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Sinon of Kirra combines fascinating history with vivid descriptions of everyday experience that places the reader squarely in the times, spaces, and places of the novel. Lalonde does a masterful job of giving instruction about current culture through a historical novel. For instance, when Sinon and Mentu encounter Glaukias aboard the merchant ship bound for Lesbos by way of Mytilini, (133-136) we receive a lesson on racism. This passage holds up a mirror to present day America. For example, when the captain describes Glaukias’s character to Sinon, he might well have been describing many older, white American men: ‘“Glaukias is a man of old values and traditions. He is a good sailor, but very opinionated and at times a bit of a trouble maker”’ (135). - Judge, 29th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards
An honest exploration of Ancient Greece
Full disclosure to start: I'm a former student of Mr. Lalonde, so I am somewhat familiar with some of the material that was presented in this novel. Also, he was one of my favorite teachers, so there might be a small amount of positive prejudice in this. :) SINON OF KIRRA is a very different flavor of novel for me. I'm used to swashbuckling adventures with obvious physical villains and evil plots and twisty-turny drama. This book, surprisingly, has almost none of that. This is a story about personal growth, social awareness, and gaining a sense of self and belonging. Sinon, our main protagonist, is a bright but somewhat sheltered young Greek man from a small port village called Kirra. This village is the main sea entrance point to the great city of Delphi, home of the famous oracle. As the story opens, we find Sinon preparing to visit the oracle to ask it what he should do with his life. It is a perfect starting point for both the boy and the story. Throughout the tale, we watch as Sinon struggles with the physicality of becoming a sailor; the mentality of losing his naivete; and the morality of recognizing that Mentu, his Nubian manservant, has ALWAYS been his brother. Along the way, we meet Strymon, a sailor on the good ship Amphitrite and wondrous spinner of tales who teaches Sinon and Mentu the ways of good sailing, who may, in fact, be more than he claims. We catch just a brief glimpse of Sappho, famed poet and philosopher of Lesbos, before she makes an quick (and necessary) exit. And we meet Femi... or to be more accurate, SINON meets Femi, and it changes his world that much more. This is a well crafted story, specifically designed to be a Man vs Himself type tale. And while there is not a lot of physical action (heroic sword fights, death-defying escapes, etc.), there is enough to let the reader know that life on a ship in Ancient Greece was not a cakewalk in any way, shape, or form. You can almost physically feel the ship being battered by the waves during the storm; feel the sea-sickness of Sinon's first outing; feel the sunburn as Sinon wakes up on the beach... but you'll have to find out about that for yourselves. :) I've given this 4 out of 5 stars, not because I disliked it (quite the opposite), but because it took me a little time to get into the style of story. Like I said, I'm more accustomed to more Michael Bay style action stories. This is VERY different, and far more satisfying in the character growth and development department. I'm eager to see where Mentu and Sinon go and what they get up to in the forthcoming volumes. Dan B
I wanted you to know I really enjoyed it (SINON OF KIRRA). Finished it in one sitting. I learned a lot about that part of the world and re-learned some mythology. I especially liked the character development. Dialogue was also very good. Lots of research in this book too. The book keeps moving – you never get bored. On to the next one (MENTU THE NUBIAN) – Jeff Wahlquist
Sinon of Kirra is a fun and interesting coming of age story. Even though it is a work of fiction, I loved all the historically correct details that were included to make the story come alive. I feel like I know much more about everyday living in ancient Greece after reading this. I also enjoyed the retelling of some classic Greek myths throughout the main story. Some surprising plot points toward the end of this novel have me excited to see what happens in the sequel, Mentu, the Nubian! - Maura Wang
I just wanted to let you know that I loved Sinon of Kirra and can't wait to read your new book! Great job!!! - Colleen Daley
"Lalonde's prose is bright and fluid, his storytelling clear and cogent. Sinon of Kirra ably captures the essence of ancient Greece that transports the reader into the era and takes them on a journey of self-discovery. I recommend this book to readers who are enchanted by Greek mythology and wonderful characters." —Kristi Stalder, author of Navigating Assisted Living: The Transition into Senior Living
With Sinon of Kirra I want to tell just how much I enjoyed reading it. You made me feel like I was walking his Life Journey him with all the sites and smells of the time. As I read I became more captivated and could not wait to read it to see what adventure came next. Thank you and am anxiously awaiting for the sequel! - Cindy Swank
Sinon of Kirra is a lovely tale of a teenage boy in ancient Greece who, along with his trusted servant undertakes a journey. It’s a coming of age story encompassing adventure, friendship, survival, loyalty and so many other aspects of life. And Stephen does a fantastic job of making it real. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait for his next adventure.
Just finished your book. . .it was so good! the story just kept having new twists and turns. . .I love historical novels because you can feel what it would have felt like to live in that time. . .thanks for education along with the entertainment.. . . think my husband, Aaron, is gonna start it soon. . .you are a GOOD writer, can't wait for the next one. . .Mentu The Nubian. . . - David Woodworth
Stephen Lalonde has written intrigue and texture, peril, hardship and humor into this story of an adventure that two young men embark upon in a time and place of unfamiliarity to modern mankind. The clothes, food, creature habits and modes of transportation bring an ancient past to life with a glossary for terms and maps for navigating the travels of Sinon and Mentu from the village of Kirra, as they experience a journey seeking a specific something of great importance. Pitfalls on the open sea, wary encounters with threatening strangers, ports of entry to towns of long ago and the rustic ways of life among people of the year 612 BC are told with vivid detail as the two main characters grow towards realizing where they belong.
Sinon of Kirra is a journey into a colorful world, one of sights, sounds, smells and creatures mystical and fierce. The setting is brought to life in an era of goat cheese, dried fish, figs, grapes, olives, and hardtack, of ledgendary ship trade, of other worlds, languages and islands. The characters’ well-defined personalities travel through the story to ports of entry and clusters of huts and taverns.
Stories within the story are woven into a tapestry made up of myths and the depiction of life in Greece. Maps of the travel lands appear throughout the book, and a glossary of terms is provided for defining words used for clothing, artifacts and mythical entities.
Part adventure, part history, part romance, the heft of the tale is companionship, family and human bonding. There is plenty of dialog bringing personality to the characters. I always enjoy listening to the voices of the people in a well-told story.
One particular scene in the marketplace is written in detail that brings smells of cooking, the sound of goats bleating and voices of street vendors. In this book there are villages, harbors, sailors flirting with women, ship crewmen listening to their captain tell stories as the oil lamps flicker on deck above the dark quiet sea. Another scene vividly gives the shock of cold briney sea water, “boiling passages,” of huge waves leading to the Black Sea, “Tremendous explosive splashes split the air as several large boulders broke free from the cliff walls of the Bosporus.”
The atmosphere changes from snapping sails that unfurl to catch the easterly breeze, to smoking wood fires of the village huts and Inns; then it slips into the brandishing moonlight on glassy water and the passing of time. “The next morning, the chariot of the sun peeked down from the eastern horizon to see the Amphritite well under way several miles from the place they spent the night. — As night swallowed the last light of the day, Aristamachos commanded, “Eurystheus, light the lamps.”
Intricate details give flavored chewiness to the story: “We could be in rough seas when we cross from Andros to Chios. You might see if you can get some wormwood or even white hellebore from a shop at Andros. There is much vegetation on that island. Mix that with some wine and it should keep you from getting seasick.”
Descriptive settings portray the place and time: “The walls and floor appeared to be marble and there was a tile mosaic of a woman reclining on a couch worked into one wall.”
I feel the scratchiness of grass while Sinon and Mentu are laying on the ground, trying not to be seen. “On the fourth day they were hiking through a small forest. A thick carpet of tall grass covered the ground under the trees. —They left their packs at the base of one of the biggest trees near the crest of the hill and crawled forward slowly, being sure to make no noise or to move anything that might raise suspicion. The ground was very dry and little puffs of dust came with each movement. The dead grass poked their hands and legs as they slowly inched forward.”
We meet bards singing in taverns, scruffy beggars, sailors, pirates, and shipwrecks.
In these days of cell phones, internet, speeding cars, instant everything and a dwindling of connection to nature, to animals and rugged outdoor challenges or primitive oil lamp light, fire cooking, wine flasks, donkey carts, travel by sailing ships, it was for me a good detour from this contemporary place. It was an enjoyable land and sea trip to take with these characters. - Diana Legun
When sixteen year old Sinon, goes to Delphi to ask the Oracle what his future will be, he is challenged by the Pythia to retrieve a legendary artifact from the end of the Black Sea. Sinon struggles with the decision to accept the challenge, finally deciding to do as the Oracle had pronounced. He takes his Nubian servant, Mentu, with him, and together they face the trials and tribulations of the physical journey as well as the emotional journey of moving from boys to men.
Mentu transported me back to ancient Greece on a glorious trip. Mentu grew from young man, to seasoned captain with many adventures along way, as he searched for his long-lost mother. Stephen brought his main characters to life, and I found myself rooting for them and their individual stories. I looked forward to each new chapter. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait to read his next book! Great Read! - CoCo Daley
Mentu the Nubian transports the reader to ancient Greece and the Mediterranean. You quickly become immersed in its seafaring culture as you accompany Mentu, a newly-freed slave, who is now captain of his own ship. The daily tasks required and the dangers encountered as you travel from port to port become second nature. You develop a new vocabulary as you learn about trade and social norms among the many different cities they visit. You listen to Greek myths told as the evening’s entertainment aboard ship, and come to understand how these tales permeate the way the crew thinks about the world. Along the way, you become caught up in Mentu’s search for his mother and his companion Sinon’s search for his true love, hoping they can defeat the time and distance separating them. - Betty Williams
I loved reading Mentu the Nubian. It was a great sequel to Sinon of Kirra, which I also thoroughly enjoyed. Mentu was a tale of adventure, brotherhood, commitment and resolve. It was very interesting how the author was able to tie in one of his personal interests; Greek mythology through his character, Strymon. Could be we might see a future story diving deeper into this character. - David Woodworth
Just wanted to let you know that I finished reading Mentu recently! I hadn't had the opportunity to read the earlier books, but it was easy enough to jump in. It was interesting to read about an era and a place I don't know much about. I've always meant to read up more on Greek mythology - it was cool to see some of it woven into your book; it made me want to finally open the mythology book I've been toting around for a few years. - Colin Machado
Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your book about Mentu and his relationship and travels with Sinon. It was informative and held my interest through the whole book. I am looking forward to your next book!! - Mary Lou Zografos
Mentu the Nubian was another fun read. It centers on Mentu’s coming of age in a complex and interesting way that enriched this adventure story. It seamlessly took up where Sinon of Kirra left off and rounded out the tale of these two friends in a satisfying way. Once again, the writing was engaging and really draws the reader into the story with well-researched settings and details. As with Sinon of Kirra, I really enjoyed the interspersed re-tellings of stories from Greek mythology throughout the main narrative! - Maura Stockton
I read first “Sinon of Kirra,” and then right away, “Mentu the Nubian.” Both Sinon and Mentu are characters you care about and I just had to find out what happens to them as they each go through their own coming of age experience. Author Steve Lalonde has conceived his characters with insight and care, and his own growth as a writer is evident through the course of the two books, with characters becoming more three dimensional and dialog becoming more engaging. I especially enjoyed the insertion of Greek mythology and the inclusion of thoroughly researched social customs and terms. Well done! - Cathy Brown
Thoroughly enjoyed MENTU. From start to finish there is continuous movement and adventures. I liked the characters and the way things were done is so interesting. I love the subtle education inherent in historical novels. - Jody Davis
"Mentu, the Nubian" is a good read, from start to finish. Perhaps the most compelling thing, besides the endearing characters themselves, is the vast knowledge of Greek mythology imparted by a secondary character within the novel, who tells these (often grusome) tales to the primary characters during their travels together. I was glad that I had first read the pre-story novel, "Sinon of Kirra" first, so I already had some knowledge of people and places revisited in this book. A quick, but engaging read for teens and adults, for sure! - Kathie Stockton
‘Mentu’ is a great read. The story takes off from ‘Sinon of Kirra’ and continues with Mentu, Sinon’s friend and previous servant. Inspired by Greek mythology, tales are told of Gods and men. The adventures of Mentu and his crew are vividly compelling. The reader will become acquainted with more Greek legends and heros. All the while Mentu becomes a deeper and dearer hero himself. ‘Mentu’ is the ‘Robinson Crusoe’ of the ancient past. - Roseanne Lalonde
This novel picks up the torch of Sinon of Kirra and carries it into a place of adventure beyond the boundaries of Kirra. It offered me the detailed feeling of being on the sea, at the ports of villages, among the bold journeymen who set the sails and drank the ales. Full of quest and encounter, the two main characters' friendship carries them far and brings them together as they each seek, and grow and change. Lots of atmosphere of place and time, challenge and adventure. Enjoyed the voyage!I - Diana Legun
I just finished “Mentu The Nubian” which in my opinion shows your growth as a writer. Great job and I look forward to reading your next book. - Dr. Peter Zografos
In this sequel to SINON OF KIRRA, Mentu, a newly freed slave, acquires a merchant ship, the Cyrene, and sets sail as the ship's captain for the very first time.
Among his cremates is his best friend, former master, and brother-in-arms, Sinon, who agrees to work on Mentu's ship for one year as they navigate dangerous seas, fight bloodthirsty pirates, thieves, and trade among the ports and harbors of Greece.
I have read all your books and think your writing gets better with each book. The stories are all enjoyable and you get to know the characters very well. I am always sad when the story ends and look forward to the next one. So keep me posted! - Mary Lou Zografos
Great book Steve. I have enjoyed your growth as an author and look forward to your next novel. - Dr. Peter Zografos.
Once again, Stephen Lalonde has astonished and captivated us with his extraordinary knowledge of history, geography, and Greek mythology in his latest novel Anissi. I was struck by the powerful use of language in Anissi that paints a portrait of classical times along the Nile River and Greek Islands. I was especially impressed by the strength of the title character, with the true warrior spirit of a mother, shining a light on women in history that is far too often left in the dark. A truly enjoyable read! - Amy McGarry
…I’ve ….decided to read Stephen Lalonde’s new book, “Anissi.” I’m about half way through. I highly recommend it. His writing transports me as though I am present on the sailing ships and small port towns of hundreds of years ago. The character development continues from previous books. If I didn’t know better I would think this was his life’s work, but no, he’s an educator, builder, craftsman extraordinaire and true jack of all trades. – Lyn McKay
"Annissi" is a novel rich with Greek geography and nomenclature. It's characters are kind, likeable people the reader comes to care about as we follow them through their adventures and interactions. As with Mr. Lalonde's previous novels, there is a wealth of Greek mythology mixed in with the story as a further means of acquainting oneself with that particular culture. Instructional, but in a very fun way! - Kathie Stockton
I finished Anissi and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it! You’ve created a character in Anissi that is so realistic I could almost believe I knew her. At the end I was surprised ... (omitted for spoiler). Your writing is getting better and better with each book you write. I can’t wait for the next one! - Cathy Brown
ANISSI is an adventure like no other. Stephen Lalonde is a scholar of Greek history and mythology. He takes us through Nubia, Egypt and Greece with historical accuracy. We learn about slavery in the ancient world, and how shipping worked on the trade routes. Stephen’s book is loaded with thought provoking personal dilemmas, loyalty, and redemption. You will come to love his characters, many of whom appear in the previous two books SINON OF KIRRA and MENTU THE NUBIAN. This story will capture your imagination where the ancient world comes alive. - Roseanne Lalonde
Anissi invites us into a world far removed from our own, with foreign geography and way of life overlaying our familiarity with its ancient wind off the Black Sea. This story continues the journey of Mentu the Nubian in his search for his mother he lost when he was a boy. This time, the huntress is Mentu's mother, Anissi, whose intent in finding Mentu is as strong as the bow by which she survives. Between the covers of this book there can be found characters who portray the human condition in all its gore and glory. There in the ships and taverns, among thieves and heroes, lies the journey of two people in their search for each other. Written with the flare of Greek mythology in this world of long ago, Stephen Lalonde has charted the migration and adventure of this searching sojourn of Anissi and Mentu, of mother and son. - Diana Legun
In the series following SINON OF KIRRA and MENTU THE NUBIAN, Anissi barely escapes death and witnesses the abduction of her son, and total destruction of her village. Driven by an unbridled rage, she becomes a deadly warrior. With the help of two girls who saved her from the clutches of death, she exacts revenge against the invader who destroyed her life.
Now, Anissi vows to find her son, Mentu, and secure his freedom from slavery.
Lifted from the pages of history, this fourth release by Stephen Lalonde is an adventure to be savored. Well-researched, well-written and filled with well-drawn characters, with a tasty amount of mysticism and mythology sprinkled in, this is a tale told of a man who finds himself on a beach with no memory of who he is - just the memory of a name. He walks back into civilization and to a life at sea, weaving in and out of the mysts that cling to the shoreline, traveling from port city to town, aided by a mysterious woman from the Isle of Lesbos. Fans of history, romance and/or adventure will all find something to love in Strymon. I heartily recommend you dig in now, and then you'll want to read all about Anissi, Sinon of Kirra and Mentu the Nubian. Go ahead. Enjoy the journey.
-Linda Bond, Inland Northwest Writers Guild
Stephen Lalonde really touched on human relationships and cultural awareness in his historical novel, STRYMON. I like the underlying theme of positivity.
What I enjoyed about this book is how the gems of writing showed themselves in among the ocean waves and taverns, with descriptions of human nature, and emotions that are the human condition. Relationships stood out front in their substance and story value, with loyalty and conviction of character being the stellar heart of it all. It was fun to recognize the segments that show scenes from the other two books in this trilogy…from another point of view. This novel has a beautiful ending — don’t peek ahead!
~ Diana Legun
Strymon's life is a mystery, even to him. From a strange beginning, a powerful woman helps him to see the world as he pursues the life of a sailor. He finds ways to earn the admiration those around him as he travels the world and grows in wisdom through his adventures. Strymon makes one decision that continues to haunt him through the years. He is stunned to find that a prophecy involves him in one of many strange twists that transform his life; a life that profoundly affects so many others.
I recently finished reading Stephen Lalonde's compelling novel, "The Phoenix Gift". It was well written with an unexpected plot twist which left this reader unsure how the protagonist would be able to navigate that twist with a satisfactory result. Was she able to do that? Well, you'll just have to read it and decide that for yourself! A good read! I will be watching closely for Stephen Lalonde's next novel and scoop that up as soon as it comes out! - Kathie Stockton
Just finished reading book last night. Started and couldn't stop until I was finished. Well done Steve. - Jan Pierce
Glad to see you and the great turnout for your event (book signing). I can hardly wait to give a copy to a close friend. I am sure that he and his wife will enjoy the novel as much as Carol and I have. - Darry Isotalo
I found in Stephen Lalonde’s The Phoenix Gift a distinctly rare storyline that spins Mary Burns’ life out of kilter in the most personal way, revealing from early on a dilemma that would follow her through the journey she takes to discover the roots of her father-in-law’s past and a truth of her own that held her hostage until she made the most difficult choice of her life. Juggling the two mysteries simultaneously, The Phoenix Gift includes vivid family members and their relationships with each other, rich details and delightful dialogue that bring them all to life, wonderful descriptions of eastern Washington state locations, and an acute focus on how immensely powerful love can be. Watching Mary grow throughout the pages made this book satisfying start to finish. - Diana Legun
I finally found time to read the book and it was great. I enjoyed the family history and dynamics, the Northwest and Spokane references, and the neat mystery aspects. - Dan Brown
Good book Mr. L. I finished it a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it. Very well written. - Rhonda Eilmes-Peck
I enjoyed it. Fun read. Kept me turning pages. - Nicole Hildebrand Burgess
Loved your book!❤️ - Mary Lou Zografos
An interesting interplay between the husband and wife regarding her increasing interest in his father. Fun family repartee at p. 105. “Dad!” “bashing a hole in the head to let out the evil spirits” – a truly touching scene, p. 115. A really impressive twist. What a secret to be carrying around!
I do note that your dialogues are better later in the book. A really good flow, particularly in the family scenes. You have a really good balance between thought-driven and dialogue-driven scenes. This is a rare quality. - Judge, 25th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards
I enjoyed you book very much! The plot twist was truly surprising, and I enjoyed the Spokane references. It was fun being able to picture the settings. “Hey, I’ve been there!” - Cathy Brown
Loved your book Stephen, it was totally engaging with an interesting twist, easy to follow and keep reading. . .and not the ending I expected! keep writing! - Jody Davis
Mary doesn’t realize at first that she is a rebel looking for a cause. Her teenage daughter and son don’t need as much of her time so she takes on the regular visit to her father-in-law who has advanced cancer and Altzheimer’s. When she realizes that he is going to die with no significant memory of living she decides to research his life in an effort to give it back to him before he passes. In the process Mary discovers something that changes her life.