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The Lost Siren

The Lost Siren by Hermione Lee starts out with one of the most beautiful settings I have read in a book so far! Aquila is a young, beautiful, and enchanting Siren of the sea. Unfortunately, she wakes up on an iceberg alone, scared, and without a memory of her past. She’s bruised and cut up but finds her way to an island, where she is rescued by a young sorcerer named Everard.

Everard and Aquila fall in love with each other quickly. He takes care of her and answers any questions she has. He doesn’t like it when she has questions about the palace or the royal family. Everard, however, is not the knight in shining armor we all thought at first. He hurts and abandons Aquila, and she is rescued by a handsome king. Aquila quickly falls in love with the king’s kind spirit, but as she starts to regain her memory of her past, she isn’t proud of who she used to be. Finally, war comes to the palace, and Aquila must write all her wrongs to end the war.

I really did enjoy the creative aspect of the book. The world that was created by the author was unique and painted a good picture in my mind. It was well written with great detail. I loved the characters and their development throughout the story. I enjoyed reading about the magical powers they had in this world. An island full of magic creates such a beautiful picture. What I didn’t like about the book was how the relationships developed when it came to love; there was no build-up. I like falling in love with the characters; in this case, readers are not given much to build on.

The Lost Siren is a captivating teen and young adult novel with elements of romance. While there is a love interest, the story focuses on how Aquila deals with her emotions and the realization of who she is. It is perfect for teen girls struggling with who they are and want fantasy novels that focus on more than battles and wizards.

Pages: 158 | ASIN : B0BGPV6LWN

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Friendships, Companionship, and Rivalries

S.C. Eston Author Interview

The Conclave is a fantasy novel in the world of Arvelas and begins with a worry amidst the protectors of the realm who have recently chased away a threat to their city. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Arvelas is a place I’ve been traveling to since my early teenage years. I created this world after a good friend introduced me to the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game, where you have one host presenting the adventure and several players acting out the characters.

We initially played using adventure sets, which provided all the information about the characters and events of the game, as well as the locations where everything took place, often with maps. I quickly decided to create my own world, called it Arvelas and started hosting gaming sessions. With a world of my own, I was suddenly not limited to the content that was provided. I could create an infinite number of original adventures.

Over the years, Arvelas changed based on my preferences as well as those of the players. I continuously updated the rules, and added new villages and cities, mysterious and magical places, or new characters, all based on our favorite books, movies, or video games. These changes molded Arvelas into the universe it is today.

I believe it is one of the players who suggested I write stories to expand on the game. After all, as the host of most of our games over the years, I was doing exactly that: creating stories. Because I know the world so well and because I love it so much, it was an easy transition.

The first story I published was a short story titled ‘Zanathu‘. It is available for free download on my website. ‘The Conclave’ came next.

Your characters are intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

One of the biggest challenges I encountered while writing ‘The Conclave’ was its large cast of characters. The story is fairly short and I was worried that readers wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. For that reason, I spent a significant amount of time debating which characters to include and how best to introduce them.

In the end, I decided to keep most of the initial characters, because the story required it. The idea of bringing them to the secret meeting one by one was inspired by the first part of the book ‘Hyperion’ by Dan Simmons. Simmons’s introduction is much more lengthy and he only has three characters, but I enjoyed meeting his protagonists one at a time and thought it could work for ‘The Conclave’.

It’s interesting to note that two of the main characters, Onthar and Argon, were in essence created by players during a campaign we played more than twenty years ago. It was important to me to stay true to their depiction of both characters and to respect the relationships they had built during the gaming sessions.

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

I didn’t set out with a theme in mind, but due to the format of the book—many characters sparing back and forth—relationships quickly came to the forefront. The book explores a wide variety of friendships, companionship, and rivalries, touching on the themes of loyalty, honesty, and trust, as well as the significance of love and forgiveness. Come to think of it, relationships and their intricacies are explored in my other books as well.

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

I’m currently finalizing the first installment in a massive epic fantasy series called The Lost Tyronian Archives. The first book is titled ‘The Stranger of Ul Darak’, and it’ll be available later this fall. The novella ‘The Burden of the Protector,’ which I published in 2016, is a prequel to the series.

I’m also in the preliminary phases of a project where readers will be able to directly participate and influence the development of a dark fantasy series. My goal is to involve them in early versions of each story, gather their feedback and adapt the final version based on the comments I collect. I call this initiative the Baneseeker Project (the series is titled ‘The Baneseeker Chronicles’) and I’m planning on kicking it off early in 2023.

Finally, I just completed a short story for an upcoming anthology around the theme of Winter. The story takes place in Arvelas and tells us about Zebu, one of its most powerful and renowned wizards. The anthology is titled ‘Winter Paths’ and will be available in the Fall.

The details of each of my stories or projects can be found on my website

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

It all came down to this.A traitor.~The city of Telstar has been freed and the enemy defeated. In the streets, the townspeople are celebrating, singing and drinking to the promise of better days to come.Yet, at the top of an abandoned tower, a secret meeting is about to take place. Although victory was attained, questions remain unanswered. Some of Telstar’s deepest secrets got out and the impregnable city almost fell. It is unclear who betrayed the city and some will not sleep until the culprit answers for the betrayal.Onthar, a high warrior dedicated to Tyr, deity of courage, takes it upon himself to call on emperor and queen, wizard and warriors, elf and orc, all heroes of the battle, to meet in secrecy and find out who among them betrayed his city.But these are serious charges and these are powerful individuals. The meeting could easily turn into a confrontation, and if it does, it could achieve what the enemy could not: destroy the very city they all want to protect.

The Warrior With Broken Wings

The Warrior With Broken Wings by Thorsten Brandl is a fantasy novel about Thomas Knight, a photographer who’s suffered much loss that has left him broken. During a trip to Japan, he happens upon a shrine where the monks give him a blade. As he goes to take a picture with a camera his cousin bequeathed him at his passing Thomas finds himself transported into a world on the brink of destruction. Here he learns there is a prophecy that a hero would come to save them, and it’s believed he’s that very soul. With his newfound friends, and his magical blade they embark on a quest to find a way to save the last city of the realm from falling into evil forces.

This book has some great world-building, it’s a beautiful place with some rich history. There are great characters to fill it like Phoenix the talking cat who comes armed with sass, Ylja the tough captain of the guard, and Sæla her brother who is hung up on 80’s pop culture. There’s great humor, which I always appreciate in a book, Sæla had me grinning. We see the scary side of corporations when they have too much power. It makes for a great unorthodox villain unit in a fantasy setting. There’s also some great use of time travel.

The book does not start out with a description of the main character so readers will get to know his personality before finding out his appearance. I would have liked it made clear from when we learn Ylja was the king’s daughter that Sæla is her brother instead of figuring it out from an offhand comment. The character relationship building is slow, much like real people would interact. It can handle be expected that when someone transports to a new world they are instantly friends with people they encounter. This gave the writing an authentic feel as readers watch as they became great friends and bonded.

The Warrior With Broken Wings is a great work of fantasy, it has everything a good fantasy novel should have: talking animals, time travel, 80’s hits being blared from speakers during the big battle. If you’re seeking a unique fantasy this book is the one for you.

Pages: 363 | ASIN : B08LYCTLWB

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The Conclave

The Conclave by S. C. Eston is a fantasy book based in the world of Arvelas. The book begins with a worry amidst the protectors of the realm who have recently chased away a considerable threat to their city. The city is rebuilding, and people think the worst is behind them. The Seeker, however, is not so sure about that. The air is chilling, and a feeling of dread continues to seep within his heart. Onthar, the Seeker, calls a meeting of all the Vanguards and important people in a secret place. The meeting is to plan the further course as well as to find out about the traitor amidst them.

Eston’s writing style is engaging and flows smoothly. The interest spikes as we get deeper into the story making it hard to put the book down. The flashbacks and episodic introductions are used to explain the city’s current situation. Most of the actions and events are discussed in retrospect. The oscillation between past and present is visible and keeps the reader’s interest.

Even while being vague, the author can arise the sense of dread and fear that plagues the characters. However, the description of characters is effective and prevents them from merging in the shadows. Each character has its own story, which is reflected in the book.

I enjoyed reading this book with a fast-paced narrative with multiple characters and viewpoints. The shift in narratives is clear and makes the reading experience enriching. The book ends on an ambiguous note with a promising sequel to this story. However, the threat hasn’t been obliterated even though the story comes to an end. It will be amusing to read more about the world of Arvelas and the realm of Tilia.

The Conclave is a captivating epic fantasy novel. Young adult and teen readers who want a fast-paced, action-filled adventure with powerful characters will find this novel hard to put down.

Pages: 233 | ASIN : B07JMM42TR

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