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Drama, action, passion, disaster, and the pure adrenaline buzz of overlanding are all here in Sam Manicom’s vibrant third book. He has a gift to describe people and places.
An epic ride that almost becomes secondary to the events that happen and the very human element of travelling. Always evoking the emotions of others because Sam never forgets to use his five senses in his tales. Leaving you immersed in the sights, sounds, touch, smell and taste of a journey of true human discovery.
Motorcycle Explorer Magazine
Comparisons with Ted Simon’s seminal ‘Jupiter’s Travels’ are somewhat inevitable, but Manicom’s work does not suffer in the least by comparison to his illustrious forebear. He writes engagingly, and in the classic style of the travel writer, with a marked ability to draw out the salient features of a scene and place them center-stage. The deep red of the African earth glows under Manicom’s pen.
A refreshing change.
Motorcycle Sport and Leisure
Sam’s descriptive can make the mouth water, or the hairs on the back of the neck crawl, depending on whether he’s describing a goat curry or the prospect of persuading armed Border guards that he’s just a simple traveller.
Technically, it should be a book that inspires travellers – but to be honest, it works on so many other levels. There is the practical information relayed to would-be biker travellers risking time out in such far-flung, wild and exotic places. And then there’s the story of how boy meets girl, both endowed with a mile-wide streak of wanderlust, and both fiercely independent, learning to live together on the road. And saving each other’s lives on occasion …. But more than this, the book is a fascinating glimpse into people, places and ways of life that are changing and adapting to our modern world. … Few travel writers can conjure up sights and smells so provocatively as Sam. And with Birgit’s day-to-day diaries as the staple diet, he has hit upon a rich recipe for his readers.
Daily Record – Scotland
He manages to convey the atmosphere, the soul of the country and the people he meets along the way that really make you feel you are part of the journey.
…a truly involving and enthralling read. Distant Suns doesn’t just document the journey, Sam also describes cultural differences, traditions and lifestyles of the various countries they cross, whilst painting a vivid picture of the terrain they cross… A really great read that’ll doubtless give you itchy feet…
TBM – Trail Bike Magazine
… there are plenty of hilarious moments provided by odd situations and even stranger locals. But he has now firmly established himself as a writer and has enjoyed critical acclaim for the kind of artistic prose which literally paints you a vivid scene you can almost smell let alone see.
… there are plenty of pictures, my favourite being Birgit covered head to toe in mud and it wasn’t even bike related. In addition Sam has included his wonderful little hand drawn sketches of everything from scenes to people, objects to animals.
… His questioning philosophy about the different forms of life he encounters, and that’s just the varied humanity they meet along the way, is as strong as ever and there are plenty of historical and interesting facts on many places visited.
… I have thoroughly enjoyed travelling along with him and more recently Birgit and already have my virtual saddle bags packed …
If this were a television show, it would open with the caveat, “This show describes dangerous activities undertaken by trained professionals. Don’t try this at home!”
I was thoroughly impressed by the duration and length of this journey. This book vividly describes bureaucratically encumbered border crossings, remote-site camping and hostel living, roadside a periodic maintenance, sharing the road with drivers of every skill level and some with no skills at all, and riding on every type of road in every terrain imaginable in extremes of heat and cold.
Who are these motorcyclists, who leave the safety and comfort of Western civilisation and tour in Third and Second world countries? First and foremost, they are extreme risk takers, fearless but not foolhardy, the personality types who are able by whatever means to achieve a positive outcome in situations that would defeat all but riders like themselves. But if one carefully reads between the lines, it is clear that not everything is left simply to good fortune.
A few of Sam’s axioms of motorcycle travel are applicable to us all, even if our front wheel never reaches a foreign shore. ‘We fear what we don’t know or understand.’ ‘Every traveller can act as a peacemaker by keeping an open mind and by questioning their own prejudices.’
Those who are contemplating extended, unguided travel in Africa or South America could not find a better source to begin their preparation. If like me, you will never make such a journey, read this book if only to enjoy Sam’s and Birgit’s wonderful motorcycle adventure vicariously.
BMW Owners News MOA USA
Prescribed reading for any motorbike traveller, or indeed, anyone with the desire to explore.
The foreword suggests that Distant Suns may well ‘spit you out as a convert to the dream of over-landing by motorcycle.’ I disagree. To categorize this book as ‘an adventure motorcycle travel book’ limits the book’s potential appeal to a broader audience.
Distant Suns will appeal to the non-rider as well. It proves to be a universally enjoyable way to sample a buffet loaded up with history, geography, human drama, danger and human relationships with the added bonus of cycles for aficionados.
This is a great story which reads with the ease of a novel. Distant Suns has it all: love, good guys, bad guys, beauty, danger, history, geography and last but not least-bikes! Distant Suns is a fast, easy and thoroughly enjoyable read.
Easy to read… His writing style is what makes these books so good, go and buy a copy today and see what you are missing out on! If you don’t already feel like touring on a motorcycle this book should convince you otherwise. A good read…
Manicom writes in a clear, unpretentious style that offers detailed and colourful descriptions of the sights, smells and flavours of the lands he rides through… the reading flows well… and should inspire those thinking about such a venture
City Bike Magazine USA
This could easily be Manicom’s best book yet! I was riveted right from the very beginning and enjoyed every minute of the 3 year adventure the book details; containing a little bit of everything, from Africa to South America… One of my favorite features of Distant Suns is Sam’s historical tidbits which are scattered throughout the travels. Sam frequently dolls out historical information on the country and cultural notes about the people and places he visits.
Unlike his previous books, Sam travels with a companion, Birgit, who we met during the course of his previous book ‘Under Asian Skies’. Birgit caught my attention right away with her incredible initiative and capability with her bike. Before the trip began she completely disassembled and rebuilt her motorcycle twice to fully understand the inner workings. I’d say she’s a keeper Sam!
Distant Suns highlights the joys of traveling with others and how, when you are with others, you often do and see things you otherwise may not have done; but also touches on the added stress that comes with traveling in groups – even small groups. I’ve noticed that people don’t think of these things when planning their adventures, but Sam did a good job of balancing the advantages and stresses of group travel.
Sam’s adventures are never without peril but the attitude he has is what makes him a terrific world traveler. He comes to the conclusion that no matter the problem, there is always someone worse off. Over the course of three years a lot of things can and do go wrong from bike problems to back problems, but Sam doesn’t let any of them stop him from completing his journey.
Overall this book kept me wanting for more and dreaming of taking off for my own such adventures and as such, makes a wonderful compliment to his previous two adventures. Sam’s writing (and riding) has improved over the course of the three novels but when all three are combined (as we believe they should be) they become a glorious documentary of motorcycle world travel; making these a must for anyone who dreams of leaving everything behind to go wherever, as in Steinbeck’s immortal words, ‘a trip takes us’.
Once again, a superbly entertaining piece of travel writing… Sam just has a way of writing that I love – somehow he manages to convey the humor, the fear, the joy and the sadness in a few words and that is a real skill. I truly feel that I’m travelling with him, sharing the trials and tribulations, meeting people and suffering the anxieties and frustrations. Sam manages to share the trip with the reader in a way that few authors manage…
If you have any sense of adventure and enjoy travel on your motorcycle, then this really is a must read, but expect to come away planning your next trip…
Author Manicom and his companion are the real thing…
There is no shortage of drama, action, passion and disaster. Joined on this adventure by his partner, Birgit, the two share their endless fascination with the world and continue the dramatic adventures. This book will dare you to dream of overlanding these two amazing continents.
Sam’s descriptions are in Technicolor.
The Riders Digest
It’s been a pleasure to read as it makes me feel as if I’m there seeing the people and landscape that Sam describes. He has a gift for painting pictures with words, which is rare amongst long-distance riders… In summary, a damn good read, not to be missed.
BMW Club Journal
‘Distant Suns’ is based on what Sam acknowledges are Birgit’s wonderfully descriptive diaries. The result is a strangely powerful combination of Sam’s already masterful writing with the added perspectives of a travelling companion who is both in-tune and adding a different melody line to the rhythm of their journey together.
The Road Magazine
I have read a few travel books and some have been such flamboyant attempts to sound impressive they have been put back on my bookcase for another day and needless to say they have remained there. However in this case I couldn’t put Sam’s book down, as I read, it wasn’t so much a case of ‘being there’ as you wanted to fill your bike tank and ‘go there’ as soon as possible. … I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in other cultures, travel and the highs and lows of motorcycling. Need a gift for a friend? I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it.
Christian Motorcyclists Association UK
So is it any good? Had Sam peaked with his last two books? Not a chance. In fact it’s better. Sam’s writing style has matured again with this book and his way of describing his surroundings and making you feel part of what he is experiencing really is fantastic. I find that I really connect with Sam when reading the book. I didn’t have to but I pretty much read it straight through from start to finish.
Honda Trail Riders