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Writing Elephant

Saffire starts off rather confusing at first.

You follow a main character that isn’t named Saffire, nor is looking for sapphires. The main character is a rough and rowdy cowboy, named James Holt, who you follow through the expansive Panama Canal Building site. Wait, there’s more; Holt meets Saffire on his first day in Panama, yet still chooses to leave as quickly as he comes. Although life and his own morals give him other plans.

I admire Sigmund’s use of the historical backdrop of Panama during the building of the canal, it is not something one gets to explore often if at all from almost a first person basis. Holt is an amazing character, if not just a touch too perfect for his own good. The story does have an Ex Machina at the ending, but to avoid spoiling it I suggest one reads the novel.

Sigmund’s writing at first starts out very dry and I almost lost interest had it not been for the way Holt interacts with Saffire. It was the way Holt dealt with blatant racism that caught me. Had Holt not had that interaction… well, let’s just say that this review would be a hell of a lot shorter than it currently will be.

Character development in this novel was, odd to say the least. First Holt doesn’t want to stay. Then gets convinced to stay because Saffire reminds him of his own daughter. Then Holt gets caught up in a whole mess of business because of, you could probably guess, a woman. Every piece of this plot and story are tangled together like a mess of ivy. Some pieces get infuriatingly complex. The ending, although fitting in some regard, was lackluster and should have ended in the office sans Holt inner dialogue. I don’t want to post spoilers, but it was cliche as hell.  


I do have to say though, there were some unnecessary pieces included in Sigmund’s novel. The Miskimon letters were a tad odd and pulled me from the story constantly. They weren’t needed to move the story along. Nice to have historically, yes. Relevant, no. I know that one of the characters is essentially the embodiment of the real life Miskimon, but the letters weren’t needed to prove his character. The story, for being a little under a fortnight, was dragged out considerably. The writing didn’t make it feel like it was so, but the story only took place within maybe a week or so. The parts are in days and the chapters are broken up by events.

Unlike most authors, Sigmund goes in depth with each scene and moment. He is a shower, not a teller. He also does it in a way that isn’t too dry once you got passed the opening piece of the story. If I had been Sigmund’s editor I would have scrapped that beginning and had him start right when he met Saffire. All the exposition could have been done while he was showing that not every cowboy is a racist and that not all well to do ladies are sweet. There had been enough inner dialogue for that to have been completed while he was sitting waiting for the head of the canal dig.

Overall the pacing from event to event is flawless and I ended up so engrossed in the story that I managed to finish the book in just a few short days. If I have any followers that like historical fiction, this is a nice quick entertaining read.

I did receive this book as a part of Penguin Random House’s campaign Blogging for Books, but I was in no way influenced to give the book a positive review based on that I was given the book to review.

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