Reviews of Valley of Thracians




"To me, the characters and the setting in VALLEY OF THRACIANS are both 'memorable'. I recall referring to detailed maps of Bulgaria and researching the various locations of the story to get the feel of the places. Sometimes with well written novels such as this, I find it difficult to separate reality from fiction, but the reality of Bulgaria, in this case, has left a colorful lasting impression on me."

Anonymous comment

*****

"Well written, interesting and professionally edited. I learned so much and enjoyed every minute of my armchair adventure in Bulgaria."

Yael Pedhatzuron, posted on Amazon, verified purchase.

*****

"I thoroughly enjoyed this book. When I thought I knew what would happen next the author surprised me."

F. Jeanette Cheezum, posted on Amazon.

*****

"Lots of excitement, mystery and suspense. A great history lesson on Bulgaria. A wonderful way to learn about a foreign country and its people."

Marylee Tennyson, posted on Amazon, verified purchase.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Thracian Thrills
May 1, 2015

A young Peace Corps volunteer named Scott working in Bulgaria vanishes, leaving behind only a wallet atop his folded clothes upon the beach. Whether suicide, murder or accidental drowning, everyone assumes him dead. His grandfather, Simon, however, has never accepted the death of his grandson, and three years after the young man’s disappearance finds himself in Bulgaria searching for the truth. Everyone says he’s nuts, from the American Consul in Bulgaria to his own son, but he knows something they do not—while he was on Skype, his grandson’s user ID briefly showed activity. Armed with this knowledge, along with a little hope and a lot of faith, Simon follows clue after clue, walking in Scott’s footsteps, meeting people who knew Scott, and asking questions. Too many questions, it seems, for after awhile he finds his own life in jeopardy. Still, the hope of finding Scott propels him forward, even though each step taken leads him further into a dark world of crime and violence.

According to the author’s biography, he spent two years as a resident of Bulgaria, and it certainly shows in his knowledgeable depiction of the country, past and present. I’ve never been to Bulgaria, but this book could almost serve as a guidebook to its cities and historic sites as well as its customs and culture. The narrative itself is very well written, the pacing and suspense maintained throughout the story, and the characterization makes you actually care about Simon and Scott as they work toward a conclusion. I could very easily see this as a successful film along the lines of “North by Northwest,” “Charade,” or “Arabesque.”

A reader looking for a good old-fashioned suspense adventure set in an interesting country and steeped in mystery and history could not do better than this character-driven thriller.

Ralph E. Vaughan, posted on Amazon, verified purchase.

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"Shuman describes the cities and culture of Bulgaria with vivid detail– I wish I could describe settings that well! His main characters are fascinating and believable."

Southern Bend Books

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"A brilliant plot and great reporting on the country and it's history. A must buy."

June Finnigan, posted on Amazon.

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"If you like mysteries with cultural and historical significance, Valley of Thracians is a book you'll thank me for recommending. It may not be a "commercial" novel, but for that reason I recommend it all the more. It deserves a place on your bookshelf."

Author Paul Sean Grieve

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"This book is an interesting mixture of contemporary mystery, a grand chase, and archaeological evidence, woven into a very enjoyable story."

Amy, posted on Amazon

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"A fascinating novel full of intriguing twists and turns and believable characters. The best part for me was how Shuman showed us the sights and sound of Bulgaria. I not only had a good time reading the novel. I came away having learned something."

Camilla Trinchieri, posted on Amazon

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"I loved this story. Being a huge fan of travel, Bulgaria has always been one of my destinations I still needed to visit. Thanks to Ellis, I sort of got a taste of it. His descriptions is really vivid and it makes you feel that you are right there... There is really everything in this story. From smuggling with artifacts, to murders and car chases... It is a novel worth reading and I promise this is something for everyone, doesn't matter what genre your favourite is. His characters are so strong, that you easily connect with them."

Adrienne Woods, posted on Amazon


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"The mystery element is well imagined and as the story twists and turns towards its ultimate conclusion you will find adventure, thrills and intrigue here. Wonderful writing style makes it easy to read with a mix of fast paced plot and more sedate meandering that keeps you involved until the end... Enjoyable mystery thriller, great characters and very well written."

Liz Loves Books

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"Part thriller, part travelogue, this novel drew me right in from the start! Shuman does an excellent job of weaving Bulgarian culture and history into the story without dragging it down. He adds so many twists and turns, it's nearly impossible to stop reading! I loved learning about Bulgaria, a country I previously knew nothing about. If you like thrillers and history, this one's for you!"

Louisa J., posted on Goodreads

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"From the very beginning VALLEY OF THRACIANS held me spellbound. This is a beautifully written thriller; every part of the story is completely absorbing, and it never feels as if the story is being dragged out unnecessarily. Such is Ellis Shuman’s skill with words that the reader feels part of the story.

"Would I recommend reading VALLEY OF THRACIANS? I most certainly would! If you’re looking for a gripping, mysterious thriller with convincing characters (both good and bad), beautiful descriptions, ancient relics and modern quests, betrayal, loyalty, compassion and brutality, then look no further."

Alison Jack on Everything Books and Authors

Rila Monastery

"I loved this story. Being a huge fan of travel, Bulgaria has always been one of my destination I still needed to visit. Thanks to Ellis, I sort of got a taste of it. His descriptions is really vivid and it makes you feel that you are right there."

Adrienne Woods, posted on Goodreads

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"Valley of the Thracians is a fast-paced, entertaining mystery, but what charmed me most was the cultural and historical details (delivered convincingly, because after all both protagonists are professors!) and the depth of character."

Melanie Howard, posted on Amazon


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"If you're a fan of stories set in exotic locales, this is absolutely a book for you. There is enough mystery and intrigue throughout the story to keep you riveted right to the end."

Matthew Keith Reviews

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"If you love mystery, suspense, archaeology and travel to intriguing Eastern Europe, you will love this book!"

AgelessGlobeTravels, posted on Amazon

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"This book is a must for history buffs like myself, those readers with the willingness to travel to a foreign land through an author's imagination and discover another people's cultures; and those that want to read a darn good yarn. It will pique people's interest that had never considered traveling to this country."

Yvonne Crowe, author of
The Magdalene Conspiracy

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"Shuman's writing style ensconces the reader in an intriguing plot-line that is chock-full of significant detail. His past experiences provide a compelling narrative. Valley Of Thracians is a riveting fiction debut that will enrich each reader to the savoir-faire of Bulgaria."

Gigi Frost, Bookend Chronicles

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Street scene in the Old Town of Plovdiv

"A delight for mystery lovers... From the opening paragraphs where we meet Grieving grandfather, Simon this book captures our imagination as we travel through the geography and culture of Bulgaria."

lh, posted on Amazon

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"There were several surprising twists in the plot... I found the Bulgarian history, the plot and the characters make the whole book a page turner."

Julian Suave Book Review

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For fans of gripping mysteries, Valley of Thracians is a real treat. The author's beautifully worded descriptions put the reader into the center of the story. This is a real page turner and I hope to read more from this author in the near future.

Alabama Teacher "ALTeach", posted on Amazon


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"What a great book! A mystery surrounded with beautiful descriptions of a country and historical antiques I knew nothing about but had to take notes so I could later do my own research. I was sucked into this book within the first few pages. The story line flowed and it was filled with excitement at every turn of the page... I highly recommend it to anyone who loves history, mystery, archeology and unwavering belief... Thank you for a wonderful read!"

cedarblue, posted on Amazon

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"Right now, I'm reading a thriller based in Bulgaria called Valley of Thracians by Ellis Shuman. It's really good, and Shuman does a great job describing the setting."

A Southern Writer's Network

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"Here is a thriller of a novel, with fun twists of plot and all the elements we look for in a good mystery. This is one of those books you won’t be able to put down at night; all the while learning about Bulgarian culture, history and folkways. The author knows Bulgaria intimately and takes us on a journey to places most of us have never been nor of which we’ve heard. I often felt he must have written the book specifically to get in all the beautiful and historical places in Bulgaria. Travel fiction at it's most fun."

Have Books Will Travel

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"The author lived in Bulgaria for two years, and Mr. Shuman weaves a wealth of information about the country’s history and culture into the narrative... For someone like me who enjoys learning something new, this novel is a real gem."

Scott Whitmore

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"The title of the novel was the first thing that caught my attention... "Valley of Thracians", a Novel of Bulgaria. A neighbour of mine had recently returned from a holiday in Bulgaria and was quick to tell me that he had experienced a wonderful holiday, having seen beautiful scenery, enjoyed good food and overall had found his 10 day stay excellent value for money. Prior to our conversation, I would never have given the country any second thoughts, but the author's description of Bulgaria, it's people, culture, history and places of interest all weaved into this novel, made it all a "Must Go" for me.

"Throughout the novel, the writer's knowledge and observations of the country are fascinating and blend in well with the storyline. I was quickly drawn into the book with its gripping story, which is full of suspense and written with a pleasing flowing style. Overall, a delightful read and would highly recommend."

Harry Downes, Scotland

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"Well written and full of great characters the book turned out to be a rich and exciting read, with huge expert local and historical knowledge that gives this thriller a great unusual and well chosen backdrop, without taking away the focus from the actual story. It is a rare find to have great suspense and almost educational details combined and work together so well."

Christoph Fischer

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"This is not a fast-paced thriller, but there is certainly enough action and adventure to keep the thrills moving... Plan instead to sit back and relax and learn about the many Bulgarian sights that Simon enjoys seeing while searching for his grandson. You'll learn much about this country, including, for instance, that because of the high quality of its roses, "mastered over centuries of dedicated cultivation, Bulgaria is one of the world's largest exporters of rose oil, used in the production of perfumes, beauty creams, chocolates, liquors, and jams...and even tooth paste." Cool, right?! Bet you didn't know that, did you..."

Glenda Bixler, Book Reader's Heaven

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St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedera, Sofia, Bulgaria

"The descriptions are beautifully penned. You can see the colours before your eyes and feel the atmosphere as you read. There were actually a couple of passages in this book I went back and read again after finishing, simply because I enjoyed them so much.

"Another thing that impressed me about this author is how smooth his writing is. He does not add any extra fluff that does not need to be there and reading his words are as easy as breathing. You understand from the very first couple of sentences that the main character finds himself in his current predicament because he cares deeply for his grandson, and that theme never loses momentum.

"This novel has a good flow and a lot of twists and unexpected turns. I liked the plot and was impressed by the way Ellis Shuman took his characters to the extremes of their abilities without losing realism. The adventuresome spirit in me was clapping for his genius. If you think you know what to expect from the beginning, I bet you will be wrong."

Ionia Martin, Readful Things Blog

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"Ellis' book can be described as a "travel fiction" since the story hinges as much on the setting as on the main characters. Both are developed expertly and the interplay is seamless as the story unfolds. As we follow the twists and turns of the plot we are treated to fascinating lessons in Bulgarian culture, geography, customs and folkways, mores and ways of thinking. The writer's observations about the country are always relevant to the action, as well as being informative and fascinating.

"The story itself is a thriller with all the classic elements of the genre. We have a missing person presumed dead; clues that don't fit the official reports; a doting grandpa pushing against all odds to find his beloved grandson; contradictions, suspicions, surprises and reversals. We have bad guys and good guys swirling around a mysterious lost treasure, hide-and-seek chases all over the country, crowded festivals and lonely mountaintops, drugs and guns. There are enough plot twists to engage the diehard mystery reader, and enough human interest angles to warm anyone's heart."

Bruce McDonald, posted on Amazon

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Belogradchik Fortress, northwestern Bulgaria

"This book succeeds on three different levels - as a mystery, as a chance to explore Bulgaria, a land I would imagine that most readers know little about, and as an warm and compelling family drama. I was absorbed at once and it helped me pleasurably pass a long plane trip! Recommended! "

Kim Wright Wiley, posted on Amazon


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"This book just draws you in. Quick and smart characterization makes you know and genuinely like the people you meet in this novel right off the bat. While this book is indeed an engaging mystery, it is just as much a pleasant journey and exploration of a world you probably have never seen. I've myself had just a day in Bulgaria, but I immediately both recognized the setting of the novel and saw in my mind's eye the scenes flooding back upon me. The style of the writing is tight, unpretentious, and vivid."

Keith Massey, posted on Amazon


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"I truly enjoyed reading this book and found it difficult to put down. It has a great combination of history, character development and suspense. The descriptions of the countryside makes me want to visit Bulgaria. "

DJS, posted on Amazon


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"I loved everything about this book! It was long enough to not make you feel deflated that it ended too quickly and was full of intrigue and twists and unexpected avenues all the way to the end. It was not predictable in any way. I enjoyed every single page and I can't say that very often. Mr. Shuman's description of the scenery and especially the history of Bulgaria and the surrounding regions made me want to take the first flight out. The characters are believable and really draw you in. I liked the fact there was no sex, very few swear words (that turns me off real quick) but some very exciting scenes. It's definitely a keeper and I will look forward to other books written by him. He also has a blog where he expands on his travels. It is listed at the end. I would highly recommend this book. "

hobbit house, posted on Amazon


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"Breathtaking descriptions of Bulgaria, fabulous plot. A young man joins the peace corps and is stationed in Bulgaria. Unfortunately, he winds up as a courier for stolen thracian artifacts. 3 years after the young man goes missing, presumed dead, his grandfather, an aging college professor, goes to Bulgaria to search for him. Then ensuing novel is long, yet near epic. I enjoyed learning about Bulgaria and hope to research their thracian past more."

pinkie "pinkie615", posted on Amazon

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Did you read and enjoy Valley of Thracians? Please post your review on Amazon so that other readers will be encouraged to read the book. Thank you so much!


Thracian treasures on display at a museum in Sofia, Bulgaria


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