An epic tale spun from erratic thoughts placed into text and delivered to the world. That is the sense that readers will get from Black Inked Pearl A Girl’s Quest by Ruth Finnegan. Our protagonist, Kate, is searching for something. She is on a journey through years and lifetimes as she seeks out this piece that is required to complete her. We see this world through her eyes, her thoughts and her experiences. The tale is epic not only in page count, but in content as well. We know that Kate has lost something, that she is searching for this thing, but we don’t know exactly what it is. We are left with speculation and can only turn the next page to find out if she has achieved her goal. With songs, poetry and influences of dreams long past, this tale is one that is begging to be heard.
The way this book is written, with its dream-like prose and fractured sentences, allows this epic fantasy novel to be told in a stream of consciousness style of writing. The thoughts are thrown at the reader: fast and unforgiving. At first glance, the reader may think that our protagonist, Kate, has simply gone mad and the first chapters are from her point of view. However, the entire book reads that way and, if you are not paying close attention, you may get lost. Readers are quickly taken from scene to scene and thought to thought with barely a lull. Perfect for readers who like to be fully engaged in a story.
The words are very beautiful. The poetry both original and borrowed lends a mystical air to the story. If you view the entire book as a sort of waking-dream, it begins to make sense. This writing style is wonderful for conveying emotions and we can get a better sense of how Kate is feeling as she continues her search. The blending of a warped reality with a warped sense of fantasy lends well to the thought of this being a dream-like state that Kate has found herself in.
A whirlwind of a read is what you’ll find between the covers of Black Inked Pearl A Girl’s Quest by Ruth Finnegan. The mystical sense of the book is intriguing. This is a book recommended to be finished in one sitting as you may find it hard to pull away. The dream-like madness that seems to grip the pages make for an exciting read, but this can also be overwhelming. This may be a book suited to seasoned readers who are looking for a dreamlike story of epic proportions.
Pages: 286 | ASIN: B0158VRF26
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The False Prophet is set in a post apocalyptic America and follows Donald of Fisher, our unlikely hero, as he must confront an army raised to conquer the land. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
The question applies to the first novel, The Stonegate Sword as well as The False Prophet although it is not necessary to have read the first book in order to understand the second. The initial idea was to create a character with a world view similar to present-day America and place him in a society with very different values, such as Medieval Europe. I considered a time-travel approach, but then hit on the idea that in the future the world could enter a second Dark Age. So the main character, Donald of Fisher is a lore-man, steeped in the study of the past from an early age. Then circumstances forces him to take up a sword and take on the role of a warrior. The conflict between the evil figure in the west owes a bit to Tolkien and a bit to the prophecies of the last days in Biblical prophecy. I made no attempt to create the details associated with the Antichrist, except that if the imagery in Scriptures is taken literally, it sounds as if the final battles will be fought with antique weapons. I realize that this could be figurative language, but I decided to take it literally, and that implies, again, that a dark age lies in the future.
The story follows two characters, The False Prophet and Donald of Fisher, which I felt were two contrasting characters. What themes did you want to capture while creating your characters?
The story follows the archetypal “hero’s quest.” Don is the hero and must face adversity. The False Prophet is the anti-hero and he does not actually appear in the first novel, being only a rumor, a malignant force driving the forces of evil. In the second novel, he is revealed to be a ruthless despot of the kind with whom we are all familiar. The Prophet’s armies are the driving force behind much of the conflict that Don must face and overcome, though human frailties (his own and those of his companions) are other obstacles in his path.
There were many biblical undertones throughout the novel. Where do you feel you paralleled the Bible and where did you blaze your own path? And how did that help you create an engaging story?
The story of the novel does have some similarities to the Bible in that the Israelites were often raided by their enemies and the kind of weapons were similar. The military tactics I describe are probably not similar to those used in Bible days, although some of the principles are timeless. The use of walled cities reminds one of the Bible and also Medieval Europe. The political situation in the free cities east of the mountains reminds me of Israel during the time of the Judges, when there was no king, and “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” The apostasy or falling away from the faith is prophesied in the Bible. The rediscovery of lost technology, for example, cannons, is a new path. The idea of a man of sin arising in the last days is found in the Bible.
The False Prophet is the second book in the Stonegate series. Where does book three take readers?
Book three will take place a generation later. The False Prophet was not destroyed, and the evil in the West rises again. It is up to the children of Don, Rachel, Carla and Howard to bring the saga to its final conclusion. Donald, now a middle-aged man, past his prime, attempts to mount an invasion of the West to overthrow the Prophet, but his attempts are met with disunity among his friends and overwhelming might of his foes. As to be expected, the victory depends on help from a totally unexpected quarter.
Stonegate remains the key, and Donald returns to that great walled city and his beloved Rachel just as the hosts of enemy are also closing in. Part adventure, part love story, this epic saga covers the vast panorama of New Mexico deserts and Colorado Rockies in a possible future that looks very much like the medieval past. But duty, love, courage, and honor remain and are even more important than ever.
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The Seasons of a Giant by Pamela Hartley is a fun read! We follow Isabel LaDuke, known as Izzy, as she tries to discover who or rather “what” is stealing her family’s cows. A young girl with no real talents or skills unless you count her courageous heart. She eventually finds her quarry, but then soon is transported to the home of Behemorphs, giant shape-shifters, and their world Skyworld, which rests above the clouds. For Izzy to find her way home, she will have to team up with the monster she hunted. Her disappearance intensifies a conflict between her people, the Groundlings, and the Behemorphs, which will mean she may have to make a fateful choice…
With 250 pages, one would think this would be your average children’s novel, but I was pleasantly surprised. A fun twist on Jack and the Beanstalk, Izzy is a fun take on the heroine trope, although I may have enjoyed it more if she was more self-actualizing then what occurred in the story itself. I think the courage that Izzy embodies is brilliant and an excellent message to children. I think the “journey of self-discovery” is a classic tale to come up again and again and is given fresh legs by Hartley’s narrative.
The classic turn of “foe turned friend” is great because it allows Izzy to then reflect upon herself and evaluate her own strengths and weaknesses. The character, Boone, is great because he is everything she is not. She is small and weak with too few real skills. A Behemorph, he is larger than life and has his own magical abilities of shape-shifting. The juxtaposition is almost too pointed, but Hartley saves this with humor and keeping the story pace brisk and fast for even the most anxious reader.
Hartley’s prose reads well and both her voice as the author and the voice of her characters come through. Izzy is a great heroine to follow and I hope there’s another story on the way with her being the lead character again. There is something very relatable with a character who is not talented and instead has to rely on what she has on the “inside”. Again I believe that sort of theme and message is perfect for children and adults.
Overall, the pacing was spot on. The ending was unexpected, but well developed. I believe that Hartley has a gift for story, especially when telling children’s stories. The world she has built was fun and enjoyable and overall it will make a great read for anyone looking for an entertaining weekend read.
Pages: 250 | ASIN: B06XSN4JG3
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The Rashade, written by Rebecca Tran, tells the tale of Mara, a purposeful and strong willed woman whose life mission revolves around avenging the death of her father. Mara is a trained soldier, a skilled fighter and is determined to find the man who murdered her father (whilst she was forced to watch), leaving both physical and emotional scars that haunt her nightmares. As she sets out on her epic adventure she will meet new friends, new enemies and finally face off with the evil mage Laran who has his eyes set on taking over her homelands.
The Rashade is the first book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series and delivers an adventure filled with magical characters, valiant warriors and a determined young woman who has her eyes set on avenging her father. The story begins with Mara applying for leave through the High Priestess, who also happens to be Mara’s mother. Mara is a trained soldier in the League and hopes to use her time away to finally face the evil Laran.
The Rashade has similar tones to books such as Deltora Quest and Game of Thrones as the main characters set on an adventure where there are tombs, priestesses and sword fights that will leave the reader on the edge of their seat in anticipation. Epic battles crossed with a burning desire to destroy an evil man will mean the reader will be captivated until the very end.
Not everybody is who they seem and I thoroughly enjoyed the progression of each character as we learned more about their life through the unexpected relationships that develop. The characters come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from soldiers to priestesses to mages- humans who possess magical powers and mysterious grey eyes. Romance, swordsmanship and magical weapons will intertwine into a plot line that is consistently entertaining.
Mara and Kess are friends who set off together after decisions made by the High Priestess. Kess is sometimes shy, sometimes brave and the reader will quickly begin to appreciate his ability to be there when Mara needs him most. But Mara is an independent and strong woman, and it was a breath of fresh air to read about a woman warrior, rather than the typical man going into battle.
The Rashade has elements of olden day romance with flirting consisting of showing ankles in a bar, arranged marriages and oaths that stand the test of time. The outfits, swords and horses will throw the reader into an era that was far before our time. It was easy to get lost in a world of fantasy and transported to a place where magic and priestesses exist and readers will be pleasantly surprised at how easily time gets away when you are lost in the pages of The Rashade.
I would recommend this to anybody looking for a fantasy novel with twists and turns that result in a heart-stopping conclusion. I look forward to reading the other stories in the series!
Pages: 425 | ASIN: B01N211HHR
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Deity’s Soulmate follows a young goddess Gardenia as she sets out to create a better universe than the one mankind is in. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The initial idea for the story actually didn’t blossom in book 1. I first started writing book 3 where Gardenia was banished by an evil sorcerer and a young man had to hunt down talismans to get her back so the war would end. After finishing half of book 3, I realized that my title- Gardenia’s Castle wasn’t of interest. Why should people care about her castle? Who is Gardenia? So the idea was born to show her beginning.
Deity’s Soulmate went through many drafts and two editions before I was satisfied with it. Characters have been added, conflicts had changed, and illustrations have helped transform the story into what it is now in the second edition.
Gardenia is a complex and deep character. How do you capture the thoughts and emotions of a goddess type character?
By making her human-like. I wanted Gardenia to be young, naive and it helped that I started working on her character in high school when I was young and naive, but only published it as a young adult. As I grew up so did my character. There was admittedly a long break where I didn’t think about her and so I was able to have a new outlook when I returned to her story.
It also helped that I wanted her to grow up along the way and meet characters that would complement her, mainly the dragons. I believe that the dragons were able to bring out her character the best.
This is a stellar second edition of Deity’s Soulmate. What were some things you wanted to change in this second edition?
Thanks to one of my editors, I realized that I needed to create more conflict. She told me to work on conflict for both of my published works so I thought for awhile on how to do that with Deity’s Soulmate. The conflict with the Fates happens in book 2 which I couldn’t really bring out in book 1 so I added Hera and her daughter. I, honestly couldn’t believe that I didn’t have Hera in the first book and adding her had been a great addition.
I also wanted to make the romance more realistic by adding an infatuation for Gardenia. My mother always told me that first relationships always fail and that’s a good thing because one needs to have a first relationship in order to succeed in the relationships that’s for forever so I added a young man into the story for Gardenia to like and I believe that helped her complexity.
Those two additions helped the story line and added little bits and pieces all over the second edition to make it great.
What are some of you sources of inspiration as a writer?
People, cats, and random objects. The two people that really inspired me to keep going with their honest feedback were the two editors (Kali and Laura). They were never afraid to tell me that I lacked elements in my stories which is important for an author. They pushed me forward and I will always be thankful to them.
My cats are amazing. They tend to be around when I write and one look at one of them makes my heart soar. They help to calm the storm whenever I’m lacking in inspiration and push me forward.
I have a collection of dragon figurines and those helped bring the dragons alive in Deity’s Soulmate. My sister, the artist was able to take elements of different figurines to create Ri, the dragon on the cover. She was able to see the scales of artmanship and bring Ri to life.
Also, sometimes inspiration comes from just holding a regular notebook with a pen. When I was waiting for my sister to try on clothing at a store, I sat on a chair and tapped my pen on my notebook surfacing an idea for my current work in progress – Into the Flames.
A sheltered schoolchild in a realm of condescending gods and goddesses, Gardenia goes to Earth on a dare to witness the unsavory side of mankind for herself. Believing she can do better, she undertakes the formation of an entire galaxy, but without permission from Zeus.
Zeus disciplines her by assigning an epic 13-fold creational lesson destined to take her a century to complete. But he is taken aback once more when she makes an odd choice. She vows to fulfill this knowledge quest by tracking down a lost race of dragons, and discovering the secrets they’ve kept since time began.
Searching the universe to meet even one dragon may be a fool’s errand, but that’s the least of her worries. For ancient wartime resentments linger between the nations of dragons and deities, and some dragons would attack Gardenia on sight!
Yet she ventures out undaunted, learning unexpected things about nomadic life, tender love, and mortal peril along the way. The biggest surprise of all, though, goes by the name of Ri. Ri may be the man of her dreams, the voice in her head, the dragon she’s seeking, or all these things and more…
Meanwhile, the Fates brew sordid plans of their own and Hera jealously sets traps and trials for Gardenia at every chance. What’s a young goddess to do? Flight or fight?
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Hart St. Martin takes us back to the lands of Garla and Thristas in Protector of Thristas, a novel that takes place fifteen years after the tumultuous One Day War. Rinli is the daughter of Korin and Lisen, and due to a prophecy created at her birth, she’s destined to be the Protector of the desert land of Thristas. While trying to guide Rinli on her path to becoming Protector, Lisen is faced with something far more challenging than ever before: she must do everything in her power to gain her teenage daughter’s long-lost sense of trust.
After becoming so invested in the Lisen of Solsta trilogy, I was thrilled to grab a copy of Protector of Thristas. There’s nothing I enjoy more than watching a fantasy world evolve over generations. Lisen and Korin have three children – Rinli, Nasera, and Insenlo – but Rinli is the only one who has a prophecy that she must fulfill.
Through highly emotional moments in the novel, the story definitely emulates how exhausting it is for the whole family when they are all separated. The story jumps between Avaret (the city where Lisen rules as Empir of Garla) and Thristas, where Rinli is required to stay for periods of time. The two lands have a very tense relationship, which forced Lisen to designate Rinli as the Protector of Thristas in an attempt to resolve these issues. As a result, Rinli and Korin must travel between the two lands several times a year.
As a sucker for romantic subplots, I loved seeing how fifteen years of marriage has impacted Korin and Lisen – due to the constant traveling on Korin’s end, they’ve grown even closer than they were in the first trilogy. Their bond even causes Korin to develop psychic-like powers, where he can sense when something bad is happening to Lisen or Rinli.
One of my favorite things about this novel is how Rinli has Lisen’s stubbornness and Korin’s perceptiveness, and her development throughout the novel kept the story captivating and fun. Something that separates her from her mother is that Rinli has an affinity for the desert land of Thristas, and her loyalty to Thristas is compounded by her close relationship with Madlen, her most trusted companion. She is especially resistant to the idea that she has her mother’s magic abilities, and this gets her into trouble at a few points in the novel.
Themes of forgiveness and trust pop up throughout the novel, highlighting the tense mother-daughter relationship between Lisen and Rinli. Hart weaves this tension throughout the entire plot, bringing the reader closer to these characters. Lisen can’t forgive herself for sentencing Rinli to her fate as the Protector of Thristas, while Rinli struggles to trust her mother. When Rinli discovers she may need her mother’s wisdom in order to understand her responsibility as a Protector, the two begin to develop a relationship.
Protector of Thristas is an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least, and it’s a breath of fresh air in a sea full of action-forward fantasy novels. As entrenched in fantasy as it is, this novel does a beautiful job of capturing raw human emotions of happiness, anger, sadness, anxiety, and fear, especially when dealing with challenging mother-daughter relationships and the connections between a parent and a child. The cliffhanger ending left me feeling some of those emotions myself, and I can’t wait to see if Hart will continue sharing more adventures from this world.
Pages: 452 | ASIN: B01E7NYLRI
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I’m With You is a gripping novel that follows young Remiel as she tries to evade assassins sent by her father to avenge the death of his wife. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
Remiel is the backbone of the story – I had the idea for her character first, and the plot evolved from there. I’m With You is a very character-driven story in general, so once I established the basic plot, my ideas shifted around to fit the characters. I shaped their personalities and relationships, then molded the remainder of the plot to connect them and aid their development.
The book starts in the industrial city of Kelvar. I found this backdrop to be detailed and interesting. What did you use as a starting point to create such a vivid backdrop to the story?
I did a summer semester abroad in England during my college years and spent a lot of time in London, but I also traveled to several other cities and towns, and I drew a lot of inspiration from the places I visited. During my time there, I got to study history, architecture, writing, and various other subjects, which influenced the initial framework for Kelvar and the nation of Empirya. I also aimed for a less “modern” time period and took additional inspiration from 1930’s/40’s America. For Kelvar specifically, I drew from particular parts of both London and New York City.
The relationship between Remiel and her brother Ciarán is intriguing. What themes did you want to capture when creating these characters and their relationship?
One of the main messages I hoped to convey through the story is the impact and significance of family, which is partly expressed through the sibling bond between Ciarán and Remiel. Even when their lives are flipped completely upside down, they can always rely on one another. I also utilized their relationship to illustrate the theme of acceptance, as Ciarán accepts Remiel for who she is despite her “gift,” and that encourages him to accept others as well. In a way, I view their bond as the heart of the narrative, which serves to fortify their connections to the other characters.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on a YA fantasy novel that will (hopefully) become a series, and I hope to put it out soon! I also have ideas for a potential companion novel to I’m With You – like a collection of short stories or something similar – but nothing set in stone.
When fifteen-year-old Ciarán Morrigan eavesdrops on a conversation between his father and two mysterious strangers, his life–and the life of his little sister, Remiel–is changed forever. After their father makes a startling decision, the Morrigan siblings are forced to flee the only life they’ve ever known and embark on a dangerous adventure across the nation of Empirya. With the help of a disinherited vagabond, a cynical violinist, a fire-juggler with a fierce temper, an aspiring mechanic, and a cheerful librarian, Ciarán and Remiel must fight to escape those who have been hired to hunt them. But will Remiel’s dark secret prevent the Morrigan children from finding a place they can truly call home?
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The False Prophet, by Harry James Fox, is set in a post-apocalyptic America where a plague wiped out a large majority of its inhabitants. The remaining populace, left angry and bitter, instigated wars and caused even more deaths while seeking retribution from various groups of people. With all remnants of modern civilization long gone, their society was essentially thrown back into the dark ages. At the opening of the book, the son of a mysterious prophet named Hiram Abaddon now seeks to continue his father’s legacy of dominion over any that do not support him.
The book has Biblical references with the main opposition to Abbadon (the False Prophet) consisting of Christians. The story plays out like one would imagine the tribulation as discussed in the Bible, with Abbadon seemingly synonymous with the Antichrist. One man, Donald of Fisher, along with a group of comrades, sets off to gain support in the fight against The False Prophet. The book is definitely picks up speed as the story progresses; the first half is slow to build and relatively uneventful but does well to setup the rest of the story. In this way it reminds me of Game of Thrones, in that it was a lot of information upfront, but once you were caught up, you were hooked. When news reaches Prophet City that there is an uprising, the story line really picks up and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Right from his introduction in the story, The False Prophet’s character is intriguing and easy to hate. Which is a perfect setup and a stark contrast to Donald of Fisher. The fact that the False Prophet is easy to dislike and connect with as an enemy really helped to keep my interest piqued. Although I felt like Donald’s character could of used more depth, it could easily be that I wanted this depth because his character was also so intriguing and begged to be explored.
Personally, I love the Biblical undertones of the story and the fact that a lot of the chapters open with a Bible verse helped to give insight into the chapter’s direction. I also like that the Biblical alignment is less obvious than in some other books that have attempted to use a similar setting or premise. Because of how it is done, I think this book will be more appealing to the general public than to a very specific niche. Overall, I find The False Prophet to be a fascinating and entertaining story. I can’t wait for the next one!
Pages: 368 | ASIN: B01N6PZUU0
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The Battle of Barkow tells the tale of dark vs light, good vs evil, in a world where magic is not all bad and religion is not all good. What was the inspiration for the setup to this novel and how did that develop as you wrote?
I wanted to give readers a story that not only takes them on a journey through the eyes of Bolan, Hogarth and Sterre and the choices they make but also a story that provokes thought about life, the things we believe in, don’t believe in and how we deal with those things. I think we all have conflicts within us, we do things that others have done before us simply because of that very reason. My message is that perhaps things are slightly different if we stop to think about them from a neutral position.
I of course also wanted a story that anyone can read and enjoy. You don’t have to ponder the meanings or questions hidden within the story, you can simply read it as a (hopefully) exciting and interesting journey of discovery for the main characters.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
If I had to pick a favourite character I would have to say it would be Bolan. A thoughtful and intelligent man yet one burdened with deep inner conflict. Unable to really grasp his purpose in life, he struggles with belief yet chooses a vocation that is based entirely on belief. His journey is one that answers some of his questions, brings him to a crossroads and forces him to confront those inner conflicts.
I noticed lots of subtle comparisons between good and evil in this story. What themes did you feel helped guide the stories development?
There is a theme of ‘good v evil’ running through the story. However are the good really all that good and are the bad really all that bad? Is there good and bad within us all? I will leave that up to the reader to decide.
I have a problem with a well written stories, in that I always want there to be another book to keep the story going. Is there a second book planned?
Yes, I do intend to take this story further. To explore the characters even more and to challenge their beliefs in a sequel. This is something I am working on as we speak. I also believe there is a good story to be told for a ‘prequel’ to The Battle of Barkow….the story of how it all began.
“A priest and a wannabe wizard embark on a journey to deliver books to nearby villages, meet new people and see how others live their lives. What they will discover on their journey however is far more than they could ever have anticipated. They will meet mysterious people, dangerous lurkers, battle hardened warriors and of course a beautiful woman or two!
The Battle of Barkow will take you on a breathless journey down winding roads, lush forests, across waters, through vast fields and towering mountains. All in the name of saving a city from a great evil.
Join Bolan and Hogarth as they take their horse and cart on a journey that will not only put them in harm’s way, but will challenge the very core of their existence.”
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The Reaper opens with the revelation that the King of Akala is missing, and the new Queen, Leah, is now in power. She meets with President Inaeus Janu of Shaweh to offer a peace treaty that brings their long war to an end. Janu suspects the Queen is a figurehead and focuses on the mysterious Lialthas who seems to have an undue influence over the Queen.
In the meantime, refugees from Akala reach the city-state of Shaweh seeking asylum. The group includes the missing King Darius, his half-sister Moriene with the child Hannah in tow, General Victor Ikharson, and Sefas, once called Meddiah when he was an Empty One. They are shadowed by the black-clad Zacharias who used his magic to help them escape from Lialthas. When the Akalan’s gestures of peace turn out to be empty promises, President Janu and the Akalan refugees are whisked to a secure location as war resumes.
This is the second book in the Fallen Conviction series, and it wasn’t hard to catch up when the asylum-seekers told their story to Janu. This gave me the chance to get up to speed on the plot if you haven’t read the first book.
The interplay between Darius’ group of refugees and the leadership of Shaweh are the primary drivers of the plot. Character-driven stories are a big draw for me, and the author has a knack for showing the complex, often antagonistic relationships between all of these strong-willed characters. My favorite characters in this book were Moriene and Sefas, who were once under Lialthas’ control. Both escaped his grasp and recovered from being “Empty,” yet both still seem to be fighting the battles of the past.
I also enjoyed the high-tension setting. Being locked in a bunker with people you don’t like but are forced to trust is hard enough, but if that trust is tested, things are going to get violent. The situation erodes when Zacharias reveals that there’s something even worse that Lialthas out there, and they may not be able to stop it.
The first thing that struck me about The Reaper was the unusual formatting. At first, I thought it was a typesetting error, but it became clear that the line numbering was meant to give it a scriptural feel. Some of these passages have archaic sentence structure with rhyming words at the end of sentences, but it’s not always consistent and that can be frustrating for those expecting poetic meter. However, the nod to scripture isn’t surprising because gods and religion play a major part in this story.
Don’t assume that because this is written in poetic language that it won’t be exciting. This is a place where magic and technology that we would recognize today are both present, where battles are fought with WMD strikes as well as mind-bending magical attacks. War is gruesome, and the author doesn’t pull his punches when it comes to violence and mayhem. In this world, magic is fueled by blood, fear, and suffering, so whoever wields this power must harm others in order to succeed.
If you’re looking for a novel that offers both a unique style and a reading experience that challenges and defies “the usual” in fantasy, give this book a try.
Pages: 340 | ASIN: B06XRS3SFD
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