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.



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Nineteenth Century Muskets and the John Dunn Story

During the 1800s in South Africa, there were a lot of muskets used by the Natal colonists, the British military, and even the African natives. During my research for my John Dunn historical novel, I did not pinpoint the exact brands and makes of the majority of those muskets. But I did find a lot of information about guns and muskets of the time. For example, the Enfield 53 was a state of the art musket being used at the time. The Enfield 53, (named that because it came out in 1853) was one of the first  "rifled" barrel muskets. That was a revolutionary improvement. In addition to that, it used the "Minie Ball" but that name is misleading. You see, the Minie Ball wasn't a ball-shaped projectile, like the lead balls which muskets usually used.

The Minie ball projectile was called a Minie ball for its inventor, a dude named Minie. It was cone shaped, somewhat like a modern day bullet. And because of the cone shape and the grooves in it, along with the rifled barrel, the Enfield 53 could shoot farther and with more accuracy than the muskets used prior to that. Of course, shortly thereafter, the breech-loading guns came out, and one of the first of those types was the Holland & Holland double-barreled rifle, which John Dunn had written about in his autobiography, John Dunn, Cetywayo, and the Three Generals. That was, of course, one of my main sources for my book. Dunn also wrote about his Snider, which was another breech-loading rifle he used and wrote about.

So in my book, John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu, which is due to be released next month, I made note of the Holland & Holland rifle Dunn used, and I made note of the Snider. But beyond those two rifles, Dunn didn't name the guns he used. Sure all the historians wrote about the Martini-Henrys, which was the British military gun issued to British regulars. It was the rifle the British used during the Anglo-Zulu War and a state of the art gun at that point.

So the book is good for now as far as editing is concerned. I sent my latest revisions yesterday, and I'm just waiting for the edits to start. And when they do, I'll be sure to let you know. All in all, I'm thinking my John Dunn book will be my best. It's the longest, the most involved, and it's based on a true story. Yes, I added some fiction. I gave Catherine Pierce a larger role in my story. No other writer or historian had much to say about her. Not even John Dunn in his autobiography had much to say about her or any of his other 48 wives. Still, I wanted a strong female character in the story, and I figured she was the right person for the part.

It was noted by several historians that Catherine Pierce was not happy about Dunn taking those additional wives. So there's some true life conflict right there for the story. Not that a story that spans the years between the Zulu Civil War and the Anglo-Zulu War is in need of any more conflict. It's already overflowing with conflict. But hey, there were no women involved in those conflicts, other than the 20,000 women and children Prince Cetshwayo and his army slaughtered in the Battle of enDondakusuka. Nevertheless it all makes for a very rounded and intriguing story. Stay tuned.

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