After the disapointment of the twelthth volume, I had no high hopes for the next book, which came out last fall. “The Machdi” was going to be the largest of the books with over 700 pages. Eventually I bought it and read it in February. The book deals with actual issues, as we encounter fundamentalistic religious people and drug addicts.
Andrej and Abu Dun visit Konstantinopel, which is about to be divided into to fractions: On the one hand the followers of cruel leader Sultan Suliman, on the other hand the followers of the mysterious religious figure, the machdi. The latter’s followers eat leaves of the plant Kat to get stronger and more durable. It also makes them addicted to it. Abu Dun tries it and also falls under drug’s addiction. In order to find a cure for him, Andrej and his friend have to help the Sulatn’s chief of military, Sharif, to find the Machdi, kill him, and bring back the Sultan’s daughter Muriba, who also is a junky.
With one hundred Janitscharians, the heroes travel to Egypt, by ship. And not only do they fall into any trap the Machdi has set up, but Sharif is also the one who constantly tricks and betrays Andrej. They eventually manage to “rescue” Muriba, who one moment wants to kill the godless and faithless Andrej, and in the next moment is the nicest person on earth who even kisses him on the cheek. How sweet. The next day she spits on him and calls him every name…
Abu Dun then loses a hand, and before the final battle, Sharif sends Andrej and Muriba away. Abu Dun stays behind. Muriba leads Andrej to the Machdi, who is no other than…
…Sharif, who is also Muriba’s father. She gets deadly hurt by an assassin, and Sharif begs Andrej to help her by making her one of his kind. Andrej in all his wisdom declares that death is part of life, and that Muriba would live happily ever after in the afterlife… Oh screw it, of course he saves her and makes her an immortal!
The three of them come to an oasis, where Andrej is knocked out by the Sultan, Sharif. So the guy who has constantly been playing tricks withAndrej and Abu Dun and has done nothing trustworthy is revealed to be not a trustworthy person? What a twist!
Turns out the Sultan has wanted Andrej’s knowledge about immortality, because this gigantomaniac wants to take over the world.
Hm, where did I hear that before? So due to the fact that Muriba is now an immortal, the Sultan doesn’t need Andrej any more. so they have a duel to the death. As you can imagine, a trickster like Sharif doesn’t play fair, so Andrej is about to lose this fight. But then Muriba embraces her new dark side, and kills everybody on the spot. Andrej and Abu Dun – yes, apparently he is still alive too – barely manage to escape, and run away.
Oh boy, where do I begin?! The book is far too long and has too little going on for 700 pages! The scenes in the desert are repetitive and b o r i n g, and there is one dialogue, that appears twice exactly, word for word. There are three battles on the Nil, and everytime they end the same way. The book only gets interesting in the last 30 pages. 30 of over 700…
This book’s love interest, Muriba, is almost even more loathable than Meruhe, and that means something. She’s got nothing, really nothing loveable or even likeable on her, and I honestly can’t explain Andrej’s fuzz about her. She is even more despicable than Corinne!
The plot, well, seems like Hohlbein did a rip off of one of his own books, for the plot is the exact same as in Volume II, “The Vampyre”. Only worse.
Andrej and Abu Dun visit Egypt again, even say that they have been there once before. But when confronted with statues of the old golds, Andrej acts like he’s never heard of or dealed with them before. Sharif suggests that the old gods were immortals like Andrej, but he just shruggs his shoulders, despite the fact that he knows they are immortals like him! Yes, you do know that these gods exist! You’ve met them, fought against them!
Another thing the book gets wrong is the time period: While it says the sultan has lost the siege of Vienna, the events of the book take place a year after book 12 has ended. This wouldn’t be a problem, if it weren’t for the fact that the siege took place in 1683, and the last book was set in 1668 (one and a half year after the fire of London).
But there were also a few things I liked about the book. The last thirty pages, the fact that a mortal is once again the big villain (I kinda have missed that), and the fact that Abu Dun loses his hand. Gross. I also like the speech the sultan gives to Andrej about him having read and heard of the two legendary immortals, warriors, who wander the world in search for an answer. I like the imagination that he has heard of them because of the Malta or Vienna incident.
There is also a fight against a crocodile, and that is never wrong!
Well, the book blows, and is uninteresting. Only true fans should read it (on the other hand: noone else but a true fan would have read to this point).