FTC Disclosure: Review copy provided by the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program
In his international bestseller Beneath A Marble Sky, John Shors wrote about the ancient passion, beauty, and brilliance that inspired the building of the Taj Mahal. Now with Temple of A Thousand Faces, he brings to life the legendary temple of Angkor Wat, an unrivaled marvel of ornately carved towers and stone statues. There, in a story set nearly a thousand years ago, an empire is lost, a royal love is tested, and heroism is reborn. – Author’s website
It’s no secret I favor historical fiction, however this is written in a way that any fan of great story-telling will love. In fact there isn’t as much historical detail as one would expect because little is known of what actually happened. So instead of centering the story around the history, it’s about the people who would have lived it.
Shors’ previous work, Beneath A Marble Sky is about the trials and hardships of the people who struggled to create something wondrous and great. This story, however, takes a different tack. It’s about the trials and hardships of defending and rebuilding what has already been created. Husbands, wives, children, and rulers equally suffer and strive to overcome overwhelming forces that seek to obliterate all they hold dear.
What I find refreshing is that each character whether great or low, male or female, have roles to play that are equally important to the story. As history has shown, any great civilization that has survived has done so because of it’s people and their resiliency.
This is not a novel of revenge, although it’s a powerful motivating factor, but of rebirth and regeneration – much like the religions of its characters and setting: Angkor Wat. Where the characters provide the heart of the story, Hindu and Buddhist concepts provide the soul.
In historical fiction, fact and fiction are interwoven to create a believable scenario. Many writers do this with researched detail that is offered to dress the tale as accurately as possible. But few facts survive regarding the time Shors writes about, so he does his best to fill in the gaps. The only structural problem comes with condensing the time frame. This causes some parts to not quite jive with me, but they are inconsequential to the story line overall.
Does love and faith conquer all? Not always. But many times it prevails because it is more powerful in the long run than greed and hatred. This is such a story. Not everything lost to Jayavar and his people are restored. The enemy is not vanquished completely. But they do win the day in many other and more important ways. (This is not so much a spoiler as an incentive to read this book and find out for yourself how the story and the lives of it’s characters plays out.)
I don’t think there is a book by this author I wouldn’t recommend, but this one I would definitely put at the top of the list.
- Temple of A Thousand Faces
- Beneath A Marble Sky
- Beside a Burning Sea
- Cross Currents
- The Wishing Tree
- Dragon House