Islands of Fire

The Sicily Chronicles, Part I

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
576 Pages
Reviewed on 07/06/2020
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Author Biography

Dick Rosano is a wine, food, and travel writer with long-running columns in The Washington Post, Ambassador Magazine, Wine Enthusiast and other publications. His travels have taken him to the wine regions of Europe, South America, and throughout the United States, and he has lectured on wine at the Smithsonian Institution, L'Academie de Cuisine, and aboard Viking Cruise Lines. His recent books include A Death in Tuscany; The Secret of Altamura: Nazi Crimes, Italian Treasure; The Vienna Connection; The Sicily Chronicles; Hunting Truffles; and Wine Heritage: The Story of Italian-American Vintners. His novels are set in Italy, featuring picturesque landscapes, intriguing characters, and the wine, food, and culture of the region.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Islands of Fire is a work of fiction in the historical and time travel sub-genres and was penned by author Dick Rosano. Written as the opening novel to The Sicily Chronicles series, this highly engrossing and atmospheric work takes us back into the very ancient world of Sicilian life. Our central protagonist is Luca, who travels to the modern-day island in search of his parents, but instead finds the wise old Vito. Vito’s hidden talents take Luca back millennia into ancient times, where his adventure continues as he witnesses the tribal origins of his ancestral home and learns of the formation of the incredible island as it is today.

Author Dick Rosano has a clear passion for history and the origins of Sicily, which runs throughout this novel in its fine attention to detail and the atmospheric language choices which bring it to life. The narrative style is informative but also dynamic in involving both Luca and the reader in the action that’s taking place. The time travel set-up was straightforward and plot-relevant, which made it easier to dive straight in and see history coming to life through the author’s flowing prose. I was especially interested to learn about the mixing of so many cultures and races in the heritage of ancient Sicily, and I enjoyed Luca’s enthusiasm and responses to what he discovered. Overall, I would certainly recommend Islands of Fire to readers of both historical fiction and non-fiction: a truly immersive and highly educational novel.

Romuald Dzemo

Islands of Fire is the first book in The Sicily Chronicles by Dick Rosano, an original and spellbinding novel rich in history and adventure. When Luca Siragusa travels to Sicily, it is because he wants to discover the island where his grandparents grew up. But there is far more in store for him than he ever imagined. The encounter with Vito Trovato from Mazara del Vallo changes everything and brings him face to face with the history and life of Sicily. Starting from the local library, the protagonist makes discoveries that arouse his curiosity about places all over Sicily, like Licata, Gela, and Cassibile, coastal areas on the southeastern part of Sicily that were landing places for the Allied Army. Follow him as he explores the history of an island that has been coveted by many since it was first settled by seafaring people.

This is an interesting story that opens with Vito's journal that chronicles the events of the war and how it affected the island. The journal entries are a satisfying read themselves, intimate and poignant. The story takes readers across millennia, recounting the different moments in the island’s history, from Anu and Baia to Telia and Sapira; from antiquity to invaders, the Arabs, the Greeks, the Carthaginians, and the Romans. Historical references are manifold in this novel and I loved how well the author incorporates his research into the writing. It is original, engaging, and features characters that are sophisticated and a setting that feels like a character in the story. Reading Islands of Fire made me feel like traveling to this exotic and unique world. It is enthralling, to say the least, sprinkled with history and hidden gems of knowledge.

Jose Cornelio

Islands of Fire is the first book in The Sicily Chronicles by Dick Rosano, a historical novel with a strong appeal to fans of travel. The author explores the history of Sicily with skill, introducing readers to extraordinary characters and beautiful places. Luca wants to discover the place where his grandparents grew up, so he travels to Sicily, but what he sees and reads in the library is far from what he is about to discover when he encounters the old soldier named Vito. The old man does not just take him through the recent happenings in Sicily, but gives him a ride through ancient history, from the beginnings with Anu and Baia, through different periods in time. He will discover that this island has been a coveted place, with the Arabs, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans wanting it for themselves.

Dick Rosano has written a book that gives more than a story. It is a gem, deeply researched and well-written. The story features the journals of Vito, from the days when he joined the army to fight to protect a place he deeply loves. The characters come to life in this story, but it is the place and the way it is depicted that fascinated me the most. References to historical moments like the Punic Wars abound in the novel, and while it tells the story of a character in search of his roots, it offers information that readers looking for vacation destinations will enjoy. The descriptions are terrific, vivid, and captivating. Islands of Fire takes the reader to the Sicily of the volcanoes, an exotic place that is rich with history. It is utterly transporting.

Ankit Shil

Islands of Fire is the first installment in The Sicily Chronicles. Authored by Dick Rosano. An esteemed writer for Washington Post, Ambassador Magazine, and other periodicals. The novel takes us on an odyssey through the history of the Sicily. A work of fact and fiction, the lucid narrative takes us back to the prehistoric times. When the island of Sicily was first inhabited by humans. The story traces the development of human civilization on the island. The changing dynamics of Sicilian culture and polity were well captured. The story narrated through the protagonist Luca, as he dives into the history of his home with the wise old Vito.

A well-researched piece of art, this book is what a history textbook should be, a story rather than a pile of facts. Sicily being a strategically important location was subjected to countless invasions. From Arabs to the Romans who didn't care much about the residents or their culture. The features I liked most about this "historical fiction" is the attempt to recreate the life and social interactions. Though I don't know if Anu was actually the first inhabitant. Another feature I liked the most is the vivid descriptions. This book will definitely be a treasured gem in the collection of a history enthusiast.