Sunday, March 3, 2013

Temple Of A Thousand Faces

In a peaceable jungle kingdom, a kind and gentle prince interested in the arts and  architecture is looking to a future building roads and hospitals for his people.  He is in love with his barren chief wife and besotted with his children. The fairytale Khmer Empire by the river with its main city Angkor is filled with the beauty of Angkor Wat – a temple of majesty and spiritual significance for both Hindus and Buddhists. But the quiet and beauty is about to be broken during 1177 when the Cham King invades Angkor killing the old King and forcing the prince and his beloved wife to make the jungle their base as they struggle to retake their home.

Temple of a Thousand Faces, was written by John Shors who is known for his historical fiction and for telling stories that engage both the heart and mind of the reader. This novel is no exception – one is quickly immersed in the book with the lush jungle, the sound of elephants, the fear of the Khmers’ when they are attacked, and the threat to the beauty and sanctity of the city.

But it is the characters that enthrall the reader, Prince Jayavar who too soon becomes King after a series of tragedies, his loving and fierce wife Ajadevi and their mortal enemy the invading Cham King Indravarman.  It is also the story of the power of love – between a captured Khmer beauty and her captor a favored soldier of King Indravarman. When the soldier sees the difference between the Khmer people and the Chams he begins to doubt the greed, inhumanity and terrorism of the Cham King – where his loyalty lies becomes a unique cornerstone of the book.

Another great read from John Shors and the chance to learn about Angor Wat, a now vanished civilization and what is currently present day Cambodia. 

Afrika Reich

The Nazi swastika is flying over much of Africa in this thriller set in 1952 – ten years after England settled WWII peacefully with Hitler. Written by first time novelist Guy Saville, the book runs the gamut of “ifs” including a reimagined Africa – where colonialism is once again the norm and the indigenous population is basically enslaved by the Nazi/SS hierarchy.

Throw in rebels trying to save their country, an Englishman trying to kill his nemesis who is now a Governor of the German-Afrikan territories and you have the setting for a political thriller/action/adventure and fast paced alternative reality page-turner!

Some of it is a little hard to believe (how does our Brit always overcome any obstacle it seems – is it the thought of true love?) The Germans seem very stereotypical (all brutish thugs with no redeeming characteristics – you can draw your own conclusions).

It’s a fun romp but there are not enough answers to so many questions that you are left pondering.  Why did the British settle the war? How did it come down to this – before you can really appreciate the story as it unfolds.