.