The books in this trilogy were simply beautiful and I am so very glad I took the chance. There was something about the cover art, something about the other review and lastly something about the description of the stories that compelled me to buy them. I have wandered my way through this fantasy, seeking those quiet moments when I could be a part of the spirit that weaves it’s way through the volumes. Try as I did to make them last, there weren’t enough pages, and I dreaded reading the last couple of chapters knowing my journey with this amazing group of characters was coming to an end. Mr. Sanger, thank you so much for all the time you invested in these books. I will read them again because there is much to learn about life in them. I will tell others about my experience and encourage them to add them to their reading lists. It has been a very long time since I have found such joy in reading and I appreciate you sharing your work with the world.
“Azimuth may well be intimidating to some, such is the considerable heft of the trilogy, though this may be one advantage of reading them separately – or on a Kindle – where you get all the joy of the text, without the workout of holding up the book.
Once opened it is a joy.
The first thing to note is the ambitious structure, a story within a story, twin plots running simultaneously,separate but with certain parallels, generously spelt out, in case you were in danger of missing them, by Kamil. For me it works unusually well. I often find stories composed this way lack symmetry, leaving the reader (or viewer) interested in one story disproportionately relative to the other, and impatient when faced with the “lesser” story. Azimuth finds an admirable balance. The longer, perhaps senior, story-within-the-story, is captivating and will linger in my memory, I suspect, for a long time. The circumstances surrounding the reading of that story serve as book-ends either side of each chapter, and are themselves engaging and worthwhile.
The pace is pleasing, and the prose beautiful and evocative. The characters have real depth and it is interesting that so many of the strongest characters in the book are female. Extraordinary attention to detail makes it a very visual book, with descriptions of clothes and scenery putting you in a world that is magical, mystical, beautiful – but not excessively fantastical. Many reviews compare it to The Lord Of The Rings, an obvious and understandable comparison, not least because it is a trilogy. But for me it is also a misleading one. This is not a world of ogres, elves and goblins. In the first book, particularly, the book I was reminded of most was Umberto Eco’s Baudolino, a similar blend of journeying, fictionalised history and religious philosophy – and of course with similar references to The Magus.
That feels like the crux of the book, a biography of a fictional character, the imagined father of atheism – or humanism. The evolution of his Right Path feels like the genesis of a great religion, making The Magus akin to Jesus, Mohammed or Buddha. It sounds heavy, but there is enough travel and adventure to lighten the mood.
“I decided to wait until I’d read all three of these excellent books before reviewing, because I knew in advance that the threads of the first continue all the way through to the end of the third. Now, my memory of the first book is almost as a prelude to the other two.
There are two main stories in the trilogy: That of “the Magus”, a semi-historical, semi-mythical warrior/philosopher; and that of Kamil the historian, set centuries later in north Africa (but a long time before the present day). Throughout the book, the tale of the Magus is told by Kamil to Princess Sabiyah, the impetuous and fiery – yet sharply intelligent – heir to the throne.
In the first book, we get to know these and other principle players. As the history of the Magus’s youth unfolds, and his character is forged in fragments of history (each linked thematically to a Tarot card), Kamil and the princess become embroiled in dangerous politics and – of course – their own destinies begin to be affected by the Magus’s tale.
At first the reader may assume that Kamil’s is the “main” story, but as the first book nears it’s conclusion the legend of the Magus gathers pace and becomes gripping in it’s own right. However, I never felt that the changes between the two worlds were jarring or contrived – I was allowed to slip gracefully in and out of the different periods in history (or legend).
In the second book, the Magus is now a man, and so his story becomes less fragmented, and has more direction and momentum; meanwhile a unique and fearsome enemy enters the lives of Kamil and Sabiyah. This new character’s terrifying exterior and malevolent intent are perhaps my most vivid memory of the whole trilogy, and events are set in motion which have repercussions right through to the startling double-conclusion of the third book.
All of the characters are dynamic, fascinating and occasionally shocking. The rotund and studious Kamil in particular is a delight, as he reluctantly becomes entangled in a sinister and complex plot.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a “fantasy” novel. Rather it reads like a mix of history and legend. An “alternative history”, perhaps, which reminded me in places more of “Le Mort D’Arthur” than “Lord Of The Rings”, though with the concise descriptiveness of William Golding’s “The Inheritors”. As a result the trilogy has a timeless quality – it seems impossible that it could have been written at the dawn of the 21st century. This will surely become a classic.”
“Azimuth is a surprising delight – a conjuring trick that turns into a rich moral tale. It takes a simple story of a warrior, told using the Tarot by an ageing court historian to a young and calculating princess, and opens out into a beguiling joy of characters and adventures. You can read it just for the adventures but you can’t escape the wisdom that they lead you towards. And there’s lots to admire in Azimuth’s author, Jack Sanger. Clever story-telling, no dips in pace or suspense, strong female characters…a highly readable trilogy. Please, let’s have more!
Ralph London/Middle East
“Reading great book. It is either for learning and information, or for pleasure and escape. Azimuth combines both of these. I was fascinated and transported but also what I learned about meditation and spirituality in this epic has helped me on my own path. It is a must read and must own.” – Andrew, Lord Stone of Blackheath
“I love it. A brilliant read, an extraordinary story………..It was compulsive reading — dusting went undusted, vacuuming unvacuumed. I even ate some meals in front of my computer. How gross is that? “– Val (Canada)
“I wanted to write and say a heartfelt thank you for bringing these stories to life. I took so much enlightening and thought provoking thoughts from them all, and yet, far from feeling like I was in a dry lesson, I revelled in the excitement and suspense of the storytelling, yearning to know what happened next at every step and relishing each new discovery. At the same time, I loved each reminder of a philosophy I had forgotten but which now appeared as an old friend with new clothes. I think I have some catching up to do with some of them…
Much to my dismay I discovered that I don’t have the gifts of the Magus and couldn’t see what was coming at all -which meant it was hardly possible to put the book down. Although of course it is this capture of curiosity and emotions within a tale that I love so much about reading a good book. Each time I moved from Kamil to the Magus and back again my heart would fill with sadness that I was leaving one and yet joy that I would find out more about the other. I’m in awe of your talent!
I feel so excited about what I’ve read that I could ramble on but as there’s no point preaching to the converted, I’ll save it to encourage more people to read the book.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the book will continue to reveal further insights and secrets on each reading depending on one’s own place in life, much like in the way each traveller saw something slightly different when they looked at the fool’s card. And I’m excited to know the book will be on my bookshelf to provide inspiration in future.” Lizzie, UK
“I loved the way the plot came together. Surprises but ones that didn’t strain credibility.
The second two books seemed to me to have tremendous jeopardy – both in the holding story and that of the Magus.
It built to a real crescendo in the third book – both stories absolutely compelling.
The whole turned overnight into a page turner. There’s also something very new about what you are doing in the book. Something to do I feel with the tarot cards
and the aphorisms and the female characters but I am not familiar as you know with the genre”. Vanessa (UK)
“Story telling at its absolute best!!!! If you would like to be transformed to another world, rich with real people, human beings with all their frailties, and share their gripping journey then read this book. It has all the suspense and excitement of an adventure novel, but much more than that, it offers magic and mystery, it offers the opportunity to suspend disbelief and enjoy and engage with your and the author’s unboundaried imagination. As you travel through the trilogy, you will find yourself unsure as to whether to race ahead and discover what happens, or hold back savouring the opportunity to immerse yourself in each chapter’s revelations and reflections.
Whichever you decide, the wonderful world of Azimuth is somewhere well worth escaping to.” Heather (UK)
“Jack, in “About the Book” you tell us that it has taken 10 years to write Azimuth. Believe me, it has been time well spent. I love both the story and the way that it is told; the trilogy has been keeping me company in planes, trains and automobiles for a few weeks. The book functions and succeeds on so many levels, whether it be as an adventure, as a tale of court intrigues, or as an examination of some of life’s more profound questions. The trilogy is written in a highly visual style and I think that it would lend itself well to becoming a trilogy of films; this would be a fitting tribute to a man who loves cinema so much. The opening paragraph is beautifully crafted and hooked me from the outset; as I am sure that it is intended to do. The pace and energy continued to carry me through page after page; chapter after chapter; and eventually, volume after volume. I read the book in Kindle format, which deprived me of Holly Etheridge’s beautiful artwork on the cover, but the electronic form is kinder on my arms when I am travelling. However, my partner has just bought the paper edition, so I can still admire the artwork and the quality of the paper by proxy. I shall post a review of the individual volumes when time permits.” Greg (Switzerland)
Excellent trilogy, definitely up there with the Northern Lights trilogy and Lord of the Rings books.
I have recommended this to everyone I know! Drew (UK)
“Un libro fantastico. Debes comprarlo!”. Libro entretenido desde la portada hasta el contenido. Lleno de aventura, magia, bien escrito y caracteristico lleno de fantasia. Merece la pena leerlo. Inmerste en un mundo de magia y aventura. Disfruta de la imaginacion de este fantastico autor. Maria (UK/Spain)
Sometimes I feel sad when I finish a really good book because I can’t live in its magical world anymore. This time I’m delighted as there’s a second and third part to come! I read this on holiday and had the luxury of being able to read for entire days. I didn’t want to leave the world of the Magus. I love the magic and the story and the questions of faith / destiny / contemplation. I think actually it would make a really good film, a lot of the journey of the Magus there’s no need for speech and the open landscapes conjured by the prose could be filmed beautifully. It’s spiritual, romantic, exotic, intriguing and a real page-turner – un-put-downable. Jennifer (UK)
(The Azimuth books are available on Amazon Kindle angus & robertson