Eleven Arrows

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
252 Pages
Reviewed on 06/04/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Tom Gauthier for Readers' Favorite

An ancient manuscript has survived the destruction of the Library of Alexandria. A manuscript is kept hidden by the family of a renowned Egyptologist, Babu, who is the seventh generation to guard the survivors of the Library. The year is AD 1850 and an English Egyptologist, Fred Baker, working on new archeological digs in Egypt, is invited to read the translations of the sixty-scroll original story. A story that dates to 2300 BC and, if authentic, will rewrite the beliefs of modern history. The story reveals a world of separate peoples who are aware of each other and trade among themselves. It is a peaceful world until the Akkadian king seeks total power and begins to destroy these people. Written in the first person, we follow the life of a young man, Kar, as he faces the terrible loss of his family and all he’s ever known. He comes under the tutelage of an elder, Salarn, and comes of age as the apparent sole survivor of the group called the Guardians. The Guardians presage a model of the Knights Templar, protectors of innocent traders plying their trade among the villages. The story unfolds as Baker reads the ancient Greek text. The story predates the Bible but reveals a steady, recognizable flow of its events and characters.

In Eleven Arrows J.P. Manning unfolds a complex tale swathed in simplicity, exquisitely written, with strong descriptions of people and places, involving all the senses. Manning sets a table for a feast of sights, sounds, smells, and emotions that leaves us forgetting to take a breath. Brilliant writing of a people, an age, and a boy, Kar, through whose eyes the tale unfolds. The early chapters set in AD 1850 are drawn out but, to their credit, they draw us in with a mighty pull, and then thrust us back a thousand years with a smooth transition. At that point, I was unable to put the book down. Manning is a master of the written word. The best among many fine writers that I have encountered in my own years of writing, reading, and reviewing. Highly polished and very enjoyable to read. There’s an indication that Eleven Arrows will be the first in a series. I sincerely hope so and look forward to continuing my journey on the creative wings of Manning’s prose and young Kar’s life. My congratulations to J.P. Manning and the highest recommendation for this fine work.