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Reviewed by Carlton Rolle
PJ Hetherhouse has always been inspired by the astrology. He notes that this is because it lies between my two of his main academic interests: animal lore and the development of the human personality. A disappointing aspect of Western astrology for Hetherhouse is the lack of personal history of characters. With plenty of years to think it over and find a happy medium, Hetherhouse published his first book, Tales of the Zodiac – The Goat’s Tale.
The story takes place on what is called Mother Island. On this island, two major cities exist called Arberth and Brightstone. A vast barren land dominated by harsh climates and snow separates the cities. Both cities are constantly vigilant for the snow savages that live in the off the land. Between battling snow savages, mainlanders, and troubles within its community, one of the civilizations are on the brink of collapse. The other is not too far behind. Both of the cities are also dealing with religious vigor and political functions.
It is in the midst of this the readers are introduced to the protagonist of the story. He is a sixteen year old boy named Gruffydd. He grew up as a goat herder with his Father. Gruff is a smart kid who is determined, honest, and has a strong moral code. Because of these qualities, he wins a scholarship to the most prestigious school in the city of Arberth. During the school year, a highly anticipated race happens where it is expected that the King’s son, Prince Libran, will win. This doesn’t work well with Gruff’s personality. He ends up winning first place but makes an enemy of the King.
The king effectively banishes Gruff by sending him and 11 others on a journey to the other fabled city of Brightstone. With the odds stacked against Gruff and his new partner Morrigan, they set off on a quest to find Brightstone. There they are to discover what is happening to the city and bring back the Son of God. Throughout the quest, Gruff learns life lessons of survival, companionship, and communication.
Though it doesn’t outright say it, there are several clues in the book, which lead readers to discover that this takes places in the distant future. The historical story behind how humanity regressed to the Feudal system would be intriguing to know. Hetherhouse does a great job detailing the adventure, character development, and the overall plot. I felt connected to the group and at many points wondered what was going to happen next. One of the most interesting aspects that I enjoyed was how Hetherhouse set the scene of nature. I felt like I was there with the group looking at the same things they were looking at.
I recommend folks read Tales of the Zodiac if interested in a great story that will keep you thinking and rooting for the protagonist to succeed. I’m hooked and can’t wait to find out what happens next in the great saga that has been laid out.