Tuesday, January 1, 2013

INDIE BOOK REVIEW: Mythology and history collide with the present on Pello Island



In general, I’ve never had a great interest in Roman and Greek mythology.

It’s not that I don’t like it – I’ve just never had the inclination to spend a lot of time studying it.

After reading ‘Darius: Pello Island 2’ that might change.

The story – written by A. L. Jambor --  is the middle portion of three books (so far) and it follows Darius, a Roman prisoner who was framed for murder and sent to a penal colony on Pello Island (south of Sicily).

Darius is out of his element – and he’s struggling in some truly harsh conditions. He is taken in by Livia – a woman on the island – who has her own past and problems to contend with.

In short order, Darius manages to cement his position on the island and he starts devolving into bad habits -- gambling, frequenting brothels -- as his former love, Cassia, travels to the island to reunite with him.

I love a book where the lead character is not only unlikeable – but downright hateful in some instances. Darius is not a nice guy. He takes advantage of women and situations any chance he gets – and, in the end, the reader is openly rooting against Darius.

I think that’s the genius of the story, really. Darius is – for lack of a better word – a tool.

Not only does he not go out of his way to help others, but he uses people and abandons his own offspring.

To be fair, none of the characters in ‘Darius: Pello Island 2’ are that likeable. Well, Amatus is likeable – but he’s also a walking door mat. Actually, likeable isn’t the right word. None of them are saints or angels. They’re not white-washed characters. They’re real characters that sometimes do unkind – or downright mean – things.

Aside from the main story transpiring on Pello Island, the Roman deities are also in a tizzy because Neptune has made a mistake and imminent peril is about to decimate Pello Island.

I don’t want to ruin the book for you – and what follows the island catastrophe is very important to the scope of the novel. Let’s just say that Pello Island’s past meets our present in a way that ensure a happy ending for only a few? Does that sound convoluted?

The book is well-written and the narrative flows from an honest point. The dialogue is believable and unforced – and the characters are painted in such a way I’m curious how their lives will unfold for them at the end.

Jambor graciously helps readers by putting a glossary of the Roman deities in the front of the book. It’s a way to make the material accessible – without being overwhelming.

My only quibble with the novel is that I would have liked to see Darius’ time with Livia explored more – especially given the ending of the book. It’s a small complaint, though, and I understand why Jambor didn’t dwell too long on that time period: She had a lot to do so she couldn't really afford to spend too much time in any one place.

All in all, I would recommend ‘Darius: Pello Island 2’ to anyone that has an interest in mythology, history and the thematic expanse of fate.

‘Darius: Pello Island 2’ is available on Kindle for $.99 and in paperback for $7.99.

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