Paternus lovers, Potential Paternus readers, and my blog readers,
I finally managed to pen down a review of this mind-boggling book.
Let’s be done with the disclaimer right here, right now.
Dyrk Ashton, I hear, is a famous personality. Some say he is a terrific author.
Before I started reading Paternus (Dyrk Ashton’s Firstborn), I was worried exactly how much he was going to terrify me.
He did, a lot, and I loved it.
He asked me how much I hated it. You will find out, soon.
Paternus: The General idea
Paternus is not what it looks like, from the first few chapters. An unimpressive beginning as a young adult romance, it slowly shifts to a detailed backstory that is the fictional history of creation and creatures, followed by spine-chilling action.
So, let’s get over with the bitching.
I had to read quite a few scenes or lines with furrowed brows (thank you for the new wrinkles, Dyrk).
Gay best buddies who are good listeners with a foul mouth and lusty talks are not that hot an idea anymore. Gay men can be subtle and sophisticated too. It’s the time of Jim Parsons and Neil Patrick Harris. Must Delilah become a man for the sake of diversity?
Mr. Ashton’s research goes way beyond the level of Wikipedia.
A few notes of my own
The author uses the term Prathamaja Nandana repeatedly. However, the word Prathamaja itself means original or primary, hence firstborn. Nandana is the word for son, Nandini, for daughter. Prathamaja Nandana should mean ‘the son of the firstborn.’
Mr. Ashton has projected the manifestations of Pratha (Parvati) quite accurately (Mother of Dinosaurs, huh? Didn’t know that one.)
Indra, the King, and God of Thunder wields the Vajra and is a Cassanova like Zeus. The Father God is fashioned from him and not Shiva as mentioned in the early part of the book.
Mahishasura incants ‘Samavari Maya.’ The term means the power of creating multiple illusions of himself, and it is not a mantra. One meaning of the word ‘Samavarta’ is ‘returning, ‘ and the incantation means ‘returning in illusions.’
I am drifting away from the review for a minute here. But you should blame the author. He did his homework, and now he is making me dig up my long-forgotten notes.
For references, you should know that Asur is a tribe who still exist in India. Asuras (mythical) are not evil by nature. They can be benevolent too. Hindu mythology considered Suras (Devas) and Asuras as two forces of nature maintaining the cosmic balance.
Dyrk had used Purnima when he meant the full moon. ‘Liked’ that one. You did your studies well, man.
Not sure what Patermentia, a word probably created by joining Pater (father) and Mentia (state of mind) were supposed to mean. Compos or noncompos mentia are medical terms explaining control or no control over one’s state of mind. Note to self: ask Dyrk.
I wish I could catch the author in a fly net and torture all the answers out of him. No need for violence, though. I heard he is a friendly guy. I will ask him nicely, promise.
Now comes the actual complaints. The characterization disappointed me, Whenever I like someone, the plot shifts its focus on another. Wait, then the plot is to blame, not the character. Examples are Kabir, the brothers Cyclops, Minotaur/Asterion (Dyrk decided the Bull-man is also Nandi, the Bull of Shiva, interesting theory), and the wee (ahem, looks around for shadows) Max.
The author keeps baiting us with such fascinating creatures and reels us into the story without us even realizing when our initial wariness have vanished.
Fiona and Zeke aren’t remarkable. Were they even necessary in the big picture other than the ‘urban fantasy’ factor? At least not for half the book. They have some secrets, sure. But I didn’t feel a thing for them.
As the teenager pines for sweet love, the myths are taking form into reality, and war is brewing among the Firstborns. That’s first half of the book.
I kept grinding my teeth every time I had to read the chapters on Figs and Flowers. The bodyguard’s story was absorbing and felt like an actual start of a great story.
Again entered Fi, and made me sigh.
I wasn’t enjoying the ping-pong format of the book, and I kept wondering what the book was about (ignored the reviews and blurb to get an impression in fresh mind).
That’s when the sneaky Mr. Ashton introduces a bunch of the creepiest dudes into that hospital. Max’s scenes made me want to cry for mommy. He is Mr. Ashton’s best creation.
Henceforth, the book maintains a fast pace and a super exciting action.
The author’s captivating style of narrating fight scenes kept me hooked to this book, as did his teasers with folklore.
If this book becomes a movie, I would like Anthony Hopkins in his Silence of the Lambs glory. Remember the music (I read somewhere that it’s Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations of Aria’) he enjoyed eating the face off that guard and beating the other to death?
The scenes of Paternus have no similarity with this movie, but the shock factor of mind-numbing violence has the same effect. The hospital, Peter’s place, the end of the tunnel, they are the most mindblowing scenes in the book. Why? Because Dyrk is the king of action.
His fight sequences reminded me of movie frames, the camera shifting from one face to another capturing their reaction and showing us the onslaught and the bloodshed from different angles.
On an irrelevant note, Mr. Ashton is pondering over plot and action a lot these days. Can we expect the sequel soon?
As I have mentioned before (did I?), the Father God is an entertaining character. You have to check this one and his somewhat incestual relationship (barely implied) with his Firstborn who ‘kisses him horizontal.’
The said Firstborn if truly inspired by Hindu mythology, is supposed to be the consort of Shiva. She does resemble the Mother Goddess in beauty, power, and personality. Mr. Ashton (respectfully) generously highlights her full glory in the book. The one female character among the handful, who stands out on her own accord.
The Father and the said Firstborn are still nothing compared to Max (makes me shudder every time I think of his hee hee). Max is Dyrk’s beast creation besides the ‘Indrajala’ the author has spun inside his head.
Uncle Edgar has a nice surprise for us, and later I get to know why he poses as a stereotypical old-world English-man for half the book.
Dyrk Ashton has a great sense of humor, and he uses that in the oddest of places. The humor dilutes the goriest and most violent of the scenes. Thanks for that as the swear-words, nasty, evil thoughts, and Max, none of them suggests an adult level.
The blurb says New adult, but this 35-year-old adult had to make my daughter check under the bed and behind the cupboard for monsters that night. A creepier and more repulsive creature than Max and Kleron’s goons I haven’t met in the recent months.
Continuity is a major issue in Paternus, as many characters introduced in each chapter don’t make a come back any sooner. However, the long stretch of admittedly interesting exposition ends early, and the rest of the book is so gripping that I couldn’t stop reading till the end. Another round of history, myth, and biology, was easier to absorb once I could figure out the basic framework.
More myths and lore, sir? Bring it on.
In this interview with Shona Kinsella, Dyrk Ashton describes his work as:
In my mind, Paternus is a modern myth about myths. It’s a fictional unified field theory that (fictionally) validates nearly every mythological being and story we’ve ever read.
Thank you, Dyrk. You are true to your word. Paternus goes beyond the biblical myths and converges the various rich ancient cultures of the world into a theoretically relatable mix.
Paternus’s similarity with American Gods lies in the sole factor that the authors don’t restrict their work to the commonly known mythologies. For example, both the author’s knowledge of the Indian mythology goes beyond flesh-eating naked Goddesses posing as deities for villains of Indiana Jones. Thanks for that.
The long review is also the author’s fault, I must say. He picked my one of my favorites, mythology.
Paternus is written with alternate chapters of separate stories, which I categorized as YA romance and mythology-based grimdark fantasy, merge near the end, leaving us with a mind full of doubts and a belly full of hunger.
I want more. Not really care enough for Fi and Zeke. The Pater, Daughter, and Max matters.
After a lot of back and forth, I have decided on four Bohostars.
Wanted to take away half a point for the YA level Fiona but the legends have earned it back.
Read it. What are you waiting for? Or did you already read this book? Share your thoughts via comments.