The Law of Moses

The Law of Moses, Sam’s Story, a novel written and copyright by Kwen D. Griffeth.

Plot: Samuel Moses Cardiff joyfully returns from teacher’s college anxious to see his family and especially his father, the local minister and school teacher in Elmira, N. Y. He is met by the family but informed that his beloved dad had passed away. A letter had been sent to him which for some inexplicable reason he never received. He is heartbroken, but with his plans to get a teaching job and marry Patsy, the girl of his dreams, he begins to adjust. Then he receives another blow. His mother asks him to join the forming military regiment that is being raised to fight the Civil War. She explains that his younger brother Luke has enlisted and she believes he cannot survive without Sam’s help. She firmly believes that nothing will happen to him, but does not have the same belief with respect to his younger brother. Under duress, Sam acquiesces but makes plans to marry his beloved Patsy upon his return. The two boys leave and are engaged in sporadic fighting including the vicious battle of Antietam. During a short interim bivouac, Sam receives a letter that Patsy has been killed by a spooked horse and almost directly thereafter Luke is killed in an unexpected attack. Sam attempts to shoot himself but is stopped by his Irish Sargent Major who tells him that it is a sin to commit suicide. At that moment Sam vows never again to allow himself to get close enough to anyone so as again to be so devastated. The tale then begins to unfold as he becomes a sheriff and deadly gunman who repeatedly takes on almost impossible odds praying to be killed so as not to continue the mental anguish that never leaves. As time advances he meets a number of interesting characters, he recalls his father’s almost forgotten admonition “Be the man you were meant to be, not just the man you become”, and a most compelling scenario develops leading to a captivating result.

Discussion: The author has provided a story that, although placed in a western setting, should not be dismissed as simply an offering in the ‘Western’ or ‘historical’ genre per se. The time frame makes a perfect setting for the activity and readers’ of either of these genres will thoroughly enjoy this book because the author is knowledgeable of the Era, the terrain, the battles and with the weaponry employed. The story reaches to far greater depths, however. This is a book that looks at a person with a condition that can evolve in anyone with active combat experience in any war. In WW I it was termed ‘Shell Shock’, Today it is called PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the author has quite admirably set forth a captivatingly written novel depicting such a person and his struggles at recovery.

Conclusion: A well-written novel that may be enjoyed by those few remaining readers who still love ‘westerns’, those who enjoy ‘historicals’ and perhaps even more importantly, it is most pertinent to the tastes of today’s more sophisticated readers is the engrossing description of one person’s activity dealing with a condition quite widely existing today to a greater or lesser extent in many veterans.

5* Fascinating, well-written story enjoyable for lovers of several genres and most pertinent today.

Ghostwalker (The Spiderlily Series),

Ghostwalker (The Spiderlily Series), a fantasy in e-book by Nicole Martinsen.

Plot: Difficult to delineate. The story opens with Daerin leading Heron and Ballard on a trip. The three were friends and business partners on the brink of total success when suddenly all disintegrated. Once pleasant Daerin returned to rural Rivertone from a trip. Now greatly troubled, he weeps almost uncontrollably and becomes reclusive and dominant in all relationships. The reader discovers that he, a sailor (actually as later described, seemingly an accomplished ship’s captain and navigator), must make a horrendous decision with respect to Jade, one of his children whom he fathered with the ruling Queen of the realm in the nearby city of Lydia. The child is clairvoyant and with such power would be a disaster if becoming dominated by the wrong influences (although another possibly darker reason is hinted) for dictating the following action. Consulting with Ezra, a famously wise elf, a decision is made to send her to a monastery where she can be taught to control her abilities. Meanwhile, and seemingly more or less simultaneously, the reader is introduced to Renee, Tera and Alyon in a forest garden in Rivertone which is the home of many elf-born sons and daughters. The two girls discover an unusual flower, a Red Spider Lily, which Renee explains to the younger Tera is known as “The Flower of Goodbyes” because when it flowers, its leaves fall off. Legend has it that Nature had assigned two elves, one to guard the flowers and one the leaves till the ‘end of time’. Unfortunately, the elves fell in love, neglected their duty and Destiny punished them by separating them so they never again could be together. Renee leaves, and little Tera asks the much older Alyon who is reading nearby, if the story is true. He says it more probably is a myth. Later, Tera, wishing to be helpful, is told by Jade “You will only hurt everyone you ever will care about”. Tera runs away, comes to the garden encountering the Spider Lily and to prove Jade wrong, attempts to destroy it. She dies but in doing so awakens the sleeping Feyt, who similarly had attempted to change Destiny. Feyt offers to help her in her attempts and Tera becomes somewhat of a ‘ghostwalker’. The story continues in a complicated manner including destruction of the realm by the guilds uprising, Alyon’s ascension to ruler and eventually thoughts of rebuilding, all while Tera continues actively through early to mid to late teens actively most prominently attempting to thwart Destiny.

Discussion: The author has presented a fantasy replete with humans, elves, human/elf hybrids, children of the hybrids, dwarfs, or more properly dwarves, and clairvoyant activity all in a sweeping panorama of activity. In this reviewer’s opinion it seemingly is directed toward an attempt to teach the young reader tolerance, equality, understanding and above all perseverance to overcome any seemingly impossible barrier. (Very early the author proposes the question: “How far will you go to defeat destiny?”)

The author’s altruistic theme is most commendable. However, a little bothersome to this reviewer with respect to young readers is the rather dark theme. Besides the above quote “You will only hurt everyone you ever will care about”, there is a rather jaundiced, almost bitter quote included from Jean de La Fontaine: “Children begin by loving their parents; after a time, they judge them. Rarely, if ever, do they forgive them” and these, along with much of the activity, as well as the environs seem to combine to give a somewhat depressing atmosphere to the tale. Also parenthetically, the manner of presentation – often quite rapid and even confusing movement from one depicted area and activity to another as well as the individuals’ participation in them – ridiculously no doubt, but fleetingly and prominently brings to mind the rapidly changing of commercials one is subjected to on TV. Granted, the average attention span now has been determined to be just slightly over 8 seconds, but this need not be reflected in the story design. It would seem that more cohesive movement from one action/person to another and more ‘filling out’ of individual characters with attempts to establish greater empathy could have arranged to overcome much of the problem and help mitigate many of the frequently unexplained, often cruel appearing activities in which prominent characters indulge.

Conclusion: A story for young readers whose level of acceptance this reviewer believes will depend largely on their attained level of sophistication and pragmatism. This element especially would seem to be pertinent in this time when even the very young are exposed daily to large quantities of both through their ever present electronic devices.

3* Possible level of enjoyment if reader’s pragmatism level has remained low.