Book Review for BOAS
First I wanna thank Phil Halton, for providing me with his book, for Books Of All Shades.
It is important for me to say, that I was conflicted about this book to begin with, it wouldn’t have been a book I would normally pick up, there’s a lot of religious references, (surely it’s most of what the book is about) but with my own beliefs, it felt like a heavy subject to me. However, I told myself not to let my personal opinions cloud my experience.
There’s one negative thing I will note though. Being that I was provided with an E-book, and didn’t have the option to easily shift to the back of the book, I missed the glossary in the end of the book, which ruined my experience a bit, because of the fact, that I didn’t understand many of the things, that was being said or described. I would have placed this in the beginning of the book, so I would have had the opportunity to go back to the beginning and translate.
When all of this is being said, I am however glad I finished this book, and that I’ve read it. Even though it was a heavy subject that fleshed out in this book, it taught me something, and it surprised me with how well Phill can paint a realistic picture, and he’s got some pretty good descriptions. He has a very descriptive voice, and makes everything very easy to image, without being too much details, it balanced out nicely.
This story evolved differently than I had imagined, in the beginning it was hard to get into because of the said religious aspects, but that suddenly changed. I saw a story of how rough life can be in the other-world countries, and that everyone ain’t as lucky or gifted as most of us are. This book made me appreciate what I have more, and be grateful for the opportunities I have. It reminded me that there are people out there, struggling everyday to survive.
The spirit of these boys, touched me somehow, they are forced to be strong and tough. They each got a lot of personality and spirit, which surprised me a bit considering where they come from, and what they experience. Their familiar bond is strong, and as the story evolves further, we see a darker picture of how easy pressured and broken kids can turn to an ease, that children shouldn’t even know of. So, you easily sympathizes with them. As I got toward the end, I didn’t at all predict that it would end how it did. It closed everything off well, and gave me great hope for the future of our characters.
So, thanks again Phil for teaching me an important lesson about life!
Exclusive Interview of Phil Halton
- What inspired you to start your story/stories?
My experiences working in Afghanistan and elsewhere opened my eyes to many things, particularly to the fact that many Western pundits fundamentally misunderstand what motivates these insurgencies. I don’t believe that anyone wakes up in the morning with the intention of being evil – everyone thinks that they are acting in a moral or justifiable manner, no matter how it appears from the outside. I wrote my novel in part to give an inside view of what motivated normal, rational people to create, join or support the Taliban, and also give readers an understanding of how when central authority is removed, morality can be a slippery slope. I hope that readers empathize and agree with my characters decisions early in the novel, only to see how the “purest” of intentions can lead to the commission of horrible acts – and that any one of us might have slid down that slope if we were in similar circumstances.
- What’s your favorite thing to do, besides writing?
I live in a big city (Toronto) beside a large lake. I walk with my dog and/or my kids on the beach all year round, and through the other green space throughout the city. My day isn’t complete without going for a long walk with coffee in hand. Reading and working out come close, though, in terms of being favourite things.
- What’s the meaning of your book title?
It comes from a concept in classical Islamic law, where the world is divided into three houses, a “house of peace,” where Islam is the dominant religion and Islamic law is enforced, a “house of truce” where Muslims can practice their religion freely under an authority other than Islamic law, and the “house of war” where Islam is not accepted. While modern Islamic scholars don’t generally consider these terms relevant any more (there really are no countries where Islam cannot be practiced), the idea has meaning for my characters as they wage war within Afghanistan to establish a regime of peace, hoping to establish a perfect society in accordance with the wishes of God.
The working title was the other half of this quote, “House of War.” Working with the publisher, we settled on “This Shall Be A House of Peace,” which I like much better.
- Favorite inspirational Author/Writer?
That’s a tough one. The writer whose work I keep coming back to at different stages in my life is Jack Kerouac. “On the Road” blew my mind as a teenager and inspired my own cross country driving adventure. His later books become more melancholy, and I find that they speak to me more as I’ve become older. In terms of writers whose work on writing I admire, it is Steven Pressfield whose work I often think about. His book “The War of Art” is a classic that motivates me to keep working when I feel the resistance, and his ongoing blog posts on story and narrative structure are absolutely outstanding.
- Tell your reader’s one thing about yourself.
After many years in the Army, I’ve been trained to present as an extrovert. I’m comfortable with public speaking, can stand up a give a briefing or recount a story or tell a joke without hesitation. I’ve given speeches in multiple languages in from of many hundreds of people. But really, I’m an introvert, and when I’m done doing all of that, I really need to curl up quietly with a book and a glass of whiskey and unwind. I can play the extrovert, but it saps a lot of my energy.
- Give the readers a fun fact about the book.
The novel began as a screenplay that I later adapted. The original outline used the broad plot points of the famous Western movie “The Magnificent Seven” as a basic structure. It deviated significantly from there as I built out the story, but there are a few scenes with links to the film that an eagle eyed reader might spot – particularly where the character Isa is first scene chopping wood – and he shares a line with Charles Bronson from the film. I think writers can find inspiration in all different kinds of stories and media. The screenplay has been optioned, and I hope to see it on the big screen at some point in the future.
Phil Halton is a great author, and he’s got his heart the right place. Would you like a copy of his book, go to Amazon, and check it out.
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