The set-up of this book is quite intriguing. As Gods retire they live in a retirement home together. I'm not sure exactly where I'd have taken it, but it wouldn't have been the same place that Holt did. Which doesn't make what he did bad...but it was only moderately successful. We end up with two concurrent storylines. One involves a reasonably typical "quest" line that happens to involve a couple of retired Gods (Osiris and Pan). The other involves...well not much of anything except some antics by Thor, Odin and Frey in repairing and flying a traction engine. It's necessary for the ultimate Deus ex Machina, but it's not compelling.
There are things to like here, but ultimately the total is less than the sum of the parts. And some of the parts aren't that spiffy.
I'm well aware that it's madness to say, when reviewing a book, "this isn't what I would have done". But, well, this book isn't what I would have done.
There's definitely a story to be told here. And Irving tells parts of it. The Blue Beetle is one of the few superheroes to span the decades since the 1940s. There's a lot of history there...but only bits of it get told. I can't parse the decision to devote fully 60% of the book to the Golden Age version of the character. Yes it's an important era, but frankly, most readers aren't going to be terribly interested in it. Particularly when the Ted Kord version gets fairly short shift.
More perplexing are the odd digressions, such talking Busy Arnold and Quality Comics because it was maybe possible that Victor Fox and Arnold might possibly have maybe done business together. Maybe. There are a number of other digressions. Not quite as odd as that one, but that make you wonder what the author was thinking.
I won't argue strenuously against the inclusion of a transcript of a Blue Beetle radio program. I found it mind-numbing but I can't say it absolutely didn't belong.
There is just enough interesting stuff here to barely make it worth a read. But it's not a terribly good or compelling read.
Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.
The setting's fun and there are some nice twists, but overall it's like the fantasy equivalent of Mark Millar's Wanted. Lawrence is trying to see how reprehensible he can make his characters and still have readers root for them, which is an interesting idea (and could work if they were a little more three dimensional) but ends up being more than a little grating.
Mister Roberts - Alexei Sayle
I've liked Sayle's work as a comedian but this is the first book of his I've read and I was impressed. Hard to describe without spoiling the reading experience in advance, but it manages to be a quick, entertaining read without feeling too lightweight. And while he doesn't try too hard for laughs on every page, comedian though he may be, this short (180pp) novel still contains more than its share of funny lines. I'll definitely be looking for his other books.