Reading through End Time, I began to wonder whether the author, Daniel Greene, happened to be a fan of George R.R. Martin. I suspected this because the book uses a lot of Martin’s storytelling techniques, and largely to good effect.When I finished the book, I wasn’t surprised to see Martin’s name among the writer’s influences and inspirations.
But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. Before we discuss how Martin’s work influenced End Time, we should probably talk about the book in its own right.
The story begins in the Congo, with an American doctor working at a humanitarian hospital while doing research on monkey pox.Since this is a zombie survival novel, I think you can guess what happens next. That’s right, his patients begin attacking and eating each other. A security detail drags him away, with heavy losses, but things have already begun to spiral out of control. The doctor soon finds himself at the American embassy in Kinshasa, which is immediately beset by both zombies and rebels.The Americans, without a clear picture of what’s happening on the ground, send in an elite counter-terrorism team to intervene. I’ll stop here to avoid spoilers.
While the novel has a fairly large cast of important characters, the protagonist is undoubtedly a counter-terrorism agent with the unlikely name of Mark Steele. Not only is he heavily involved with the plot, he’s also personally connected with most of the primary characters, and acts as the emotional center to the story.
And, with that, let’s get back to End Times‘ influence by George R.R. Martin. Perhaps the most obvious of these techniques is the fact that the book is told through multiple point-of-view characters, with chapter titles identifying who is giving the narrative. As in A Song of Ice and Fire, the technique works well to tell a large scale story with offering up individual perspectives from a variety of backgrounds. This is, by far, the most effective technique employed in the book and really gives the story a sense of breadth.
On the other hand, Greene also uses some of Martin’s other techniques in ways that don’t work so well. The one that really stood out to me in reading was the way characters would think or speak in the manner of swearing a formal oath. Mark Steele was, by far, the most guilty of this. Reading his chapters, you could easily see the influence of Martin’s words, especially the oath sworn by members of the Night’s Watch.
In fact, this was part of a larger issue that comprises the book’s greatest weakness: unnatural speech and thought patterns in characters. Throughout the story, people speak and narrate in ways that are far too formal for the situation, and don’t match their emotional state nor the events of the story. This was an unfortunate distraction through several parts of the story.
That said, I did enjoy End Time quite a bit, and finished reading it in a very short amount of time. I think Greene would have a damn fine book on his hands if he went through and massaged a good deal of the dialog and internal narration to make it more naturalistic.As it stands, End Times is an engaging, but distractingly flawed novel.