For a Few Souls More is the third and final book in the Heaven’s Gate trilogy by Guy Adams. A sort of philosophical, metaphysical western about the appearance of the mythical town of Wormwood, which seems to connect our world to the afterlife. Managing to be both irreverent and philosophically interesting, this is certainly an interesting read. It did, however suffer a little from not really going anywhere even if I had a good time while it didn’t. It failed to feel much like a final book, which makes me wonder whether it actually will be, but was still not too bad.
The thrilling conclusion to the Heaven’s Gate Trilogy!
The uprising in Heaven is at an end and Paradise has fallen, becoming the forty-third state of America. Now angels and demons must learn to get along with humans.
The rest of the world is in uproar. How can America claim the afterlife as its own? It’s certainly going to try as the President sets out for the town of Wormwood for talks with its governor, the man they call Lucifer.
Hell has problems of its own. There’s a new evangelist walking its roads, trying to bring the penitent to paradise, and a new power is rising. Can anyone stand up to the Godkiller?
When I read the first book of this series The Good, The Bad, and the Infernal, I really wasn’t sure where Adams intended to go with it. The myth of the town of Wormwood was pretty nonspecific as to exactly what it was going to be. Some sort of gateway between our world and some other one for sure, but it was left rather up in the air. Now that we’re in the final act of the story, its role as basically the doorway between the physical world and the combination afterlife/other world where people already live besides dead humans feels a little like a letdown. I don’t know what I was expecting or what I’d have preferred, but being the Mos Eisley spaceport between Heaven, Hell, and Earth was a little…I don’t know, passé? As much as I enjoy a good ‘Angels and Demons are just folk’ story, I feel like this might have been a better overall series if there hadn’t been this whole ‘now we all have to live with each other’ thing running through it.
And really, that’s what it felt like For a Few Souls More was all about. It became a little heavy-handed. When the demons of hell really just want to chill and do their thing, and it’s the American and British governments who seem to be the ‘bad guys’ I feel like I’m watching one of the really hokey episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series where one guy is black on the right side of his body and the other is black on the left side. As a gamer I refer to this as an application of the clue-by-four and it just made the whole thing seem a bit like a bland morality play. The idea that even among demons, humanity is the true monster, while possibly timely in our current sociopolitical climate, really wasn’t something I needed to read more of.
What would have been great to see more of, and which really was excellent in this book, is the sort of philosophical discourse happening about the state of the afterlife and human souls. The idea that you pretty much end up with whatever kind of afterlife you feel like you ought to have was really interesting. The whole plot with Arno and Veronica was my favourite portion of the novel. I couldn’t get much into the issues about what will or won’t happen when the governments of Earth get it in their head to do something stupid about Wormwood and the hordes of powerful demons on the other side of it. Everybody in general has been acting so stupid about the whole thing throughout the trilogy that I’m amazed there wasn’t already a world war by the first chapter of book two.
Overall, I found that the story lagged through the early parts, trying to set up too many subplots. While a number of them were interesting or downright engaging, it ended up a little too frenetic in the middle section, and then the close ended up playing out like Adams realised he needed to hurry up and end the book and just sort of, dropped what could be dropped and gave us a little two paragraph mini-chapter each to sort everything else out. It’s like those 80s movies where the movie ends on a big stinger without really resolving any of the stories, and then over the credits you get those couple sentences that sum up what happens to each of the characters. Given the number of characters running around here, there could have almost certainly been another whole book or two to get things to the point where they ended, and that endpoint sets up just about the most interesting thing that has happened in the whole trilogy, and now we’re done.
So if you read and enjoyed the previous two volumes of the trilogy, this is certainly worth reading. There are resolutions to the stories that have been building in the previous novels even if not every resolution was especially satisfying. If you’re reading this review and using it to decide whether or not to pick up the series fresh, there are plenty of things to recommend it. Interesting things to think about, some fun characters, and a bit of cheeky Good Omens-y irreverence. While it wasn’t the best thing I’ve read this year, it will most certainly not be the worst. A good time-filler if you like the themes. Still interested to see what else Guy Adams may cook up in the future.
Dan Received an Advance Review Copy of this book from Solaris via NetGalley