You Wanted Conan

And The Legend Chuck Dixon gave you Conan. The real Conan, the barbarian Conan, the Cimmerian Conan, the public domain Conan, the Conan about whom Robert E. Howard wrote, not the latter-day copyrighted Conan created by L. Sprague de Camp Conan, about whom one critic wrote: “L. Sprague de Camp is an insufferable hack and his choices both in writing his own criticism and curating this collection are baffling”, and most definitely not the Hollywood Conan.

Now you have multiple options to get your hands on Chuck Dixon’s Conan, but keep in mind that only the Arkhaven store will provide you the ebook along with the paperback edition. We’ll be placing our order for shipment to the fulfillment center tomorrow, so this is a good time to take action if you’re interested.

Bounding Into Comics interviewed The Legend about his latest novel.

Speaking with Bounding Into Comics, Dixon explained why he wanted to write this story, “I wanted to write a straight up war story of Conan’s time as a mercenary. But I also wanted to throw in a Lovecraftian monster as well as a depiction of dark sorcery in the Hyperborean Age with all its dire consequences.”

Dixon also relished the challenge to write in what he describes as Howard’s bravura style, “I was totally immersed in Howard’s bravura writing style as an adolescent. I liked the challenge of creating a new Conan story written in that style.”

He added, “So much of Howard’s prose relied on the reader to create vivid images in their own imaginations as they read. I really wanted to see if I could inspire that same brand of wild visuals.”

Meanwhile, the Dark Herald reviewed THE SIEGE OF THE BLACK CITADEL at Arkhaven.

During the 1980s, Baen Books decided to do the world a massive favor and publish a huge library of Robert Howard stories in their original un-De Camped form. I was struck by the unexpected quality of Howard’s work. I’d heard a lot of criticism of Howard’s original stories by De Camp, Stephen King, and several others. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. It had nothing at all to do with Howard’s prose and everything to do with politics. Although in King’s case, it could have been opinions generated by the mountains of coke he was snorting back then.

Howard was more than capable of subtly and subtext; his Conan was a complex hero. While taciturn and stoic, he would never leave a helpless innocent to the hands of those who found joy in cruelty.

Robert Howard had a great respect and indeed love for ancient history. He wanted to tell stories set in remote antiquity, but he also wanted them to be accurate to period. This presented him with a fundamental problem. In his hometown of Cross Plains, the resources of the Texas oil boom town’s library were it and they were obviously insufficient for his needs. So, he did the next best thing and created a completely fictional world from whole cloth. One that was a reflection of the ancient world but was not constrained by it. In so doing, Robert Howard invented an entire genre called Sword and Sorcery by Fritz Lieber.

Think about that for a second, this pulp writer in a small Texas boon town created an entirely new category of fiction and he’s been despised by all right-thinking people for it ever since.

Who in this modern world could hope to do justice to the works of a man born at the turn of the last century that venerated the purity and strength of the barbarous?

The Legend Chuck Dixon, that’s who.

The Legend has already completed the second book, THE CARAVAN OF THE DAMNED, and is now working on a third. Both of these books will be illustrated by Ademir Leal, the cover artist for THE SIEGE OF THE BLACK CITADEL.


The Temporal Challenge of Gnosodecay

The challenge of history is helping humanity remember that which extends beyond the lifespan of a human generation:

It’s very common to see historians implicitly or explicitly assert that knowledge in their field increases over time. For example, in his 1962 masterpiece Medieval Technology and Social Change, Lynn White Jr. assumes greater clarity from archaeological discoveries are yet to come: “Despite prodigious labours by Hungarian archaeologists, the stratification of Avar materials is not yet clear…[Avars] may well have been the first people of Europe to use the stirrup, but the time of its arrival is still uncertain.” Meanwhile, in a more recent article, nonprofit founder Jason Crawford writes, “I note at the outset that this is an old book, published 1925 and revised 1940. Probably a lot has been learned in the last 80 years and the following has already undergone revision, which I’ll uncover when I read more modern sources.”

The historian’s optimism rests on three promises. The first, expressed by White above, is that there are lost artifacts that can be recovered. Secret government records can be declassified, new construction will dig up an ancient tomb, a statesman’s grandchildren will find old letters in the attic and give them to a university, or archaeologists will find the ruins of an ancient temple complex. Such finds improve our understanding of the past, sometimes dramatically.

The second reason for optimism is that historians make better analyses of existing data as time goes on, as Crawford mentions above. After they make inferences from the available material, subsequent historians can take their best arguments and build on them while discarding flawed ideas which do not stand up to scrutiny. By standing on the shoulders of giants, the field will climb higher and higher, like in hard sciences such as physics or biology.

The third reason for optimism is the continued unfolding of history. After all, it is harder to see how an event fits into ongoing trends before those trends have had a chance to play out—time gives us perspective, and hindsight is 20/20. However, while the passage of time may give us a better understanding of a historical event’s effects on the future, it does not improve our knowledge of the event itself. Despite this limitation, knowing what happens next can make it easier to understand which events were important and why.

Archaeologists and Historians Can’t Defeat Entropy
If these three promises are met, then our knowledge of history is steadily increasing. How, then, could past events be so hazy today? Shouldn’t centuries of new finds, ongoing analysis, and knowledge of subsequent history mean that scholars of Henry VIII’s reign know what happened during that period far, far better than scholars of more recent events like the 2008 financial crash or the two world wars? Of course, we usually see the opposite.

These optimistic historians are writing epistemic checks that cannot be cashed. What the three promises leave out is that information is often lost. Firsthand witnesses and expert historians die after passing down only a fraction of their knowledge. If you investigate the 2008 financial crash today, chances are you can still interview someone who worked in finance or government who will give you information that has never been recorded. The information stored in people’s minds is still fundamentally accessible—for now. In a century, much of this information will be irretrievably lost.

In addition to people, books and artifacts are also lost to entropy in a hundred different ways. The cumulative effect of this destruction is immense, as illustrated by the records of classical civilization. “[T]oday we possess written fragments from only 13% of the ~2,000 ancient Greek authors known to us by name. This does not account for the authors we do not know, and only a small portion of the 13% figure consists of complete works.”

Preserving the ever-growing mass of historical material is too expensive to be practical, so when budgets run thin, even major libraries and archives will discard books and records by the hundreds of thousands. For example, the Manchester Central Library’s recent culling destroyed 210,000 to 500,000 “literary, commercial, educational and political records going back 150 years” with “no subject specialists involved in the process.” This is a standard library practice.

Artifacts are also lost in accidents like the 2018 fire that destroyed 92.5 percent of the 20 million items stored in the National Museum of Brazil, including the only recordings of now-extinct languages. Another example is the 1986 Los Angeles Central Library fire that destroyed 20 percent of the collection and damaged much of the remainder.

In recent decades, digital information has fared no better than paper. Between link rot and changes in software standards, tremendous amounts of digital information become inaccessible over the course of a single decade. The long-term preservation of digital archives remains a hope rather than a guaranteed fact. Even in optimistic scenarios, it would require ongoing effort and maintenance on par with the curation of printed information. As the development of the printing press illustrates, much better ways of recording information can often have only modest effects on how much information gets preserved centuries later.

While we’re waiting for the Library subscribers to make their presentation for the expansion of the Library, I’ve been thinking over the various possibilities that would allow us to help meet this challenge. We already have a few private projects that are underway, but my thought is that it may be time to create a second history-based subscription in which the subscribers, rather than the editors, decide which works are most important to preserve. This subscription would only produce three or four books per year, and would focus on more obscure or more pedestrian works of the sort that would be less likely to appeal to a general audience.

Essentially, a subscription with a primary focus on the True rather than the Beautiful. Which, naturally, would imply an eventual subscription with a focus on the Good, and the Bible project that many people have asked us to consider tackling.


On the Book Front

Things are proceeding well with the bindery, the mailing lists, and the US fullfillment center. There is still plenty of infrastructural work to do, but we’re gradually excising the parts of the process that don’t work well enough and replacing them with things that do.

ITEM: Autarch, among many other things an Arktoons creator, has launched its new Kickstarter campaign for ASCENDANT: PLATINUM EDITION. A revised second edition of the RPG featuring traditional superheroes who are attractive, straight, and even occasionally right-of-center, if you can imagine such a thing.

ITEM: Today is the last day to subscribe to CASTALIA LIBRARY and receive THE ARTS OF WAR as part of your subscription. Please note that a catchup payment will be required as this is the second month of the two-part subscription. The next book in the subscription series, #21, will be announced tomorrow to the subscribers, via the appropriate mailing list to the non-subscribers, and on the Darkstream. We’ve created the new mailing list to ensure externally-verifiable perfect compliance with the GDPR and eliminate the risk of malicious unfounded abuse complaints, as the mailing service provider can now see and confirm that every single individual on the list proactively signed up for it via their own server.

ITEM: Chuck Dixon is flying on Midnight’s War: Night Streets. And the art is spectacular. New heights, my friends, is what Arkhaven is reaching.

ITEM: Speaking of The Legend, the first in the CHUCK DIXON’S CONAN series, THE SIEGE OF THE BLACK CITADEL, is now available in paperback from Castalia House. An excerpt is below. The second in the series, CARAVAN OF THE DAMNED, is already complete and will be published later this year.

I’ll have more to say about the bindery on tonight’s Darkstream.

Continue reading “On the Book Front”

Hence the Library

This bowdlerization of Roald Dahl’s books is one of the reasons we started Castalia Library to preserve books for the future. It’s why the bindery is going to prove absolutely vital in the years to come. And it’s why we should probably think about acquiring a printing press and sewing machine at some point in the future.

Roald Dahl’s children’s books are being rewritten to remove language deemed offensive by the publisher Puffin.

Puffin has hired sensitivity readers to rewrite chunks of the author’s text to make sure the books “can continue to be enjoyed by all today”, resulting in extensive changes across Dahl’s work.

Edits have been made to descriptions of characters’ physical appearances. The word “fat” has been cut from every new edition of relevant books, while the word “ugly” has also been culled, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is now described as “enormous”. In The Twits, Mrs Twit is no longer “ugly and beastly” but just “beastly”.

Hundreds of changes were made to the original text – and some passages not written by Dahl have been added. But the Roald Dahl Story Company said “it’s not unusual to review the language” during a new print run and any changes were “small and carefully considered”.

In The Witches, a paragraph explaining that witches are bald beneath their wigs ends with the new line: “There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”

In previous editions of James and the Giant Peach, the Centipede sings: “Aunt Sponge was terrifically fat / And tremendously flabby at that,” and, “Aunt Spiker was thin as a wire / And dry as a bone, only drier.”

Both verses have been removed, and in their place are the rhymes: “Aunt Sponge was a nasty old brute / And deserved to be squashed by the fruit,” and, “Aunt Spiker was much of the same / And deserves half of the blame.”

References to “female” characters have disappeared. Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, once a “most formidable female”, is now a “most formidable woman”.

Gender-neutral terms have been added in places – where Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s Oompa Loompas were “small men”, they are now “small people”. The Cloud-Men in James and the Giant Peach have become Cloud-People.

Puffin and the Roald Dahl Story Company made the changes in conjunction with Inclusive Minds, which its spokesperson describes as “a collective for people who are passionate about inclusion and accessibility in children’s literature”.

This is pure and unadulterated evil. It is erasure of the author from his own works. Unfortunately, it is something that we have come across in some of our communications with the literary heirs of authors whose views are not entirely harmonious with those heirs; for every Christopher Tolkien who defends his father’s legacy like a lion, there are three or four children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who are happy to sacrifice it on the twin altars of Mammon and political correctness.

It’s also why Castalia House supports Project Gutenbeg and the Unz Review’s Content Archive of Printed Periodicals and Books. If you want to help out, one of the most effective things you can do is subscribe to the Library; the current subscription book is THE ARTS OF WAR, edited by yours truly and featuring an introduction by Alexander Macris.


Castalia Library: THE ARTS OF WAR

As was previously mentioned on the Darkstream, the Jan-Feb subscription book is THE ARTS OF WAR. This will feature ancient military treatises on the art of war, one of which is very famous and most of which will be entirely new to even the historical military enthusiast. The included selections are as follows:

  • Sun Tzu, The Art of War
  • Asclepiodotus, Taktika
  • Aeneas Tacticus, Poliorketika
  • Sextus Frontinus, Strategemata
  • Vegetius, De Re Militari
  • Maurice, Strategikon
  • Onasander, Strategikos

The book will feature a foreword by Alex Macris, formerly of West Point, and an introduction by yours truly. Depending upon how well it is received, it may become the first in a series, as there are a number of medieval, Renaissance, and modern texts that are thematically relevant, but at the very least, it will serve as an epic historical must-read. So if you aren’t a subscriber yet, you may want to consider joining the Library now.

It may interest Selenoth fans to know that the Arts of Light and Dark series repeatedly references Sextus Frontinus, particularly the Marcus Valerius chapters. And speaking of AODAL, both A THRONE OF BONES Book 1 and A THRONE OF BONES Book 2 are now shipping, and ATOB Book 1 is the February Book of the Month. As of this morning, about 65 copies of each limited edition of 850 remain available.

January was a productive month on the writing front. I exceeded my goal of 31,000 words, putting in 34,529 on A SEA OF SKULLS and 2,019 on other fiction. At this rate, I expect to finish the first draft of ASOS on or before March 3rd. There will be a little back-and-forth with the first readers and cleaning up any inconsistencies or infelicities, but the ebook should be out sometime in May. I plan to use the ebook release to catch any further typos or errors, so the print edition should be out around August, and the two-volume Library set will be based upon the print edition and will probably serve as the subscription books toward the end of the year or the beginning of 2024.

The bindery tells us that THE JUNGLE BOOKS will begin production on February 20th, followed by the four Taleb books on February 24th. We plan to launch the new Castalia Library site at the end of the month, but more about that anon.

Finally, we’re going to be putting the first three Finnish AODAL books in print this year. If there are any native speakers interested in translating them into German, French, or Italian, please let me know.


Junior Classics Leather 1-6

Attention: Junior Classics Leather Set backers.

Please send your current shipping address to: castalialibrary-AT-infogalactic-DOT-com.

Please do not “confirm” your current address or send a useless note that says “it’s the same as it was before”. Send the current shipping address in this form, preferably on one line, please, as described below. Do not send it to me or to any email address other than the one specified. Send your current shipping address to castalialibrary-AT-infogalactic-DOT-com.

Backer ID, Name and Lastname, Quantity (sets, not books), Address, City, State, Country, Postal Code (Zip), Email address. Separate the sections by comma, so that the line looks like this:

12345, Name Lastname, 1, 123 Main Street Apt #2, San Diego, CA, USA, 55555,

If you don’t know your backer ID from the campaign, just use 000 and we’ll look it up. That’s all we need. We’ll be sending out an email to all the backers too, so hopefully we can start having them shipped next week if everyone responds quickly.

Those who purchased sets from the Arkhaven store do NOT need to send in their addresses unless you have a different shipping address than the one you provided when you ordered it. There are only 10 sets left, so if you would like one, this will be your last chance for a while.

UPDATE: In other Castalia Library news, the Libraria stamping for A THRONE OF BONES Vol. I has been approved.

It’s gold and it glitters.


Castalia Library Clarification

Contra my previous post on the subject, the November-December book, #19 in the Castalia Library subscription, is THE LAWDOG FILES by Lawdog. This is actually two books in one, because it contains both THE LAWDOG FILES and THE LAWDOG FILES: AFRICAN ADVENTURES. And consequently, this means THE ARTS OF WAR, featuring an introduction by Alex Macris, will be the January-February book, #20 in the subscription.

I’m sorry for the confusion, but somehow I forgot that we’ve already printed the interiors of LAWDOG and so we can get it shipped sooner than we can ship THE ARTS. The site store has already been updated accordingly. But if, for whatever reason, you a) subscribed in the week between November 5 and November 12, and b) do not want LAWDOG, please email me and let me know which of the previously released books you would like instead.

Also, if you’re on Gab, please note that we’ve established a Library account there which you can follow for regular updates and announcements.

A critter well known to us in our town twisted off one evening and decided to add Attempted Murder to his curriculum vitae by hitting his lady du jour in the head a couple of times with a hatchet. Not one to leave a job half done, he dragged her out to the lake, wired her up to a cinderblock, and shoved her off into the water. Wonder of wonders, she survived. Even bigger wonder, she came into town and filed charges on her homicidal boyfriend. I had been out on a date and wandered back into town about the time that the search was really getting wound up. I’d no sooner walked through the door of the office when the sheriff hit me with three conflicting orders on where to go, one of which would require asbestos underoos. I decided that going back home to change out of my date clothes would be counterproductive, so I was digging through my locker trying to find my spare set of armor when the call came in. One of our local merchants had spotted the critter climbing in the back window of an abandoned building used for storage. Since the other two deputies were on the far side of the county, the sheriff made a posse of me and a luckless Highway Patrol Trooper who had come in for a coffee refill, and we went tear-arsing off to Downtown Bugscuffle. The abandoned building in question had, at one time, been a fairly swanky department store positioned on the prize end of Main Street. However, in the intervening hundred years or so, the entire block had fallen into disuse and disrepair, leaving the once-grand old building standing all alone, used only for storing various and sundry stuff that needed storing by the locals.

For those of you who don’t know how to search a large building with only three people, it’s really quite simple. One officer, whom we’ll call “the sheriff,” stands on one corner watching the front of the building and the west side. The second officer, or “random DPS trooper,” stands at the opposite corner of the building, watching the back of the building and the east side. The third officer, being the bravest and most handsome of the three, goes inside with the idea of flushing the critter out a window where he can be spotted by one of the other two and, hopefully, arrested.

Three guesses who got to go inside, and the first two don’t count. Let me tell you, that place was darker than the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat and stacked floor-to-ceiling with shelves. On those shelves were the collected knick-knacks of 20 years of Main Street stores. And not a lightbulb anywhere.

There I was, with a snubbie .357, a five-cell Maglight, and a Handi-Talkie, and only two hands. About the fourth time I tried to answer the sheriff’s “Have you got him yet?” radio call while trying to cover a suspicious patch of darkness with the .357 and juggling the Mag-Lite, I stopped in the feeble light of the moon shining down through a hole in the ceiling to make a few adjustments.

I was occupied with trying to figure out which I needed more, the Mag-lite or the Handi-talkie, when the SOB decided to jump me. I’m here to tell you, folks, things went rodeo from there. He lunged out of a shadow and tried to grab for my throat, and me, reacting totally out of instinct, I whacked him a good one across the forehead with the Maglight.

Bulb, batteries, and assorted electronic parts arced gracefully into the darkness. The critter took one step back and jumped at me again.

Things were not looking good in Dogville.

I held the snubbie back with my right hand, trying to keep it away from the critter’s grasp, and I tried to stiff-arm him away with my left when I stepped onto what was later found to be a D-cell battery from my Maglight.

Down I went. And the alleged aspiring axe murderer landed on top of me. Hoo boy. The gloves really came off then. We rolled around on the cold cement. I was hitting him in the head with the butt of my revolver and giving him elbow smashes to the jaw and brachial plexus, knee strikes, you name it, the whole enchilada. And he kept grabbing at my throat.

Finally, we rolled into a patch of moonlight, and I saw the bastard had a knife!

Folks, I hate knives. No, I really hate knives. He was on top of me, and he had to weigh three-hundred pounds, and that damn knife was coming down at me in slow motion at just about the same time the barrel of my snubbie rammed up under his chin.

I squeezed off two rounds.

The .357 magnum is a powerful round. Two of them, fired in quick succession, sufficed to blow the electronic brains and assorted stuffing of the Animatronic Life-Like Talking Santa Claus that formerly belonged to the local Thriftway halfway to Dodge City.

You don’t want to know what a couple of .357 rounds will do to hydraulics.


“The Good Shoot”, THE LAWDOG FILES, Castalia Library #19


The Arts of War

The November-December January-February book for the Castalia Library subscription is THE ARTS OF WAR, featuring an introduction by Alexander Macris, a game designer who attended West Point. And yes, it will contain Sun Tzu, but more importantly, it will include works of major military history significance with which you are almost certainly unfamiliar, such as Frontinus, Vegetius, Maurice, and others.

As our ace proofreader noted after completing his read-through and cleanup of Sextus Frontinus:

It really bothers me that I was never taught works like this. I read Sun Tzu, Mushashi, and other Asians on the art of war. But Frontinus and these others are our heritage, and I never even heard of them until now, and that’s wrong. Think about how cool history class would have been if we had read even snippets of these books.

Arts of Dark and Light readers may wish to note that it is the works of Frontinus to which Marcus Valerius repeatedly refers throughout the series. In my opinion, THE ARTS OF WAR is about as close to a must-read as the Castalia Library is ever likely to feature, and I highly recommend subscribing to the Library if you have not already done so.

In other Library-related news:

  • The November-December subscription book is THE LAWDOG FILES.
  • The Annual Castalia Library subscription now includes a complimentary edition of DISCOURSES by Machiavelli. Current subscribers who renew their subscription may substitute the Library edition of their choice so long as it is in stock. Subscribers who wish to pay by wire transfer instead of credit card should email me directly for payment information.
  • The Annual Libraria Castalia subscription now includes a copy of THE DIVINE COMEDY by Dante. Current subscribers who renew or upgrade their subscription may substitute the Libraria/Library edition of their choice so long as it is in stock. Subscribers who wish to pay by wire transfer instead of credit card should email me directly for payment information.
  • The next books scheduled to ship are a) Vols. 1-6 of the leather Castalia Library Junior Classics later this month and b) A THRONE OF BONES Vols I and II on December 16. There are still 23 Junior Classic sets available.
  • We are currently in communication with a major European author concerning the production of a leather-bound line of his works. This may or may not be done under the Castalia Library imprint.
  • A major step forward concerning the Swiss bindery was completed yesterday, as we received an important approval from the relevant government authority.
  • The MIDNIGHT’S WAR crowdfund will include a leatherbound edition of the omnibus.
  • We are currently focused on getting all four books of the INCERTO set by NN Taleb into production.


DEATH MASK, Nightvale Book 2

I believed I promised you that we would have a book announcement of our own this weekend, and here it is.


Empire of perfidy.

With Menuvia little more than a funeral pyre, Xerdes flees to the Traitor’s Kingdom of Nazgan. Where larceny is legal, honor is fatal, and it pays to keep a low profile.

For the deserts of Nazgan are not empty. A lethal legend now haunts the badlands, thirsty for sinful blood. A hooded horror none dare name.

Even as the masked wraith carves its way through the underworld of two separate countries, it has only ever uttered a single world.


Razorfist has written the second book in his Nightvale pulp fantasy series, which is being published by Dark Legion Books. He’s releasing a limited edition of 750 signed copies, of which only 340 are left after he announced DEATH MASK on his stream about eight hours ago, so don’t wait if you’re interested in a signed copy. Seriously, don’t wait. They will probably be gone before the Darkstream tonight.

Fortunately, you can also preorder both the regular hardcover and paperback editions until June 30.



If you’re not a Castalia Library subscriber and you’re contemplating the possibility of dipping your toe into deluxe book collecting, THE MISSIONARIES is an excellent place to start. There is a reason we chose it as the first book in the Castalia Library.

The Dark Herald discusses the Owen Stanley book on the Arkhaven blog:

The Missionaries takes place on Elephant Island. An Australian protectorate that Australia wants off the books. The Island is going to be Independent whether they like it or not. The Moroks who inhabit Elephant Island would have been surprised to hear that anyone besides them owned it in the first place.

“Roaring” Roger Fletcher is the Australian Royal Magistrate in name. And the local king in function. The native Morok peoples are convinced that he is the incarnation of their chief god Takime. He lives rough as he wishes and enjoys the Morok’s love and respect, as well as their roast pork and their svelte women. He carefully manages local disputes using trial by combat as a way to keep murder, rape, and cannibalism within acceptable limits.

The Moroks have their own culture and are rather fond of it.

Laripa was distinguished among the settlements of the Moroks by the presence the greatest orator Malek; the greatest sorcerer Macardit; and the greatest philosopher, Garang, a twisted, hairless little man with a squint. It was thus a kind of Florence or Paris, a cultural center where the aspiring young intellectual of the Moroks came to learn the secrets of their fathers, and, more hidden still, the dark revelations of the Before-Men who, led by Tikame himself, had roamed the mountains when Time itself was not.

The problem is that the UN has decided that they won’t be allowed to keep it. Fletcher’s opponent Doctor Prout, is a sociologist who has been given an ounce of power by a UN Special Commission. I can’t think of a more terrifying combination.

This story is skillfully constructed. The tone is consistent and builds steadily to a climax that I didn’t quite predict. That’s good because there’s nothing worse than an ending you saw coming all along.

There is an organic mixture of poetic description that paints a vivid and flourishing portrait of life on Elephant Island, that is ably counterbalanced by its larger-than-life characters. As well some lower-than-life characters. In my time I’ve known people like all of them. If you’ve lived a quiet life, allow me to assure you, these are all real people.

The work is consistently toned and beautifully written with prose that made me remember what a sweltering island jungle smelled like after an afternoon storm.

Years ago, the reporter Amanda Robb asked, prior to her interview of me, which Castalia House book she should read to best understand what made us different than all the other publishing houses. I told her to read THE MISSIONARIES. When we subsequently talked, I asked her what she thought of it. She said it was the most disturbing and most racist book she had ever read. She also said that she couldn’t put it down, that it kept making her laugh out loud, and now she hated herself for it.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a sign of a novel that is not merely good, but great, with substantive commentary on the human condition.