I read The Third in pre-release format on my Kindle and was extremely pleased with the content, writing style and overall message. Keogh's The Third rI read The Third in pre-release format on my Kindle and was extremely pleased with the content, writing style and overall message. Keogh's The Third reminded me of George Orwell's classical novel, 1984. The world he paints, not that far into the future, is dysmal, confining, and completly in control of the government right down to the food we eat and the time we spend each day. I am a new fan of Abel Keogh. I look forward to the sequel....more
The following two reviews were published by Jenny Hansen, Meridian Magazine, and Jeffrey Needle, Association of Mormon Letters, following pre-releaseThe following two reviews were published by Jenny Hansen, Meridian Magazine, and Jeffrey Needle, Association of Mormon Letters, following pre-release of American Voices.
Jeffrey Needle, Association of Mormon Letters.
It's hard to read this book without thinking about the current state of affairs in our nation. Some time ago, the governor of Texas began talking about secession, and most of us reacted by saying either “Fine, don't let the door hit you on the rear end on your way out,” or “Please just shut up – you're not going anywhere.” If you're not a politics junkie as I am, you may not have heard of this latest bit of nonsense.
Now, in the wake of the passage of health care reform, we're hearing talk once again about, among other things, secession. I don't think anyone is going to take such foolish steps; we are, after all, one nation under God. But there is certainly a groundswell of protest growing that is worth paying attention to.,
In this latest offering from Gordon Ryan (whose writing we haven't seen in quite a while), Daniel Rawlings, whose American roots go back nearly 150 years, is plunged into a world of violence and bloodshed. As a captain in the National Guard and a respected attorney, Dan, an active Latter-day Saint, is plunged into the difficult and murky world of fringe radical groups, cold-blooded killers, bent upon the destruction of the Union that we call the United States of America.
His main target is a group called the Shasta Brigade. Populated by radicals and disaffected no-gooders, they operate in the shadows, although some, even peace officers, are known to be active members. Their influence, and their deadly activities, are abetted by a respected group called the Western Patriot Movement. Behind the scenes of this group is a U.S. Senator bent upon the full secession of the state of California from the Union.
Dan Rawlings and his ancestors have lived and farmed the fertile ground of California for generations. Now Dan must decide whether he will support the secession movement or to live his convictions about California and its place in the United States.
Along the way there are heroes and villains, and enough action to keep any reader on the edge of his seat, wondering how the story will wind down.
Ryan is known for his spare, lean prose, and his amazing understanding of the human condition. I've been a fan of his writing for many years, ever since he produced his “Spirit of Union” series, which ended all too quickly. This latest offering may be his best yet. The subject matter is timely; the action is credible and often nail-biting.
There is much to admire in this book. Ryan has been a consistent and thoughtful voice on the Mormon literary scene. His books appeal to readers of every stripe. Some may complain that there is little in the way of soaring rhetoric in his writing. But this is not his goal. Instead, he wants to inform and to entertain. And in this sense, he succeeds very well.
A quick word about typography, and this, I admit, may be a purely personal preference. There are two issues.
First, when expressing ranking (such as 1st), the publishers choose to superscript the “st” portion, thus causing the reader's eye to leave the flow of the text. I recall reading studies that indicate that readers tend to tire more easily when they are forced to leave the direct left-to-right reading path. Yes, I understand the common use of such typography, but my personal preference is to leave the entire word in regular type.
The second issue, I think, is more serious. I appreciate as well as the next guy the desire to make a book look as nice as possible. The first page of each chapter has a picture of an American flag, in medium-dark gray, set as a background for the page. The result is a potential problem for some readers who have trouble reading black print on a dark gray background. In my opinion, this particular decision will create some stress on the reader. I know that my eyes don't deal well with the reduced contrast between the print and the background.
This is an exciting beginning to a new series. Valor Publishing is to be commended for bringing this book to life. Ryan, after many years of fine writing, still has a lot to say. We can all hope that he continues to put pen to paper for a long time to come.
Jenny Hansen Review in Meridian Magazine
I don't usually review a book until closer to its release date, but since I don't have a large number of other books this time, I'm going to talk about American Voices, State of Rebellion, Book One, by Gordon Ryan which is slated for release in May. This political action thriller is just what one might expect from Ryan, who is well known for his political intrigue novels and his vast knowledge of political and military tactics. American Voices takes a young man, Dan Rawlings, a twelfth generation American and sixth generation Californian, and places him in the center of a political power struggle as California teeters on the brink of secession from the United States. Recently widowed, Dan buries himself in his work as city administrator for a small Northern California City, captain in the National Guard and would-be author until the brutal murders of a National Guard lieutenant and a sheriff's deputy by a militia group who sees their actions as the same as those of the early rebels who revolted against British rule at our country's inception. Suddenly he's involved with the FBI, particularly a young, attractive special agent, elected to the California Assembly, and assigned by the governor to write a new constitution for the Republic of California. Dan is torn between loyalty to his country and to his state. His ancestors fought in every war in which the US has been involved. His recently accepted novel is based on his family's experiences in supporting the Union, yet members of his family were among the first settlers in California, own a vast tract of Almond orchards, and have a large stake in California's future. A senator from California is at the forefront of the secession movement, but is he capitalizing on popular sentiment or is there something else behind his effort to form a new nation? Are the militias' brazen bank robberies, murders, and intimidation tactics signs of mere extremists and raving misfits or are their actions being guided by a master manipulator? Is dissatisfaction with federal intervention the cause of the rebellion or is it just a log thrown on the fire to push the flames higher?
The action is fast and enthralling and the premise is one that will appeal to many people, especially those familiar with political issues. I liked this book a lot and have never failed to enjoy any of Gordon Ryan's novels, but there were some points that didn't feel as smooth in this one as in the previous books by him that I've read. There are a few annoying info dumps and Dan and Nicole could both be a little better developed, both are somewhat flat. The intrusion of material that will only matter in the next volume is distracting as are references to incidents in various characters' pasts that leave the impression the reader is starting in the middle of a series instead of with volume one. Some of the wrap-up events are a little too convenient. That said, let me go on to point out that Ryan paints one of the most realistic pictures of the issues that trouble Westerners concerning our Federal government, land use, illegal workers, and state rights without pushing an extremist agenda that I've seen. His dialog is real. He's one of the few male writers who presents a truly strong female character who is still feminine. Both the physical background in the book and the political background are realistic and believable. I recommend this book to men and women with an interest in politics, history, action novels, or who just have an interest in the modern West. ...more