Bunkers, Bandits and Brother Leon
Review of EFC Book 3: Brother Leon
By Tom Pahlow
Book 3 of Earths Final Chapter, Brother Leon by Nathan Banks and illustrated by John Hawkins, Is a classic tale of adventure. It's one of those stories of serendipity that leads a curious monk across the world and embroils him in the plots and machinations of a larger world. A world beautifully illustrated by Hawkins and made even more immersive by his art.
Brother Leon is an eccentric old monk who drags his young counterpart into an excavation below the monastery. His discovery flips his role from curious old man to reluctant compatriot as he is taken in as advisor to an emperor, sent across the world on a dangerous mission and drinks constantly. His unique way of thinking and knowledge is tested again and again as he navigates political plots, bandits and mysterious creatures alike.
Throughout the book, Banks uses imagery to perfectly set the scene. Whether it be the peaceful monastery with muttering monks, the capital city of a fledgling empire or a terrifying old-world ruin with horrifying inhabitants. Each of these unique regions and settings is described almost poetically and given a life of its own, suggesting a deeper history and vivacity.
Banks takes us galivanting through the world of EFC with Brother Leon, exploring the neo-European Alliance, the ruins of old Europe and off to the little Island of England. The decline of Europe is shown in contrast as we see places like the chambers of the emperor and then the wilds of the Northern Isles.
The people inhabiting what is left of the world are shown in contrast too. Hard to understand cockneys are equal parts funny and worrisome. Citizens of Fatima are equally hopeful for the new EUA and scared for its survival. Those left in the wilds to fight tooth and nail for their survival are twisted into savage monsters who thrive on cruelty. Banks does such a good job of showing all these facets of the remainders of humanity that it's hard not to wonder who you would be in this new world.
I did worry about the women in the story. Each of the few that made appearances were all either seductive, flirty or seemed to appear only in relation to the desires of the male characters. While
they were strong-willed, from elite snipers to boat captains, I would have liked to see them have more of a life of their own that existed beyond the gaze of the male characters.
Despite this, one of my favourite characters had to be the strong and casual Emperor Massimo Firenze, a man whose life has been battle after battle to forge the empire. I really enjoyed seeing this martial man, who could probably take on a hundred combatants in an open fight, struggle to face the threat of terrorism and the gut-wrenching pain he feels for not being able to protect his people. It was such a great portrayal of his character that showed the truth of a straightforward man who leads a nation. They are often outplayed by their more cunning adversaries.
All told, Brother Leon was a fun read that promises adventure and leaves you wondering what’s to come next.