Adult Books Nomads Homes and Habitats: Restlessness and Refuge Reading Ruminations Reading Themes

[Saturday Reads] Running Away Towards Love in “The Pharos Gate” by Nick Bantock


Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.


As we celebrate travels, journeys, restlessness and refuge, I find that this book that talks about two lovers traveling halfway round the world to find each other is a perfect book to feature given our theme.


The Pharos Gate: Griffin and Sabine’s Lost Correspondence

Created by: Nick Bantock
Published by: Chronicle Books, 2016 ISBN: 1452151253 (ISBN13: 9781452151250). Personal copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

The Griffin and Sabine trilogy means a great deal to us here at GatheringBooks. See Fats’ review of Griffin and Sabine, Sabine’s Notebook, The Golden MeanI also wrote a fairly extensive review of The Morning Star TrilogyTo say that we are enamoured with quantum metaphysical entanglements would be an understatement. And so when I found out that there was a new book that supposedly serves as an epilogue to Griffin and Sabine and documents their ‘lost correspondence,’ I immediately ordered it from Book Depository.


Naturally, I had to re-read the trilogy before I jumped right into The Pharos Gate. My 14 year old girl also read the first book and found it to be too stalker-ish and too sappy for her taste. I had to laugh at her reaction.

The Pharos Gate still has Nick Bantock’s trademark postcards and letters and picks up where The Golden Mean has left off with Frolatti providing an immediate threat to Sabine, and the star-crossed lovers making plans to meet in Alexandria, all the while making certain to cover their tracks and avoiding Frolatti’s minions which seem to be everywhere:



It is perhaps the Frolatti angle that I did not particularly enjoy in the entire narrative. Think of it as a symbolic representation of that which is sane, safe, predictable – or the rational, logical part of one’s being which holds back spontaneity, romance, and freefalling from happening – yet reified in this story as an actual character. The twist is that Griffin and Sabine’s meeting poses a risk to the very fabric of the universe, again an unlikely stretch that seem to be too self-aggrandizing for me to really appreciate. Let me backtrack a bit and still claim that despite all this, I rated this book 5 stars out of 5 in my Goodreads account. Simply because Griffin and Sabine means something to me – one that defies logic and explanation, perhaps. I continue to find the art breathtaking (see a sampler below) and the longing to actualize the romance to still be riveting.




Sabine also came quite close to me as she traveled to Bali, Indonesia (a place I have yet to visit, admittedly); while Griffin went to one of my most favourite places in the world, Istanbul:


Here are a few of my photos at the Spice Market in Istanbul:

There were also new characters introduced in The Pharos Gate as the reader sees a missive from Griffin’s friend Maud to her friend Fran who lives in Alexandria Egypt. This is crucial as it is only through Fran’s eyes (her letter sent to Maud) that the readers piece together what happened to Griffin and Sabine in the end.

Franseca Savent's letter to Maud about what happened to Griffin and Sabine.
Franseca Savent’s letter to Maud about what happened to Griffin and Sabine.

I think age has also made me more acutely aware of the need for people to take responsibility for their actions and to not just leave it to chance and circumstance or even the oft-abused word, destiny. It was Griffin and Sabine’s determination to see each other that has made a world of difference in this story, as compared perhaps to other so-called star-crossed lovers incapacitated by confusion, indecisiveness, and just plain cowardice really.



A sociolinguist friend stated in his Facebook page that Words are Actions. This series is perhaps a clear testament to that truth. However, some actions are more acutely felt than others, there are clear gradations to actions particularly when empty phrases and false promises are revealed to be what they are. Sometimes even the best of intentions pale in comparison to simply showing up, plain and simple. No further complications required. Whether this is what happened to Griffin and Sabine, I shall leave for you to discover. 🙂

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “[Saturday Reads] Running Away Towards Love in “The Pharos Gate” by Nick Bantock

  1. oh, love, love, love this! like you, i waited for 20-something years before i got to find out what happened to them. as always, your reviews are so engaging, myra! ❤


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