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I have wanted to publish a novel for many years and although my mind was bubbling with ideas none appealed to me sufficiently to make the time to write it. I then read "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara, a splendid telling of the American Civil War battle of Gettysburg. The story is told from the viewpoint of those who took part in the battle. I was intrigued by the structure of the book and it inspired me to put aside the time to write my own novel. Fortunately I had the prefect subject to hand. The Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) has always held a fascination for me, especially the Battle of Paardeberg, which was, arguably, the turning point of the war. What intrigued me was why the British commander, Lord Roberts, a man of reputed enormous compassion towards his men, put them through such torment in a forced march of over one hundred miles across South African semi-desert and why the Boer General Cronjé responded in the way he did. It was the decisions and actions of these two men during the prosecution of this particular battle that were to change the direction of the war. My debut novel Paardeberg: Lord Robert’s Gambit is my attempt to understand the thoughts, values and convictions of some of those involved in the battle and to write down their story. Of French Huguenot stock, I was born in Kitwe, Zambia and spent most of my childhood in South Africa. I now live in England.
on Dec. 11, 2017 :
The ancient Greek poets and playwrights were storytellers, not theologians. And they were expected to display their creativity by adding new twists to well-know stories. Such is what Martin Marais does in his short story, Prometheus, in admirable fashion.
I know of no ancient account of mortals visiting Prometheus as he is chained to a rock face where he daily endures an eagle (Zeus himself?) repeatedly ripping him open to devour his liver. That is where the author takes two poor shepherds, and in Marais’s vision, it is not just a rock face, but a glistening black altar. The shepherds find Prometheus chained beside that altar, not on it, because the chains slacken until the time again comes for his torture. In the author’s vision Prometheus is resigned to his fate, fearful for the welfare of the mortals but grateful for the visit.
The use of metaphors is skillful and many of the descriptions memorable (such as those of the wolfhound, Brutus). Marais is an author to watch. I give this story (it’s only 5,000 words or so) four stars, not five, because a portion in the middle reads didactically, as if recounting the story to a classroom. But toward the end there is a hint that there may be a continuation which brings in Hercules. I hope so. I want to read more. And I hope he brings back Kleitos, the ancient shepherd to whom Prometheus grants a long and healthy life, although the opening pages has him nearly dying of heart failure. Let’s hear more about it!
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)