Ariion Kathleen Brindley

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Hannibal's Elephant Girl


Ariion Kathleen Brindley


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Excerpt from the book

         “Let me go!” I yelled and turned my head to stare up into the ugly face of Sulobo, the slavemaster who had owned Tin Tin Ban Sunia.

         He put his knee on my back to hold me down and pulled my hands back to wrap a rope around them.

         I screamed when he pulled the rope tight. “What are you doing to me?” I cried.

         Sulobo didn’t answer. After he bound my hands, he tied another rope around my neck and then yanked me to my feet. He used the rope to pull me along the riverbank, going upstream away from Obolus.

         “Where are you…” I stumbled over an exposed root in the darkness and almost fell. “Where are you taking me?”

         “Shut up. You’ll find out soon enough.”

         We turned away from the river and went up a wooded hollow where shabby huts and tents lined a foul little stream smelling of human waste.

         I cried out for help but no one answered.

         At last, we came to a ragged old tent set apart from the others.

         “Wake up in there,” Sulobo said when he stopped at the tent flap. “I got something.”

         I heard coughing and hacking inside and then a muffled voice, “Who’s that?”

         “It’s me, Sulobo. I got the Elephant Girl for you.”

Reviews of the book

By Christine at Bookthumbing

Hannibal’s Elephant Girl by Ariion Kathleen Brindley is set 229 BCE at a river camp near Carthage (North Africa) and follows Liada, a 12 year old girl, and her daily adventures. Liada is pulled from a raging river by Obolus, one of the elephants being trained for war at the camp. Liada has lost her memory and is taken in by Yzebel and her jealous son Jabnet to assist her with feeding the soldiers who visit her tables. During Liada’s daily work, she runs across many other camp members; Tin Tin Ban Sunia who is basically mute other then saying her name over and over, Hannibal the leader of the elephant army. and Tendao a mysterious figure who seems to appear when Liada is in trouble. She also develops an unusual connection with Obolus. This friendship with the elephant causes admiration by some and suspicion by others.

I really enjoyed this book even though I am not as young of an adult as the suggested audience. The descriptions of the camp, the city of Carthage and even the clothes of the those at the camp were very detailed and beautifully written. The story also immediately grabbed my attention and there were some great “what is going to happen next” moments where I could not wait to discover the final outcome. The story is full of adventure, mysticism and the timeless theme of family and friends will stand by you through both triumphant and difficult times. The ending is left open and I cannot wait to see what other adventures Liada discovers.

ByAlison at That's A Novel Idea

Liada was only 12 years old when she was thrown into the river and left for dead. At about the time she has resigned herself to this fate a large "snake" pulls her from the river and saves her life. This "snake" was the trunk of Obolus, an elephant in Hannibal's army. Liada finds herself in the middle of an army camp with no memory of her past, including her actual name.

She settles in with Yzebel, a widow who feeds the soldiers nightly, and her young son Jabnet. Liada quickly develops relationships with the other camp dwellers as well -some good and some bad. She also finds herself drawn to Obolus, and he to her. This novel tells of Liada's time in the camp, her relationships with people and animal, and her struggle to remember her past.

Liada and Obolus have a relationship that seems magical to some and almost evil to others. Her ability to control the large beast makes her several enemies. But, this relationship proves to be so strong that no one can deny it. Many of Liada's adventures actually stem from her attempts to sneak time with Obolus.

The characters in this novel are well-developed. Liada is a quick learner and often times remembers details that she has no recollection of every learning or knowing. People are drawn to her, and she develops relationships quickly. She comes across with a touch of class and an over sized heart. Yzebel, her camp mother, is well liked and is a resourceful woman. She struggles with her family's past and current situation, but remains open to those around her. Tin Tin Ban Sunia has little to no voice, but says more with her actions than many around her. She is highly intelligent and loving. I found myself longing to know her story.

This novel drew me in from the first sentence and didn't let me go. Each new day in the story brought a new adventure. As I went along for the ride my fingers were crossed that things would go well. I developed quite an affection for the female characters in Hannibal's Elephant Girl, and it was difficult to read of their struggles and to accept the actions of those who plotted against them.

Hannibal's Elephant Girl is an excellent historical fiction novel. It is classified as young adult, but I am in my 30's and enjoyed it immensely. In fact, as soon as I finished it I emailed the author to inquire about the release date of a sequel. Yep, this is the first in a series that I will definitely be following. Per Ms. Brindley there will be 5 to 6 books in the series and the next book should be complete in about 6 months. I hope it stays on schedule. Please check out her site for other work she has written. I hope to be reading Raji soon.

By Midwest Book Review

"Hannibal's Elephant Girl" is a historically based tale of Liada, a girl of twelve years who lived in 229 BCE in the time of Hannibal between the first and second Punic Wars. Liada is saved from drowning by Obolus, one of the elephants 17-year-old Hannibal is training to prepare for battle in Iberia. The tale unfolds in action-packed scenes filled with detailed adventures. Designed to appeal to young adults. "Hannibal's Elephant Girl" will also attract the interest of middle school age and adult readers. Just enough romantic interest and prolonged suspense color the fast turning pages of this gripping story. At a length of 367 pages, it is a fine "bridge" experience novel to entice young readers to read more. "Hannibal's Elephant Girl" is highly recommended for historical detail attention as well. It brings history to full life.

By Linda Ellen at Bambi Reads

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters are well developed and there's never a dull moment with Liada and Tin Tin Ban Sunia. This book kept me up at night because I was intrigued and I wanted to know what would happen next. I was definitely intrigued by Tin Tin Ban Sunia. The scenic depictions, the terms used and the events that occur are true to the time and place in which this story takes place: in a camp near Carthage, in North Africa, year 229 BCE.

Liada is a brave girl who is about twelve summers old. Despite finding herself on foreign territory and despite having lost her memory, she thinks for herself, she's not afraid of adventure, and she does what she believes is right. She values the friendships she creates and she is selfless, which is not a common trait.

I love the characters of this story. Hannibal is born to be a leader and he's not full of himself like the soldiers he commands. He's an honourable man (at only the age of seventeen/eighteen!) He's believable, and so are the other characters, a number of which are quite young and yet they have to grow up so fast. I don't think I'd be clever enough to bargain for trades at the age of twelve. I also think I would be scared out of my pants if asked to mount on an elephant.

The story mentions slavery and war, but it is the themes of family and friendship that prevail. The author warps readers effortlessly into a different time period, and yet the story itself may well be timeless.

By Yozan Mosig

This is a beautifully written book, sensitive as well as thrilling, with well-developed characters that bring history to life. The portrait of the young Hannibal is sympathetic and believable, while the atmosphere and setting greatly enhance the narrative. Brindley skillfully interweaves historical details (which are almost always correct) with a gripping, pulsating tale which makes the novel hard to put down. An amazing accomplishment, particularly considering that the language and the substance make the book enjoyable and appropriate for young and old. Highly recommended!

By Jessica M (San Diego, CA)

Hannibal is only seventeen at this time and his father has just placed him in charge of the elephant training camp. His orders are to prepare 60 elephants for battle and transport them from Carthage to Spain. As the story progresses, he has to find a way to prove his authority over the four thousand soldiers and workers of the camp. His opportunity comes about by way of Liada. Liada and Tin Tin Ban Sunia are banned from Elephant Row after Liada causes an uproar with the elephants, but they slip away at night to visit Obolus, the elephant who saved Liada's life, and also to see Calogo, the thirteen-year-old water boy who likes Tin Tin. The two girls also go to the battle training field where they get into even more trouble.

Liada is young--about twelve summers in age--and very brave. When she finds herself lost in the rushing waters that threaten to tear her apart, Obolus saves her life by drawing her out of the water and taking her to dry land. As if being pummeled by tumultuous waters and then pulled out by a giant creature wasn't enough, Liada finds herself in a place completely foreign to her and she is unable to remember anything from her past.

Yzebel, a camp follower, takes Liada in and nurses her before putting her to work serving food to the soldiers who come to her tables. It is on one of her errands to trade for food that Liada meets Tin Tin Ban Sunia, a slave girl who is a year or two her junior. Even though Liada and Tin Tin have a difficult time communicating, they become great friends.

I'm not sure what I expected to find when I opened this book, but I know it wasn't the enthralling, adventurous, touching read that I soon found myself being sucked in to. This book stirred up so many emotions within me and piqued my curiosity with each page. The book starts fast, with Liada finding herself in rushing waters and, well, I was sold from there! When books start off with this much excitement, I often have my doubts as to whether or not the story could maintain that sort of excitement throughout. Hannibal's Elephant Girl keeps a nice pace--with moments where I caught myself biting my nails (a habit I normally don't succumb to) and desperate to find out how the story would play out. Liada is such a great heroine who, even in her young age, thinks for herself, and fights for what is right no matter what.

This book is very well written and stays true to the time and place in which the story is set. The characters are not only well developed, they are memorable and I felt very much attached to them by the end of the story. My favorite character: Tin Tin Ban Sunia; although Liada, Yzebel, Hannibel and Tendao are right up there as well. I know, I know... you have no idea what I'm talking about. But you should pick up this book and see for yourself. I think you'll really like it!

Even though this book was written with Young Adults in mind, I believe a wider audience (younger and older) will also enjoy and appreciate this story.

By Vicki, Reading at the Beach

Based in 229 BC, this is the story of Liada who is pulled from a river by an elephant named Obolus, who is one of a group of elephants a boy named Hannibal is in charge of. His father has given him the task of training and transporting the elephants to be used in battle. Liada is taken in by Yzelbel who cares for her until she is well and then puts her to work serving food to soldiers.

One day Liada meets Tin Tin Ban Sunia and even though they don't speak the same language, they become friends. The story follows them on their journey to take the elephants toward Rome. All the characters in the book have original personalities and compliment each other so well, but my favorite is Liada. Even though she can't remember her life before the river and is in an unfamiliar place with many hardships, she makes the best of it.

Although I'm not that crazy about historical fiction, this one kept me turning page after page and wouldn't let me put it down. This is the first in a series and I can't wait for the next one.

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