4 out of 4 stars
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The gods of Mount Olympus argue among themselves, each laying claim to the greatest patron city. A mortal boy from Crete, Orlando, must be sent on a mission to visit these cities, gather evidence, and settle the dispute once and for all. Orlando then finds himself moving from one city to another over the course of history, as he tries to make sense of the complex nature of humanity through time.
Orlando in the Cities by Sebastian Michael is a masterful blend of everything literature and history enthusiasts will love. The book effectively delivered a story that was told in different narrative styles, evolving in the same way as time and Western civilization do. There was an appropriate style for a certain time period in which Orlando was currently settled. For instance, the part of the story where Orlando was in Alexandria in 320 BCE was written like an epic poem, and when he was in France in 1789, the prose was written like a classic 18th-century novel. It was a bold undertaking to try to tell a story in such an unconventional way, but it was a unique aspect of the book that I appreciated the most.
This is such a thought-provoking book that philosophizes on human nature and existence and entertains our "what ifs" about certain events in history. One may also question Orlando’s existence. Was he just a figment of the imagination, or was he real enough to have an impact on these historic events and key figures?
If there was one minor quibble with the book, it had something to do with the plot. I felt like the initial premise, the idea that Orlando was sent on a divine quest, was kind of neglected at some point in the narrative. But it didn’t diminish the quality of the book enough to deduct a star. I liked the book as a literary homage to the events that shaped our history and the historical figures that made significant contributions to human civilization today. The book was professionally edited as well. Thus, my rating will be 4 out of 4 stars.
If you like books that revolve around time travel and history, you might be delighted to see Orlando meet famous historical figures throughout the story. It was really enjoyable to see them come to life in this book. I also recommend this book to those who enjoy reading poems or stories with excellent poetic writing.
Orlando in the Cities
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