What could be better than a new X-men Prose novel by Aconyte (and Tristan Palmgren)? A new novel including vampiric mermen and an ancient, dare I say eldritch, leviathan! Well that is exactly what Palmgren delivers in The Siege of X-41 and you will not be disappointed! Well not if you like those things at least!
The story focuses primarily on Joshua Fowley, a hater of mutants until he became one. Now known as Elixir and dealing with Omega-Level power potential he must learn to not only come to terms with his anti-mutant past but his mutant future.
Rejected by the anti-Mutant Reavers when his powers manifested only the X-men offered him a sanctuary. Surrounded by mutants who still see him as their enemy it’s not exactly going well for Josh. Throw in a deep-sea training mission that isolates him with a select team of new X-Men and then add in an attack – well things aren’t going well for Joshua. A sect of sea monster-worshiping vampire mermen besiege the base, leaving them stranded and trapped. As the attacks escalate, their chances of survival plummet. Things soon go from awful to even worse when one of the team begins sabotaging their attempts to call for help, all in the name of a sleeping behemoth soon to awake.
I will start by saying I was somewhat worried because, like the trainee X-Men, I was finding it hard to like and sympathize with Josh to begin with. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone who, for want of a better word, has been a racist bigot whether or not this was down to family and those around them or not. But, thanks to Palmgren’s masterful writing and characterisation within a chapter to two I was warming to Josh – I wouldn’t say he was a favourite but he was definitely getting a bit more sympathy. I think the action of fellow students helped with this.
As nearly everyone knows the X-Men have always been about fighting stigma and stereotypes, of highlighting the troubles faced by minority groups. And Palmgren understood the assignment. By taking an anti-mutant and giving them omega-level potential powers it gives us such a fantastic insight into the trouble and hardships the X-Men and mutants still face. On top of this we get to see the other side – the mutants who are so used to being hated treat Josh the same way he would likely have acted to them. Anole plays this part perfectly – blinded by his own hate for the once Reaver turned Mutant he shows how easy it is to fall into the cycle of hate. On top of this we have the claustrophobic setting of the underwater base.
This all fits together perfectly to create a tense action adventure with a brilliant touch of horror. The action and tension never lets up, between the attacks, members of the team potentially sabotaging the group, and growing tensions between Elixir and Anole. Honestly I couldn’t put it down once I had started and after getting a little more sympathetic to Josh. As you know I always try to avoid spoilers but the ending of the novel was brilliant. Honestly I loved it. Seeing everything come full circle and a lot of issues brought up in the novel begin to be resolved. I am looking forward to potentially seeing more of Elixir and Anole in the future.
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