Rogue Angel #1: DESTINY by Alex Archer(2006, Gold Eagle)
Gentlemen, I give you the Rogue Angel series.
With all the “new pulp” talk these days, it’s time to start looking at some contemporary novel series. The 70’s and 80’s were good for the men’s action adventure books, this millennia, not so good. I keep expecting kindle and e-book publishing to solve that little problem, but in the meantime, Let’s see what else is out there.
Unleashed upon the world by Gold Eagle, the Mr. Hyde version of Harlequin Romance, in 2006, the series is up to #40 at the present. Impressive when you consider Doc Savage flamed out at 181, but still a way to go to reach the output of the Shadow. The series is going strong and is making bank for it’s publisher. Each one is written by “Alex Archer” who is this centuries Kenneth Robeson. Each cover features a twentysomething woman wielding a sword.
The Rogue Angel series is about Annja Creed, a world-traveling archaeologist who has been given the sword of St. Joan of Arc. Raised by an orphanage, she travels the earth seeking adventure and relics. The whole premise sounds silly, but I’ve read the first book in the series and it works. I have to give credit to whoever edited this book: the plot is tight, filled with action, and the characters interesting. Here is professionalism at work. You may not get the flashes of brilliance found in K W Jeter’s Kim Oh books, or the bow-chica-wow-wow of the Baroness series, but Rogue Angel #1 was a solid good read.
Destiny begins with Annja searching in the Cevennes Mountains of France for evidence of an 18th century monster known as “The Beast”. Although a trained Archaeologist she earns her coin working for a cable TV show called Chasing History’s Monsters. She realizes the show sensationalizes her work, but it’s one way to pay the bills. Unfortunately for her, other people are searching for the remains of The Beast, including a French gangster known as Lesauvage and a mysterious order of monks. While trekking through the mountain chain, an earthquake splits the ground open, sending Annja falling into a cave. There she finds evidence of The Beast’s death at the hands of a warrior. On the run from the bad guys, she takes a medallion from the cave before the earth seals it back up.
She escapes to her apartment in Brooklyn with a rubbing of the medallion, but the same forces trying to prevent her from finding The Beast pursue her to the United States. By the conclusion of the novel, the reader learns how the sword of St. Joan can be summoned by Annja and what it can do in combat. The gangsters are punished and he innocent rewarded. But Annja has learned there are people still out there who are very interested in her and the sword….
The action of Destiny is non-stop. One minute Annja is trying to kill a poisonous snake, the next she’s on the run from motorcycling minions of the French gangster. It’s not over-descriptive:
“Annja went, stumbling over the first couple steps, then running for all she was worth. The door closed behind them. Her breath sounded loud in her ears as she rapidly caught up with Garin. Gunshots sounded behind her, muffled by the door, and she knew the Brotherhood of the Silent Rain was tearing up Roux’s study.”
Destiny also introduces two characters pivotal to the series: Garin and Roux. Both have been afflicted with immortality since witnessing the death of St. Joan. Roux was an alchemist who acted as the saint’s adviser Garin, the bastard son of a knight, his apprentice Both were too late to stop the the execution of the saint. They distrust each other and have maintained a tense relationship over the past half-millennia.
I’m hoping the character of Annja develops with the series. She uses the internet extensively, but is a loner socially. There is mention of a cop on the New York Police Department she dates, but he’s regulated to a minor role. She knows nothing of her parents, as all records in the orphanage where she was raised were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
I have a few historical issues with the events in the book. For instance, a group of knights are described as destroying a renegade monastery in France during the 18th century. Granted, there were still knightly orders in western Europe by the 18th century, but they were mostly gentlemen’s organizations. And “The Brotherhood of the Silent Rain” as the name of a medieval catholic monastic organization? Hardly. Most were named for saints or precise aspects of the faith.
I’m going to give this series a chance and see where it goes. I’m working on the second book.