A Review of TRAVELS IN ELYSIUM by William Azuski

TravelsInElysium-AzuskiA review by Susan Wingate (author of award-winning, Amazon bestselling novel, “Drowning”) of TRAVELS IN ELYSIUM by Author William Azuski’s  (Iridescent Publishing, May 2013)

Paperback, 540 pages;

Language: English;

ISBN-10: 3952401528; ISBN-13: 978-3952401521

Back Cover Blurb: It was the chance of a lifetime. A dream job in the southern Aegean. Apprentice to the great archaeologist Marcus Huxley, lifting a golden civilization from the dead… Yet trading rural England for the scarred volcanic island of Santorini, 22‐year old Nicholas Pedrosa is about to blunder into an ancient mystery that will threaten his liberty, his life, even his most fundamental concepts of reality.

Publisher’s Plot Summary: Young Nicholas (“Nico”) Pedrosa travels to the Aegean island of Santorini to take up the job of apprentice to the imperious archaeologist Marcus James Huxley. It seems the opportunity of a lifetime, despite the regime of the Colonels ruling Greece with a brutal hand. Yet no sooner has he set foot on the island than Nico blunders into the funeral procession of his own predecessor, sparking a series of events that will ultimately threaten not only his freedom and his life, but his very assumptions about reality. When Huxley proclaims the ancient city he is raising from the volcanic ash the site of Plato’s legendary lost Atlantis, truth, lies and expediency seem impossible to disentangle. As the legend’s clash of freedom and tyranny, honor and corruption play out once again in the Aegean, Nico is forced to confront the possibility that Atlantis is less a physical place on the map than an ingenious metaphysical device engineered by the philosopher himself, one capable of revealing the true nature of reality and the human condition.

My review: Azuski is a modern-day master. His writing not only exhibits unique voice and style but weaves an intricate tail of intrigue, insecurity, and longing which he combines with tender moments from the outset when young Nico leaves his mother’s home to go to the ancient land of Greece to a job sought after by any of his college classmates. But, right away things begin to go awry when reality (or what we consider reality) mixes with occurrences of dreamy vision that feel so real, the author makes the reader consider a very human possibility that our time spent dreaming may just be as real as our time spent awake. But if that is true, then is our time spent asleep spent in some place between life and death? I ask this question given the definition of the word “Elysium” which I reference from Dictionary.com as follows:

Elysium, a noun
1. Also called Elysian FieldsClassical Mythology : the abode of the blessed after death.
2. any similarly conceived abode or state of the dead.
3. any place or state of perfect happiness; paradise.
4. an area in the northern hemisphere of Mars, appearing as a light
region when viewed telescopically from the earth.
Origin: 1590–1600;  < Latin  < Greek Ēlýsion  ( pedíon ) the Elysian (plain) 

So, we then ask ourselves: What is this dream state we enter each night when we close our eyes? I suppose scientists can answer the question using medical foundations and explanations, sure. But, as an artist, Azuski throws out scientific thought and leans on mystical reasoning that seems so plausible you believe the story outright.

With this knowledge, the reader can be sure they are in for something different. Not your typical haggard tale of zombies and vampires, TRAVELS IN ELYSIUM combines the art of literary fiction writing with a great thriller that takes you on a path moving so fast that by the end of the story, you find yourself going back to page one just so you can re-read its wonderful passages, to catch the things you might have missed. But, Azuski gives you everything you need. He gives his all to this novel.

Mixing the wonderment of finding a place called Atlantis with notions of finding a place called Heaven, Azuski places the reader in a setting so fluid and slippery it feels like sinking into honey. A delicious tale with gorgeous writing that will stay with you for years to come.


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