Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Pegasus Falling by William E. Thomas (4.5/5)

By Amanda Amaya

[See the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of the review to enter the giveaway for a physical copy of the novel]

Pegasus Falling is an amazingly powerful book.  It’s part one of the Cypress Branches Trilogy, and the second part is due this spring.  The book is written by William E. Thomas, who was recruited into the Parachute Regiment in the British army during WWII.  He became a much-decorated soldier during his numerous drops into enemy territory.  According to the “about the author” section, Mr. Thomas began his writing career after he retired from a civilian position as a lab technician.  In 2006, Mr. Thomas was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and now resides in a care center.  His family is promoting his literature. 

Here is the plot summary (from Amazon): 
Arnhem, 1944. Captain Stanley Adam Malcolm Parker - Sammy to his friends - and his platoon have fought bravely, but it was always a losing battle. The bridge was unwinnable. After he and his men are forced into cattle trucks and transported across Germany on a three day journey without food or water, Sammy lashes out at an SS officer with brutal and devastating consequences...for him and his German opponent.

Instead of spending the rest of his war as a POW, Sammy is sent to a concentration camp.

Spared an immediate death, Sammy discovers firsthand the full horror of the final solution. Amongst the desperation and destitution of the camp, he encounters Naomi, a Jewish housewife from Dresden. Having seen her family murdered, Naomi has learned to survive by making the most unimaginable of sacrifices. She is the woman who Sammy comes to depend on to survive himself.

But when the camp is finally liberated, the couple are separated and Sammy embarks on a journey across a continent devastated by war and wracked by ongoing tensions to find out what happened to the woman he loves.
Initially, I was confused about the characters and the timeline.  There are different chapters, but from one paragraph to another many months may have passed.  It was difficult at times to figure out the ‘when’ and ‘where’ and ‘who’ of a passage.  But as the book continues, the reader gets used to this type of formatting and begins to look for the “clues” to the timeframe and character with each new paragraph.  If I would change anything about this book that would be it:  making the chapters more succinct and clarifying the characters.

Another issue was the different phrases and use of the German language throughout the book.  Perhaps being American puts me at a disadvantage here, as most Americans only speak English (and poorly at times).  But I think something is lost when the reader is unable to figure out the communication between some characters.  For example:  when Sammy is first encountering the Germans, almost a full page of German is used. Occasionally a device will be employed to convey the gist of the conversation, i.e. someone translating, but overall I found myself lost during those passages.

William E. Thomas
Additionally, British spellings and British idioms are used throughout.  The onboard dictionary loaded into my Kindle was extremely helpful, but the majority of times, the term I was searching for could not be found. I enjoy learning these new terms, but sometimes it is difficult to read through, especially when the reader can only understand every third word.  But it did lend a truly interesting tone to the entire book.

This book is a very powerful piece of literature.  It is extremely moving, emotional, and raw.  The story is engrossing, a page turner at times.  I did not expect it to be so romantic, and I am amazed that a man was able to pour that much emotion into the book.  It is at once a testament to the horrors of war, a love story, a history of the Holocaust and the subsequent founding of the nation of Israel.

The love story on many accounts is amazing.  The idea of someone surviving something as horrible as the Holocaust because of the love of another is mesmerizing.  The reader actually aches during the passages that feature separation.  It is also a commentary on different types of love.  Love between man and wife, love between fellow survivors, love between friends. 

Overall, I give this book a 4.5 star rating.  I am intensely anticipating the next installment, and I’ll be the first in line (figuratively, of course) to get my copy.
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About the Reviewer:  Amanda Amaya was born in Texas, moved to Pittsburgh for 25 years, and now she’s back in the Lone Star State.  She has been a nurse for a decade.  She loves to read and will usually read anything.  She prefers to focus on self-published authors and may consider writing herself one day.  She is also a newlywed and a mom.  You can check out her work at the examiner.com and on her blog The Eclectic Bookworm.

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The Giveaway – I’m sure y’all know the drill by now—same deal as before.  Sign up for the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below.  You get one “freebie” entry just for being one of the cool kids that reads this blog.  You can earn extra entries (and a better chance to win) by doing other little things to follow the blog or help promote the giveaway.  The physical copy is available only to those entrants in the U.S. and U.K.  All other international entrants can win an electronic copy instead.

Another item worthy of note:  Mr. Thomas’ family is running an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to raise funds for the first print run of book two of the trilogy, It Never Was You.  If you think you’d like to donate to the cause, boogie on over here.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

22 comments:

  1. Looks like an interesting book...should be a good read. Thanks!

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  2. I really enjoyed this book as well http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=6328, I liked it a bit more than you ... but that's what makes life grand :)

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  3. Pegasus Falling sounds like a moving read, even if at times it was confusing, ie the German dialogue. Great review! How wonderful that the authors family promotes his literature.

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  4. Wow, that sounds difficult but wonderful! Lovely review.

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  5. When "Man of La Book" and "I Read a Book Once" both agree give a positive response to a new title, you shouldn't even stop to read the review ... just run to your local bookstore (or to your favorite online ordering site) and grab a copy! (Then read the review - they worked hard to produce it!)

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  6. Very interesting. Will be on my to read list.

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  7. Interesting with German in the book

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  8. Thank you, Amanda, for your great review of my grandfather's book. I'm sure he'd be delighted that his book is being enjoyed by readers around the world - I know I'm proud of his achievements, even though his illness means he is unable to enjoy them to the full himself. Please don't worry, you didn't miss anything with the German passages, as the gist of what's being said is always explained in English. As for the British English idioms, I have to admit that sometimes they stumped even me when I was editing the book. There's a lot of army badinage and vernacular which had me pulling the dictionary down and searching online for meaning. To me, they all add to the authenticity of the book. Thanks again, and I hope you enjoy the second book, which is due for release in April.

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