Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review: The Jericho River by David W. Tollen

History isn't names and dates -- it's an adventure story.

And so is The Jericho River. Both a fantasy novel and a history of Western Civilization, it's won multiple awards, including first place at the London Book Festival and the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

The Jericho River flows through a magical world shaped by myth and history. Young Jason Gallo sails the river on a dangerous quest to rescue his estranged father. He battles minotaurs and pirates, flees barbarians, stumbles into mummies' tombs, and outwits fairies, philosophers, and scientists. Along the way, he finds love and betrayal, faces the legacy of a broken family -- and flees a hidden foe who threatens all he holds dear.

But Jason's tale is more than an adventure story. The river flows like a timeline, carrying the young man through historic lands -- Sumer, Babylonia, ancient Greece, Medieval Europe, Napoleon' empire, and many others -- tracing the history of Western Civilization, from its Middle Eastern origins to the modern era. Professor Gallo, Jason's father, is a historian, and his notes outline the journey, revealing the truth about Cleopatra, King Arthur, and the fall of the Roman Empire. He explains how Snow White began as a goddess and why Eve was created from Adam's rib, as well as the origins of coffee, the cat, chivalry, the Internet, Atlantis -- and much more.

Received for review

I wanted to like this more than I actually did.  The idea was great - history as an adventure story - but the presentation was severely lacking.

The narrative was so dry I found myself nodding off at several points.  It was truly a struggle to remain long enough to actually complete a chapter.  It was so boring I may as well have just read an actual textbook.  I learned a grand total of nothing from the book but consumed enough caffeine while reading it to rival a medical resident.

Overall, this was a giant waste of time and energy.  If you really want to learn more about the time I would seriously recommend just reading a textbook.  I'm pretty sure any textbook on the subject would be infinitely more entertaining than this somnolent volume.  Needless to say, I really cannot recommend this at all unless you are looking for a cure for your insomnia.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay


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