Our Eternal Curse, ANOTHER TRIBE

Our Eternal Curse, ANOTHER TRIBE, A historical, mystery war story e-book by Simon Rumney.

Plot: After a quote: “Racism is a virus that can only be spread by us”, the story opens with the battle being fought at Shiloh in April 1863, a fact that was of no importance to Julii because “she had not yet met Captain Robert Calhoun, the man who would teach her the white man’s language.” And “She was blissfully unaware that each step (she was taking) was taking her closer and closer to unimaginable heartache…” as she followed the path she had been following almost every morning as a papoose on her mother’s back or on foot, almost every morning of her eighteen years. She is one of the last members of the small Koasati tribe banished by the parent tribe and the Cherokee Nation to a hidden valley known as “a bad spirit place” in Tennessee. Julii’s grandparents were the original inhabitants banished because they had persisted in marriage against all dictates. The small sub-tribe had avoided the American government’s “trail of tears” that had banished all Indians from the eastern states because they literally had not been known to exist. While walking, Julii hears unusual thunder-like sounds with no clouds in the sky and when she arrives at the creek she sees a pink man in unusual clothes who has fallen from his horse with his broken leg caught in the stirrup – none of which she understands, but releases him, gives him water and finally is able to get him to her village where she nurses him not only for the leg but additionally a severe and infected head wound. During his recovery, the reader discovers that she is an extremely intelligent person with remarkable powers of learning and assimilation, and although as a Southerner and racially biased, he still manages to teach her a considerable amount of English. Upon his recovery, she accompanies him back to Atlanta. On the trip he becomes enamored and they indulge in heavy sexual activity. Upon arrival, she is treated as other non-whites, he is court-martialed for deserting his command at Shiloh, her testimony is unacceptable because the prosecutor says she is lying about the short time she had been able to learn the language, there are no Indians left in the eastern states, and besides she is an Indian and no better than the other non-white residents. He is convicted and she is abandoned only to be saved by an Italian Count who detests the manner in which the white population treats anyone not of their color. Also as the largest supplier of armament for the Confederacy through his modern fleet of steam blockade runners, no one interferes with him. He believes and then discovers, that she actually is a reincarnation of a member of his family going back to the pre-Roman era and the story evolves as Julii continues to learn and with her tremendous intellect becomes involved not only in strengthening his business, but for revenge devises a plan to defeat the Confederacy. Ultimately she obtains her revenge on the abominably racist southerners while dishearteningly discovering that many of the Northern Union officers are no better and she pays a highly significant price for her actions.

Discussion: The story moves very slowly and simplistically through the early stages of the book, but eventually gains momentum to provide an interesting tale of realism intermingled with fantasy, revenge, reincarnation and retribution mostly incorporated in the historical settings of Atlanta and Savannah during the Civil War. It provides fascinating recall of similarities in historically relevant mistaken war maneuvers and sets forth interesting conjecture on the loss of Vicksburg and of Sherman’s famous/infamous March to the Sea. And finally to sum up the author’s intent, from this reviewer’s perspective, is to provide a story that not only strongly censors racism but also weaves the tale of a young woman who is destined to endure: “Life was never supposed to be something predictable and safe or “normal”. Life is a series of uncontrollable and unfinished events. Longing for the day when everything returns to normal was simply a vain hope. Normal was chaos and the only way to find happiness within chaos was to accept it. To surrender to it, to live amongst it. To let it take its course. To allow events to be unfinished.”

Conclusion: A slowly developing tale providing multiple emotions that can, or cannot, be embraced, and at a level determined by, the reader. A caveat MUST be offered for individuals who find accepted verbalization of the day too offensive as it is presented by the author.

3* Slowly developing emotional tale requiring caveat described.

Vanished in Berlin

Vanished in Berlin ISBN: 9781507669709, Libertine Press (2015) by Gry Finsnes.

Plot: Norway has been invaded by Nazi Germany. Young Norwegian Ellen Langno whose studies in Vienna have brought her almost to concert ready status is enamored of young composer/violinist German citizen Fredrick Koll who had come to Norway to be with her. He has disappeared. Even though the countries are at war, Ellen obtains permission to return to Vienna to finish her studies with her Jewish teacher and simultaneously to attempt to ascertain what has happened to Frederick. She becomes reacquainted with Paul, a part-time member of the old group of art students that ‘hung out together’. He was a businessman but with a quite commendable sketching ability and now was a Nazi officer who offers to help her. Eventually, he finds a list detailing that her love had been drafted into the Navy and was a member of the crew of a submarine that had been sunk. Numerous complications ensue because she now must make numerous decisions. She believes that she may be pregnant with Fredrick’s child; she must see his mother in Berlin, and Paul proposes marriage. Before and during these various happenings, the story resorts to numerous flashbacks of the time before her return to Vienna when Fredrick had followed her back to Norway. Included are the many required moves and subterfuge strategies employed to avoid the invasion forces so as not to be forced into the army to fight the Norwegians and simultaneously problems with her family and friends who were distrustful of him because of his nationality. Eventually, the story proceeds to a point where she asks Paul for time to recover from her loss and the story moves on in a rapidly developing manner to a conclusion that provides an ideal base for the second book in the series.

Discussion: The author states “I have done my best to keep to the facts of the Second World War …” and “The plot is entirely fictive, but all of the historical dates and background of the war are correct as far as I know. Many of the events which the main characters go through actually happened during the siege and occupation of Norway.” She also points “…to a few of the more unusual facts and explain.” Included in the list was the interesting: “The Germans gave crystal meth to fighting soldiers.” This is the third of this author’s books read by this reviewer and from this perspective it perhaps may best be described by paraphrasing part of my remarks about the earlier read of the author’s Stones Don’t Speak. Ellen is an attractive, self-centered woman accustomed to attention (here as a performer) being thrust into a totally unfamiliar and distasteful situation to which she has little desire or inclination to attempt to adjust until the situation leaves little alternative, and then her reaction may not always be the wisest. Nor is that of her lover who is sadly lost in the situation. The conclusion or summary, however, is identical.

Summary: The story provides an appealing tale centered on a particularly disturbing time and place in history and in a location seldom visited by authors.

4* Engaging, somewhat suspenseful tale of a time/place seldom recalled.