Ballad of Demise is the third and final installment of the End of Knighthood series by Joshua Landeros. Set in the far future, we continue following Will Marconi, the renegade cyborg super soldier, who is aiming to launch an assault the same night as the International Summit. Chancellor Venloran, emboldened by his victory against the resistance fighters, moves into the final phase of his scheme. The International Summit will draw leaders from all over the world to New York City, and he will be able to achieve peace through the dominance of his design. It is up to Will, Alex, Bri, Gabriella, and others to stop the Chancellor and his deadly minions.
Ballad of Demise is an explosive and satisfying conclusion to the End of Knighthood trilogy. Landeros has been getting better and better with every installment. Expanding the borders of military science fiction, Ballad of Demise incorporates elements of horror through war and the suspense of a thriller. All of this adds up to a book that does its best to defeat the conventions of the genre and archetypal narrative structure.
While confining this book to virtually 48 hours and flashbacks, one would think this is a bold move from a relatively new author, but Landeros manages to pull this off with skill. The pace is snappy and engrossing for the reader. The internal struggle of Will and even Venloran shape the tone and theme of the work, which keeps asking if the ends justify the means. Even for the proposed hero, Will finds himself questioning if everything is acceptable for him to have his vengeance.
If there are any issues in this book at all, it would be that Landeros tries hard to stretch out these two days. Some of the action seems forced, and in other places, the dialogue slows the pacing but never enough for the reader to notice for too long. These are minimal problems and ones that take nothing away from the story itself.
For a trilogy, this series sets a high mark for the rest of Landeros career. In other ways, readers will be sad to see this cast of characters go but maybe they will return in future stories? Either way, this book is memorable and a fantastic sound off for Will Marconi. One can hope that such a world does not arise in the future, but these books seem to be asking, what if?
Pages: 161 | ASIN: B076BW7YLJ
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Sudden and violent loss is the introduction to this story, a war veteran and his family fall victim to a tragic and yet seemingly deliberate attempt on their lives. Our main character survives, along with the family dog, but we quickly learn the fate of his wife and son was far more grisly. When local law enforcement fail to provide the answers he seeks, our war veteran takes matters into his own hands. Answers alone will not right this; we follow the recently widowed down the rabbit hole of his own thirst for revenge, strongly driven in his pursuit.
Death by the Jaguar piqued my interest right away, a personal fan of sailing and being on the water, and I definitely enjoyed how often it returned to that setting. Either James Ruby is experienced himself or did his research, as his attention to detail regarding many basic mechanics and proper names surrounding the handling of water craft was on point. His technical skill as a writer shined through once more in regards to setting the scene. Ruby paints a picture well, giving enough focus on the characters surroundings to immerse the reader without putting too much weight in to detail. One aspect that continuously distracted me was his over use of commas. The flow of the story remained choppy throughout, thoughts consistently broken up too much by the trip of a comma.
I feel Ruby did a solid job portraying the scattered and distracted mindset of the main character, writing his portions of the story from a first person point of view. Consistently being pulled into the memories of a war veteran while he doggedly pursues justice for his family shows a glimpse of what it is like living with PTSD. I was a little bit back and forth on how I felt overall about just how quickly he gained his thirst for revenge, with little to no mourning and not even attending the funeral. However, I still felt he wrote this broken character with fair knowledge of human psychology. One thing that caught my attention was that we never seem to catch the name of our main character. I could be wrong and just missed it, but I personally find myself relating to a character better when I at least know their name.
Another issue was the repetitive interactions of Sullivan, an arrogant Chief of the local law. It seemed that with every interaction there was so much focus on this characters need to assert his station of power, his need for it to be recognized. The story itself left me wanting; the entire tale is a build up of vengeful actions, but in many respects it lacks the expected action factor, making it somewhat difficult to stay interested.
I was impressed with James Ruby’s ability to set the scene and draw the reader in, as well as his attention to detail regarding areas that the common person wouldn’t be too educated in.
Pages: 291 | ASIN: B0755JWFNR
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Black Dragons Attack, the fourth installment in the Nick Grant Adventures series outdoes the high bar set by the previous adventures. This enthralling pre-World War II story features a superb cameo by American aviation hero Howard Hughes! Readers are transported to the nostalgic war era with the mind-blowing narrative by author Jamie Dodson. Nick Grant starts afresh as a Naval Aviation Cadet that leads to a chance encounter with Howard Hughes that changes the course of his life. Join Nick as he thwarts the Japanese plot to steal the famous Hughes H-1 racer along with his friends Nancy Tanaka and Leilani Porta for some edge of your seat entertainment.
Jamie Dodson has always delivered riveting story lines, perfect character development, amazing locales, and ultimately an exceptional climax – in short, each of Nick Grant’s adventures, be it Flying Boats & Spies, China Clipper, or Mission Shanghai or the latest offering Black Dragons Attack never fail to impress readers.
Set in 1936, Black Dragons Attack continues the Nick Grant saga as he believes his arch nemesis Toshio Miyazaki, is dead and starts afresh as a Cadet in the Naval Aviation Academy. It takes no less than a chance run in with the genius billionaire aviator and movie producer, Howard Hughes to lure Nick back into another deadly spy game.
The Black Dragons, working for the Japanese Intelligence Service, turn out to be secretly active and conspiring with a new partner, the Third Reich in California! As the Japanese hatch an elaborate plan to steal the Hughes H-1 racer to reverse engineer and build something even more advanced, US Naval Counterintelligence uncovers their activities. Nick is tasked with foiling the plans of the Japanese with the help of Nancy Tanaka and Leilani Porta.
As much as Nick impresses with his heroic show of patriotism and daredevilry, the Hughes H-1 steals the show with its sheer technological prowess and revolutionary functionalities that are years ahead of anything that existed in that era, precisely why the fascist regimes of Imperial Japanese and Nazis were so obsessed with it.
The setting of pre-world war II provides a poignant background wherein Jamie Dodson successfully manages to capture the mindset of people in a war torn country. Howard Hughes, albeit in a sort of guest appearance, manages to shine and awe the reader with his larger than life personality. The character sketches of Nancy, Leilani and Toshio are spot on and do justice to their role in the plot.
Overall, Black Dragons Attack, the fourth book in the Nick Grant adventure series is a pleasure to read.
Pages: 244 | ASIN: 1938667549
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Lockheed Elite is a genre-crossing novel with elements of science fiction, space opera, and adventure as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
That’s a very good question. The short of it is organically. To get the long bit I think we should dissect a bit what my tastes are in literature. I’m not a huge fan of hard science fiction or of technical science fiction. It only interests me if there is a good story there fueled by real and engaging characters getting into trouble. For example, if Andy Weir had written The Martian without a funny, snarky Mark Watney, I would have still “kind of” liked the book but I would not have LOVED IT and read it in one sitting. I love adventure stories with character(s) who struggle to an end. Right now, I’m re-reading, my childhood favorite Where the Red Fern Grows. For me, a story needs adventure with characters that are after something or it’s not all that exciting. I’m adventurous by nature it’s what my brain needs and does, apparently.
With Lockheed Elite, I wanted a space adventure. I wanted something that felt movie-like and I needed to have different character points of views so I could hide what others “off-camera” where up to. That’s what I thirsted for when I started writing Lockheed Elite so that’s what we got. A solid Sci-Fi Adventure with a bunch of twists and surprises. The space opera thing…I’m still trying to figure that one out. J
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Thank you, that feels so good to hear. Severn, is my answer. I like Wicked a lot too. He seemed to identify with the younger me and I drew on that a bit while writing him. But with Severn, I saw her character arc as soon as I introduced her in chapter one. I really wanted her character to develop well. For me, she was the key to this whole thing fitting together and I loved developing her role in the story.
Plus as a writer, I need to always be getting better at building characters that aren’t me. So with Severn, I worked hard at writing a woman. A strong woman. One that can help carry a storyline, if not carry it herself.
Severn is tough. She is strong. But she’s also caring and has a true desire to do good. I wanted her character to shine, not the fact that she can kick some serious ass. Her toughness is a tool of her trade so who she is and who she becomes inside the story must be paramount to that. So yeah, Severn is my favorite.
I do wish Jones would have played a bigger role, though. You can’t say enough about a solid, loyal friend, ya know?
The characters are caught between the authoritarian Galactic Command and the ruthless criminal underbelly of the galaxy. What was your inspiration for these two groups and their role in the story?
Honestly. We’ve seen the “Galactic Command (Military Law)” picture before and we’ve seen the evil villain too. When I started writing Lockheed Elite I thought long and hard about one and then the other…and then I got sick about it. I asked myself. “Am I really going to do a story with another one of these troupes?” The story needed one of these but I didn’t like the idea of it. I don’t want be a story factory doing the same thing. Then I figured out how to do it so it satisfied my need for complexity and opened doors for my desire for twists and turns in the story. The solution for me was to put them both in and pit them all against each other. I’ve made the troupes my own and made a beautifully complex storyline, I hope.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
Okay! You caught me. Only four questions in this interview so now I feel the overwhelming push to tell. I was asked this in another interview and I laughed and went on to the next question keeping it a nice little secret. It doesn’t appear I will be able to do that here.
So let’s have it then.
Last November I finished NaNoWriMo by writing 60,000 words of an outline for my next thing. 60,000 words in an outline IS A LOT OF STORY! So I think it’s going to be a three book thing. Right now, it’s titled The Rift in Saela (you can track the progress on my website). Like Lockheed Elite it’s a science fiction telling but it’s on a huge generation ship that feels like a city so you’re not so crammed in like we were on Elite One.
I will tell you there will be suspense and mystery and a good round of characters again. Think whodunit with a big ass what the hell is happening kind of surprises. At least that’s the goal right now.
Oh and also I started outlining a new installment of Lockheed Elite titled Lockheed Elite – Devil’s Run. The more people ask for a second Lockheed Elite, the more I’ll work on it.
I’m diggin’ both projects pretty heavily but something should be out in a year or so. I’ll be posting quarterly updates on my newsletter on how that’s working out. I’ll pick one of those soon and go full speed ahead on it so we’re not waiting forever for something new.
Unfortunately, Anders has hired an undercover military operative bent on using them as bait to draw out a mastermind who has been attacking the public with deadly mechs.
While on the scav op, things go from bad to worse as the crew of Elite One recover an abandoned woman aboard the claim. Now Anders must decide quickly—stay and fight or cut cables and run.
Either way, it’s too late. Someone has other plans for them. The trap has been set, they’ve rescued the woman and taken the bait, and before long Anders and what’s left of his dwindling crew must navigate with caution through the grips of the military and an especially vile outlaw.
But Anders doesn’t captain just another team flying the black. With a genius mechanic who uses his ragtag high-tech machine shop to aid them in getting in and out of trouble, they’ve earned a reputation as the best of the best. With Anders’s careful planning, this motley crew must band together and flip the military to use them on a monster heist and dig themselves out from the heat pressing in from both sides of the law.
Fly with them. They are clever, they are fierce, they are Lockheed Elite.
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Beyond the Horizon follows Ensign Maya Davis during humanity’s first interstellar exploration. When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?
Both / all of the above. Before I start writing a book, I always have a premise in mind. I usually have a good idea about how the novel will start and end. I pretty much know where I want to go because I have a high-level plan for the themes I want to explore in a given book series. However, even though I’m pretty clear on the beginning, end, and a handful of scenes in between, I don’t often know how I’m going to connect the dots until I’m in the act of writing.
For example, in Beyond the Horizon, I knew I wanted to use some clever aspects of time travel to drive and resolve some of the conflicts in the book. However, it actually wasn’t until the second or third draft that I came up with Maya’s clever realizations that help save the day. The rough draft of the story had a number of unresolved plot issues.
Maya gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore interstellar space while her aunt Brooke suffers with inner turmoil regarding her past. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
One of the fundamental tenants of my writing is to craft conflicts that pit morally-ambiguous agenda vs. morally-ambiguous agenda. I don’t write about good vs. evil because, in my opinion, that’s not representative of real life. Plus, good vs. evil is too black-and-white–too straightforward. Writing about the gray areas of life yield much more dynamic conflict.
One of the specific questions that underlies the theme of the books in the Beyond Saga is do the ends justify the means? It’s not a new dilemma, but it’s one that shall never have an easy answer.
The one thing that matters to Brooke as much as her career or flying is her niece, Maya. Thus, Brooke will stop at nothing to rescue her niece even though she has to take some morally questionable actions to accomplish that goal.
As for the Vril, the surreptitious terrorist organization manipulating things behind the scenes, they seek to ultimately save the human race. It’s not only a noble goal but a critical one. However, if the Vril intend to sacrifice another intelligent race to save mankind, is that taking things too far? Do humans deserve to survive any more than any other race? The catch phrase for the novel, “Extinction or genocide . . . us or them?” encapsulates this question.
In the face of all the moral ambiguity, Maya embodies the not-so ambiguous side of right. Shielded from the darker sides of society all her life by her Aunt Brooke, she believes in the good in people. She’s optimistic and excited about the future. The rest of the Beyond Saga is about her illusions being shattered. She has to find a balance between her optimism and doing what’s necessary when morally questionable acts are required for survival.
One thing I really enjoyed about this novel was the effort you put into describing the technological advancements. They were all interesting, ingenious, and well described. What was your favorite tech to write for and what was the inspiration?
There are quite a few pieces of fun yet plausible tech in the Beyond Saga. One of the reasons I write science fiction is because real possibilities for the real future are what get me excited.
For now, I’ll pick the wave gun. The handheld tool/weapon is definitely a next gen type of device. Powered by an antimatter battery, it’s capable of destabilizing/shattering matter at the molecular level, using sonic levitation to make things float, causing objects to spontaneously combust, and much more. The gun gets its namesake from how it uses different wave effects (sound waves, gravity waves, electromagnetic waves, etc.) to achieve its results.
The wave gun helps Maya out of some sticky situations in book 2, Beyond the Horizon. In book 3, Beyond Yesterday, the gun gains even greater significance because of what its capabilities could’ve been used for by aliens in Earth’s past.
Where does book three, Beyond Yesterday, in the Beyond Saga take readers?
Beyond Yesterday picks up ten years after the events of Beyond the Horizon. After Maya earns a promotion to captain, she takes command of the space-time vessel Yesterday and travels 200,000 years into the past to learn the origins of the piece of ancient human technology she found on an alien world (in book 2). Meanwhile, the consequences of Brooke’s spark (drug) use finally catch up to her. And the level of conflict between the two women reaches new heights as they take opposing approaches to the dilemma in the book.
Humanity’s First Interstellar Exploration
Ensign Maya Davis has had her sights set on the captaincy of a starship since she launched her first toy rocket into Earth orbit as a child. After four years of study at the new Interstellar Expeditionary Force Academy, Maya achieves her lifelong dream of exploring the stars. She earns a commission aboard humanity’s first deep space exploration vessel, New Horizons.
˃˃˃ A Desperate Situation
Not long after New Horizons departs the solar system, sabotage cripples the ship killing a third of the crew and stranding the expedition light years from home under the siege of hostile forces. Only junior officers are left to command the ship. Without knowing who she can trust, Maya must risk her life to get the crew home and prevent the genocide of the very exospecies New Horizons set out to contact.
˃˃˃ The Conspiracy Back Home
Forty-two-year-old civilian flight instructor Brooke Davis, Maya’s aunt and former UN Aerospace Defense pilot, receives a disturbing visit from a covert operative. The visit prompts Brooke to head to the Martian south polar ocean, where she learns how a secret society known as The Vril manipulated the current political and social climate into being. She also uncovers the society’s nefarious agenda regarding New Horizons’ voyage. With time running out, Brooke races to save her niece light years away.
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In Vengeance is Mine Sam is determined to become the man he believes he was meant to be and fights for a life that leaves death and violence behind. How did you identify those things that were core to Sam’s belief and how did you set him on a path to find them?
Sam was raised like many young men, believing if he worked hard, did the right thing and believed good things would happen to him. Through the course his life took into combat and the resulting blood shed all those things were lost to him. Sam is a mix of several men I was lucky enough to meet while working as an alcohol rehabilitation counselor in the military. Many of the problems the men faced could be traced back to the horrors of war, which they were not prepared to face.
I felt that this novel took a more personal look at Sam’s character? Did you always have Sam’s character mapped out? Was there any surprises in his character development in this third book?
Originally, there was too be only one book. It was not until I got into the first book that I began to know Sam and the other characters as well. What I started as a typical western, more or less, became the story of a man finding his way back to himself, then reestablishing contact with others, and lastly making peace with his creator. It felt, at times, that Sam was telling me the story and I was to record it for him. Some people will read the story and say, “Sam and Laura got married, I knew it all along. But the real story is Sam finds his way to be worthy of marriage.
What is your writing process like? How do you set about creating such in depth characters?
I write as if I was on a land navigation course. I have a starting point, a few way points that I have to find and the ending point. To help me I have a map in my head that helps keep me on track and a mental compass that keeps me in the right direction. I allow the characters to tell the story as best I can. My characters are the backbone of my story. When asked what genre I write, my answer is I write people stories. I write and rewrite until the character becomes as real to me as my neighbor.
Is this the last book in Sam and Laura’s story? Or will there be more?
Several of the Sam and Laura fans continue to ask me to continue the series. For the couple, the story is complete, but there are several stories yet to be told with other characters. Johanna, Sam’s sister is a story rich in history and character. Hack Baskins and the other Texas cowboys, as well as G.W. Lincoln. I have other projects but I would like to round out the Sam and Laura universe.
“The hawk was created in the image of a hawk. That means he must use violence every day of his life if he wants to eat and live another day. He can never wake up one morning and say to himself, “I no longer wish to eat mice and snakes; I want to eat seeds and nuts like the cardinal. No, he cannot do this and why? Because he was created in the image of a hawk.”
“I don’t see…”
“Sam, I know your father taught you this, but you have forgotten. The hawk was created in the image of a hawk. What image were you created in?”
Sam whispered, “God, I was created in the image of God.”
The Amish elder smiled, “Yes, you were created in the image of God and as such you were granted the ability to choose. You can choose to do right or wrong, good or bad, be peaceful or violent. You can even choose to eat mice and snakes if you like.”
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You know a story is good when it makes it to the fifth installment. A story needs to be captivating, with intriguing characters and compelling action. Readers will find all of that and more in Joseph D’Antoni’s Captive Threat. This book is an addition to his ever-popular Wade Hanna series. It’s easy to see why these books have been able to sustain themselves for so long. The life that Wade leads is not typical at all. This includes his romances. Here we find a story steeped in action with heart-pounding risks and careful planning. Those who enjoy a great action-packed crime/military intelligence novel will definitely be entertained by what occurs within these pages. Where will Wade end up this time? Will he finally get to move forward in his relationship with Megan? Or will this task finally end up being too much for him?
While this is an installment in a series, it is not wholly necessary to read the previous four books. Yes, they will provide important backstory, but D’Antoni writes in such a way that a reader will not be lost. Even the complicated aspects of Wade and Megan’s relationship is not lost in this book. It is difficult to write in such a way that you can captivate newcomers without leaving them confused. A master of his craft, it is clear that D’Antoni knows what he’s doing. At first, the book doesn’t even feel like it’s about Wade at all, but about Megan. About what she is going through after her return to American soil. She has suffered an ordeal and D’Antoni takes the required time to have her move through these complicated feelings and post-traumatic experiences. This is how you capture readers.
The character development is very well planned and carefully laid out. When you have existing characters that have been carrying on for books upon books it’s easy to swap out romantic partners or close friends in favour of an exciting new character. It is clear that our author has spent the time energy required to foster and develop the relationships from existing installments. This is something not many serial authors can accomplish. Coupled with character development are the action scenes as Wade and company foray into their battlefields. Nothing feels out of place or too over the top. There is a pleasant balance between story development and a good old-fashioned fight.
If you are looking for a book that is exciting to read while giving you those complicated portrayals of human emotion then you have found what you are looking for in Captive Threat. It’s an excellent example of a crime/military novel married to dramatic elements done right. For the series to have gone on for as many installments as it has, it is clear that something is being done right here. There is even the potential for another installment into the Wade Hanna series based solely off how our adventure ends. Your heart will race for more than one reason as you devour the words in this tale. But still we are left wondering, where will Wade end up now?
Pages: 389 | ASIN: B01M3OAV36
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A Guardian Falls by Rebecca Tran is a fantasy novel and the second book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series. In the first novel, we are introduced to our main character Mara, who is seeking revenge after watching her father’s murder. She gives up her privileged lifestyles in order to seek justice. The second starts soon after the events of the first novel, with Mara’s betrothed recovering from his injuries after she has rescued him from her father’s killer, and her self-doubt in her abilities to finish what she has started.
The novel starts well, with a good re-introduction of characters and an update in the current situation. Tran’s writing is easy to follow, and you’re given a sense of the characters as soon as you meet them. Mara is also a likeable main character, and one of the reasons for this is that she is not a perfect or even confident lead. She doubts herself and her destiny throughout the novel, but all this makes for a more realistic and endearing character. It is much easier to empathize with a character who is self-critical and questions themselves, and this makes for an enjoyable read. Mara’s relationships also makes her more likeable. Her relationship with Kess is sweet and you find yourself invested in it – the novel starts with them having been in an argument, but their quick reconciliation is a subtle way to show you the strength of their relationship.
One thing the author does well is her ability to write both long scenes of in-depth dialogue between two characters and epic battle sequences. Both of these will hold your attention, and flow easily. The dialogue is good, and anything the characters say is believable and feels like a true conversation. Similarly, any action is written well, and is not too over the top.
The only problem I found with this novel is the amount of characters there are. It can sometimes be hard to follow so many characters in one book, and occasionally things can become muddled and you start to feel you’re in information overload. However, this does not affect the enjoyability of the novel to a high degree, but it is something you need to concentrate more on as you read.
Overall, this is a well balance book, with a good degree of both action and dialogue that is paced well. You will enjoy both the action sequences and the calmer, more character driven moments. The characters are strong, and our main character is likeable and relatable. The plot is interesting pushed along by some thrilling twists. If you are looking for a good fantasy read then you can’t go wrong with this one.
Pages: 394 | ASIN: B072LJV5Z5
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End of Knighthood Part II: The King’s Move keeps the action blazing forward! The second installment, by Joshua Landeros, follows rebel cyborg super soldiers and continues the story of William Marconi, who seeks vengeance from Chancellor Venloran. After finding out what latest weapon the Chancellor holds, rebel fighters Captain Halsey and Gabby, were lured into a trap and are at his mercy. This sets the stage for what the rebellion needs to do. Will, who started this rebellion, may get his chance to achieve his vengeance and end it, but the cost may be even too great for him to bear.
The King’s Move wastes no time in getting back into the thick of the action and picking up where we left off in the first. The action does not break and the events become more heinous as we reach the book’s climax and the tragic conclusion. Landeros continues to borrow the best from classic military sci-fi authors with short, clipped sentences and telling “only the facts” when denoting action and danger. His world building is subtle and should please any reader who pays attention to the craft of writing. With this second part in his series Landeros has escalated the conflict and moved the stakes to an even higher plane.
The characters remain, along with the action, some of the best parts of the novel. His rather wide cast of rebels and villains are all a thrill to read and fun to follow as they attempt to achieve their various goals. The book remains a blend of sci-fi/thriller that would keep any fan of those two genres satisfied. The dialogue shoots back and forth between the characters as fast as the bullets, keeping the pace quick and the readier on the edge of their seat. These are a welcome distraction from the brutal carnage that sometimes occurs.
The lack of description hurts this work at times, which it makes up for since with prose that has improved since the last installment. He continues to borrow heavily from screenwriting techniques, with consistent dialogue on almost every page, while providing only deep description of the action scenes. His fast pace style will suit casual readers as well as those used to thrillers and military sci-fi.
The King’s Move is an exciting bridge that keeps the reader entertained and swept away on the plight of these rebel cyborgs. Anyone who enjoys a military science fiction thriller will find their palates pleased with Landeros’ work and hungry for the third installment.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B073WHFL24
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In Apollo’s Raven we follow a Celtic princess Catrin and her star-crossed Roman lover Marcellus on opposing sides of a fierce battle. What was your inspiration for the setup to this exciting series?
Since childhood, I’ve been an avid reader of mythology and legends that portrayed females as goddesses, warriors, and cunning sorceresses. I’ve always been drawn to bigger than life epic heroes and heroines who steered the destiny of their people. In my travels to London, I was struck by the statue of Boudica and her daughters riding in a chariot near the Thames River. I discovered that she was a celebrated warrior queen who united the Britons in a revolt against the Romans, almost throwing them out of Britannia in 61 AD. As I did more research, I became intrigued that Celtic women were considered as equals in this war-like society. The Roman historian Dio Cassius describes Boudica as having the mystical powers of a Druid. Other Roman historians wrote of Celtic women’s ferocity as they fought alongside their husbands.
The heroine Catrin is based on historical and legendary accounts of Celtic warrior queens such as Boudica in Britannia where women were held in higher esteem and could serve as warriors and rulers. The storyline of star-crossed lovers in Apollo’s Raven series is inspired by the legacy of Cleopatra and Mark Antony but with a Celtic twist. Archaeological evidence and sparse historical accounts suggest that Rome heavily influenced the politics of southeast Britannia prior to Claudius’s invasion in 43 AD—a political situation similar to Cleopatra’s Egyptian kingdom. I was also drawn to the tragedy of Mark Antony and his son, Iullus Antonius, whose downfalls were associated with powerful women. Their infamy cast a shadow on Marcellus, the great-grandson of Mark Antony, which will be further explored in the Apollo’s Raven series.
Your story is able to portray ancient Roman life in a believable yet entertaining way. What kind of research did you do to make sure you got everything right?
I did extensive research on the Roman life by reading books, journal articles, and blog posts by historians and archaeologists. Of particular interest are the written accounts by Julius Caesar which he sent to the Roman Senate as propaganda to support his military expeditions in Gaul and Britannia. I’ve also explored several Roman archaeological sites in Britain and France where scenes from the Apollo’s Raven series take place. Locations include Dover, Bath, Fishbourne Roman Palace, Colchester and Hadrian’s Wall in England, and Lyon in France.
As I researched Roman historical events and culture, I also tried to understand their mindsight. In Rome, the male head, the paterfamilias, had complete control over his family—wife, children, and slaves. If they disobeyed him, he had the power of life and death over them. Women were held in higher esteem in Celtic societies which is in sharp contrast with the paternalistic, empire-building Romans.
Catrin is a princess, yet she is not fragile. She’s tough and trains to be as strong as her sister. What themes did you want to capture while creating Catrin’s character?
It is my hope that modern women can draw on the rich traditions of the ancient Celtic civilization where females owned property and could become rulers and Druids. These women fought, hunted, rode horses and used weapons, just like the men, to protect their homeland.
Deeper themes that will be explored in the Apollo’s Raven series as Catrin matures and faces new challenges on her journey of becoming a warrior queen are as follows:
- Coming of Age
- Power to change destiny
- Sacrifice and love
- Corruption of power
- Quest for redemption
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am in the process of finishing Book 2: Empire’s Anvil, which should be available by the summer of 2018. The epic tale continues when King Amren accuses Catrin of treason for abetting her Roman lover, Marcellus. She must prove her loyalty to her father and people by forsaking all men and defending her kingdom even to death. Forged as a fierce warrior, she begins a quest to redeem herself and to break the curse that foretells her father’s kingdom will be destroyed. Yet, when she is reunites with Marcellus, she must face her greatest challenger that could destroy her life, freedom, and humanity.
The world is in turmoil. Celtic kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that foretells Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him.
King Amren reveals to his daughter, Princess Catrin, the grim prophesy that his former queen pronounced at her execution for treason to him.
The gods demand the scales be balanced for the life you take. If you deny my soul’s journey to the Otherworld by beheading me, I curse you to do the same as mine. I prophesize your future queen will beget a daughter who will rise as a Raven and join your son, Blood Wolf, and a mighty empire to overtake your kingdom and to execute my curse.
Catrin is trained as a warrior and discovers she is the Raven and must find a way to block the curse of the evil former queen. Torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy–Marcellus, the great-grandson of Mark Antony–and her loyalty to her people, she must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that awaits her.
Will Catrin overcome and eradicate the ancient curse? Will she be able to embrace her forbidden love with Marcellus? Will she cease the war between Blood Wolf and King Amren? Will she save Ancient Britannia?
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