A straightforward, somewhat awkward fantasy epic about a determined monarch and a dangerous knight.

The Prouds

A debut novel sets the stage for a war between two great factions.

Taher’s story explores the pre-industrial fantasy kingdom of Widea, governed by King Matthew. In Matthew’s tumultuous youth, his father, King Kendrick, dies and leaves him suffocated under the control of a regency council. Matthew is vexed that a single neighboring tribe—the Prouds, descended from their legendary ancestor, The Proud, and following their Leader, Addison—will not submit to his rule. Though Matthew wishes to invade neighboring tribal lands and use the income from annexing them to reduce his people’s tax burden, his regents remain stubbornly conservative. Finally, with the aid of an ambitious military officer, he kills his regents and effectively conquers his own kingdom at the age of 16. While revenge breaks his heart, he still moves forward with his ambitions against the Prouds—not reckoning with his own inexperience and that of his armies or with the might of Jarvis, son of Leader Addison and a deadly knight. But as the tide of war turns against Jarvis and the Prouds, they become divided in their purpose: should they carry on in their struggle to defy Matthew, risking everything, or make peace and at last bow to an overlord from a rival land? The story is broad in focus, with numerous characters. Jarvis, the ostensible protagonist, does not truly enter the narrative until halfway through the book. (The first half is essentially the story of Matthew’s early life and career.) Unfortunately, the large cast is drawn in simple strokes and needs greater depth and complexity. The author has apparently mastered at least two languages, and while this is admirable, the text is often inelegant and lacks fluidity. (For example: “His loud words were very harsh on the commander because he loved the king so much. Besides, he was not used to being treated so harshly even by King Kendrick, who was much older than him, let alone that king, who was much younger than him.”) Overall, the book remains a worthy first effort but lacks polish.

A straightforward, somewhat awkward fantasy epic about a determined monarch and a dangerous knight.

Pub Date: July 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62526-410-7

Page Count: 268

Publisher: Solstice

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2016

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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