Mary Irvine: Review of ‘Gods of the Crossroads’ by Robin Lloyd-Jones
Helensburgh based Robin Lloyd- Jones is the author of some 18 books, fiction and non-fiction, many receiving prizes, including his biography of W.H. Murray ‘The Sunlit Summit’, which won the Saltire Society Research Book of the Year Award in 2003
His first historical novel, ‘Lord of the Dance’, 1982, set in sixteenth-century India was the winner of BBC Bookshelf Best First Novel Award as well as being nominated for the Booker Prize. The second historical novel was ‘The Dreamhouse’ a surrealist satire set in a remote 19th century gold-rush town in Alaska, also nominated for the Booker Prize in 1985.
His third, and latest, historical novel is ‘Gods of the Lost Crossroads’.
The author regards this as the third of his ‘Trickster’ trilogy but it is also very much a stand-alone novel. It is set in 1823 in two locations, a London teeming with street entertainers, bare-knuckle fighters and travelling circuses, and a Peru during the latter stages of their War of Independence. In both there is a great sense of place and norms of the time. This is an author who not only does extensive research but draws upon from personal experiences to provide authenticity and build a credible world for his reader
The author is a past master of reaching out to all of the reader’s senses, evoking sounds, smell, sights. He has the rare ability to evoke a scene with the judicious, not overuse, of adjectives. In two or three lines a whole scene/picture appears in the reader’s mind. The author makes full use of the beauty of the English language with its richness of vocabulary. Without offence any ‘bad’ language, swearing and violence convey the time and are never used gratuitously.
The four main characters in the book, Rainbow, Jacko, Robert and Carroty Kate each have a quest and their searches for resolution drives the story flowingly forward, with tight control of the plot of each character’s journey. Each lives and hopes in his/her own world. The reader sympathises, sometime empathises, with them as each tries to cope with the personal pressures and adversity of life in striving to achieve his/her quest. No contriving. This author makes his characters distinct and believable.
Brought together from very different lives, their relationships, actions and meetings are totally credible as are their characters. Many of the themes in the book raise issues still relevant today, some still not being resolved two hundred years later. Hatred and war, racism, sexual orientation, feminism, love and friendship, famine and drought, the ability to be ‘at one’ with nature – all relevant today. . One ironic example is when Rainbow is regarded as not looking like a ‘real’ black man’ – as do the Minstrels! The author encourages the reader to examine their own attitudes
My favourite character is Rainbow, trying to make sense of a London which he believes is the ‘other world’, rationalises all situations to fit in with his life experiences, by drawing on his life before being stolen from his homeland.
There is humour in the book. It can be quite subtle but it’s a long time since I ‘belly-laughed’. Most of all I enjoyed the book. There is so much I want to quote from the book – come to one of the launches, buy the book, read it for yourself.
Gods of the Lost Crossroads by Robin Lloyd-Jones, published Rymour Press, May 2023
Glasgow Launch – Tuesday, 23rd May, 2023
Scottish Writers’ Centre, CCA, 350 Sauchiehall St, G2 3JD, 6.15 –8.00 p.m. Free entry/buffet.
Helensburgh Launch – Thursday, 1st June, 2023
Helensburgh Library, 59 W King St, Helensburgh G84 8EB, 7.00 – 8.00 p.m. Free entry/buffet/wine.
Each launch has a different format. Signed copies will be available at the discount price of £10.
- Friday Focus: Scottish Art Acquisitions
- Christmas Fayre Gallowgate
- Express Your-elf Christmas Party
- Now’s The Day Now’s The Hour – Poems for John Maclean
- Naomi Mitchison Lecture with Hannah Lavery
- From Page to Print: Shake the Kaleidoscope
- Family Cycle Ride Glasgow Green
- Steadfast Trickster Book Launch
- Double Vision: Double Voice Jim Ferguson
- Floating Worlds: Erraid Sound, University of Glasgow ARC
- Kavya Prize New Writers Award Ceremony
- Celebrating Leela Soma and Murder at the Mela
- Story Cafe Milton Library, Book Week Scotland 2023
- Beyond The Battlefield Book Launch
- Book Week Scotland 2023 – Zoe Strachan
- Charlie Gracie, Belfast to Baillieston
- Strathclyde Creative Writing and The Glasgow Review of Books
- Scottish Pen Readings
- Fiona Gillan Kerr – book launch
- Dave Manderson – Jim and Pat’s West End Chat Podcast