Sunday, 24 August 2014

Magnus: Rising Sun--Book One
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Author: Robert Allen Johnson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Rating: 10
Personal rating: 8

This review was rather interesting.  I actually was thinking it wouldn't be a good one but was uncomfortable with that decision.  So I read three more books as I'm trying to clear out my submissions and not until book four was done did it come to me.  This book is good.  Actually I'll go so far as to say it's very good.  I enjoyed reading it a lot and was quite happy once my brain finally sorted out it's issue.

The story follows Gnaeus Pompey Magnus through ten years of his life, 16 to 26, and his accomplishments during that time.  What sold me on this novel first was the introduction.  Pompey's son is the narrator of the story so it gives the tale a different twist then if the history was simply told through the eyes of Pompey himself.  It kind of lifts a little bit out of the fact that it is historical and sets you into the fiction part which is a very nice touch for people who shy away from historical fiction.  Perception is everything after all.

The author stuck to proper terms, and true events rather well and writes with a steady flow.  This was almost a problem that the energy seemed so evenly paced even when things got exciting, but the writing style tended to over shadow that because it was good.  I smiled a few times, and genuinely enjoyed all of the character int erection.  I kept thinking I could use more of this character stuff I liked it so much. 

One thing that stood out to me was that you almost forgot the son was narrating until a phrase like 'my father' would just infuse itself into the writing.  I liked this because it allows the reader to loose themselves in the story without being bogged down by the narration. It also simultaneously reminded them that there is someone narrating just when one might forget the story is actually being told through another's eyes.

All in all this book done all the things a good book should do, yet I was still like it needs more fiction.  I laughed, smiled, got angry and all that during moments I thought were the best at showcasing the authors writing style.  This mostly involved when the characters interacted.  I thought the book was lacking in the fictional part of historical fiction.  But I realised my problem was actually thinking this was a problem.  It's one thing to know what was said at meetings, between friends, and so forth.  One thing to know that a war was won or lost and when it happened.  But  a lot of the finer specific details, the gaps as it were, in these events are where the fiction takes place and those were the things I loved about this book, hence making it perfect via the reasons I thought made it not so perfect.

In those moments when you know how someone reacts but not the words they chose during that reaction, when you know someone broke an ankle but not how, or there is just a gap in history and you need to fill it, that's where the creative mind gets to fly out of history and wrap it in a bit of fiction.  This book did a really good job here, and an equally good job with the historical landing this book, medium pacing and all, firmly in a ten rating.  It just does what this type of novel should do, and even if I hated it I probably would've rated it a ten anyway.

So unwavering flow, good writing style, fiction that melded perfectly in with the none fiction, and enticing enough to make me want to read the book to its end all adds up to a more than good enough reason to read the second book as well.  So for me I found the answer in the greatness of this novel lied in what I had labelled a problem which turned out to be not a problem.  And most importantly the writing style is easy to comprehend, there's a list of terms for convenience at the beginning so you understand the words used frequently through the book.  Both of which make this an easier read for people who lean more towards fiction than history.

All in all this was a well crafted novel and I would recommend reading it to book lovers of both fiction and non fiction, and of course get the second in this series as well.  Why stop at one when you can have two?  More is better.


MAGNUS: Rising Sun is the first book in a three-part series centered on the life of Gnaeus Pompey Magnus, known as Pompey the Great in the West. Rising Sun takes place during his 16th through 26th years of life, leading him through the Italian Social War, Civil War and into Sicily and Africa to stamp out those involved in the Roman insurrection. 

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