Lately I have been eager to expand my reading horizons from the usual historical romance, paranormal romance, or erotic romance novels. This goal, coupled with my impulsive nature, brought me to Madman Chronicles: The Warrior. I should have looked before I leapt.
The story is set in a war torn future. The western hemisphere has formed an Alliance, and is trying to overcome the Thirteen Nations of Man which are described as nomadic guerilla groups. Wulf, our protagonist, learns from his friend Angelo that the Alliance intends to subjugate the Thirteen nations. Wulf and Angelo go underground to the labyrinth of caves to find a place of shelter for the Thirteen Nations. Like Odysseus, Wulf is on a journey of many adventures. Soon Wulf is alone, and the journey changes like one dream shifts into another. Wulf's experiences are by turns terrifying, confusing, sexy, inspiring, and horrifying. Poetry is included as part of the formal voice this book presents.
SternerHowe's writing is not easily accessible. The character Angelo is nearly incomprehensible due to SternerHowe's version of Cajun dialect. When Angelo literally disappears into the walls, my inability to determine the past from the present maintained my frustration. The book pays homage to Native Americans in its formal language and its depiction of Wulf seeking his true self by a set of trials of the flesh. Wulf is not a character so much as a heroic figurehead. There is an anti-war theme initially introduced with some humor. However the theme, as well as the humor, becomes buried in the multiple layers of the story. In the end, the fatal flaw for me is that one cannot really get to know Wulf.
Madman Chronicles: The Warrior may appeal to you if you enjoy speculative fiction, if you do not mind a cloudy, mysterious atmosphere, and if you savor heroic prose.
Reviewed by Catherine H.
© February 2005