Don’t Go, Ramanya,

Don’t Go, Ramanya, a novel set in Thailand/Myanmar in e-book form by Rush Leaming.

Plot: The book opens with most helpful notes by the author with respect to pronunciation, money and historical facts. The latter relevant to the fictional tale because of the occurrence of several actual pertinent events that occurred in the bordering two countries, including the Myanmar Embassy Hostage Crisis in Bangkok.

Characters/Plot: Ramanya had been known as the bomb-making Black Fox for rebels fighting the Myanmar despotic new rulers. His mother and young sister seemingly had been part of a retaliatory massacre resulting from one of his raids so, tired of killing, he had fled the country. He now is in his sixteenth month as a Buddhist Monk serving in Bangkok’s Wat Prok He is approached by a stranger who informs him that his mother and sister, instead had survived the massacre and wanted to see him. Father Bob Hanlan, a priest reinstated by Rome after having left as a result of a horrific ordeal, is attached to a group aiding the inhabitants in association with the temple. He is a good man helping everyone but also is inclined to side with various groups who are being mistreated by corrupt rulers. Unfortunately, his supportive activity leads to an unexpected result that once again places him under direct surveillance followed by a corrupt police captain blackmailing him with respect to a hitherto not publically known indiscretion during his time away from his priestly vows. The third ‘protagonist’ is Michael Shaw, an intelligent man in his thirties from South Carolina who teaches English to the Monks and assorted others during the day but fights his demons at night in constant drunken activity. The story unfolds as the three men are forced, each as directed by his own needs, into a journey together for the young man’s return.

Discussion: The author has developed an interesting story about the trials and pertinent activities of two unusual, intelligent but greatly psychologically disturbed individuals as they aid a person with perhaps somewhat similar, but ‘more understandable’ troubles. Some further editing would have increased the level of enjoyment for this reviewer. However, generally this is an enjoyable novel by an author seemingly knowledgeable of his environs.

4* Interestingly written story.

Nannion

Nannion, a novel in e-book form, written and published with seemingly acknowledged help from Bewildering Stories, by Andreas Androutsellis-Theotokis.

Plot: An International team of Oceanographers proposed construction of a huge aquarium as a place to study sea creatures essentially in a free state where the scientists would have control of the ecology while conducting a wide range of experiments. The small virtually spheroid-shaped Greek island of Dioptra appeared to provide the perfect location. The island had been the site of a diamond mine, now extinct, that literally had reduced it to a large hole roughly the size required by the marine biologists, separated from the surrounding ocean. Construction was completed, amenities were provided for tourists to provide steady income and the scientists went to work. Eventually tourists found other sources of interest and other scientific projects finally caused cessation of the scientific activity and the work was abandoned. The reader then is introduced to a stray kitten who survives a few months in Athens when befriended by Claire, one of the original investigative team. She takes the kitten with her as she makes a solo nostalgic return to the island. The trip ends disastrously for her, but Nannion survives and gradually makes friends with an eel and a humanoid individual and all gradually become involved with a new composite group of scientists while attempting to liberate a pair of huge sharks from deadly organisms generated within the ‘aquarium’.

Discussion: The author has produced a relatively well-written tale; a skillful development of empathy for Nannion and her companions; science that ranges from unusual factual material (e.g., sea basins) to sci-fi/fantasy where discussion leans more heavily toward philosophy than science; and some matters of the young cat’s survival are a little difficult to accept. However, it is an interesting, albeit a somewhat strange read.

4* Interesting, albeit somewhat strange sci-fi/fantasy tale.

Judas Son of Simon

Judas Son of Simon ISBN: 9780997041743, Moriah Books, a novel by Daniel Molyneux.

Plot: Judas, the son-in-law of an Israeli (Sadducee) High Priest, is persuaded to follow a purportedly new Messiah who is gathering large crowds that possibly may lead to unrest among the populace. Such unrest could lead the ruling Romans to unleash their Legions with devastating results. He finds John the Baptist, a teacher who states he is not the one for whom he is looking but introduces him to Jesus, the Son of God and the true Messiah. Judas follows Jesus in his extensive travels through the various regions and gradually becomes converted although still reporting back to his father-in-law. As time progresses, Jesus acquires a total of twelve disciples and gathers huge crowds, while repeatedly performing miracles. The Priests become worried knowing that the Roman tolerance of activity that might lead to sedition and riots will extend only to a certain level. Disagreement also begins to occur within the ranks of the disciples who, still unable to divest themselves of earthly kingdom thinking, discuss and ‘jockey for position’ of who will occupy the most prominent positions in the newly proposed Kingdom of God. Finally, as a result of Judas’ dichotomous thoughts, Jesus is captured, brought before the Sanhedrin which consisted of the total Judea council. They, subject to Roman Law and concerned that Rome might interpret leniency as a threat to Rome’s authority, engineer a sentencing procedure that make the Israelis the ‘death demanders’, allowing Pilot to ‘wash his hands’ of the matter and bow to the will of the people.

Discussion: This book declares that it is a “work of fiction and any reference to historical events, real people, or real places are used factiously ….” and the same with character names, places, etc. Since the protagonist is Judas, a disciple of Jesus who simultaneously is a ‘double agent’ by being in the employ of his High Priest father-in-law, and “All biblical quotations translated and/or paraphrased by author” such a declaration must be acceptable. However, the presentation of the extensive travels and events participated in by Jesus and his followers, and the miracles repeatedly performed by this Messiah certainly follow scripture and the endless teachings of its ministers. More importantly perhaps, is the other volume of less widely disseminated material the author has set forth with regard to such matters as the early history of the “Lost Tribes of Israel”, replacement of Moloch and the Canaanite murderous and degrading activities with Greco-Roman deities and similar sexual and other practices – a slight difference allows it perhaps to be somewhat advanced because they did not require sacrifice of human life. Also, presented is the mater of Rome’s ultimate restoration of peace to the long-standing war over trade routes among the empires of Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia and Greece and the gains resulting to the Israelis who were allowed a considerable amount of freedom, as long as there were no resulting concerns about Roman supremacy. Additionally fascinatingly interesting, is the diversity of Jesus’ disciples at a time when individual animosity was so rife among the different groups. The disciples included businessmen, a highly unpopular tax collector, four fishermen, eleven Galileans, a Judean (Judas) who also was a Sadducee and Galilean. The others were raised in a Pharisee understanding of the law. Jesus was of Essene background. Simon was a Zealot. So this again was a most impossible seeming group – Sadducee, Pharisee, Essene, Hellenist, Judean, Galilean and a tax collector. The author has provided extensive and extremely helpful footnotes for each chapter and three notable appendices.

Conclusion: A novel providing captivating conjecture/fact about the inception of Christianity.

5* Captivating conjecture/fact about the inception of Christianity.

The Siege

The Siege ISBN: 9781937818005, Sand Hill Review Press, a Psychological Thriller in e-book by James Hanna.

Plot: Tom Hemmings was the middle-age son of a former State Department Employee whose early life was spent abroad. He had been one of the ‘rebels without a cause’ developing during the ‘60’s – a ‘Hippie’, war resister living in Australia, ex-short-term felon, two years army service as atonement, following which he had acquired a Bachelor and Master Degree (Criminology) through the G-I Bill. Presently he is a twenty year prison employee (Dormitory Counselor) in the 86-year-old medium security Indiana Penal Farm that produces furniture and brooms for state-wide consumption. It sits in 20,000 acres of farmland with an adjacent town peopled by prison employees, their families and those servicing the town’s requirements. Unrest gradually builds within the prison population until the inmates riot. Ostensibly, one of the prominent reasons is because the Colonial Concessions Company, the multi-state Commissary from which the inmates purchase their personal supplies, provides substandard items at greatly inflated prices, but even worse, does not do so in a timely fashion. This trivial sounding action is highly inflammatory because the inmates cannot pay their internal gambling debts causing animosity with deadly results. The story gradually evolves as Tom, the designated intermediary, must play a huge and dangerous game in the ensuing devastating action. Additional important protagonists are: Chester Mahoney, Tom’s most reliable ‘snitch’ (informer), who is a child molester and former lay minister with a gifted tongue acting somewhat as “…leader of an insurgent nation.” Henry Yoakum, a war veteran, petty grafter and black marketer who is a prison guard and Tom’s ‘roadie’ (back-up on patrol). Captain Hawkins, a fat, ‘Charlie Chaplin like’ excitable emergency squad commander. The entire situation is exacerbated by the distrust, deceit, deception and politically over reactive situation that exists among the prison personnel as well as among the prison inmates. The prisoners are split into warring gangs including Muslims, Nation of Islam (largely blacks associated with the religion), Aryan Brotherhood (white supremacists), Devils Disciples (drug dealing, violence) and some professing American Gospel Party affiliation (pseudo-religious organization advocating racial separation and maintaining governmental distrust). The prison officials and guards are seriously split among the politically warring unions represented by highly contentious individual members of the United Auto Workers, Teamster International Brotherhood, both having a number of former auto plant employees who had lost their jobs, and the AFSMCE (American Federation of State, Municipal and County Employees). The resulting action is vicious and the ensuing results are as one might expect considering the psychological components of the characters involved.

Discussion: The author has set forth an intriguing and thought producing story about a modern penal institution and the individuals involved. The inmates and their ‘causes’, petty and otherwise; their ‘keepers’ with their myriad ‘hang-ups’; the interrelationships between the two factions all are boldly set forth. Tom, true to his youthful thoughts/beliefs/activity, continues drifting through life taking the path of least resistance. He lives in a trailer, goes hunting/fishing at will, finds companionship and/or sex at the most convenient bar when moved to do so, and never gives a thought to ‘living up to his potential’. His thoughts still reflect much of those of his youth: “Tom Hemmings did not feel alarmed when the riot finally began, not even after the laundry dorm – the dormitory he was assigned to – had been taken over by the inmates. He instead felt a sense of vindication, a sentiment reminiscent of the antiwar marches of the sixties, but he knew his nostalgia was presumptuous since it was difficult to determine the purpose of the uprising.” And the supporting characters of this boy/man equally are exposed in their often pathetic ambiguity. This is a story presented by an author who apparently has closely witnessed these individuals functioning in their seemingly hopeless ‘bottom-of-the-world’ position and has fictionalized them at their worst. A glossary of ‘slang’ used is provided at the book’s end and may be helpful if perused before beginning to read the text.

Summary: A most interesting novel about people involved in a way of life far removed from that encountered by the usual individual.

4* Most interesting story of people seldom encountered in one’s lifetime.

Magnify and Multiply

Magnify and Multiply: The Writing and Marketing Handbook for Beginning Authors, an e-book copyright and published by Jason P. Doherty.

The book is presented with an Introduction, Instruction in Three parts, an Outline of Resources, a list of additional Recommended Books, a sizeable number of Acknowledgements, and a short Author’s Bio. The Introduction presents background material with respect to the author’s initial writing attempts and his complete naiveté but perseverance until an ultimate attainment of “measurable success”. His intent in this volume is to pass the lessons learned onto other persons attempting to become successful ‘published authors’. Part One: How to create Awesome Books describes each constructive part of writing, editing, formatting, creation of a “great title” and finally a discussion of Book Covers. A “wrap-up” of Part One is included. Part Two: How to Publish Awesome Books is dedicated to methods of self-publishing books with emphasis largely upon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) with respect to e-books and Paperbacks, Hard Covered book production with emphasis on LULU.COM publishing and Audiobooks with Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). A shorter “wrap-up” of Part Two again is added. “Part Three; How to Promote Awesome Books (OR… The Entire Second Half of this Book)” provides pertinent details of the need for, and explanation of, Branding, as well as self-positioning, Marketing procedures, advertising, publicity and finally sales.

Discussion/Conclusion: The author has presented a book that primarily is directed toward the writer who wishes to offer non-fictional material. However, a substantial amount of information is useable for the uninitiated fiction writer as well and if combined with the reading recommendations and several other available instructional manuals, should provide much of the armentarium required to begin the long road in attempting to become a successful author. He also has included an amusing comment long-existent apparently in the commercial world: “Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.” Also, a most important suggestion: “Megatip: The best advice I can give you starting out is to grow a thick skin and decide now that you will never, ever give up.” This reviewer agrees completely with the author’s suggestion, if the neophyte is truly dedicated to becoming ‘a published author’. However, because publishing literally is a ‘crap shoot’, the neophyte writer often is provided with another long existing admonition – “Don’t be too ready to give up your daytime job”. Thus, this reviewer should like to add still another suggestion, one he repeatedly has offered to his students; “If recognition and/or success are slow and perhaps all does not ‘go as well as expected’, continue to write for the pure enjoyment and sense of accomplishment that the activity brings and accept any monetary recompense as a most pleasant and additional result.”

4* Provides much basic material for the neophyte.

The Archbishop’s Amulet

The Archbishop’s Amulet is an epic adventure tale in the genre of dark fantasy, filled with strange beings and replete with all nature of spells, counter-spells and magic in e-book format by Watson Davis.

Plot: The world consists of numerous tribes all gradually being brought under the aegis of the Nayen Empire. The Empress is an all-powerful, suppressive, cruel and ruthless ruler whose underlings are of the same ilk. The protagonist, Caldane, a former student of Eddard the Shaman of the Brightfox Clan (called the Onei) now is a slave after the clan’s destruction. He is the only living survivor of a sacrificial ceremony, ritualistic in nature to harvest his magic. He is alive but many magic spells have been burned horribly into his flesh. The story opens with his being forced to clean up the remains of another of the gorily repetitively performed ceremonies with newly acquired prisoners and his decision that he no longer can live with the very people who are being selectively sacrificed. The tale follows his escape that is hampered by his decision to take along a child and a young girl and later adds a young nobleman, as they proceed. The forces stacked against him are several ‘Overseers’, an Archbishop, a gigantic humanoid creature and her army of warriors with attendant zombie like creatures and all manner of magical spells and other operative procedures as well as demons from Hell. A concluding battle and “Aftermath” provide a hint of more to follow.

Discussion: The author is a Texas born mathematician, now living in Spain and spinning tales from his long standing interests in fantasy, sorcery, science fiction and assorted creatures they engender. This particular volume is on the abundantly gory dark side of fantasy with a plethora of characters both good and bad, interestingly created and each pursuing its own agenda. Fortunately, a sizeable Glossary and Cast of Characters is included to allow the reader to ‘keep things in order’. The story moves well and although it would seem to be more particularly of interest to younger readers for whom it could provide some lessons in fortitude, it is well written enough to be enjoyed by any reader who is a devotee of fantasy and not adverse to the gorier side of such tales.

Conclusion: For the fantasy devotee, particularly of the dark, gorier type.

4* For devotees of fantasy; 5* for those enjoying the more gory, dark variety.