My rating: 1 of 5 stars
This book was terrible, a macho romp through what I am guessing was meant to be a variation on our Earth, spliced with a dull biography of sorts on a gun-dealing, almost mob style Armenian family living in the US in the 1920’s-60’s. The story is disjointed and told as if the author is making every attempt at keeping from building any sort of momentum, let alone excitement. The title of the book, The Seven Magical Jewels of Ireland, is misleading, since practically none of this book takes place in Ireland. The conflict in Ireland seems to involve Brian Boru, who in real history died in April of the year 1014. Also involved in this story is King Arthur, who should be in the 5th-6th C. AD, several hundred years before Brian Boru’s time. And, we have King James in England, as well, though it is not clear which King James he is. Various other recognizable leaders are also peppered throughout this book, none belonging to the same time period, and the world they are living in somehow has countries whose names and borders are actually quite modern, Germany in particular. The world’s technology is a mix of various archaic eras that are supposed to contrast with the modern technology that a few modern men accidentally transported back in time contribute to the military might of King Arthur and the reigning Pope. The characters are a jumble, and most are so poorly developed that they amount to nothing but clutter, masking the lack of coherent plot.
Theoretically, according to the back of the book, there are deadly enemies from the future who factor into the story in an important way, but the futuristic people, when they show up, are a let-down. The first dies within seconds of her arrival, and three more show up later when no one is around to see them appear, and they are killed on arrival, electrocuted by the machine that brought them. So much for a deadly futuristic foe. And the ‘magical jewels’? Well, some guy does come across a metal box with some shiny toys in it, but it is never clear what he has found, and those toys never reappear as anything important. I am guessing they were in Ireland, but maybe not, and only 2 were really described at all. King Brian does seem to want to gather in seven jewels that pertain to the kingships in Ireland, at least going by a passing remark near the end of the book, but the way this book is written, most of this sort of information is provided as semi-coherent private mumblings, not narration or dialogue, just a sort of formalize stream of consciousness ranting that goes on between the few paragraphs of active story.
And, for any modern reader, the machoism of this book is a bit painful, with no central female characters. The female characters that do appear are Krystal, who used to be in the military before she was displaced in time and is now stuck as a stay-at-home mom in a sexist world while her husband is off gallivanting and killing people, the futuristic female scientist who arrives back in time and is killed by the men waiting by the time machine, and the woman back in the US who became the lover of the wife of one of the Armenian gun-dealers, before he got into the guns business. This last woman may have murdered this Armenian man’s wife, so he and his buddies kidnap her and torture her into a confession, very self-righteously. This man had also tried to get his wife committed, for her mental deviance (lesbianism) and, oh yeah, also for her drug addiction and prostitution, because obviously when a woman turns lesbian she also becomes a prostitute and gets into strong drugs.
I could imagine the man in Confederacy of Dunces might have enjoyed a book like this when he was in middle school, and young men who live in their parents’ basements and spend their lives playing video games and eating frozen dinners, daydreaming of making girls like them, might enjoy this book. Everyone else may be a bit annoyed by it.