Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review: Antiquitas Lost by Robert Louis Smith

Title: Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans
Author: Robert Louis Smith
Illustrator: Geof Isherwood
Paperback: 615 pages
Publisher: Medlock Publishing (2011)
Rating: 5 starts

Two heroes - two worlds - connected by strange birthmarks from a dying race. Elliott is at his dying mother's bedside in New Orleans as Princess Sarintha of Harwelden is kidnapped by a serpan warlord. 

Elliott's grandfather asks him to go to the basement and look around, and what he finds there is a portal to another world. In New Orleans he was a scrawny teen and easy prey for the neighborhood bullies. In Pangrelor, he is the prophesied hero who will save Pangrelor from destruction. And so the journey begins in the "Heart of the Traveler."

My Thoughts
Smith does what my favorite fantasy authors do (Anne McCaffrey, J.R.R. Tolkien): he creates a fantasy world without being an imitation. In Pangrelor there will be no dragons, dwarves, elves - common creatures often imitated, but never to the richness and depth of the classics. His story is not original, but it's comfortable in its familiarity. 

Young unheroic hero dropped into an unfamiliar and warring world, possessing a power that he/she is unaware of, an ancient prophesy - it's all in this book, thank heavens. After all, that is what makes a fantasy novel a fantasy novel. 

So in this story we have the original, we have the new, and major bonus - we have the spectacular illustrations of Marvel Comics legend Geof Isherwood. I just want to share one with author notes below, generously provided by the publisher with my thanks. The illustrations alone will sell the book. 

This is a great Middle School book that can span to the adult realm - for fantasy hard cores and reluctant readers alike.

Elliott arrives in Pangrelor
In this illustration, Elliott has just arrived in Pangrelor and
met Marvus and Jingo, with whom he will form a close
bond. Marvus and Jingo belong to a diminutive race of
primitive hominids called gimlets, and Geof and I had many
discussions regarding how they should look. For example,
we had a lengthy back-and-forth regarding the appearance
of their ears, and eventually settled on the shape you see
here. Geof also fleshed out their garments and boots,
which they have shared with Elliott in this scene. To the
right, Geof improvised the six-legged lemur to add to the
sense of otherworldliness.

While I'm sharing, here's more from the author himself on Pangrelor vs. Middle Earth

Smackdown: Pangrelor vs. Middle Earth
By Robert Louis Smith,

In 1954, J.R.R. Tolkien published the first of a breathtaking series of books that would go on to become some of the most influential novels of the 20th century. As anyone who has ever read The Lord of the Rings knows, Tolkien's books are so imaginative and unexpectedly powerful that his fantastic tale still captures our imaginations more than a half century after its original publication. These stories gave birth to the modern fantasy genre, and it is perhaps inevitable that so many contemporary fantasy books replicate aspects of Tolkien's writings. So pervasive is Tolkien's influence that the Oxford English Dictionary offers a word for it: Tolkienesque. Perhaps this is why we see so many fantasy tales that feature elves, dwarves, wizards, magic rings, and magic swords. The presence of these features is, in many ways, what we have come to expect from a modern fantasy novel.
But over the course of 57 years, these constructs of classical Northern European (or Tolkienesque) fantasy fiction have been imitated to the point of monotony. In tome after tome, we see elves and dwarves wielding magical swords or speaking in Northern European conlangs (fictional languages) as they follow some particular heroic quest. And let's be honest. Although there are many wonderful and imaginative novels that feature these elements, no one has done it as well as Mr. Tolkien.
When I sat down to write Antiquitas Lost, I promised myself there would be no magic rings, magic swords, elves or dwarves. A major goal was to create a fantasy novel where the creatures and setting were fresh. Pangrelor, the fantasy world described in Antiquitas Lost, is envisioned as a pre-industrial, medieval society with beautiful artistic accomplishments set in a savage and magical natural environment -- the Renaissance meets the Pleistocene, with magical beings and crypto-zoological creatures. Devoid of elves and dwarves, Pangrelor is inhabited largely by creatures that we are familiar with, but different from the usual fantasy fare -- gargoyles, Bigfoot creatures, Neanderthal types, Atlanteans and dinosaurs, to name a few. These differences give Pangrelor a much different feel       from Middle Earth and the countless, adherent worlds that have followed. Hopefully the reader will find this refreshing. Over time, I have come to think of Antiquitas Lost as more of a "North American" tale, with many references to new world mythologies, as well as a hint of Native American influence.
Although Antiquitas Lost is not immune to Mr. Tolkien's sweeping influence, it is unique in many ways. When you take your first journey to Pangrelor, it is my sincere hope that you will experience a hint of the joy that accompanied your maiden voyage to Middle Earth, and that you will connect in a meaningful way with this unprecedented new cast of characters as you explore an altogether unique fantasy destination.
© 2011 Robert Louis Smith, author of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans

Author Bio
Robert Louis Smith, 
author of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans, has numerous degrees, including psychology (B.A.), applied microbiology (B.S.), anaerobic microbiology (M.Sc.), and a Medical Doctorate (M.D.). He serves as an interventional cardiologist at the Oklahoma Heart Institute. He is married and the father of two young children. He began writing Antiquitas Lost in 2003 while studying at Tulane University in New Orleans.

For more information please visit and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Source: given by the publisher for an honest review

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