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Archive for December, 2011

Combining elements of drama, historical fiction and science fiction, The Underlying Hand is an original, fascinating novel that explores controversial subjects such as the origins of mankind, the Sons of God, Eden, and The Flood.

The story begins in the Nibiru Space Station 64,000 years before The Flood. Having escaped from near annihilation, the Marduks are now in search of a solar system and habitable planet that can sustain their existence. They must find a new home as soon as possible because they’re being bombarded by cosmic radiation and many of their people are suffering from tumors and cancer. Fortunately, scientists are working on this to find a solution and do so early in the story, with the added advantage of near immortality. Years pass and they finally reach planet earth, a place similar to their own in atmosphere and cellular life. They first land in a valley filled with lush grasslands and berries, a valley they name Eden. When they realize the creatures in this planet are technologically inferior, the Marduks take the arrogant assumption that they’re superior in all aspects and they’ll be looked upon as gods. Most of them don’t consider the possibility that perhaps these primitive-looking, earthly creatures are more advanced in other ways than their own.

The Marduks are a technologically super-advanced society with a dictatorial monarchy. Their original lifespan of 12,000 years has been expanded to near infinite provided they take their radiation bath cure. The king, Jova, has absolute, god-like power. His power is followed by a Council. The novel, however, is mainly told from the perspective of Nin, Jova’s daughter, who acts as a kind of observer to everything that is going on. Through her dialogue with other characters and especially her conversations with her two brothers as well as with Uriel, the royal sage and mentor, the author raises many important issues such as: What is the spiritual cost of a super-advanced society? Is immortality worth pursuing? Is it the law of the universe for the stronger to dominate the weaker? Is there such a thing as a soul or consciousness?

As the Marduks begin colonizing earth, they experience a shift caused by the “eternal polarizer”—that is, God and religion. Jova’s two sons take opposing, conflicting views as they rule over the earthly creatures, causing prosperity and harm to both their own race and mankind. Eventually, they must decide whether or not to sacrifice their identity and genetically mingle with mankind in order to survive and reach their ambitious aspirations.

Written with special attention to detail, The Underlying Hand is an engrossing, fascinating read that will make you think about our origins and wonder about the hierarchies of intelligent societies. Though it has strong science fiction elements, it reads more like serious drama than a regular commercial page-turner. The author uses a lot of dialogue to relay information and advance the plot. The setting is skillfully crafted, making the space station and the world of the Marduks alive with vivid images and detail. There’s also a lot of interesting description relating to biology and genetics. This isn’t a novel easily forgotten and I’m certainly looking forward to the next installment in the chronicles. Recommended. 

Originally published on Blogcritics.

Title: The Underlying Hand – Book One of the Divine Chronicles
Author: Roger P. Koch
Publisher: Xlibris
Publisher’s website: http://www.Xlibris.com.au
Publication date: November 2011
ISBN 10: Paperback 978-1-4653-0020-1
ISBN 13: Hardback 978-1-4653-0021-8
Number of pages: 330
Price: $29.99 Paperback; $49.99 Hardback
Genre: Visionary Fiction

Also on Amazon.

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A World of His Own is an enjoyable historical novel set in New Orleans in the early 1800’s. The novel spans a few years and centers around the life of Andre Raphael de Javon, an ambitious and handsome Frenchman who comes to America in order to become one of the richest plantation owners in Louisiana.

The story begins when he’s just arrived by ship to New Orleans in the company of his friend Charles, who’s spent the last six years studying in Europe. Charles comes from a prestigious family in the city and he soon invites Andre to stay with them until he can find a place of his own.

From the beginning Andre shows great ambition. He wants to invest his money wisely and prosper, though he doesn’t know how at first. When he decides to become a plantation owner, his friend Charles introduces him to someone how can advise him–a generous, successful man by the name of Jean-Claude. At about this time, Andre meets Gabrielle, a gorgeous yet possessive and selfish young woman who’s set on marrying him at all costs. Like any normal man, Andre is deeply attracted to Gabrielle, even though he knows she’s not the right woman for him. In spite of this, he ends up marrying her, no doubt tempted by her handsome dowry which will help him achieve his dreams. 

As Andre’s plantation grows and he gets wealthier, his marriage becomes increasingly turbulent and Gabrielle more and more unstable. Andre’s pain is deeped by the fact that he’s secretly fallen in love with Jean-Claude’s daughter, a young beauty who’s been infatuated with Andre since the tender age of eleven. Thus, we follow Andre’s ups and downs and his hellish marriage as he becomes the wealthy owner of a plantation.

I have a lot of good things to say about this book. The early 1800’s come to life under the author’s pen. There are many interesting, informative passages about the Creole culture, slave ownership, the running of a plantation, the food, clothes, etc. Though it took me a while to connect with Andre, once I did I really was hooked and wanted to know how the story ended, and whether or not he would at last find happiness. So the plot, though pretty much a love story, kept me turning pages until I finished the book. At times, though, the pace dragged a bit due to redundant phrases, unnecessary description and too much ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing.’ I also think the character of Gabrielle could have used more depth, as she comes across as the stereotype of an ‘evil beauty’ throughout much of the book.

But, as I said, the author made me care for Andre and his situation enough for me to want to keep reading and finish the book. It was an entertaining, interesting read. 

View the original article on blogcritics.org

Title: A World of His Own: In the Land of the Creoles
Author: Arlette Gaffrey
Publisher: Outskirts Press (November 16, 2006)
ISBN-10: 097888910X
http://www.arlettegaffrey.com/
http://www.outskirtspress.com/
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Price: $13.95

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If you’re a fan of historical novels, are interested in the Aztecs, and would like to try something different, you’ll enjoy Five Dances with Death: Dance One, by Austin Briggs.

Written in first person from the point of view of Angry Wasp, the story begins in 1516, during the era of the Spanish Conquest in Mexico. Angry Wasp, military leader of Tlaxcala, wants to keep his nation safe and search for his lost daughter, Dew, whom he’d lost to one of the leaders of an enemy tribe, a man named Talon. Though Wasp has now captured Talon, the man won’t reveal the whereabouts of Dew. The war with this enemy tribe, the Moonwalk People, is now a personal matter, though Wasp doesn’t want to make this evident to his people.

One of Wasp’s wives, a sorcerer well-educated in the magic arts, teaches him to have out-of-body experiences – that is, to travel in soul and spirit while his body stays in the safety of his village. It is in this “tricky” state, which is hard to fully control, that Wasp makes a twin of himself and meets with Stern Lord, the most powerful man in the world and ruler of the Moonwalk People. Stern Lord is aware that Talon is being kept prisoner by Wasp and isn’t happy about it. Thus begins Wasp’s dance with death as he tries to stay alive and discover what happened to his daughter.

Magic, history, sorcery, mysticism, spirituality, fantasy, and magical realism combine to create an original, intriguing story that will capture your imagination. Briggs writes with attention to detail, making his world come alive. I enjoyed the dialogue and descriptions and especially seeing the world from Wasp’s perspective. My only problem with the story is that in the beginning the issue of finding the daughter seems important but later on it sorts of falls to second place. This didn’t stop me from reading but it did get my attention.

Since the book is self-published, I was also surprised by the quality of the writing: excellent and free of typos or grammatical mistakes. I really appreciate when a self-published book is so well copyedited. In addition, the story seems very well researched and I found interesting all the cultural information, especially the segments on sorcery and sacrifice rituals. Briggs has been researching the Aztec Empire for over 10 years and his knowledge comes through in the writing, without hitting the reader over the head or slowing down the pace with information dumps. In sum, this is a novel worth reading and I recommend it if you’re particularly interested in Aztec history and culture.

Full Name: Austin Briggs
Book Title: Five Dances with Death
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Self-published as ebook
ASIN: B005EJGYJ8
Pages: 400 pages
Price: $13.95

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