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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 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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The Kinshield Legacy – K.C. May

Storyline: K.C. May I have another?! The Kinshield Legacy is a remarkable fantasy about a simple man who wants to do the right thing and help put the rightful heir on the Thendylath’s throne by solving the mystery of the runes.

Gavin Kinshield is the descendent of the last great king’s champion and would like to live simply while patrolling the countryside, lending out his protection and skills as a warrant knight.  However, as Gavin nears the completion of the Rune Stones’ mystery and the fulfillment of the prophecy that he become the next, albeit a reluctant, king; he must confront his past in order to face his future.

Ms. May has written The Kinshield Legacy as an entertaining and well written fantasy that draws the reader in within the first chapter and pulls us along for the fantastic journey of the reluctant would-be king of Thendylath.

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

Character Development: Ms. May has a wonderful cast of characters that are well-developed and each has a life of his/her own prior to becoming entangled with Gavin and the runes.

When the reader first meets Gavin, he appears to be a roughhewn, scraggly Warren Knight just happy to make some money, buy some ale and a little company. But, as we get to know Gavin, it becomes apparent that there is definitely more to this solid man. He is forever standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves and trying to right the wrongs from his past.

There is nothing kind about Brodas Ravenkind, Gavin’s enemy. Ravenkind is a power hungry wizard that plans to usurp the throne from whoever is solving the mystery of the Rune Stones. He is quite easy to dislike and after learning all of the horrible things he has done to get where he is, the reader can only hope that Gavin can give him a good what-for.

Writing Style: Ms. May creates a new and entertaining fantasy world without overwhelming the reader with too much fantasy lingo. With this story, the reader doesn’t have to have a vast knowledge of all things fantasy to keep up; instead, they just need a little imagination to enjoy it. Ms. May uses a good mixture of story telling and flash backs to help move the plot along and you can almost feel Gavin’s pain (literal) and anguish over losing his family.

Continuity:  There were no problems with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4

I sincerely hope that the Kinshield Legacy will be the first in a series! Do you hear me, Ms. May?! I am really looking forward to finding out what Gavin will do when it comes time to face his fate and fulfill his destiny as the new king of Thendylath.

There are some adult themes (language, situations) and some violence throughout the story. So, it might be suitable for younger readers. But, I would highly recommend this to anyone who believes in fate and magic.

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The Crystal Facade – Debra Martin & David Small

Storyline: Debra and David: double the authors, double the greatness. The Crystal Façade is book two (really, it could actually standalone) in a fantasy series that I can only hope continues until the end of time. Or at least until I can’t stands it no mo’!

The Crystal Façade picks up the story six months after the first adventures on Otharia and Earth. Dyla has been having increasingly disturbing visions of Sir Blackheart and know that until she goes back to Earth to finish the quest they started, these visions will never go away. The glamour has worn off Otharia for Cat and all she wants to do is to go back home to Earth and start living a normal life – teaching her students and archeology-ing – again.

Together Cat, Dyla and Éclair, the very powerful telepath, make the trip back to Earth. After they leave, the conspiracy doesn’t seem to stop weaving out of control. Darius must figure out who is trying to kill him and prevent an evil power from taking over Otharia.

Grammar/Spelling: I noticed some minor issues with punctuation and grammar. I also noticed an odd twist to an old saying (Perhaps it’s due to the differences between Earthlings and Otharians?): “She was a beautiful, headstrong, young woman who seemed to attract men to her like flies to the fire.” I have always heard it stated as, “like moths to the flame.” This phrasing did nothing to detract from the story at all – just something that I noticed and thought it was worth mentioning.

Character Development: The Crystal Façade is fairly well-written and developed. Even though it is book two, the characters were flushed out well enough that it was easy to follow the storyline. Of course, now I must read the FIRST book so that I can get the ENTIRE story. Geez! Thanks guys! Like I don’t have ENOUGH books to read! I kid, I kid!

Darius is the new lady-loving young Duke of Telkur (Well, he’s always loved ladies, so that part isn’t new, per se.) and he might have met his match with the beautiful, spit-fire Crystaline. He decides to prove his mettle by saving her from kidnappers. (At least attempting to!)

Éclair is the strongest telekinetic that has ever been born in Otharia and, because of that, he is also one of the youngest teachers at the Otharian Institute for Paranormal Studies. His techniques have been ill-received by the older teachers and staff, so his decision to take the trip back to Earth is met with very little resistance on their part.

Writing Style: The Crystal Façade is unique because it runs in parallel timelines on Earth and Otharia to keep the action moving along and the reader quite entranced.

The trip to Earth should have been an easy, in and out expedition, but of course, it’s not. Cat, Dyla and Éclair are being followed and harassed by Blackheart’s goons while searching for Merlin’s cave; while back on Otharia, we have kidnappings, coercions, secret societies and even a rebellion.

Nothing is ever simple, is it?

Continuity:  I noticed no issues with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4-

I really enjoyed Debra Martin and David Small’s fantasy collaboration, The Crystal Façade. I can promise I’ll be buying the first one – unless *ahem* for some other reason I get a copy – and will be able to highly review and recommend it as well!

The Crystal Façade is a distinctive and exciting journey into the fantasy genre and I can only hope that there are many more great trips to Otharia!

The story had some minor adult situations and language, so I would give it a PG-13 rating.

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The Red Cross of Gold I:. The Knight of Death, Assassin Chronicles – Brendan Carroll

Storyline: The Knight of Death certainly lives up to his name.  This story, surprisingly enough, starts off in modern-day Texas after a preface set during the Fall of Jerusalem in 1187 CE and another  short scene that takes place in modern Italy.  Our hero, Sir Mark Andrew Ramsay, is a grouchy Scotsman with a problem (several of them, in fact!)  He is not a very nice fellow, but due to a vicious attack and kidnapping, he has forgotten that fact.

While in this state of discombobulation, he falls in love with one of his captors, which is strictly forbidden by the rules of his ancient Order.  His original assassin’s mission forgotten, he has to fight for his life on two fronts as his captor’s try to kill him and one of his Brothers of the Order comes after him with  blood vengeance in mind.

I was impressed by the complexity of the plot and the ease of reading that made me carry this book everywhere I went, unwilling to put it down. I enjoyed the flashback action that told bits and pieces of Mark’s past worked in as memory flashes as his head began to clear up.  The ending was surprising and original and left me wanting to know what happens next.

Grammar/Spelling: Although it does have some grammatical errors and typos sprinkled throughout, I kept forgetting to keep an eye out for them because the story advances so quickly.  Another once over with spell-checker/grammar might make it even better for sticklers.

Character Development: The characters were very well described and developed.  There were several characters to hate and some that made me just scratch my head and go hmph!  For the most part I ended up hating on the right people and liking the best ones.

I loved Meredith Sinclair’s naïveté and Cecile Valentino’s evilness.  Mark, of course, is my hero even though he has a number of serious issues.  I can imagine in a series this long that there will be many more characters to love and hate and if they are as well developed it will be a pleasure to read about them.

Writing Style: Mr. Carroll’s writing style is refreshing in that he keeps the action going for the most part in such a way that it is hard to catch a breath before something else happens.  He uses dialog and accented speech (spelled out phonetically) that allows the reader to catch the full impact of the scene.  I could actually hear them talking in my head.

Descriptions of settings, clothing, feelings are included in the story as it progresses.  There is a bit foul language where a reader would expect to find it (non-gratuitous in other words), which I personally appreciate, but there are some mildly explicit love scenes that are tastefully executed, which I also appreciate.

Continuance: I found no problems with continuance.  Blue cars stayed blue and time lines were quite realistic and well thought out.

Overall Rating: 5-

I would suggest that the author check once more with a grammar/spellcheck or Beta reader, perhaps.  The chapters were not uniform in length and I like to stop at one chapter or two depending on my schedule and some of the chapters were very long.  The inclusion of scriptures at the beginning of each chapter really lent an air of ominous doom and I found myself waiting to see how they played into the story, this I liked very much.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a different type of Templar fiction than what is normally seen in the bookstore.  It is R-rated so mature audiences would be in order.  Even if the Templars and Fantasy genre is not generally the reader’s cup of tea, I believe that they might be pleasantly surprised by this novel since it includes action, adventure, mysticism, murder, mayhem, love, hate, humor… well, just everything a reader could ask for.

An interview with Chevalier Mark Andrew Ramsay of The Knight of Death and Assassin Chronicles Books 1-21 concerning his stormy relationship with his author, Brendan Carroll.

Celia:  How did you first meet your writer?

Mark Andrew:  It’s been quite a while since I first met him.  He had fallen into Loch Ness and I had to pull him out.  Bloody fool thought he saw Nessie (ahem).  Sorry.

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

Mark Andrew:  If I had foreseen Mr. Carroll’s intentions from the first, I would have kicked him out of me house in a heartbeat, but he was in no condition to travel for a while and a bit.  I’m convinced that he was playing on my hospitality and pretending to be infirmed while he was simply gathering fodder on me.

Celia:  What are your favorite scenes in your book: action, dialog, romance?

Mark Andrew:  I rather enjoy some of the flashbacks because I get to re-assassinate a few deserving souls.  Sometimes I miss the action, you see?  Assassinations and swordplay are not as popular as they once were.

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

Mark Andrew:  I always come out on top, if you get my meaning.  I am, after all, the Alchemist.  What I mean to say is that I get what I want.

Celia:  Do you infiltrate your writer’s dreams?

Mark Andrew:  Bloody hell! Excuse me.  I have enough nightmares without flitting around inside that morass of mayhem.

Celia:  What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

Mark Andrew:  Generally, I prefer a nice quiet evening in the lab making gold, sipping a good glass of Glendronach Scotch (or a bottle depending on the mood and the weather).  A nice fire, howling with the wolfhounds maybe.  (slight laugh)

Celia:  Are you currently engaged in a relationship?

Mark Andrew:  Romantically?  Bloody hell.  Oh, sorry.  (Shifting in chair)  That’s what got me into trouble in the first place… well, yes, I am.  Yes.

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

Mark Andrew:  It’s best that some would put my story in Fantasy.  That way I can go on my merry way without all the attention.

Celia:  If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?

Mark Andrew:  I’d rewrite the whole bloody thing and make it a collection of nursery rhymes for hobgoblins.

Celia:  Do you like the way the book ended?

Mark Andrew:  Wot th’ divvil?  Did ye read th’ thing?  How wud ye loike to ‘ave thot ‘appen to ye?  Especially aftar oll ye went thru to get thair?!  O’ carse, I dunna loike th’ way th’ book ended, Lassie.  (more words, possibly in Gaelic?)  Excuse me.  Get on with it, please…

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

Mark Andrew:  Now that is a silly question if I ever heard one.  Do you have any Scotch?  I’ll settle for a bottle of spring water, if not.  Thank you.  I think the answer is obvious.

Celia:  Do you believe that you are suitably portrayed in electronic books or would you rather be in paperback only?

Mark Andrew:  I have a library full of first edition literature.  They all have nice leather bindings or linen.  If you keep them well-maintained, there is nothing better than the smell and feel of a good book.  These paperbacks are a bit flimsy, don’t you think?  I mean the thing couldn’t possibly survive a little spill or two without the ink running all over the thing, you see?  And what happens if the electric cuts out?  You can’t run that contraption… that Kindle whatsit… on kerosene now, can you?

Celia:  Did you have any input into the book cover design?

Mark Andrew:  The first book was done without my permission and I had to engage a barrister from Edinborough to get any say in it.  I like the cover, none-the-less.  It ws the principle.

Celia:  What is the lamest characteristic your writer has attributed to you?

Mark Andrew:  They tell me I’ve no sense of humor, but that is nonsense.  I can be quite witty and I like to laugh as much as a body should.

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

Mark Andrew:  I already have more power than I know what to do with.  Power is a dangerous thing, Lassie.  Either way, too much, not enough?  The results are usually the same:  Disastrous when the time comes to take action..

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