I started reading Travels in Elysium by William Azuski on a cold and wet spring day it proved to be the perfect tonic for such a dismal day. Travels in Elysium is the story of former student Nicholas Pedrosa who lands a position as assistant to archaeologist Marcus Huxley on Huxley's excavations of the lost settlement on the Greek island of Santorini (Thera) destroyed by the colossal eruption that occurred c. 3600 years ago during the time of the Minoan civilization.
Mr Azuski is a master at setting the scene and placing the characters and action in the landscape. After describing Nicholas Pedrosa's journey across Europe and the graphic account of the treacherous storm that blew up as the ship that he was travelling in crossed the Aegean Sea, on landing on Satorini the other main characters are introduced when Nicholas Pedrosa becomes entangled in the funeral procession of Benjamin Randal his predecessor who died on the excavation in mysterious circumstances. The funeral also provides the opportunity to introduce one of the main themes in the novel that of the Grecian burial rite of placing a silver coin in the mouth of the deceased to pay the boatman Charon for their journey across the river Styx to the afterlife.
The narrative of the excavation is cleverly entwined with the mythology of the afterlife and there is a good twist in the plot. Without giving anything away my favourite scene was where Nicholas Pedrosa is in Charon's boat and his barrage of questions and remarks to Charon about the journey across the Styx results in Charon pushing Pedrosa from his boat into the river! All in all an excellent book which I could not put down and a recommended read for anyone interested in Greek culture!
Travels in Elysium is published by Iridescent Publishing and is available from Amazon: