The Vatican Knights by Rick Jones states it is about a group of terrorists who kidnap the pope, and the secret order of knights who are sworn to get him back. Kinda makes you wonder why the knights don’t try preventive measures like bodyguarding, but oh well. Fourth wall up and here we go!
WHY I PICKED IT UP:
It was the most interesting thing I could find in the Popular List of my online bookstore. The premise sounds okay, and it is at least intriguing. It’s also got a pretty good title. I found out later it is a series.
WHERE/WHY I STOPPED:
“With mechanical slowness, he pointed his weapon ceilingward.”
I shit you not.
This is on page 30 of 48 in the sample, but to be perfectly honest, I only made it through about five of the 24 pages of prologue, in which a person I presume to be the main character is in a holocaust museum, lamenting the death of her holocaust-survivor grandma a week ago while the narrator explains why the holocaust was bad.
So after skipping ahead I found myself watching some Humvees drive some ‘commandoes’ and Arab prisoners through a desert ‘of no contrition’ which was ‘inherited’ by ‘snakes, scorpions, and lizards’ because it was a ‘kingdom no one cared to rule.’ This is in Nevada, by the way.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING:
Two major issues with this novel: 1. I know the holocaust was bad. This is not a dilemma for me. I’ve read Elie Wiesel’s Night, I’ve seen Schindler’s List, and unless your book is entirely about the holocaust, don’t spend more than a paragraph or two informing us of how bad it was; anyone who’s passed 7th grade history will know already.
2. This book falls prey to one of the hardest to avoid pitfalls around—OVERWRITING. The classic signs and symptoms of overwriting include showing-not-telling, unnecessary word usage, and clumsy metaphors and/or similes. Jones might’ve held me despite the repetitive holocaust preaching if it wasn’t for all that overwriting. When writing your own books, avoid overwriting by using frank language, sensory imagery, cut out anything not absolutely necessary to convey your meaning, and use figurative language (metaphors, similes, hyperbole) sparingly and only to convey a deeper meaning. Remember: writers don’t need to show off their flowery language because a good book speaks for itself.
When in doubt, remember Hemingway. No matter your opinion of the man and his work, you have to grant he was the very example of clarity and concision.
Now leave me some comments telling me some of the worst examples of overwriting you’ve ever had the displeasure to have read! Did it make you cringe, or laugh?