Sunday, March 16, 2014

Book Review: Indigo Traveler by Merri Halma, and an Interview with the Author

War was brewing in the world of Curá. The Arimaspian King Titus wanted the humans under his leadership. He wanted the wealth and the control of the dragon. King Titus disregarded the legends of the two hearts that the dragons gave to his ancestor, another given to a prince of the human kingdom. He also did not believe the Crow Judges would punish him.
Connor, the crow judge assigned to Curá,  shook his head as he observed the thoughts of the king. He flew to the crow court to join the hearing of the case to determine what to do. The verdict was to take the all-white griffin, to a small town in the world called Nampa and give him to the Indigo Traveler, Alexander Veh. Nampa was in the Milky Way Galaxy. The Indigo Traveler, when he would return to Curá with the griffin, would be given the three blades of the dragon blood.
Captivating and full of action, Indigo Traveler by Merri Halma really grabs the reader right out of the gate. With multiple characters, the book is well written enough for readers to be emotionally invested in the unique plot, subplots and twists and turns. Ample attention has been  paid to the denouement (a fancy word for the resolution of the plot).
This ambitious, lively and panoramic book serves an engaging introduction to an exciting world of fantasy adventure.
An amazon reviewer said:
It takes a beautiful creative mind to come up with a story like this. The battles fought in Indigo Traveler mirror spiritual warfare as issues with The Creator and characters who struggle to accept their gifts or curses are waged in both the fantasy and modern day settings. The collision of the two worlds is interesting. It was very fun that Nampa is reflected in the story. The issues that the history of ancestors brings into the mix is interesting. Once I finished the story I found the list of characters in the back. I would suggest looking through the list of characters in the back before beginning the story to provide some background for yourself or referencing it while reading.
The book  poses some interesting questions. And I had the privelege of interviewing the author.
Michael Strickland: Please tell us about what inspired you to write on this topic.
Merri Halma:
Around 2003, I was researching mythological monsters, beings and folklore. My intent was to write a children's book with such characters. My husband suggested I put a griffin in it. So I started pouring over books, looking for new information on griffins and other beings. I wanted to find something unique. The creatures could have been old or new. I was also looking for ones that could either be used in their current state, or updated and recreated.
Michael Strickland: How did you decide to use griffins? 

Merri Halma:
I learned a few very interesting things about griffins. For example, they like to hoard gold and are watchful over others' gold and valuables. They have an arch enemy: a group of one-eyed humanoids called Arimaspians. I liked that. It was from a little known book by a writer from the fifth century named Aeschylus, in a book called Prometheus Bound.
As I reviewed my findings, it became clear that they are of normal size. Unlike the Cyclops, Arimaspians are not giants. Nonetheless, I made them giants for my first book, (which is now off the market). I created an Arimaspian who was blinded by his love for gold and riches to the exclusion of all other life. I gave him a daughter. She was born with a birth defect, a second eye, that would give her supernatural oracle abilities. This gave him a reason to be afraid of her.
Michael Strickland: Who are the Arimaspians?
Merri Halma:
According to an article that I recently read, the original Arimaspians lived near the flood plains. They rode horses and fought with the griffins over gold. They stole all they could and hoarded it. Arimaspians made a good antagonist.
As I spoke with people, they stumbled over how to pronounce the name. Many found it unusual since they had never heard of these creatures before. Arimaspians or Arimaspi, have largely been forgotten. The only ones who seem to remember them are scholars who have read the classics, such as Prometheus Bound. In addition, other Greek writers of that era also mentioned them. Many people assumed that I made up the name. They were so dumbfounded by it, that they didn't ask how I came to coin it. Perhaps some were afraid to.
Michael Strickland: Did these ideas arise from other work?
I have taken my first book, Jamie and the Magic Digger, off the market, and have totally rewritten it. More detail has been added, giving the misguided King Titus, the Arimaspian, further reasons to want to hoard gold and fight with the eagle beaked gryphons. I gave him a lust for all the lands on his world. I made them giants. Now, I wish I could go back and reduce them down to normal size. Fortunately, I can adjust it in the sequel.
Michael Strickland:  What creative ideas do you have for Arimaspians in the future?
It would interesting to do a survey of how many people have heard of the Arimaspians? Also worth exploring is the topic of why other mythology writers leave them out of their stories. Why do they focus solely on the giants? Why the Cyclops, who are slow in both mind and body movements? Why are Arimaspians largely forgotten?
Indigo Traveler is a series of books. My hope is that as the series progresses, more people will learn about this forgotten race. They need to rise again to be feared, revered and respected.
Another reviewer wrote:
This book is one of a kind. The author's vivid imagination takes you through a world of Griffins, talking plant life and one-eyed giants. The main character, Xander, is an indigo child who is bullied in our world. Through his travels to other times and places he learns how to bring about peace to warring species and how to forgive his tormentor. I enjoyed the psychic and spiritual elements which involved wizards and even the Creator of all Worlds. A talking backhoe with the spirit of a boy inside provided even more ingenuity. Kudos to Merri Halma for writing an enjoyable book for both young people and adults.
I highly recommend this book that will keep you turning the pages.

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