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For The Readers To Decide

Joshua Landeros Author Interview


In The Phantom a rebellion is revealed and the destinies of individuals will intersect when dreams and desperation collide. What was the one thing that motivated you the most to write this book?

That is a great question. For me, the driving force behind the book was the notion of empire and the cost it brings. As an avid history reader, I found myself drawn to battles and political inquisitions from both the recent and distant past. Moreover, I wanted to focus on a different type of war. The Harmonious Union, technically speaking, is not your traditional behemoth of an empire like say Rome, Britain, or Spain. It functions more like the United Nations with the Nameless Continent serving as a foundation for a brotherhood between the nations. In turn, the Expeditionary League functions as a multinational peace-keeping force. I drew inspiration from the modern day status of NATO which serves as a tight coalition between what many would see as the western powers. NATO originally served as a deterrent against the Soviet Union, a rival superpower during the Cold War. Even with its main adversary gone, however, NATO has not been dissolved. To the contrary, NATO has carried out offensive operations in the former Yugoslavia, several nations of the Middle East, and even took a crack at Africa during the Libya campaign. Many would argue these bombing campaigns were the only alternative to deal with tyrants and tottering nations, but there’s no doubt that the price of such campaigns has been extensive for stability and civilian life. 

That was the duality I wanted to show with the Expeditionary League and their foes. Pantheon:The Phantom‘s central theme is that no adversarial nation appears in a vacuum. All actions have a historical precedent and an origin point, even if one doesn’t agree with the policies and aftermath of a rogue state, a band of terrorists, or the now lesser used term radicals. The Pact of Ram can be seen as any number of these historical groups. That to me would be for the readers to decide. Are they freedom fighters, or dangerous insurrectionists and anarchists? 

There is a lot of fantastic action in this book. Was that intentional or incidental to the story you wanted to tell?

It actually developed naturally for me. I sat down and first decided the geographic layout of each theater of combat. A promontory over a foggy ocean, a ship out at sea, a forest not far from a beach, all of these things took time for me to visualize. Then I wondered how the characters would use that environment. Unlike my previous science fiction works, magic was a factor so I also decided to make full use of that. I wanted to give each nation a unique use of their mages’ abilities, and for me it was a whole lot of fun that way. The Daijo bend water, ice, and fog to their will while Yunians rely more on alchemy and even music itself. The lone Ilean soldier portrayed uses a much more aggressive style than all the rest and walks a fine line between black magic and what’s legally sanctioned. I hope to explore more of these characters in the future. 

Do you define your character’s motivations before writing or are they revealed to you as you write?

As a writer, I am admittedly slower because I like to build thorough skeletons of my chapters and characters. Thanks to the power of Google Docs, I can line up my chapters from start to finish and examine if the order is logical or substance is needed. Even so, I also discover much about the characters as I write. This process of “putting meat on the bones” leads to development of character personality quirks, underlying motivations,  and sometimes even backstory reveals. A soldier is never just a soldier any more than a king is just a king. I try to keep that in mind when I write.

What can readers expect in book three in the Pantheon – Genesis Arc?

Oh boy! This is a book I can wait for readers to experience! I actually wanted to release it in 2022, but a slew of ideas and expanded storylines led to me pushing it back. The next book will be released in August of 2023 and will be called Pantheon: The Contact. As I’ve spent more and more time in the world of the Pantheon series, I’ve found myself developing the history of the world, its culture, and of course its dark secrets. Many of these dark secrets will come to light in the third book.In a similar vein to the Malazan Book of the Fallen Series, each book will now focus on a different set of characters though many characters will crossover between stories of course. Pantheon volume 1 introduced primarily Atty Sowell and Yaphet Orinse while the Phantom focused on Atty, her father Palkan Sowell, and the Pact of Ram warriors. Pantheon: The Contact will follow Yaphet as he discovers a massive conspiracy that has rotted the integrity of the Sebelian south. Hot on the trail of these dark secrets is the huntress Dahan who will discover her own sordid history. All the while, Palkan Sowell continues his hunt for the Pact of Ram. What he discovers, however, is no less than a monstrosity that threatens to consume the entire world of Avah. An ancient terror will emerge from the shadows and drag the nations into chaos. An ancient terror for centuries known only as The Wanderer. This is a character who has briefly appeared in the first two books but also in the Law of Might trilogy. The Wanderer’s backstory will be explored in the Law of Sacrilege books.

There’s much more to come in the Pantheon Universe!

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What were once mere whispers are now a looming threat. The signs of a large-scale rebellion have revealed themselves across the world known as Avah. The source of the sickness is a group made up of members from across the continents. They call themselves the Pact of Ram. With the threat now out in the open, the people of Sebel have been recruited to squash the insurrection. Leading them into battle is Athaliah’s very own father, Palkan Sowell. A veteran of the Hollow Wars, the chieftain again sets out for the war path. The fate of his family and his village lies with his mission.
In the eastern sea, a bounty hunter prepares for another job. The pay is good and the gig seems easy enough. Yubira hails from the desert continent in the west and has seen much of the world. Wars and the grueling trials of the underworld are what she’s used to. With her partner by her side, nothing seems impossible. That is until the day she runs into an old acquaintance from her past. Their encounter will change her life forever.
The destinies of these individuals will soon intersect. Dreams and desperation will collide. Fans of adventure, fantasy, and horror will rejoice with the Pantheon series. The epic saga continues with Pantheon: The Phantom.

Pantheon: The Phantom

Pantheon: The Phantom is Joshua Landeros’s second book in the Pantheon series. It is a sweeping fantasy epic that manages to carry on the first book’s story while expanding its world and bringing in enjoyable new characters.

The book is set in Landeros’s world of Avah and follows its people as they come to terms with the events of the first book and struggle to recover from the Hollow Wars. Just as people were hoping things were calming down, a new threat, the Pact of Ram has, arisen. As this new threat rises every allied nation is called to combat it. But who is really behind this new threat, and who can be trusted?

While this may be a conflict that spans nations, Landeros makes the wise choice of focusing his narrative on the everyday people dragged into it. The Phantom primarily focuses on Palkan Sowell, his daughter Athaliah and the rest of their people as they are pulled into a conflict they want nothing to do with.

The book features a diverse range of characters, and Landeros excels at fleshing them out. As in his earlier works, Landeros focuses on characters from all sides of the conflict, emphasizing their motivations, whether political, religious or purely self-preserving. While at first, the lines between good and evil seem clear cut, over time, it becomes increasingly clear that not everyone can be trusted, and even the heroes might have to get their hands dirty.

This is still a sweeping epic, however. When Landeros isn’t focusing on his individual characters, he is writing massive battles that often follow several different perspectives at once. While his writing is excellent across the board, Landeros’s writing is at its best when he is in the thick of battle. His battles are bloody, violent, and well-paced.

The pacing, in general, is excellent. Landeros deftly manages the balancing act of fleshing out the world he has created, forming deep characters, and keeping the pacing brisk. While his characters are enjoyable enough that I would have liked to spend more time with them, Landeros makes the wise choice to keep the plot moving ever onward.

The world-building is excellent here. Landeros has created his own world and filled it with different nations, races, and peoples, all with their own in-depth histories. Thankfully Landeros avoids too much exposition, and the reader gets to learn about his world in an organic way rather than being bogged down in lengthy explanations and exposition. If you’re a fan of fantasy epics, exciting battle scenes, or political intrigue, The Phantom is the book for you. While it might be a good idea to start with the first book if you want to follow everything, as a newbie Landeros made me feel welcome and I was never too lost. Highly recommended.

Pages: 313 | ASIN : B096L6QJT9

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A Violent And Often Unpredictable World

Joshua Landeros Author Interview

Pantheon follows a farm girl and an orphan boy whose fates are intertwined as they set out on separate adventures a continent apart. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My inspiration came from a few different places. A lot of my inspiration came from The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix, The Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura, and in large part the Monstress graphic novel series by Marjorie M. Liu. Garth Nix has a talent for deep dives with characters who live in worlds quite distinct from our own. Magic is both a source of power but also something toxic to the human body if handled incorrectly. Life and death share the same importance to the story which I wanted to impart in my series as well. 

Vinland Saga takes a youthful character and plunges him into a violent and often unpredictable world filled with schemers and the power hungry. There’s a great emphasis on the duality of men in the many chapters and that was something I definitely wanted to focus on in my story. Loss of innocence is there too and since my characters were going to be young, their teens and early twenties respectively, I wanted them to go through a similar journey.

Monstress does a stellar job at worldbuilding. Quite frankly I find it jaw dropping. The technology, the extensive history, even the multiple factions vying for power, it all comes together beautifully. That masterful level of storytelling was a goal of mine the entire time.

Athaliah and Yaphet both have life-altering experiences on this journey. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Going back to Vinland Saga, I wanted there to be an emphasis on the loss of innocence. In Atty’s case, she starts out as a close-minded hunter and farmer but slowly is drawn to the life of a soldier. Not only that, but she begins to see the world isn’t so black and white. Some of her naivete comes from being so young, but a lot of it also comes from her parents’ decision to hide the world from her. 

In Yaphet’s case, I wanted to have an Attack on Titan-style reveal of a conspiracy and a disastrous lie. Yaphet seeks acceptance and knowledge, but these very things lure him closer and closer to a very dark truth that threatens to shatter the world he knew. The truth is a hard thing to accept. For some it’s impossible, and that is the nature of Yaphet’s journey during the story. For Yaphet, his hardest trial will be self acceptance and forging his own path.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I tried to focus on a few different ones. Over time, I developed them and I hope to continue to do so in future Pantheon entries. For me one of the most important was discrimination. Discrimination is a heavy part of human history no matter what continent you’re on, and even in the modern era it’s still a touchy subject. I wanted to make sure this was an integral part of Pantheon whether it be the hate between the Jingsehi and the Sebelians or even the hatred that Yaphet and Atty experience from their own people. 

Just as important was the use of violence and fear to mold minds. Everyone has heard the theme of “people fear what they don’t understand.” In the world of Pantheon, not only is this still very much true, but in the unknown realms, there actually is great evil. The only thing is the characters often misinterpret where the danger truly stems from. Even though I’m building a fantasy world, I still wanted those connections to the world we all live in. As an avid history reader, there was a lot for me to draw on.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Great question! I actually have a lot going on. Recently I have been experimenting with Kindle Vella and releasing episodic stories. So far I have launched two, Law of Sacrilege and Pantheon: Genesis. Pantheon: Genesis is actually a continuation of Pantheon (Pantheon #1) and Pantheon: The Phantom (Pantheon #2). It mainly follows Yaphet’s storyline and later will be published as Pantheon: The Contact, the third book in the series. Law of Sacrilege season one will be the next book in the series and will be published as The Vision Prelude on December 7! This story is a prequel that takes place a hundred years before the events of Pantheon and actually explores the world of the Jingseh and beyond. Curious readers can get all the latest news on my website and social media!

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Athaliah Sowell is accustomed to the harsh winters and gentle springs of Sebel. She may be just a young farmhand, but a fire burns within her heart. Her father served in the infamous Hollow Wars, a war that bathed their fields in blood. All for the price of freedom. Even with the newfound peace, smoke is on the horizon. The delicate truce with the other nations teeters on the edge of collapse. As the eldest child of the Sowell family, Athaliah must now take up the mantle. Sebel is a land filled with beauty as well as monsters, but Athaliah has always wanted more. Beyond the shore, her destiny awaits. In the South of Sebel, Yaphet stands on the edge of his clan. By divine law, he was forbidden to learn their sacred rights, cast aside for his abnormalities. However, a sign of providence could prove to be his steppingstone. For as long as he can remember, he’s wanted access to the vast knowledge of the Mystic Order. Before that dream can be grasped, he must be tested. The sacred hunt awaits. Though they are at opposite ends of the continent, the fate of these two are inextricably intertwined. Fans of the adventure, fantasy, and horror will rejoice with Pantheon.

Pantheon

Pantheon is the first of a two-part novel by Joshua Landeros. It takes place in the world of Avah, which has known peace for a generation after the devastating Hollow Wars. However, when a chieftain of the Midland Plains on the continent of Sebel tracks down bandits who’d raided his village’s crops, he finds hints of a conspiracy and a heretical cult that are plotting to overturn the peaceful world order. The story is told through the eyes of the chieftain’s daughter Athalia as she travels around Sebel and through Yaphet Orinse, an orphan raised by the venerable Asum of Giganato Shrine, who has seen disturbing visions of war.

Among Pantheon’s highlights is Landeros’ impressive world-building. He gives us enough information about Avah and Sebel that it feels like a real place without overwhelming the reader with a deluge of unneeded history and geography. He’s especially good at letting the reader know that there’s more to the world than what we see – for instance, Yaphet is close to the Asum of Giganato but not a member of the inner circle of the shrine the Asum leads, meaning that he and the reader have an almost but not quite insiders’ view of this part of the story.

The plot moves at a moderate pace. Much of the novel is spent accompanying Athalia on her travels and Yaphet in his training. These chapters make the reader invested in these characters’ lives. Still, Landeros regularly gives us a glimpse of the larger story, so no chapter is wasted space, and the reader always feels like he’s progressing. Landeros’ prose is serviceable; there are no Shakespearean turns of phrase, but it’s never awkward or unclear, either, and he excels at describing the action. However, readers should be aware that the novel does end on a cliffhanger, so those wanting the complete story will need to continue to the second novel.

Pantheon is a captivating dark fantasy novel that immerses the reader into a new world without feeling overwhelmed. The exciting adventure that the two protagonists undertake will give readers a feeling of horror as they encounter strange and dangerous beasts, and at times there is a sense of the more significant danger brewing under the surface as the delicate balance of peace is being disrupted.

Pages: 268 | ASIN : B088SY6PF4

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Freedom is Curbed

Joshua Landeros Author Interview

Joshua Landeros Author Interview

Avenge the Silenced picks up where we left off after the deadly events of 2065 that changed the world. What were some driving ideals behind this story?

Firstly, I wanted to expose the inner workings and thought process of the Crimson Angels and UNR leadership and soldiers. These different perspectives, that of the politician, the soldier, the freedom fighter, and the civilian, help flesh out a world that isn’t always as simple as it appears. Secondly, I wanted to explore government responses to acts of terror. Sadly, in this day and age, there are very few countries that are untouched by terrorism. It’s that real-life fear that I wanted to be reflected within the world I’d created. Of course, it’s a double-edged sword: for every bit of technology and policy meant to prevent such acts, freedom is curbed. I hope readers walk away from AvS cautious of this.

Has your perception of the story changed since you went back and wrote the prequels?

Oh yes, definitely. For one thing, my perception of the story expanded. The first four books were concerned with the viewpoints of UNR citizens and rebels. Starting with the VOCA trilogy, we are slowly starting to get a global view of what’s at stake in the story. This reflects a personal view of mine that is shared by probably billions of others: we should strive to better our nations, but it should never be at the sake of other countries and their people. We should strive to see the viewpoint of others at all times.

What is one reaction that readers have to your books that surprises you?

The Reverence series is usually known for either fast-paced action and/or its alarming dystopian setting. There have been a few different responses, however. One reaction that always surprises me is how people zero in on religion in the story. I did not intend for either side to be outright saints or demons, but readers have often referred to characters such as Will and Halsey as saviors, even Messiah-like. The interpretation is interesting and there are a few parallels. I’m glad readers can get different things from the book series.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

First there was Reverence Itself. Then there was the EOK arc which was a direct follow up and brought Will and Venloran’s storyline to a close. Then there was the VOCA arc, serving as a prequel for the entire series. AvS is the first entry in the Scourge of men arc, and next up is Reverence: Creeping Darkness. We will continue to follow characters such as Gabby Neeson, Captain Halsey, and Patrick Noels, while exploring many new characters as well. The scale, as readers will find out, has grown massively. What I’m most excited for is Vanzetti editions to the story. I enjoy writing villains, and he is one of my absolute favorites to write. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say this: Chancellor Venloran is DWARFED by Vanzetti. If Damien hopes to win against the forces of Europe and their allies, he may have to cross a line even Venloran dared not touch.

The next Reverence entry will be available around summer 2020. Long wait, I know, but fans won’t have to wait too long. I’m also working on my first urban fantasy novel. I’m aiming for a December 2019 or January 2020 release date for that one.

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Avenge the Silenced (Reverence Book 8) by [Landeros, Joshua]

Last we left off, October 23, 2065 went down in history as a night of bloodshed. The International Summit was rocked by an attack led by William Marconi. After hours of brutal fighting, the smoke cleared and revealed heavy losses on both sides. Even though both sides are wounded, neither will back down. Damien, the son of Will Marconi, must rally the surviving UNR Cabinet to lead the country and carry out justice. Under their tutelage are the nation’s deadliest cyborg warriors, among them Pamela King and Ptolemy Jethro, but who shall command them?

Meanwhile, Gabriella must pick up the pieces of their attack on the International Summit. The Crimson Angels should be rejoicing, but instead they are near broken. On top of that, their allies are weary of their every move. With enemies seemingly on all sides, she’s no longer sure who to trust.

Watching from atop his tower, Secretary General Vanzetti revels in the upheaval. There is money to be made and graveyards to fill, and the man will see his own vision to the end. Unlike all the others, however, he is determined to do so with a smile. The story continues with Avenge the Silenced.

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Avenge the Silenced

Avenge the Silenced (Reverence Book 8) by [Landeros, Joshua]

It has been a full trilogy of books, since we have come back to the main timeline of Joshua Landeros’ Reverence series. Having established an entire prequel series to flesh out his world, Landeros has come back to deal with the fallout and what is left of the UNR. Both sides have taken huge losses, but neither will retreat. And it will be up to the last Marconi, Damien, to rally the surviving UNR Cabinet to lead the country into this brave new future. Meanwhile, the Crimson Angels are in a difficult place, despite their successful strike on the International Summit. Gabriella will have to pick up these pieces and decide who she trusts more. All of this coming to a head to see who will end up in a grave or standing astride it, in this new installment of an epic military science fiction saga.

It is refreshing to be back in uncharted waters, having spent so long in the past, and Landeros ensures readers hit the ground running and wondering where all of our heroes of the past have landed after the last battle. The tension ramps up with little effort and with trademark pacing. The story unfolds with our cast of characters struggling against one another as they seek to either win the upper hand or to make sure they enforce justice.

Landeros’ prose continues to improve with each installment and his stories are becoming more and more complex, rather than a simple military sci-fi thriller they initial books were when the series began years ago. It is a pleasure to see how an author has not only grown, but developed his own flavor in the genre as well. This is another solid entry in the ongoing series and it shows little sign of slowing or stopping anytime soon!

Fans of military fiction or military science fiction should already have Avenge the Silenced on pre-order. Readers, who enjoy gritty action among thought provoking themes would also find themselves quite intrigued with this book.

Pages: 366 | ASIN:B07NNV7GKB

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Just a Lost Soul?

Joshua Landeros Author Interview

Joshua Landeros Author Interview

Voice of a Crimson Angel Part III brings an end to the expansion and Chancellor Venloran has won. What were some stories that were important for you to wrap up in this book?

Most important was the story of the Marconi women and Valerie Iglesias. I wanted readers to see the horrifying reality and choices Julissa and Zaneta dealt with, and I’m hoping there’s a diverse reaction to the end result. Will readers see Julissa a s a hero, a radical, a terrorist, or just a lost soul? As for Valerie, I just wanted to expand on her background. I wanted readers to feel the tragedy behind her character: a simple bookworm who wanted to have a family someday, and yet she was turned into a monster for Venloran’s own ends. These women are products of the society they live in, and I hope that was communicated through their stories.

In this book, did Julissa’s character mostly writer itself, because she’s already well defined, or did you want to take her to new places?

A little bit of both oddly. By the third part of the arc, her character is well-established, very true. Still, I wanted her to have one last adventure, or more specifically one last chance. There are many themes in the book, but one of the central points is Julissa’s final few choices. She is faced with the ultimatum many times in VOCA Part III: escalate the violence of the war or take a step back. That’s why I added several scenes with her and David Armano. Julissa’s anger and pride are both weapons against herself and her enemies. One of my favorite scenes in the book will forever be the horse-riding scene between the Marconi mother and daughter. Though this may be their end, I believe readers will appreciate the journey Marconi experiences.

I found this book to be thrilling and savage. Was this a fun book for you to write?

The VOCA trilogy was fun as all hell to write. Writing books is fun for me in general, but some are more stressful than others to write. EOK Part III: Ballad of Demise was one of the most difficult to write, namely because the enormous changes to the story I added in after the outline phase. VOCA Part III: Remembrance was fun because the vision pretty much stayed true to my original outline. Not only that, but I finally got to explore some of the more obscure moments in the history of the UNR. Basically, fleshing out the lore beyond references and actually showing it. Reverence and EOK had battles within forests and buildings, and now in the VOCA trilogy whole cities are now theaters of combat. This was the vision I had for the book, at times claustrophobic, and other times epic.

What are you currently writing and when will it be available?

I try to stay busy, and I’d like to think I’ve outdone myself. Not to brag, because it took many sleepless nights, pots of coffee, and early morning runs to get it all done. Well, close to being done, because I’m still not quite there yet. First things first, on May 31st Avenge the Silenced will be released. It is currently in the editing phase and will be available for a preorder by April 1st. Beyond that, the next chapter in the saga is being written, codename Scourge of Men. It will explore many new characters while also expanding on many formally obscure characters. Perhaps most important of all, Scourge of Men will explore Secretary General Vanzetti and his own empire, the Allied European Federation.

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Voice of a Crimson Angel Part III: Remembrance (Reverence Book 7) by [Landeros, Joshua]The Expansion is over. Chancellor Venloran has won. Julissa Marconi, however, is not done fighting just yet. If she cannot claim victory, then she and the Crimson Angels will claim revenge. With Mexico lost, the resistance decides to strike at the homeland itself. Unable to turn back, Julissa and her fellow soldiers are now in for the fight of their life. In the final weeks of 2051, a new war will be fought that will test the limits of both sides. There will be no justice or mercy. This decisive battle will be decided by whoever gives into their full, unrestrained, savagery.

Prepare to read the heart-stopping final entry in the Voice of a Crimson Angel trilogy. Complete the tale that expands on the Reverence saga.

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Voice of a Crimson Angel Part III

Voice of a Crimson Angel Part III: Remembrance (Reverence Book 7) by [Landeros, Joshua]

Voice of the Crimson Angel is the final installment of the prequel series to the ongoing Reverence saga. Joshua Landeros returns with all the sound and fury of his sci-fi military thrillers, but we find our heroine, Julissa Marconi, on the defense having lost to Chancellor Venloran previously. The resistance is going to have to dig deep as they find themselves cornered, unable to retreat and unwilling to give in. It will be up to either side or who is willing to sacrifice their humanity in order to win.

Landeros has continued to thrill and amaze with this prequel series, especially with the expansion of his near-future world. His characters are desperate and heroic, even if they give into their more violent natures. The action is brutal and quick, the pacing crisp and fast. At times, I was thrilled I’d read more than I had originally aimed, because I didn’t even realize how quickly pages were flipped.

Julissa is a fun character and one that I am sorry to leave behind as this series comes to a close. Landeros does a good job of making everything balance on a knife’s edge with tension and also does not shy away from wrapping everything up so as to naturally lead into his Reverence series proper. The brutal efficiency of our cyborg soldiers alongside their quiet humanity is a fun dichotomy and one of the reasons why this series remains so fun to come back to.

The only things I won’t miss from this, is the telling of a story that is already somewhat understated in the previous books. And I won’t miss Chancellor Venloran as an antagonist. Landeros has the skill to do more and expand even further into his world, so we should be able to leave this prequel series behind and forge ever on into the future.

Fans of Landeros will not be disappointed and readers who enjoy military science fiction or even political thrillers should be able to feel right at home here. Buckle your seat belts for a thrilling last ride with Julissa Marconi.

Pages: 248 | ASIN: B07F5LPD1S

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