Simon R. Green: For Heaven’s Eyes Only

At the end of his previous adventure, Eddie Drood, narrator and star of the series was stabbed with a poisoned blade, and killed. The end. Or not.

He stays dead for exactly one chapter of this book, after which his girlfriend, the infamous witch Molly Metcalf, rescues him from Limbo, where he was being interrogated by beings interested in the legendary secrets of the Droods. After that, things get … messy. While searching for Molly’s frightening older sister Isabella, Eddie and Molly discover the existence of a secret underground Satanist conspiracy, one larger and more entrenched in society than any conspiracies before it.

And just like that, the game is on. All Eddie and the Metcalf sisters have to do is escape their enemy’s stronghold intact, and make it home with the information they’ve gathered. And then they have to rally the forces, root out any traitors within the Droods, and strike back against a conspiracy dedicated to opening a door into Hell and unleashing the rampaging hordes of evil onto an unsuspecting world.

Unfortunately, Eddie’s going to have to do some things he really doesn’t like, from eroding his own set of ethics to beating down old friends and allies, from infiltrating Satanic rituals, to unleashing Drood Hall’s greatest secret. In fighting evil, is he becoming everything he hates? Has he become too ruthless for his own good? Has Eddie stained his own soul so much that he’s no longer capable of holding back the darkness? The bodies in his wake suggest as much….

The fifth installment in Green’s Secret Histories series, For Heaven’s Eyes Only continues the epic saga of a family sworn to protect the world against all enemies. And as always, it’s action-packed, intense, rocket-paced, and completely, utterly, shamelessly over-the-top. There’s a constant kinetic frenzy to Green’s books, with characters ricocheting from one crisis to the next, one battle to another, one climax after another until it all ends in explosions, blood, and tears. This book has everything fans have come to expect, and then some, as Eddie and his allies take on the sprawling Satanist conspiracy which threatens to overwhelm an unsuspecting world. You have your witty banter, tough guy standoffs, visceral fight scenes, bad guy atrocities, surprise revelations, and high stakes. You also have your references to Green’s other books – he manages to name-check elements from the Nightside, Ghost Finders, and Deathstalker series – to remind you that he’s been building this world for a long time, and it all ties together.

And yet … it’s not perfect. Even when you go into this book with the right mindset, knowing ahead of time that it’s a loud, messy, chaotic, boisterous monster of a story, full of larger-than-life personalities and do-or-die situations, there are times when the facade cracks. Two problems stand out here. The first is the ending. After the action wraps up, Green throws us into a two page epilogue so abrupt in its execution as to cause whiplash, so game-changing as to suggest a fake-out or other “roll to disbelieve” moment. And considering that the previous book ended with the main character’s death…. It’ll be interesting to see just what Green really has up his sleeve.

But the other problem? Molly Metcalf. Remember how she basically rescued Eddie from Limbo in the first chapter without even breaking a sweat? Yeah. The hero’s girlfriend is essentially unkillable, unstoppable, and wields power on the level of a deus ex machina. It’s hard to take threats seriously, after the feats she accomplishes here. I can’t imagine what sort of problems would have to be thrown her way before we felt like she was in any real danger now. Hopefully Green can find a way to balance things out a bit more from now on. Of course, there’s one school of thought which suggests Molly’s own power levels are emblemic of the world-building itself, which often resembles a magical arms race just waiting for someone to blow up the universe (again). Again, it’s the sort of thing you have to accept in your suspension of disbelief care package when getting into Green’s work.

All things considered, this is still a thoroughly entertaining book, packed full of the usual blood and thunder which has signified the series so far. It’s a perfect popcorn book, unapologetically in-your-face and quintessentially Simon R. Green in execution. I’m still hooked, and I’ll be here when the next one comes out.

(Roc, 2011)

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