2 out of 4 stars
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Song of Eramus was written by John Ekstedt and Richard Ekstedt, two brothers whose lives had been shaped by war. This common theme drove them to write this book, which follows Eramus, an immortal Innocent, as he tries to save humans, the Separated, from their relentless pursuit of violence and death. To do this, he tries to push human history towards peace, rather than violence, influencing events like the writing of the Magna Carta and even earlier historical events.
Therein lies the greatest problem with this book. When a novel spans the entirety of human history, with an eye to something as intrinsic as conflict itself, it's almost impossible to avoid losing focus completely. That's certainly the impression I got while reading. The thematic focus does its best to tie the novel together, but unfortunately, I didn't find most of its opinions very insightful. It was generally some iteration on the theme of humans willingly choosing conflict rather than peace and being unable to overcome their own nature.
Much of the book is simply retelling great stories from history and describing how Eramus was involved. Since Eramus doesn't have much character himself, beyond being an incredibly powerful and altruistic god-like being, it was hard for me to accept his place in what are otherwise very factual scenes. Every time he was present, it drew me out of the story, and since most chapters skipped tens or hundreds of years to tell an entirely different historical account, it was quite hard to get absorbed in the narrative.
The book certainly isn't without merit. It's fairly well-edited, and the writing style is clean and clear. As far as I can tell, the historical accounts are correct, and they're certainly interesting. Reading about the life of Gonzalo, a Spaniard-turned-Mayan, and the struggles that entailed, was fascinating. At every turn, I found myself wishing that the authors had just told a book-long story about the people involved in one of the chapters. The presence of Eramus himself, though, reminded me instantly that what I was reading was fiction. The mythos the authors create just isn't rich enough to hold up to actual historical events.
Ultimately, I rate Song of Eramus 2 out of 4 stars. It's a good read for people interested in human history as a whole, if they can get past the fairly shoehorned-in aspect of Eramus. People looking for insight into the nature of human conflict, on a spiritual and psychological level, are better off looking elsewhere.
Song of Eramus
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