Stars on the Oriental Corridor

STARS on the Oriental Corridor ISBN: 9781733957144 Seacoast Press copyright and written by Young-Tae Kim.

According to the author’s preface, this Book 1: Heaven, has resulted from a series of short stories written/published in Korean, rewritten and published in 2010 in six volumes, revised into two books in 2016 before rewriting and publishing in this English version in 2019. The stories detail the activities of heroes and heroines who led their countries in politics, war, fertile fields, religions, sciences, industries and arts. Certain of the tales also concentrate on the deities various tribes/small countries worshiped and the interrelationships among the various units as they continued to grow, inhabit and unify the Korean peninsula.

Discussion: Many of the stories have charming elements and are set forth in a rather quaint fashion especially when employing modern verbalization to describe activity. In Chapter 1, description is provided of two tribe/small country leaders engaging in individual combat as the designated leader of the people of their country, a sensible form of warfare often employed in earlier times that saved many lives. Chapter 2 follows these inhabitants after a successful period has followed the union and they became interested in perpetuating the dynasty. Thus the King’s advisor addresses him: “Your Majesty, now that our country has become stable all in out, people are each doing his or her role very well. We have no problem in our country except for one thing. As we do not have our queen to become mother of the country. It is imminent for Your Majesty to get married.” Other similarly quaint verbalization occurs throughout; e.g. “Give your order to me. I will accomplish your order doing my best.”

Other than these interesting and often amusing features, however, it is this reviewer’s thought that much of this book is directed toward, and will be enjoyed most, by Koreans and other Asian peoples as well as other historians who are interested in the years preceding the AD 7th century. It contains a plethora of material pertinent to through and down the Korean Peninsula. The manner of presentation, especially after that set forth in the introductory material described, makes the overall presentation seemingly somewhat complexly arranged. After the primary material follows an anticipated pattern. Directly thereafter, the reader is presented with “NINIGI-NO-MIKOTO AND PRINCESS OF GAYA (2nd volume of “Stars on the Oriental Corridor”)” divided into several chapters; These, in turn followed by “Gods of WA (Ancient Japan) (The 3rd volume of “Stars on the Oriental Corridor”)”; the 4th; 5th; 6th through 9th  – each similarly divided into several chapters and following the progress of other groups of Orientals. The book terminates with a relisting of the volume’s contents.

Summary: An interesting presentation of assumedly well assembled for those interested in early history of Asian people. Regrettably the seemingly dual explanations of its assembly was not particularly well-received by this reader. However the entire manuscript can be most enlightening for any reader with an interest in the subject matter.

3* 4* pre- 7th Century AD Asian History with quaint/charming areas; 3*- probably for most Americans.

Soldiers of Freedom

   Soldiers of Freedom ISBN: 9781943593279 Mount Sopris Publishing copyright and written by Samuel Marquis.

  This is Volume five of the WW II series and a novel subtitled “Patton’s Panthers and the Edelweiss Pirates” and is dedicated to “The officers and enlisted men of the 761st Tank Battalion who triumphed on WW II battlefields, and to the German youth of the Edelweiss Pirates who fought against Nazi tyranny.” However, it is more than a story of these two entities in that it reaches beyond and within them. The 761st, also referred to as The, or Patton’s, Black Panthers and was the first Negro battalion, and specifically selected by Patton, for duty with his 3rd Army as they slugged their way across Europe to be the first unit to cross into Germany concluding that country’s final struggles. Their story is provided through the eyes of William McBurney, one of the first enlistees who, along with the others, distinguished themselves individually as well as that of a proud and closely knit unit who actually were compelled to fight on two fronts. They not only fought some remnants of Hitler’s finest units in the desperate Battle of the Bulge and beyond to the very end, but coincidentally were required to battle against their own white soldiers and their constant denigrating words and actions. The tale of the Edelweiss Pirates is based upon two members of the subversive group, Gertrude Koch and Jean Jülich, who were heavily and actively involved against the sadistic remnants of the Gestapo in the final days of the city of Cologne. A third feature of the book is the fictional but heavily researched discussions and planning sessions among Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton, Montgomery and the others that could have accompanied the concluding period on the War in Europe. Interesting reference even is made to episodes going back to the dessert fighting against Rommel and even bits from Eisenhower’s and Patton’s relationship going back to WW I.

Discussion: This is a most unusual book in numerous ways. Most prominently perhaps in its presentation in accurate detail the abominable treatment not only of black citizens, but even worse of those who had volunteered to risk their lives in fighting for a country who refused even to recognize these soldiers as human beings. It also presents in graphic detail the utterly inhuman activity presented by the gestapo, their members and underlings. But even worse, the thoughtlessness and/or disregard of the German people who allowed such depraved activity to begin, say nothing of allowing it to escalate to the despicable level finally reached. An action that should deeply be considered today by sections of the population of this country who are approaching an entrée level; e.g. refusal to believe the existence of the Holocaust? Racism? The Author then provides another fascinating thrust for the reader – the verbal intercourse and characterizations of the prominent WW II Generals presented in a manner quite succinctly explained in the final pages of his book. “Like Michael Shaara, (author of The Killer Angels Battle of Gettysburg) “”I have “not changed any fact” nor have I “knowingly violated any action.” Most scenes in the book are based on known events with specific historical figures present, but a minority are based on incidents that are generally accepted to have taken place but have unfortunately not been documented by history, or I believe happened under similar circumstances to those described in the book but for which there is no historical record. In these cases, the interpretations of character and motivation are mine alone. Thus, the book’s characters are ultimately a part of my overall imaginative landscape and are, therefore, the fictitious creations of the author, reflecting my personal research interests and biases.”

Summary: A tremendously well researched book with, from this reader’s perspective, totally credible author interpretations where required. There is a certain amount of redundancy, but acceptable and generally speaking, this is a tale most appreciated by history and war devotees, but an overall presentation that would provide a large amount of thought producing elements from which all readers could benefit, especially when considering the unconstitutional and unlawful attitudes and actions so abundantly extant today.

5* Thought-jolting historical tale highly recommended for ALL today’s readers.

Apollo’s Raven

Apollo’s Raven ISBN: 9781647040543 Apollo Raven Publisher copyright and written by Linnea Tanner.

This Book One in the Curse of the Clansmen and Kings Series is a novel “based on historical fantasy and mythology of the southeast Celtic tribes” of Britannia beginning in the days just prior to the Roman invasion in 43 A.D. It is the time when the Gods were many and each culture embraced its own. Apollo was the powerful Sun God totally embraced by the Romans and their powerful legions, although seemingly he received some degree of respect by the Celts but mostly they, and their heavily muscled fierce warriors, embraced several others arising from legends stemming from Ireland and Wales with extensive belief in mysticism as conjured up by the Druids. The book opens in this period when Rome’s emperor is making exploratory moves before deciding whether to invade the islands.

The protagonists are Celtic princess Catrin, youngest daughter of Amren, king of one of the tribes and Marcellus, son of the pompous Roman Senator who is exploring whether to support Amren or Cunoblin, an adjoining powerful Ruler, if the Emperor decides to invade. Complications are numerous in that the latter had arranged a marriage between a daughter and Marrock, Amren’s oldest son whom he had banished from his country for treasonous activity. He believed that, perhaps with Rome’s help, he could arrange to replace Amren by restoring him to his ex-father’s position. Marrock was aligned with Agrona, the Druid Priestess whom Amren trusted but who secretly was working to gain control of the kingdom. Rhiannon, Armen’s second wife did not trust Agrona but deferred to her husband’s decision to put her second in command after herself. From this complicated beginning, even greater confusion emerges from rampant distrust and intertwining acts of deceit, deception, treachery and betrayal and the appearance of shapeshifters and abundant other mystical activity.

Discussion: Spinning this tale and its subsequent volumes no doubt has been, and will continue to be, a difficult task. “The Celts left almost no written records. Historical events had to be supplanted by Greek and Roman historians and medieval writers who spun Celtic mythology into their Christian beliefs, Archaeological findings from this time period also help fill in the gaps.” Under the circumstances the author has done a quite remarkable job of creating a very suspenseful historical/mythical/romance of considerable proportions. It is a story that will fascinate devotees of these several genres.

5* Suspenseful historical/mythical/romance devotees will thoroughly enjoy.

The Night Drop

The Night Drop Resistance in the Marshlands, published copyright and written by Ian D. Wright.

This is a most interesting story within a story that perhaps is a little difficult to describe but fascinating to read. Briefly, the story opens in a small village in Northern France in 1965 with a young woman awakening from a horrific dream from her earlier days as part of a group of courageous local residents who were resisting the Nazi invaders. The remote area was of premier importance to both the Germans and the Allies because the Nazis were building a launching site for the newly improved V2 ‘buzz bombs’ that were wreaking havoc on England. Obviously, information about the site was of extreme importance. Her husband comforts her, and although she does not want him to leave, he must go to see an old friend to attempt finally to discover and expose the real person responsible for her dreams and more importantly, a possible eruption of a situation that could be highly disruptive to this rather provincial enclave of reclusive neighbors. Specifically, a former resident many believed to be the enemy agent responsible for deprivation and deaths among the residents during the war, was returning purportedly to prove his innocence. Jack, the husband of the young woman described above, travels to London to see his old friend Martin Yates, now editor of a trendy magazine in London, who obtains the services of two highly respected Investigative Reporters to help Jack’s investigation which provides the book’s main ‘mystery theme’ –  an attempt twenty years after the war to discover and bring to justice the person still living and responsible for the distrust, deceit, deception, treachery and betrayal that increased the local residents fear, deprivation and even deaths as well as those of so many of the small group of resistance fighters who sacrificed so much in the effort. The series of activities by these courageous freedom fighters aided by two professionals dropped in to help in the closing days of the war are included in the ensuing pages so as to present a ‘war thriller’ within the content of the ‘mystery investigation’ that is the main theme of the book. Briefly and partially repetitiously, the protagonists are Jack Ross and Sophia, a lovely and courageous girl who at 14 was a valiant and seemingly fearless member of the resistance. Jack, a 24-year-old member of the British military who is sent into this northern area of interwoven rivers, streams and marshlands with Roland Keene, an American Special Ops member to obtain information about the V2 construction site. Steve and Emily are the investigative reporters Yates sends over to help Jack find the long unidentified Nazi agent. A number of other characters also perform at varying levels of importance. Most prominent and responsible for the investigation are brothers Remy and Gilbert of the local Fournier family. The two are diametrically opposite and constantly at odds with Gilbert the parental favorite. Remy, the younger brother leaves only to resurface again after the war starts. Gilbert, a disliked and only partially trusted member of the resistance group, disseminates his belief that Remy is a spy. Twenty years later Gilbert is dead and Remy, now quite ill, returns to ‘prove his innocence’. The town’s hostilities again resurface and is the reason Jack, Sophia, Steve and Emily attempt to bring closure to the long smoldering situation.

Discussion: To reiterate, this is a somewhat difficult to present, quite involved, story within a story that provision of more details would be a disservice to the prospective reader. Suffice it to say, that it provides tales in both the ‘war thriller’ and ‘mystery’ genres that should satisfy devotees of either or both.

5* Historical; especially for devotees of ‘war thriller’ and/or ‘mystery’ tales.

Tantamount

Tantamount Glass Spider Publishing copyright and written by CR Hruska.

The story opens in the year 550 in fragmentarily ruled Britain several centuries before larger tribes coalesced into the country of England. Although both the northern and southern sections were ruled by Germanic tribes that had immigrated earlier, the northern Angles were ruled by a man who wished to extend his kingdom to include a bordering particularly fertile section of southern Seaxe. Tolan Fising, a husky, hardworking 37-year-old farmer, his loving wife Leila, 10-year-old son Kenric and 7-year-old daughter Thea owned part of this fertile land. Along with their other animals, a particular large muscular horse called Stareyes was the favorite and became closely loved by the entire family. This is the tale of how the attempted invasion by the Anglican King affected this family, especially after their nearest neighbor, close family friend and loving husband of Avery Lawford is killed defending the country. The ensuing havoc initiated by roving bands from the north brutally kill Tolan’s family causing the fleeing Tolan to encounter a startling change in venue where he is saved and gradually introduced to an entirely new way of life and loving friends who he, in a split second, instinctively is moved to save at great personal sacrifice.

Discussion: The author has set forth a most interesting imaginative offering in a quite simplistic manner that seems most appropriate. The protagonist’s apparent ability to adjust to radical change without any seeming hesitation is a bit remarkable, but credible for an individual with a good intellect and a mind geared to constant change and the necessity to react quickly to changing conditions. For a first endeavor, this book is a most welcome addition to the fantasy/historical genre literature already published.

5* Unusual fantasy/historical tale most enjoyable to read.

A Coin for a Dream

Coin for a Dream published, copyright and written by Mae Adams.

This volume presents a series of short stories, the first fifteen of them told to the author in her early childhood growing up in Korea. They are simple tales, the significance of some perhaps even a little unusual for the uninitiated to absorb. Included are tales of egg ghosts, water ghosts, angels of death, servants of the underworld, a 9-tailed dragon shape-shifter and its nemesis, a 3-legged dog, also of the monstrous part lion, sheep and unicorn haechi with scales, feathers and horns who actually seek justice by punishing the wicked. Other tales, some provided a little later, detail the legends and folktales along with historical explanations of Korean beginnings, religions and practices. Included are tales of how shamans, these mediums between this and the spirit world are created, fascinating explanations of the differences among the Chinese, Japanese and Korean Dragons, discussions of their zodiac, and more. All of these later features gradually and ultimately fade into and join material of a bio- and autobiographical nature.

Discussion: This is the second book by the author of “Precious Silver Chopsticks” which I had reviewed approximately a year ago and stated “This autobiography/memoir is written by an eighty-four-year-old Korean woman of considerable intelligence, fortitude and an amazing ability to survive and prosper” and concluded: “Certainly a relieving catharsis for the author and a book of considerable interest for a diverse reading public.” Because I had witnessed the conditions and people of  Korea during the U.S. involvement, my conclusion with respect to this second book retains my admiration for the author and personally find considerable material she has provided to be quite interesting. But regrettably and in all honesty, I must narrow the scope of those for whom I believe this book will have appeal. There is much redundancy in her presentation and repetition within the body of the work as well as a considerable amount from her first book. Thus, I strongly recommend this book to readers who are interested in learning more about other people, their history, cultures, religions, activities, habits, individual beliefs, and their personal abilities to adapt and especially as depicted here, to survive. For readers with these interests, the subject matter most assuredly requires a 5*. The rating unfortunately must be reduced by 2 because of matters that judicious editing would have removed, plus the most regrettable fact its level of interest for others than those mentioned; i.e. general readership, probably would not be extensive.

3* 5* story regrettably reduced by 2 as explained in the discussion.