Four Nails

Rated 4.83/5 based on 12 reviews
In ancient India, tragedy strikes a young elephant trainer. Forced into a slave caravan that takes him through perilous lands and into a world at war, Ashoka befriends a special elephant. He and that elephant, Four Nails, together lead Hannibal's army over the Alps and down the back of Rome. Though a time of constant danger and uncertainty in the Second Punic War, More
Available ebook formats: epub
About GJ Berger

In June 2013, G. J. Berger won the San Diego Book Awards for Best Historical Fiction Novel of 2012 with his debut novel 'South Of Burnt Rocks - West Of The Moon'. Other recent winners are the likes of J. K. Rowling and Susan Vreeland.

And in 2017, G. J.'s "Four Nails" won the SDBA prize as the best historical of both 2015-16. San Diego's Main Library honored G. J. and his "Four Nails" novel with a "W2W" (Writers to Watch) celebration on April 1, 2017.

When G. J. was eight, his mom told him the story of Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants and a great army. He asked her what happened to Hannibal after that. Mom didn’t know, but he was hooked, had to find out.

G. J. spent much of his young life on the road and at sea. even working as a crew member on a tramp steamer. Wherever his travels took him, old walls, canals, even storage holes deep in the ground, made him wonder about how they got there, about the people who built them, how they lived and got along.

The result is two novels about the places, the history, and the main characters from the time of Hannibal.

When not writing, G. J. tries to roam around the places he writes about, likes to sit and soak up the times back then and bring them to modern life in his stories. G. J. is convinced that for all the changes in last 2000 years, people loved and hated, suffered and rejoiced, destroyed and built out of the same urges and yearnings then as they do today.

G. J. lives in San Diego with his favorite grammarian and English Professor. They visit their two sons and two grandsons as often as the kids will have them.

Learn more about GJ Berger

Also by This Author

Reviews of Four Nails by GJ Berger

Belle13 reviewed on March 3, 2021

I enjoyed reading Four Nails, often feeling as though I was with Ashoka through all the ups and downs of his journey. The story line and characters kept me engaged right till the end, wanting to know what would happen to Ashoka and his elephants. I don't usually read historical fiction but after reading Four Nails I can't wait to read more from this genre.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through Voracious Readers Only.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)
Shaddowcat99 reviewed on Dec. 24, 2020

Received in exchange for an honest review.

It feels like it has been quite a long time since I finished a good historical fiction. And this was a good historical fiction. Jumping back into the ancient days when Rome held tightly to the world with its Iron grip was an exhilarating experience.

Four nails is about a young man from India, named Ashoka, whose family owns an elephant camp. Ashoka has a talent with elephants and when the traders come to buy slaves his family is forced to sell him. He vows to return and begins a journey across the desert to the city of Carthage. There he is enslaved by a cruel man, but eventually he is sold and joins the retinue of Mahouts (that's the name for elephant trainers) in Hannibal's army.

Four Nails was a relatively easy read and if I were to classify it as something other than a historical fiction, I think I would place it in the category of young adult. Despite how it may seem, the book is not very heavy, but I think this works in its favor as many other such books are often too heavy. The main character is also very young at the start of the book and the book is about him growing up as he experiences many hardships. Some topics might be a little heavier, but I don't think they would be too much for a young modern audience.

I enjoyed the characters and the setting. The book pulled on my heart strings and gave me something to root for. This is something I could definitely see myself reading again. I wish I knew more about the historical aspects of books. I honestly am not a history buff and so could not say how much of it would have been true to life back then, although the author does provide some notes at the end.

Wish more people were reading this. It definitely deserves more attention.
(reviewed 89 days after purchase)
Mags112 reviewed on Nov. 20, 2020

Four Nails is an amazing book. It enthralled me from start to finish. The descriptions of the smells sounds and different cultures is so good you can almost see and smell the journey. I highly recommend this book!!
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
Mags112 reviewed on Nov. 20, 2020
(no rating)
Four Nails is an amazing book. It enthralled me from start to finish. The descriptions of the smells sounds and different cultures is so good you can almost see and smell the journey. I highly recommend this book!!
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
AnnaPuddles reviewed on Sep. 17, 2020
(no rating)
Wow, what a journey, at one point I wondered if I would cope with reading more, some of the scenes were shocking and horrific. Please note I am particularly sensitive and have a vivid imagination. I’m so glad I kept going, this is an awesome story which brought A part of history that I knew little about. The shocking scenes are not written gratuitously but more factually and important to both the plot and history. I love books where you “get to know” the characters and this certainly delivered this. I feel my life is richer for having read this and become aware of that time in history but also that however bad things are there is usually a way out.
This was a voracious readers copy in return for an honest review. Thank you
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
AnnaPuddles reviewed on Sep. 17, 2020
(no rating)
Wow, what a journey, at one point I wondered if I would cope with reading more, some of the scenes were shocking and horrific. Please note I am particularly sensitive and have a vivid imagination. I’m so glad I kept going, this is an awesome story which brought A part of history that I knew little about. The shocking scenes are not written gratuitously but more factually and important to both the plot and history. I love books where you “get to know” the characters and this certainly delivered this. I feel my life is richer for having read this and become aware of that time in history but also that however bad things are there is usually a way out.
This was a voracious readers copy in return for an honest review. Thank you
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
Pam Court reviewed on Sep. 2, 2020

{I received a free copy in exchange for a review.}

Four Nails takes you on an incredible journey through ancient times. Weaving the main character's life with historic events gives you an emotional ride unlike any other. It is written vividly and takes your imagination to the old world of India and life as we have never known filled with beauty, love, slavery, war, and hope. No hesitation in recommending this book!
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
melissacronje reviewed on Aug. 6, 2020

*I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author via Voracious Readers Only*

What a brilliant book! I was hooked from the first instant I met Ashoka and his elephants. From a childhood on his family’s elephant camp, Ashoka ends up as a trainer to Hannibal’s elephants on an epic journey over the Alps to Rome. As I followed this young man on his journey, I smiled, I cried, I winced and I cheered and my heart swelled with the love Ashoka showed the animals in his care. The ending is reminiscent of the epics of old – it left me smiling at a beautiful story, satisfied that this tale has concluded, yet craving more. I will definitely be reading more of G.J Berger’s work in the future.
(reviewed 16 days after purchase)
KD Bissonette reviewed on April 22, 2020
(no rating)
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Voracious Readers via Smashwords. I liked the story and Ashoka was a strong character. I appreciate the opportunity to read this authors work and I hope to do so again in the future.
(reviewed 14 days after purchase)
Liz Nedrub reviewed on July 9, 2019

Four nails

Complimentary copy of this book was received through Voracious Readers.

Gripping, great story and flow.

I always love an elephant story but this one is top notch! From the start, which is set in India, I loved the way the author wove a young mahout's life into epic historic events. Ashoka has a beautiful, humble nature, is a gifted animal whisperer, with a special affinity for elephants. His gentle spirituality contrasts sharply with the harshness of what he is forced to watch, and at times train his beloved elephant to do. However Ashoka is savvy too and trusts his elders wisdom as well as his instincts which ultimately leads him to freedom.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)

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