The Divine Dream

The Divine Dream, published, copyright (2013) and written by Christopher Schmitt.

High school student Apollo Mayal is easily bored by his classes and not a particularly good student. Yet his stated desire is to be “the type of scientist that will even put the great Einstein, Bell, Bohr, and Tesla to shame. I would like to invent crazy things, to discover cures for diseases people never heard of, to be a man everyone can rely on.” He accidentally falls in class and is declared to be officially dead although he seems, in his own perception, to be alive and in a place of magnificently beautiful and peaceful scenery. Here he meets a British soldier of the American Revolution who is with an American patriot of the same time. They inform him that actually he is not dead, but actually within his soul and he was snagged at just the right time. They tell him that they need his help as they are spirits and there is trouble in Purgatory which is practically empty – the millions of people who die every year move first into this area and now have disappeared. They are confident that he is the person who can help because the monstrosity responsible for this is the CEO of a very prominent corporation still alive as is Apollo. So they instruct him on the rules of Purgatory, about his soul and his spirit. He will help them because they are going to help him become a topnotch scientist. They explain it may take 2 – 3 years but don’t worry because time travels slower in an individual’s soul than on earth, so probably it will take no more than 3 – 4 earth days. Further, that his body will be ‘shut-off’ while his spirit is away – soul and spirt are two different things. Spirit is like a shadow to the physical body, lives in special area people can’t see (Purgatory) and the physical body needs the spirit to live, but at the same time the body needs the spirit to die. From this point forward the author moves even further into a highly imaginative, convoluted fantasy that this reviewer most regrettably found to be largely confusing at best, if not incomprehensible.

Discussion: The first portion of this book, as stated was confusing at least for this reader, in attempting to establish a perspective. Further, it continued for some time until realization belatedly arrived that this strange and complex compilation of activities was a dream sequence. Not too astute, obviously. However, the late recognition resulted from expecting a sleep/dream sequence (apropos the title) and not associating the blow to the head suffered by Apollo’s causing loss of consciousness during which the series of weird activities that only dreams could sequence ‘kicked-in’. An additional problem encountered was expectation of the book’s content from interpretation of its synopsis. Specifically, the book led this reader to expect a discussion of religion(s) – “Apollo must discover the connection between an American corporation and the lost souls. As Apollo investigates existence itself, a shocking conspiracy surrounding the world’s religions goes deeper, threatening everything he thought he knew.” Granted, the story presented certainly does provide a decidedly ‘different’ approach to religion, but the “shocking conspiracy” seems a little misleading. It also impresses me with the necessity for at least perusing the author’s biography before committing to read someone’s book. The biography reads in part: “Chris loves fiction of any type, the crazier the better.” Perhaps adding even further to the book’s intent are the pertinence of the author’s closing words in the Epilogue: “Tesla, anyone’s dream can come true, but it is the way of obtaining it that makes us who we are.”

Conclusion: This reviewer’s apologies for obvious misinterpretation of the presumed basic tenets of the author’s book. Regrettably however, although having reviewed many books in the fantasy genre, this one is difficult to classify. I suggest that perhaps a 2* rating may be appropriate for some fantasy devotees with a gradual increase as the fantasy devotee approaches the higher end of fantasy acceptance.

2* with gradual rating increase as higher end of fantasy acceptance is approached.

The Cripple and the King

The Cripple and The King, A book published, copyright and written by Peter Hopkins.

The author has provided a fanciful story about the remnants of the ruling body of Nacia, an ancient empire clinging to part of its former territory. The capable ruler had been blinded by unknown perpetrators, forced to abdicate, and was replaced by his younger brother Lucan. Lucan had been married, in a desperate attempt to gain a political advantage, to Mila, sister of the ruler a powerful northern clan of sea-farers. She was attractive and strong-willed but they had managed to have a boy who would be next in line as Nacian’s ruler. Unfortunately, Lucan did not want to be king, preferred scholarly endeavors, was introspective, felt inadequate, was rude, despised physical activity and abhorred the unpleasant odors associated with most elements of living in those particular times. He hated his wife and could barely touch his son. He depended quite heavily upon a hunchback cripple who was both the castle torturer as well as resident medic and an old Captain of the Guard from days of the nation’s former glory as he manages to alienate just about everyone. Gradually, the captain insists upon teaching him the fundamentals of fighting and warfare and he discovers that some others close to him are loyal so he gradually begins to acquire, or bring forward some formerly unrecognized bits of sensible thought and planning, as he is beset with deceit, treachery and betrayal as the lords of his realm initiate war against him and each other and a huge fleet of foreign warships begin an attack from the north.

Discussion: The basic story is a variation of numerous tales arising from early world history that provides such a fertile source. Readers will find it interestingly presented but with characters with whom it may be difficult to equate, beginning with an incompetent, inconsiderate, self-centered protagonist. The pace of the action is good and he reader will find an extension of proceedings subsequent to the end of the story is a most interesting and thoughtful addition of pertinent material seldom provided by authors. The only ‘downside’ to the presentation are the occasional amusing malapropisms (e. g. the king gored, instead of gorged, himself on rich meats …) that no doubt are part of the number of proofing errors encountered.

Conclusion: Another interestingly told tale of the early somewhat mist enshrouded era when early people were struggling to build empires.

4* Interestingly told tale of early mist enshrouded empire building days.