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Rose Zar's autobiography came to me soon after its original publication in 1983, and by the way of one of her former religious school students from Sinai Temple in South Bend, Indiana, who was a roommate of mine at the time in the American Southwest. I had heard of Rose prior to the arrival of this important book because of the fond vignettes shared by my roommate and of his circle of childhood friends who had grown up together in South Bend and who all had been her students. They were a small group of American born children and like most Jewish kids from Indiana; they had all gone away to college and with their diplomas had wandered across the state line to more cosmopolitian places. Of that small group one is a famous Beverly Hills jeweler, whose important gems adorn our favorite stars on Oscar night. My roommate was absorbed in his medical residency, when "In the Mouth of the Wolf" arrived from Indiana, and so I read the biography and each evening gave my friend a debriefing of the chapters read thereto by his former teacher.
Having known Holocaust survivors most of my life, or since I was able to acknowledge their history, I hadn't been able to comprehend their horrors. Rose made that horror palatable when portraying the night she hid in the bushes while a search patrol probed the foliage. Recalling childhood games of hide-and-seek and the heart pounding sensation when about to be discovered hinted at the horror of Rose's ordeal when her mission to remain hidden wasn't a game, but meant her survival. There were many poignant illustrations that made this tome a landmark in my personal library's shoah collection. This is a biography that I had shared with my late maternal Grandmother's retirement neighbors in Sun City, Arizona, both concentration camp survivors, who I had known all my life, but whose individual biographies including the horrors they each had suffered, I shall never know. Having read Mrs. Zar's telling story, and hearing their praises of her eloquence and motion picture recommendations, I bravely asked when they might write their own stories. Perhaps their answer was all I needed to know. They hadn't fared, as luckily as had Rose, who had indeed remained hidden in the mouth of the wolf. Israel, who had lost a young son and a previous wife, answered my query: "You have to believe what you write, and I still can not believe what happened!"
This is not only the story of a young European woman who survived the Holocaust, but that of a lady who became an educator in Indiana, and who has become a voice in the annuals of Hoosier Jewry and the 200 years of Jewish life that has existed in our state since the old Northwest period. She is one of many survivors, who found refuge in America and lives about the towns and cities of Indiana and across the land, but unlike some has a mission to teach and to tell of the genocide that befell the once thriving Jewries of Europe not so many years ago. A story that the too often isolationist heartland should know, and a tome that should be added to the 'Indiana Room' collections of all our state's community libraries. I donated a copy to my town's public collection as well as to my congregational library.
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I like the 'random # table' and 'combat results table' Dever uses in this book (and other RPG books of his). The book is just like a video game with all the options that you can do (Which makes those "Choose Your Own Adventure Books" I played as a kid a big joke) and many options in the battles (fight, cast a spell from your staff, flee, use item, etc.). The story is gets a little complex as your character uses his newfound powers of the moonstone to defeat an evil wizard in book 4.
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The combat/survival system is similar to that employed by the Lone Wolf series, but with the added concept of "willpower" points, (which represent, essentially, Grey Star's magic resources). The player selects five of seven magical powers to use before starting the adventure.
The series is lavishly illustrated by Paul Bonner's artwork, and each volume contains a colour map of South Magnamund.
I was quite young when I played these adventures, and I would wait breathlessly and impatiently for each new volume to come out. The world which Ian Page and Joe Dever create is romantic and captivating. All the magic creatures in the story are unique to the world of Magnamund - no elves or dragons - which adds the special feeling of the books.
Grey Star always has companions in his adventures - giants, theives, ape-men (sorry, Kundi), but the most notable is the wytch girl, Tanith, who continues throughout the whole series.
Set in the world of Southern Magnamund, a world away from the adventures of the hero Lone Wolf, whose series has won numerous awards and encompasses three mini-series as well as off-shoots, Grey Star the Wizard begins with Grey Star sailing from the Isle of Lorn, where his mentors, the Shianti wizards, have self-exiled themselves. Many years ago the Shianti created a magical artefact called the Moonstone, but this relic disrupted the balance of the world of Magnamund, and the Shianti were forced to seal it into a Trianon in the plane of Daziarn as well as remain forever on the Isle of Lorn.
Some time later, a great wizard called Shasarak rose to power. Aided by the Shadakine, great warriors from the Sadai Desert, Shasarak brutally destroyed all major nations of Southern Magnamund, creating a vast empire. The Shianti watched with fear as Shasarak grew in power, and someday the fates have promised that the evil tyrant will cross the Sea of Dreams to the Isle of Lorn and fight with the Shianti for total domination once and for all...
Aided by seven sisters, the Shadakine Wytches, who possess mastery of animal language, evil magic, and the Kazim Stones, magical hearts of creatures of stone, Shasarak also mastered vast legions of daemons and spirits, and has ruthlessly persecuted the pilgrims of the Shianti and other religions. Once, long ago, Shasarak had control of a wondrous but terrible artefact called the Sunstone, a gem that had the power of the sun, but its abuse led to the destruction of an entire civilization...with power like that the Wytch-King has all of the human nations in his iron grip.
The Shianti, unable to help, prayed for assistance. And on the stormy night when Shasarak was crowned King of the Shadakine Empire, a ship ran aground. Nobody remained alive, save a small child, which the Shianti named Grey Star, for the streak of grey in the child's hair. The Shianti cannot help mankind, but Grey Star, being human, can..
As a result of all this, "The Road to Avalon" always took me by surprise because so many aspects of the legend that I took for granted had been altered. I found it to be a refreshing and moving version, especially the love story between Morgan and Arthur, which is every bit as heartbreaking as the traditional Arthur-Gwenhyfar one is. While "The Mists of Avalon" remains the ultimate Arthurian novel for me, this one is not far behind it. As Publisher's Weekly says, "Joan Wolf is a master storyteller...portraying characters with crisp and memorable originality...capturing--and enriching--the tragic sweep of romance and idealism inherent in the Arthurian Tale." Read it
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Kavik is a wolf dog who is a champion sled dog who belongs to Charlie One-Eye. He gets sold, but the plane flying him to his new "owner" Mr. Hunter it crashes, and Kavik is left to die. His only hope is a boy named Andy Evans who is out hunting. He is shocked when he finds Kavik, and wonders if he should take his gun and put him out of misery. But Kavik's golden eyes say "I'm not ready to die." Andy takes him home, and after a while, with the help of a nearby doctor, Kavik heals, But his courage is damaged from the crash. His owner returns to take him. Kavik is miserable in the puny dog run Mr. Hunter looked him in, and hates Mr. Hunter as well. One day when Mr. hunter is showing off Kavik, he runs away, on his quest to get home to Andy. Kavik gets a ride back up north on a boat with an elderly couple. He runs away from them, and meets a young female wolf and falls in love. Like in the real world, Kavik must fight another wolf for her, and he gets his courage back. But a hunter kills her, and Kavik continues to travel until he finally makes it home to Andy, and Andy gets to keep him. It is a wonderful book that has everything. Love, compassion, loyalty, adventure, action, and all that other stuff. You gotta read it!
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Every time I read it I receive something new out of it- another sign of a great story. While it is somewhat of an indie classic, you should definately seek it out and read it!
I PERSONALLY KNOW A MAN THAT HADN'T READ IN 4 YEARS AND NOW IS GOING TO NOT ONLY FINISH THE BOOK, BUT WILL START READING AGAIN... DON'T MISS OUT, MEET THE LAST WOLF OF IRELAND!