||Jun 15, 2009
In 218 BCE, Hannibal took his army, along with 37 elephants, over the Alps to attack the Romans. Eleven years before this historic event, on the banks of a river near Carthage in North Africa, one of his elephants pulled a drowning girl from the turbulent waters. Thus began Liada’s epic journey with the elephant known as Obolus.
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Ariion Kathleen Brindley
"This is the story of my life as a young girl following Hannibal and his army from Carthage in North Africa to Iberia, and then over the Alps toward Rome. I never reached Rome, but then neither did Hannibal. I left him after the battle of Trebbia, taking with me his last remaining elephant, Obolus, and my friend, the slave girl Tin Tin Ban Sunia. This book recounts the first month of our long journey."
When I awoke, I lay on soft animal skins by the fire with Tendao's cape spread over me. The gray tarp above flapped gently in the breeze and a woman sat at my feet, watching.
"How do you feel?" the woman asked.
I sat up, trying to understand what had happened. Everything seemed strange; the crackling fire, the tangy smoke twisting toward me, and the tables surrounding the cooking fire like stiff-legged animals patiently waiting to be fed. Yellow sunlight slanted low over the treetops, bathing everything in gold and amber. The woman's face shone in the glow of late afternoon. I remembered she was Yzebel.
Alison at That's A Novel Idea
Liada was only 12 years old when she was thrown into the river and left for dead. At about the time she has resigned herself to this fate a large "snake" pulls her from the river and saves her life. This "snake" was the trunk of Obolus, an elephant in Hannibal's army. Liada finds herself in the middle of an army camp with no memory of her past, including her actual name.
She settles in with Yzebel, a widow who feeds the soldiers nightly, and her young son Jabnet. Liada quickly develops relationships with the other camp dwellers as well -some good and some bad. She also finds herself drawn to Obolus, and he to her. This novel tells of Liada's time in the camp, her relationships with people and animal, and her struggle to remember her past.
Liada and Obolus have a relationship that seems magical to some and almost evil to others. Her ability to control the large beast makes her several enemies. But, this relationship proves to be so strong that no one can deny it. Many of Liada's adventures actually stem from her attempts to sneak time with Obolus.
The characters in this novel are well-developed. Liada is a quick learner and often times remembers details that she has no recollection of every learning or knowing. People are drawn to her, and she develops relationships quickly. She comes across with a touch of class and an over sized heart. Yzebel, her camp mother, is well liked and is a resourceful woman. She struggles with her family's past and current situation, but remains open to those around her. Tin Tin Ban Sunia has little to no voice, but says more with her actions than many around her. She is highly intelligent and loving. I found myself longing to know her story.
This novel drew me in from the first sentence and didn't let me go. Each new day in the story brought a new adventure. As I went along for the ride my fingers were crossed that things would go well. I developed quite an affection for the female characters in Hannibal's Elephant Girl, and it was difficult to read of their struggles and to accept the actions of those who plotted against them.
Hannibal's Elephant Girl is an excellent historical fiction novel. It is classified as young adult, but I am in my 30's and enjoyed it immensely. In fact, as soon as I finished it I emailed the author to inquire about the release date of a sequel. Yep, this is the first in a series that I will definitely be following. Per Ms. Brindley there will be 5 to 6 books in the series and the next book should be complete in about 6 months. I hope it stays on schedule. Please check out her site for other work she has written. I hope to be reading Raji soon.
Midwest Book Review
"Hannibal's Elephant Girl" is a historically based tale of Liada, a girl of twelve years who lived in 229 BCE in the time of Hannibal between the first and second Punic Wars. Liada is saved from drowning by Obolus, one of the elephants 17-year-old Hannibal is training to prepare for battle in Iberia. The tale unfolds in action-packed scenes filled with detailed adventures. Designed to appeal to young adults. "Hannibal's Elephant Girl" will also attract the interest of middle school age and adult readers. Just enough romantic interest and prolonged suspense color the fast turning pages of this gripping story. At a length of 367 pages, it is a fine "bridge" experience novel to entice young readers to read more. "Hannibal's Elephant Girl" is highly recommended for historical detail attention as well. It brings history to full life.
Linda Ellen at Bambi Reads
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters are well developed and there's never a dull moment with Liada and Tin Tin Ban Sunia. This book kept me up at night because I was intrigued and I wanted to know what would happen next. I was definitely intrigued by Tin Tin Ban Sunia. The scenic depictions, the terms used and the events that occur are true to the time and place in which this story takes place: in a camp near Carthage, in North Africa, year 229 BCE.
Liada is a brave girl who is about twelve summers old. Despite finding herself on foreign territory and despite having lost her memory, she thinks for herself, she's not afraid of adventure, and she does what she believes is right. She values the friendships she creates and she is selfless, which is not a common trait.
I love the characters of this story. Hannibal is born to be a leader and he's not full of himself like the soldiers he commands. He's an honourable man (at only the age of seventeen/eighteen!) He's believable, and so are the other characters, a number of which are quite young and yet they have to grow up so fast. I don't think I'd be clever enough to bargain for trades at the age of twelve. I also think I would be scared out of my pants if asked to mount on an elephant.
The story mentions slavery and war, but it is the themes of family and friendship that prevail. The author warps readers effortlessly into a different time period, and yet the story itself may well be timeless.
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