by Eric Syrdal
Reviewed by Ernest Russell
Photo Courtesy of Jon Barmore
Pantheon, the debut novel from Eric Syrdal, is unique. His free verse poetry weaves mythology for modern times while being entertaining, insightful, and visionary in its scope. His passion within each tale, told in semi-epic verse, blends modern constructs with ancient forms, mixed with fairy tales and spaceships, only to find characters you not only want to be a part of your life but want to be them.
Mythologies have existed as long as our species has been able to communicate. Myth has provided us with explanations for the world around us, and answers for existential questions such as:
Who am I?
Why am I here?
For centuries, artists have turned to ancient myth as a reference for their art. Today, I have finished reading modern mythology worthy of being added to the archives of inspiration. For if a picture is worth a thousand words, contained within this debut novel by Eric Syrdal is a museum’s worth of art.
Syrdal’s heroines are the Queen of Hearts, Grace, Karma, Courage, Fate, Mercy, and Hope. The story unfolds as our anonymous narrator/protagonist meets or reconnects with these personifications of human concepts, for what else is a god or goddess, who have each influenced and assisted the hero through his many journeys.
The many tales woven throughout the myths of Pantheon create a rich tapestry, showing us in vivid imagery the journey through a multi-verse of genres. Our protagonist explores worlds set in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Time Travel as they learns what they really seek. Eric Syrdal has blended these concepts and different visions of reality with skill and deftness surpassing any single genre story. The imagination creating this mythos is genuinely greater than the sum of its parts.
To experience life in all of its variety, the joy, and heartbreak, as it all echoes the spirit within so we may fully experience the exhilaration of life. This hero’s quest is not one to save the world, but ultimately, ourselves, as the tales unfold, the questions asked, only to find we are the answer.
The, at times, semi-autobiographical mirror held up by Eric Syrdal reflects not only paths he has trodden but sheds light on the paths we have chosen for ourselves. It demonstrates why we should choose our path carefully, and do not settle, but select only the path with heart for you. The way will not always be easy, but if you take the established path, you may never realize your own potential.
As an epic poem, the style was as enjoyable to read as it was fresh. My eyes flowed as freely as the verse over each page. The drama, humor, and flights of fancy as you follow will keep you turning page after page, for within are multilayered depths of meaning and experience. I have followed Eric’s writing for many years, was able to watch as this incredible work developed, and with each reading I find new concepts to regard and consider.
One of my favorite myths within Pantheon is Amor Vincit Omnia (Love Conquers All) which is the story of Fate. It still chokes me up. If it does not move you, then you may need to check your own heart.
I want to offer this short excerpt from the myth, The Dragon and the Damsel.
“This time it’s not a roar
it is a sorrowful
of an animal that is realizing
it’s just been cornered
and the odds of escaping
with its life
are not good…
‘Never heard that before’ says Angel as she takes her first
steps toward the door sword in hand.
Courage smiles, ‘All this time you’ve heard what it sounds like
when it’s in control. When it’s on top. Now…for the first
time, dear Angel, you will know what it sounds like
when it is afraid. And it is. It is afraid of you.‘
They step through
the doorway to engage
in a battle,
the outcome of which,
is not only a victory for one woman’s soul
but for the soul of mankind.”
Please look for more by Eric Syrdal on his blog My Sword and Shield
And you can find this fantastic novel, Pantheon by Eric Syrdal, on Amazon