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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Review: Lex Trent: Fighting With Fire by Alex Bell


Lex Trent is reigning champion of The Games contested between fickle Gods using human playing pieces. He has it all: Fame. Glory. Wealth. An enormous ego. 

But The Games are about to begin again and the Goddess of Luck wants Lex to defend their title. A challenge he can’t resist, despite the risk of death, because the final round will take place in the Wild West, giving Lex the chance to claim the legendary Sword of Life (who wouldn’t want that?). With Lex’s mix of skill, quick wittedness and no small amount of outright cheating, he can’t lose! Can he?

Luck may usually be a lady to Lex...but in the Wild West they play by their own rules...and Lex has never been that good with rules.


I remember trying to write the review of the first Lex Trent book more than a year ago - I found it a really difficult task for two reasons: firstly, it is a fantasy story, and this is a genre I have often struggled with; and secondly, there was just so much going on that I was a little scared of spoiling any of the many treats awaiting a first time reader. Now, more than twelve months on, I find myself having exactly the same difficulties with its sequel.

Lex Trent is back, taking part in another set of games that keep the gods so amused, and he is as obnoxious as ever. In fact, it is partly his arrogance that sees him taking part in the games for the second time - he just can't bear the thought of someone else taking his title off him. Yet again I found myself leaping between totally loathing this main character and excitedly rooting for him. I'm not sure I have ever come across a character like him in all my years of reading.

Part of the great appeal of the first book were the characters with whom Alex Bell surrounded Lex Trent during his adventures. This strength in her writing is even more apparent in this sequel, with the creation of two fantastic secondary characters - Jeremiah East, an upper-class twit whose family have a long connection with the Trents, and Jesse Layton, a wisecracking cowboy straight out of the Wild West. Both of these characters are extremely well created and the banter between them and Lex sets us up for many moments of sparkling and hilarious dialogue.

Alex Bell's writing almost defies description. At times it feels like Terry Pratchett, but that may just be down to its comedy fantasy leanings, and I have not read a huge amount of the Discworld novels to be able to accurately qualify that statement. Then all of a sudden there will be a scene or line of dialogue that is as close to Monty Python as you are likely to find in modern YA fiction. Alex Bell obviously has a warped and surreal sense of humour, and an imagination to match this. It would not surprise me if Ms Bell often broke down into fits of laughter as she wrote some of the scenes in this book - I was certainly laughing out loud at times.

If you enjoyed the first book in the series then you will love this one; in my opinion it is even better than Lex Trent vs The Gods. My thanks go to the generous people at Headline for sending me a copy to review.

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