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David James Trapp

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Dog Days in Bedlam
by David James Trapp   

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Books by David James Trapp
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Historical Fiction

Publisher:  PublishAmerica ISBN-10:  1592862926 Type: 


Copyright:  November 15, 2002

Thousands of years ago in the destitute village of Bedlam, two star-crossed lovers flee from Orion, the brutal king of Aipotu. This is a martyr's tale, and a moving story of love, faith, self-sacrifice and courage. It is filled with ironies about the "truths" of history, the casual cruelty of tyrants, the obsession of the powerful with their legacies, and the shamelessness of propaganda and spin control.

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Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Dog Days in Bedlam:

Many milleniums ago on a scorching summer day during the midday sun, a horseman wearing a purple cloak with gold tassels galloped through the dusty narrow road through Bedlam. Bedlam was a poor village of huts made out of crude mud bricks. The walls and roofs of most of the huts were cracked and crumbling. A few of the huts were mere rubble and were abandoned. When the rider reached the village square, he pulled hard on the reins making his sweating horse neigh in protest. The horseman pointed to the first Bedlamite he saw, and barked:

"You there, hold my horse! And give it some water."

The villager was a lean, wiry youth, perhaps 18 years old, dressed in a ragged tunic, and tanned from long days of toil. His famished body suggested that the young man lived a hard and hungry life, but his twinkling dark eyes reflected a lively gentleness. The lad dutifully picked up a heavy wooden bucket, and filled it with muddy water from the stone well at the center of the village square. He tenderly took hold of the horse's bridle, and held up the bucket so the horse could drink. Seeing the rider and the purple cloak and gold tassels made the youth tremble. Those gold tassels could only mean one thing. The horseman was the herald to the king!

In one smooth motion the herald dismounted. He tossed the lad the leather reins, and surveyed the decrepit huts and dirty, tired villagers who milled around him. He asked curtly, "Where is your elder? I must speak to your elder immediately."

"Caineb is out in the pasture. I just left him," said someone from the crowd.

"Get him," ordered the herald. "I must speak to him about matters of the greatest urgency."

This was the first visit in many years for a king's herald to the poor little village. Bedlam was the most remote village in the entire kingdom of Aipotu. It lay in the foothills of the foul smelling Valley of the Maggots, and it was a bitter and harsh land. The river Xu which followed a crooked path through the valley floor often went dry in the summer, the rocky soil was too poor for anything but the barest of crops, and the dry, eastern winds from the surrounding Cauca mountains brought only dust. And this year even much of the putrid swamp at the lowest end of the valley dried up. Bedlam once enjoyed a modest prosperity because it traded with the merchants who traveled along the great caravan route that crossed the valley, but the terrible earthquake of six years ago wrecked the mountain pass. The caravans found a new route and rarely came anymore. Bedlam grew poorer with each passing moon.

A growing murmur swept through the gathering throng, a hum of whispers uttering hopeful rumors and dreaded fears. Yet all were too timid to cry out distinctly and be heard. After all, this was the herald from the king of Aipotu!

Off in the distance a shriveled old woman, Tigrisa, squatted next to the embers of a small fire. She was alone. Scattered around her was the rubble of a collapsed wall, a legacy of the terrible earthquake. The woman struggled to her feet, but stayed by her fire. Her crippled left foot was wrapped in bloodstained rags, and a dirty wool blanket draped across her shoulders. Her face and hands were blotched with white, scaly sores. Tigrisa was the village leper. A few Bedlamites saw her rise and started to hiss at her. One young man picked up a rock and threatened to throw it at her. The old woman pleaded desperately to the herald, "Oh mercy! Mercy! It's been so dry. We need rain. Have you heard of any rain?"

Some among the crowd suddenly found courage and pleaded, "Rain? Yes, yes! Is there any news of rain? It's been many moons since we've had a drop. Anything? It's been so long."

One little girl whimpered, "Our sheep and goats are dying!"

The herald, a short man with a beak shaped nose and a long flowing black mustache that drooped below his chin, drew back, and stepped on a wooden bench so all could see him. He cried out in a thunderous voice:

"Your king approaches today, and he will soon bring you rain for your crops! Yes, the king! No longer must you weep over your failed wheat and lentils. The dust from the ground shall no longer choke your thirsting throats. Your king has heard your cries. He will provide rain for you!"

"The king!"

"Yes, King Orion will be here today! He is coming! You, the people of Bedlam, must prepare a feast of welcome! Where is your elder?"

"King Orion himself!"

"Yes, Bedlam, your beloved king is coming to you," repeated the herald with a flourish. "Prepare the fatted calf, dress in your finest cloaks, break out the fruit of the vine. King Orion comes today, perhaps this very hour, and he'll soon give you rain!"           

Professional Reviews

Midwest Book Review
Dog Days In Bedlam by David James Trapp is a fantastic novel of royal intrigue. Two star-crossed young lovers flee the wrath of a ruthless king, yet when escape becomes impossible, the only remaining option is sacrifice and eternally enshrined love. A moving, romantic parable, Dog Days In Bedlam is thoroughly entertaining and highly recommended leisure time reading. (September 2003 Small Press Bookwatch, Volume 2, Number 9)

Round Table Reviews
Review by Chanita Davis for (dated 10/15/03), quoted in part: "The story ends in a very tragic and somewhat trivial way. I found this book extremely difficult to read and even more difficult to put into words. This book sent so many emotions and thoughts running through me that at times I had to put it down and reflect on what I had just read. Under no circumstances do I find the happenings in this book necessary for one to make a successful novel but in this case I can see why it was. This book is by no means a romantic tale but more of a historical eye-opener. It questions the events of the past and it forces us to see the ironies of the tales that we have come to know as truths. I believe that this book should be a required read because there is much to learn and talk about. David James Trapp has written a remarkable book and I for one, would like to thank him for it."

Crystal Reviews
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal for (posted 3/27/04), quoted in full:

"This very different tale begins with the visit of King Orion to the poverty-stricken village of Bedlam. The reader cannot help but question, after hearing of this ensuing royal arrival, why the King is coming here and where he will be staying overnight. How will he eat when the villagers are starving creatures themselves?

"Within five minutes of King Orion's arrival, his miraculous cure for leprosy is carried out and our protagonists, as well as the readers, will be aghast at what occurs! Ofra, the daughter of the village elder, finds her secret friend, Hershel, an outcast, sobbing his heart out over the royal decree and the fate of the one who is its victim.

"From that moment, they forge a deeper relationship that grows to the point that they are willing to sacrifice their lives for their love, remaining the only honest, caring individuals in the entire village. Their destiny makes their final moments so very poignant that it is memorialized forever.

"The ironies of this story are not lost to this reviewer. Bedlam originally was a town in England where mentally challenged persons were imprisoned in the very cruelest of circumstances, basically dying of starvation and disease if they were ignored or cast away by their families. Insanity prevailed amidst the most horrific living conditions one could perceive.

"So it is with the characters in this story, and it is truly amazing that two individuals with such heart-felt love and proper use of reason wind up victims at the hands of the governing and military leaders and soldiers whose job it is to protect and nurture the kingdom's citizens. The tables are turned and one wonders at the persecution that may not be so far in our world's own experience with propaganda, violence, and power.

"Faith and bravery in the face of disaster rise above the insanity and cruelty by both visitors and Bedlam residents.

"Quite amazing and powerful! Well done, D.J. Trapp!"

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