New York City, New Year’s weekend, 2001. Jillian Guthrie, a troubled young journalist, stumbles onto a tantalizing mystery: the same man, unaged, stands alongside Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, and Gandhi in three different photographs spanning eighty-five years of history. In another part of town, Will—an enigmatic thirty-three-year-old of immense charm, wit, and intelligence—looks forward to the new year with hope and trepidation. Haunted by his secret past and shadowed by a dangerous stranger, he finds himself the object of an intense manhunt spearheaded by an ambitious Vatican emissary and an elderly former UN envoy named Hanna. During the next forty-eight hours, a catastrophic event unites Will, Jillian, and Hanna—and puts them in the crosshairs of a centuries-old international conspiracy. Together, the three must unravel an ancient curse that stretches back two millennia and beyond, and face a primal evil that threatens their lives and thousands more.
It’s hard to talk about The Man of Legends, by Kenneth C. Johnson without spoiling it. I’ll do my best to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this wonderful tale, so bear with me. I’m already a sucker for time travel and the thought of the immortal person toiling in our world. I’ve written immortal characters myself, and I only hope that they are as believable as Kenneth Johnson makes his.
In short, The Man of Legends feels like a clever mashup between The Man From Earth, by Jerome Bixby, the television show Forever, and possibly Reincarnation Blues, by Michael Poore. (If you haven’t seen/read any of those three, go get them right now.)
I read to about 32% in one setting. The story was mesmerizing. I wanted to keep reading, but I knew that if I did, I wouldn’t stop until I had consumed every word that Kenneth C. Johnson had put between the covers. And it is a long book. 428 pages. Between 32% and 76%, the story languished while doing an eclectic mash-up of various flashbacks. I felt that these flashbacks could’ve been pared down to shorten the size of the time, but I’m sure I’m in the minority there. The flashbacks were richly detailed, and built, story by story, the history of the mysterious immortal.
I had wagered a guess at whom the immortal man was at around the 40% mark, and I was so close to being correct. The reveal at the 65% mark was tantalizingly satisfying, and never have I been so glad to guess something incorrectly. After the reveal, the story moves at such a break-neck pace, I knew that I would finish the story fourth night, damn the consequences.
Despite my grumblings about the muddy middle of the story and the longish length, The Man of Legends is a solid five stars. Fans of historical fiction, science fiction, and even those that like their thrillers to dabble in the supernatural and religious occult will enjoy this page-turner. I recommend you go out and get this book right now.
Creator of V, The Incredible Hulk, Alien Nation, The Bionic Woman and other Emmy Award Winning shows. Director of numerous TV movies and the feature films Short Circuit 2, and Steel. Winner of the prestigious Viewers for Quality Television Award, multiple Saturn Awards, The Sci-Fi Universe Life Achievement Award, plus nominations for Writers Guild and Mystery Writers of America Awards, among others.