The Black Eagle

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Category: Self-published
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Date Published: November 26, 2012
Number of Pages: 484
Print Price: $15.00
eBook Price: $5.30

Marco Da Vita, a teenager living in Palermo, Italy, is mourning his brother, Tommaso, who disappeared a year ago. The brothers were very close and Tommaso, although eighteen months younger, was a leader among their friends. Marco’s grief is shared by those friends, most notably Piero the “Poet” and sweet Cristina, who silently adores Marco.

Then one morning Marco is contacted by a strange and beautiful girl. She brings news that Tommaso is not dead but is in need of help from Marco and their friends.

So begins Fulvio Di Blasi’s lively adventure story. The tale involves scientists who are studying unified force theory (which seeks to find the commonality between magnetism and gravity), scientifically provided super powers (levitating, traveling through space warps, repelling bullets, super strength), space ships, evil and good beings from other planets, “biobots” (robots made from animal carcasses), and other elements not unfamiliar to those who have read books or seen movies in this genre.

In the beginning, the story unfolds well, piquing the reader’s interest. The characters are likeable (though Marco and Tommaso are masculine in a definitely Italian way), and the setting in Sicily gives the story charm (young readers will need to figure out that a Lyceum is a high school, and that Via means Street).

But Di Blasi then opts for an Indiana Jones approach to the action – lots of things happening one right after another. Although there are a few scenes of real tension – such as when Daniela, Luigi, and John enter into the underground caverns of the evil forces in search of prisoners – most of the action is too kinetic and too rapidly described to emotionally reach the adult reader:

“And, at that instant, the lower plumage of the aquiline shape of Air Force One, still high and invisible in the skies.... detached itself from the rest of the spaceship and plummeted downward so quickly that, to the human eye and the animalistic eyes of the Erkans, it looked like nothing more than a shadow in the darkness.

“But it was a devastating shadow that pulverized several enemy ships and some of the cybernetic monsters as it passed, and pierced through the surface of the base, shaking it up and down like the strongest of earthquakes. In an instant, an impressive chasm opened in the ground to an exact depth of 122 meters; and... [sic] something crushed the demon in ogre-like form that had struck Luigi moments, before, like a mighty and unstoppable mallet.”

The adult reader, however, is not the target of this book, and I can imagine many teens (boys mostly) enjoying The Black Eagle.

Di Blasi reinforces the book’s appeal by having Marco, Cristina, Piero, and a few other of the group continue to attend high school classes in the interim between exciting events. There they deal with the everyday high school problems of bullies, of those who make fun of them, of those who misunderstand them, and (of course) of teachers who are preoccupied with rules and completely removed from reality. This is a shrewd move on Di Blasi’s part – for teenagers, no matter how cosmic the battle may be, the essence is surprising and impressing the kids in your class – something Marco manages to do quite well.

Unlike the teachers, the teenagers’ parents are generally portrayed as intelligent and sympathetic. Family life and religion are treated respectfully. Catholicism is referenced throughout the book – an old woman prays the rosary beside a statue, a police officer makes the sign of the cross, a scientist prays, an old priest intervenes on the street and repels a fierce demon, a young priest – Fr. Giorgio – is portrayed as befriending the teenagers generally and in the end is appointed as their chaplain. But Christianity plays no key role in the ongoing battles – it is good versus evil, but good reinforced by science.

One point (I can almost hear parents objecting) is that, at the beginning of the book, Marco is cheating (although it is a sophisticated technological form of cheating) on an exam. This is important to the plot, but at no point did I sense any remorse on the part of Marco. Parents may want to discuss this with their teens.

All in all, a good story. This is a first novel, and self-published. It suffers from the things that many self-published novels suffer from: over explanation, awkward wording, and verbosity. My editorial hand was itching to make red marks. But, again, these are flaws more likely to bother an adult than the readers for whom this book was written.

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Publisher:
ISBN-13: 978-1481018661
Original Language: English
Book Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches


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Arthur Powers went to Brazil with the Peace Corps in 1969 and lived most his adult life in that country. From 1985 to 1992, he and his wife served with the Franciscan Friars in the Amazon, organizing rural workers’ unions and subsistence farmer groups in a region of violent land conflicts. Subsequently he directed Catholic Relief Services in Brazil. The Powers currently live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mr. Powers received a Fellowship in Fiction from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, three annual awards for short fiction from the Catholic Press Association, and 2nd place in the 2008 Tom Howard Fiction Contest. In 2011, he was a finalist in the Press 53 Short Story Open Awards, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His short stories and poetry have appeared in America, Chicago Tribune Magazine, Christianty & Literature, Dappled Things, Dreams & Visions, Hiram Poetry Review, Kansas Quarterly, Liguorian, Prime Number, Roanoke Review, St. Anthony Messenger, South Carolina Review, Southern Poetry Review, Texas Quarterly, Windhover, Worcester Review, and many other magazines and anthologies.

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