Shadowman is story #1 in "The Bethesda Wars"
There is a secret Compound in Bethesda, Maryland. Agents from the Compound scour the world looking for children with special talents. Talents that can be fostered, and shaped...and used.
They knew Subject Kelly was different the moment he was born. He did not cry in the delivery room, but when his unfocused eyes drifted toward a nurse she gasped, and her nose started to gush blood.
Kelly, his brother Atticus and their mother had to go deeper into hiding. Their mother knew what was at stake: she had been born on the Compound, a 'potential', and when she had not blossomed into a Talent they had let her go. Now the Scouts are right on their heels, looking to take her children.
We see the story through the eyes of Subject Atticus, an autistic Talent who has a compulsive need to grade things. He watches with a detached eye as his brother is shaped and trained to be a figure that strikes terror throughout the Compound. But when his brother starts to become unstable, it is Atticus who must help save his brother, or watch him be destroyed.
Shadowman is the first story in the Bethesda Wars, and characters who will have a great impact on the series are prevalent throughout the story. In addition to Subjects Kelly and Atticus there is the malevolent Damian Alan Kay, who recognizes Kelly's abilities and wants to use them for his own nefarious ends. There is Subject Roberta, who recognizes the evil of the Compound and wants to stop it. And there is Father Black, the ominous leader of the Compound, who terrifies everyone...except Atticus.
Shadowman is a graphic thriller, but at the same time it is touching and moving. The characters may do extraordinary things but in many ways they are ordinary people, trying to find their way.
Shadowman is the first story in The Bethesda Wars, and introduces the readers to a terrifying and thrilling world, one hidden just beneath the surface of our own.
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I had just written a very long, articulate, and elaborate review of this story, and then somehow accidentally deleted it before I had a chance to submit it. So, let's try this again. With this story, which is by turns suspenseful, shocking, terrifying, and hilarious, but always moving, the reader gets an introduction both to a spectacular talent and to his epic, sweeping overall narrative. Shadowman succeeds on every level, including both as a stand-alone monograph and as a crucial keystone in the foundation of a much larger, even more ambitious work. While technically not the first book in the series chronologically, the author could not have chosen a better way to announce his arrival on the scene. This is an author of uncommon fluency, wonderful fluidity, and most importantly, a unique, innovative creative vision. A lazy reader might try to classify Mr. Gardos as an author of the "dark fantasy," "sci-fi," or "horror" genres, but those categories certainly do not do his talent justice. While too many authors of such milieu offer the reader two-dimensional, interchangeable characters and derivative, hackneyed plot-lines, Mr. Gardos engages in world-building here. His characters act like real people, with all of their flaws and imperfections. They say things that sound like real people, undergoing the stress of real-life situations, nevermind the fantastical environment in which the plot has placed them. The readers grow to care for, identify with, and cheer on the characters, then, in spite of AND because of these personality traits... the one exception being the one character in these stories who absolutely deserves nothing but loathing and contempt. Furthermore, Mr. Gardos hunts bigger game than that typically in the gun-sights of a lot of sci-fi authors. He takes aim at the encroaching fascism of government oppression, as well as the hypocrisy and inherent xenophobia of organized religion. These are his two real targets. More importantly, he weaves together science fiction, horror, fantasy, humor, romance, social commentary, and soap opera into something truly engaging, compelling, and captivating, all presented in a parallel world that feels fully formed and inhabited... not to mention NOT THAT FAR-FETCHED. Some really lazy readers might make too much of Mr. Gardos' similarities to Stephen King--there are themes that may remind the reader of Firestarter, especially--but those similarities are minimal and only ancillary to Mr. Gardos' long-term goal. This is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, but this author's genius lies in his willingness to plumb the depths of the deepest, darkest recesses of every person's soul, to find those things within all of us that none of us want to admit, and then to make something beautiful and universal and fascinating out of them. It takes a truly original talent to make a reader feel compassion and love for a being as dark as the Shadowman, but Mr. Gardos gets the reader there. That's his genius; he forces the reader to fight through Hell--to wade through a river of blood--to find salvation and catharsis on the far shore.
Mr. Gardos is a new and upcoming author who writes with a Stephen King type story line. This book is interesting and easily read, with some supernatural and paranormal turns and twists. Makes you wonder...does a secret organization like this really exist in today's world???? Good job, Mr. Guardos! Have a feeling we'll be seeing more from you!
Excellent read! Of a similar feel to Stephen King, but uniquely different. Quick, fun, mind bending, and very interesting. Particularly fun from a reader's perspective is the interweaving of the characters and themes within the three novellas of the series. I look forward to more publishing of his works.