A wonderfully bitter-sweet and poignant tale, Beyond the Pyrene is the second and concluding part of the Chronicles of Talakhonsu.
Beginning directly where the first book Beyond the Black Earth leaves off, Beyond the Pyrene see’s Talak the former Egyptian slave boy now grown into manhood as he sails the Great Middle Sea aboard a Greek trading vessel as it plies its way between the different Mediterranean islands taking abundance from one to sell as a luxury on another.
But chance or the will of the gods soon disrupts Talak’s new life and sees him travel even further beyond the boundaries of his known world into Gaul and beyond.
As in the first book in this series the author spins a compelling and enjoyable tale of the young Ethiopian’s travels and adventures, but as the story continues and the lead character experiences even more losses in his young life the mood of the story changes ever so subtly from a tale of excitement and adventure amongst strange places and people, into an altogether more bitter sweet and rounded tale of life and loss, of new experiences amongst new cultures, and an increasingly palpable yearning for home, and the people which he has been forced to leave behind.
I really enjoyed how the mood of this book develops in pace with the growth and maturity of the lead character, and how this is contrasted with parallel growth of the second major character in this series the narrator.
This poignancy within the story is a quality which adds a depth and enjoyment to the tale, and something that is all too rare in a lot of modern fiction, but which is perhaps more reminiscent of Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, or perhaps even E. R. Eddison’s ‘The Worm Ouroboros’.
The Chronicles of Talakhonsu books 1 and 2 are a great read, and will appeal to anyone who likes to get invested in the trials and tribulations of the characters they read about, of times gone by and adventure in distant, exotic and often dangerous lands. But more importantly these books will appeal to anyone who likes their characters to be well rounded three dimensional and credible in their actions.
It’s a gripping tale from start to finish, but more importantly Beyond the Pyrene is wonderful sequel and climax to the story of Talakhonsu.
I had been intending to post my review of D.B.C Pierre’s Release the Bats this week, but decided to swap that one for this when I realised Beyond the Pyrene had just been released.
I am intending to post my review of Release the bats between Christmas and new year when I next get to take a few days off.