Review copy received from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Fid’s Crusade by David H. Reiss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Chronicles of Fid (Book 1 of 3)
Genre: Superhero, science fiction
Published: 23rd March 2018 (self-published); Re-release with new cover: 1st January 2020 (Atian Press)
I can’t say that I’ve read many superhero/villain stories. But for what it’s worth, I’d say that Fid’s Crusade was a great read; an engaging anti-hero story that balanced fascinating character work with clever plotting and cool action scenes.
It’s easy to see why this book was the winner of the ‘Science-Fiction / Fantasy / Horror’ category in the 2018 Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize. Admittedly though, it didn’t begin on the best footing for me. The first chapter started right in the middle of an action scene and my initial reaction was finding it a bit on the campy side. Doctor Fid, our main protagonist of the story, was engaged in a battle with a superhero team and a lot of technological jargon on Fid’s armour and weaponry was thrown about. Thankfully, the backstory of Fid started to emerge pretty soon after this scene was wrapped up. This really helped in getting me engaged with Fid as a character as opposed to a caricature of an anti-hero Batman-cum-Iron-Man-like figure. That was my first impression of Fid as he relies on self-made technology to become a supervillain. A genius whose intellectual growth outstripped his emotional development by magnitudes, Fid experienced a devastating tragedy at a young age which left him ragged with rage and grief. And hence, he embarked on his unwavering purpose of bringing so-called superheroes to justice – his own brand of justice, that is.
Fid is quite a complicated character. As much as I grew to like him, there were definitely things that he did or recalled to have done which were appalling. However, I also empathise with how he got to this stage. You’d feel for the guy on the choices he made and has to make throughout the course of his character growth. The main plot in this book marked a pivotal moment in the evolution of Fid, precipitated by yet another personal tragedy. And just as he was beginning to succeed in restraining in his violent tendencies. How does a supervillain make amends in order to get the right thing done? Would anyone truly believe that he has evolved? The character study of Doctor Fid offered a satisfying level of emotional depth in this supervillain story.
“My concept of friendship is largely born from books: epic fantasies in which travelling companions journey to destroy rings of power, or to defeat evil dragons. Knights sacrificing everything to avenge their brothers in arms. In the stories, villains never seem to have friends deserving of the title. It is pleasant to discover that the literary canon does not accurately portray reality.
And now, the hard part begins: Being a worthy friend in return.”
The plot took almost half the book to develop as quite a bit of effort was put into building up Fid as a sympathetic and complex character. I thought the plotting was quite clever too, as it ties in nicely with the worldbuilding behind the existence of these superpowers. And there’s the ubiquitous dilemma present in this genre around balancing the lives of a few hundred now versus potentially billions in the future. It made for an interesting story that blended the superhero genre with cool science fiction concepts (always a definite plus with me). One could also say that the author appeared to have had great fun writing this book. Somehow all the techno-jargon came across as a homage to science and comic books in the best and nerdiest way possible (speaking as one nerd to another).
I did have one minor issue with some of the flashbacks or timeline changes, as it took me a while to figure out where and how it fits into the overall story. Notwithstanding, as a whole, I found Fid’s Crusade to be an enjoyable read with its compelling characterisation, great action and well-crafted plotting. One thing’s for sure, I’m definitely interested to read the rest of the trilogy.