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George Mendoza
Vision of the Spirit Man
Five years after the events of Journey of the Spirit Man, Michael Seymour finds himself back in the alternate reality from which he had been so eager to escape, but to where he has recently been desperate to return. But the land he discovers upon arrival has changed. A great war rages, and Michael is revered as a warrior and a killer, although he has no recollection of being either of those things. Charged with finding and destroying the Annihilator, a force intent on bringing doom to the land of Shoot, Michael must battle the world around him-human, creature, and natural-and trek through desolate wastelands, where he encounters a series of allies and foes. Along the way, he discovers that The Spirit Man's warrior spirit sits at bay within him. But The Spirit Man is not the only spirit lying in wait inside Michael-and he'll need help from them all to save the land he's come to love and honor the fatal sacrifices his friends have made for him. Vision of the Spirit Man is the second installment in George Mendoza's captivating Spirit Man series.
The second volume of Mendoza’s searching, soulful Spirit Man trilogy catches up with New Mexico seeker and worlds-traveler Michael Seymour a half decade after the events of Journey of the Spirit Man, which found him experiencing visions—inspired by ones Mendoza’s glimpsed himself, after a hiking accident—and passing through a desert portal to face the challenges of the Spirit Lands. Now, Michael has found that his connection to those other worlds—and his other self, the Spirit Man—has grown thin. Two strange incidents, both in a way brushes with death, soon plunge Michael back into the Mirror World of Shook, now a walled wasteland where centuries-old, bat-eating dwarves are fighting a war that seems to have been raging for some time … and that the dwarves assume Michael, who is avowedly not a soldier, has already been fighting.

Soon, Michael’s on a bona fide quest to find and destroy someone named “Annihilator”—and stop the armies of another mysterious figure identified only as “S.” From there, Mendoza and his hero both commit to what seems like a traditional fantasy story and interrogate its underlying assumptions, as Michael again must journey not just across a realm and its City of Dreams but deep into himself. There’s bloody action fit for the pulps, described with vigor, but also pained attention to the urgent question of whether “the burden” of taking lives will “grow heavier as the death toll grew—or would it grow lighter?”

While Mendoza again digs into matters of the soul and self, and a lesson about compassion, the pulsing heart of this volume in the series is an old-school chosen-one portal fantasy, complete with vivid monster encounters, surprising friends, tantalizing prophecies, weird gods, and weirder vehicles. Tying it all together is practical-minded contemporary man’s responses: “Uh, guys?” Michael says, when he notes that the approaching dune buggies are equipped with machine guns.

Takeaway: A vivid fantasy sequel packed with weird gods and another world’s fantastic war.

Great for fans of: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Joel C. Rosenberg’s Guardians of the Flame: The Warriors.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-