Thursday, January 6, 2011
The Night of the Scorpion and Evil Star
by Anthony Horowitz
Finished January 2011
I was evaluating part of our fiction collection, checking to see what series needed re-ordering when I came across The Night of the Scorpion by Anthony Horowitz. All I really knew about Horowitz was that he wrote a spy adventure series about a character named Alex Rider. This book, however, was written back in the mid-80s. It's part of the "Pentagram Series." Investigating this title a little further I found that Horowitz rewrote the entire series under the series title The Gatekeepers. The Night of the Scorpion became Evil Star. How fascinating! The Pentagram series must not have done very much for the author because he only wrote four of the planned five books. Years later, after finding fame with the Alex Rider books, he revisited the series, fleshed it out and named it The Gatekeepers (The Power of Five, in England).
I didn't have the first book in the Pentagram series, so I read the second book in each. They both involve a young man (Matt, in the later book) who discovers that he has an unusual power. I'm not quite sure what his power actually is and neither is Matt. It's an unexplored power that shows up when he least expects it. Matt is one of five gatekeepers. He's destined to stop The Old Ones who are evil beings that were banished to an underworld or other dimension. In this book, Matt meets the second of the five gatekeepers. Pedro is a native of Peru, where Matt and his guardian Fabian are led to encounter the Old Ones.
Horowitz's writing has improved over the years. Evil Star is filled with more detail than Night of the Scorpion. Some plot points that were too coincidental or convenient in the first book were changed in the second. Matt's character has changed as well. The first book has him almost innocently accepting his new found power. He's an orphan that now lives with a journalist named Fabian (I can't remember his name in the Scorpion book). He and his guardian remind me of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. The second book is more realistic in the way that Matt and Fabian end up together. Matt is also more rebellious and unaccepting of his new power. The plot of Scorpion is resolved much too quickly.
These were both good fantasy books, but I prefer Evil Star to Night of the Scorpion. There's an element of mystery and adventure along with the fantasy.