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Donald E. Zlotnik served during the Vietnam War for eighteen months with the ultra elite MACV-SOG Command and Control North long range reconnaissance teams that conducted missions into Laos (Prairie Fire) and North Vietnam (Nickel Steel and Falling Rain). Members for the elite unit were selected from among the ranks of highly trained Special Forces (Green Berets) and Navy SEALs. Zlotnik also served in combat with two Green Beret "A" detachments: A-253 Duc Co on the Cambodian border, and he was the first executive officer at A-426 in the Plain of Reeds during periods of heavy fighting.
Zlotnik has written more than 300 columns for two Detroit newspapers, is the author of ten war novels, and has written eleven more unpublished historical action-adventure novels (this is one of them). He says they will make good reading for his grandchildren someday.
When recently asked by 60 Minutes II producers about war, Zlotnik was quoted as saying, "War is hell — Sherman was right about that part of it, but it is up to the leaders to keep it honorable."
Mary Elizabeth Fricke
on Sep. 22, 2013 :
When I first opened this book I was thinking 'oh, do I really want to read about the Roman Empire and the Mongols battling each other? It seems that when I think of past history lessons, that is what stands out most about those troubled times of the world long ago. It was extremely interesting to imagine various tribes and their will to survive as well as to develop incite into how the Mongols and the Romans may have conquered Northern Europe. Much comes to the imagination while reading this long venture of a peaceful tribe (the Vends) and how they came acquainted with Norsemen and the Hun as well as the Mongols and soldiers of the Roman Empire. D.E. Zoltnik creates memorable characters from a variety of backgrounds and how they fought…or learned to tolerate and respect one another. From the beginning I found myself interested in many of the characters with both curiosity and awe….and some with outright disgust.
I will say that the book is very long and about the 2nd or 3rd section I began to wonder how on earth all of 'this' (what seemed to be very different plots) was connected. But D.E. Zoltnik's talent carried the governing issues of the story right along and I soon was quite startled with the answers to all of my questions. Over all, I found the entire book most intriguing
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Aug. 21, 2013 :
This is one of the best books I've read this year!
We are introduced to each of the three major characters, each in a section of its own. First the Vends themselves with Myk, the youngest son of the village chief. Then the Romans, focusing on Valen, a leader of a turmae of thirty-two mounted men (horse soldiers). And finally Rud Khan, a Mongol explorer with a small force of warriors.
The characters come alive with a vibrancy that made me feel I've known them for months. The morals and practices of each group conforms to the history of the 2nd century in which the story is presented. It's obviously been well-researched.
When I thought it couldn't get any better, the three groups come together in a conflict that .... Well, I don't want to spoil it for you, let's just say that the story got even better at this point and continued to glue me to my chair.
If you like historical action adventures, then this is the one book you don't want to miss!
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Aug. 19, 2013 :
The story starts out in a 2nd century, walled village located in the upper waters of the Vistula river, in what is now south Poland, near modern Kraków. The river wanders east and then west again and eventually empties into the Baltic Sea, almost exactly north of its headwaters. (I looked it up out of curiosity).
Myk, a teenager who is not quite considered a “man” by the standards of the tribe (a sub-group of the once great Celtic nation), is the son of the village chief — an elected position which he’s held for many years because of his skill as a leader who makes good decisions. Summer is coming to an end and the prosperous Vends are facing a possible incursion by hungry tribes from the east where a famine may be brewing.
The book is written in 5 major sections, plus an epilog. The first section introduces the Vend tribe and their not-so-friendly neighbors. The second section introduces the Romans, who are now involved in Germany and exploring out from there. Section three introduces a party of Mongol explorers, working for the Great Khan, who are mapping the country to the west of the vast Mongol empire, with an eye for eventual conquest.
The last 2 sections further develop the story as the three cultures collide in Vend territory.
I can’t tell you much more without spoiling the fun.
This is a huge book! 259,000 words (970 pages equivalent to a paperback), according to the ad on Amazon. But it reads fast. It’s one of those “I can’t put it down” stories that keeps you riveted to your chair, long after you should be doing something else. But, since I’m not a speed reader, I had to put it down if I wanted any sleep at night. Still, it didn’t take me many evenings to finish it, still wanting more (and sleepy when the alarm went off in the morning).
Most of the plot lines are neatly wrapped up by the end of the book (I’d have been horribly disappointed if they weren’t), but a couple were left open, probably with an eye for one or two sequels. However, I don’t feel cheated since the open threads don’t leave me with that “what the heck happened here?” feeling. It’s more like the feeling you get at the end of a classic western where the hero rides off on his horse, rather than settling down with the girl; another story is possible, but you won’t die if that’s all there is to the yarn.
At $4.95, given it’s size and high entertainment value, it’s a steal. Most ebooks of this stripe sell in the $7 - $10 range (well, 6.99 – 10.99 on Amazon if you want to quibble). It carries an “R” rating because, true to those times, sex is handled in a rather straightforward manner. I’d have given it a PG-13 rating myself, but the publisher seems to err on the side of caution in these matters.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure stories with a lot of action and drama. Even if you’re not hooked on “historical adventures”.
(reviewed long after purchase)