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Bolan’s Quest II

Bolan's Quest II: The Rise of the Gnarlis by [Simmonds, Paul]

After the battle of Barkow, Bolan retreated to the woods. He preferred the isolation away from people and the memories of what had happened in his life before. He left all the people he loved and cared for in his past. Then one night he rescues a woman from danger, her name is Kyra. She awakened in him the will to live again. Kyra is a mother desperately seeking a cure for her son Ollin who has an illness that no one can identify. Bolan helps Kyra retrieve water from the Lake of Healing but must part ways to find his friend Hogarth that descended into the dark forest after them. Returning to the forest Bolan encounters Slavin, a being of pure evil. From here Bolan’s quest is ever changing, adding new challenges and encountering new dangers at every turn.

Bolan is a war hero, but it comes with a price. He was left haunted by what he did and saw. He lost people he loved and cared for. He was left with magical powers that allow him to connect with the minds of people and animals. Meeting Kyra has left Bolan with a desire to enter back into the world outside the woods again. He wants to interact with people again but is still weary and doesn’t want to revel too much about the things that haunt him. Bolan’s Quest II: The Rise of the Gnarlis by Paul Simmonds tells a wonderful story about Bolan’s journey and all the obstacles he faces; but it is more about self-discovery. I really enjoyed the character development of Bolan and seeing him change from a hardened recluse into a compassionate but protective companion. He shows growth from the first chapter on, constantly fighting with his own mind and emotions. Should he be cold hearted and let evil people suffer and die, or should he show mercy when he has the ability to end their suffering. His connection with Kyra and Ollin is powerful and I think that shakes him to his core to feel so deeply again after the war.

In comparison to Bolan’s transformation, another transformation that is notable is that of Slavin. He is a gnarlis, but weak in power. With the help of a magical sword that he coerces Bolan to retrieve for him he grows in power. He becomes darker, more demented, and turns even more evil as his power grows. He cares not for anyone but himself and his growing control over the world. This tale of good vs evil, while a classic story line is filled with unique characters, plot twists and enough substance to keep readers engaged. It is not a retelling of another fantasy novel; it is original and kept me from wanting to put the book down. The story is not complete with this book, there is more to come and your left wanting to grab the next novel to find out what happens next.

Pages: 379 | ASIN: B07S1TX4X8

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Conflicts Within Us

Paul Simmonds Author Interview

Paul Simmonds Author Interview

The Battle of Barkow tells the tale of dark vs light, good vs evil, in a world where magic is not all bad and religion is not all good. What was the inspiration for the setup to this novel and how did that develop as you wrote?

I wanted to give readers a story that not only takes them on a journey through the eyes of Bolan, Hogarth and Sterre and the choices they make but also a story that provokes thought about life, the things we believe in, don’t believe in and how we deal with those things. I think we all have conflicts within us, we do things that others have done before us simply because of that very reason. My message is that perhaps things are slightly different if we stop to think about them from a neutral position.

I of course also wanted a story that anyone can read and enjoy. You don’t have to ponder the meanings or questions hidden within the story, you can simply read it as a (hopefully) exciting and interesting journey of discovery for the main characters.

The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

If I had to pick a favourite character I would have to say it would be Bolan. A thoughtful and intelligent man yet one burdened with deep inner conflict. Unable to really grasp his purpose in life, he struggles with belief yet chooses a vocation that is based entirely on belief. His journey is one that answers some of his questions, brings him to a crossroads and forces him to confront those inner conflicts.

I noticed lots of subtle comparisons between good and evil in this story. What themes did you feel helped guide the stories development?

There is a theme of ‘good v evil’ running through the story. However are the good really all that good and are the bad really all that bad? Is there good and bad within us all? I will leave that up to the reader to decide.

I have a problem with a well written stories, in that I always want there to be another book to keep the story going. Is there a second book planned?

Yes, I do intend to take this story further. To explore the characters even more and to challenge their beliefs in a sequel. This is something I am working on as we speak. I also believe there is a good story to be told for a ‘prequel’ to The Battle of Barkow….the story of  how it all began.

Author Links: GoodReads | Authors Favorite

Book Summary:

A priest and a wannabe wizard embark on a journey to deliver books to nearby villages, meet new people and see how others live their lives. What they will discover on their journey however is far more than they could ever have anticipated. They will meet mysterious people, dangerous lurkers, battle hardened warriors and of course a beautiful woman or two!

The Battle of Barkow will take you on a breathless journey down winding roads, lush forests, across waters, through vast fields and towering mountains. All in the name of saving a city from a great evil.

Join Bolan and Hogarth as they take their horse and cart on a journey that will not only put them in harm’s way, but will challenge the very core of their existence.”

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The Battle of Barkow

The Battle of Barkow by [Simmonds, Paul]4 Stars

The Battle of Barkow tells the tale of dark vs light, good vs evil, from a world where magic is not all bad, and religion is not all good. He takes readers into the mind of his characters and through them shows the good and bad of society. In the words of Paul Simmonds, “Two men will embark on a journey that will change their lives forever, if there is a forever at all. For in the world that they live it is not named nor is it entirely different from that of our own early world” (Simmonds: prologue).  The characters are intricate and plagued by the same assemblage of emotions as any other person; kindness, compassion, greed, hate, bigotry and evil. This superb confluence leaves you wondering who is going to come out on top in this novel, the simple man of God, the magician, the girl that doesn’t speak, or the dark forces that are mounting?

The story starts out with a man, hidden in a cloak speaking with an elderly woman. No names are used, but it is clear the women is a sorceress and he is there for her assistance. He is angry, he feels he has been wronged by others and denied his rightful riches and power, this woman offers him the vengeance he so greatly desires, but warns the price he will pay will be high. While she does not disclose the price, it is implying that it will not be all together pleasant for the man, but he hesitantly agrees desiring his vengeance over all else. From here the story jumps 125 years later. We meet Bolan, a simple man of God. He takes no excessive pride in his status and simply ponders life as it comes, he does not dwell too much on the past or the future. He agrees to take on an assignment for the church delivering holy books to the neighboring towns. With him goes his longtime friend and magician in training Hogarth. Hogarth can do simple magic but longs to learn more, to become something great in world that will make a difference. It is on this journey that they meet Sterre, the young women that does not speak but communicates in a form of sign language and drawings. Sterre has the gift of visions and has predicted a great danger to the city of Barkow. Barkow is the capital of sorts for this world, it is where the Pope lives and where all their laws begin. Towns outside of Barkow are not as strict as in the holy city. Bolan, Hogarth and Sterre travel to the city of Barkow to warm them of  the impending trouble that Sterre has foreseen. While they are traveling to the city, the dark forces are also headed there as well. They have no names to start, as readers we only see their evil and destruction, wiping towns out, stripping them of all life leaving no one alive to bear witness to what has happened.

The journey that these three take brings them in contact with many others, some are willing to help fully, others offer veiled advice. Some are strong war heroes that have their own battles to fight but ultimately must decide between their own personal gains or the greater good. We are left looking at a vast cross section of people whose characteristics could be anyone in modern society. In The Battle of Barkow Simmonds is able to show us that their may be darkness in us, but being good is a choice, and often times we fall somewhere in between.

Pages: 240 | ASIN: B06XK7YDBX

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