Alan Jacobs's Reviews > The Other Side of Gold

The Other Side of Gold by Alexander Jacobs
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Sep 24, 12

Read in September, 2012

I have been trying to think of a way to review this book somewhat objectively, despite the necessary caveat that it was written by my only nephew.

First, unlike every other ebook that I've read, this ebook is literate. There are almost no grammatical errors (I highlighted those that I found, and they're only in the 2nd half of the book). The dialog flows between the characters, and is easy to follow. The author describes the action exactly and expertly, so that a reader such as I, who has never read a fantasy adventure novel, can follow the story line and imagine the scenes the author describes.

And that is no small fete, because the entire action of the novel (actually the first part of a multi-novel series) takes place on a planet that seems not to be Earth as we know it, and where the history of the peoples existing on the planet, and the physical laws of the planet, are familiar, but somewhat different from anything we know.

Now, the hero of the book, a child named Cayden, finds that he has certain abilities that others do now have. This planet, or perhaps just the country, is controlled by people who exist, and in fact have created a whole advanced society, inside a very large tree--a tree of gigantitude unknown in our universe, a tree that is, perhaps, the size of The Bronx. And their means of control comes from implanting a leaf behind the ear of every young person. But Cayden has the ability to override the power of the leaf. Thus, he has independence of thought and action. Moreover, he finds that he has mental powers that give him "affinity" with the elements of the planet. These "affinite bonds" are a form of superpower. A certain chosen few in the realm are taught to develop their affinite bonds in service of the king, but Cayden's bonds are super-powerful, and he receives private lessons from an entity who exists only in a mirror, and who may even be someone contained within Cayden, an alter ego, or some part of his Self.

So the book goes deep into Freudian-Jungian-Maslovian territory, about the nature of self, the power of dreams, the will to accept yourself and actualize your potential.

The plot involves Cayden's slowly becoming aware of the evil that has been inflicted on the world, and learning the history of the harm that has been done to those who live there. He hooks up with a girl, Leyna, whose guru, Mogen, is a powerful force who has mastered affinite bonds and guides Cayden in recognizing what he must do. And there is a quest for The Book which seems to contain all the power that anyone could want, and everyone in The Other Side of Gold wants the book. Cayden has no idea why the Book is so important, but he realizes that he must get it so that, at the very least, no one else gets it.

The above just suggests, to the best of my recollection, the themes of The Other Side of Gold. I fully expected that I would start reading it, lose my interest, lose the thread of the story, put the book down and forget it. That didn't happen--instead, I was delighted by the imagination that went into the work, and was delighted that it somehow sprung from the mind of someone in my own family. And I can honestly say that, if the fantasy/adventure/sci-fi genre is something that appeals to you, this is an excellent read, and there will be more to come as the adventure continues.

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08/29/2012
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