Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Blue Horizon

It was a by chance buy, one that I am grateful for. Not since reading James Mitchener's 'Centennial' and Alex Hailey's 'Roots' some more than 20 years ago, have I come across a book that's spellbinding and had me fixated. Well, there was Sidney Sheldon's 'If Tomorrow Comes', but that was set in 20th Century. This book, along with 'Centennial' and 'Roots', are epic stories set in a time where anything beyond the horizon's of one's gaze is a mystery very few dared venture, and a taboo for many who do not.

Masterfully crafted words lined the pages of events that were beautifully twisted leaving me to wonder what the next turn of page would lead to. There were times though, I was disappointed - not due to the weakness of the plot - rather due to my anticipation of it. But that, I reckon, is the teasing part leaving me wanting to continue reading until I reach the last page.

Unlike the 2 aforementioned books which were historically-linked, Wilbur Smith draws his own story line in a land once called The Dark Continent. Perhaps due to the continent's stinginess in revealing its history, there were chapters which I would term as murky, especially when the writer tried - perhaps due his own ignorance - to portray Muslims and Islam in a somewhat shady manner. The writer could argue though, that one of the good characters in his book is a Muslim. True. But he also happens to be a Caucasian - a case of white superiority? You draw your own conclusion.

In reading, you may find one or 2 more setbacks which might suggest the writer is an armchair writer - one who writes from knowledge gained from other reads, and not by experience. Still, how can one experience life of a century prior to one? Ironically and coming back to his depiction of Muslims and Islam, were this book written in the 19th century, I would understand it perfectly well. But Wilbur Smith was born in 1933, at the age where instead of war between civilisations, the many people of the world have lost track of their very roots either due to mixed marriage or migration. Hence, a truer picture of Muslims and Islam could perhaps have been written.

Glancing at his biography, he was born in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), which was once considered a buffer state for the then apartheid regime in South Africa, and hence his knowledge of a land that can be as violent as it is beautiful.

Make no mistake though, I love his narration and I do recommend this book to book lovers, as much as I intend to purchase more Wilbur Smith's other titles. What makes his writing appealing to me was that I was moved - transported - to another time and place without any visual corruption as when one watch a movie or mini-series based on a novel. What saddens me however, if ever this title is made into a movie, the production may not stick faithfully to the writing, as was the case of Frederick Forsythe's 'Icon' and many others. So my suggestion to my friends, get the book first; 777 pages of pure reading pleasure.

Just in case there is a mind or two wondering why I am writing this, well, I will soon be parting with the book. InsyAllah, by tomorrow afternoon, it would have been wrapped nicely to be given as a present to someone I hold very dear to me. As a Muslim, I do hold to the belief that when one want to give something (sedekah or hadiah), then it is best to give that one holds dear, insyAllah.

By the way Doc TA, should you ever read this book, I could imagine a young you in Dorian Courtney, one of the central figure of this book. I, would off course be Jim, the nephew and, in spirit, Louisa as the recipient of this book gift tomorrow, insyAllah.

UPDATE 8.06pm
Woopsie! Ter-mistake! Doc, Dorian Courtney is supposed to be about the age you are now - that's young and good looking :)


nadya said...

salam cakapaje,
thanks for dropping by and liking the pictures.

u either found my link from bergen, or kak teh(makteh as sometimes i called her..)

yes, by all mean.. i think it's okay for you to download as long as you used it for good purpose and for non-making profit projects :)

appriciate if you can mention the copywrite : copywrite or curtesy of nadya shahabuddin.

much appriciated, as im quite particular bab2 copywrites nih. these days, kena begitu eh? :D

terima kasih skali lagi kerana takes time to melihat, kerja2 underground saya yg tak seberapa. :)

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam Nadya,

Now that you mentioned it, yes, I arrived from Bergen...a fantastic writer, that guy!

As with regards to the pics I normally keep, they're for my personal use in either my blogs, or simply for the view itself. And normally, I don't go for straight shots. But hey, thank you. Also for visiting me :)

Just one q: What copywriting? I don't really see any...pardon me.

Mior Azhar said...

Salam Shah,
I have never been a fan of Wilbur Smith... but I'm going out to buy this one. Thanks for the recommendation. But is this his latest works?
Anyway, have you ever read any of Khaled Hosseini's book. Both books are still tops on my list of best books ever. I was moved to tears with the first one The Kite Runner and was equally dumbfounded with Thousand Splendid Suns. Eloquently absorbing, I tell you.

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam Pak Mior,

Prior to this book, I do not know of him. And when I do get his other titles, it would have to be those on similar themes...I am a romantic fool, remember? :)

Anyway, yes, I've read Kite Runner some 3 years back and do find the book moving. But I've yet to read his other works. Have to admit here, I hate going to big bookstores in crowded malls! How I wish kurnikuya what ever would shift elsewhere.

Zawi said...

Is this a new release or an old one? The title and author seems familair and I may have read it sometime ago. I cant refer to my books anymore since I have given them away to people in Gua Musang when I left the town for good to retire in my Pasir Mas.
Nice ans interesting review from you. Should I be able to write a book one day, I will get your assistance to review it. Thats my dream.

cakapaje said...

Salam Pak Zawi,

I don't think its a new title as the publication is dated in 2003. Perhaps, you have read it.

As for asking me to review your book, that is indeed flattering and an honour. InsyAllah, I will try not to disappoint you.

tokasid said...

Salam Shah:

TQ for the review bro.
I liked Roots very much,so I guess I will like Blue Horizon too.

Smith's depiction about Muslim and Islam is not suprising considering that would be the normal understanding of most caucasian writers.I think the only person who wrote something sincere from his heart about Muslim and Islam is Muhammad Asad, even before he embraced Islam.And he was a Jew!
Check out Muhammad Asad's Road to Mecca, you will get a glimpse of hiw a Jew embraced Islam and some historical facts about the going ons in Saudi,Palestine(how the Israel nation came about),Egypt and the Libyan mujahideen.

TQ again, will check Blue Horizon.

cakapaje said...

Salam Doc,

InsyAllah, I think you will love Blue Horizon.

Muhammad Asad, his name sounds so familiar but I just can't place it for the moment. InsyAllah, I will look out for 'Road to Mecca'.