Somewhere deep below the Earth, humanity’s fate is being decided. An arcane pact, dictates our perception of reality, but something has changed. According to Gaelic mythology a chosen one is about to destroy life as we know it.
Stephen Lloyd Jones’ third novel, The Disciple, begins with one impossible event and escalates from there. When Edward Schwinn pulls a pregnant woman from the wreckage of a mysterious military-style vehicle, he doesn’t know he’ll end up taking responsibility for her child – and he definitely doesn’t know how important that child will be.
He also doesn’t know that the crash site he stumbled across is just one part of a greater massacre, and that ancient forces are massing against him and the baby. Jones’s novel spans 16 years and several countries, its hefty 532 pages playing host to all manner of bizarre characters, from misanthropic farmers to conniving televangelists. It’s practically an epic, but all that ambition means it sometimes feels a bit bloated.
There are half a dozen characters who drop in and out of the story quite pointlessly, and Jones’s prose is a bit overworked; the first few chapters are especially hard going, with entire paragraphs spent describing events as banal a man reaching for a door handle.
When it all kicks off though, it’s worth the effort. The Disciple is at its best when it’s dealing in quieter moments between its main characters; then, it becomes a story about love, and sacrifice, and how far a father will go to protect his child. The final pages are both chilling and inspiring, as the world shifts and wonder floods in.