Posts Tagged Fantasy

The Black God’s War: Splendor & Ruin, Book I by Moses Siregar III

Storyline: Holy Moses! What a splendid and unique fantasy start to an original fantasy series! The Black God’s War: Splendor and Ruin, Book I written by the highly talented Mr. Mosey Siregar, will grab a’hold of you and pull into his world where gods fight alongside man and destinies unfold in unimaginable ways.

A mighty empire pushes to conquer the neighboring kingdom of Pawelon and after ten years of endless fighting, an end might finally be in sight. Lucia must decode the meaning of The Black God’s messages for her and her holy brother, Caio. Even though Caio is a man of peace, their father, the king, thrusts this war upon them, risking both of their lives for glory.

Prince Rao is powerful sage who will stop at nothing to see this war stopped and gone from his lands. He must use all of his skills to fight not only the gifted siblings, but their gods as well. Rao must reconcile his own philosophical beliefs with those of the myths of the invaders’ gods.

Can a peaceful resolution be met without anymore unnecessary bloodshed and tears?

Grammar/Spelling:  Incredibly, this might be the first book I’ve read in ages and ages without a single grammatical or spelling error. I don’t know if it’s because I was so captivated by the story that I overlooked them, but Moses did a phenomenal job editing his book!

Character Development: The story focuses on a variety of characters and fully develops each person perfectly. Moses carefully crafted each character’s personality so that the reader can truly feel Caio’s reluctance in leading his father’s army into battle. The inner-struggle of Prince Rao as he tried to convince his father that he was worthy of his respect and was a worthy fighter. Lucia’s strong will and desire to protect her brother at all costs while hiding her own dark secrets came across clearly and distinctly.

Writing Style: The story flowed beautifully and quickly. Even though Moses introduced two very different and wholly new religions and a completely new pantheon if gods, I never felt as if I were overwhelmed with information. Nor did I felt as if I there wasn’t enough information about each side’s beliefs and rituals.

Another unique facet of The Black God’s War was the telling of all sides of the story. I’ve read books (and hell, watched movies) that showed both sides of warring nations, but never with this approach. Every important scene was told through the eyes of each player’s perspective.

I felt myself being pulled in separate directions: Huzzah! May the Rezzians conquer all!

No, wait! Let’s hear it for the Pawelons! They must destroy the invaders!

Well played, Moses. Well played indeed!

Continuity:  No issues with continuity.

Overall Rating: 5

The Black God’s War: Splendor and Ruin, Book I by Moses Siregar III was a dazzling beginning to a fantasy series that was a delight to read and nearly impossible to put down. I am really looking forward to continuing the series and believe that Moses’ story will only get better!

Everyone and their respective mamas should go out and get a copy (or sit on their couch and order it)! I only hate that it took so long for me to review the book and pass along the greatness to you!

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Now, I would like for you to meet Lucia, the royal daughter of the Kingdom of Rezzia. She’s as stunning as she is fearless.

Celia: How did you first meet your writer?

Lucia: You want to talk about that bastard? Was it when he was torturing me with nightmares of dying children? Or when he tortured me with nightmares of my flesh burning? Or when he decided to kill (SPOILER ALERT)? No, I remember now. It was when he dropped me into the black god’s underworld lair. After falling through the pitch black for so long I lost my sanity, I landed in a dark sea full of the dead bodies of our soldiers. Yes, that was how I met him. You’ll pardon me if I prefer that we change the subject.

Celia: Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

Lucia: Yes. The Book of Time. I am a member of the royal family of Rezzia, and I have a patron goddess. At the least, a brief mention of my life would have to be written into The Book.

Celia: What are your favorite scenes in your book: Action, Dialogue, Romance?

Lucia: Romance. There are so many scenes in this book. Action? There was too much of it for me. Dialogue? I prefer quiet. I only found some modicum of repose in my romance with Ilario.

Celia: Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?

Lucia: No, but the bastard had to work on some things.

Celia: Do you infiltrate your author’s dreams?

Lucia: Ha! What kind of person do you take me for? Do you understand that Lord Danato, The Black One, has invaded my dreams since I was thirteen years old? For the last sixteen years? And after all I’ve been through, you think I would be so insensitive as to infiltrate another person’s dreams? The answer is no.

Celia: Are you happy with the genre your author has placed you in?

Lucia: I’d much prefer to be in a trashy romance. A very trashy romance, at that. That sounds rather pleasant after all I’ve been through. But the bastard put me in the correct genre. I can’t hold that against him.

Celia: Would you be interested in a sequel if your writer is so inclined?

Lucia:  *Sigh*

He hasn’t put me through enough? Why would I want to be subjected to his cruel treatment again? I suppose it’s possible that my life will be very different in the future. I admit, I’ve put some of my demons to rest. But I’m afraid the decision I made at the end of this book will haunt me, and I’m not sure I’m ready to face those issues.

Celia: If you could give yourself a superpower, what would you choose?

Lucia: You haven’t read this book yet, have you? I have powers, but I didn’t ask for every power that I have. Although, if I could, I would choose to have one of those powers again. I’m sorry I can’t say more. You’ll have to read the The Black God’s War.

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The Witchcraft Wars: Ursula’s Quest – Tracey Alley

Storyline: Since I’ve already used the “right up my alley” pun already, I’m just going to be blunt and say: Ursula’s Quest was wonderful. Tracey Alley has picked where she left off with Erich’s Plea and continued with a new, exciting story that is hard to put down and leaves the reader clamoring for more!

Ursula is plagued with dreams of her father’s voice telling her that she must find the missing key to save the kingdoms. She must leave the safety of the Monks of the Black Lotus and strike out across the desert lands of Kemet to reach the Temple of Life and she must do so even at the risk of her unborn child.

All the while, Slade and his companions are fighting their way across the wilds to find his father and try to stop the evil witch from winning a war that will surely end their world as they know it.

Grammar/Spelling: I think another beta-read would be a great idea. And it might help with the comma conundrum of which there is a lack of. (There is a lack of commas, not the conundrums. There are plenty of challenges…the key, the Dark One, the upcoming war… A LOT of conundrums abound in the story…)

Character Development: As usual, Ms. Alley’s characters are both well-defined and quite captivating. With Ursula’s Quest, we really get to dive into Slade’s sister side of the story and learn how she came to be part of the Black Lotus. Like Slade, she wants nothing more than to find her father and save the kingdom from the evil witch, Shallendara’s, plan to conquer the kingdom and let chaos reign. She worries that her unborn child will keep her from making the ultimate and difficult decision of choosing to fight and risking the baby or fighting and losing everything that is important to her.

Writing Style: The writing style is fluid and easy to follow. Again, Ms. Alley has incorporated her knowledge of ancient religions into the history and beliefs of her fantasy realm. Ursula and her traveling companion, Ming, travel to the Temple of Life and find that they must make it through a series of tests in order to reach their goal: the missing key. This is very closely related to the path that the ancient Egyptians’ souls traveled to Heaven. Since I love all things Egyptian, (except maybe all that heat – c’mon! Couldn’t they live in a more a temperate climate? Maybe even closer so I wouldn’t have to travel so far to see the pyramids?!) I really enjoyed those details and loved the use of the Reverse Confession.

Continuity:  No issues with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4+

Ursula’s Quest written by the talented and charming, Tracey Alley is fantasy at some of its best! Ms. Alley keeps you interested without being too heavy handed with the fantasy aspect that some novels rely heavily upon. This journey is not only about elves, trolls and magic, it is about love and the recognition that there is something stronger than evil in the world: faith.

I anticipate that the rest of Ms. Alley’s series will be as fresh and exciting as the first two books have been. I would recommend this story to all ages and especially anyone who is just starting out in the fantasy genre. Good job, Trace!

Now, an interview with Tares, the Minotaur from Tracey Alley’s Witchcraft Series:

(Celia’s Note:  This was my first interview with a Minotaur up close and personal and I must say that I was suitably impressed with Tracey’s ability to capture this fellow in all his wonderful glory.  I’d hate to have him mad at me, let me tell ya!)

Celia:  You are the first Minotaur ever to join the ranks of the Knighthood of Ilmater and, if you’ll pardon my saying so, yours is a race better known for its’ savagery rather than sacrifice.

Tares: I do not mind your question, [said with a slow smile], it is true that my people are more known for their skills as warriors than for their willingness to sacrifice for others but you must also remember that the minotaur people are a very honourable race.   I was brought up to believe in honour and that dishonouring oneself or one’s tribe was the greatest sin one could commit.  After I left the Isles of Dread to make my way in the world and met priests of Ilmater they seemed to me to be perfectly compatible with all that I had been taught.  I feel honoured and humbled to be a member of Ilmater’s Knighthood, although I am, as yet, still only a warrior priest.

Celia: Were you surprised when Lord Michael Strong teamed you with Lara, a former thief and assassin in your task to find and free Sir Patrick san Decroix?

Tares:  I was a little surprised and, in truth, at first found the pairing to be… difficult.  Lara is, or I should say was, very efficient at her profession.  Yet she is also extremely irreverent and it is difficult to get her to take things seriously.  I found that something of a trial, yet Ilmater tests us all and I looked upon it as such.

Celia:  After your escape from the prison in Zeaburg you readily joined Slade in his quest to find High King Erich rather than return with Trunk to Lord Michael, why was that?

Tares: It was my belief that following Slade was the will of Ilmater.  The Knighthood have always served the Royal Family of Vestland.  I could do little by returning but perhaps achieve much by continuing to serve the former Crown Prince.

Celia:  Yet your companions, for the most part, were highly the ideal companions for a warrior priest of Ilmater.  How did you reconcile yourself to following orders from someone like Nikolai for example?

Tares: Ilmater moves in mysterious ways and although I would not say so directly to the mage I believe that Ilmater has marked out Nikolai as one of His own.  It was extremely difficult for me to follow someone who had dedicated themselves and their lives to a deity of blood and evil yet in time I saw a different side to Nikolai, a side that the necromancer may not even be aware of himself.  Apart from which Ilmater calls upon all of us to make sacrifices for Him, I was merely following the tenants of the Knighthood that I believe in with all my heart.

Celia:  One final question.   Do you believe that the Knights of Ilmater will be able to win the war against the evil sorceress Shallendara?

Tares:  Firstly you must understand that we fight a war on two fronts.  We must not only defeat the war of conquest that Shallendara incited among Prince Ulrich and The Dark One but we must also stop the witch from her plans to open the portal to the gods.  If she should succeed then all of Kaynos will be destroyed.  This is a very difficult time for all of us, we still do not know the whereabouts of High King Erich, the Knights must fight a deadly war against a type of magic for which we still have no defence and Shallendara must be stopped from opening the portal.  I have not been given any insight from Ilmater as to how the war will proceed.  It is my hope and my prayer that we will succeed on all fronts and that the loss of life will be minimal but I have felt the effects of witchcraft and know how deadly it truly is. *sigh*

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The Royal Dragoneers – M.R. Mathias

Storyline: Dragoneers and dragon tears… M.R. Mathias’ The Royal Dragoneers is an outstanding new take on a very old fantasy theme: dragons, trolls and magic.

Jenka De Swasso wants nothing more than to be a King’s Ranger and, as usual for someone with a destiny larger than themselves, his life takes a sudden and dramatic turn after an encounter with a young dragon named Jade.

The goblins have a new king, Gravelbone, and are organizing with the “mudged” dragons to drive man out of their lands. Gravelbone intends to destroy the king’s huge defensive wall, poison the entire kingdom and make the survivors into his slaves.

Zah and Jenka are the only ones that can save the kingdom from the demon Gravelbone and his nightshade. Together, they must convince the king of the impending war, avoid being locked away for being dragon sympathizers and learn the true nature of their bonds with their pure blooded dragons, Jade and Crystal.

Grammar/Spelling:  I noticed some inconsistencies with the spelling of a character named Rikky. Occasionally, it was spelled with only one “k”. There were also some minor punctuation problems that another read through with a beta reader could definitely take care of.

Character Development: The characters range from a powerful Druida to a stubborn young King’s Ranger to dragons, each with their own form of magic to help move the story along very nicely.

One of the standout characters for me was Rikky. He is barely a teenager and even at his young age, he shows a ferociousness and tenacity seldom seen even in men twice his age. Even after a debilitating attack from the goblins, he is determined to seek revenge on the Goblin King at nearly any cost.

Writing Style: Mr. Mathias has taken a tired old genre, reshaped and revamped it to start an entirely new saga with some surprising twists. The Royal Dragoneers have each bonded with a pureblooded dragon from the far northern reaches of the kingdom and the idea that not only can man fly with a dragon, but that he could literally bond with one is incredible.  Is it possible that Avatar got the idea from Mr. Mathias? Hmmmm?

His depictions of the battles between the pureblood dragons and the mudged (or tainted) dragons are both energizing and amazing. I can almost feel the wind whooshing by as the dragons barrel dive and spray fire (even ice!) on their enemies below.

The story does have some graphic scenes of violence and gore and a sprinkle of adult language, so I don’t know that it is for everyone.

Continuity:  No issues noted with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4

Bravo, Mr. Mathias! Your Royal Dragoneers is truly a new spin on an old dragon tale. I really want my own Dragon Tear and my own dragon. So, if you see any flyin’ about, send ’em my way and I might be so inclined to come pick ya’ up and we’ll go for a ride!

Great job, sir! Not just another cookie cutter fantasy with terrible, made up names and a predictable story-line; but, the makings of a great series that could continue for a long, long time! I look forward to reading the rest of the saga and learning more about dragons and their amazing powers.

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Erich’s Plea – Tracey Alley

Storyline: It seems that Ms. Tracey Alley has written a fantasy series that is right up my Alley, so to speak!

Erich’s Plea is the first in a fantasy series that takes place in a whole new realm of Ms. Alley’s imaginings with all manner of creatures and is the first (that I’ve read) that has a Minotaur as one of the main characters. I’m so excited by this character alone that I could sit and read the remaining books just based solely on this character’s existence.

Ms. Alley introduces an interesting concept with a main element of her story being the differentiation between “magic” and “witchcraft”. With the former a skill that is taught, trained and used with the blessing of a particular deity and the latter being something that is more innate and can work independently of the gods (be they “good” or bad” gods). I am definitely interested to see how these differences will be used in the future novels.

Grammar/Spelling:

I’m definitely a comma kind of gal and I might even go so far as to say that I LOVE commas. One thing that I noticed was a distinct shortage of commas throughout the story and this was somewhat distracting to me. At several points, I needed to read back over the sentence more than once to figure out what the character was actually saying.

Character Development:

Ms. Alley does a great job in developing the characters and showing the prejudices between those who practice magic and those who do not. I liked that this is not just a human trait, but that everyone and everything seemed to have this sort of distrust of one another. (Well, I don’t like it when people don’t trust one another because they’re different, but I could relate to the distrust based on nothing more than fear of the unknown.)

Slade, the main character, is very believable as a former prince turned Druid. He has his doubts and his moments of weakness, but he is a strong leader and should prove to be a formidable foe to The Dark One and all who would wish to do his father’s kingdom ill will.

Though, he is not the main character, the Minotaur named Tares, is the most intriguing. As I stated before, I have not read any other book, other than a certain story by a certain author who is the certainly one of the most well-known horror authors who lives in Maine and who shall remain nameless, that has ever featured a Minotaur. That alone is unique and wonderful. Tares is also a warrior priest, a healer and honorable even to the point of fault.

Writing Style:

The story itself is very easy to follow and read.  I felt that there could be some more in-depth descriptions regarding the various areas of The Kingdoms, but I assume that with time, the rest of the series will give us more detail regarding those areas. Ms. Alley easily incorporates multiple pantheons of gods that the reader will have no trouble keeping straight.

Continuance:

The story seems to have conflicting timelines. The main group of characters’ adventures and movements seem to encompass a single day; while a secondary set of characters’ (seemingly) concurrent adventures occur over a much longer period of time. It doesn’t muddle the story; but, rather, it’s more like an odd quirk. But, given the quick pace of the main character’s escape and exploits, the story definitely moved along rather quickly and the timeline differences are barely noticeable.

Overall Rating: 4

Overall, the story is wonderful and the reader can easily and quickly become quite involved with the characters. It is evident that Ms. Alley put a lot of thought into the story, the realm and the characters. One of the aspects I really liked the apparent ease of the story; it does have a strong plot line and many different characters, but I feel like this will be easy to follow through to the end of the series.

I would recommend Erich’s Plea to anyone who enjoys fantasy, though if your preferences lie in the darker realms, this may not be the book for you. I’d also suggest this to anyone as a “beginner” fantasy novel as the different creatures are mainly ones that are commonly recognized from mythology.

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The Weight of Blood – David Dalglish

Storyline:  The Weight of Blood in this dark fantasy by David Dalglish would be enough to run the Red Cross for at least a month.  I have to admit that this was my first dark fantasy.  I have read much of fantasy prior to, but this was a new experience and I must say I was impressed.

The story follows the squalid lifestyle of two outcasts, Harruq and Qurrah Tun who happen to be half Orc and half Elf by blood (speaking of blood).  They are basically unwanted and unloved by any save each other and the stronger one looks after the younger while he cultivates his dark powers.  They are recruited by an evil entity bent upon bringing a new kingdom of terror and evil upon the land.

Although they are not human, they have some very human traits though only one of them seems to have any semblance of a conscience and soon they have a slight disagreement when one of them falls in love with an Elf.

Grammar/Spelling: Spelling and grammar are very well edited with very few mistakes noticeable throughout the book.  Nothing detracts from the storyline and though the story is quite bleak and disturbing, I kept putting it down and then finding myself drawn back to it out of sheer morbid curiosity.

Character Development:  Mr. Dalglish wove a dark spell over me with his story of these two emotionally disturbed brothers.  I found myself actually rooting for one of them and feeling sorry for the other even though they are quite evil in general.

The characters are extremely well developed and described, their feelings are exposed and their pain palpable. I like the Elves and sympathize with their plight.  Men, it would seem, are completely irrelevant and expendable in this dark tale.

Writing Style: The writing style is fast-paced and action-filled.  Very little time passes between one terrifying development and the next.  Mr. Dalglish’s expert descriptions leave little to the imagination and the reader can almost smell the burning flesh, hear the screams of anquish and taste the blood in the air.  The really, really bad guys get their just desserts.

Continuity: Time line is spot on.  Orcs stay dirty and Elves stay clean. Ha!

Overall Rating: 5

A solid 5 for the genre, but get ready to rumble if you want to read it.  It’s quite gory in some parts and plumb awful in others.

Extreme violence, sexual content, disturbing imagery.

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Union of Renegades – Tracey Falbe

Storyline: Union of Renegades by Tracey Falbe is an epic fantasy of ancient empires clashing with new and the desire to discover new worlds and overcome the past.

Dreibrand is an officer in the elite military of the Atrophane army. He is trying to overcome his family’s fall from grace and make a new name for himself by forging into the vast Wilderness. His dreams are shattered by his general’s decision to send him back to Atrophane with their winnings and chattel. Dreibrand decides to take control of his own destiny and plunges into the Wilderness alone.

Meanwhile Miranda, a beautiful slave, decides that running into the Wilderness and facing the unknown spooks, ghosts and beasts is a far better fate than dying under the invading army’s attack or continuing to be brutalized by her master. She makes a daring escape with her two children in tow. In the woods, Miranda and Dreibrand are thrown together – each relying on the other to make it through the wilds only to find a much greater danger unknown to the rest of the world awaits them on the other side.

Can Miranda and Driebrand work together to survive the Wilderness? Will they be able to overcome the evil sorceress before she destroys their homelands and makes all of mankind kneel before her?

Grammar/Spelling: There were some minor spelling/grammatical issues. A thorough read through by a beta reader would probably take care of these issues.

Character Development: Shan, the Rys sorcerer, is a creature with great power and must learn to control himself and do the right thing. He fights against the age old adage “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. As much as Shan believes that he is strong enough to fight the evil Rys, Onja, he still struggles with the doubts and disbelief of his own supporters.

Writing Style: Ms. Falbe has done a remarkable job creating a brand new world and a race of creatures that would transfer very well to the big screen. (Still unsure if that’s an insult to writers every where… I mean it only in the most positive light!) The details that she includes and depths that she is able to plumb are impressive. At times, I did feel as if the book slowed down to a crawl. If she were to shorten the book, maybe thin it out a bit, the storyline would move a bit faster.

Continuity:  No issues with continuity.

Overall Rating: 3+

Union of Renegades by Tracey Falbe has a little bit of everything for just about everyone. Romance, adventure, magic, action! It’s all there and more in this tale of a new world fighting against an ancient regime of evil. For language, some adult situations and violence, I wouldn’t recommend this book to younger viewers.

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The Crown Conspiracy – Michael Sullivan

Storyline: What a crowning achievement Michael J. Sullivan has created with The Crown Conspiracy. Michael J. Sullivan definitely has a conspiracy of greatness with The Crown Conspiracy. (I couldn’t decide which pun to go with… You may choose which one you like the best and go with it. I will allow this.)

Two thieves hired to steal a sword end up accused of murder in the highest order: regicide. Royce and Hadrian are caught up in a deep and terrible conspiracy that will set their kingdom on its ear and only their specific set of skills can help stop the treachery and save the would-be king, Aleric, from the conspiracy set against him.

Grammar/Spelling: I did not notice any issues with grammar or spelling.

Character Development: The characters were fairly well developed. Hadrian being the most interesting of all – has he always been a mercenary or is there more to his story? Mr. Sullivan sets up The Crown Conspiracy to be the first in a series of six novels and I can only imagine that as the reader gets more involved with the storyline, more of the mysterious Hadrian’s character will come to light.

Writing Style: This fantasy story is unique in that it doesn’t heavily rely on the typical aspects of fantasy epics. The Crown Conspiracy does have elements of magic, wizards and elves, but these are only minor facets to the overall mystery of the story. Mr. Sullivan’s fantasy realm is well thought out with a very believable history and play between the various kingdoms and characters. There was enough back story to help move the story along without bogging the reader down with too many details.

Continuity:  No issues with the continuity of the story.

Overall Rating: 3+

The Crown Conspiracy is a quick read with an intricate storyline that is as old as time: for some, power is an all consuming and dangerous desire. Michael J. Sullivan has done a wonderful job of weaving a fantasy tale that takes two anti-heroes and, in the end, forces them to become heroes.

Again, I anticipate that more of the Hadrian’s story will come to light as the remaining tales are read and I look forward to learning just how far the conspiracy goes.

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