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Lucinda Riley

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Contents 06    Interview with Lucinda Riley

16    Cave of silence - Kostas Krommydas

20    The Elves of Cintra - Terry Brooks

24    The puzzle - Polychronis Koutsakis

27    Myths of Otori - Lian Hearn:          Across the Nightingale Floor          Grass for His Pillow          Brilliance of the Moon

Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley

Margarita Katsipi Panagiota Goutzourela


a d n i Luc y e l i R

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A book review by Margarita Katsipi

The book of Kostas Krommydas Cave of Silence is the first of the author's books I have read this summer but certainly not the last one, since I am about to read everything he has published so far. The colored cover portrays a pair of hands holding a small black and white photograph of a man. Choosing this specific part of the body is not accidental and provides a lot of messages to the reader, ones he will fully understand only when he reaches the last pages of the story. The narration of this novel, with the extraordinary descriptions is being placed into this era and being compared with the one before the middle of the last century. It alternates between first and third-person especially when the chapters refer to events from the past years. There are secrets that parents stubbornly refuse to reveal to their children. Τhey are however released in several parts serving the plot and causing turbulence not only  in the life of the protagonist  but also in the society of an entire island that struggles to forget. A place inextricably linked to the choices made by the older relatives of the protagonists. Just before the elevator doors met, I caught the frightened look which had returned to her eyes. She realized I saw her and gave me a quick wave. A character that I believe stands out among them is the young man whose name you will allow me not to reveal. A man who did not hesitate to act as his conscience prompted for both his country and family. Accepting the consequences of his choices he was not afraid to deal with them in order to save his loved ones. A real hero, like so many others at that time, but unfortunately their names the younger generations may never heard of. I let out a frustrated sigh and started to walk towards the few house. Nearby, at the centre of a small square, a war memorial caught my eye. A pile of stones randomly placed around a small marble column, which read: IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIFES JUSTLY OR UNJUSTLY. 1940-1945

One of the most shocking scenes of this book is when the protagonist finally has the opportunity to discuss with the older woman from the village and eyewitness of the events. With these hands, with these very hands… I am sorry, my son.Forgive us. There was nothing else we could have done… Those moments are intense and the reader can’t help not being affected emotionally, especially when he is being informed that this story is based on real facts. The issues that are highlighted among others in this novel are love, betrayal and the cruelty of human nature, the size of which has always manage to surprise me. I was reeling from this encounter with the darkness that lurked in human nature, the barbarous way in which had been unleashed. Dimitri, a Greek actor, meets while filming Anita his co-star who is of Greek origin but she has grown up in Germany. Love between them is unavoidable but they are ignorant that they are part of a story that began many years ago. World War II has not yet started and a love between two people on an island in Greece in 1938 will bloom despite the adversities it'll face. The black clouds of the upcoming turmoil around them are thickening, forcing them to experience intense moments of love, heroism, self-sacrifice and also betrayal. How do these two couples connect through time? How much the lives of Anita and Dimitri will be affected when the bloody memories of those tragic decisions come back to present day? I will let you discover them all by yourself while reading this excellent book: Cave of Silence by Kostas Krommydas.

Book details: Title: The Elves of Cintra Series: Genesis of Shannara - Book 2 Author: Terry Brooks Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group Year of publication: 2008 Pages: 400 Format: Paperback

Pol (Polychronis) Koutsakis writes novels, plays and screenplays. He was born in 1974 in Chania, Greece. Since January 2016, Pol lives with his wife, daughter and son in Perth, Australia, right by the Indian Ocean. Before that, they lived in Chania, Greece and before that in Ontario, Canada, near Niagara Falls. ATHENIAN BLUES, Pol's first novel featuring the conscientious caretaker (i.e., hitman) Stratos Gazis was published by Bitter Lemon Press in 2017 in the UK, USA and Australia. The novel was also published in Greece, by Patakis Publishers. BABY BLUE, the second novel in the Stratos Gazis series, will be published in June 2018 in the UK and in July 2018 in the USA and Australia. Both novels take place in Athens, during the Greek Crisis. Pol won the National Award for best Young Adult novel in Greece in 2016 for his novel JUST ONE BREATH. The same novel won the best YA novel of the year award in the literary magazine's "The Reader" annual awards. JUST ONE BREATH is the second novel in the YA thriller "Trilogy of Crete". The first novel of the trilogy is A TIME FOR HEROEShand the third is WITH YOU GONE Pol has also won the National Playwriting Award in 2007 for his play The Rotation System. Other plays of his have been staged and won awards in New York and other cities in the United States, in the UK and in Greece. His novel WHEN HE WAS HAPPY was released in March 2013. It is based on his award-winning play of the same title. The novel focuses on the personal relationships, tragedies, betrayals and triumphs of  Eleftherios Venizelos (the most important Greek politician of the 20th century)  and how they influenced his political career and the modern history of Greece. His latest novel, TIME ACROBATS, has just been published in Greece in May 2018.

The puzzle

And someday a beautiful text without a trace of truth will be written, which may offer the solution to the enigma.                                         Tassos Leivaditis, “The blind man with the lamp” I make a puzzle from time to time my own invention original challenging I collect dilemmas, past and present my own and from those close to me break them in two one piece for every possible decision then shuffle them in every combination even dead ends – them I attend with the utmost careand wait in suspense for every finished picture even though I am quite aware that once again I will reach at least one imaginary conclusion much better than the truth and be left with my frustration. But I still persist in need of entertainment I’ve always loved doing puzzles, anyway since I was a kid.

Hopeful secret And when the congregation sang “Hosanna in the Highest” I turned around, in the courtyard and saw seated next to me the sad invisible man grimacing, mouth weirdly contorted entertaining himself with pain he didn’t know I was watching “What are you doing here?” I said startled he jerked towards me his transparent eyes shining as he stared he sobbed ecstatically hugged me with unseen arms slowly materializing again “I return here every year in the hope that someone might see me only a madman and you have managed” he laughed with his new old mouth “the less faith you have the easier it is to believe” I said but he didn’t hear me he was already dancing into the distance.

Book reviews: Anastasia Neraidoni & Νektaria G. Poultsidi

Across the Nightingale Floor - Lian Hearn Never have I been keen on Edo Japan and Samurai culture, yet this book bedazzled me from the first paragraphs. The Myths of Otori is a five-book series set in feudal Japan best-selling worldwide. The first book “Across the nightingale floor” circulated in 2002 and was  translated into Greek in 2003. Our story begins with an attack on the small reclusive village of Mino where a minority of peaceful people, the Hidden, live peacefully and away from the political events and power games conducted by each feud. The boy who tells the story, Tomasau has been brought up in this remote mountain among the Hidden, who have taught him only the ways of peace. The warlord Iida Shadamu is determined to destroy this heretic minority who believe that there are no clans and all people are the same in the face of God.  So when his soldiers pillage it and kill all the inhabitants only Tomasau managed to escape the tragedy rescued  by the mysterious Lord Otori Shigeru. How was it possible for the world to be so beautiful and so cruel at the same time?  Otori Shigeru adopts the boy and gives him the name Takeo because he reminds him of his younger brother Takeshi who died by the hand of his arch enemy Iida Shadamu. Under the tutelage of Shigeru  who is a Shogun  style samurai , Taeko  learns writing, reading, painting, calligraphy and he is also trained in the use of weaponry. He also finds out that magical powers of the Tribe run in his blood. These powers allow him to go invisible and create an illusionary double of himself . . . but only for short periods. He also has an uncanny hearing ability where he can walk into a house and exactly determine how many people are within. One night these abilities enable him to save his saviour’s life when a tremendous assassin of the Tribe tries to murder Lord Shigeru.

Thanks to Takeo the assassination was avoided and after that he pledges his forever loyalty to Otori Shigeru. An old friend of Shigeru, Muto Kenzi master of the Tribe, teaches Takeo to expand his powers. While training, he realizes their true purpose: death and assassination. Takeo embarks on a journey that will lead him across the famed nightingale floor—and to his own unimaginable destiny... But just as the river is always at the door, so is the world always outside. And it is in the world that we have to live. Forced to reconcile his nature while also trying to protect his adoptive father from the political intrigues, Takeo has a few more burdens thrust upon him, one of which is first love, Kaede. Kaede Shirakawa, is the political prisoner of another powerful clan where she must suffer insults and pray that prosperity is returned to her family, who were on the losing side of a war. Now she is to be married off to the Otori Lord as a political pawn. But it's all a setup, for Iida Shadamu plans to murder Otori Shigeru while he is in his territory Inuyama, as well of course and several of his supporters, including an old female flame, Lady Maruyama. The Tribe, of whom Takeo is descended, also step in to claim back their heritage. Throughout this interwoven plot are a collection of smaller stories and side characters, which all coincide with the larger picture. Lian Hearn creates a fascinating atmosphere with her vivid descriptions of landscapes, cities and people. Will Takeo succeed to cross the dangerous nightingale floor of Iida Shadamu and stop him before he ends the life of his adoptive father? Or will the Tribe abduct him and lead him to the destiny that they decided for him? A destiny without his love, Kaede?

Grass for His Pillow - Lian Hearn ‘’Grass for His Pillow’’ is the sequel to the international best seller “Across the Nightingale floor’’, the second book of Tales of the Otori. We return to the medieval Japan of Lian Hearn's creation—a land of harsh beauty and deceptive appearances. In a complex social hierarchy, amid dissembling clans and fractured allegiances, is there a place for passionate young love? I was so disturbed by the decision that Takeo makes in this book. Takeo possess superhuman gifts such as the ability to become invisible, project a double image of himself and hear distant conversations as we saw in the first book. Skills that only the Tribe has which is a secret organization of spies and assasins or should we say an enforced occupation that his father sacrificed his own life to escape? The deer that weds The autumn bush clover They say Sires a single fawn And this fawn of mine This lone boy Sets off on a journey Grass for his pillow Takeo is bound to the Tribe by his oath and although he is given the chance to marry Kaede, he feels obligated to follow the Tribe. (What??? man are you insane? These were my first thoughts, but hey, there would be no story without these obstacles). Meanwhile, Takeo’s beloved Shirakawa Kaede, heir to the Murayama and alone in the world, must find a way to unify the domain she has inherited, as she fights off the advances of would-be suitors and hopes against fading hope, that Takeo will return to her... Death comes suddenly and life is fragile and brief. No one can alter this either by prayers or spells.

The Tribe both admire and loathe Takeo for his powerful abilities and lack of discipline. As they force him into the rigorous and brutal training program of ninjutsu, Takeo slips further and further into despair. His only support is the beautiful (and quite flexible) daughter of his teacher Muto Kenzi. Her name is Yuki and he develops a sexual relationship with her although his heart is given wholly to Kaede. Who is now pregnant with Takeo’s child and arrives at her homeland Shirakawa only to find destroyed lands by war and famine and a maddened father. Ofcourse we can add to this love triangle ,  Accio, a rival of Takeo who claims the heart of Yuki. But Yuki has eyes only for Takeo and Takeo only loves Kaede. What a mess! Right? The text is highly descriptive and weaves a haunting image of the Three Countries. There is nothing in this story that is not simply stunning. Hearn catches fresh details of trees, birds, rivers and mountains. Scents and tastes transports us also into this world. With quick, direct sentences like brushstrokes on a Japanese scroll, she suggests vast and mysterious landscapes full of both menace and wonder. However, the book contains some brutal scenes blunted in the edges by its poetic language. Events that we cannot even begin to understand in real life, such as a father trying to rape his own daughter. So bear that in mind in case you suggest it to younger teens. Takeo and Kaede are growing up in this novel while trying to overcome treacherous, shifting clan alliances. Will Kaede manage to turn her back on tradition and remain unwed while controlling her lands? Will Takeo escape the horrendous Tribe’s treatment and return to his rightful place as an Otori Lord?

Brilliance of the Moon - Lian Hearn

Brilliance of the Moon is the final part of “Tales of the Otori” and tends to be the most exciting. At the conclusion of Grass For His Pillow, Otori Takeo and Kaede Shirakawa have married but without her Overlord’s permission Arai Daichi who is outraged by this decision.  Takeo must now assist Kaede in reclaiming her lands of Maruyama while balancing his own need to avenge the deaths of his blood father and his adoptive father, Lord Shigeru.  Takeo is further burdened by the tribe, Kikuta, who have claimed him as their own. Takeo is the son of the Kikuta's most infamous assassin, who was murdered after attempting to leave the family tradition and one of the Hidden. ..while I was happy enough to pray to any god, knowing that they were simply different faces created by men, of one indivisible truth.  Αs the Tribe sends him to a quest that will certainly lead to his death, he finally decides to escape from them. He meets an outcast, Ho Ann who calls him “the angel of Yamagata” as Takeo helped his brother in the past. But this outcast behaves more like an angel to Takeo himself as he helps him cross the snowy mountain and ask refuge at the temple of Terrayama. Takeo couldn’t have managed to remain alive if the outcast wouldn’t appear.

In this journey inside the mountain, Takeo meets a holly woman who gives him the following prophecy: Three bloods are mixed in you. You were born into the Hidden, but your life has been brought into the open and is no longer your own. Earth will deliver what heaven desires. Your lands will stretch from sea to sea, but peace comes at the price of bloodshed. Five battles will buy you peace, four to win and one to loose. Many must die, but you yourself are safe from death, except at the hands of your own son.

The prophecy weighs heavily on Takeo and he finds himself falling into despair at the bloodshed his revenge is causing. It takes a very special man to inspire other to their deaths. Those who die by Jato, his sword, and those he could not protect haunt him. Takeo must find a way to seek revenge without the loss of his soul or his love, Kaede. And of course this girl-rebel makes one rush and stupid decision after another. While Takeo is away to make to plan his strategy with the pirates, Kaede decides to visit her homeland Shirakawa by herself. The nobleman Fujiwara, who's determined to possess her, waits there like a creepy snake, ready to attack. Kaede will soon discover in the most bitter way that although she considers herself an independent woman, she is no match to a man when it comes to battle. Lady Maruyama had warned her “if the men see you riding a horse like a fighter, they will crash you. You have to appear as a powerless lady”. Well Kaede didn’t listened and now she is held captive at the house of Fujiwara who along with Lord Arai annul her marriage to Takeo. She entered a state where prayer and poetry became one and the everyday world seemed full of holiness and significance. The circumstances surrounding her being married off to Fujiwara felt so shoking that I found myself enraged by her naivety. Taeko and Kaede are great protagonists in their own right. They both raise issues in society still relevant today – gender, religion, class. It is done in a way that doesn’t feel preachy and it develops with each book. Ι was also enthralled by Hearn’s tendency to show that humans are nothing compared to the great forces of nature. Takeo is defended in one of his battles not by Arai but by a hurricane and Kaede’s destiny is sealed not by powerful men but by a tremendous earthquake. The story itself is not simply a story of familial revenge. Takeo cannot just kill those who have killed his family. Their deaths are a result of betrayals that run much deeper. That betrayal never ends and is like a weed. You can cut the head off, but the roots run very deep. Will Takeo be ruthless in order to seek the vengeance his soul cries out for?  



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