Blog Archives

Return to Babylon

Return to Babylon (The Orfeo Saga, #5)5 Stars

Return to Babylon is the fifth installment of the Orfeo saga and begins with Orfeo and Clarice returning from the New World and their battle with the Spartans to settle into a somewhat peaceful life in Pylos. However with the battles still fresh in their mind and the nightmares still haunting their sleep, Orfeo knew evil would eventually reappear- it was just a matter of when and where. An assassination attempt on Orfeo’s life leads him to leave with Clarice to venture to the city of Mesopotamia in hopes they will keep their beloved city of Pylos safe.

Meanwhile, kings begin to drop like flies with the kingdom of Mursillius the Hittite becoming the first to fall. Zinaida wants vengeance upon the coalition who put her on the throne and sends spies to find Zurga. What price will be paid for those who fight for justice and freedom?

Return to Babylon, written by Murray Lee Eiland Jr, continues the adventures of Orfeo who begins the heroic tale in the city of Pylos. Prepare for an action-packed story line that explores the dynamics between different kingdoms and the blood thirst for those who want to save the world.

Assassination attempts and secret spies lead the characters to question whether the events taking place are purely coincidental or is there a more sinister evil at work. As the reader explores the different kingdoms, you soon learn who is trustworthy and who hides behind closed doors, plotting their evil revenge. Networks of spies will reveal information that will mean our favourite characters will have to risk it all for the price of glory.

Murray Lee Eiland Jr. has an impeccable flair to paint the scenes of his story with such conviction that the reader will feel emotionally involved with the main characters and their harrowing tales. At times the novel has moments of historical accountability, giving readers a front row seat into the secrecy of life and lies within kingdoms. Once you add in the brave and fierce heroes, Return to Babylon, has an epic story line that will leave you on the edge of your seat and eager to read all installments. My favourite character was Cyrus, a young and eager apprentice who begins to learn the ins and outs of spy craft. I particularly enjoyed the character development and surprise turns that each character entails throughout the story.

This book in the series delves deeper into the world of mystery, intrigue and espionage. I particular like how Murray Lee Eiland Jr adds a light-hearted touch to scenes in order to create a memorable and powerful story line. It is a cool reminder that some of our biggest threats are being spun together behind the closed doors within the most powerful people in the city.

Return to Babylon is brilliantly written. I would recommend this novel for anyone who loves an action-packed novel filled with twists and turns that will leave you on the edge of your seat, and eager for more!

Pages: 217 | ASIN: B01KEDH2CG

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Wanderer’s Last Journey

The Wanderer's Last Journey (The Orfeo Saga, #4)4 Stars

On a trade visit to Malta, Orfeo – in line to the throne of Pylos – is kidnapped by mysterious strangers. The net is spread far and wide, with heroes from all over the Aegean joining forces in the quest to find the lost prince.

Is Orfeo in danger, though? His captors seem to have strange motives, what exactly do they see him as? A prince, a prophet, a political pawn, or something more? Only one thing is for certain, nothing is as it appears on the surface, and Orfeo must keep his wits about him. This wonderful work of historical fiction will amaze and engage you in equal measures.

With The Wanderer’s Last Journey, Murray Lee Eiland Jr. has woven an astounding and complex tapestry. It has all the makings of a classic fantasy epic, as the rich and evocative world he creates is as intriguing as it is intricate, whilst the narrative constantly keeps us on our toes. Eiland Jr. clearly has an eye for important details, as his simple use of language is restrained and mannered. He writes much like any of the great classical fantasy writers, with simplistic, well-constructed sentences forming the framework for a complex and sprawling narrative. Where he does choose to go into detailed description, he paints for us a clear and colourful picture. The milieu of The Wanderer’s Last Journey, whilst mostly serving as a stage on which to set the players, is perhaps one if the novel’s most astonishing features. This mythical, magical Mediterranean is exotic and enticing, and we are left wanting to learn more about it. As the story expands and speeds towards its thrilling crescendo, its setting is left unexpanded, and one wonder’s whether the novel might have benefited from going into greater detail in this regard. In many ways it is unfamiliar from the Ancient Greece we know and are familiar with, yet it verges upon Virgil and Homer. The Iliad is an obvious reference, and Eiland Jr.’s love of this period is clear on the page.

This novel sets Eiland Jr out as an author of great scope and intention, however one who isn’t afraid to create a world of great depth and complexities. He cleverly weaves multiple storylines and, for the most part, manages to keep on top of this, and keeps all the strands of his stories working together. There are moments, though, where the machinations of the plot seem to get the better of him. The action tends to flit between one character’s perspective and another’s, and whilst this serves to provide us with a huge wealth of storyline, it occasionally distracts from it. It also means, at points, that we aren’t given long enough in each character’s story to form an emotional bond with them, and we are left wondering who exactly our protagonist is. This is perhaps to be expected, though, with a story so vast, and one with so many strands, and for the most part The Wanderer’s Last Journey works well as a rich, entertaining fantasy epic.

Pages: 237 | ASIN: B018RHOIRI

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Zurga’s Fire

Zurga's Fire (The Orfeo Saga, #3)4 Stars

Travel back in time in this fantastical adventure with Zurga’s Fire, book three in the Orfeo Saga. Murray Lee Eiland Jr weaves his tale that takes place in historical Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean. Broken up into four books filled with short, easy to digest chapters we begin with Daryush, a young man who has been living as a consort for the Empress Zinaida. If you are just coming into this saga, you won’t be able to get a true grasp on what previous volumes have covered. What we learn from Daryush and Zinaida is that theirs is a young love and she has recently acquired her position of power. Due to their differences Daryush decides to leave Babylon in order to preserve his life. We then begin to follow him on his journey while meeting other important characters and breaking off to follow them. It all comes back around and end with Daryush.

Eiland is very good at keeping his chapters short and to the point. Instead of long, drawn out chapters that cover far too much information to digest well, this tale has the benefit of being broken into four books and a total of 70 chapters. While that may seem like a lot, the story doesn’t break 300 pages. There is even a historical note for those history buffs who are reading. This is a historical fantasy-adventure tale and Eiland does his best to keep information as true to history while taking certain artistic liberties. This makes the book easy to read without getting bogged down by technicalities. While the information regarding tribes, empires and villages is indeed massive, it is all presented in shortened, easy to read ways.

Daryush is not the titular character, although he feels like one. He weaves in and out of the story that the reader can get deluded into thinking it’s all about him. The book is called Zurga’s Fire for a reason and that is made quite apparent in the third book within this volume.

Aside from being a bit in the dark to previous accomplishments in the first two books, Zurga’s Fire stands well on its own. The story feels complete at the end and doesn’t leave too many unanswered questions. The writing is clean with little to no grammatical errors and the chapter formatting is nice on the eyes. The intrigue, romance and mystery that pepper the tale are all tasteful with nothing feeling forced or contrived. This is a spectacular feat to accomplish when you have so many characters with such intricate lives.

If you’re looking for a good read that won’t have you feeling overwhelmed then Zurga’s Fire by Murray Lee Eiland Jr is definitely something you should consider. Not too heavy on historical explanations and easy to read with short chapters, this third installment in the Orfeo Saga is pleasant and satisfying.

Pages: 244 | ASIN: B017YFKZSU

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Absolute Truth

Murray Eiland Author Interview

Murray Eiland Author Interview

The Emperor of Babylon follows an evil emperor who captures an inventor and forces him to create weapons of war. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?

A major element of the group called “Wanderers” is that they can use subterfuge to gain an advantage over an enemy. Zurga is not a fighter. He has to generate a mystique to discourage people from challenging him physically. He even encourages people to believe that he could command supernatural powers. The problem is not that Zurga believed his own propaganda, but rather than a rather dull witted ruler believed it. Zurga knows very well that he could not control volcanic eruptions. If he told the truth he would either not be believed or would have been killed.

I think Zurga is a wonderful character, but I wanted to show how an apparent strength can be a weakness. I did point out that Zurga did not lie outright. He was loose with the absolute truth. He was a leader to be sure, and people listened to his advice, but because of his circumstances he would not be chosen to be a King with real power. The growth of civilization is the real focus of the books.

Are you a fan of the historical fiction genre? What books do you think most influenced your work?

Without any doubt or hesitation I can say that Robert Graves has been a huge influence on my writing. His work has brought so much joy to me that I could imagine nothing better than to write something that hopefully will be enjoyed by others. I re-read the series I Claudius on a regular basis.

Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are two other authors that I admire. I am still amazed that they are regarded by some people as being children’s authors. I know that neither of them could be described as “gritty” or “realistic.” I do not read books for realism, I read them for their characters. That is one of the reasons I chose Bronze Age characters. I wanted characters to live in a heroic age, but one that was far removed from real written history. The Bronze Age was a world that was far removed from the Classical world of the Greeks and Romans. I liked the books The White Goddess and Seven Days in New Crete. Graves tackled the Minoans of Crete in very interesting ways. I wanted to deal with the Mycenaean culture of the mainland in part because I did not want to overlap with what Graves did.

What is one pivotal moment in the story that you think best defines Ofeo? Did any of the characters development occur organically through the story?

Orfeo is always changing. He is an outcast at first, and he is trained as a Wanderer. Zurga does not allow him to take that identity, and encourages him to become a warrior too. Zurga sees that Orfeo could be a leader. Orfeo will have to learn through experience how to be a good leader. Over time he will emerge as a great military commander and finally become a King. Each of these stages has a different skill set, but they stack on top of each other to create a whole. A real leader says what people know to be right. For me the second book’s pivotal moment is when Orfeo agrees to go find Zurga. Elaborate reasons are not required, it was simply the correct thing to do. Nurim Sin strives to be cool and calculating, but in the end he really just deceives himself.

Where does the story go in the next book and where do you see it going in the future?

The next book is about the conflict between civilization and nomads. This kind of conflict is preserved in the historical record when the Huns and then the later Mongols invaded Europe. During the Bronze Age there were no doubt many such conflicts.

Zurga’s Fire deals with a nomadic group (they were known as the Getae in Classical times) from the lower Danube river area. Unlike the Babylonians, they have little need for cities. They use captured people as workers. If they win civilization as the Greeks know it will end.

The other books in the series cover adventures (not always conflicts) with other people in the Mediterranean region and beyond. I am most interested in eastern cultures, so in some future novels the heroes head east. Of course they find all kinds of wonderful treasures, but the best thing they find are a few people who are good leaders like themselves.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

The Emperor of Babylon (The Orfeo Saga, #2)The Emperor of Babylon has captured Zurga – a brilliant inventor – and is demanding to know how to control volcanic eruptions. He also desires iron weapons, a closely guarded Hittite secret. The emperor plans conquer all the lands surrounding the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. He has a vast spy network and is preparing a huge army. Orfeo and Clarice, both trained as wanderers, must use all of their skills to save their friend and teacher. They must also stop the Emperor who believes himself to be a deity. Can they stop a madman that could destroy the entire region?

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Emperor of Babylon

The Emperor of Babylon (The Orfeo Saga, #2)4 StarsThe Emperor of Babylon opens with Zurga being captured by a mysterious group and whisked away to Babylon. Despite his skills as a Wanderer, his captors appear to be well prepared. The purpose of his capture becomes clear as an old friend demands to be granted the power Zurga is rumored to possess from the well-known war of years past. This rumor is what spurs the plot forward, along with the discovery of a new metal used for weapons, as Zurga and his friends search for a way to keep Nurim Sin from waging war on anyone who has a power he might fear. In the meantime, the village of the Wanderers has been neglecting its duty, leaving them open to the dangers of the world.

Orfeo and Clarice, on their separate, but shared, quest to find Zurga, are both given the opportunity to grow, and the reader is treated to two very different styles of travel through these characters. It gives the narrator a lot of breathing room when it comes to how the story is told, developing each of them into well rounded individuals, rather than a married couple.

I felt that Nurim Sin was not presented as a very dangerous antagonist, and the fear and tension normally derived from that was lacking. Because Zurga and his crew are granted a seemingly easy escape, it diminishes the suspense regarding Nurim Sin’s actions in the future. Much is revealed about Nurim Sin’s plans by him talking to characters like Zurga and Clarice, which removes the concern a reader might have about his secret plans.

The first half of the novel follows the characters as they travel and try to avoid suspicion. There are hints of a threat to the characters, but the anxiety from the danger is rarely felt. The characters were a highlight in this novel. I felt that they were well developed, nuanced and had meaningful interactions. The second half of the book shows the politics of the region as pieces fall into place in preparation for war. The characters play their parts and move the pieces as much as they can. Clarice’s deception of Nurim Sin is entertaining and I wish I was treated to more of it because that’s the kind of action that makes this book shine.

Overall, the novel has many entertaining moments built on slowly developed tension and conflict. The characters are dynamic and intriguing and the author does a good job of establishing new faces in the story. I can’t wait for the third book, but I’ll be begging for more edge of your seat conflict that this series has the potential to deliver.

Pages: 256 | B016SNL510

Buy Now From Amazon.com

%d bloggers like this: