Stephen D. Lalonde

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                 Jeff Wahlquist

Judge, 29th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

Maura Wang

Colleen Daley

Kristi Stalder

Cindy Swank

David Woodworth

Jody Davis

Diana Legun

I wanted you to know I really enjoyed it (SINON OF KIRRA). Finished it in one sitting. I learned a lot about that part of the world and re-learned some mythology. I especially liked the character development. Dialogue was also very good. Lots of research in this book too. The book keeps moving – you never get bored. On to the next one (MENTU THE NUBIAN)

Sinon of Kirra combines fascinating history with vivid descriptions of everyday experience that places the reader squarely in the times, spaces, and places of the novel. Lalonde does a masterful job of giving instruction about current culture through a historical novel. For instance, when Sinon and Mentu encounter Glaukias aboard the merchant ship bound for Lesbos by way of Mytilini, (133-136) we receive a lesson on racism. This passage holds up a mirror to present day America. For example, when the captain describes Glaukias’s character to Sinon, he might well have been describing many older, white American men: ‘“Glaukias is a man of old values and traditions. He is a good sailor, but very opinionated and at times a bit of a trouble maker”’ (135).

Sinon of Kirra is a fun and interesting coming of age story. Even though it is a work of fiction, I loved all the historically correct details that were included to make the story come alive. I feel like I know much more about everyday living in ancient Greece after reading this. I also enjoyed the retelling of some classic Greek myths throughout the main story. Some surprising plot points toward the end of this novel have me excited to see what happens in the sequel, Mentu, the Nubian!

I just
wanted to let you know that I loved Sinon of Kirra and can't wait to read your new book!  Great job!!!

"Lalonde's prose is bright and fluid, his storytelling clear and cogent. Sinon of Kirra ably captures the essence of ancient Greece that transports the reader into the era and takes them on a journey of self-discovery. I recommend this book to readers who are enchanted by Greek mythology and wonderful characters." —Kristi Stalder, author of Navigating Assisted Living: The Transition into Senior Living

With Sinon of Kirra I want to tell just how much I enjoyed reading it. You made me feel like I was walking his Life Journey with him with all the sites and smells of the time. As I read I became more captivated and could not wait to read it to see what adventure came next.  Thank you and am anxiously awaiting for the sequel!

Sinon of Kirra is a lovely tale of a teenage boy in ancient Greece who, along with his trusted servant undertakes a journey. It’s a coming of age story encompassing adventure, friendship, survival, loyalty and so many other aspects of life. And Stephen does a fantastic job of making it real. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait for his next adventure.

Just finished your book. . .it was so good! the story just kept having new twists and turns. . .I love historical novels because you can feel what it would have felt like to live in that time. . .thanks for education along with the entertainment.. . . think my husband, Aaron, is gonna start it soon. . .you are a GOOD writer, can't wait for the next one. . .Mentu The Nubian. . .

Stephen Lalonde has written intrigue and texture, peril, hardship and humor into this story of an adventure that two young men embark upon in a time and place of unfamiliarity to modern mankind. The clothes, food, creature habits and modes of transportation bring an ancient past to life with a glossary for terms and maps for navigating the travels of  Sinon and Mentu from the village of Kirra, as they experience a journey seeking a specific something of great importance. Pitfalls on the open sea, wary encounters with threatening strangers, ports of entry to towns of long ago and the rustic ways of life among people of the year 612 BC are told with vivid detail as the two main characters grow towards realizing where they belong.

Sinon of Kirra is a journey into a colorful world, one of sights, sounds, smells and creatures mystical and fierce.  The setting is brought to life in an era of goat cheese, dried fish, figs, grapes, olives, and hardtack, of ledgendary ship trade, of other worlds, languages and islands.  The characters’ well-defined personalities travel through the story to ports of entry and clusters of huts and taverns.  

Stories within the story are woven into a tapestry made up of myths and the depiction of life in Greece.  Maps of the travel lands appear throughout the book, and a glossary of terms is provided for defining words used for clothing, artifacts and mythical entities. 

Part adventure, part history, part romance, the heft of the tale is companionship, family and human bonding.  There is plenty of dialog bringing personality to the characters.  I always enjoy listening to the voices of the people in a well-told story.

One particular scene in the marketplace is written in detail that brings smells of cooking, the sound of goats bleating and voices of street vendors.  In this book there are villages, harbors, sailors flirting with women, ship crewmen listening to their captain tell stories as the oil lamps flicker on deck above the dark quiet sea.  Another scene vividly gives the shock of cold briney sea water, “boiling passages,” of huge waves leading to the Black Sea, “Tremendous explosive splashes split the air as several large boulders broke free from the cliff walls of the Bosporus.”

The atmosphere changes from snapping sails that unfurl to catch the easterly breeze, to smoking wood fires of the village huts and Inns;  then it slips into the brandishing moonlight on glassy water and the passing of time. “The next morning, the chariot of the sun peeked down from the eastern horizon to see the Amphitrite well under way several miles from the place they spent the night. — As night swallowed the last light of the day, Aristomachos commanded, “Eurystheus, light the lamps.”

Intricate details give flavored chewiness to the story:  “We could be in rough seas when we cross from Andros to Chios.  You might see if you can get some wormwood or even white hellebore from a shop at Andros.  There is much vegetation on that island.  Mix that with some wine and it should keep you from getting seasick.” 

Descriptive settings portray the place and time:  “The walls and floor appeared to be marble and there was a tile mosaic of a woman reclining on a couch worked into one wall.”

I feel the scratchiness of grass while Sinon and Mentu are laying on the ground, trying not to be seen.  “On the fourth day they were hiking through a small forest.  A thick carpet of tall grass covered the ground under the trees. —They left their packs at the base of one of the biggest trees near the crest of the hill and crawled forward slowly, being sure to make no noise or to move anything that might raise suspicion. The ground was very dry and little puffs of dust came with each movement.  The dead grass poked their hands and legs as they slowly inched forward.”

We meet bards singing in taverns, scruffy beggars, sailors, pirates, and shipwrecks.

In these days of cell phones, internet, speeding cars, instant everything and a dwindling of connection to nature, to animals and rugged outdoor challenges or primitive oil lamp light, fire cooking, wine flasks, donkey carts, travel by sailing ships, it was for me a good detour from this contemporary place.  It was an enjoyable land and sea trip to take with these characters.