Wednesday, December 17, 2014

G516 Book Review of Omphalos by Mark Patton

Name of Book: Omphalos

Author: Mark Patton

ISBN: 978-1-910510-06-3

Publisher: Crooked Cat

Type of book:connecting lives, ancient history, 4000 PME, 1160s, 1517, 1799, 1944-1946, 2013, mystery, world war 2, religion, penance, Catholicism, temple, nature, meanings

Year it was published: 2014


SIX EPOCHS, TEN LIVES INTERSECTING AT A SINGLE PLACE. 2013: Al Cohen, an American in search of his European heritage.

1944-1946: Friedrich Werner, an officer of the Wehrmacht and later a prisoner of war. His wife Greta, clinging to what remains of her life in war-torn Berlin.

1799: Suzanne de Beaubigny, a royalist refugee from revolutionary France.

1517: Richard Mabon, a Catholic priest on pilgrimage to Jerusalem with his secretary, Nicholas Ahier.

1160: Raoul de Paisnel, a knight with a dark secret walking through Spain with his steward, Guillaume Bisson.

4000 BC: Egrasté, a sorceress, and Txeru, a man on an epic voyage.

Transgressions, reconciliations and people caught on the wrong side of history.

Omphalos. A journey through six thousand years of human history.


Its really hard to describe the characters, except that no matter how much time has passed, they felt somehow, well, the same. The reader briefly gets to know them before they are whisked away to another time and place to get to know others. I think the characters I liked were Raoul de Paisnel as well as Friedrich Werner. I liked Raoul de Paisnel because of the ways he is trying to atone for his sins, and Friedrich is a strange one; Friedrich is during WWII and fights for Germany, yet somehow he feels and seems human despite that.


Smallest things can connect past and present


With the exception of "The Spirit of  the Times" and "The Infinite Labyrinth," all stories are in third person narrative from various points of views, and the reader gets treated to mystery, drama, comedy and romance within. The Spirit of the Times and The Infinite Labyrinth are written in first person narrative, one in a diary form and another in a letter form. There is a symmetry to reading the stories, and I like it much better than Cloud Atlas because each story feels way more personal than ones in Cloud Atlas.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)

Pre-Order the Book

About the Author03_Mark Patton Author Photo

Mark Patton was born and grew up on the island of Jersey. He studied Archaeology & Anthropology at Cambridge and completed his PhD at University College London. He has taught at the Universities of Wales, Greenwich and Westminster, and currently teaches with The Open University. He is the author of two previous historical novels, Undreamed Shores (Crooked Cat, 2012) and An Accidental King (Crooked Cat 2013).
For more information please visit Mark Patton’s website and blog. You can also connect with him on Twitter and Goodreads.


The intersecting lives really reminded me of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, although this was a much lighter read than Cloud Atlas, and the writing is very addictive and certainly keeps one interested in what happens next to the characters. The stories are not very conclusive, which can both be a good or a bad thing. But there is definitely a symmetry to reading it. What I also would have liked is understanding how the stories are linked to one another, sort of how in Cloud Atlas in second halves, the reader discovers the story within a story process so to speak. I can kind of see the links between the stories in terms of nature, religion and descendants/ancestors. Also a map for Etraste's world might have been helpful and it really is fun to speculate how the vignettes relate to one another.

This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Omphalos Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, December 5
Review at Back Porchervations
Monday, December 8
Guest Post & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Wednesday, December 10
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, December 11
Spotlight at Book Babe
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Monday, December 15
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, December 16
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, December 17
Spotlight at The Writing Desk
Thursday, December 18
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Friday, December 19
Review at Diary of an Eccentric
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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