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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The Masked Queens Lament finds Althea still trying to expand her empire from the shadows but is forced to come out of hiding to ensure victory. What did you want to accomplish in this last novel that was different from the first two books in the trilogy?
Beyond wrapping up every plotline I had hatched in a manner that I felt the characters deserved, I had a few other things to address. One was to sufficiently show how awful war is even when necessary–a point I’m not sure I drove home thoroughly enough in the previous book of the series. Another was to show human stories from every part of the world that I wanted to focus on, because Alathea’s empire is definitely not a realm of pure evil, and she’s not leading some horde of orcs or goblins. Nor was I going to allow Derek and Chandra to be completely responsible for saving everyone when some people have the opportunity to choose, albeit not easily nor simply, to decide differently. I also enjoyed giving text time to characters who may have been barely used in the previous books or whose motivations had not been adequately explored.
The world building in this novel continues to be superb. What were some sources of inspiration that guided you as you continued to build the world throughout the trilogy?
I’ve done a bit of travel in my life, visiting some of Europe/the UK’s castles and memorably the church structures of Lalibela, Ethiopia, carved directly from the rock with minimal brick and repairs needed after centuries of wear and some seismic activity. I follow aesthetic blogs and also try to learn a bit about the cultures that inspired aesthetics and also first names. The rest is having the map drawn up and trying to define each place in the context of the geography I’ve already given it. I once also got some advice about the realities of having a mountain range rather close to a coastline, as it looks in the southwest of Kensrik. If you’d like to know what I mean, consider the geography of places like Chile or New Zealand. I was inspired to make this mountainous edge of the continent seismically active and mentioned “mountains which belch fire”, the possibility of it raining ash, and the potential sulfurous odor.
When a trilogy comes to an end many readers expect an epic showdown, and you deliver on this point masterfully. How did you envision the final chapters playing out and what changed while writing?
The main challenge was not what the final showdowns would be, because I set most of them up in the previous books and just needed to follow through. A key challenge for me was making sure the last conflict with Derek against enemy forces was not just a repeat of the end of the previous book. In the first draft, it basically was the same, in the shadows of the old Wancyek castle, but once more with feeling! During the second-last revision cycle of The Masked Queen’s Lament, the further I went along in the draft, the more completely I rewrote what was there. By the penultimate chapters I was barely looking at the source material because of how wildly the final draft needed to diverge. Keeping in mind, the whole trilogy was written in first draft before the first book in the series was even finalized. I also needed to propagate every change that needed to come as a result of that. It just had to feel coherent to me, and I’m glad the coherent result worked.
Now that the The Gift-Knight Trilogy is complete, do you intend to expand this world with more books, or are you working on something new?
I have four total prequel manuscripts that don’t focus on Derek or Chandra, or even mention them. I could go and start reworking these, or I could write something completely different. For now, I’m enjoying the lack of commitment that comes from not having already promised what comes next! I’ll decide eventually.
Derek, Master and defender of his people, rides with Chandra toward a friendly city in the aftermath of a victory. They will have no time to celebrate as Derek suddenly finds himself up against a foe he can’t kill with a sword. Having delivered her friend and ally to a healer, Chandra contends with more than just waiting in dread: she will be faced with a part of her personal history that she never knew and the promise of a place to belong after her exile from Kensrik. But can she trust it?
And they will have so little time to regroup. Alathea, masked ruler of an expanding empire, still hungers to recreate the world in her image. Dissatisfied with the delays and failures of her minions, she intends to personally oversee the final victory over her most hated foe, the “witch”, Crown Princess Chandra Kenderley.
Whether they battle enemies from without or within, an ensemble cast faces the fight of their lives on every part of the Continent and its inland sea. No one but Alathea has the full picture of what she’s set in motion, and whether they have any chance of stopping her, nothing will ever be the same.
Posted in Interviews
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The story of Nickerbacher takes you on a journey of mystical beings and starry-eyed dreams. It’s an adventure with a dragon and a prince and princess. Nickerbacher is a dragon destined for a life of working as a protector of princesses- a job that was proudly held by his father and his father before that. However, Nickerbacher dreams of something more and wants to perform on The Late Knight Show where he can show off his comedic value. With the help of a leprechaun, a prince and other magical beings, can Nickerbacher change the hearts and minds of all La La Land?
Nickerbacher, written by Terry John Barto, is a fun-loving children’s novel based on the story of a dragon and his friends. Nickerbacher dreams of being something more than a dragon protector of princesses and sets his sights on becoming a comedian. There is an underlying message that children will love as it promotes following your dreams even if other people may not believe that you can achieve them.
Throughout the story, the fantasy characters participate in modern-day activities, like taking selfies with mystical beings or trying to fit their feet into the prints of famous celebrities. This provides a modern twist to a classically styled fairy tale that combine beautifully in this incredible city. My favorite character is Miss Phoenix, a receptionist who rises from the ashes to greet the unlikely trio. She is dedicated to her work but has a heart of gold which sings true to the end.
Pictures are included throughout the novel which brings to life the extraordinary fun loving characters. My favorite image is one that includes ghosts and goblins at the Fairywood Forever Cemetery, royal chariots at LAX and the Medieval Tar Pits. The images are a mix of castles with high rise style buildings that replicate a similar style of what I would imagine LA would look like if it had been sprinkled with a touch of fairy dust. I love how the imagery complements the text and helps with engaging the reader in expanding their imagination.
This story will help children to learn the importance of friendship and believing in yourself. Nickerbacher also touches on issues such as family, societal expectations and breaking through the barriers of life in a fun and engaging story line. Children will relate to parts of the story and see parts of themselves in each of the magical beings. I love the relationship between Princess Gwendolyn and Nickerbacher and how they break the stereotypes of the typical dragon and Princess friendship.
I would recommend Nickerbacher to any school-aged children who wants to be lost in the magic of La La Land. This book would be perfect as a bedtime story to be read aloud as Terry John’s Barto’s wonderful way with words will delight all children and adults alike.
Pages: 34 | ASIN: B00SKKX2AW
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