Spanners – The Fountain of Youth
For millennia there have been legends about people with incredible abilities. Super-strength. Invulnerability. Immortality. But these aren’t mere myths. These heroes and villains are real, and they’re called Spanners. Whether they choose to live like regular humans or carefully conceal themselves from humanity’s sight, Spanners have powerful supernatural abilities, some of which are incredibly dangerous.
Adam Parr is a self-appointed Spanner detective who works to keep malicious Spanners in line and protect both humanity and his race’s secrets. But when an old and ruthless adversary reemerges after hundreds of years, Adam will be tested like never before. Who can he count on? What living nightmares will he see unleashed? And will there be anything left for Adam to protect when all is said and done?
Spanners: The Fountain of Youth is a fantasy book that adds touches of revisionist mythology and history to an intriguing universe reminiscent of Marvel’s X-Men stories. The Spanners are a varied and stratified race, rich and complex (though some classes, like the Mayfly class, get far more detail than others). Maas has obviously put a great deal of forethought into his worldbuilding, and it shows; the novel is practically bursting with colorful tangents and revelations regarding how the Spanner world differs from our own.
While there are a few too many instances of “As you well know…” backstory info-dumps (particularly between Balthasar and the main antagonist), Maas manages to communicate an impressive wealth of exposition and place-setting without it becoming too cumbersome.
As a reader, I wish I’d been able to spend more time with some of the characters; while minor roles like Phage, Geryon, Trey, and Cannon get plenty of time to reveal themselves, major players like Phoe, Adam, and the antagonist seem strangely underexplored. There are plenty of hints offered about them, but precious few real details for a reader to latch onto. (This doesn’t make them any less compelling, it simply makes me wish the book was a little longer.)
For the most part, Spanners: The Fountain of Youth is well-paced, confidently allowing the characters to move in and out of the spotlight as bigger events progress. The ending feels a bit rushed after so much build-up, as if Maas is as impatient as we are to see how the final scenes unfold. But the finale is well-executed and surprisingly poignant, leaving numerous avenues open for potential future follow-ups while leaving the reader with a satisfying conclusion.
Spanners: The Fountain of Youth has plenty to offer the modern fantasy reader, a capable mix of high-fantasy ambitions and modern-day style.
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