Book Reviews

Book Review: Vanquish by Bradley Wright – With So Many Good Writers Out There, How Did This Get Published?

The first book in the Xander King series by Bradley Wright was recommended to me somewhere along the line. My review of Whiskey & Roses was tepid, but sometimes series will get better as they go along, so I figured I would continue for one more book. After reading the second book in the series, I was ready to make this the last book I read in the series until there was a cliffhanger ending that intrigued me.

Vanquish picks up nearly where Whiskey & Roses left off. It’s just a few days after the events of that book. Xander King, the perfect former Navy Seal turned into lone-wolf mercenary who is also a billionaire playboy, thinks he has finally avenged the murder of his parents ten years before. His partner in these adventures, former MI-6 agent Sam (short for Samantha) is tipped off that they may have murdered the wrong guy. That’s okay, though, because he was a really bad dude anyway. Anyway, Samantha learns that the real killer may now be targeting Xander.

Xander and his best buddy, Kyle, have picked up a couple of women in Las Vegas and brought them to his yacht in the Virgin Islands. Sam races against time to warn Xander what’s coming. Russia’s most notorious assassin has been commissioned to take him out. What follows is the fight of Xander’s life as he tries to survive and protect his friends long enough to take out the assassin and the person who hired him.

I don’t like the character of Xander, to start with. The author makes him all too “perfect” as is he’s trying to force the reader to like him. He treats everyone so wonderfully they all adore him and anyone who doesn’t just love him is just plain wrong. Every time he needs something, it falls into his lap just in time. There’s no situation in the book where it felt like he was really in peril because things always happened to somehow allow him to escape. The bad guys that pursue him must have gone to the Stormtrooper Shooting Academy because no matter how many of them there are, Xander always manages to kill them off, and neither he nor anyone on his team rarely suffers injuries.

Maybe that’s not entirely fair, since Xander does spend time in a hospital after being shot in the stomach (and surviving!) The assassin stoops to blowing up a hospital wing, killing who knows how many innocent patients and medical staff, but Xander and his friends manage to escape. We’re supposed to cheer about that? Even recovering from an abdominal wound, he’s a “Superman” traveling around the world trying to avenge the murder of his parents. and

To top it off, so many of the descriptions are focused on people’s looks that it put me off as well. Every girl he meets is perfect in body and looks and in a bikini. He lavishes clothes on the women they pick up in Las Vegas and makes so many comments about the way they look it’s off-putting. The CIA agent who works with them is gorgeous and, of course, is in love with Xander. The daughter of a Russian gangster is an absolute knockout who Xander would like to bed. And then there’s his “true love” who he’s known for all of two weeks, Natalie Rockwell, a famous movie star. The only people who have what would be termed a “negative body image” are the bad guys, of course.

Everything is so far-fetched I was ready to toss the book halfway through, but I wanted to finish it for the review so I could be fair. That is, unfortunately, where it hooked me that I decided to give the next book a try. However, I really can’t recommend anyone read these books. The action may be at a break-neck pace, but the characters are just so unrealistic I found it impossible to identify or sympathize with them.

8 replies »

    • I can’t find publisher details so it might be the case that it’s self-published. I read it for free on Kindle Unlimited, but it’s really not worth investing time. I started the next book because the cliff-hanger sucked me in and gave up about 1/3 of the way through.

      • I am not a fan of these newfangled self-published authors who (a) don’t really know how to write fiction and (b) create series of novels and use “cliff-hangers” to get people to keep buying the books.

        Mind you, I’m not knocking self-publishing; I have gone that route twice. But one of the things I look for when I buy a book is the quality of the writing. And this guy apparently created a Gary Stu story and, to make matters worse, slipped in the “let’s end this on a “Stay tuned for another exciting chapter of the saga” note.

        I’ve read plenty of traditionally published novels that resulted in series (such as most of Tom Clancy’s novels), but those writers at least gave readers a satisfying, complete story. Many of these self-published writers seem to want to create series right off the bat, regardless of whether they can tell good stories, and tell them well.

  1. “the perfect former Navy Seal turned into lone-wolf mercenary who is also a billionaire playboy”

    Hey, it could happen.

    “The bad guys that pursue him must have gone to the Stormtrooper Shooting Academy”

    That also could happen.

    “they may have murdered the wrong guy.”

    Doncha just hate when this happens?

    With respect to this book, the improbability is strong in this one.

    I suspect the book may be entertaining, but your review was far more so. Thanks, Patti

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