About Me

Tollesbury, Essex, United Kingdom
I was born in the Summer of 1969 in Dagenham, just on the border of East London. School was largely unproductive but enjoyable, setting me up for something of a wayward but interesting life! On leaving school I had various jobs including putting up stalls at Romford Market, working in a record shop, putting up ceilings, gardening and road sweeping. After resigning from an insurance company to play in a band, I found myself unemployed for two years. Then finally I got back on my feet and I've been a psychiatric nurse since 1997. I wrote A Cleansing of Souls when I was 22 years old and followed it up with Tollesbury Time Forever almost twenty years later. I started writing The Bird That Nobody Sees in September 2011 and it was released in July 2012. In terms of writing, my heroes are Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck. I would also include Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits as literary influences. So that's me I guess - scruffy, happy and in love with literary fiction, music and life...

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Review of Leiyatel's Embrace by Clive S Johnson

Leiyatel's Embrace is described as a fantasy novel. I must say to begin with that I have never been entirely predisposed to fantasy. I have read Lord of the Rings several times and love it. I have started The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever several times but just can't seem to get through even the first book. So that my friends is the sum total of my exposure to fantasy - discounting of course the little world of my own creation in which I have scrabbled around for the past forty-three years...

And you know what else? I can't remember why I decided to buy Leiyatel's Embrace, which is rather ironic given one of the major themes of the novel.

Leiyatel's Embrace is set in an alternate world and is a tale told on several levels. There is the thread of the story that begins with an impending invasion of the castle realm of Dica and the response by what is left of the local poplulace to this threat. Dica has been in decline for many years and is no longer a Kingdom able to defend itself. It's King has lost his mind and his subjects have been either scattered throughout the land or have just dwindled away. There are just a few people who have both the knowledge and courage to try and discover what is going on and it is their efforts that occupy the majority of the novel. The characters are wonderfully realised, each unique in both their mannerisms and their speech, responding in ways that define their individual characteristics.

The story is exceedingly clever. There are plot twists galore and twists and turns that will delight and enthrall. But for me, the story, wonderful though it is, is only a part of the novel.

To craft a novel of this complexity takes an incredible amount of talent - particularly when the world in which it occurs is entirely fictional - not that you would know it. The world is described in absolute detail with precision when needed, poetic brilliance when necessary and a love for nature at its core. Much of the book is taken up following the various characters on their journeys around Dica and I felt I was travelling with each and every one of them - seeing what they saw, smelling what they smelled and feeling their awe at the spectacular sites. I honestly feel like I've been to Dica! Perhaps I have and have just forgotten...

So to the themes. I guess this is a very subjective thing as different parts of a novel will resonate for different people depending upon their experiences and reflections. For me, there are three main themes: man vs nature, monarchy vs republic and finally the process of life itself. I will speak only of the last of these themes as touching on the other two may give away too much of the storyline.

As I said above, the characters go on a physical journey, many in fact, but that runs parallel with the feeling, the intense feeling, that with every step taken, something is being eroded, lost to time. There were some passages that were so poignant on this subject that I had to stop and think about how this all related to myself. I have, mainly by neglect, a poor memory. Some parts of my life are a complete blank. Years run into themselves and I struggle to put even the major events of my life into the correct sequence. Like one of the central characters in Leiyetal's Embrace I yearn to recall every detail but somehow things slip away, much like the Kingdom of Dica, much like the passing of time. Make no mistake - this is not a fantasy story about dwarfs and goblins and monsters and dragons. None of these things appear. And it's not about big battles and magic and sorcery. It's about good people trying to make sense of what is going on around them as their lives ebb away.

I may not remember clearly how I came to read Leiyatel's Embrace but having read it, I shan't forget this book for a long, long time.

You can by it on Amazon UK here and on Amazon US here




Stefano Scaglione said...

Great review about a great book!

Stu Ayris said...

Thank you Stefano!