Publication Date: February 19, 2015
Formats: Kindle eBook, Paperback ISBN-13: 978-0692391662 Pages: 279
Genre: Historical Fiction
Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant explores the quirky side of historical fiction. The novel takes you on wild ride through the early 13th century with a female alchemist, orphan teenager and a 600-year-old, shrunken eggplant that can speak to whomever wears it. In search of the fabled Lost Stone of Eden, they cross Europe and the Mediterranean with the Children’s Crusade, hijack a caravan in the Sahara desert, live with hashish-fueled Assassins in the mountains of Persia and rediscover paradise on the island of Bahrain.
EXCERPTAaron and the girls slept for a few hours during the hottest part of the day, then rode through the evening and the entire night, taking only a few breaks to rest the camels. They didn’t catch up to any slow-moving caravans, come upon an oasis or see fires in the night. Everything around them seemed the same, day after day. Same mirrored sky. Same scorching sun. Same sound of camel farting and plodding. Same sad, ivory scent of emptiness. “Are we dead?” asked Donatelle as they shared the last of the water. They were sitting atop a tall dune and could see nothing but more dunes in every direction. “Do you feel dead?” Aaron had to ask, knowing that in the middle of this terminal landscape, it was a good question. “I can’t tell because I don’t know what it’s like to be dead, but it might be like this. Just nothing,” Donatelle shrugged. “Death is much different—and much luckier,” guessed the eggplant. Aaron hoped the eggplant was right, but he chose a different answer for Donatelle. “Whenever I’m not sure, I listen for my heartbeat. The pounding inside me says I’m alive in this world and even though we’re in a dead place, we’ll survive. We’ll find something soon, or something will find us.” Something took the form of a humming dark cloud on the horizon. They watched as it grew darker, stretched across the dunes and started to roar like steady, rolling thunder.
Beginning in 13th century Europe, alcehemist Layla has spent ten years in an English castle studying, waiting for news of the Lost Stone, created from a falling star inthe Garden of Eden. Whoever possesses it will have immortality. She is preparing for travel to Egypt after St. Walpurga's eve.
When orphaned Aaron knocks on the castle door, then disappears, fortune smiles on Layla, drawing her away from the castle as the assasains strike. Layla weara a petrified eggplant on a chain around her neck. She is the only one who hears its sarcastic and opinionated comments.
Layla introduces Aaron to the magic of soap and the alphabet as she listens to his tails of cunning and survival. She considers keeping him around as an apprentice. Layla's stories educate Aaron and entertain the reader. Her tavel plans postponed for nearly a year.
I have to add, for any of you Big Bang tv fans, there is a note ain the book about a homunculis.It is not quite Leonard's version.
With Layla away in London, then delayed far past her expected return, Aaron packs up the essentials and decides to go in search of her. This is where the wild adventures begin.eventually a time arose where Layla and Aaron decide to go their separate ways, at least for a while. Layla is still in search of the Lost Stone bbut Aaron finds himself searching for something equally as valuable to him. Layla gives him the eggplant to watch over him. Remember, he still is not aware it talks.
It is many years, adventures and odd characters before they would be reunited, although with a tragedy for the eggplant. Fear not I would not give away the ending.
This is an epic comic-tragedy destined to become a classic.
I did recieve this book from the author as part of this blog tour.
The review and opinions expressed are 100% my own.
PRAISE"Good stories rise and fall like empires in the endless pursuit of happiness, like armies of lovers marching to paradise - good stories change the world." So begins Part One of Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant. This book is such a good read. I read it on the plane to Hawaii, and it soared with me through the sky. My wife kept asking what was so funny as I giggled and laughed in my seat. This story changed me, in that flying is such a drag these days, and this book kept coming up with surprises, weaving together stories of gods, goddesses, orphans and assassins, the pursuit of the unattainable, and existential conundrums. I have had the opportunity to read some of Mr. Gillett's poetry (especially "This is My Last Poem" - I hope this is not his last novel), and in this novel, he brings his poetic ability to sublimely transport the reader to new views of the mundane, new opportunities for transformation, and new ways of understanding my own self. What more could I ask for in a book. Steal this book if you need to, but get it and read it with joy." - Paul Rerucha, Amazon Reviewer "
I don't read a ton of books for pleasure but I did read this one on the recommendation of a friend. It kept me captivated and I ended up finishing it in 2.5 days. This is the kind of book that makes me want to read more often." - B. H., Amazon Reviewer