AT WAR WITH MARS
Independently Published (2020)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (07/2020)
“At War with Mars” by Jim Fuxa is a historical fiction novel that takes place in 17th Century Europe around the time of the Thirty Years War. The story is narrated for the most part by Giovanni Battista Senno, a strappy servant boy who uses his quick wit and determination to not only survive this tumultuous time period, but to rise high above his station.
Readers follow Senno through the trials and tribulations of his life. Senno’s early years finds him serving two astronomers/astrologers who groom him to follow in their footsteps. Trouble is, Senno hasn’t the knack for astrology. But that doesn’t stop the young entrepreneur, who fabricates his way through a distinguished career, first serving as Astrologer to Imperial Generalissimo Albrecht von Wallenstein, and ending his service as an Imperial Astrologer to Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor. It’s a whirlwind tale of love, loss, struggle, and war that is as entertaining as it is educational.
The historical points in the plot are well researched and demonstrated, providing a solid sense of the era. Readers will bear the experiences right alongside the characters as there is a haunting sense of being deeply entrenched in the action. Fuxa spares no details and is masterful in his craft. With stunning clarity, he exposes the disparity between the upper and lower classes – the gaunt physiques of the starving poor clashing vividly against the opulence and extravagance of Court. The political jousting, the power of the Church, the battle scenes, executions resulting in heads on pikes, Fuxa brings his story to life with jarring detail, delivering a story that is hard to put down.
And while the plot keeps things moving, it’s the characters that influence the reader and connects them to the story. Senno is a protagonist readers will be happy to follow, to the ends of the earth if necessary. His wit, his mannerisms, his apparent ability to talk his way out of almost any circumstance, provides lively and rich entertainment. I particularly enjoyed the distinction between Senno and Generalissimo Wallenstein – both ambitious and determined, one follows his instincts, while the other is motivated by narcissism; his yearning for power never yielding satisfaction.
“At War with Mars” by Jim Fuxa is a novel I highly recommend to all historical enthusiasts and anyone desiring a captivating, engrossing story about a turbulent time in world history. Well done.