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The Buddha at Culver    by Richard Gwyn Davies Amazon.com order for
Buddha at Culver
by Richard Gwyn Davies
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CreateSpace, 2010 (2009)

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*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The Buddha at Culver is the sequel to Richard Gwyn Davies first novel, Swords at Culver. It is pretty similar to the first, but this time it is Buddhist mythology that comes face to face with Native American mythology.

As three sophomores are walking along Culver's lake one night, they are almost attacked by a strange creature. What saves them is the appearance of the Vernerable Shi Wu Ling, a Buddhist nun who teaches at Culver. Upperclassmen Merthyn Jones and Tim Marks also witness the event and make sure to tell their mentor, Dr. Davies. Davies knows that the rogue Native American cult that they fought the previous year must be back, but this time, it is targeting different students. After many vicious, successful attacks, it takes the healing power of Wu Ling's prayers to set everything straight. But even her schooling in Tibetan Buddhism is not enough to prepare both students and teachers for the final showdown.

As the same enemies appeared in The Buddha at Culver as in Swords at Culver although with a different and stronger arsenal of mythological creatures this book felt like a rehashing of the first, except that Merthyn and Tim's two friends were replaced by three freshmen and Buddhist mythology replaced Arthurian legend. Also, the story itself seemed to repeat as one student would be attacked, Wu Ling would heal them, and then another student would be attacked and the cycle would repeat as would the explanations of Wu Ling's prayers and the healing process. Tightening up of the narrative, removal of repeative extraneous bits, and possibly a new enemy would have helped with the flow and made for more exciting reading.

While I enjoyed Richard Gwyn Daviess' Swords at Culver, The Buddha at Culver did not meet my expectations. The Tibet Buddhism mythology was interesting and obviously well-researched (as observed by all of the end notes), but the storyline was not as fresh as the first since they were practically the same.

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