Pantheon – By Eric Syrdal

Pantheon
by Eric Syrdal
Reviewed by Ernest Russell
Photo Courtesy of Jon Barmore

Pantheon

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
No
it is a sorrowful
pitiful howl
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.

And together
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

 

Nightingale by Ellie Raine – A New Book Review

 

Nightingale – Ellie Raine

Pro Se Productions

Nightingale

One of my favorite parts of any workday is my lunch time. It’s not the food, it’s a solid block of time I can count on for one my favorite past times. Reading. This past week lunch has been really pleasurable as I devoured the most recent offering from Ellie Raine, Nightingale.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ellie Raine at Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention in November 2017. Her energy and smile were infectious. I picked up her first book, Willow of Ashes, and I immediately became an Ellie Raine fan.
Ellie Raine is a very talented author, bringing a distinct vision and fresh voice to her stories. I am glad to have an autographed copy of her first book. I will be getting her autograph for this one as well. She is an author in whom I believe will be a constant delight as she matures in her art.
When the chance came up to read and review Ellie Raine’s current offering from Pro Se Productions – Nightingale, I leaped at the chance. All I knew about it was from the promo tease, “A New Take on the Private Eye tale…and Death as well.” I already knew Ellie has a talent for writing fantasy that absorbs you into the story. Could she do it with a Detective Story?
Ellie’s main character Alastor Deus, P.I. seems to be the archetype of a man seeking vengeance for the murder of his father. Nightingale properly opens straight into the action. While “discussing” a lead to his father’s murderer, the interrogation is rudely interrupted by the murder of the informant. This is the last “normal” scene. From here on out, we are on the rollercoaster with Alastor as he finds his true family…even meeting Death. Just when you think you have a handle on the plot twists, Ellie finds a monkey wrench. But she doesn’t hit you over the head with it. Most of the plot twists came with a subtle lagniappe, a little extra. As a veteran reader of detective stories, it was quite refreshing. Imagine, reading a story that is almost predictable, but not completely.
The world of Nightingale is a very different, yet familiar reflection of our own. The twists in mythologies are highly creative and well imagined. The marriage of Private Eye story and the mythologies invoked is just shy of brilliant. Her prose is clever and evocative in the best tradition of Pulp detectives. The characters begin a little flat but each page reveals more of their past, adding shades of depth and grey motivations. There is not quite enough growth for them to become fully 3D but enough I wanted to see more of them. What else is waiting to be told? Between the pace of the story with new questions and revelations constantly expanding the backgrounds of the characters, Nightingale was very difficult to put it down.
As a pulp story, this tale really sings.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for writing a review. I was not obligated to give a positive review, and all thoughts are my own.

The Blood in Snowflake Garden

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The Blood in Snowflake Garden
Author: D. Alan Lewis
Narrated by: Clark Clayson

Christmas can be murder, a murder most foul. Murder and a note from S. Claus, pleading for help, was the only thing which could draw retired Inspector Max Sneed back to active duty. A duty to investigate the murder of the North Poles Premier. Robert Watson, sent by a London paper to write about the jolliest place on Earth, is put instead straight to work by Max. In a twinkling he finds a merry chase through Civil Rights, Labor Disputes and Cold War politics. Robert’s sugar-plum laced pipe dreams of the cheeriest city on Earth are quickly shredded. The more Max and Robert slog through the sleazy, underbelly of the North Pole, the thinner the ice upon which they stand. This murder investigation is rife with a delicious trail of red-herrings, each with the lustre of new fallen snow. Do you want to know the secret history of Santa? How the city at the North Pole was founded? What is it about cupcakes? Once you know the answer, you may never see pastries the same way again.
The answer to these questions, and many more, will impact the world. The Cold War is heating up at the pole. Whoever is in charge at the North Pole could change the course of history. What is the connection between electronic toys and the military base proposed outside the warm zone?
The Blood in Snowflake Garden is one D. Alan Lewis’s earlier books. As such, while this tale does have a few rough edges compared to his later books, the visions within will dance in your heads. His talent for blending real world historical events combined with a different take on a well-known mythology will satisfy your sweet tooth for knowledge. Though you be in ‘kerchief or cap, and settled down in your bed, the last thing you will be taking is a long winter nap. Thoughts of all else, except what lies upon the next page, fly away like the down on a thistle.
The narrator, Clark Clayson, has just that right tone to bring the necessary grittiness upon the breast of the new-fallen snow sprinkled throughout the story. Switching easily between the world weary detective and the wide eyed reporter, err..journalist, to The Jolly Old Nick himself, Clark’s narration helps to create an alternate history you can believe as the tale is unraveled. His enunciations are clear and there is no background noise. His voice is the little old driver of the tale by which soon you will know, there is nothing to dread.

The Blood in Snowflake Garden

 

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for writing a review. I was not obligated to give a positive review, and all thoughts are my own.

 

Excerpt – WIP

“Good thinking. Let’s give those flying boats an once-over. Mary, you stay here to watch for Jake.
Joe, you come with Martin and I to inspect the sea planes.”

The three men approached the beached aircraft and one thing became apparent drawing near, bullet holes peppered the length of each plane.
Joe whistled, “Phew, did they land or were they forced down?”
“Let’s take a gander inside.” Directed Captain Hazzard, moving toward the nearest one.
He plucked the flashlight from his vest and peered through the hatch. The interior showed the scars of battle but the craft appeared airworthy.
“Captain! Over here!” Joe called from the hatch of the second plane.
He and Martin trotted to the second plane. Inside a figure was stretched along one of the benches. Captain Hazzard clambered inside the craft and checked the man’s vitals. He was alive though from the looks of the cabin he had lost a lot of blood. On his right hand he wore the stylized lightning bolts of the SS.
The touch caused him to moan. For a moment consciousness rallied behind his eyes but not full awareness. He saw Captain Hazzards blonde face over him he asked if they succeeded.
Captain Hazzard responded in flawless German, “We are here in answer to distress. Dietrich called for reinforcement. What happened?”
He uttered one word in his final gasp, “Huldu”.

 

 

Excerpt from WIP

“It felt good to lie down. Martin admitted frustration not to be going to the museum, he enjoyed the peace and quiet. Captain Hazzard checked in during his inspection of the Silver Bullet II. Though he designed the fuselage and its armor, he marveled at the engines Captain Hazzard built.
He was glad the frustration passed before Captain reached out. This mind-talking still unnerved him a little. The Captain would have worried if the irritation had shown in his thoughts.
When the hangar alarm blared next to his bed, he would sworn he just laid down. A quick glance at his wristwatch belied that. It was 1 a.m. In short order, Martin dressed quickly and pedaling the bicycle purchased for him. The guard at the gate was suspicious of him. Disheveled with the speed of dressing in the dark, and the exertion of a hard ride to the gate, Martin admitted he would be suspicious too. Anxiety mounted as he waited for the guard to decide he had clearance to proceed to the hangar.
His escort, required by Major Svetkov, panted behind him by time they reached the hangar. Martin motioned his escort to ready his rifle, then flung open the access door. He followed the soldier through, but saw nothing. The hangar had no electricity, and in his haste Martin forgot to grab his bag with one of the flashlights. By the ambient light, he located the lantern on the hook near the door.
The lantern held high, he began the search the hangar. Followed by the soldier, he felt foolish. No tampering of the Silver Bullet could be discerned as he performed a walk around. The craft nearly filled the small hangar. Truth be told, it took long enough to get here any panels opened could be easily closed at leisure. A rustling under one of the windows caused both he and his escort to jump slightly. His tension appeared to cross the language barrier with no problem.
Beady red eyes shone from under one of the windows. A rat. Breathing a sigh of relief, Martin began checking the magnetic security locks. The wires from one to its radio transmitter had been chewed. The effect was the same as if the magnets had been separated by opening the window. The circuit opened and set off the alarm. Martin pointed at the broken wire and the rat. It took a moment, but the nickel finally dropped and his guard laughed. A shake his head, Martin made short work repairing the broken wire.”

Tap-Tap-Tap..is this thing still on?

I know posting has slowed a lot and while that is bad, it is also good.

So busy, I have now completed half of my assigned flash. These planet travelogues are so much fun to write. If only pesky things like LIFE, sleep and oh, yeah, work did not intrude on the fun. I am going to ask my publisher if there is anyway I can arrange to use some of these as a base for writing short stories or novels. I do not know how that arrangement will work but am getting some great ideas.

Speaking of novels, I am close to the halfway point.  Making deadline is going to be close. But I knew that, the first eye surgery put me off more than I expected.

There was a little excitement on the trip so far. While the plane is being looked over and repairs are being made, if needed, the rest of the characters are enjoying a sumptuous dinner at the Savoy.

Well, except the one working on the plane. “sigh” Oh! and the other one who has met someone. Even now they are enjoying a walk and serious conversation about the future along the banks of the Thames. Such a lovely, peaceful evening….

Thanks for reading!

Ernest

Novel update!

Wow, that was close. No one knew if that plane could survive that dive including the designer. With a layover in London while the plane is checked for damage and needed repairs, I hope everyone gets a good night’s sleep. If they can stop wondering who was shooting at them.

Today was kind of unfocused, writing in bits and spurts. Still got 2000 words in and 4400 for Saturday and Sunday. Past the 10000 word mark and all of the main characters have been introduced. Hmm, are you wondering what will happen next intrepid reader? That’s ok. So am I.

Hi-Ho to meet this deadline I have to go

Morning tasks and routine done. Time to crank out some words. When last we left our stalwart hero he was investigating a fire at the library. The same library he had sought information from earlier. Could there be a connection or is this just 5th column anarchy? Stayed tuned intrepid reader.

Update to follow???

Thanks for reading!

Ernest

 

Update:

2500 words today. The hero is hot on the trail of the mysterious McGuffin, but he is not the only one. Others have contacted the museum as well. Is this a race to a fabulous treasure or a rescue on the nick of time?

Stay tuned Intrepid readers, the adventure is building as we approach the one third point of the novel.

a productive day

1500 words on the pulp novel so far this afternoon. That’s 5000 total so far. Thought I earned a break and took a walk to clear the cobwebs.

A little concerned about the story pacing, but I am used to writing 10-16k. I’d be almost halfway through, I just let it go where it needs and deal with pacing issues in rewrite.

At least I feel I have passed my hesitation about not knowing the character in his original story. Everything I know is from just a few sketchy blog reviews. The good thing is in losing the hesitancy he is really coming to life for me.

***

Update:

Only another 600 words this evening. Heading to bed now. the story is flowing but the fingers are not, neither are the eyelids. Target later today is another 1500-2000 words.

Thanks for reading,

Ernest

Radio Silence – Life has its ups and downs

Good news everyone!

Last few days have been hectic. On the downside, it was confirmed I have cataracts in both eyes and need surgery on both but the left needs it ASAP. Now I need the $6000.

Good news – to come-

More as the situation develops. Thank you all for being patient and sticking with me.

Ernest