Score: 96/100 (9.6 out of 10)
Well, Domenic Melillo did it. He is the fourth author ever to achieve a 9.6 rating in fiction!
Season of the Swords is a phenomenal novel from top to bottom. It's not too surprising considering that this author wrote one of the best romances we've ever read (A Major League Love) and a truly mind-bending sci-fi novel in Einstein's Desk. One things for sure: Melillo can write.
So what is it about Season of the Swords that earned it our highest rating ever? Well, it's actually very fun to read. It's entertaining! Is it too much to ask for a book to be fun and entertaining? It's also persistently interesting, always having us wonder what will happen next even in scenarios that seem predictable (like the battle of Thermopylae and the execution of Joan of Arc).
Furthermore, the cousins in this book are distinct characters with something unique to bring to the story. While they're not exceptional as individual characters, they truly shine as a unit. One member of the family (Jeff) is a lawyer, another (Ty) is a bit on the naive and innocent side. Robbie takes the initiative and serves as the de facto company commander of the group.
The Cincinnatus family, it turns out, are direct descendants of Joseph of Arimathea, destined to seek and protect the legendary Swords of Valor as a counter to the villainous Apostles of Azazel and their Swords of Terror. They are Guardians, following in the footsteps of their grandfather and those who came before them. They serve a divine destiny ordained by the Judeo-Christian God.
The book opens up with the funeral of their grandfather, however we still frequently hear from a ghostly hologram of him throughout the story. He almost becomes like an Obi-Wan Force Ghost in that sense.
If this sounds eerily familiar, it is. We actually just read a book (Genesis Awakens) that opens with a grandfather's funeral only to find out that he's actually an immortal wizard informing the main protagonist, Gen, that her destiny is to seek and guard the sacred nail that pierced Christ's feet from the villainous Accursed—essentially a demonic cult seeking the holy artifact to do evil. That book also keeps cutting to major events in Judeo-Christianity, namely the life and death of Jesus and the victory of David over Goliath.
The similarities are staggering, but we can pretty safely assume it's a coincidence. After all, both books seem inspired by the same reference texts: The Bible, apocrypha, and Arthurian lore.
Both books closely resemble King Arthur and his knights' quest of the Holy Grail. Both books seem to hold Christianity and western civilization in particularly high regard. Both are inspired, and their hearts are in the right place.
Something that really elevates this book over Genesis Awakens is just that it's simply much funner to read. There are some really funny parts of this book like when Ty breaks the serious mood of the moment by asking to use the restroom.
This book is also quite a bit more emotional. There are seriously times when the young men are emotionally torn about their actions, inactions, and decisions. Case in point: Joan of Arc. Should they try to save her from an unjust, cruel, and painful death by being burned at the stake? How will they cope emotionally in the aftermath of this? What about Jesus? Will they try to prevent his crucifixion or help him or the apostles somehow in such a dire time? What about Elizabeth II? May she rest in peace... Should the boys warn her about the terrible times that are to come during World War II or even beyond such as during the Cold War? Should they encourage Leonidas and the Spartans to change strategies to possibly defeat the Persians, or should they let them be betrayed and slaughtered? These are seriously interesting questions and situations that just beg to be explored.
What's more is that this book is just COOL. Plain and simple. Who doesn't fantasize about collecting rare and powerful swords with tons of history and magical properties? Swords like Excalibur, Braveheart, Peter's sword, the sword of Joan of Arc, the sword of Don Quixote (yes, really), and the sword of Leonidas? There's even the Sword of freakin' Michael the Arch-Angel! How much more awesome does it get than that? It's almost like Adventure Time or something.
We only have a few complains, and they really don't matter in the broader scheme of things. One, there are several redundancies such as when grandfather's hologram is repeatedly called “the image of their grandfather.” This is stated 17 times. However, it isn't technically their actual grandfather, so that explains that.
Second, several of these side-quests drag on far longer than the others. The two we can think of are the quest to obtain the sword of Leonidas and the quest to overcome the sword of Goliath. At least the quest to obtain the sword of Leonidas took some risks and gave us some what-if scenarios, but it seemed plodding. Also, why did they really need an extra sword just to defeat the sword of Goliath?
In another scenario, we could imagine that being understandable, but the Cincinnatus family literally has Excalibur and the sword of Michael the Arch-Angel. How can the sword of Michael the Arch-Angel not just run rough-shot through Goliath's sword and many of the other Swords of Terror? Do you remember that angel in the Bible who pushed away the four-ton stone from Jesus' tomb or the one that killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night? Those probably weren't even arch-angels. Could you imagine what Michael THE Arch-Angel (with capital “A's”) could do? The dude straight up defeated THE Satan with it, presumably at the height of Satan's angelic power. Yes, Goliath was big and had heavy weapons and armor, but he probably didn't weigh 8,000+ pounds or was equivalent to 185,000 soldiers. And what about Excalibur? Didn't you see it help Richard Gere run circles around Maligant in First Knight? That wasn't even a fair fight anymore. That was an auto-win! But we digress. These was a point to all of that, and that was to emphasize the importance and power of the virtues of the swords, not necessarily just their size or physical might.
Anyway, this is a great book that can be read by people of all ages. It is fun, cool, and interesting throughout.
Check it out on Amazon!