I just found this absolutely wonderful review of Under Asian Skies on Amazon.co.uk. I have to share it!
Please bear with me. Independent authors like me survive on the time people take to post reviews and this one goes many extra miles.
I’m sitting there feeling pretty gobsmacked! What a fine word that is to describe the stunned and delighted feeling I have at the moment.
Marc Hudson wrote:
‘… I’ve met Sam a few times now and he really is a lovely bloke. But being nice doesn’t necessarily make you adept at budget travel or a good writer, luckily for those of us who enjoy reading travel books, or who aspire to big trips, he’s both. Also, don’t let the Mr nice guy aspect fool you into thinking Manicom’s travels are anything other than hardcore.
Sam’s writing is at times sublime. He can paint a view with words as Turner would with oils, be it mount Ararat or a sunset in the Punjab. You can loose yourself for a page or so in his beautiful descriptive style. That ability isn’t confined to the transcendent either, Sam can deliver the stench and horror of travelling too and the book is the better for it. If books were movies, Under Asian Skies would be with the latest Dolby and wide screen.
Sam is by nature a people watcher and just as you can’t write unless you read, you can’t know people unless you watch them. Portraits of people are detailed and well rounded without verbosity, we get a good insight into peoples behavior and attitude as well as their dress and appearance. No effort is spared in describing the countries traveled through, from Australia to Germany, culturally. But not so overtly that the reader isn’t left to read a little between the lines.
This book walks a fine line with descriptions and information covering geography, history and anthropology. It manages this adroitly with the reader never feeling lectured at. The people who populate Sam’s books really bring them to life and provide drama. The overlanders often provide a thread that carries us from one journey to another. While the locals encountered shed light on, and give perspective to the areas traveled through.
I can’t end this review without mentioning the other main character in the book, that being Libby. Libby is a R80GS BMW motorcycle, commonly known as an airhead. The author may be accused of Anthropomorphism in his description and relationship with his mode of transport. But I’m completely with him, I do it with mine. Machines have characteristics and if treated in certain ways they behave in others. To have this described eloquently brings in elements of Robert M. Persig style. The ghost in the machine that is Liberty (Libby) is strong and she deserves credit as a co protagonist.
My only regret is that my reading is catching up with Sam’s travelling. I’ve enjoyed this book every bit as much as the previous two of his I’ve read. I should take heart that there’s still another, but I’m dreading turning it’s final page. If there’s anyone on the planet who could take on the mantle of inspirational motorcycle traveler, created by Ted Simon in the 70’s, here’s your Manicom.
The next one down from Marc’s just made me smile too. How wonderful of ‘Heamoor stooge’!