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Stories about extra-large elephants are not anything new. Lots of people know about large elephants such as Jumbo and, most recently, mega-size elephants who once roamed in Kenya. Elephants are already huge creatures but it’s the really gigantic ones that often get noticed – and written about. Colin Falconer’s Colossus is one such elephant, in this latest novel titled after the fictional pachyderm. And although Colossus does not really exist, he is larger than life in this novel, which was a book that I found hard to put down.

But it’s not so much the elephant that is the “big deal” for this historical novel. There is competition for the spotlight by the character Alexander the Great. Although I have not read much about Alexander the Great, what I have read about him did seem to gel with how he is portrayed in this novel. I didn’t know which scenes I enjoyed reading more: Anything that had to do with Colossus or anything that had to do with Alexander the Great. One was good, the other bad, but both of them seemed to steal the show in this story.

And what a story it was! I found this to be such an engaging and addictive story to read. The author did not try too hard to bring this historical period to life, and he does acknowledge at the end that the story takes place at a time in which Alexander the Great was not alive. Also, a bit of research revealed that Alexander the Great never had an elephant army. But despite all of this, the story is so well told, and it just seems to “fit” as something that COULD have happened during that time in history. This is where a writer’s sense of asking “what if?” comes to fruition, because obviously this story must have been the answer to that author’s question. What if Alexander the Great did have an elephant army? What if there was an amazingly large elephant that made history? What if someone such as a lowly elephant boy, Gajendra, was actually brave enough to stand up to one of history’s greatest tyrants?

But this story is so much more than just speculation of a possible historical event. It’s a story about a man rising up from the sands of India who has lost everything to make something of himself and have a better life. It’s a story about a princess coping with the grief of losing her husband and children and somehow finding the will to live again. It’s a story about romance, loyalty, passion, dedication, friendship and hope. There’s the bond that Gajendra feels with his elephant Colossus, the loyalty of Catharo protecting the princess because he gave his word to a man he owes his life to, and a father struggling to have a relationship with his daughter again after she pushed him away because of her grief. It’s a story that pulled me in at the very beginning and would not let go until the end.

It may be fiction, but for as stunning a story as it was, Colossus could very well be a true story from the pages of a history book. Were it not labeled fiction, one might actually believe that all of it really happened and that all of it was true. I loved this story. It was magnificent! It was told so well, written with such skill and executed masterfully in a way that had me hanging on every single word and hungrily devouring every next chapter. Fans of historical fiction may enjoy this book, as would anyone who might be interested in reading a good story about an awesome elephant named Colossus.

Book Blurb for Colossus

A sweeping tale of courage, honor, and betrayal in the army of Alexander the Great

Babylon, 323 BC. Alexander the Great has survived every effort to kill him. Restless, ruthless, he wonders which world to conquer next. He has a powerful new weapon--the war elephants he brought back from India. He also has a conquest in mind--the fabulous empire of Carthage.

As Alexander plots, a war elephant named Colossus violently lashes out against the soldiers who are tormenting him, and only one trainer has the courage to calm the massive beast. When Alexander notices the young man's bravery, Gajendra begins a meteoric climb through the ranks of the Macedonian army, protected by the fierce but devoted Colossus.

As captain of the elephants, Gajendra is deeply loyal to Alexander, the great General who plucked him from obscurity. But as he sees how luxury and power have corrupted his champion, he faces a terrible choice: Just as Gajendra glimpses the ultimate prize, he realizes that in order to become the heir to Alexander's throne and gain all he's dreamed of, he must betray everything he loves...

Colin Falconer's Colossus is an epic tale of immense evil, pitiless gods and burning cities, of dwarves, priestesses and kings, and of the profound friendship between animal and master. It is the story of two men--one with boundless ambition, and one who reaches for undreamed-of power, all set against the warp of history as Alexander's army approaches the gates of Rome.

Night Owl Reviews Aug, 2015 5.00