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Villain's Deception (The Shadow Master #3) by Michael Gibson Book Review

Write on: Thu, 18 Jul 2019 by  in Charles' Reviews Be the first to comment! Read 684

4.5/5

VILLAIN'S DECEPTION is the third novel in the Shadow Master series. The Shadow Master, Jackson Blackwell, is a consulting villain who runs an agency that essentially educates supervillains and Dark Lords in the finer art of being bad guys. Jackson is a paid Evil Overlord's List and gets to indulge in his sadistic desire to put down the cliche of his clients. Free admission here, I met Michael Gibson in a writing group and loved one of his novels so much that I wrote a Foreword for it. I also am terminally biased towards novels about supervillains or antiheroes. It comes with being the author of the Supervillainy Saga.

The premise of this book is Jackson adjusting to fatherhood. Having married his co-conspirator Lydia from the first book, they've reproduced and Jackson has decided the only people in the universe he cares about are those two. So, Jackson is less than pleased when someone kidnaps his offspring when while on a routine mission to a space opera universe in dire need of someone to put a piece of plywood over its thermal exhaust port.

Giving your protagonists children is always a dicey move since they can quickly lose a lot of what makes them interesting. Children are, sadly, a bunch of responsibility and you can't just throw a bunch of meat at them while letting them out whenever they're hungry. It's doubly problematic when so much of your protagonist's appeal lies in their being edgy. However, Jackson is the same cruel evil monster he's always been--he's just fanatically protective of his young spawn.

The Shadow Master books are an entertaining series based entirely on Jackson making epic put downs of geeks, fandom, Star Wars, and genre conventions--all the while being so familiar with them that calling him anything other than a massive nerd is ridiculous. They're often 4th wall breaking, metatextual, and always completely ridiculous. If you enjoyed the first two books then you'll probably enjoy this one.

I have to say that I probably enjoyed this book the most out of the series so far. Part of this is simply genre. As much as the Shadow Master makes fun of space opera (and I'm an author of space opera let alone a mega-fan), you won't get the jokes unless you know it intimately. Plus, the Shadow Master well and truly earns his bonifides as the most evil villain who ever lived by being revealed as the party behind THE LAST JEDI.

Well played, well played.

There's also a section that makes fun of vampires and horror fandom that I also enjoyed. Vampire jokes were played out after Twilight but Michael Gibson takes the high road and actually goes after the concept much more broadly. There was not a sparkly undead joke to be found. Instead, he makes an astute observation that I myself have made about the undead and cats.

This book gives a good bit of insight into Jackson Blackwell's character as well as the fact he's NOT going to go through some grand redemption arc. It also critiques the fact that he's often treated as an invincible villain who never suffers any setbacks. The ending is both frustrating and brilliant so I really recommend people check this volume out if they enjoyed the previous two.

As always, I recommend picking up the audiobook version of this book over the ebook or physical version. This isn't just because Jeffrey Kafer's narration is awesome (though it is). There's actually in-jokes and some extra content.

Last modified on Thursday, 18 July 2019 17:29
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.

Website: https://ctphipps.wordpress.com/

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