“I have learnt to spin words like dervishes, to bewitch and blur reality.”
I still remember that moment a few weeks back, my train approaching London King’s Cross Station, me closing the book around a hundred pages in and exiting the train carriage onto the platform. That was the moment, when out of nowhere a short dialogue from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings occurred to me, Frodo Baggins asking Sam Gamgee after his first encounter with the elves:
“’Do you like them still, now you have had a closer view?’
They seem a bit above my likes and dislikes, so to speak,’ answered Sam slowly.”
And there and then I realised, this is exactly how I felt about The Salt Road.
She’s been writing since childhood, is a publishing director at HarperCollins, published the works of J. R. R. Tolkien during the 1980s and 1990s and works together with authors, such as George RR Martin, Sam Bourne, Raymond E Feist, Robin Hobb, Tom Knox, Dean Koontz, Mark Lawrence, Stuart MacBride, and Joe Abercrombie. And by no accident.
I found The Salt Road not just very well written, the language skilfully bringing to life the Sahara desert and Morocco, where this historical novel is set, but also thoroughly researched, the author’s personal experiences giving the descriptions a depth that firmly transports the reader into another world.
The harsh scenery she paints hooks you not just with its many perils, but it also captures the awe that make so many people fall in love with it.
It is a tale of two women, from two different worlds and times, effortlessly and masterfully woven together around a mysterious amulet. Just like all important things in life, its story starts from the heart and moves wider and wider still, introducing us to flavours of exotic cultures, the life and history of its peoples, twirling their enchanting and colourful world around us, only to eventually bring us back to where it has all started, the heart.
Jane Johnson’s website: www.janejohnsonbooks.com
where you can also read an excerpt from The Salt Road
and you might also enjoy an interview I did with her earlier this year, where she talks about three authors she works with as an editor, George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb and Mark Lawrence
Photos by Abdel Bakrim