Thursday, February 27, 2020

A Step Back in Time: A. G. Rivett's "The Seaborne"


Title: The Seaborne
Author: A.G. Rivett
Published: November 2019
Publisher: Wordcatcher Publishing

Goodreads Blurb:
Seaborne. The word echoes in Dermot's mind. Washed up from who knows where, with no people to belong to, no clan to speak for him: a man alone in the world. If this man lives, what will he turn out to be? What might he bring among the Islanders? 
John had not dreamed that anywhere in the North Atlantic could be this remote. There must be someone, if not here, then not far away, who even if they didn't speak English would at least recognise it. John Finlay, engineer, is running away from his failed business, his failed relationship and his debts. He runs away to sea. 
Dermot, pulling a body, barely alive, from the water, has never seen anyone so strangely dressed. His Celtic island knows nothing of debt or of engineering. And John, waking among a people who cannot understand his language, struggles to accept that he has been carried across time and into another world. From this starting point, tensions build between cultures and outlooks, and focus on Shinane, the blacksmith's daughter, who is looking for something beyond. John and Dermot find themselves stretched to their limits. It is a matter of survival, or transformation. 
Choice is key - and not only for John, Dermot and Shinane: the whole community finds itself caught up in conflict over The Seaborne

My Thoughts:
The idea of this story - accidentally traveling back in time, didn't really appeal to me. I love Doctor Who, and well-done time travel scripts, but I find that too often bad writing ruins the adventure. That is not the case with this book. This book is beautiful. Rivett's way with imagery is fantastical. You, the reader, feel as if you were born on the island along side Shinane and Dermot, and yet, you are also alien to its customs and practices much like John. The writing style in this book reads almost like poetry, the mountains and pools call to you like water burbling over stones. I found myself sad when I had to leave the island at the end of the book, because I enjoyed the peace and strength that it lent me. 

It is that same peace and strength that John/Dhion finds on the island which is so enticing to him. Yes, our world is easier, more technologically advanced, and travel is much quicker, but do we take time to celebrate the sky on a winter's night? Or feel so connected to our land that we would never think of leaving it? There is not an overabundance of stillness in our modern world unless we make it. John is not someone who took the time to make stillness. His whole world was absorbed by his career, so much so, that when it began to crumble he ran away instead of facing his problems and adapting to his new life. John's landing on the island represents a new life for him. His own life had become so hectic and cold that he needed to start fresh in order to become his true self: Dhion.

Some of the themes that I really loved while reading this story were: 1) No era or age is better than another, 2) People make life worth living, and 3) You must make your own stillness.

So first, no era or age is better than another. The first things John really notices about this new world he has landed in, is how difficult everything is. The technological advances that this people have made are small compared to his modern world. When there is sickness, people die, children and adults alike. Surviving takes all your energy, this is no time for recreation. And yet, these people are happy. They enjoy the closeness they feel with their community, and the lack of distractions and conflict that higher technology might bring. While our world has modern medicine, and machines that make life so much easier, we tend to be less attached to people around us, failing to make meaningful connections.

Second, People make life worth living. I feel that I've already touched on this, but I would like to reemphasize this point. Dhion's soul was dying inside of him because of his inability to love well enough. Do you want your soul to die inside of you? Do you? Would you rather live as a shell encased in technology, than take the time to love? I think that in the world, and especially in the United States (I'm from Oregon) we tend to make our jobs our entire life. We work so often and for so long, that once we retire some people don't know who they are. They realize that their work was so encompassing in their life that they made no hobbies, or had no time for friends. That is no way to live.

Which brings us to number three, you must make your own stillness. The world isn't gonna give you a break to take a walk and look at the blossoms. Industry isn't going to pause so that you can appreciate the beauty of the world around you. You must actively stop and live outside your career. The Head and The Heart have a song about this called "Let's Be Still" go give it a listen.

This book is fantastic. Truly a beautiful historical fiction work of art. I don't know if you've read any of Stephen Lawhead's books, but this is on par with them, and better than any Philippa Gregory. I would definitely recommend this book to any fans of ancient Britain, or historical fiction.

Rating: 4/5 trees !!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

2020 Book Fairs Worldwide

Happy 2020, readers! We hope you've already devoured many delicious books.

But in case your appetite still needs satiating, here's a list of 2020 book fairs happening all over the world, put together by Kotobee just for you.

The list is nearly endless, but luckily you can filter by continent to find book fairs happening near you.

We're nose deep in books right now, but watch out for some more reviews headed your way soon!

Happy reading,
Erin & Anna