Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart - the brilliant professor from Bethel University - or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

True History vs. Historical Fiction

I mentioned yesterday that in my later years I prefer to read, (when I do read,) about true historical events. That is to be differentiated from Historical Fiction. Meaning Historical Fiction can actually be about a true historical person even though it's fiction. I mentioned the oft-written-about historical figures Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Cleopatra. Those historical figures may have been written about in historical novels more than any other historical people. Even Shakespeare took a turn at it. But how many of those books were historically accurate? Sure they were based on the true story. And all were generally true to the real events, I would guess. I wouldn't really know, because I never actually read them.

I did see the movie, Cleopatra, with Elizabeth Taylor, and I saw the HBO show called Rome. Both were based on the historical events surrounding Julius Caesar and his best friend and right hand man, Mark Antony, but an awful lot of "artistic liberties" were taken, as well, in both shows. And if you're looking for an entertaining story about a real life person, then I don't mind those liberties. But sometimes, I think, those liberties are taken too far. It's an opinion, of course. In the show Rome, they made it so that Julius Caesar's son, Caesarian, was not really his son, but fathered by another Roman Cleopatra used to get impregnated.

In the movie Cleopatra, they left out completely the children Cleopatra had with Mark Antony. So did either story ruin the entertainment value of the shows? No. Not as long as the story lines were still generally accurate to the historical events. And they were.

But when I read a book I want to know the real events, and an accurate account of them. I don't read historical fiction for entertainment. I want the real deal. I want to know just what did Julius Caesar really do, and wow, what he really did was really amazing. From his conquest of Gaul to his later conquest of Egypt, which in both campaigns his army was overwhelmingly outnumbered, and yet both times he was overwhelmingly victorious.

Of course the whole Cleopatra thing was exciting and intriguing, and his assassination by the Roman Senators who feared his domination was a great twist in the story, as was Mark Antony's rise to power, as he hunted down and killed the assassins one by one.

And then you have the sudden and unexpected rise of Octavian, whose shrewd manipulations would eventually make him the ultimate master of the entire Roman Empire. Yes, this was a story that really needed no "artistic liberties" as it's a wonderful story as it really happened.

But sometimes artistic liberties do make a real life story more interesting, and that's what I did with my story about John Dunn. I didn't take too many liberties, mind you. Yes, I mentioned that I had one of his 50 wives be the daughter of the Zulu king. But that wasn't too drastic, as Dunn did marry many daughters of fellow Zulu chiefs. And the Zulu king, Cetswayo, had about as many kids as Dunn. I'm talking about in the hundreds.

And that's just about it, except for one other liberty. Dunn's main antagonist in my story, as in real life, too, I might add, was the Anglican Bishop Colenso, the religious leader who was trying to Christianize the natives in South Africa, including Zululand. He hated John Dunn. He saw Dunn as a white man who had lowered himself to the level of the natives, living amongst them, marrying them, and having children with them. To Colenso, this was unconscionable. And his vehement hatred of Dunn was well known.

But in my book, I gave Colenso some props. Colenso did do some good things for the Zulus, and I wanted to show his good side by having him take in Dunn's clan during the war, when Dunn brought his people to the British side of the Tugela River. In real life, Dunn's people were forced to camp out in an unincorporated part of Natal, (the British colony next to Zululand.) But in my story, I portrayed Colenso as the "good Christian" who did a hated rival a "Christian" favor, by helping him in a time of need. Was that too liberal of me? Maybe. But I thought it added to the story.

Still, it's a long way from being completed. I'm still revising and fixing some holes in Killer Eyes. That should be finished in a couple months. Then John Dunn will get its turn. Can't wait for that.

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