(Note from Jimbo: I don't usually review shorts. That much being said, I promised Max Zain a review without telling him my requirements. When he sent me a short I decided that since I hadn't made myself clear I'd review it anyway because integrity.)
When Maxwell Zain sent me a copy of his short story, Tomb of the Old One: Heaven's Damned, for review he remarked that it was his first published story. I went into it knowing that and well... I kind of got what I expected. That's not to say it's a bad story, just that it's a little rougher than what I would typically expect. Max has some good ideas, but honestly, it feels like they just weren't developed enough. I usually start with the good though, so let's go there first.
Max's world seems to be pretty well thought out. There is a balance of power between vampires, who see human beings as a source of fear, and angels who protect humanity. There has apparently been a war going on for quite a while between the two. There is room for a lot of intrigue here. I mean that. I once wrote an alternate campaign setting for the Palladium Fantasy RPG and the beginnings of my notes sounded a lot like the beginning of this short. There is some real potential here. Vampires versus angels is something that hasn't been done to death as a concept. It is also something that has some interesting implications from a religious angle that could be used to great effect.
The action sequences were fairly well done and one particular sequence made me cringe. Zain definitely has the potential to turn into someone who can write a rip-roaring good times page turner. I like the way he thinks. I really do.
There are three problems with this story. One, he's got a couple of info-dumps in there. I don't usually mind that. I'm a David Weber fan. That much being said, this is a forty-five hundred word short. An author needs to wrap a story around the info-dumps and there's just not much here. Zain obviously wanted to do some serious world building. I can respect that, but an author needs more room than this to do that kind of world building. There's just not enough room here for what he's doing.
The second is that he tries to cram too much in here. I don't want to give too much away here, but this story starts with an info dump and probably thirty-five hundred words or so later (I didn't actually count) we're involved in a situation that would be a good ending to a book or maybe even a trilogy. Better yet, it might just work as the ending of a novel that starts a trilogy because Zain breaks out my least favorite character (Cliff Hanger) at the end. There is definitely something here but it's just not developed enough.
The third is a lack of character development. I get that this is a short but even then something should change about the main character. There was an attempt at the end of the work to show a little bit of something but it just didn't go far enough.
Basically, what I'm saying here is that I think this guy has potential. I plan to keep track of where he goes from here and see what he turns into because I honestly think that he just needs a little more development and maybe enough patience to write a novel if that's what is needed to tell his story.
Bottom Line: 3.25 out of 5 Broken Halos
Tomb of the Old One: Heaven's Damned
Self Published, 2015
Tomb of the Old One: Heaven's Damned is available for purchase here: