The Jericho River: A Novel about the History of Western Civilization
by David W. Tollen
History isn’t names and dates; it’s an adventure story.
And so is The Jericho River. Both a novel and a history of Western Civilization, it’s won multiple awards, including first place at the London Book Festival and the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
The Jericho River flows through a magical world shaped by myth and history. Young Jason Gallo sails the river on a dangerous quest to rescue his estranged father. He battles minotaurs and pirates, flees barbarians, stumbles into mummies’ tombs, and outwits fairies, philosophers, and scientists. Along the way, he finds love and betrayal, faces the legacy of a broken family — and flees a hidden foe who threatens all he holds dear.
But Jason’s tale is more than an adventure story. The river flows like a timeline, carrying the young man through historic lands — Sumer, Babylonia, ancient Greece, Medieval Europe, Napoleon’ empire, and many others — all in chronological order, tracing the history of Western Civilization, from its Middle Eastern origins to the modern era. Professor Gallo, Jason’s father, is a historian, and his notes outline the journey, revealing the truth about Cleopatra, King Arthur, and the fall of the Roman Empire. He explains how Snow White began as a goddess and why Eve was created from Adam’s rib, as well as the origins of coffee, the cat, chivalry, the Internet, Atlantis — and much more.
While this book is targeted squarely at the YA market, this 57 year-old enjoyed the book. I liked the mix of legends with History creating a fun Adventure story. I suppose that the Author main intent was to slip some History into the brains of the “Young Adult” audience, but I think that the subtitle of the book would foil his nefarious plan. Bwahahaha.
While the main character of our tale makes for an entertaining read, Jason seems a little bland for a teenage boy going through such a traumatic experience. I would have expected some major “melt-downs”. The character seemed to pale when compared to the settings and other characters in the novel. Perhaps, it was the Author’s intent to make History the star on the book? Jason doesn’t even rate a spot in the title. It isn’t Jason and the River of Jericho.
I loved the footnotes from Jason’s Father. I’m not quite sure how I feel about the biblical portions of the book.
Interesting read — yes. Enjoyable read — yes. Good for the younger crowd — yes.
I’m giving “The Jericho River” 3 1/2 stars. I think that Tollen is an Author to watch and I expect fine things from him in the future.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Cadence Group (http://www.thecadencegrp.com/). I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”