Seizure Romero's Reviews > The Testament

The Testament by Eric Van Lustbader
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's review
Jan 13, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: shite, arc, conspiracy, fiction
Read in January, 2009

Warning: Potential spoilers and kinetic bad attitude follow.

When will I learn? I'm a sucker for this type of book, and, in keeping with the metaphor, this type of book usually ends up sucking. Big time. I hoped that someone with the bibliographic chops of Eric Van Lustbader might actually be able to write a tense, action-packed conspiracy thriller. Maybe I should have thought for a few minutes about why he's been writing Jason Bourne (Robert Ludlum's creation) books for the past five years. Running out of original ideas much?

So. If you're going to rip off The Da Vinci Code take the time to do a better job. The bar really isn't that high. Let's compare:

Da Vinci Code: Professor with a background in art history/symbology meets up with the granddaughter of a museum curator during the investigation of said curator's murder. While dying from a bullet to the belly, the curator, who also just happened to be a high-ranking member of a secret society and one of the last guardians of a big hoo-hah church secret, managed to leave clues around parts of the Louvre and elsewhere to guide his granddaughter and her compatriot in their search to uncover the secret (which is being sought after by a rival faction). It is revealed during the story that grandfather (who raised the granddaughter) constantly trained granddaughter in solving complex codes & puzzles, hence her life as a code-breaker. Repeated use of flashbacks to explain why the characters know everything about everything, ever (but take forever to figure to hold a mirror up to an 'unknown language' which is actually English written backward).

Testament: Adult son is injured in explosion that kills his father. His father, who just happened to be a high-ranking member of a secret society and one of the last guardians of a big hoo-hah church secret, managed to leave clues all over creation leading son to a young woman (who is trained to protect members of said secret society) and to guide his son and his compatriot in their search to uncover the secret (which is being sought after by a rival faction). It is revealed during the story that father constantly trained son in solving of complex codes & puzzles, as well as medieval history, church history, and martial arts bad-assery, hence his life as a merchant banker or some such thing because he was absolutely clueless about what his father actually did. Repeated use of flashbacks to explain...hell, they really don't seem to have much of a point other than to show how much son misses dad and how swell dad was.

Also offensive: the bad guys are basically waiting for the protagonist to solve the puzzles and lead them to the not-so-mysterious treasure (it's revealed early on what it is; the where is the mystery that blowed up with dad). They always seem to be three steps ahead of him, yet he never stops to think that maybe his friends aren't what they seem. He has the infallible ability to believe the wrong thing immediately about almost everyone he meets, i.e., violently rejecting someone who he believes to be a traitor (who is actually trying to help him) while openly embracing those who are using him and mean to eventually cause him harm. He may be Mr. Smartypants Cryptanalyst, but he also manages to be a colossal knuckle-headed douche.

The most annoying thing of all however, is on page 34. Pre-explody Dad, on his way to meet pre-explody son, has just survived an attack by the opposition:

"So, despite all his precautions, they knew his location. Perhaps not so surprising, considering the meticulous planning behind the concerted attacks of the past two weeks...."

A mere two paragraphs later, he arrives at the café where he is to meet his son:

"His son hadn't arrived as yet so he asked the pale question mark of a woman at the podium for an outdoor table. At the tiny metal table, he sat in the sun...."

People are trying to assassinate him. So he sits outside in the sun. It's a wonder he lived long enough to spawn in the first place. Why is this the most annoying part? Because this is where I should have put the book down and started another. Learn from my mistakes, people.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Amelia (new)

Amelia You are hilarious, by the way!

DC was a bit rubbish, so a repeat would have sent me over the edge as well.

Thrillers are hard for me, like Mystery (I stick with AC Doyle and leave it at that) and Romance they tend to be a bit samey. This is why I cannot read Grisham or watch the shit movies made of his books. I did fall asleep in the Pelican Brief once. Heh.

Sorry you suffered, my friend.

message 2: by Charissa (last edited Jan 13, 2009 07:39AM) (new)

Charissa "Van Lustbader" wasn't the tip off? You're made of sterner stuff than I, gungadin. I'm pretty sure I would have set fire to the thing rather than finish it. But I respect the grudge match that becomes reading at a certain juncture. After all... I watched the original Russian "Solaris" from beginning to end. Bitter, filled with bad Russian philosophy, end. I know what it means to swear to not let some work of art get the better of you. Congratulations. This book is your personal bitch.


message 3: by Amelia (new)

Amelia Heh, I totally missed the author's name. That is SO a porn name!!

message 4: by Charissa (new)

Charissa total porn name!!! I wonder if he has the (wakka chikka wakka) porn 'stache to go along with it.

Have you ever met someone at a party and had to stop yourself from saying to them out loud, "You have a porn 'stache!"? Sometimes I really shouldn't leave the house.

message 5: by Amelia (new)

Amelia I can honestly say that has never happened to me. :)

message 6: by Seizure Romero (last edited Jan 13, 2009 04:37PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Seizure Romero According to the man is pornstachio free.

@2: EVL (howzat for some initials?) started out with The Sunset Warrior series back in the late 70s, and it was apparently respectable sci-fi. He followed up with The Ninja in 1980 to make his name in the espionage/thriller market, so I thought after all these years to refine his craft...meh. I just read this review of The Ninja, and now I'm even more disappointed because I slogged through all that and I didn't even get lesbian hot tub sex.

message 7: by Charissa (new)

Charissa you were totally robbed.

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