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Blends history and fantasy with solid realism and clever plot

  • Jul 25, 2013
Rating:
+3
The freedman was once a slave, and the Klan would like to get back to those comfortable days if only they could get the law and Reconstruction off their backs. Set in Louisiana just after the America Civil War, Lane Heymont’s The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff recreates the cruelty and violence of the Klan very convincingly, while maintaining a pleasing balance of characters who really can and do change. Whites who once fought against blacks might risk their lives to protect them. And blacks who want to seize control and save the world might find they have to cede control instead.

But this isn’t just another historical novel of the South. While carefully researched and leisurely told with Southern cadence and well-rendered (though sometimes hard to read) Creole dialect, it also includes elements of a much more far-reaching tale in a larger world. With great power comes great responsibility, said Voltaire (and others), and when Jeb’s seemingly irresponsible brother-in-law steals the promise of power, a mix of dreams, guilt and Voodoo might determine who gets to wield it most responsibly.

Blending the histories of Egypt, America and Europe in a story that covers ancient history, Nazi searches for ancient artifacts, time travel and the Civil War, might seem like too much for one book. But the author does it well, keeps the story consistently on track, and creates a surprisingly enthralling adventure novel with great characters, great moments, and great lessons in responsibility. Internal dialog betrays moods swinging as fast as the stink of city streets when the story travels to a scary New York denouement. Then a German antagonist’s weapons lends a steam-punk aura of fantasy and excitement. In all, it’s an intriguing, insightful novel with much food for thought, well-integrated historical detail, and a clever plot. My only criticisms would be that the cover made me think of a serious text book and the title made me think of un-serious fantasy, neither of which describes the book. (Oh, and the ungrammatical German frustrated me, but hey, I’m European.)

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this novel and asked for a review as part of the author’s publicity tour.

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About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth ()
Ranked #42
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
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"...An absorbing 19th-century narrative [that] serves up voodoo, abolition, racism, and redemption. Heymont's strong use of imagery draws the reader into every scene."- Joan Paris, Turley Publications

"With clever, well written phrases, the author renders this tale larger than life...there are heart rending, stomach churning, and anger evoking moments which make the story feel very real." - Online Book Club

"The Freedman and the Pharaoh's Staff  by Lane Heymont is an intriguing blend of historical fiction, the occult, and action drama. At times, it reads almost like science fiction ... the climax is intense ... the characters are diverse and the action will keep you engrossed."Grady Jones, San Francisco Book Review 
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