I read Mark Frost’s The Paladin Prophecy in about a day and a half, because, despite being quite a long book at 539 pages, it was so gripping that I needed to know what was going to happen next and I simply didn’t want to put it down. I admit that I was a bit apprehensive upon starting it, as I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not. The blurb of my copy, whilst certainly interesting, was a bit vague as to what the book was about:
“Rules for staying alive: Trust no one.
There is no such thing as a coincidence.
Don’t watch your life like it’s a movie that’s happening to someone else. It’s happening to you.
It’s happening right now.”
Yeah, as interesting as that is, it doesn’t give you much of a clue, does it? Fortunately, amazon provided a more in–depth description, so I knew roughly what I was getting into before I bought it:
“Will West is careful to live life under the radar. At his parents’ insistence, he’s made sure to get mediocre grades and to stay in the middle of the pack on his cross–country team. Then Will slips up, accidentally scoring off the charts on a nationwide exam, and he is recruited by an exclusive and mysterious prep school – the best school no one’s ever heard of, which technology the likes of which no one’s ever seen.
At the same time, coincidentally – nor not so – Will realises he’s being followed by men in dark hats, driving black sedans who pose a terrifying threat to his family. What follows is a series of events and revelations that places Will smack in the middle of a millennia–old struggle between titanic forces…”
To be honest, though, I was still a bit sceptical. It sounded good, but I didn’t know if it was going to be my kind of book – and I didn’t want to waste £8 on a book just to discover I couldn’t face carrying on after the first few chapters. However, the book came highly recommended to me by a friend so I threw caution to the wind and decided to give it a go.
And I was pleasantly surprised. Admittedly, I wasn’t all that enamoured by the first few pages, but once it got going… Boy, did it get going! Some of it was quite predictable, such as in the 3rd chapter when Will was getting a bit suspicious about his “mother” – I got there waaaay before you, I’m afraid Will. But mild predictability aside, the book was very good. It was well–written, the characters were good, and it had a very interesting premise. However, I do feel that it went quite quickly – apparently the entire book was set over the course of just two weeks!
Will West is the main character of the book, and whilst he’s likeable and a nice person, he’s maybe not quite main character material yet. Throughout the book, things are happening which bring about Will’s “abilities”, like his speed, “pushing” images, and so on, but he never seems to react much to these things. When he first hears a voice in his head, his reaction is: ‘“Okay, how did that voice get in his head? And whose voice was it?”’ Sorry, but most 15 year olds who hear a voice in their head – a voice they’ve NEVER heard before – might react a little differently – more panic perhaps, rather than just pretty much “whatever-ing” it. He does this throughout, be it from discovering his unnatural speed to hearing other voices in his head – Will just doesn’t have an appropriate response, in my opinion. Will also seems to have the uncanny ability to somehow find a solution to just about any problem, even if this problem is the likes of which NOBODY would have seen before. Yet after only a short while, Will suddenly has the perfect answer as to what’s going on – I’m sorry, no, that’s just not plausible. And I’m talking about a book where kids can run at amazing speeds, or have an amazing photographic memory. I can’t remember exactly what had happened at this particular moment (which is shocking, considering I only finished it a few hours ago), but I remember being annoyed and confused about it. But I overlooked it, because it was still a very good book.
At the Centre which Will now attends, there are 4 others in his pod – Brooke, Ajay, Elise, and Nick. Ajay is definitely one of my favourite characters. He’s really smart, and a bit of a geek, but not in that overly geeky way that some characters can be written in. He’s also got a remarkable photographic memory, which, although at first he doesn’t tell anyone other than Will, certainly comes in useful for him and the others. Ajay’s also really funny, and some of the comments he makes are just fantastic – in particular those he makes in response to Nick, my absolute favourite character in this book. Nick, like Ajay, is another really funny character, but in his case it’s mostly because he doesn’t mean to be! There’s some things he comes out with which are just fantastic, such as: ‘“Dude, take a wild guess. It’s the auxiliary locker room,” said Nick, yawning and stretching. “And if I knew what auxiliary meant, I could tell you.”’ That part just made me laugh, and throughout the book Nick has so many other moments like this. I also really love the interaction that Nick and Ajay; moments such as: ‘“Dürfen wir mit Ihnen sprechen, bitte?” said Ajay. “Your dude speaks Russian?” whispered Nick. “I speak German,” said Ajay”’ really make this book. Without Nick, I genuinely don’t think I would have enjoyed this book quite as much – he really adds something to the story.
Elise, whilst not a favourite character of mine, is certainly a good character in the book. At first I was a bit unsure of her and wasn’t a fan – I thought she was going to be one of those characters that hates on the new kid because they’re jealous of them making friends with their own friends (they ALWAYS seem to crop up, those characters…) – but as time went by, she grew on me more and more. Her and Will seemed to get on relatively well, and at first I thought she was going to be his love interest character (I still have my suspicions about that!), but it seems that’s looking to be… Brooke. At times I thought I didn’t like her, but overall I thought she was quite a good character. She definitely wasn’t a favourite of mine, but I like that she’s unlike the rest of the group in that they’re all keen to find out what’s going on, whereas she’s really timid and apprehensive about breaking the rules in comparison. I think it’s a good thing to have at least one character like that, because if they’re all really strong characters that’re prepared to go out and do battle with creepy monster things, it’s just not as interesting. There has to be someone who feels conflicted over that – it provides balance, which is important. However, there were a few scenes where I felt her relationship with Will was moving too quickly because it hadn’t been properly developed – it was touched upon, and I guess you knew she was going to be a love interest, but I still feel that moved a little too fast at points. Overall, though, I quite liked Brooke, and I had a great theory about her (which I’m not going to mention because of spoilers), and apparently it may possibly be true!
The plot of the book was well thought out and well–written too. There were some pretty good descriptions and explanations, and more than a few moments that had me sitting going “Wait, what?! No, that can’t happen!” and just sitting in shock at what had happened. My one main gripe with the book is that it did seem really rushed, but otherwise I really enjoyed it, and I definitely recommended it. It’s not exactly light reading, but once you get into I’m pretty sure you’ll fly through! I’m eagerly looking forward to reading the sequel, Alliance, especially to see how my theory plays out!