A Gathering of Warriors by George Vigileos is a 180-page novel of spirituality, fantasy, and, for some, inspiration. Those with beliefs that lie exclusively in one religion will probably not like this novel. Those with no belief in faith and the inherent natures of man, animals, and plant life probably won’t enjoy this. But for those who can suspend their beliefs or can admit to the existence of other belief systems, this novel is fun to read while at the same time provoking reader reflection. This was an OnlineBookClub Book of the Day (BOTD) for 24 February 2017. To enter one of their giveaway programs I had to download a sample and make a few comments. There was no need to download only a sample as the book was priced as free. After downloading the entire book I didn’t stop at reading a sample but read the entire work in one sitting. I was impressed.

There is a craving in humanity for a return to a oneness or wholeness that occurred at the beginning of the world. The wholeness was shattered when discord and competitiveness arrived after people were tempted by some dark force. Although there was an on-going struggle between good and evil throughout time, there was always a core of medicine men, priests, shaman, and witches who held knowledge that would bring people together. There was a thought of constructing a high tower to facilitate communication and bring tribes together. These people were hunted down and persecuted by those with dark motives.

The reader contributes his own interpretations to what is presented here and what relationships might exist between the reader’s beliefs and what is suggested here. I saw the story of the Garden of Eden, the Tower of Babel, and the persecution of enlightened people who seem to sporadically show up in history: the scientists, thinkers, outstanding religious figures, philosophers, and notable humanitarians. Allusions to several different religions are made throughout the novel: Buddhism, Christianity, Hindu, Islam, Tao, and various supreme beings venerated by the indigenous tribes of North America. The Aztecs and Maya also receive mention.

The novel reads almost like a Lonely Planet travel guide but with a lot more excitement due to some of the mystical characters that take part. It is right that the story should read like this. There is an irony in the way and to whom the story is told but I consider the revelation of that irony a spoiler.

According to a story told by a very old man of indeterminate age while sitting around a campfire, the story goes something like the following:

Two groups of people begin journeys of discovery in two different parts of the world. They may be doing this at the same time or maybe not. It doesn’t matter because they never meet. In each group, a leader will emerge and provide the eyes through which the reader will see many things on the physical journey. During dream states, the reader will be a fly on the wall and observe many events which will be interpreted later through character dialogue and introspection.

He-Ping begins his journey in southern China. Living in a monastery, he practices martial arts and looks forward to ever-increasing challenges to his advancement in martial arts. But threats from the Emperor make it clear that the monks must disperse and stay concealed as much as possible for a long period of time. As the Emperor’s threat grows ever nearer, He-Ping is directed to flee and become a center for new learning when the faith can become again visible. He-Ping travels for years; he goes to Mecca, he goes to Egypt. He is not a senior mentor, rather he learns from others wherever he goes.

In the Americas, Siminee is a baby when her family is massacred by conquerors seeking gold. A jaguar carried her away from the on-going massacre and delivered her to a neighboring village where she was raised. In her later teenage years, she went to another village where she met an elderly medicine man, Seneca. She disappeared again and showed up in a cave used by Seneca. She had a captive, the man who destroyed her village. Seneca convinced her not to kill the man by showing her the evil spirits that were in the knife she was carrying. Seneca was the spiritual adviser to Jiminee for the rest of the novel. His primary purpose was to pass on knowledge of what had to be done to establish a bridge between an idyllic world long passed and the present world with its imperfections. The ultimate idea is that the imperfect world would disappear. Seneca continued his role as an educator until his final disappearance.

Throughout the novel, the following observations are given in various forms by Seneca, He-Ping, and the narrator. The author’s words provide the best guide to understanding the central point of the work. His words should also spark reader interest (and download of the book).

“When the humans’ evolutionary path led them to become part of the Earth story, their beings were still in anya (at-one-ment) with the inherent goodness of humanity, and with the planetary being.” (p. 162)

“The world of harmony, they knew – and it was good. Yet what lies beyond that, in a world of no harmony, they did not know. As soon as the humans knew the answer to that question, they forgot the experience of harmony. Suddenly, it all changed.” (p.163)

“Within humanity, both dreams lived; the one that was committed to taking the path unknown, that led to moving away from harmony with the laws of the universe, that denies the basic goodness of humanity and the underlying oneness of all; the other, of a yearning to rediscover the oneness once experienced, moving towards a harmony now lost.” (p.164)

I recommend the book to people like myself who have avoided works in this genre for the most part. I will be more careful now to at least read samples before I judge a book. This is a well-written book that I will recommend to many of my friends.

Highly recommended YA novel for Adults

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson is a remarkable account about the coming of age of Henry Jerome Denton from his perspective as a much-persecuted 13-year-old. The reader will have to read most of the novel before discovering the complete name of this protagonist. Through most of the novel, he will be identified with the name “Space Boy,” a title he despises. This is not a whining, complaining account; it is delivered more from a position of resignation, hints of despair, and an acceptance of the inevitability that the world will end on 29 January 2016. Since that is a given, absolutely nothing that happens prior to that point has any meaning. The only possible alternative will occur if the aliens convince Space Boy to hit the Big Red Button. Without Henry’s agreement to do this, planet Earth will cease to exist

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A Short Story Surprise with Clever Wording

Bum Steer by Bones Monroe is a short story of only about 23 pages. I am not sure of an actual page count because I only have a location number to go by. The story is not listed on the Amazon page, at least as of the date of this review. I received the book by clicking on a link at the end of another Bones Monroe book so this one may not be available to all unless they travel the same route I did, that of reading another work by the same author. This is a 2016 publication according to the author copyright page.

There is no link or cover available for this short story.

This story looks like a serial murder case. Janelle has disappeared, but not for long. Her headless corpse was found near Mr. Barric’s home. All of a sudden the other ladies, friends of Janelle, Gertrude, Maude, and Amina, recall that there have been several disappearances recently. In each case, Mr. Barric had helped their friend move. And none of the girls heard from their relocated friends again.

This is a clever story; some might say cute. There is a surprise ending. After you get to the ending, read the story again for the small clues that reveal the problem. The re-read is more fun than the initial read because the reader knows things and can concentrate on the clever way Monroe tells the story. And the story is short, so you have time.

If this can be considered a horror story, it is the most SFW (as opposed to the ever popular NSFW) story in the history of horror stories.

I definitely recommend this for the YA crowd. It’s fun for big kids too.

Keep Your Friends Close and …

The Cabin by Amy Cross is a 171-page horror novel published in November 2015 and available from Amazon at the low price of USD 0.99 or free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. For Anna, it begins as a story of renewed friendship with Marit, a friend who has invited her to see the “real” Norway. Anna, along with Marit and her friends Jennifer, Joe, Daniel, and Christian will spend several days in a cabin that is remote from everything and everywhere else. Marit serves a valuable service as an interpreter for Anna. Anna has zero knowledge of English. Except for Marit, the others feel free to turn their English off and on depending on their moods. Marit, as Anna’s close friend, appears to accept her role as an interpreter as an obligation to her friend.

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All the Worlds Fit to Print

The Printer From Hell by Amy Cross is a 150-page story about (refer to the title). Published in June 2016, it was on sale for USD 0.99 from Amazon or it can be downloaded for even less with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. I chose to read this book because of the author. Amy Cross writes good stuff IF this is a category you like. Gore and violence abound. Since she has written more than 100 paranormal, horror, and fantasy novels, there must be a bunch of readers that share my interest.

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Audition for an Oscar

Oscar’s Night by Matt Shaw is a self-described extreme novella on the Amazon book page. People familiar with Matt Shaw’s writings will not be surprised by this; readers expect it. Looking at the cover, the very top line above the author’s name are the words “Horror’s Darkest Imagination.” The bottom line has the words “A Psychological Horror,” (there seems to be a word missing but that is quibbling). Somewhere close to the middle of the cover are the words “Some Scenes May Disturb.” I look at this as three warnings, especially the one with the word “disturb.” If some of the stuff in this 57-page extreme novella does not disturb, the reader may want to return his dictionary to a shop for a definition adjustment. There is outrageous material here. I have abandoned reads that have gone as far as this as completely useless in terms of entertainment or message.

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Not So Scary Stories

Short Scary Stories by Bruce Savage is a 98-page collection of short stories available for USD 0.99 from Amazon. I feel comfortable investing such a small amount for what could be an entertaining collection of short stories. I am looking for short reads to encourage others to develop an interest in reading. Now, on to see if my investment was justified.

A spoiler alert of the review, not of the short story: If you are a student in one of my classes, proceed to my last paragraph which is followed by a final sentence. See if you come up with the same conclusion I did as far as numbers.

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