Pharaoh’s Arrow is a picture book that tells a fascinating story using authentic hieroglyphics and historic papyrus paintings. What was the inspiration that made you want to put this book together?
I have taught elementary school for over 25 years. I have always found that using picture books is a great way to teach subjects like history and art to students. Picture books bring history alive. I found in teaching about Early Societies that there was an abundance of information books but not picture book narratives. I wanted to create a resource that teachers or any Egyptology fan could use and enjoy that included factual information but was also entertaining. I have always been fascinated by Ancient Egypt, so I thought this would be a great way to break into writing and illustrating picture books.
Each piece of artwork in the book was done by you on papayri. What was that process like?
The illustrations are actually done on paper to replicate the look of papyrus. I included directions in the back of the book, so readers can create similar drawings. The secret is to colour with pencil crayon, as this medium will resist paint. Then I painted over the coloured illustration using brown and yellow tempera paint. I used a large paint brush and painted both directions leaving the brush strokes showing. Last, I covered the wet paint with a disposable cloth and rubbed the cloth then removed the cloth. That is how the look of papyrus is achieved. It is simple yet works. I hope readers will try it out. I made a Youtube video to demonstrate the technique and colouring pages are found on my website https”//georgeneeb.ca
I felt that you did a great job of getting the facts of ancient Egypt correct. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?
I spent months researching how the Egyptian drew everything. I looked through lots of information books about Ancient Egypt. The Egyptians had a distinct way of drawing. Their style is simple yet graceful. I’ve heard the Egyptians described as the first graphic artists. People were drawn in profile but with forward facing eyes and shoulders. It is almost a contorted look. I also researched how trees, homes, palaces and animals were drawn. Egyptians didn’t uses perspective and size differences were usually due to importance, so sometimes the Pharaoh was drawn larger than everyone else. This made illustrating the book challenging because I couldn’t draw a lot of varied perspectives, such as a bird’s eye or an ant’s eye point of view. I really could only do some close ups in order to keep faithful to Egyptian style.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book is totally different. It is a story about an overweight girl that longs to be a super hero, but her mother and aunt really pressure her to act like the other girls and try to be pretty and popular. When some bullies befriend her, she has to decide if this is the person she wants to be. I did the illustrations using cut paper and also dyed paper backgrounds. The book is in the editing stage, so I hope it will be ready by late summer. I am also writing a book about an Emperor and a dragon in Ancient China. It will be illustrated to look like Chinese silk paintings have come to life to tell the story.
Akia loves living in an oasis far from the Nile River with her father. But when she is faced with another family tragedy, Akia embarks on a plan of revenge that takes her to the ancient capital of Memphis and to meet Almighty Pharaoh. She quickly learns that vengeance isn’t as easy as it may seem! Come visit Ancient Egypt through a tale told in rhyming couplets, authentic hieroglyphics and historic papyrus paintings come to life. Ages 8 – 11 or any Egyptology fan!
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If you’re shopping for a picture book, George Neeb’s Pharaoh’s Arrow should be high on your list of choices. This unique book is an experience like you haven’t seen before – a whole book written and illustrated in the style of ancient Egypt! Neeb took the time to paint all the pages by hand and tell us a story of revenge set in the times of a bygone era. He studied Egyptian art and it shows on every page.. Every page is an individual work of art, bringing the artistic style of the Land of the pyramids into the modern format.
While set in ancient times of the pharaohs, Neeb came up with the story himself. As he explained, he tried to get the facts correct. The style of clothing and the makeup match the era the story is set in and he spent a considerable amount of time giving his book the feel of an old papayri. He didn’t just stop at the characters, whom he painted in the drawing style of the ancient Egypt, but went as far to match the authentic hieroglyphics that appear throughout the story with the text!
Pharaoh’s Arrow excels in the themes it takes us through. While picture books usually don’t trouble themselves with big moral questions, George Neeb had other ideas for his characters. What starts like a story of revenge ends up differently than you would expect. Without giving the details, you will be surprised with the decision the main character decided to go with. And while odd, the decision is very practical. Considering the times the story is happening the decision is quite fitting. I felt that Neeb’s poetry was not his strong suit and were not lyrically challenging, but he is still able to tell an interesting story.
Many odds and ends of the life of ancient Egypt show throughout the book. The story starts in quite an unusual way – the mother of Akia, our heroine, is killed by a crocodile which makes her father decide to live in the desert. Crocodiles where a predator on the Nile back in the day and the situation gives us a glimpse of life thousands of years ago. Burial rites of the ancient Egypt are also referenced and Neeb also talks about the spirituality that the people of those times were observing. His reference of “ba”, roughly translated as the modern concept of the soul, is something you will not find in many books that deal with this long gone civilization!
The illustrations are unique and make it an unforgettable work of art. At the end of the book Neeb even explains how to accomplish the style yourself, making the Pharaoh’s Arrow a perfect choice for anyone interested in painting and history.
Pages: 18 | ASIN: B07DV1XL2M
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The Raid on Troy, written by Murray Lee Eiland JR, is the seventh book in the Orfeo Saga. It follows two brothers, Memnon and Menas as they rise to power from the chains of slavery. Determined to taste the gold of Troy, the brothers assemble their lives so they are in a position of power to take the city. Telemon is drawn into the plans after a prophecy about the kidnapping of his daughter Elena is fulfilled. The battle lines are drawn as each player in the war game draws their sharpest weapons and assembles their greatest armies to fulfill their own dreams and desires.
This epic adventure begins with a slave boy Memnon attempting to escape the perils of slavery caused by an early capture from the Therans. Memnon’s previous family life is all but a distant memory and for now, all he knows is slavery and hierarchies of power. The brutality that he has experienced in his life has meant that kindness has seeped away from his soul, leaving a dangerous man with nothing left to lose. He is inherently a leader who fearlessly takes control of perilous situations. This allows him to develop a following of men who are eager to drop the chains of slavery too. Together they begin to rebuild their lives, raiding villages and meeting with bandits who help them acquire food and weapons.
Menas, Memnon’s brother, is also an escaped slave and eager to live a life beyond being a pawn of the Therans. Menas soon involves himself with the Spartans, where he becomes a “fixture in the local politics of Sparta”. The two brothers rise to power in an epic tale of action, revenge, lust, and influence. You will admire their ability to rise to power and success as they take what they believe is rightfully theirs, having no mercy for those who dare to cross them.
The Raid on Troy has several storylines that are interweaving together as you progress through the novel. We have Orfeo who enters the plot line as an admirable and successful leader who has a beautiful wife Clarice, Telemon and Estra with their daughter Elena and the brothers Menas and Memnon who all take the leading roles in this twist of Greek mythology. There are similar aspects to the traditional mythology story, however, Murray Lee Eiland JR curates this version to be an almost historical version of events, leaving the reader to feel connected to the characters and the plot line.
Murray Lee Eiland JR writes with a legendary force that will have the reader engaged from start to finish. The chapters are short and fast-paced, allowing the plot line to develop quickly whilst covering vast amounts of time. However, there is still an incredible transformation in the character development as you watch the characters grow in both power and ambition. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys an epic battle mixed with the rise of power and fortune.
Pages: 300 | ASIN: B06ZYK6M2Z
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The Slave Boy is the sixth installment of the Orfeo Saga and follows Cyrus as he lives his life in Kuragalu. Cyrus is feeling restless and bored as he lives his life without any foreboding danger lurking in the shadows. Even though there are thoughts of what life would be like married in a traditional Kassite way, he is eager to find an adventure and sets off to Babylon to find old friends and new lands. Here they land themselves in a familiar career path of merchants however a seemingly easy road into money is tarnished when they are captured and sold into slavery. Cyrus may escape but his new mission of protecting a member of the Royal family may prove to be his most difficult task yet. Meanwhile, Cyrus also has his eyes set on stopping a siege that could kill many innocent people. Life changing decisions will leave Cyrus in a position that will change his life forever.
The Slave Boy, written by Murray Lee Eiland, is a story of courage, passion and friendship. Prepared to be thrown into the world where slavery, Royal families and war mongering politicians will stop at nothing to take over power within their country and beyond.
Murray Lee Eiland has written this novel with a beautiful air of understanding and respect towards cultures within places such as Iran. I appreciated the context of history woven throughout the plot and how he easily fit the characters into the historical tones of the story. I also liked how the chapters were short and concise which left no room to ramble or over describe situations or people. Because of this, I found myself eagerly continuing the story and was always filled with excitement and anticipation at what may happen next.
The character progression of Balik was one that I thoroughly enjoyed. He begins the novel as a drunk- lost in the old time ways, desperately searching for a place in a world that no longer accepts the heroes of war. Cyrus saves him from himself and the cheap stench of wine and injects life and a sense of adventure into his old employer.
The Slave Boy explores both governments and Royal families which adds an element of politics throughout the deep throes of adventure. Further into the story, relationships with Royals offer benefits and power, however is this what the characters want or need? At times the novel almost felt like a James Bond style movie with spies, slaves and Kings mixing together to find out the deepest of secrets within the kingdoms.
I appreciated the historical note at the end of the novel, allowing the reader to have an understanding of what was real and what was made up. As it concludes the novel, it leaves the reader to consider and ponder on what life people may have had within these areas of the world.
I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys a novel loosely based on historical events, full of adventure and life changing lessons.
Pages: 238 | ASIN: B06WVFPGP3
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The False Prophet, by Harry James Fox, is set in a post-apocalyptic America where a plague wiped out a large majority of its inhabitants. The remaining populace, left angry and bitter, instigated wars and caused even more deaths while seeking retribution from various groups of people. With all remnants of modern civilization long gone, their society was essentially thrown back into the dark ages. At the opening of the book, the son of a mysterious prophet named Hiram Abaddon now seeks to continue his father’s legacy of dominion over any that do not support him.
The book has Biblical references with the main opposition to Abbadon (the False Prophet) consisting of Christians. The story plays out like one would imagine the tribulation as discussed in the Bible, with Abbadon seemingly synonymous with the Antichrist. One man, Donald of Fisher, along with a group of comrades, sets off to gain support in the fight against The False Prophet. The book is definitely picks up speed as the story progresses; the first half is slow to build and relatively uneventful but does well to setup the rest of the story. In this way it reminds me of Game of Thrones, in that it was a lot of information upfront, but once you were caught up, you were hooked. When news reaches Prophet City that there is an uprising, the story line really picks up and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Right from his introduction in the story, The False Prophet’s character is intriguing and easy to hate. Which is a perfect setup and a stark contrast to Donald of Fisher. The fact that the False Prophet is easy to dislike and connect with as an enemy really helped to keep my interest piqued. Although I felt like Donald’s character could of used more depth, it could easily be that I wanted this depth because his character was also so intriguing and begged to be explored.
Personally, I love the Biblical undertones of the story and the fact that a lot of the chapters open with a Bible verse helped to give insight into the chapter’s direction. I also like that the Biblical alignment is less obvious than in some other books that have attempted to use a similar setting or premise. Because of how it is done, I think this book will be more appealing to the general public than to a very specific niche. Overall, I find The False Prophet to be a fascinating and entertaining story. I can’t wait for the next one!
Pages: 368 | ASIN: B01N6PZUU0
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Zurga’s Fire takes place in historical Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean and is broken up into four books filled with short tales of adventure. What was the inspiration for this third book in the Orfeo Saga?
The fictional universe laid out by Tolkien in Lord of the Rings was probably the series that got me thinking along the lines of an extended saga. I liked the way Tolkien used ancient sources to create heroic fiction. At the same time I wanted to be more historical like Robert Graves and his series I, Claudius. I wanted to write something that would not be fantastic, and which would not re-tread well known history. The Bronze Age offered scope to speculate. There are few written sources, but what there is offers scope to invent characters and place them in historical context.
Zurga’s Fire introduces the issue of nomads and how they impact civilization. I had been researching nomads for my other interest, Oriental carpets. Nomads were very effective warriors, and they could overwhelm sedentary societies. They did have one weakness, and that was leadership. Every group from that lead by Attila to Ghengis Khan eventually fell apart. A charismatic leader is essential for nomads. In Zurga’s Fire the leader of the nomads is eventually undone not so much by a face to face challenge, but by a crisis in leadership.
Why did you go with the format of short stories told as a collection?
This is a very good question. I really did not think about the format before I started writing the series. I wrote many short stories over a period of years that were never published. Looking back that was probably a good thing. I always liked reading short stories. I think I have a short attention span. The result is that I am quite comfortable writing short stories and I have structured my Orfeo Saga that way too. Many books in the Orfeo Saga are made up of two different stories which are divided into books. In contrast my other series about a Los Angeles based private eye (the Bart Northcote series) are entire novels.
I felt that the characters in this book were complex and well thought out. What was your favorite character to write for?
I think that the character I had the most fondness for was “Zurga.” I gave him a rather ridiculous name because the character went by many names. This name suggests that you cannot take the character seriously. Zurga likes to deceive people as to his true intentions, as well as build up a mythology around himself. Zurga realized early on that he would not be fully accepted. No one would ever select him as a leader. In contrast his protege Orfeo can become a leader. Again I was well aware of Orpheus in the Greek pantheon. While Orpheus was a gifted lute player, he is also credited introducing civilization to savages. My Orfeo character has some similarities with Orpheus, but I have taken all supernatural elements away.
I think of Zurga’s Fire as a historical adventure tale. Did you do any research to keep the setting and characters true?
I studied ancient and modern nomads for years. I read about them, their social structure, history, and particularly art. Many of my research trips were to see nomads making textiles, particularly Turkish speaking people. I knew that for the Bronze Age there were not good historical sources, so I filled in the blanks with what I understood from more modern nomadic groups. I tried to capture their lifestyle in the novel, without going into the nuts and bolts of their society. The interesting thing is that the Greeks had recently settled by the Bronze Age. In the novel they were well aware of the kind of enemy they faced. The same pattern repeats throughout history many times. A group settles and then the next group of nomads impinges on them. Every sedentary group has the same choice. They can fight or they can flee. For Zurga’s Fire I wanted to show how the nomads being horse riders and archers had an advantage. Sedentary society, with farmers, had fewer people who would naturally take on a warrior role. They could fortify cities to stop nomads, but that does not always work. That is the tension I wanted to accentuate in the book.
What does the next book in the Orfeo Saga take readers?
The next book is also divided into two main parts. The first part takes the characters to the New World. There has been a huge amount of scholarly speculation about the contacts between the Old and New Worlds. I think that there must have been limited contact between these two areas, but I am not sure that it occurred as early as the European Bronze Age. However, there was likely early contact. There was a report that a scientist had found traces of cocaine as well as nicotine in Egyptian mummies as early as 1000 BC. I think it is important to look at evidence with an open mind but have a healthy skepticism about big claims.The Orfeo Saga volume 4 has a bit more humor in it than other books in the series. I also thought it was important for Orfeo to take a greater role in his own fate. His teacher disappears during this story.
Part II of the book deals with the rise of Sparta. This is not as far-fetched as some people think. Archaeology is pushing the date for Spartan civilization further back in time. I try to post interesting links to the archaeology on my Facebook page.
The Getae inhabited the region on either side of the Lower Danube River, in what is today northern Bulgaria and southern Romania. They were in contact with ancient Greeks from an early date. Herodotus – writing in the 5th century BC – extols their martial spirit: “…when it lightens and thunders, they aim their arrows at the sky, uttering threats against the god; and they do not believe that there is any god but their own.”
They ruthlessly incorporate conquered people into their society through enslavement, and are prepared to kill those who are not useful to their plans. They have no need for the luxuries of city life. Fighting in troops of mounted archers, they mock individual heroes. Getae have a long history of reducing enemies in deadly hails of arrows while not getting close enough to lose warriors in single combat. Here Orfeo and his warriors must deal with an expanding Getae empire during the heroic age of Greece. Vastly outnumbered, can they stop an invasion that threatens not only their lives, but also their entire culture?
Posted in Interviews
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Another Self throws us into the life of a girl who has been broken of all spirit and self-esteem, and we’ve very often reminded of that. Perhaps that is why this extremely strange story catapults us through Ancient Rome and how this one damaged girl manages to take it all down with her.
While the beginning of the story is a bit confusing, especially when you have no idea why everyone wants to kill this poor girl for, the middle of the book catapults you through this insane spider-web of lies, deceit and pure financial carnage. If you ever wanted lessons on how to overthrow a government, destroy a black market and basically scare the daylights out of a houseful of poor slaves, Julia is your teacher. Though thoroughly damaged, she manages to corrupt all of Rome and herself at the same time. Did I mention that she was pretty mentally damaged?
In all honestly, the game she plays is fairly amazing. Outside of her time wallowing in a glass of wine or gazing lovingly at a piece of jewelry she doesn’t own, Julia turns out to be an incredible sponge of knowledge which helps her to become the guru of all things dirty and deceitful in the underbelly of Rome. Like a string of Cash and Loan stores, Julia becomes the wealthiest person in all of Rome, and very few people know that she is the one to do it. She strings up her victims in little chains of events that will make your head spin, and at some point, have you cheering for her until it all comes crashing down.
If the beginning didn’t exist, and the ending didn’t punch you in the face with unanswered questions and situations, the middle of the book would be an amazing tale of a poor unwilling slave girl who became the most powerful person in an ancient civilization. The sheer width of power that she gained from one well thought out plan and the manipulation of a powerful force who’s heart she stole, it needs to be read and admired. Take notes, as it can show that if you put your mind to it, as damaged as that might be, you can achieve anything. Even if you have an incredibly damaged mind from years of mental and physical abuse. Just pointing out how often you must remember that she’s mentally damaged, as the author will remind you just as frequently. Ignoring that fact, reading about how a city can be overtaken by any mentally equipped individual was a fun ride. Though a lot of people were hurt for it, watching someone get revenge from those that hurt them is very satisfying as well.
Hopefully a lot of questions will be answered as you travel through the series and through time with Julia’s character. She seems to gain a new life every time her old one ends, and hopefully this book can do that as well. Let’s go Julia, on to your next adventure.
Pages: 287 | ASIN: B00G4QWIZY
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