Friday, August 7, 2009
Hannibal's Elephant Girl by Ariion Kathleen Brindley
In 218 BCE, Hannibal took his army, along with 37 elephants, over the Alps to attack the Romans. Eleven years before this historic event, on the banks of a river near Carthage in North Africa, one of his elephants pulled a drowning girl from the turbulent waters. Thus began Liada's epic journey with the elephant known as Obolus.
Back cover, Hannibal's Elephant Girl
Liada was only 12 years old when she was thrown into the river and left for dead. At about the time she has resigned herself to this fate a large "snake" pulls her from the river and saves her life. This "snake" was the trunk of Obolus, an elephant in Hannibal's army. Liada finds herself in the middle of an army camp with no memory of her past, including her actual name.
She settles in with Yzebel, a widow who feeds the soldiers nightly, and her young son Jabnet. Liada quickly develops relationships with the other camp dwellers as well -some good and some bad. She also finds herself drawn to Obolus, and he to her. This novel tells of Liada's time in the camp, her relationships with people and animal, and her struggle to remember her past.
Liada and Obolus have a relationship that seems magical to some and almost evil to others. Her ability to control the large beast makes her several enemies. But, this relationship proves to be so strong that no one can deny it. Many of Liada's adventures actually stem from her attempts to sneak time with Obolus.
The characters in this novel are well-developed. Liada is a quick learner and often times remembers details that she has no recollection of every learning or knowing. People are drawn to her, and she develops relationships quickly. She comes across with a touch of class and an over sized heart. Yzebel, her camp mother, is well liked and is a resourceful woman. She struggles with her family's past and current situation, but remains open to those around her. Tin Tin Ban Sunia has little to no voice, but says more with her actions than many around her. She is highly intelligent and loving. I found myself longing to know her story.
This novel drew me in from the first sentence and didn't let me go. Each new day in the story brought a new adventure. As I went along for the ride my fingers were crossed that things would go well. I developed quite an affection for the female characters in Hannibal's Elephant Girl, and it was difficult to read of their struggles and to accept the actions of those who plotted against them.
Hannibal's Elephant Girl is an excellent historical fiction novel. It is classified as young adult, but I am in my 30's and enjoyed it immensely. In fact, as soon as I finished it I emailed the author to inquire about the release date of a sequel. Yep, this is the first in a series that I will definitely be following. Per Ms. Brindley there will be 5 to 6 books in the series and the next book should be complete in about 6 months. I hope it stays on schedule. Please check out her site for other work she has written. I hope to be reading Raji soon.