The Other Side Of Hope by R.F.Dunham.
In 732 A.D., the Frankish and Burgundian forces led by Charles Martel defeated an army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi and halted the Muslim advance into Christian Europe. At least, that’s what happened in the world as you know it. Step into the world of The Other Side of Hope, where the world as you know it is turned on its head. In this world, Martel was defeated and the Caliphate continued to spread across Europe until the entire continent was under its control. Christianity was eventually forced to flee west to a distant and dangerous new land. Without the support of European powers, these settlers found only conflict, poverty, and hardship. In the modern day, this world remains divided. The wealthy Muslim East and the poverty-stricken Christian West are constantly at odds. A single spark is all it takes to ignite fresh conflict and the cycle seems never-ending. Ethan Lewis is a proud young Christian living in Tioga, the poorest district of the developing nation Lachlond. All he wants is to marry his fiancée and provide for his mother and younger siblings. The only problem is that his mother insists he can’t do both. Not until his sister is married off and out of the house. Hamid Damir is an ambitious Muslim businessman from Istanbul, the financial center of the world. He’s trying to build a prosperous and happy future for his family. But, after five years of marriage, his wife is beginning to realize that she has different ideas about what that future should look like. Everything changes for both young men when the Brotherhood of the Sword, a Christian terrorist organization, launches a devastating attack on Istanbul. As the wrath of Turkey descends on Lachlond, Hamid and Ethan are pulled into a war that sets them on a collision course with the other side and may cost them everything. Will they find hope for a brighter future or be lost in the despair of intractable conflict?
Top Customer Reviews.
By Emily on June 13, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
What a stunning story. It may have taken a few chapters to be sucked into the characters and their lives but as soon as you are…. I have just finished this book and have got the post book blues. Despite reading it throughout the exam season I often found myself thinking of the characters and their stories just wishing I could return to the book.
It brings out the most core strand of humanity, conflict. Conflict is everywhere you look from World wars to football hooligans to family arguments. This book draws on these issues and pulls them together making you think through every conflict you know. Through Ethan and Hamid we follow the two different aspects of a cause and both the consequences and causes of individual actions. By the end you are sat questioning what others may think about what is happening and the impact of war. I just cannot overstate enough how this one specific story makes you question all others.
As a history student this story is very powerful and I think is important when looking back upon both past and current conflicts. It is a story which I think large swathes of the population need to read. It is especially interesting as Dunham changes one core tenet of history and uses it to construct this story which you can see mirrors of today.
Such a beautiful vivid story and definitely worth persevering through the start. The last 150 pages just flew by and led to a chat with my flatmate about the ending (not to spoil anything but wow). Definitely worth every page.
By Aaron Beni on May 11, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
By Elise Hadden on July 11, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
Review by Elise Hadden, Under the Heather Books ([…])At its core, Dunham’s idea of a world flip flopped due to a different winner of the Crusades is interesting. My hope is that he wrote this book as a thrust toward understanding, a paradigm shift to awaken in his readers the acceptance of the humanity of the “Other.” In other words, I hope that Dunham was attempting to bridge the cosmic war between dominant Christianity and less dominant Islam by showing that, if the tables were turned, the same events could play out in the same way, only with a different majority. Perhaps this book is an attempt to engage readers in an understanding of a fundamental humanity, and to show us that any person, under brutal circumstances, can undertake desperate and violent measures.Unfortunately, if that was Dunham’s mission, it got muddied somewhere along the way. The way the story is written, it seems to affirm the Christian fantasy of gran persecution and demonize Muslims. In fact, the role reversal he writes about actually carries very little heft in the plot except to reverse the geography of terrorism. Instead of the Twin Towers being attacked, it’s the Global Bazar in Turkey. Really, the tone of Dunham’s writing suggests a hopefully unintentional affirmation of the West’s right to dominate.I can see, however, that in the creation of his characters, Dunham was attempting to create parallels to show a common humanity. Both main characters, initially rather peaceful, are pushed to violence by the circumstances of war. In the end, without any spoilers, the reader is faced with a blatant declaration of the necessity of forgiveness and the importance of relinquishing violence as a tool of communication. To be honest, the message is pretty trite and lacks a lot of subtlety and candor, but the thought is nice.
The problem with this strategy is that the parallel lives Dunham constructs for Hamid and Ethan has turned them into characters so similar, they might as well be the same. The voice and style of writing and dialogue doesn’t change between characters, and I often found that I could stop paying attention to which point of view I was reading from because their trajectories mirrored each other so completely. In spite of the message of peace at the end, there is no doubt that this book glorifies war and simplifies battle into a juvenile Karate-kid style form of combat.
So, overall, I think this book was a good idea, and many elements were well executed. The writing was more concise and cohesive than many books I read, and despite the need for more proofreading, I think Dunham has a lot of promise as an author. However, if this books shows anything, it is the need for the author to dive into a more intense practice of his craft. The ideas and messages and characterization needs more depth, and the plot needs more planning to seem less spontaneous and predictable. But who doesn’t need practice to work out those details of writing? I’d love to see more from this writer, especially if he continues writing about this alternative historical world. I think with more tact and subtlety, it could be something wonderful.
By Richard Derus on May 25, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
As an alternative history lover, I was very excited when I was offered this title for review. A Muslim-dominated world and European Christians forced to flee ever westward? Yes, please!
As I read along, I found myself ticking off the factual basis for the fictional world’s current story. As the checkmarks multiplied, I found I was losing enthusiasm for the read itself. (Given the nature of the plot, anything specific I say will be a spoiler.) Add into that some very pet-peevy copy-editing errors (eg, currier for courier in all but one reference) and I was becoming disheartened.
What saved this read for me was the ending. Considering how often I whinge about endings that fail or disappoint, that’s pretty astounding. A very common first-novelist flub is to tie up the end of the story with a pretty little bow on its bottom, however incongruous that might be given what’s come before. Dunham avoids this trap handily. There are consequences, dark and painful ones, for the actions the characters take. There are no winners, and all the way around, the book ends on a hopeful note that manages not to feel forced or fake or tacked on.
It’s a very good bargain in the Kindle edition, as it will most certainly keep you tapping left to see who will “get it” (not in the Peckinpah sense!) next. This writer has promise, and with time and experience, will be a must-read one day soon.
About The Author: R.F.Dunham.
Hello! I’m R.F. Dunham,
I write with one purpose: to take you to places you’ve never been before. That might be a distant fantasy land, the far reaches of space, the future of earth, or simply to an idea you’ve never encountered. I’m a student of language and culture, and my stories are designed to pull you into complex worlds that challenge your perception of your own surroundings.
I write primarily speculative fiction, such as Fantasy and Alternate History, but my goal is to write stories so engaging, so real, that you’ll be sucked in even if you think you hate those genres. Because fiction is about more than just the genre it occupies. So what is my fiction about?
In a word, my stories are about insight. Insight into yourself and into others; particularly those you think are the most unlike you. The ones you might call your enemies. I grew up as an evangelical Christian in the South, so, while I was always told to love everyone, a deep understanding of other perspectives was not consistently encouraged. I embraced the beliefs I was brought up and, to be perfectly honest, was a bit of a jerk in high school. I used the Bible to say what I wanted it to say.
Then I started to really dive in to the teachings of Jesus. I made a conscious decision to lay down my assumptions about what the Bible said and re-learn everything based on an approach that began and ended with Jesus. It didn’t take long before I was no longer able to call myself an evangelical Christian! As I discovered ideas and theologies staring out at me from this Bible that I’d read so many times, I started to share them with the people around – often with the same aggressiveness that had made me so unpleasant in previous years. Then I realized that even Jesus didn’t present his radical teachings that way. He used a very different approach: storytelling.
Now I use stories to share the truths I’ve found in Jesus’ teachings. One of the most revolutionary truths is the command to love our enemies and that’s a theme you’ll find in almost everything I write. Like I said, I write to give you insight into the people who aren’t like you. But more than that, I write to incite you to take action and do something with that insight.