Review of The Man With the Golden Torc – Book 1 of the Secret Histories series by Simon Green


As soon as you see the title and cover, you know this book is mining a certain spy franchise and will be relying on our knowledge of the conventions surrounding said franchise. It isn’t even subtle. So… does it work? Or is this urban fantasy merely a tired hack job that doesn’t even have the merit of originality?

You know what? It’s all true. Everything that ever scared you, from conspiracy theories to monsters under the bed to ghosties, goldentorcghoulies and long-leggity beasties. The only reason they haven’t taken over the world yet is because my family has always been there to stand in their way. We guard the door, keeping you safe from the big bad wolf, and you never even know our names. Of course, there’s a price to be paid. By us, and by you. The username’s Bond. Shaman Bond. Licensed to kick supernatural arse.

And Bond – real name Eddie Drood – comes from one of the oldest families in England, a family that has been protecting Humanity from the forces of darkness for more centuries than anyone can remember. And Eddie Drood loved his job – until the day it all blew up in his face…

So that’s the cover blurb – no prizes for guessing which spy Green is basing Eddie Drood’s exploits on. The major difference is that Drood has a golden torc that transforms into golden armour that 007 would kill for – it makes him almost invincible. We watch him conduct his latest assignment, while he fills us in on his family history and why he chooses to live apart from the rest of the Drood tribe. And then a series of events kick off and we watch as Eddie’s world implodes.

Green manages to provide us with an enjoyable protagonist – a tad on the arrogant side to be sure, but all in all, we are convinced his heart is mostly in the right place. And non-stop action in a world where behind every apparently normal façade there lurks a series of odd creatures that urban fantasy fans have become accustomed to, along with one or two surprises. The breezy energy that is Green’s trademark is well suited to this book and ricochets through the engrossing narrative, keeping me up far too late to discover exactly who does what to whom.

I didn’t see the denouement coming and thoroughly enjoyed the twists – but did find that old golden armour has given our hero a great deal of power, which at times posed something of a problem. It needs a load of hefty power to overcome the Drood defences – and while it provides a lot of excitement and well written action scenes, I’m not totally convinced by some of the ploys used to even out the odds. Did that wrinkle significantly impact on my enjoyment of the book? Nope. It is a lot of fun – with some laugh-aloud dialogue and I found Eddie a sympathetic protagonist, whose adventures swept me up out of my own life and into somewhere a lot more colourfully exciting. Which is exactly what I want from my Fantasy. So I shall definitely be tracking down more in this entertaining series. If you haven’t already done so, give this book a go – it will certainly add a golden lustre to the glorious summer weather.

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