The Rebellious Earthling: Tale of The Turquoise Mirror by Andi Hayes completely caught me off guard. The title and opening pages led me to believe that the novel was going to be a run of the mill work of science fiction – creepy aliens, flat personalities, and clichés galore. But within a few chapters, I was completely hooked on Hayes’s story. I consider myself to be a pretty diverse reader, and I have read and reviewed a significant number of books, but this is the only one that had me staying up two hours past my bedtime to finish it. And, when I didn’t finish it that night, I was up in the morning reading it on the treadmill, suffering through the bounciness and struggles of reading while exercising, just to get to the end – I needed to know what happened!
Clearly, I think that The Rebellious Earthling is a five-star novel. Not only is it completely unique in its subject matter, story line, and characters, but it is also incredibly well-written and thoughtful. The Rebellious Earthling spans several distinct but related, and all equally fascinating, story lines. To give a high-level overview without revealing too much, it follows the demise of race of goblins who are corrupted by greed and lust after being overtaken by a new, cruel overlord. The other primary story line follows Ermina, the titular earthling, and her experiences in the depraved goblin world. Readers follow Ermina as she navigates this bizarre and debauched planet alongside Fairuzo, the handsome ruler of the goblins, whose dark history is hinted at throughout the pages. Hayes excels at managing the differing timelines yet tying them together seamlessly. Sometimes novels struggle in making different timelines understandable for readers, yet Hayes’ is skilled at making the current situation apparent yet not dumbed down.
I also enjoyed how Hayes tied together science fiction and romance, yet never in a tacky or lewd way. Though the lecherous and vile goblins as well as their overlords indulge in vile sexual acts, Hayes has a tactful way of describing these acts in a way that feels appropriately literary. As Hayes develops a romantic relationship between some key characters, I appreciated that the characters felt as if they truly got to know each other before progressing their relationship. The Rebellious Earthling is not a harlequin romance with pulsing clichés on every page, but there is a decent dose of enjoyable, indulgent amour. As a Game of Thrones fan, this felt slightly familiar – a little bit scandalous and addictive to read.
The 300 pages of The Rebellious Earthling fly by, as Hayes keeps the story action-packed yet never rushed. Hayes dedicates an appropriate level of detail to making all of the main and supporting characters three-dimensional and complex, and by the end I felt as if I knew these characters in an intimate way, and I pondered what I thought might happen in the conclusion as I drifted off to sleep. I could not get these characters out of my brain, in the best way possible! As I felt the pages winding down, I began rushing through the pages to get to the climax. And while Hayes left me hanging, I am hopeful that there will be more stories to come in the worlds of Ermina and Fairuzo.
Pages: 334 | ISBN: 0692132899
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In Breaking Worlds we learn about the divide between Lisen and Korin and we witness their daughter’s determination to change the world. What were some driving ideals behind the characters relationships?
Once Rinli died in Protector of Thristas, I knew what had to happen. The death of a child can either bring the parents closer together or rip them apart. I decided to go the latter route and see if I could help them heal eventually. It was difficult to write because I love these characters, but it was necessary to show how two people so closely bound in life and love could respond so diversely to such a tragedy. Now for Rinli, resurrection was not kind. She’s 16 at the time of her death and harbors strong resentment toward the mother who bartered her life for peace. I asked myself how does the psyche of a person who dies and then lives again survive such a painful ordeal? Jon Snow in Game of Thrones remembers nothing past his murder when he’s revived. Jesus Christ reawakened in his tomb a glorified being, but of course he had godhood going for him. But what does resurrection do to a 16-year-old child with deep emotional wounds? And it became clear to me that the rift between Rinli and her mother was only going to widen despite Lisen’s previous efforts to protect her. Sad and tragic as all this was for these three characters, challenging as the work was for me, it was fun to write. Am I wicked for saying that? I doubt any author would feel differently.
This book has clearly been crafted with care and is full of emotion. What were some themes that were important for you to continue in this book, and what were some new ones you wanted to introduce?
The continuing theme of the consequences of decisions remained paramount in my storytelling. I find tales of redemption the most interesting of all, and there can be no redemption if there is no sin. I love breaking characters into pieces and watching how they reassemble themselves and the relationships they’ve broken in the process. In Breaking Worlds, I wanted to explore what it means to be the helpmate to a person with the potential for greatness. I delved into the parallels between Korin and Madlen in their roles as lovers/supporters for their beloveds, and Madlen’s unquestioning (or barely questioning) devotion to Rinli fascinated me. And beyond all of that were the variations of grief and the effect grief has on us as people. I found it both harder and easier to dig into the pain of grief as I wrote because I had just lost my best friend to cancer. Harder for the immediacy of what I’d just been through, but easier because it was so fresh. What it comes down to is what I say on my Facebook page. “I love combining characters with conflict and crisis and then watching as they suffer the consequences of their choices.”
This is the fifth book in the Lisen of Solsta series. Has the series grown beyond what you had originally imagined or are you still following a clearly defined path?
Well, the series has certainly grown. I never expected to write past Blooded, book 3 in the series. But as I’ve noted before, I grew curious about what would happen when “the bill came due.” In other words, what would happen when Lisen had to hand Rinli over to the Thristans in the desert as their “Mantar’s Child”? Then another question emerged after I finished Protector of Thristas (book 4). What would a world broken by Mantar’s Child look like? That led quite neatly into Breaking Worlds.
What can readers expect in the finale of the Lisen of Solsta series, book 6 Pushing Madness?
Breaking Worlds and Pushing Madness were written together. I didn’t know if I had enough material for two separate books, so I kept pushing forward with certain criteria set up for what length would be too much for one book and where I would split the book into two if that became necessary. In terms of the story, my intent is to clear the table, to answer all the questions–in short, to tie up all the lose threads and hopefully leave the reader satisfied while allowing the ending to be a bit messy. I’m not a fan of endings that are too neat. I prefer to be left, as a reader, with a few things to tidy up for myself, and that’s what I strive for in my endings.
Left with the blood of a tragedy on their hands, Lisen and Korin can no longer face one another. Korin heads east towards the desert, while Lisen remains in Avaret with two children in need of comfort Lisen cannot provide. Never has she felt so alone. As war threatens on the horizon, two deserted people must somehow find their way back to life, to each other. Will Lisen and Korin reunite in time? Will the truth of the dead and the living be revealed?
Return to Garla and Thristas where love may not conquer all, but it can serve as an ally in the fight. Where all that seems well doesn’t necessarily end well. Where loyalty can be bought with a nudge. Where all the magic in the world may still fail you. Where, with Garla and Thristas on the edge of destruction, Book V of Lisen of Solsta’s saga drives the story closer to the inevitable conclusion to Lisen’s story.
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The Infinity series follows star crossed lovers through the ages and combines fantasy and historical fiction to breathtaking effect. What served as your inspiration while writing this series?
Most authors will say that their books can be read in any order but they are lying through their teeth. You’ll pick up one book and read 75 spoilers for another. I really hate that. You’ll select a later book and be completely lost while reading as if you’re in a convoluted fog until you eventually give up. My goal with the Infinity series was to create a set of books that could truly stand alone. Every book takes place in an entirely different lifetime. Readers can choose the setting and plot that seems interesting and jump right in without having to work their way down a reading list. You can start the series where ever you want, read just one book or the whole set, and no story will ever spoil another.
Sarah is an amazing and strong character that continued to develop throughout the series. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?
The fantasy genre has a serious deficit of characters of color. Growing up, I was a huge Fear Street fan. I must have read at least forty of these young adult novels. I found one black character out of all the stories and she wasn’t even the main character. She was merely a side note featured in just one book. There were no black people in Middle Earth, no Hispanic archeologists raiding tombs like Indiana Jones, and there were no Asian teens living on Fear Street. I love a badass white man with a sword adventure as much as anyone else and I don’t mind reading my hundredth reluctant to marry white princess story. But there are no words to express how it feels to NEVER be able to read about a character who looks like you. This is especially important for children and young adults who are still unsure of themselves and not quite comfortable in their own skin. Authors should not be sending a message that white is the default setting (nor should we be sending the message that one body type is the default setting). I will never understand how the most imaginative of all the book genres could be so utterly closedminded in regard to the way characters look. Fantasy authors can envision elves, fairies, goblins, and orcs but characters of color are not in the realm of possibilities. I intend to change this with Sarah’s character and many others.
Although the settings changed in each book, you were still able to deliver some outstanding backdrops and characters. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this series?
The main theme I wanted to express was that love is never easy. While doing research for my Civil War era series I stumbled upon the most stunning love stories I’d ever read and they were all true life events. The one that touched me most was about a former slave man, who I’ll call Jim. His wife and children were still slaves, though he was working tirelessly to earn the money to free them. The plantation master had gotten behind on his taxes and the government was going to seize his property (including slaves) and auction off everything (and everyone) to cover his debts. Jim’s wife wrote him letters in regard to this pending catastrophe. It soon became clear that no matter how hard Jim worked he would never have enough money in time to free them all. He would never see his wife again, they would never see their children again because being sold often meant sold separately. Jim did the only thing he could to save his family. He met with a group of abolitionists and they planned a rescue mission. The mission was foiled by a snitch and Jim died. They found his body with love letters from his wife still in his pocket. His story was no exception. There were many like it. Why are these tragedies relevant? Because love like this is rare in our day and age. Absentee parents have to be forced to pay child support, forced to even visit their kids, while Jim sacrificed everything for his kids. Couples divorce for trivial and absurd reasons, while Jim died with his wife’s letters in his pocket during a battle to the death to save her. I wanted to write a series that reminds my generation that love is never easy but people used to fight for it anyway. Why can’t we?
What is a Medium Adult novel?
Medium Adult Literature is a term I use for books that are more mature and complex than Young Adult novels but not as daunting as a 400-page Adult story. My Medium Adult books are written for people who’ve outgrown Harry Potter and Goosebumps but aren’t ready to dive into Stephen King and Game of Thrones. The romances in my medium adult series are more passionate and involved than a teen book but not as smutty as an adult romance. Sexuality, bad language, and graphic descriptions of violence are dialed back in my medium adult books without making the plot childish and unrelatable. I keep these books short and fun, usually 150-200 pages, an adventure that a busy college student can squeeze into his/her schedule without having to read a children’s book.
With that said… I must warn that the Infinity books are the only ones I’ve written with such restraint. My full adult novels are raw and uncensored beware.
What is one thing you felt the fantasy genre was missing that you wanted to introduce in your series?
PASSION!! I’ve always loved fantasy stories. I am swept off my feet by all the chivalry, action, and supernatural mystique. But the romance in fantasy books leaves me disappointed at worst and underwhelmed at best. The lead characters either can’t stand one another or completely ignore one another for over half the book. When they finally acknowledge their feelings you spend the entire second half of the book waiting for them to act. After reading 400 pages and wasting a week of your life you are rewarded with one measly kiss on the very last page. In traditional fantasy, the action moves fast but the romance moves sloooooooow. My desires for passion, drama, and love led me to historical romance. This turned out to be a mistake. While historical romance books were chock full of passion, drama, and love, I found the plots predictable, unimaginative, and incredibly slow moving. To this day I have never finished a traditional romance novel. I wrote the Infinity series as a hybrid of fantasy and historical romance so readers can enjoy the best of both worlds.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Infinity: Transylvania will be the next installment in print. Matthew and Sarah, are plunged into a world of darkness. Immortal beings with an insatiable hunger for blood rule the night. As a ruthless foreign army threatens to conquer Transylvania, Matthew is forced to choose between watching his kingdom fall, or joining forces with the vampires…
I hope to have it written and submitted for review in December. I can’t give an exact release date because the review process can take weeks or even months but I aim to have Transylvania available for purchase mid-March of 2019. Every book I create endures a rigorous screening process. Only books that receive EXCELLENT reviews from at least three different companies are marked as fit for readers. Novels are judged on many elements, such as plot, characters, dialogue, scenery and accuracy of setting. The purpose of all this reviewing is to provide high-quality stories for an enjoyable reading experience. For a complete list of five-star ratings refer to the Banner of Excellence on each cover.
Literary Titan is always my first stop on the road to a great novel because of the phenomenal work they do. I have trusted them with all my books and it’s been an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
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Author of the epic fantasy series, The Gift-Knight Trilogy, Dylan Madeley brings to you the third and last in the series, The Masked Queen’s Lament. A brilliant novel that blends medieval times with on-going issues of the world we live in today.
A fantastical and medieval plotline combining elements of eccentricity, adventure, treason, power, knighthood and intrigue. The Masked Queen’s Lament continues Madeley’s narrative from books 1 and 2 (The Gift-Knight’s Quest and The Crown Princess’ Voyage) to conclude the dramatic twists and revelations conveyed throughout all three books.
The story is set in the medieval era where “Alathea enjoy[s] the feeling of all the thunder-men staring at her, not daring to blink, ready for her signal.” As a ruler of the land, the protagonist attempts to recreate a world in how she perceives it to be. However, all is not as simple as it seems. Alathea must reign in all of her troops in order to combat the wicked witch “Crown Princess Chandra Kenderley”. A real medieval plot line that allows the reader to envision concepts of reigning, power, control, and misjudgment.
Dylan Madeley does a fantastic job at writing fluently with regards to his characters. The characters are well described, and I was able to clearly envision what they would look and act like. The author clearly knows how to build his characters. Despite being the third book in the trilogy, Madeley still continues to keep the reader’s attention with these characters, reinforcing how their presence in the book is key to its success.
What I loved about this book is how the story follows the life of power and reigns. Think about this book like a Game of Thrones episode – packed full of terror, excitement, uncertainty, and conflict. As the story unfolds, the reader is made aware that the end result is going to be via battle, and who wins that battle is very much left in suspense until the very end. I won’t provide any spoilers for those of you longing to read this book, but what I can say is that the ending does not disappoint!
The only downside to the book is the flow. I found it slow at times, particularly in the first few chapters. However, the pace does pick up as the reader is subject to more action between the characters, and this is where it got more interesting for me. What makes for good reading is uncertainty, eccentricity, and uniqueness, and I believe the author of The Masked Queen’s Lament does this outstandingly. The grammar and punctuation is strong, and the narrative is creative and unique.
An emotive, fantastic, epic medieval storyline that is well-written and well-thought out by the author. Dylan Madeley has proven to be a great author, and this book is a great way to end The Gift-Knight Trilogy.
Pages: 476 | ASIN: B07DD18H76
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As they say, curiosity killed the cat. Rachel, Rob, and Trey, members of the trio band Trinity Beat have an interest in haunted stories and ghost sightings. One day after having visited their friend Woody – who was responsible for telling them the tale about the ship that came ashore in their town in Australia – they decided to check it out themselves. The next thing that happened, Trey was dead. Did Rob really kill him? Was it Rachel? Or was it something darker?
When Darkness Follows by Athena Daniels is a story about a group of friends sneaking into a haunted shipwreck only to disturb a dark force that will change their lives and relationships. I enjoyed how every time a mystery is about to get solved another problem comes up subtlety. Just like when they were about to solve the mystery of the dead captain, Rachel’s sister Elise reveals her own battle. Another one is when Rachel tended to Sally and suddenly something happens in Liam’s room – which reminded me of Game of Thrones’ Hall of Faces – and things just got worse.
I feel like there were good amount of time and development spent on each character, making each one feel unique and interesting. While that’s the case, I would of like more focus to be put on Pia, the psychic. She helped and was a big part of it but I didn’t get to know her character as well as the others. She felt like all business to me. Perhaps that was the intention, but she was an interesting character that I wanted to learn more about.
My favorite moments in the book are Rachel and Daniel’s. The thrill of him having to face somebody who left him hanging and hasn’t been returning his calls since then; of her facing the person she loves but couldn’t. Shouldn’t. The chemistry between them is so strong that often times during their exchanges and steamy sessions I forgot this was a paranormal book.
If you can imagine yourself reading paranormal with romance, steamy scenes and heartbreak then you got to grab When Darkness Follows. This is the 4th book of a series. For me, that makes it even better because while it is ideal to have read the previous three, it still felt like it was standalone. I didn’t feel like I was missing a backstory.
Pages: 304 | ASIN: B07BFKY4Q5
Tags: alibris, athena daniels, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, beyond the grave, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, crime, ebook, fantasy, fiction, game of thrones, goodreads, haunted, horror, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, love, murder, nook, novel, paranormal, publishing, read, reader, reading, romance, scary, shelfari, smashwords, spooky, story, supernatural, suspense, thriller, When Darkness Follows, writer, writer community, writing
The Nightbreaker is a short but welcome sojourn into the world of the Gods and Men Cycle series by Kristopher Jerome. Following a paladin by the name of Daniel, we first are introduced into the conflict between the gods of darkness and gods of light and the conflict that is played out on the Mortal plane. Daniel is part of a mission that goes awry, but learns of a terrible new champion of darkness, Rexin the Blasted. As the story unfolds, Daniel bands together with other brave souls who seek out and stop this terrible menace, otherwise the mortal plane will be swallowed by darkness.
The pacing of Jerome’s novella is spot on, although sword & sorcery novels are often quicker paced. The first battle of the story takes place only a few pages in and I was immediately taken in by the action and everything that Daniel saw as he fought bravely through the demons. The setting is not overly elaborate, especially with the clashing of light and dark. The simplicity of the premise will leave fans of stories like Game of Thrones and others wanting more. But in it’s brevity lie its virtues, The Nightbreaker is a great read for an afternoon of leisure.
The descriptions that Jerome uses is rich and quite cinematic and I enjoyed the writing the most when details were delved into. The main character of Daniel is fun to read about, but begs to be developed further with some character-defining internal dialogue. The narrative is much more “show” rather than “tell” which I happen to enjoy. The story is often punctuated with a bit of action, which saves the stories pace and kept my interest.
With all of this considered, The Nightbreaker is a great introduction to the world of mortals and Gods that Jerome has created. The struggle between paladins, demons, and seraphs is a supernatural backdrop to classic fantasy tropes. This novella will please any reader of classic fantasy or the supernatural, who also enjoys action, redemption, and the struggle between good and evil. At 78 pages, it’s well worth your time.
Pages: 78 | ASIN: B071HPDQXN
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In the year 2086, Earth is exhausted. The seas have been emptied, the bedrock and soil stripped of their resources, and the superheated atmosphere churns with terrible storms. Those who can afford to do so live in the limbo of virtual reality, and the billions who suffer in poverty have no work, no clean water, and no security from the chaos.
The only hope for those trapped on a dying Earth are the Changed—the seven bioengineered post-humans who work in their separate manufacturing facilities orbiting high above the planet. Raised from birth for their work and fully matured at ten years old, their genius provides the nanomaterials that have begun to cleanse Earth of the pollutants that have wiped out almost the entire ecosphere.
But for Olga Voronov, youngest of the Changed, the isolation and endless toil are not the greatest of her challenges. Down on Earth there are those who resent and fear her talents—and would prefer that humanity not be given the second chance that only she could make possible…
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Steel, Blood and Fire is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, military, and history as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I was, in part, inspired by Glenn Cook’s Black Company series, along with the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. So much so that I wanted to try my own hand at it.
I found Vykers to be a very well written and in depth character. What was your inspiration for his emotional turmoil through the story?
Here, I think I was most inspired by Odysseus, and his long journey home from Troy. Vykers has a lot of Odysseus’ arrogance — and deadly competence, as well.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
That’s a tough one! Of course Vykers is fun to write. But so is Rem, the actor. That character allowed me to poke fun at the acting profession and relive a few of my own foibles. Then there is Spirk, the idiot. I have a special place in my heart for characters who are not quite up-to-speed, for want of a better term. He also provides a lot of the story’s comic relief. Finally, Aoife was enjoyable for me, because she reminds me of my sisters and wife, to some degree. I really liked looking at the story through her Earth Mother’s eyes.
I understand that you’re also an actor and stand-up comedian. How have those experiences helped you write your stories?
I think those things definitely shape my voice as a writer, the way I hear dialogue, and indulge in opportunities to shameless nonsense. But being an actor has also given me a fair amount of experience wielding a long sword, which comes in handy when writing fight scenes.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
Actually, you have (kindly) review the first book in an existing four-book series. Steel, Blood & Fire is followed by As Flies to Wanton Boys, Corpse Cold, and, most recently, The Abject God. I am currently working on the series finale, The End of All Things, which I expect will to release in late 2018.
On the march, around the campfire, and in the taverns, they tell incredible stories about Tarmun Vykers, the Reaper – how he’s never been cut in battle, how he once defeated hundreds of men by himself, how he exterminated an entire people over an insult. These stories make Vykers seem like a god, but he is a man, an arrogant, ruthless and bloodthirsty man. For all that, he may be the only thing standing between the human race and utter annihilation at the hands of the mad wizard who calls himself the End-of-All-Things. Against this backdrop, smaller, lesser folks struggle to fulfill their own destinies, folks like Aoife, burdened with a secret so dark she is driven to do the unimaginable and seek an alliance with fey powers no mortal has ever encountered.
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H.A.L.F.: The Makers follows two groups of protagonists under the threat of an alien race. What direction did you want to take this novel that was different from the first book in the series?
The first book deals mainly with the idea that the aliens known as the Roswell Greys (those ubiquitous big-eyed, bulbous-headed aliens) are the alien threat. Book one brings the reader in with familiar imagery and ideas such as the Roswell crash, the Greys and government conspiracy reminiscent of the X-Files.
In The Makers (book two), my goal was to expand on the familiar alien mythology. I introduced my own alien species as well as my own ideas about the Roswell Greys. This expanded the story significantly. Books two (The Makers) and three (ORIGINS) are more epic in scope than in book one (The Deep Beneath).
The characters in this novel are once again intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Thank you for that compliment! 🙂 I enjoy writing all of the characters and especially had fun creating the sexual tension between Jack and Anna and also between Erika and Tex (though their tension really amps up in book three ;-).
But overall, I most enjoy writing in Tex’s perspective. Given that he’s only half-human, it’s fun spending time in his head! I like seeing our world through his eyes. Tex has strange, other-worldly experiences with the Regina and the Conexus in The Makers. Those scenes were creepy and fun to write! And his story grows and gets even better, I think, in book 3 (ORIGINS – releasing 8/24/17).
I thoroughly enjoyed the well crafted mystery and the detailed characters. What is your writing process like?
Thank you, again, for your kind words. My writing process is messy! When I first began writing fiction, I outlined extensively. I was an attorney for 20 years, so planning was in my nature!
But after writing two or three novels, I found that I no longer followed outlines I created. The more experience I get as a writer, the more I focus on character development in my pre-write planning. I write back story, flesh out motivation and details about the characters. For both The Makers (H.A.L.F. #2) and ORIGINS (H.A.L.F. #3), I did not outline the plot. I have a general idea—beginning point, middle point and end point. I focus, for each POV character, on what needs to happen for this character for the story to end.
For The Makers, because there are two separate plot lines, I wrote the Tex and Erika portions all at once, then the Jack and Anna portions, then the U’Vol chapters. I then had to thread them together. Phew!
Writing in this way takes quite a bit more time than following a detailed outline. I generally cut anywhere from 20,000-50,000 words and have to rewrite and revise for months. But I think that because I don’t pre-plan, the story has more surprises than if I planned it all out. When I’m in the flow, the story goes in unpredicted ways. I hope that readers enjoy the unpredictability and surprises in the plot.
What are some writers or books that you felt inspired you and this series?
I was inspired by George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. I know that may sound odd given that the H.A.L.F. series is young adult Sci-Fi—no dragons! But I read all five of the GoT series while writing book one (The Deep Beneath) and I was inspired to make the H.A.L.F. series into a more complex story. Most young adult books follow a single protagonist, often told in first person, and generally in a fairly linear fashion. I wanted to push the boundaries a bit and write a YA book with multiple storylines and point-of-view characters. This idea was in direction reaction to my love of G.R.R.M’s writing style.
I was also heavily inspired by Chris Carter’s work in the X-Files. I tried to emulate the creepy vibe of the X-Files as well as drawing out the mystery the way the X-Files did. You think the “bad guy” is one person, but it may turn out to be someone else—or something else—entirely. Readers of the H.A.L.F. series won’t know all of the answers to the many questions raised until the very end of the series! And I think they’ll be surprised by how it all turns out!
“The Makers” is the follow-up to Natalie Wright’s multiple award-winning debut science fiction novel “H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath.” “We’ve seen grey aliens on T.V. and in movies. We may think we know all about them. But what if everything we think we know is wrong?” Erika Holt dodged death and departed Earth in an alien ship. It wasn’t how she’d planned to spend her senior year. Is Erika on her way to paradise? Or to a hell worse than the underground lab she escaped? The greys rescued Tex from A.H.D.N.A. and promised him a life he could never have imagined. But what will he have to give up to become one with The Conexus? Jack Wilson is still Commander Sturgis’ prisoner, but a promise of freedom comes from an unlikely source. Will his liberation cost more than he’s willing to pay? Caught up in their personal battles and focused on our war with the grey aliens, will any of them realize the true threat that looms over us all before it’s too late?
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Dark, gritty, and altogether brutal, Steel, Blood and Fire is an archetypal dark fantasy novel. In the first chapter, one of the main character’s hands and feet are amputated, and the story continues in similar fashion from there onward. The setting is fantasy grounded in muddy reality, although there is a vein of consequential magic that adds a little sorcery to this otherwise swords-based world. If you’re familiar with Game of Thrones then you’re familiar with Allen Betchelder’s style; multiple character perspectives, inter-weaved story lines, and a healthy dose of murder. It’s a fantastic modern-style medieval fantasy, and a definite read for any fan of the genre.
When I began Steel, Blood and Fire, my first thought was, “Wow, this is a lot like Game of Thrones.” Then I began to think, “Or is it more of a Witcher book?” As I continued through the novel, I began to decide it was a blend of both. By the end, I thought that perhaps it was its own thing.
The book isn’t afraid to touch on the brutal. In fact, it seems to revel in it. Blood flows freely; rape is the buzzword of the day. It’s a mature novel for sure although it doesn’t quite cross the line, but regularly toes it. A lesser author would have toppled their novel over into prurient pulp.
The writing is well-executed, with the author’s own voice clearly shining through. There is one trap that Allen Betchelder tends to fall into, and that’s the ‘fear of said’. Every other sentence seems to find a new synonym – characters question, murmur, mutter, bellow, but words are never just ‘said’. It’s awkward to read, and tends to draw you out of conversations that should flow naturally.
In any perspective-hopping plot, characters are one of the most important factors. Fortunately, Steel, Blood and Fire features a strong and memorable, if slightly generic, cast. They come off as slightly one-dimensional, particularly towards the start of the novel, and the inclusion of a comedy group of village bumpkins – who of course meet with terrible fates – struck me as being an attempt at generating some frisson with the grim background. Other than those minor niggles, the diversity and depth of the cast begins to truly shine through around the midway point; from here onward they become much more than the sum of their parts.
Despite my above criticisms, I really did enjoy the story, and it quickly became engaging only a few pages in. If you’re a fan of the genre, particularly Game of Thrones-esque fantasy, you’ll certainly enjoy Betchelder’s offering.
Pages: 548 | ASIN: B00AW53RMQ
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