Monday, July 23, 2012
Raiken and Vrag are immortal twin brothers. A few years after they die, they are 'reborn' into another family- almost always on a different continent. Vrag is the evil twin, always trying to gain power and supremacy over the world. Only Raiken can oppose him, and does his best to do so with every opportunity he has. The details and specifics of how this all works are revealed little by little as the chapters progress. (In my opinion, it would have been helpful to find a way to explain them earlier in the story).
Alves does a great job of helping the reader along this journey through history. We bounce from era to era, sometimes backwards but usually forwards, and to various continents. The characters lead vastly different each time they are reborn, and yet there were sometimes threads of commanalities that made sense and made it easier to accept that this was still the same person. It was usually always easy to remember which country and which time period you were in. It got a bit predictable, but it was still very interesting to read.
The one major complaint I have is Raiken's reaction to Jesus. Raiken had followed Jesus, had believed in him. I don't quite mind that Vrag is Judas and didn't really die, but that lies are spread about his death so people wont go looking for him. Two For Eternity is fiction, I get that. [Many other historical things are twisted a bit in this book too, on purpose. See *] And yet he believes that mankind is basically good. His experiences with Jesus don't effect the rest of his lives. Maybe his excuse is that he doesn't need to worry about eternity because he will be continually reborn on earth- his soul cannot escape. And yet, that doesn't seem right either. Raiken says that it took him many years to understand why Jesus had to die, in a way that makes it seem as if he now understands. And yet that comprehension doesn't change the way he lives- he is exactly the same as he was before that life, except now he has a 'wise man' to quote once in a while.
The fight scenes (and there are many) are well written and rather easy to visualize. Some of the characters really seemed fake and flat, but there were so many of them through the thousands of years it is a bit excusable. I do wish that Dalia and Sally were easier to believe, though, because they help sandwich the whole story, and are more important to the story than the others. The last third of the book had me laughing more than the first two thrids, sometimes the actual words, but sometimes the way they were said, sometimes the characters actions, and sometimes the narration. I wish the rest of the book had been more like that. But the whole thing had me reading, despite the things I didn't particularly like, and whenever I set it down I was eager to pick it back up to find out what happened.
*The back cover explains that Alves' book "takes many controversial interpretations of history", and this is true. It makes the story somewhat more interesting, attempting to give new information about events that changes them, without really changing them. Alves couldn't change the actual history because, well, its history, but he could change the behind the scenes way that those historical facts came to be, and he does.