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TRAVELS IN ELYSIUM
Islands — A Human Fascination
Literature, (and therefore by implication mankind), has always seemed to have had a fascination with islands… And of all islands, Atlantis probably holds prime rank; Atlantis, the island which sank beneath the waves. Azuski’s novel Travels in Elysium, takes up the ideas of islands, Atlantis and their interpretation in something of a unique way…
Spectacularly, the novel avoids any sentimentality over the Greek island setting – there are no incessant Mediterranean blue skies, Mamma-Mia-esque twee buildings, vacuously inane villagers. Instead we have functionality: a believably ‘real’ island with ‘real’ people, their lives and livelihoods, their hopes, fears, feuds and beliefs all exposed by masterful narration.
— Andrew Worley, PhD Researcher, Dept. of Classics & Ancient History, University of Exeter. [Full review on Origins | On Academia.edu]
Will have you tumbling off the cliff out of excitement
Atlantis is one of the most explored myths of all time. This novel entices the reader with vivid literary imagery. […] The thrill of supernatural adventure never ceases. On the island of Santorini, Greece, Nicholas Pedrosa faces the job opportunity of a lifetime. The possibility of discovering the great lost city keeps the reader turning to the next page. Marcus Huxley, his boss, has his team working at all hours at the Minoan site with the dream of finding an otherworldly discovery. […] Travels in Elysium does a fantastic job at showing the internal conflicts in archaeological excavations while portraying the mysticism of island culture. It will have you tumbling off the cliff with Huxley out of excitement. From murder to mystery, mirages to reality Azuski has included it all.
— Archaeologist Melanie E Magdalena, Editor-in-Chief, Origins, Scientific Research Society. [Full review]
A mind-bending adventure
This mind-bending novel combines archaeology, mythology, and psychology. The abnormal, pressure-cooker atmosphere of an archaeological excavation where people live crowded together, often in remote locations, is enhanced by the spectacular setting of Santorini and its rich volcanic and cultural history. The hero, Nicholas Pedrosa, is a reluctant convert to the visions of his decidedly peculiar boss, Marcus Huxley. The mystery of one student’s death earlier in the season is intertwined with other mysteries: Was the legend of Atlantis based upon a real place and real people? Are Santorini and the remains of its Minoan inhabitants that place and those people? Or is Atlantis a mirage, seen only from a special place and under certain conditions, such as during a volcanic eruption or under a full moon? Author Azuski weaves a complicated and mesmerizing tale with skill and poetic language. Reading Travels in Elysium is like riding a donkey down that precipitous path on Santorini, swaying back and forth while fearing being dumped off the edge of a cliff at any moment. An unsettling and memorable experience.
— Sarah Wisseman, archaeologist and author of the Lisa Donahue archaeological mysteries. [On Amazon] [Author site]
The masterly trick of time
…this is one of the most complex, interesting, challenging and thought provoking books I’ve read for a long time and I thought it was brilliant… Possibly the most interesting aspect of the novel: the way the author has handled time. It wasn’t until I’d got right to the end of the novel that I realised how cleverly this had been done; while reading it, there were places where I thought some tough editing was needed and as everything else was so good couldn’t understand why it hadn’t been done. But at the end I realised what a masterly trick the author plays with time and how cleverly he uses it to take the reader into other worlds with complete conviction and credibility… beautifully poetic and the descriptive passages conjure up vivid and original images. I don't regret spending (in terms of both cash and time) much more than usual on the book and I'm pleased it was brought to my attention; it really is a wonderful novel.
— Indie Bookworm [Full review]
An amazing tale
Travels in Elysium by William Azuski is an amazing tale, mixing ancient legend and modern psychology as Nicholas Pedrosa tackles his first real job on an archaeological dig on a Greek island. With an interesting cast of characters led by the chief scientist, Marcus Huxley, the group plunges into the depths of the human search for the meaning of life and an explanation of what comes after death as they delve deeper and deeper under the pumice and ash deposited three millennia earlier by the volcano that all but destroyed the island.
[…] Many views about life after death are examined in Travels in Elysium as the author follows the emotional turmoil created by an archaeologist desperately searching for the elusive island of Atlantis. Fantastic visual pictures are created with amazing clarity as the past and present are blended in the minds and spirits of the characters. […] Each character is realistically portrayed and plays his or her role beautifully as the story unfolds, forcing each of them to face some very hard truths. This is a bold tale that puts the best and worst in people under the microscope.
— Melinda Hills, Readers’ Favorite. [Full review]
A read that will elicit all the senses
Travels in Elysium: a journey into ancient and mystical times. Intriguing and imaginative. A read that will elicit all the senses… Having travelled to several of the Greek islands, the novel had a personal interest for me as did the Atlantis Myth. The author has cleverly used the myth or mystery to gain the attention of readers with inquiring minds. […] the reader is taken on a journey that is thought provoking on the personal and global level. The plot and characters are complex yet one soon becomes drawn into the world of Nicolas, Huxley and their associates. You may start to question what is the true nature of reality and the human condition.
— Dee Owen, Book Readers. [Full review]
A superbly crafted saga of the first order
A superbly crafted saga of the first order, Travels In Elysium is a major work of deftly written suspense that incorporates and blends timeless elements that emerge as a first class metaphysical mystery. Author William Azuski's novel marks him as a major literary talent with Travels In Elysium leaving his thoroughly entertained readers looking eagerly toward his next effort! Highly recommended for community library fiction collections, it should be noted that Travels In Elysium is also available in a Kindle edition.
— Midwest Book Review
I found Azuski's writing incredibly appealing. I love mysteries and the ocean, and have always been mesmerized by the lost city of Atlantis, so having all of those combined into one finely woven novel was a treat. He captivates the reader by putting us in the character's mind and letting us experience the tale as he does… Travels in Elysium is an exciting read. It is full of sights, sounds, and smells so intriguing that the fictional world feels tangible. I love when a book pulls me in like that and the world around me falls away. When the only motion I make is turning the page (I still prefer paper to e-reader), for long periods of time, that, to me, is the sign of a great read. I enjoyed being swept away on the tide with Nicholas' adventure to Greece and think you will, too.
— Lisa Haselton [Full review on Reviews and Interviews]
A well crafted and philosophically thought provoking book
The Travels starts with the simple premise of young Nicholas ‘Nico’ Pedrosa taking his first job as an assistant at an archaeological dig on Santorini in Greece. However, within just a few pages William Azuski has begun adding the many layers of intrigue and mystery which he develops throughout his well crafted and philosophically thought provoking novel. Nico tries to work out whether his new boss and would be mentor, Marcus Huxley, really will find new levels or reality and truth hidden under the deep volcanic ash of the ancient Minoan eruption; or whether it is just a wild obsession with Plato’s World of Ideas and Forms, the Orphic Mysteries, and “all things ancient Greek and metaphysical” that drives Huxley forward. Surely no personal or greater good can come from the difficult situation Nico finds himself in or Huxley's dubious methods; or can it? One cannot help but keep turning the pages to find out. A rare blend of Platonic philosophy buried within a well written contemporary novel. Very Good!
— James Head, Philosopher, Speaker and Blogger on Socrates and Plato (Athens, London). [On Amazon | On Socrates 4 Today]
…a well-written, complex and thought-provoking read
Young Nicholas Pedrosa has left behind a promising though boring career to assist at an archaeological dig in Greece. Serving as apprentice to Marcus Huxley is nothing like he imagined, though. His predecessor died mysteriously, the Greek authorities view the dig with suspicion, their own camp is divided, and no one is entirely sure what they are looking for. The Plato-obsessed Huxley himself is either a fraud, a visionary, or a madman. Figuring out which may be a matter of life or death for Nick, and as they dig deeper into the volcanic ash that obscures the past inhabitants of the island, rumors of Atlantis abound… but whether it is island or metaphor, no one is entirely sure. William Azuski’s Travels in Elysium […] is a well-written, complex and thought-provoking read.
— San Francisco Book Review [Full review]
An Incredible Story: A Thinking Man's (or Woman's) Novel
Azuski is a modern-day master. His writing not only exhibits unique voice and style but weaves an intricate tale of intrigue, insecurity, and longing which he combines with tender moments from the outset when young Nico leaves his mother's home to go to the ancient land of Greece to a job sought after by any of his college classmates…
Mixing the wonderment of finding a place called Atlantis with notions of finding a place called Heaven, Azuski places the reader in a setting so fluid and slippery it feels like sinking into honey. A delicious tale with gorgeous writing that will stay with you for years to come.
— Amazon bestselling author Susan Wingate. [Full review on Susan Wingate’s blog | On Amazon]
William Azuski and a new view on Atlantis
Times come when discovering a new writer shakes the psyche a bit, challenges the mind and imagination, while all the while re-establishing why reading books is such a treasure. Such is the case with reading William Azuski's mesmerizing tale Travels In Elysium… Using a fine tuned blend of fact, mythology, mystery, murder, and even elements of the metaphysical Azuski weaves a tale that, while at times a bit long in the tooth, never lets the reader's involvement pause for air. It is a fine accomplishment and one that suggests that we have another gifted author in our midst.
— Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame and Top 50 reviewer. [Full review on Amazon]
...a penetrating stream of sunlight, a vivid iridescent pulse...
Travels in Elysium couldn't help but remind me of another book I admire, The Magus by John Fowles. In Travels in Elysium, a young Englishman, Nicholas, is lured to a Greek island under dubious pretenses. Once there, his wits are pitted against those of an older man, archaeologist, Marcus Huxley. Huxley is not who he appears to be. It's evident he's a master manipulator. Is he also a hypnotist? A magician? A murderer? Our protagonist struggles to uncover the Truth… Far from a murder mystery, it's unclear whether a murder has even been committed. Travels in Elysium is more a meditation on death and the fantasy of escaping it. Of course, there is that which never dies: “But then it just sweeps over me, I don't know what. A kind of tranquility. A kind of timelessness. I experience the strange, almost irresistible impulse to laugh — as if the universe, too small, too narrow to breathe in before has in some sheer instant made of light just grown a thousandfold.”
Can its source be found, its power harnessed? It's a common theme, but the archaeologists' employing ancient texts and artifacts to this end makes for an original twist I found highly entertaining, and yes, even profound.
— Kimberly Todd Wade, archaeologist and author of Thrall and Making Love in Madrid. [Full review on Kimberly Todd Wade’s blog | On Amazon]
More about Kimberly Todd Wade’s novels on Amazon.
A wondrous excavation of myths, men and the meaning of death
Forget, for a second, the other excellent qualities of this novel. Leave aside the crisp chapter and paragraph sizes. Overlook the stock of interesting, sympathetic characters, the immersive scene setting, the spot-on dialogue, and so forth. The key question for any novel is: Is it a good yarn? The answer is a resounding yes. Here's why I think so.
It's rare to get a novel that performs multiple functions well, rarer still to find one that combines them satisfactorily. A novel can have pace, but then miss depth and detail. A novel can provide food for thought, but leave me thirsting for friction, action and explosion. As mood and backdrop increases, dialogue decreases. Not here. And how William Azuski accomplishes this seems rather clever to me. […]
— Dr Allen Baird, psychologist, and author of The First Jedi. [Full review on Amazon] More about Allen Baird’s novel on Amazon.
A multi-level mystery
What is the nature of reality? What is the value in Metaphor? Is there a single Truth to human existence or are our truths as unique as the number of people who populate the planet, or stars in the sky? William Azuski’s engaging array of characters tackle all of these questions and more in the metaphysical thriller Travels in Elysium. Akin to Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and John Fowles’ The Magus, Travels is rich in geography and symbolism… Using a team of archaeologists as his metaphor for the human search for meaning in our past and present, Azuski brings the reader along multiple points in history and unravels the pasts of the various characters in ingenious ways… Will Travels in Elysium answer the many questions that its characters pose? For me, it offered possibilities without dogma or the definitive, which I found highly satisfying. It is another tool, another perspective, on the road of my own unique journey to, and in, Elysium.
— Joey Madia, Artistic Director/Resident Playwright, Seven Stories Theatre. [Full review on Amazon | On Literary Aficionado | On New Mystics Reviews]
Home of the Blessed: Travels in Elysium by William Azuski
This is a wonderful novel that requires readers to abandon their preconceived notions and become remote viewers of the interaction of ideas and immediate sensations related to Atlantis and its people. Readers must struggle with the same metaphysical dilemmas as the characters. In this respect, the novel is similar to Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Angel's Game and Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose... I enjoyed reading Travels in Elysium and recommend it highly to readers who would like to accept a metaphysical challenge through literature.
— Gary Severance [Full review on Amazon | On Mobile Perceptions]
Travels in Elysium by William Azuski was a surprisingly rare treat… Like Nicholas Pedrosa in this tale, I was looking to escape the humdrum of life for some high adventure and like him I found it. This book contains the most stunning use of metaphors I have ever read and the writing itself is beautiful. Suspense rips through the pages at times seeming to drop you in mid air, your mind flailing around madly to grasp the fullness of it all before suddenly finding yourself strangely on the next page wondering how you got there… This is a great book for anyone who enjoys excellent writing, but I recommend it especially to the novice writer who wants to both experience and study a great piece of literature. It is an original adventure, an Atlantis fantasy that will carry you far away from all things normal, regular, scheduled and predictable.
— Sylvia Wadlington [Full review on Amazon]
Travels in Elysium by William Azuski
I enjoyed reading this book! It is part history, part mystery, and part metaphysical thriller. I found it could be read on two levels: the top story of Nico and his experiences, and the allegory to Plato’s theories of Atlantis and reality. Metaphor plays a big role in this novel, as does allegory. Caves play a role, as does light, and the concept of reality and perception and creating your own reality. To be honest, I wasn’t intimately familiar with Plato’s writings, and this book made me read a lot about him online. The more I read, the more information I found that fit this story line. Really, I thought the interplay was quite brilliant.
— Dr Beth Nolan [Full review on Beth’s Book Nook]
…the fascinating and metaphysical novel Travels in Elysium
I highly recommend the engaging and spellbinding novel Travels in Elysium by William Azuski, to anyone seeking a story that moves beyond the realm of action and adventure, and considers the deeper philosophical questions of time, space, and how they interact with one another across the millennia. This literary novel will keep you turning the pages, and pondering the metaphysics along with the memorable characters in its pages.
— Wayne Hurlbert [Full review on Blog Business World]
5 million stars!
Travels In Elysium is a fathomless gift to the intelligent reader. Luxuriate in these pages and get swept on a magical mystery tour, drugs free! … [William Azuski’s] Travels In Elysium is immense in both its scope and its profundity. In these pages we have a supreme masterpiece of wisdom, instruction and, to me anyway, divine sexual sassiness. Indeed, this guy would have the ancient Greeks clapping with envious congratulations! … Highly, highly recommended!
— Halifax Ananda [Full review on Amazon]
Become part of the quest
Azuski certainly writes in a style that will make you not want to put the book down. However, I found I needed to stop reading and reflect every few chapters, purely because there was so much happening and so many ideas and developments to assimilate. Not just in terms of the storyline but the deeper questions… about life, death and their meaning. That to me is a sign of an excellent book: one that not just keeps you engaged through pace and intrigue but also keeps the mind in a deep wondering… “what if…”
— Keith Beasley [Full review on Amazon]
as a ‘summer read’ … the book will delight
Every classical Greek story should begin as a journey and this book offers a fine one [bringing] the reader right into a wonderful fantasy: what if you were able to join a major archaeological expedition? [an] entertaining read for its ‘location’ and for its ‘cultural history’ and for its ‘coming of age/loss of naiveté’ story line. … as a ‘summer read’ … the book will delight.”
— James Ellsworth, Vine Voice reviewer. [Full review on Amazon]
William Azuski [...] is wise enough to realise that the Atlantis of our imagination has had far more influence on humanity than any physical lost continent. Thus, while set in an archaeological dig, his superbly-crafted novel deals in metaphysics rather than middens and presents itself as a vivid, intelligent and often mystifying thriller that gradually poses profound questions about the nature of reality and the human condition. One to get you thinking, then keep you guessing from first to last.
— Herbie Brennan, author of The Atlantis Enigma. [Full review on Amazon] [Author site]
The Most Precious Gift
I confess that I, like many mythophiles, have spent many stray moments wondering whether Atlantis really existed, and if so, where it is. Turns out I was asking the wrong question all along. The question is not where it might be but rather what it might be. It’s the question Azuski tackles in this excellent novel. […] Lyrical and imaginative, [Travels in Elysium] tells the story of an intrepid young man’s search for the truth. […] an intriguing fantasy that leaves you with genuine wisdom.
— Prof. Sharon Kaye, Department of Philosophy, John Carroll University, Ohio. Author of The Aristotle Quest and Medieval Philosophy, on Guide to Archaeology. [Full review on About.com Guide to Archaeology]
A Wonderful Discovery
This was one of the best books I have ever read. The story, while long and needing the reader’s attention, is riveting. The descriptions of the island and the digs are phenomenal. I could not put it down. I believe this to be a story that will become a classic… But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the writer’s gift of description. His way with words is simply wonderful. For the first time ever, I kept notes on turns of phrases. Yes, they were that beautiful and well done… Mr. Azuski, you are to be complimented on giving us this tour de force. Thank you!
— Dianne Harman, Author of Blue Coyote Motel and Tea Party Teddy. [Full review on Amazon]
The sorcerer’s apprentice
This philosophical thriller mixes a novel of ideas with a mystery plot on the Greek island of Santorini. […] The plot must be left somewhat vague to remain surprising to you, but this suspense earns genuine engagement by the reader. [Nico’s] predicament, and his difficulty in deciding whom he can trust, enable this novel to be a coming-of-age tale, set among a lively and vivid locale, but one with its own spirits which may be emanating from its mythical shadows. This grounding in place, stranded on an awesome otherworldly terrain, heightens drama effectively. […]
Plato’s conundrum, optical illusion, necropolis, Isles of the Blest, Oracle of the Dead, and/or the Burnt Islands: Santorini resembles other islands towards or beyond the sunset, a feature in mythological landscapes the world over. Why this attracts seekers, such as the Friends of Orpheus, and how near-death experiences may intersect with what Huxley and his rivals and supporters investigate draws in both Azuski’s reflections in this intellectual whodunit, and Nico’s own quest to figure it out. […]
One character responds with a lovely analogy to coming back from the dead: “siphoned back into my body like a captured cloud,” and Azuski does strive for fresh imagery. […]
— Dr John L. Murphy, Professor of Humanities at DeVry University, California. [Full review on Blogtrotter | On Amazon]
Alternately lyrical, allegorical, sensual and spine-tingling, William Azuski takes the reader on an exciting voyage of discovery, an allegorical tale of the search for the very meaning of existence. It takes the reader to that place where myth, mysticism, nature and human obsession converge. […] It is a journey worth taking. Four trowels* for William Azuski’s marvelous Travels in Elysium.
— Dr Bill Gresens, Book Reviews, Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center, University of Wisconsin. [Full Review]
* Four trowels = run right out to your local book store and buy the hard cover!
This extraordinary novel, part murder mystery, part metaphysical thriller, kept me guessing until the very last page. The intellectual duel between the troubled hero and his ruthless mentor is mesmerising. William Azuski’s treatment of the Atlantis legend is completely original and I have rarely read a novel with such a strong sense of place. The bizarre landscapes of Santorini and the daily lives of its people, both ancient and modern, are vividly evoked. Anyone who enjoys the work of Umberto Eco, Orhan Pamuk or Carlos Ruiz Zafón should try this book.
— Dr Geraldine Harris, author, Egyptologist, and a member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford.
Azuski knits these plotlines together with considerable skill, contextualizing them within the wider philosophical background of a search for Plato’s mythical lost city of Atlantis and infusing them with plenty of memorable descriptions […] The imperious Huxley and his private agenda dominate the plot, and the baffled, inquisitive Pedrosa eventually becomes a hero to root for as he navigates the various personalities of Huxley’s dig team. Ongoing digressions into Santorini’s distant past jar at first but ultimately reinforce the novel’s taut, well-constructed climax. A smart and satisfying archaeological thriller…
— Kirkus Reviews [Full Review]
What Azuski does very well is create a compelling premise, peopled with memorable characters (living and dead), and sets forth his own dialogue as a philosophical treatise disguised as an adventure. […] Travels in Elysium is surprising and engaging — and very frustrating at points — but well worth the read. Keep one thing in mind: Nothing — and no one — is what it seems.
— Author J M Cornwell, Atlantis or the Gate to Death. [Full review on TheCelebrityCafe.com]
‘It appears Professor Huxley is either going to make people fabulously rich or unleash the Devil,’ quips one character in describing the towering, obsessive, and possibly quite mad leader of an expedition seeking to unearth the fabled lost city of Atlantis in William Azuski’s engrossing novel, Travels in Elysium. There is more truth and prescience in that offhand remark than the speaker could imagine, and it is such unsubtle teasers that continue to draw the reader, like the crazed archaeologist himself, deeper and deeper into the story. [...] this book is a must read for any fiction fan with an interest in Greek history, archaeology, or mythology or who, like Huxley (and Azuski), dream of Elysium or want to believe in the legend of Atlantis.
— Foreword Reviews [Full Review]
A story of Archaeology and Greek culture that I could not put down!
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. […] Mr Azuski is a master at setting the scene and placing the characters and action in the landscape. […] The narrative of the excavation is cleverly entwined with the mythology of the afterlife and there is a good twist in the plot. […] All in all an excellent book which I could not put down and a recommended read for anyone interested in Greek culture!
— Archaeologist and historian Haighleagh Winslade. [On the Coalface of History blog]
Atlantis. The name resonates with images of ancient splendor and mystery. […] William Azuski weaves his story […] with a wild and beautiful realism. His characters are fully-fleshed and complex. Nicholas Pedrosa, wide-eyed and eager. Marcus Huxley, imperious and impatient, with a temper as volatile as the volcano that ripped apart the island. […] the novel hints at being a supernatural thriller, then a murder mystery, then a metaphysical treatise, then a history lesson, then back to the supernatural thriller. […] Either way, it will leave readers pondering its mysteries long after they finish the book.
— Paula K. Parker, Buddy Hollywood. [Full Review]
Like Eco and García Márquez, Azuski conjures a remarkable sense of an exotic place. The reader is immersed in the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feel of Santorini under the military junta of the early 1970s and in the mystical reality that intersects with the mundane world. […] His characters are complex and offer insights into the mysteries and ancient puzzles that surround them as they delve into a lost city—and into their own thoughts and beliefs.
Main character and narrator, Nicholas Pedrosa, immediately finds himself caught up with people and events he doesn’t begin to understand. What happened to his predecessor? What is archaeologist Marcus Huxley really searching for? What is Atlantis? For that matter, what is reality?
[…] this book is not for those interested in a quick read or an adventurous romp through Atlantis. But if you enjoy literary fiction that makes you think, then I recommend Travels in Elysium. My best advice for reading it? Heed the words of archaeologist Marcus Huxley: ‘Trust no one. Believe no one. Question everything. Remember, there is nothing here you can take at face value… No — not even yourself.’
— Archaeologist and author Dr JM McDowell, jmmcdowell.com. [Full Review]
A mystery, awash with metaphysical discussions about history, the meaning of life, and if the witnessing of a white light by people that have had a near death experience means that there is another existence after dying. […] Azuski’s concept of Atlantis existing on Santorini and being destroyed by a titanic earthquake is a fascinating one, and his juxtaposition of events in the present with those that may have taken place in the past is unique. A very original and enjoyable adventure into past and present events vividly presented.
— Paul Lane on BookBitch.com. [Full Review]
Travels in Elysium — A journey well worth taking
…suspicious deaths and unexplained disappearances, an obscure manuscript which may be the key to an ancient secret, a buried statue and a hidden cavern, a rift in reality and love stories that transcend time. Being a writer in the intellectual European tradition, Azuski doesn’t just use these elements to thrill. This is a novel that also makes you think. When Huxley warns Nicholas to `Trust no one. Believe no one. Question everything…’ it’s a challenge to the reader as well. The legend of Atlantis has inspired many bad books and films but Azuski has gone back to the original source material, asked what the philosopher Plato meant by telling the story of the downfall of Atlantis, and come up with an alarming answer. […] `Travels in Elysium’ is a demanding book but it’s a journey well worth taking.
— Dr Geraldine Harris, Fantasy Reads. [Full Review]
Destined to Become a Classic
This novel is more in the mode of classic English literature than the modern novel. Words are used to weave a tapestry in the reader’s mind. The extensive vocabulary used may bog down the limited reader. However, the power of the descriptions is matched only by the force of the ideas discussed in the text. An amalgam of philosophy, religion and ancient history provides the basis for an intense analysis of life, its meaning, its form, its purpose and its value. The small band of protagonists represents a cross section of society, much like the sanatorium guests in Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain. Many of the main characters can be viewed as allegories of specific groups of people. Characters move into illusion in their minds and into the real world until they lose the distinction and have to question what is reality other than illusion on a different plane. This book would provide an excellent basis for a discussion group. I highly recommend it to the serious reader.
— Jay F. Williams [Full review on Amazon]
A Work of Art
Travels in Elysium is an absolute treasure. From the page one, the tale casts its spell, and its sheer momentum carries you on a mind-bending journey with Nico Pedrosa, a young man who finds himself invited to an archaeological dig for which he is hardly qualified. Among his scant instructions: he is not to trust anything or anyone.
Upon arrival in Santorini, Pedrosa meets lead archaeologist, Marcus Huxley, a character of immense magnetism and complexity, reminiscent of Jack London’s Wolf Larsen. As the archaeologists work to uncover their dig site, the mysteries of Atlantis, the afterlife, history, philosophy, death, and human nature all begin to unravel.
As worlds collide, Pedrosa and his colleagues struggle to distinguish truth from the barrage of events that challenge reality itself.
The beauty, eccentricity, myth, and inexplicability of the Greek isles comes alive under Azuski’s skillful pen. Indeed, the writer weaves a tale of a complexity rivaling the great works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, leaving you spellbound and groping for truth.
Warning: this is not a book for the casual reader. It will cause you to think.
— Emily Joseph on Goodreads and Amazon. [Full review on Amazon]
The search for utopia in this life and the next... a cult classic in the making
When [archaeologist] Huxley publicly proclaims his discovery is Plato’s legendary lost Atlantis, we are left to wonder just how much of the theory is scientific fact and how much the fabrication of an opportunist.
But it’s here that Azuski springs his clever play, exploiting the argument that has raged over lost Atlantis since Plato’s day — what exactly is Atlantis: myth / legend / history / hoax / fraud... or maybe something no one else has yet thought of?
In Azuski’s Travels in Elysium, Atlantis becomes an ingenious metaphysical mind game invented by the philosopher himself, a Conundrum capable of travelling the centuries and magnifying the purity and corruption of the human soul whenever or wherever Atlantis is ‘discovered’ — and where the very forces that ultimately destroy the Atlantis idyll (cynicism, exploitation, greed, violence) are played out again and again.
Those looking for a speed read or a genre fitting story should perhaps look elsewhere: the characters in this novel are deep, the descriptions bursting with vibrancy and colour.
Essentially, Travels in Elysium is about the very thing that concerned ancient thinkers like Plato and Socrates most — the nature of reality. As Azuski points out, we are forever deceived by appearances — we think we know what’s going on; we think we know or hold or possess the truth about reality — but do we? The eye-opening final chapter of Travels in Elysium — in which the multicoloured threads of this amazing story are all pulled together — may well suggest otherwise.
— Linda Schad [Full review on Amazon]
A challenging voyage of mystery and myth
[A] remarkable book [with] superlative descriptive passages throughout. The density matches that of the covering of many feet of ash deposit through which, at the practical level, the site-workers have to delve and sift, and yet the words, like the ash, float away with extraordinary lightness. As the depth of description of the archaeological work in progress, and the philosophical and mythical theories around it, of life and death (the City of Light, the Islands) begin to overwhelm the reader, suddenly we are back in the village again, amongst ordinary folk, its cast of superbly drawn characters, doctor, priest, postmaster, policemen; or in the Athens of the Colonels, or eating honey cakes in Huxley’s kitchen, all woven together with subtle skill.
— Priscilla [Full review on Amazon]
Not travel literature or a guide book but a wonderful journey of discovery!
William Azuski has created an outstandingly original and imaginative novel which deserves to be read by a wide audience. He takes the reader to the landscapes of Santorini where we experience its volcanic, stark beauty, the whitewashed settlements, the moody sea and its varied island people, some of whom are in conflict with the international archaeologists. […] The argumentative central characters are constructed with powerful, meaningful dialogue and actions and they stimulate varied responses and reactions in the reader. The main character of Huxley stands out as one of the most interesting and enigmatic characters created in literature that I have read for a very long time. This expansive novel, set in the violent and despotic times of Greek dictatorship, has narrative and themes that are beautifully constructed and developed and the whole book has a suitable pace with short chapters which culminate or climax in punchy final situations or ideas. It provides the reader with plenty to discuss and think about including identity, reality, truth and experiences.
— Callow [Full review on Amazon]
Praise from publishing industry insiders
— editors, reviewers, agents
“...brilliant — fast‐paced, exciting and written with real style...”
“...a joy to read...”
“...echoes of John Fowles’ magnificent novel ‘The Magus’...”
“[An] enviable storytelling skill, [a] genuine talent...”
“...one of the most memorable manuscripts I’ve ever read.”
“[Azuski makes] excellent use of the period in which the story is set (the years of the brutal Junta) to infuse the whole book with a sense of tension and danger.”
“I was completely immersed in this amazing tale. Brilliant — the concept, the language, the imagery, the mystery.”
“[Azuski has] used Plato and the Atlantis legend/allegory in a truly original way... [He has] that rare thing, a distinctive voice as a writer. Unlike most thrillers, Travels in Elysium will make people think.”