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Tariel's Way by Michael B. Millard

Friday, December 23, 2011
An unusual narrative of epic dimensions, Tariel’s Way is set against a sprawling canvas of ancient countries and cultures. It is the story of Tariel, a young man living in the Bronze Age, whose world changes when a wolf bites him during an initiation ceremony. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he goes on a quest to discover himself, the gods, and the true nature of life itself. Along the way he becomes a prisoner, a pirate, and he gets shipwrecked on a beach. The people he encounters are as extraordinary as his adventures, including a Hittite priest and a mysterious girl who offers hope of redemption. But it isn’t until he encounters a tiny Tibetan woman that he is finally able to put the pieces together and understand the true meaning of his remarkable journey. One of the author’s achievements is to have chosen an ambitious premise -- a spiritual quest, or a search for the self -- as the motivating factor for its chief protagonist and having done full justice to it, keeping all the exciting elements intact without eroding the profundity of his message. Though meticulously researched and uncannily accurate in its details, the story is never weighed down by its author’s erudition. For Mr. Millard is a supremely gifted storyteller who knows how to pace his plot, with its many enthralling twists and turns, its suspenseful episodes, and its poignant moments. He breathes life into his characters, even when they are cameos -- we feel we know them or have met them somewhere. The fact that they belong to a bygone era does not distance us from them. Painstaking though it is in its details, the plot never gets bogged down in a plethora of information. Every factual input is in its rightful place, illuminating, enhancing, and relevant. More commendable still is the fact that the message is conveyed to us in a myriad ways through the understanding of different characters, be they sages, gods, kings, or ordinary men, and women, without ever sounding ponderous, pedantic, or uninteresting. This is a serious work of literature. Yet the journey it takes us on is exhilarating, with all the elements of a successful work can offer: a forbidden love affair, hand-to-hand combat, pirate attacks, war, natural disasters, and life and death situations. It is hard to imagine that a spiritual quest or a search for the self could be as gripping. The prose style is lucid in its simplicity, yet lends itself to lyrical descriptions. The dialogues are spontaneous and perfectly in keeping with the temperament of the characters. Descriptive passages, characterization, dialogue, and the subtlety with which he conveys his message (or Tariel’s message) constitute the author’s trump card most endearing portraits are those of Lakshmi, the wonder child who seems almost other worldly in her wisdom, but never loses her childlike appeal, and Nala, Tariel’s friend who retains a certain innocence despite his high station in life and all he has been through. Dang-ra, the old woman from the mountains of Tibet, needs a special mention, because she is a masterpiece of characterization, not just for the fortitude she demonstrates in the face of much suffering, but also for her unassuming wisdom and sense of humor. While Tariel’s strengths evoke our admiration, it is his flaws that make him endearingly human. His hubris and self-importance, his subsequent downfall, and the lessons he learns from it are situations we can recognize and empathize with. His stint with the pirates, where he actually cheers when a man is fed to the shark, is offset by the nightmares that haunt him, with the ghosts of the past dogging his footsteps wherever he goes. They are an imaginative and compelling way of manifesting the voice of conscience without succumbing to the easy temptation of moralizing. And the farther he progresses on his voyage of self-discovery, the more we accept him as a fellow human being, whose fortunes and misfortunes become our own.

Goodreads Summary

This book may be different from a readers' typical genres, but it is definitely worth a second look.  Tariel is a young man who decides to discover the meaning of life-more specifically his.  To discover the meaning of one's life understandably takes a long journey and meeting plenty of intriguing and different characters that will alter one's life and character in small ways.  Tariel is the readers' guide on his incredible journey. 

As a character, the reader will likely enjoy Tariel.  He is easy to relate to in his desire to find his purpose and meaning in life and he has a good, brave, honest character.  So much happens to him on his lengthy journey, yet he remains resilient and determined to persevere.  The reader will have a hard time putting the book down as he/she will want to find out what happens to Tariel next.  Over the course of the book, Tariel is captured, shipwrecked, meets a Tibetan woman, faces a possible love, etc...

This book will hold the readers' attention throughout the entire book.  The events are fast-paced for the most part, exhilarating particularly around the portion with the shipwrecking and pirates.  A book containing mystery, adventure, intrigue, tinges of romance, and drama, this book is recommended to adult readers.

4 Stars

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This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.