ALBION ABLAZE and A VIEW TO A DEATH by John Timbers
Authors OnLine Ltd
Bedfordshire SG193NU, England
Genre: Historical Novels
ISBN: 9780755211173, 9780755211418, $14.95, $14.95, 204pp., 230 pp.
Albion Ablaze and A View to a Death are the third and fourth volumes in a five part series making up The Journals of Marcus Rutilius Robura. Caesar’s Tribune is Volume I, Master of Gaul is Volume II and, in process, Road to the Rubicon is Volume V. I have reviewed Volumes I and II in the past with strong recommendations.
John Timbers has taken historical characters and brought to life the culture, politics and Julius Caesar’s military campaigns from 60 to 52 BC. These books are based on Caesar’s own Commentaries on the Gallic Wars which led to his overwhelming power as an all-conquering general. The stories come alive through a novelistic twist time warp device as Marcus, the Tribune, finds himself in two worlds.
In Albion Ablaze (55-54 BC):
“Recalled to Gaul early because of a German invasion in the far northeast, Caesar launches his first exploratory reconnaissance in force of the almost mythical islands of Albion, egged on, of course by Marcus. However, in this and the next year, in which Caesar carries out a full scale invasion to unseat the tyrant, Cassivellaunus, Marcus plays a role wholly unsuspected by historians (while still remaining credibly within Caesar’s version of the story).”
In A View to a Death:
This volume covers a two year period during which some of the most savage fighting of the whole Gallic war took place, not all of it in Gaul itself. The first half deals with a war waged by Marcus Licinius Crassus. The second half covers the major Gallic rebellion against Caesar’s presence in Gaul. Quoting from Chapter One - A View - to give you a sample of Timber’s style and quality of writing:
“Shock; instant gut-wrenching terror; subliminal horrors amplified in dreams, and imposed with mind-bending proportions on the realities so twisted and tortured by the brain’s ability to exaggerate the thought patterns tumbling through its contorted corridors during waking hours and reflected in all their convoluted awfulness in sleep - such was the stuff of my nightmares.
“I am still not free of the debilitating trauma of those brief, violent encounters with the Parthian Army in far off Mesopotamia, even though months have passed, and I’ve tasted normality once again. It is as if the brain itself has been wounded, and its suppurating sores are seeking attention, demanding relief that is being denied by any deviation from their origins.
“I am not alone. Few of us who fled that gore-soaked battlefield have escaped mentally unscathed, even those of us who were fortunate enough to escape injury by those nightmare barrages of steel-tipped arrows from the ubiquitous Parthian archers. For weeks afterwards we walked, talked and worked like zombies, trying to function normally as best we could, still threatened by the probability of pursuit and further defeat at the hands of what seemed then to be an overwhelming power, our confidence in Rome’s insuperability gone forever. Hollow-eyed and gaunt, even the toughest veterans couldn’t shake off the distorting aftermath of fear that haunted our sleeping and our waking hours.”
John Timbers is an educated, gifted writer with a colorful, lively writing style. If you enjoy historical novels and/or military campaigns, these novels are certain to entertain and educate at the same time. For more information about John and The Journals of MarcusRutilius Robura, visit www.caesarstribune.co.uk.
Kaye Trout - July 27, 2009
THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE: INVISIBLE CHILDREN OF INDIA by Shelley Seale
Dog’s Eye View Media
Genre: Sociological Travel Memoir
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9780980232370, $16.00, 313 pp.
The Weight of Silence is a sociological travel memoir about the beauty, richness, and terrible poverty in India and, in particular, about the children. Quoting from the introduction:
“In my journeys over the last years into the orphanages, slums, clinics and streets of India I have become immersed in the world of these children. Their hope and resilience amazed me time and time again; the ability of their spirits to overcome crippling challenges inspired me. Even in the most deprived circumstances they are still kids - they laugh and play, perhaps far less frequently than others; they develop strong bonds and relationships to create family where none exists; and most of all they have an enormous amount of love to give....
“I want to be clear that although this book deals with struggles and failures, this is far from the only side of India. The country is an astonishing place full of history, grand architecture, magnificent natural beauty and some of the most wonderful people I have ever met. Because this book focuses on those excluded from the riches of their nation, the topics and issues written about often show a darker side of India. Yet during my journeys and research the other, beautiful India constantly showed itself, even in the most difficult places. It is an extraordinarily wonderful place and I encourage anyone who has a chance to visit....”
Shelley Seale is an accomplished freelance writer, specializing in travel–multiple publications. The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India is beautifully written, well edited, extremely poignant, and educational. If you were touched by the movie Slumdog Millionaire and want to know more about India, its children and their problems, read this book.
Kaye Trout - July 13, 2009
THE ALCOHOLIC'S GUIDE TO ADVENTURE by William Rutger
ISBN: 9781439218099, $12.99, 120 pp.
Quoting from the back cover:
“Witty, wise, and darkly funny, The Alcoholic’s Guide to Adventure by William Rutger is a fast-paced, derisive memoir of a drunk who came to walk the straight and narrow after one too many late night escapades. In this autobiography, a newly sober Rutger will illustrate how life came full circle after the deaths of his father and son, “wasted” millions, and his then ever unfurling grip on reality. Hurrah–it might have been a long road to all is well, but the trip was worth way more than the tab.”
I had mixed feelings about this book and a difficult time finishing it. From a woman’s standpoint, a woman raised in an alcoholic home, I did not find it funny, witty or wise...with one exception...his advice not to give advice. The author’s big adventure was partying most of his life, and the book is not really a guide, but ‘guide’ makes for a catchy title. He doesn’t mention his wife much in this cathartic memoir, and as far as redeeming qualities, all the male alcoholics I’ve known were true animal lovers–maybe for the unconditional love? And yes, “genetic alcoholic” should be stamped on genetic alcoholic’s birth certificates. It might save a lot of future heartaches.
As for style, William Rutger is an educated writer and the book is well edited; however, I had the feeling I was listening to an alcoholic ramble, for whatever that tells you. There are no cured alcoholics...just recovering, and if they think they’re cured, their arrogance is still in the way. Many alcoholics might enjoy this book, but not the friends and families. Do you think my past experiences with alcoholics has had some affect on my perspective?...just possibly. My alcoholic ex-husband called the day before he died to say good-bye and that he was looking forward to a new adventure.
Kaye Trout - July 9, 2009
WALLY THE WALKING FISH MEETS MADISON AND COOPER by Gary Lamit
Genre: Fiction - Preschool Children
ISBN: 9781439225417, $12.99, 28 pp.
Wally the Walking Fish Meets Madison and Cooper is a delightful little story about a young girl, Madison, her hungry dog Cooper and Wally, a walking/talking catfish. The colorful illustrations are enchanting–soft and warm. In addition to the story, Lamit has included factual information about mushrooms, beavers, flying fish, mudskippers, and walking catfish, to educate as well as entertain.
Gary Lamit was inspired and wrote Wally the Walking Fish for this granddaughter Madision. I hope she’ll enjoy and treasure this unique book–an expression of her grandfather’s love.
Kaye Trout - July 3, 2009