Monument: It took guts to write this story

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Ian Graham MonumentMonument by Ian Graham

When Ballas is nearly beaten to death, kind strangers give him life-saving medical attention. He repays their charity by robbing them. But there’s more to the stolen artifact then just priceless gemstones. It holds ancient secrets the ruling religious leaders will stop at nothing to keep hidden. Ballas quickly becomes the most hated and feared man in the empire. He is hunted with a brutal relentlessness that equals only that of Ballas himself. His only chance for survival is escape to a mythical land on the far side of an impassable mountain range — the only place beyond the power of the Church of the Four Pilgrims.

Ballas is a vagrant with no greater interest than his next means of getting drunk or hiring a prostitute. He’s big, bad, and a kind of ugly that only looks more natural beat-up. Besides the ability to consume mass amounts of alcohol, his only talent is for violence and a spiteful survivability. He’s not a psychopath or unjustly cruel, but he has no qualms about killing whenever he deems it necessary. You have to dig so deep to find any redeeming qualities in Ballas, that what you do find is questionable.

Call me twisted, but I love this guy.

The action is savage. Sometimes I even dreaded what might be Ballas’s next course of action — expecting the worst but still hoping he’d show some compassion. I read with anticipation — looking for any revelation about what turned him into such a dreg of humanity. While I did have some predictions about the conclusion, I wasn’t sure if Mr. Graham would have the gahones to end this the only way he should. I won’t tell you if he does.

Whether we admit it or not, there something to be appreciated in stories like this. It appeals to that little devil on our shoulder that begs to fly the bird at authority or punch out that jerk who cut you off in traffic.

It took a gutsy author to write this story and it’s just not right that Monument hasn’t gotten more notice. However, I must admit, I guess it takes a certain kind of dark understanding to enjoy. Word is, Mr. Graham is currently working on a prequel, and I’m anxious to read it and anything else he’ll write in the future.

Monument — (2002) Publisher: Ballas is a drunk and a vagrant. In his eyes there is only greed, and in his heart only bitterness. Such a man is not suited to legend. He is fit only for an unmarked grave. And there are people who seek to hasten his journey there. When a young priest saves him from a beating in the street, Ballas does not know how to react to such an act of kindness. But he soon finds a way to pay him back. He steals from him. What Ballas chooses to take can easily be hidden under a cloak, but it is no trinket to be sold in the market for a bowl of soup. It is known as the monument. And the power it contains will bring a god of chaos and destruction into the world. Now Ballas has that power.

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GREG HERSOM’S (on FanLit's staff January 2008 -- September 2012) addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He retired from FanLit in Septermber 2012 after 4.5 years of faithful service but he still sends us a review every once in a while.

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