David Jordan's King of the Asphodels was published in August/September 2020.
About David Jordan:
David Jordan writes out of Cork, Ireland, where he was born and bred. He has been writing all his life, but it wasn’t until 2016, with the Chronicles of Dan Lee O’Brien, that his talent for stories really kicked in.
As a writer, he believes in work and discipline – these are the means by which we attract the muse.
He also believes in the power of story, a power that is harnessed through ingenuity and imagination.
He is a big fan of mythology as it is a rich source of symbolism and association that allows him to play. Indeed, work and play are the two ethics that mean anything to him as a writer. He likes to stir up mythology, which gives his writing an energy that will delight the reader.
He also draws inspiration from the early work of WB Yeats, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey as well as contemporary writers such as Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker and Stephen King.
He writes poetry and has had a book of verse published entitled, The End.
Click here to visit his official website.
About King of the Asphodels:
John Thomond has made a deal with the mage, Jack Foster. In return for directions to the Underworld, and the means to bring back his dead wife, he must become the magician’s apprentice. In the Underworld, Thomond is guided by the spirit of the great Bluesman, Robert Johnson, who sold his soul to the Devil to become the ‘King of the Delta Blues Singers’. As they travel through Hades, Johnson shows Thomond some of the sights the Underworld has to offer and Thomond also learns the principles of magic. Eventually, newly empowered, he makes it his business to free the soul of the Bluesman, but there are hazardous consequences, in both the Underworld and the world above...
King of the Asphodels is a novel concerned with many things: power, music, magic, myth. But at its heart it is a book about friendship and freedom.
REVIEW: KING OF THE ASPHODELS BY DAVID JORDAN
My first introduction to David Jordan was his debut collection, The Echoing Green and Other Stories, which impressed me with its atmosphere and freshness. I'm happy to say that King of the Asphodels is also captivating and worth reading. It's an intriguing fantasy book that is something different.
One of the things that attracted me about this book is the author's ability to blend mythology and reality to create a fantastical story. This brings freshness to the story arc and makes it compelling. If you're familiar with mythology and various myths, you'll easily notice that the story has been influenced by well-known mythological and mythic elements.
King of the Asphodels tells of John Thomond, who has lost his wife and tries to cope with the grief. One night, when when he meets a stranger, his life begins to change, because he is told about a mage, Jack Foster. He visits the mage and makes a deal with him: in return for directions to the Underworld and the means to bring back his dead wife, he must become the mage's apprentice. When he reaches the Underworld, he is guided by the spririt of the great Bluesman Robert Johnson. As he befriends Robert, he decides to free Robert's soul...
When I began to read this book, I was instantly pulled in, because the story is good. I've read a lot of similar kind of stories, but this story was a pleasant surprise to me, because it feels fresh.
This fantasy book is basically a story about magic, myth, power and music, but it's also much more than that, because underneath its surface it's a gripping tale about friendship, loneliness, longing and freedom. The story has a big humane heart at its core and the author writes fluently about emotions and feelings related to the loss of one's spouse.
The story is told in a gripping way, and the clear prose is a pleasure to read. I find the author's writing style satisfyingly tight and fast-paced, because his story is devoid of any kind of filler material. He relies on the story and its strengths and avoids heavy and unnecessary embellishments. Reading this kind of a tight and well-created story felt refreshing, because I think that many authors tend to add heavy and cumbersome elements to their stories without thinking about the outcome.
The journey through the Underworld is fascinating and the author's descriptions about it are compelling. When John enters the Underworld, Robert shows him various sights and - along the way - he learns a few things about magic. The Underworld is a vast a place, but Robert is a good guide to him and knows a lot about life and survival there. Under Robert's guidance, he travels from one place to another and meets many persons (including goddesses) along the way.
I like the author's way of writing about what kind of deals magicians and supernatural beings make and how treacherous they can be. He writes excellently about what happens when you make a deal.
Reading about the god Cernunnos was intriguing for me, because I enjoy reading about mythological gods and beings. The author managed to keep Cernunnos sufficiently mysterious by writing briefly about him and his existence. I also enjoyed reading about Hades and its various inhabitants.
The author writes exceptionally well about how people cope with grief. His insightful observations about grief and how it affects people are surprisingly realistic and poignant. He describes what happens when a person loses a meaning in his life in a realistic way and doesn't go overboard with explaining and underlining things.
David Jordan's King of the Asphodels is a captivating reading experience, because it tells about a man's journey to bring back his dead wife from the Underworld. It's a fresh take on Underworld and life after death, and has a feel of myth to it. It's compellingly different from other new fantasy books and can be recommended to readers who enjoy good stories.