Sometimes a book will challenge us to root ourselves in its meaning and venture into new psychological or emotional territories that will ultimately cause us to reflect on how we see the world. Sometimes a book will challenge us in a more basic way, through narrative and formatting, and its creative expression goads us to work hard and embrace the infinite way in which literature can be portrayed. But By the Chance of War, a new and monumental work from Richard C. Lyons, is a book that encompasses both of these aspects, presenting the reader with a truly epic journey into the expansive ability of prose while encouraging our deep reflection on the subject within its pages. The territories Lyons explores are age-old and eternally conflicting: that of mankind’s historical gravitation toward war and the effects this destructive nature has continuously wreaked on society and the world throughout time.
But By the Chance of War presents four separate stories, all representing drastically different times of war and technology while also reflecting the stunted perception that has kept mankind rooted in its destructive mindset. Part One, Mathura, follows India’s ancient Gupta Empire in a fierce battle against the Ephthalite Huns. The story is brought alive by the passion of the prince, Chandra Gupta, as he struggles valiantly with the weight of his newly-inherited kingship and the betrayal of those close to him. Part Two, Niagara, documents the fall of Fort Niagara from the French to the British during the Seven Years’ War. Dominating the focus of the story is the stoic and determined Seneca Indian tribe, whose world has been disturbed by the armies from Europe and who must align themselves with surrender to the English after a betrayal from the French. Part Three is Amiens, which takes the reader to the trenches of the First World War where Colonel Byron Blunt strives to see the end of the war without losing another son to the fighting. Colonel Blunt’s struggle takes a disastrous turn when he finds treason within his family name. Lastly, Part Four’s Moriah takes us to nondescript modern times where America and Israel play central roles in a conflict that could lead the world to nuclear devastation. Perhaps the most alarming, significant and breathtaking story in the book, Moriah reflects the ultimate power struggle between mankind and most strongly evokes a sense of deep reflection from the reader as we’re moved to consider what time and technology might hold for the world.
One of the most spectacular things about But By the Chance of War is the mode in which the stories are written: a system of rhyming poetry woven into the formatting of a play. Each part of the book is given its own character list, map, and set of acts and scenes with which to relay its tale while the narrative of the characters presents a marked poetic style that beguiles its reader. Between the extraordinary formatting of the book and the expanse of history it relates, the details of which undoubtedly required monumental research, it’s clear to see why Lyons dedicated years of his life to the creation of this work. As with all such works, when a good deal of blood, sweat and tears goes into the making of it there’s a strong likelihood that the reader will be required to devote a a certain amount of perseverance to fully grasp the full concept of the book. Fascinated by the presentation of But By the Chance of War, I was enthusiastic to devote such time, to study the book and to thereby immerse myself in it most fully, and for my efforts I was greatly rewarded. But By the Chance of War is staggering and impressive, unlike anything of its kind in both scope and artist achievement.
Title: But By the Chance of War
Author: Richard Lyons
Genre: War, drama, poetry
Publisher: Lylea Creative Resources
Release date: September 1, 2012
Provided by: Lissy Peace and Associates (C/O)
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