The Chamber of Ten
by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
Cover Artist: Design: Jae Song
Review by Ellen Russell
Spectra Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553386561
Date: 27 July 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Golden and Lebbon's The Chamber of Ten is a good urban fantasy thriller. Although reading it has not compelled me to go out and buy their other works, it was still an entertaining read. Set in Venice, The Chamber of Ten follows Geena, an archaeologist, and Nico, her graduate student and lover, through their discovery of the library of Petrarch, a 17th century poet and collector of rare books. However, beneath Petrarch's library they discover another room: the Chamber of Ten, an ancient room in which ten of Venice's most influential citizens gathered for generations to discuss matters and execute plans for the good of the city.
When Nico accidentally breaks a jar that he finds in the chamber, a world of trouble is unleashed on modern-day Venice. Nico, who has the ability to read thoughts, is possessed by the spirit of the Oracle of Venice, an ancient magician by the name of Zanco Volpe, who has some unfinished business with three evil former Doges who want Venice for themselves. Zanco, with the help of Nico and Geena, must stop them before it is too late.
This novel starts slowly and a bit awkwardly. The introduction to Nico and Geena, and Nico's psychic powers, and their relationship does not forge an immediate connection with the reader. The story seems to be less about the modern characters and more about the ancient, magical ones. For much of the first half of the novel, Nico and Geena seem incidental to the plot rather than the main characters who propel the plot. However, some connection with Nico and Geena does build gradually through the work. The character of Zanco Volpe, on the other hand, is very well executed.
The plot of the novel builds in suspense and action, as it should. However, there is nothing exceptional to distinguish it from other fantastic thrillers. It is a good, if run-of-the-mill, suspense novel. Perhaps if the characters were more engaging the plot would be more exciting to follow. Overall, The Chamber of Ten is entertaining, but not stellar.