Probability Moon, When Culture and Reality Collide

The Science fiction genre is speculative fiction that deals with the advancements of technology. There are two categories for the genre which consist of hardcore science fiction which is more into the technologic advancements in the story while softcore genre deals with social and psychological aspects of the story. Subcategories include cyberpunk, time travel, alternate history, military science fiction, superhuman, apocalyptic, space opera, space western, social science fiction, and more. Nancy Kress has written The Golden Grove (1984), The White Pipes (1985), Maximum Light (1997), Oaths and Miracles (1996), Stinger (1998) and other works.

Nancy Kress’s Probability Moon (2000) delves into the culture shock the outsiders and native citizens experience when their worlds collide. Language barriers are dwarfed when compared to the customs of the Worlders with the Terrans through their laws, beliefs, technological advancements, and politics. The text mentions shared reality, “make for enormously fast mobilization. Although it also made for pretty slow inventiveness. The culture lacked truly maverick thinkers,” which conveys a danger of conformity over freedom of individualism (96).

The story begins with Enli Pek Brimmindin, a young Worlder girl who’s working off a sentence for violating the law of shared reality to set herself and her deceased brother, Tabor, free. The institute of World, Reality and Atonement would provide pills to help suppress the headaches for the telekinetic-esque Worlder while she’d be assigned to observe the Terrans who visit World and stay in Voratur’s household. Enli would have to report to Pek Nagredil on the Terran’s demeanor to determine if they’re real, if they had souls.

The human’s who are to visit the preindustrialize planet, World are briefed on their expedition aboard the Solar Alliance Council Ship: Zeus. The team would be dropped off on World while the Zeus would remain in space observing the local system and remain on watch for the warring Fallers who disturb the peace. Syree Johnson, a retired army vet with Faller combat experience is commissioned for the Zeus for her knowledge of the space tunnels. The crew would venture through an ancient tunnel portal and discover that it could be destructive to materials and life forms of a specific atomic level.

Meanwhile, on the World village, Gofkit Rabloe, the expedition team interacts with inhabitants and learn about their culture, botany, flower ceremonies, commerce and their beliefs. Enli stays close by for reconnaissance and reports back with little information which leads to reprimand. After a request, Enli would learn the Terran language under Ann Pek Sikorski tutelage, which she utilizes to listen on the team’s discussions.

Later on Ann’s group would gain knowledge that Tas, one of the World’s seven moons was manufactured and poses a threat to World. The team try to warn the Worlders that they’re in danger and need to take refuge as their moon could release harmful rays should it be destroyed in order to prevent it from falling to the Fallers. The priest questioned the team and learn that the information they obtained was withheld which leads them to be set to death as they’re not real. The anthropologist flee with Enli to the forbidden Neury Mountain.

Nancy Kress - Probability Moon
Probability Moon (2000) Cover by Nancy Kress

While Ann’s group take cover in the mountain, the Zeus moves the artificial moon toward the space tunnel but are confronted by the Faller’s warship. The Zeus engages with the Fallers for control as the stakes are raised for the Solar Alliance. Ultimately, they’re able to outmaneuver the warship but at the cost of Tas. Breaking from the group in Neury, Enli would be lead by David Pek Allen to the village to warn the people of the danger as messengers of “The First Flower.” Knowledge of the danger spreads all over and the Worlders take shelter, barring items that may be affected by the waves of the destroyed Tas.

After the climatic space battle with the Fallers, Ann’s group would receive a successful transmission from the flyer Gnat battleship, Hachiya Solar Alliance Defense base and learn of the Zeus’s fate and their retrieval status. Three years after the Tas event, Enli would regain her share reality and commemorate David Pek Allen’s death, walking among her fellow Worlders.

With the meeting between Enli and Pek Nagredil, the high priest the gives a deeper look at the cultural belief of the Worlders. Observing a fatigued Enli, Nagredil said, “The job of informant is supposed to allow the unreal to earn back their souls by service to shared reality. It is not supposed to destroy the soul itself,” which portrays how cultures can view diversity as a threat whether through adoption of likeness or method of thinking which doesn’t conform to the establishment (143).

Through the space conflict with the Zeus and the Fallers warship space exploration is presented in Probability Moon. The Terran ship the Zeus is comparable to the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) seen in Star Trek (1966). The crew of the Zeus battles the Fallers just as the USS Enterprise engages with The Klingons. The Worlder’s way of wishing well for another through inclusion of flowers in the dialogue is comparable to Spock’s own Vulcan salute.

Probability Moon is a combination of hardcore and softcore science fiction with a deep look at the social aspect of the Worlder’s customs that will leave readers curious. The conflict with the Fallers in space will have a suspenseful tension that will be shattered after an explosive confrontation that’ll shock the foundation of World. Readers will be transported to a new world that is full of peril and mystery when they embark on this space venture.

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Guarded Heart, Crossing Blades of Honor, Desire, and Revenge

The romance novel genre gives a depiction of love and lust in the story. It goes deep into the development of the characters’ relationship which usually is two people. There are subplots in the structure that aren’t directly related to the protagonists. The subgenera includes historical romance usually in the nineteenth century, contemporary romance which is set during the World War II era, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and inspirational romance which deals with love and faith.

Jennifer Blake has written The Secret of the Mirror House (1970), Haven of Fear (1974), Love’s Wild Desire (1977), Night of the Candles (1978), and other novels. Guarded Heart (2008) conveys the patriarchal structure of society that underestimates a woman’s ability to stand toe to toe with her male counterpart. Through the lead female protagonist, Ariadne, a rejection to the machismo thought of the mainstream society is portrayed through her actions. Ariadne addressing Sasha said, “I order my life now, I and no other. If you wish to continue being numbered among my friends, you will allow me to know my own mind,” which conveys a desire for self-sufficiency (16).

Set in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1844 Ariadne’s actions are revolutionary as she takes up swordsmanship which is a male dominated endeavor and she’s not in a hurry to remarry after being widowed as she values her independence.

The story begin with the sword master, Gavin Blackford attending a Réveillon hosted by Madame Faucher when he’s approached by the young hostess. Ariadne Faucher, a widowed aristocrat requests instruction in swordsmanship. Gavin is reluctant when he learns her intent to partake in a duel as Ariadne is a widow without kin. He reconsiders after an exchange with Sasha, Ariadne’s overbearing acquaintance whom she insinuates will instruct her.

Afterward, Ariadne discusses her encounter with Gavin and reflects on her life, the arranged marriage to Jean Marc and the estate left to her, the death of her foster brother by Blackford’s hands and her meeting Maurelle Herriot. Maurelle expresses concern about Ariadne’s exploit and tries to sway her from it. She agrees to let Ariadne train in her residence to watch her progress.

On the day of training Ariadne waits in the emptied bed chamber of the Herriot town house’s garçonnière which will serve as venue for the instruction. Gavin is lead into the room by Solon Maurelle’s majordomo, leaving Ariadne and her mentor to their session.

Hastily, Ariadne urges Gavin to move from the theory of fencing to the combat training. He complies, swiftly directing the dame into the forms of the art which rattles her as the stances are provocative for a woman. The session left Ariadne with excitement and frustration at the door that was opened to world that men know through swordsmanship.

The ensuing session would prove Ariadne to be at a disadvantage as her emotions defeat her and her mobility restricted from the petticoat she dons, yet she doesn’t bow out. After a reprieve from the lessons Ariadne would resume them donned in an ensemble tailored for fluid movement in fencing. Gavin in a attempt to give a lesson in keeping anger in check grazes Ariadne as she losses her footing. He’s remorseful and is tender with Ariadne when abruptly Sasha enters the chamber. Ariadne leaves with Sasha before the situation escalates between him and Gavin.

Per chance Gavin and Ariadne attend a benefit performance for their mutual friend, Madame Zoe Savoie at the Theatre d’Orleans opera house with no interaction as they’re from different classes. Sasha makes an attempt to woo Ariadne but is jilted upon the proposition of marriage. Ariadne becomes wary after spotting Arpegè, her birth mother whom left her as a child at the concert.

The following day Ariadne goes out with Maurelle and runs into Gavin and his brother on a walk, and reluctantly greets them in public. An accident with a steamboat transpired and the bodies of the victims are brought to shore, among them a girl that’s clung by a sobbing Arpegè. Witnessing Ariadne’s distress at the sight, Gavin volunteers to escort her away from the scene and she accepts.

Sasha would inquire to about the sword master’s escort and attempt another move on Ariadne to her displeasure. She chastises Sasha for being possessive of her and he retreats after the lecture, leaving Ariadne worried he’ll do something to Blackford. The next day Gavin enters the Herriot town house but is lead in by a maidservant to Zoe Savoie where both have a friendly chat. In the exchange Gavin learns of Ariadne’s relation to Arpegè and Francis Dorelle, a pupil who died under his tutelage.

The next lesson Gavin tries to sway Ariadne away from her pursuit of retribution suggesting he duels on her behalf. Ariadne is adamant about resuming her training and engages into the session. In an ecstasy Ariadne follows Gavin’s lead when suddenly stops when she sees blood on his face thinking she struck her instructor but he assures her the wound was not from her. A liquored Sasha confronts Ariadne after her lesson and to have an exchange about Gavin.

Ariadne would visit her mother to learn about the circumstances of her adoption. Meanwhile, Gavin is out at the salon with his friends when he’s approached by Sasha and forced to challenge him a duel. Ariadne learns of the duel from Maurelle and goes to Gavin late into the night to implore him to withdraw the challenge, but he cannot as it has been issued.

The day of the duel arrived, Gavin and Sasha are on horse with sabers on hand do battle. Gavin would suffer injury through Sasha’s dishonorable tact. Gavin’s taken to the town house for his recovery and he learns from Ariadne that Sasha will leave to Paris due to the disgrace he brought upon himself. Gavin would be cared by Ariadne as they learn more about each other.

Days later Ariadne accompanied by Zoe would cross paths with Sasha where he asks her to leave with him but she declines. The friends part and Ariadne arrives home to find Gavin fencing despite his stitching, leading her to scold him for ignoring his wound but Gavin responds heartily which leads her to suggest to resume her training.

During a windy night there’s a downpour as Ariadne and Gavin continue their session at the garçonnière. A gust blows out the candle and Ariadne calls off their bout as she feels Gavin is not fit for battle. The two exchange words about their session and give in to their sensual desires under the stormy night.

Following the stormy evening session Ariadne composes herself, remembering her retribution she summons Gavin to her chamber as the town house is desolate. Gavin gives revelation to about Francis’s klutz and ego which lead to his demise, and persuades Ariadne to relinquish her quest for vengeance but not before suffering her strike. The fencing pair once again consummate in reconciliation and a new understanding of each other.

Guarded Heart - Jennifer Blake
Guarded Heart (2008) by Jennifer Blake

Gavin takes his leave of Ariadne aware of the gap in their social class. Ariadne would later run on an errand unescorted when she encounters an indignant Sasha who abducts her, taking her to a ship that is set to sail. Gavin hearing news of Ariadne’s disappearance inquires about her whereabouts when he learns of Sasha’s role in the maiden’s kidnapping. Along with his allies Gavin reach the pier where Sasha has taken Ariadne.

 

Awakened from the drug induced sleep that Sasha forced on her, Ariadne finds a sword to engage him in a bout for her freedom. Just as she’s about to fall, Gavin swimming up to the ship calls to Ariadne who tosses the sword to him. He pars against Sasha’s blade when he finds an opening to escape with Ariadne to shore. After the ordeal Gavin and Ariadne share a bout and their feelings for one another.

When Gavin said, “There is more than one kind of disarmament, my Ariadne. I have no weapon, no defense against you, have had none since the night I took you for my client. In this time, you have been the sword pointed at my heart but also my shield and my buckler,” it conveys growth of the relations between the two lovers (530).

The world of Guarded Heart is comparable to the film Chopin: Desire for Love (2002) through the eloquent language of the period and the structures in the story. The ravenous desire of the characters are similar as well as the pain in the pursuit of love.

Guarded Heart will have the audience invested in the electrical relationship between Gavin Blackford and Ariadne Faucher that gradually flourishes into love. There will be an immersion for readers through the dialogue of the story and the images of beauty in the setting and some risqué situations between the lovers which can overwhelm the sensitive. The evolution of Ariadne’s view of Gavin whom she seeks vengeance on will have readers intrigued about process which lead her to love him.

The Long Road Home, A Journey of Self Discovery

The novel tells a story in a chronological order utilizing a prose style. It’s defined by the detail that goes into the world of the characters and by the length of the story. The political environment within the story mimic that of the real world and brings attention to certain issues. Personal details of characters, whether social or intimate experiences go into the narrative. Danielle Steel has written Palomino (1981), Crossings (1982), Changes (1983), Wanderlust (1986), Mirror Image (1998), Silent Honor (1996), and many other works.

Danielle Steel’s The Long Road Home (1998) portrays the strength and courage of a girl growing up into a woman. The novel makes use of imagery to emphasize good and evil through contrasts between characters. Marianne Marks a friend to the family was kind to Gabriella and she’s described as wearing white during a party that the Harrison’s conducted while Eloise wore black which reflects her negative personality. The tone of beautiful moments and dire situations are portrayed through metaphor.

The story follows the protagonist six year old Gabriella Harrison who grows up in a violent childhood that consisted of daily beatings from her mother, Eloise. Her father, John Harrison fears the wrathful Eloise and doesn’t act to stop the beatings. The aristocratic family reside in New York, and holds parties at the exclusion of Gabriella who’s sent to her room as it’s Eloise’s wish. However, a guest Marianne Marks happened to spot the girl over the stairs and briefly dots on Gabriella in which would be her first experience of kindness which she’ll remember for the rest of her life.

After the party Gabriella’s parents would get into a heated dispute which ends in the girl receiving her mother’s fury after her father storms out of the home. Gabriella would be disparaged, constantly told that she’s a bad child and that everything was her fault as she was beaten. There would be a short-lived calm before Gabriella ends up in the hospital when her father discovers her beaten to the floor in her room alone. The aftermath leads John to leave behind his family one night but not before parting with Gabriella.

Eloise goes on to date Frank Waterford and as with the other men forbids contact with Gabriella. Suddenly, Eloise makes plans to elope with Frank in Reno and leaves behind Gabriella at a convent. Mother Gregoria would raise Gabriella and nurture her gifts at St. Matthew’s for ten years. During her stay Gabriella graduates college specializing in literature, yet she never socialized outside the convent.

Gabriella decides to become a postulant after graduating college and remains close to her family at the convent. One day she befriends a young priest named Joe Connors and the two would be inseparable as both have suffered past pangs.

However, Joe develops feelings for Gabriella and she openly reciprocates them with an innocence of a child and both have their first experience with love. Gabriella’s rite of passage into womanhood would have tragic consequences as Joe struggled with guilt and decided to end his life, rather than face the secular world with Gabriella and their unborn baby. Upon hearing of Joe’s death Gabriella goes into shock and ends up in the hospital where she loses her baby.

The circumstance of Joe’s death compels the convent to expel Gabriella and Mother Gregoria tearfully releases her daughter of twelve years into the world. After parting with her happy home Gabriella searches for a place to stay which she could afford with the money that Mother Gregoria gave her to start.

Eventually she finds a boarding house run by Mrs. Boslicki and inhabited by elderly tenants. During her stay Gabriella works as a waitress in a bakery shop and she becomes good friends with Theodore Thomas, a retired literature professor at the boarding house. Thomas encourages Gabriella to write and publish her work although she lacks confidence in her ability.

Months later, a new boarder would join the house, Steve Porter who comes in with the pretense of looking for work after graduating from a pristine school. Steve would use pity and guilt to seduce Gabriella, and have her pay for his boarding.

There would be numerous calls to the house and Steve would claim that they’re leads for work. The veteran tenants, especially Thomas grow wary of Steve who reaps the benefit of Gabriella’s hard work. One night Thomas confronts Steve alone in the house after discovering that he’s a con-artist who scams women while hiding his identity. Thomas tells Steve to leave Gabriella but he end up in the hospital after being roughed up.

Gabriella would visit Thomas up until his passing, and her friend would bequeath to her his personal library and his estate in hopes that Gabriella will pursue a career in writing. After the distribution, Gabriella is in Thomas’s room reflecting where she discovers papers that reveal the ugly truth about Steve.

The exchange between Gabriella and Steve turns violent as he tries to extort money from her. She refuses to give in to Steve’s threats especially after learning his role in Thomas’s death. Steve maliciously beats Gabriella as she does not waver before the cowardly monster that threatens her alone in the boarding house. Eventually, Steve gives up without having his demands met and runs away.

The Long Road Home - DS
Cover for Danielle Steel’s The Long Road Home (1998)

 

Gabriella would be discovered by a tenant and an ambulance would come to take her to the hospital. She would be under watch by the trauma unit and Dr. Mason. There would be an investigation into Steve that leads to his arrest to Gabriella’s relief as he would never harm anyone else again. During her rehabilitation Gabriella befriends Dr. Mason and eventually she’d set off on a journey of self discovery.

Gabriella calls Mother Gregoria to ask about the whereabouts of her parents. She would meet her father in Boston at his workplace more than a decade later. There she discovers that her father doesn’t feel as strongly as she feels for him, and learns that she’s a disturbing presence as she invokes awful memories. Leaving disappointed at her father, Gabriella heads to San Francisco to confront her mother, Eloise, to get answers for her abusive childhood.

Gabriella would search in the directory for Frank Waterford, the man who eloped with Eloise years ago. There at the Waterford residence Gabriella learns that her mother passed away years ago and Frank had remarried. Frank offers answers to the heroine for Eloise’s behavior toward her and reasons that she was jealous of her beautiful daughter as she wasn’t a happy woman nor a wife. The Waterford couple invite Gabriella to stay at the guest room before she leaves and she accepts. Having faced the truth about her past, Gabriella looks to the future as she’s ready to experience love and freedom without fear.

Her first years of life were filled with terror under Eloise’s harsh rearing but Gabriella’s years in the convent was healing her pain. In the morning that Joe meets Gabriella in the real world for the first time the text mentions, “It was a world full of colors and excitement and people, even at that hour. There were children with balloons, couples on benches talking and holding hands,” which conveys the coming of age for Gabriella and the beauty of innocent love (197).

When the text said, “She had the power of a soul that had defied the devil, she had lived through worse nightmares than anyone could ever dream of,” it conveys the strength of Gabriella in a prose style that uses imagery (305).Gabriella’s strength and courage is justified through what she survived in her childhood.

The Long Road Home brings attention to the injustices that defenseless children go through abusive parents especially girls. Gabriella is comparable to Jane in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Erye (1847) as both girls are powerless due to unfair circumstances but they blossomed into women who’ve ascended through their education and passion. Both heroines fought against the odds and dared to live life and love as they choose.

The Walk, Soles Travel From Dark to Light

The travelogue genre gives detailed accounts of the place that is the subject in literature. The literature can vary from travel literature, travel journal or diary which gives the writer’s experience, and outdoor literature which can deal with adventure and exploration. The Walk delves into a man’s journey from suburban life to trekking and celebrates life. Richard Paul Evans has written The Dance (1999), The Last Promise (2002), Grace (2008), A Winter Dream (2012), The Four Doors (2013) and other variety of literature.

In The Walk (2010) perseverance is epitomized through Alan Christoffersen, a man who’s experienced loss in his life. Alan is simultaneously suffers the loss of his wife and childhood sweetheart, McKale, and his company. He’s left to confront the demons in his life and must conquer them to find his purpose. The story reminds readers that life’s problems are unavoidable and one must learn to cope. Alan befriends Allyson Lynette Walker, a waitress who said to him, “The only real sign of life is growth. And growth requires pain. So to choose life is to accept pain.” which conveys how one must march forward rather than give up (217).

The story begins on a beach in Key West, Florida with Alan reflecting on the journey he took to get there. The story unravels in a story-within-a-story style akin to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) as both Alan and the nameless protagonist give their accounts of the observations they’ve made in their travels. Alan looks back thinking about his mother and childhood sweetheart, and his adulthood. In his adulthood he marries McKale and becomes a successful Adman with his own business.

One day Alan along with his business partner, Kyle are pitching an idea to a prospective client when he receives a call. Alan drops everything when he learns that McKale had been in an accident while horseback riding and rushes to the hospital. Leaving Kyle in charge of the clients, Alan spend every moment with his wife but weeks later she passes away not before asking him to keep two promises.

Alan would return to a life without McKale to deal with the aftermath and Kyle, who stole his clients and employees except for Falene. Alan goes through foreclosure which leads him to decide to dissolve his business and sell his possessions to pay off the debts, and decides to follow his dream of travel. After delegating the debt issue with Falene and making final preparations he sets off on his journey.

On his trek, Alan writes down his experiences and his sentiments in a journal as he camps in the wilderness. He stays for the night in a retro themed bungalow recommended by Allyson, a waitress of the 59er Diner. The following day after fixing his gear Alan sets off into the road toward the next town. On his way, Alan helps out a stranded motorist change her flat during a downpour and then resumes his walk.

After a couple of more stops at iconic landmarks and an enlightening conversation with the owner of a bed and breakfast Alan leaves with some perspective. It is midnight, Alan gets assaulted by a gang on the road to Spokane but police arrive at the scene to append the thugs. Alan awakens in a lit patient room at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane and is greeted by Annie the motorist who he helped out on the road. Both converse and Annie offers to take Alan in her care.

The Walk - Richard Paul Evans

The Walk Cover (2010) by Richard Paul Evans

The Walk follows the travel journey format through Alan’s account of his encounter with both people and nature. Entering the wilderness Alan said, “The forest around me was overgrown on both sides, thick with ferns, evergreens, and lichen-flocked black cottonwoods,” which shows a different experience from the suburban life that he knew (152).

When Alan mentions, “The river and falls roared loud enough to drown out the sound of the highway. The foliage was thick and green, accented with occasional patches of snow,” the raw nature is conveyed (181). Alan always takes the time appreciate the beauty of nature.

This novel will give readers the perspectives of a man who’s experienced the Yin and Yang of life. There will be moments which will evoke sorrow and sympathy from the characters’ personal accounts. There are many injustices that Alan goes through but he continues to endeavor and his drive to reach his goal will have everyone rooting for him and intrigued.

Peak, Bigger than Life: A Story of Growth

Outdoor literature deals with the outside world and the surrounding ambiences. Its often descriptive of the nature that is not found in the city. This genre encompasses subcategories which can include exploration, adventure, mountaineering, survival, hiking, and etc. Roland Smith has written Elephant Run (2007), Storm Runners (2010), Legwork (2011), and many other works.

Roland Smith’s novel Peak (2007) portrays a child’s coming of age through the realization that the world is bigger than themselves and doesn’t center around them through Peak Marcello. Peak gives up his dream to be the youngest to climb Mount Everest to help his friend Sun-jo get sponsors for school. Peak said, “You have a reason to be here, Sun-jo. An important reason. Your future and your sisters’ future. I don’t have a reason for being here.” which shows growth in the youth (230).

The story begins with the arrest of Peak Marcello a 14 year old who makes headlines after an attempt to scale a New York building. He’s appended by police in the middle of the mayor’s event which drew media attention. Peak is visited at the juvenile detention center by his mother who tells him that he may face three years in prison due to a failed copycat’s attempt that resulted in a death. However, with help from Rolf, his lawyer stepfather, Peak is able to get probation on the condition that he leaves New York with his father, Josh, until his stunt fades from the media.

Peak heads with Josh to Bangkok then receives a couple of physicals and Josh reveals that Peak would have a chance to scale Mount Everest and help give publicity for his company. The father son duo head to Kathmandu, where Peak would stay at the Summit Hotel to make preparations for the climb. There he befriends a Nepalese boy named Sun-jo, whom he trains with under Zopa, a veteran sherpa turned monk who’s helped Josh on past expeditions.

Along with clients for the adventure, travel company Peak Experience Josh’s business, Peak would climb the zones of the mountain and acclimate to the altitude. Josh’s group would be joined by a film crew and Holly Angelo a reporter and old acquaintance of Josh. The entourage traverse higher into the mountain but are confronted by Captain Shek, a Chinese officer, who’s in search of Sun-jo to prevent him from scaling Everest for political reasons.

The venture is treacherous which compelled many to turn back, but Peak and Sun-jo under Zopa’s guidance make it to higher elevations. The remaining clients don’t approve of Peak’s inclusion in their expedition which leads him to leave with Zopa, and his sherpas Yogi and Yash along with Sun-jo to climb covertly. Peak documents the climb on a camera that the film crew gave him before parting ways.

Peak - Roland Smith
Peak Cover (2007) by Roland Smith

As Zopa’s group ascends the mountain, Zopa falls ill and instructs Peak and Sun-jo to continue on without him as he recovers. Accompanied by the sherpas, Peak and Sun-jo climb the icy mountain recording their trek. The young duo reach the top but Peak decides to let Sun-jo put the flag while he documents the youngest climber to reach the top of Mount Everest. Feeling fulfilled Peak returns to New York and reunites with his family.

When Peak entered Nepal he described it as “Beautiful valleys, rustic villages, fields tilled by oxen-pulled plows, all against the backdrop of the massive, sparking Himalayas.” which gives readers a image of the outdoors (63). The countryside is juxtaposed with the industrial city which is away from nature.

The adventure aspect of Peak is comparable to the film The Martian (2015) as astronaut Mark Watney must survive on an unfamiliar setting with limited supplies as the days go by. Both Peak and Mark explore their respective surroundings which is foreign and unfamiliar to them with climate fluctuations. A Climber said, “An avalanche hit us at about two in the morning. Sounded like the biggest dang stampede you ever head Wiped out seven tent.” which shows how shifts can occur without warning (100).

Embarking on this adventure novel will give readers of all ages incentive to go to the next chapter to see the progress of characters whom they’ll grow invested in. The growth of Peak as he goes through many revelations will surprise both him and the audience.

Imagery Set Ablaze in Western Tale, Rogue Lawman: Gallows Express

Peter Brandvold’s Rogue Lawman Gallows Express (2011) is a Western tale about an honor-bound gunslinger named Hawk Gideon who’s contracted as a lawman. The story explores the honor code, the perseverance to uphold justice and it exhibit’s the strength of women when faced at odds. Peter Brandvold has also written Once A Lawman (2000), Once a Renegade (2002), Hell On Wheels (2006), and other series of novels.

Western fiction is set in the American Old West eras of 1860 to 1900 . The genre’s protagonist consists of a gunslinger who roams the countryside until he enters a town in need. Prominent landmarks featured in Western fiction are mountains, saloons, a church within a desert region. The struggle to maintain order and honor is present in the genre. This period conveys a need to reign in the wild elements that disrupt order in the West.

The story’s protagonist Hawk Gideon enters the town of Trinity Ridge to fulfill the duty of Aaron Stanley his predecessor which is hanging criminals whom escaped punishment. There have been opportunities to take down Brazos but Hawk is determined to bring him back alive for his due justice as his predecessor intended.

The strength of women is seen through the town’s school teacher, Regan who doesn’t waver in the face of danger and holds to her convictions. The rambunctious Saradee whom often cross paths with Hawk to tease him works independently in her gun-slinging profession which is male dominated.

Setting of the novel begins in a cold February in 1879, and Sheriff Stanley is giving a speech to the townspeople the day of Brazos’s hanging. However, Stanley’s wife enters the venue to dissuade him from going through the execution. The sheriff’s wavering wife serves as a precursor to the escape of Brazos and his fellow outlaws.

Hawk Gideon makes his way through mountains to Trinity Medicine Bow County, Colorado when he comes across a distressed woman whom he rescues from outlaws. Regan, whom Hawk rescues turns out to be a teacher from Trinity, leads him to town for a follow-up on an inquiry for a “town tamer.” After his arrival the townsman witness Hawk’s method for dispatching the most dangerous criminals which makes them uneasy, however, Mayor Pennybacker wants to bring stability to the town. Hawk quickly acclimates to the town, familiarizing himself with the Trinity saloons and the fleshpot that the bandits frequent to the vacant sheriff’s office.

The civilians are hesitant about employing a sheriff such as Hawk for fear of galling the bandits. Hawk enters his quarters when he encounters a figure from his past. Saradee was a compatriot of Hawk’s back in Arizona who saved his life but at the cost of the rangers who were ordered to take him out. There’s a tension between to the two but Hawk reluctantly surrenders himself to a steamy night of passion with Saradee.

Later, conflict ensues as a robbery takes place and Hawk guns down the would be killer who held a girl hostage. Word of the incident got to Cassidy a resident of the fleshpot that Brazos Tierney terrorizes and she asks Hawk if he can take care of Brazos. He promises to have the bandit and his men hanged just as Sheriff Stanley intended.

Hawk captures of three of Brazos men with help from Saradee which raises the stakes in Trinity. There’s a series of showdowns between the rogue lawman and Blue Tierney’s men. The town became a base for Tierney’s gang while Hawk was a prisoner awaiting execution.

Rogue Lawman Gallows Express

With help from his deputy Reb Winter and Saradee, Hawk escapes death to dish out some Western style justice on Tierney’s gang. The fleshpot is set ablaze in the culminating showdown. Ultimately, Tierney Brazos is blinded by one of the women he victimizes, which is poetic justice on the aggregator.

The surviving members of Tierney are jailed by Hawk and Tierney along with his men receive the noose for their crimes. Hawk fulfilling the promise he made on Sheriff Stanley’s grave looks over Reb who succeeds him as sheriff, as he takes his leave accompanied by Saradee. The town’s poised for reconstruction as the rogue lawman heads to Arizona on the promising spring day.

Rogue Lawman Gallows Express will leave readers immersed within the world of Hawk Gideon through the use of its well crafted prose. The text mentions that “the pianos in the town’s saloons and rustic fleshpots pattered noisily, as though in accompaniment to the coyotes yipping from the surrounding, star-dusted hills,” which makes readers feel as if they’re camping through the use of imagery (110).

The town of Trinity Ridge has a feeling of Desert Spring as seen in Red Ryder: Wagon Wheels Westward (1945). This daring novel is not for the faint of heart as it will have readers exposed to many characters some of which they’ll hate such as the brutish Brazos Tierney. Hawk Gideon isn’t afraid to fight unarmed or when outnumbered like Red Ryder. Hardened outlaws who’ve cross paths with Hawk know, “There was no mistaking the dead seriousness in his dark green gaze.” when challenged (21). Those who brave the ride of this Western tale will encounter amorous moments, action packed suspense and many intriguing revelations.