Stephen D. Lalonde

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SINON OF KIRRA Reviews

Jody Davis







Diana Legun

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 Amphritite well under way several miles from the place they spent the night. — As night swallowed the last light of the day, Aristamachos 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.