The Ancient One
by Ilan Herman
This was an unusual book. The writing style had a unique rhythm that
took a bit of adjusting to get into the flow. The storyline was something unique
as well, and the setting dealt with a history that is usually ignored in modern
literature. Being different can be good, but it can also sound the death knell
for a book. It really comes down to execution. In this case the author pulled it
off with flying colors. I really, really enjoyed this book.
The book's protagonist is a man who has been given the chance at immortality by his "god." He is given the mission of bettering not only his own people, but those beyond the desert, in the mountains, and at the sea. He must unite these different peoples and make their lives better. This seems like a pretty difficult task, especially when his god does not always render the omnipotent assistance gods are supposed to give.
The setting is Africa before the arrival of the Europeans and takes us up to the present age. Using a few historical facts, the author weaves a tale that goes beyond Africa. It touches on cultural differences, on religion, on family, on ones duty to one's god and people, on life and death, on change, and on to modern politics and international relations. The last may have been of interest in the final section of the book, but the rest of those all are examined through the long life of a man who has nothing in common with anyone reading this book--yet everything in common with them.
Editing as far as proofreading was uniformly excellent. A good copy editor, though, could have helped in the last few chapters--it is obvious that the author has pretty much no idea as to the workings of the military. But in this case, I am going to give the author a pass as although the mistakes caught my attention, the rest of the book overcame those errors.
I have read other reviews where reviewers complain that some books are formulaic or are offering the same old thing. Rest assured that this book does not fall into that trap. I used the word "quirky" in my title of this review, and I think that is a fair observation. This is an odd duck of a book in many ways, but in this case, I think that is a great thing. The author has taken me places I've never been before, and I loved the journey. I highly recommend this book.
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