September 22, 2011

Off the Shelf: Antiquitas Lost

Title: Antiquitas Lost
Author: Robert Louis Smith
Illustrator: Geof Isherwood
Publisher: Medlock Publishing

Welcome back to another edition of Off the Shelf. This time we’re doing something a little bit off the wall. It’s not a comic book adaptation, a book that influenced comics, or even a superhero novel. It’s a fantasy novel, but with illustrations done by Geof Isherwood; it was tempting to say the least to check it out.

As I stated before, this is a fantasy novel. A debut novel in fact “from American cardiologist Robert Louis Smith” (back of the book’s excerpt). This to me raises up a bright red warning flag. Not because Smith is a cardiologist or because it’s his first book, but debut fantasy novels often seem like an author’s own fantasy to relive his/her own childhood dreams, filled with badly written characters and too much attention to detail.

Fortunately, the novel avoids this death trap for the genre, as Smith is a decent writer. His style may not have the most memorable characters or the deepest themes, but you know what it has? A fresh, easy feel with lots of clear, well versed action. And that’s damn good enough. Smith’s greatest asset is his ability to write with great pacing (with credit also given to editor Michael Carr). For a 615 page epic fantasy, this has an enjoyable pace that’s not too fast and not too slow.

As for a complete spoiler free idea of what the book is, it’s a fantasy book that has the feel of a young adult book. Not a kiddie young adult book nor a book that dumbs itself down. Think of its maturity along the lines of Harry Potter. Adults can enjoy it, it has some dark moments, and it doesn’t insult the audience with any stupid antics.

Now, if you’ve read or seen any kind of fantasy novel/film with a young adult edge to it, then you probably know a good deal of this book already. Kid picked on by bully? Check. Said kid having a greater destiny in another world? Check. Doorway leading to other world? Check. A world in flames looking for a hero to go against an evil army? Check. Kooky old grandfather who’s wise but doesn’t give everything away at the beginning? Check. Boy searching through other world to perhaps find a cure for his mother’s cancer (that part reminded me a little bit of The Talisman)? Check. Etc., etc., etc.

Of course, most of you comic fans out there have one burning question: “How is Geof Isherwood’s art?” Well, his art is what you’d expect of Isherwood. Fantastic. There are over seventy illustrations throughout the book, and they’re spread out evenly so that you get something to look forward to every two chapters or so. Isherwood picks great scenes, something of importance but not too complicated to draw. Speaking of complicated, with illustrations of books, sometimes the black and white get meshed together and it can be tricky to view it. Fortunately, the inking is great and the look is picture perfect. Now, I know what some people might say. That illustrations take away from a novel, they dumb it down, and it takes away from the reader’s imagination. But to me, illustrations do none of the above. The novel is the same whether illustration or no illustration, so why not put in some pictures? And the pictures won’t spoil your own vision of Pangelor (the world); it’s a fun way to compare your vision to Isherwood’s.

Sure, I get it. This book isn’t the most original. Nor is it going to change the minds of anyone who dislikes fantasy. But I sincerely enjoyed it. Let me put it this way. Smith’s style, combined with Isherwood’s illustrations, brought out the childhood me who enjoyed reading old novels with illustrations such as Treasure Island.

This novel comes out on October 1st. For more information, please visit

Andrew Hudson

Review copy provided by FSB Associates.



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