Hart St. Martin takes us back to the lands of Garla and Thristas in Protector of Thristas, a novel that takes place fifteen years after the tumultuous One Day War. Rinli is the daughter of Korin and Lisen, and due to a prophecy created at her birth, she’s destined to be the Protector of the desert land of Thristas. While trying to guide Rinli on her path to becoming Protector, Lisen is faced with something far more challenging than ever before: she must do everything in her power to gain her teenage daughter’s long-lost sense of trust.
After becoming so invested in the Lisen of Solsta trilogy, I was thrilled to grab a copy of Protector of Thristas. There’s nothing I enjoy more than watching a fantasy world evolve over generations. Lisen and Korin have three children – Rinli, Nasera, and Insenlo – but Rinli is the only one who has a prophecy that she must fulfill.
Through highly emotional moments in the novel, the story definitely emulates how exhausting it is for the whole family when they are all separated. The story jumps between Avaret (the city where Lisen rules as Empir of Garla) and Thristas, where Rinli is required to stay for periods of time. The two lands have a very tense relationship, which forced Lisen to designate Rinli as the Protector of Thristas in an attempt to resolve these issues. As a result, Rinli and Korin must travel between the two lands several times a year.
As a sucker for romantic subplots, I loved seeing how fifteen years of marriage has impacted Korin and Lisen – due to the constant traveling on Korin’s end, they’ve grown even closer than they were in the first trilogy. Their bond even causes Korin to develop psychic-like powers, where he can sense when something bad is happening to Lisen or Rinli.
One of my favorite things about this novel is how Rinli has Lisen’s stubbornness and Korin’s perceptiveness, and her development throughout the novel kept the story captivating and fun. Something that separates her from her mother is that Rinli has an affinity for the desert land of Thristas, and her loyalty to Thristas is compounded by her close relationship with Madlen, her most trusted companion. She is especially resistant to the idea that she has her mother’s magic abilities, and this gets her into trouble at a few points in the novel.
Themes of forgiveness and trust pop up throughout the novel, highlighting the tense mother-daughter relationship between Lisen and Rinli. Hart weaves this tension throughout the entire plot, bringing the reader closer to these characters. Lisen can’t forgive herself for sentencing Rinli to her fate as the Protector of Thristas, while Rinli struggles to trust her mother. When Rinli discovers she may need her mother’s wisdom in order to understand her responsibility as a Protector, the two begin to develop a relationship.
Protector of Thristas is an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least, and it’s a breath of fresh air in a sea full of action-forward fantasy novels. As entrenched in fantasy as it is, this novel does a beautiful job of capturing raw human emotions of happiness, anger, sadness, anxiety, and fear, especially when dealing with challenging mother-daughter relationships and the connections between a parent and a child. The cliffhanger ending left me feeling some of those emotions myself, and I can’t wait to see if Hart will continue sharing more adventures from this world.
Pages: 452 | ASIN: B01E7NYLRI
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The Sightseers Agency picks up with Richard Pencil leaving the government position he took up at the end of the previous book. With the new world order well underway, the big three-letter agencies are breaking up, and Richard is going back to work with Joe Fraser and the man known as the Inlooker. Richard also has an impressive upgrade to his extra-sensory detective powers. He’s joined by a new remote-viewer, Miss Plum Duff, whose talents were honed by alien intervention. Fraser hires them to launch the the Sightseers Agency, reporting to him and their mysterious benefactor. Their mission is to oversee the behavior of elected officials, and another secret goal is revealed later. Seb Cage, who is now a talented computer security specialist (along with the skills he gained from the Sombrella Syndicate), joins the agency as well.
The Sightseers soon discover that the greatest threat to earth isn’t just from rogue officials and politicians, but also hostile aliens who have been planning an attack for some time. Complications arise because some of the aliens on Earth are friendly, while some are more like tourists who take on human form just to experience something different. Ms. Plum Duff comes into her own here, since she, like Seb, has a long history with regard to aliens.
Like the previous agency novel, there is an overarching plot that is played out in several different investigations. While the book is described as a series of whodunits set in the future, each case is a link in a chain that ultimately brings conflict on both a personal and global scale. I was glad to see more about the use of psychic mind-reading to ferret out lies and criminal activity, and the manipulation of auras and even the soul itself. There’s also the fascinating angle of this “new world” society, run on a democracy-on-demand system with a goal toward a true meritocracy. While some of this society’s social practices seem dystopian, others, like the use of Tesla’s wireless transmission of energy, offer a utopia of readily-available power.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed throughout the Dreadnaught series is the author’s vivid imagination. His notes at the beginning of the books give real-world tales of psychics and UFO phenomenon that act as the launch pad for his stories. His humor and wordplay are also in full force, with inventive non-cuss words, ribald comedy—especially when it comes to Richard and his Lothario tendencies—and the continued jokes about “potties,” which are ubiquitous self-driving transport pods, giving “on the throne” a whole different meaning.
Overall, this series has been fun to read. The major recurring characters are so unique, each with their own set of skills, flaws, and quirks, that it’s a delight to follow them from one adventure to another. The Sightseers Agency ties up a lot of loose ends, answers questions, and ends on a hopeful note and fans of the series will be satisfied by the ending.
Pages: 307 | ASIN: B01KBAKX1E
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The Deaduction Agency follows a team of psychics, telepaths and remote viewers who investigate several cases of disappearances, murders, and missing persons. This is a thrilling paranormal mystery novel. What was the initial spark for this book and how did that develop as you were writing?
I empathize with psychics, whose skills gained credibility as I read about them in series such as Psychic Detectives. The willingness of the police and detectives to appear in the shows, often after retirement from the force, speaks volumes for their appreciation of the skills of the psychics they employed. What also emerged was the need of the program makers to pad out the stories of psychic detectives with endless repeats of the facts. This is because the crimes are resolved in such a straightforward manner that it makes regular policing look tedious – which it is.
The first case, of a complex divorce, took longer to resolve because it did not require psychic abilities. I used it to contrast the differences in time to describe regular, traditional policing and those cases that require the skills of a psychic.
To my regret, some reviewers failed to understand why this approach was taken.
The book covers several different cases which range from quick and easy to edge-of-your-seat thriller. My favorite was ‘Case of the Prodigal Son’. What was your favorite case?
The same ‘Prodigal Son’, plus ‘The Honey Trap’, where Richard’s possessive and devious nature is revealed to the full.
The psychics at this agency have skills and near-future technology that give them powers beyond what psychics can do now. What were the limitations you needed to keep them believable and what was something that you absolutely had to have for them to be interesting?
I accept psychic skills as they exist now, and have no patience with skeptics who try to fool around with their sensory perceptions, to prove they are frauds and have no special skills. However, in the book they had to be fully capable of reading minds, in order to be foolproof in their assessment of criminals. Even so, some reviewers failed to understand this, and judged the psychic teams to be behaving unacceptably in passing sentence on some criminals. Why, if they can read minds and know the vile nature of the people they are categorizing? It is hardly as if they are executing them! The aim is to re-incorporate them into society, with their souls purified.
This story is ripe with paranormal activity, remote viewing and the powers of the mind. Which power and character do you identify with?
Telepathy, having experimented with it in front of others, as a young teenager. I identify with Richard and Chuck and Joe, in different ways.
A final, general observation on the review itself. The opening scene is criticized for its excess of descriptive detail, That is almost a verbatim criticism made by another reviewer, Marta Cheng in 2015, who stated: In some places, such as near the beginning of the book, there is an inordinate amount of detailed explanation provided as to the set up of the agency’s offices – details that detract from the momentum of the story. In response, I cut down the detail to a mere 360 words, which is hardly inordinate! It also became apparent that Marta (who got fond of changing her surname to put me off the scent) had not read the book in its entirety and was intent on having a dig at another reviewer from the same stable as herself.
To emphasize why it was done, I then suffixed the description with the following sentences:
Richard, the most senior partner in the agency, was busying himself constantly re-arranging brochures on a side table in the waiting area in reception. It was a quirky habit of his that Honey found most annoying. It also reflected his fussy preoccupation with orderliness and exact measurements.
Naturally, he was the architect of the office layout, which Honey was often tempted to rearrange, solely to unsettle him.
Love scenes soon followed as well! Some of this preoccupation is revisited later, as part of Honey’s tangled love life. What more can an author do?
Witness at first-hand a group of specialist investigators, as they set up and run a new, innovative crime fighting agency. They are dedicated to the resolution of criminal cases using paranormal assistance. This will be a new, innovative and emerging brand of policing designed to protect the citizens of our country.
Read how they deal with the anti-social, disturbed behavior of a wayward, divorced husband, who is on the verge of destroying the lives of his ex-wife and their two young sons.
Read how they identify the members of a murderous ring of pedophiles from relatively few clues, and bring them to justice.
Read how they move from ineffectively resolving one case at a time, and onto tackling multiple cases with far more beneficial results to society.
Read thereafter how they clear the penitentiaries of criminals, starting with the most dangerous inmates, using novel means to cleanse their souls of sin, and equip them for new roles in life in special clearing centers. The objective is to reintegrate them into society, rendered capable of performing straightforward tasks and genuinely purified, via the novel process of atonement.
Read how they find one talented young man who was lost, presumed dead, and reunite him with his family. Thereafter, as agents of change, they help launch him on the path to stardom.
This is not a simple, gory, two dimensional book, but an exploration into the timely use of mediums in crime detection. It can pay dividends in assisting the fight against crime.
They use the latest techniques and technology in a future world that is not far removed from that which exists today.
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Jabberwocky: A Novella follows Astreus, heir to the House of the Jabberwock as he embarks on a quest to slay the Jabberwock. There is obvious inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, but what was the inspiration for the epic journey that Astreus undertakes?
I have always loved stories of quests, and became fascinated with the idea of a quest stripped down to its bare essentials – a journey by a lone hero through a series of landscapes and events. I also got the idea of writing a novel inspired by the Lewis Carroll poem Jabberwocky, and eventually put the two together. This worked particularly well for me, because the poem says almost nothing about the events of the quest, just its beginning and end. It’s all reduced to a single line: “Long time the manxome foe he sought”. It was the perfect empty space where I could place my quest story.
Astreus leaves his cozy privileged life behind for the sake of the quest. What do you think drives Astreus to the quest rather than being safe at home?
Apart from youthful restlessness and a wandering heart, it’s the sense that life could be more. As I say in the novella, it’s the idea of enlarged possibilities. It’s the feeling that you don’t have to accept the life that has been laid out for you – instead, you can create your own life. Ultimately, it’s about personal freedom. That’s why people have always admired people like pirates and gangsters. Despite their grievous shortcomings, for people crushed by their circumstances, they seem like heroes for rebelling against those circumstances.
There is a city in your story where psychic cats live with their human servants. I find this setup endlessly entertaining. How did this idea start and develop as you wrote?
I have a certain fascination with chess, despite being a terrible player. Once I was sitting on the floor at home, playing through a grandmaster game from a book, when my cat came and sat opposite me and stared intently at the board and pieces. It looked exactly like she was playing a game against me. This gave me the idea of a city where cats played chess against each other to determine status, instead of physically fighting the way cats usually do. It followed that they would need human servants to move the pieces for them. I started with that when my hero came to the city, and the finer details suggested themselves to me quite naturally as I progressed.
What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?
I’m writing a full-length novel about a strange world, based on a single strange concept. I can’t say more than that, but it should be finished in about a year.
The winner in the Novella category of the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and a finalist in the Young Adult category! Inspired by the Lewis Carroll poem, this is a dreamlike fantasy quest through strange landscapes, where the hero gradually grows into an understanding of himself and the true nature of the quest.
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Rose Channing delivers a captivating fantasy novel filled with magic, friendship and discovery. The Mansion’s Twins is the story of Savannah and Ellie Senka, a pair of identical twins who lived in the real world in two different families and then brought together by a twist of Fate and magic inside the mansion of another world, where other gifted children were taught how to use good magic and the others gifts within themselves. For the both of them, they learned it was a whole new world inside this alternate universe for them to make things right and fight against the roots of evil.
For Savannah Senka, the oldest sibling in the Kali family, who wanted a break from reality and her father’s wrath. She ran into a girl named Ellie, who looked like her as her own mirror image. Together they bonded as friends and discovered a mirror cave that lead them inside the mansion of the dreamworld. That’s when they learned about their destiny as the Senka twins and made new friends inside the mansion. They discovered about their own magical gifts from June and Julian, the two leaders of the clan. While they made new friends inside their new home, they learned how it was up to them to go on their journey to fight against evil, learn their magical gifts from the legend of Claire and Dmitri, and to reset the balance in their world.
The mansion world was very idealistic with its own nuances inside the home with each specific room and places. For their type of kingdom, it was very special with the mirror world of psychic gifts and extraordinary magic that give it a hint of fantasy. The elders and the other characters had their own story on how they landed here to make it this home. Whether they were gifted or different, they were loved and wanted.
There is a lot of potential for this story to be carried on through several books in a series. I felt that there was a lot of telling rather than showing, but this was a fascinating novel with depth and intelligence. I would compare this novel to Stephen King’s “Firestarter” and V.C. Andrews’ books, because of the psychic theme. Rose is a gifted writer who built a whole new world within this magical tale that young adults would enjoy reading.
Pages: 428 | ISBN: 1500310298
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Theodore Singer’s Jabberwocky: A Novella is an engaging, entertaining journey that feels like an epic saga; but without the page count. Contained in the few pages of this novella is a world full of intrigue and mystery. The story follows Astreus, heir to the House of the Jabberwock as he embarks on a quest that has been reduced to nothing more than ceremony. At the tender age of eighteen he has come of age and while his father and grandfather expect him to take his place in their world he opts instead to take on the Quest of finding and killing the Jabberwocky. While it comes as a shock to his family, Astreus labors forward in his romantic notion of fulfilling the quest that has been passed down for generations. Taking up the Vorpal Sword, the only blade capable of separating the Jabberwocky’s head from it’s body, Astreus leaves his cozy privileged life behind for the sake of the quest.
Singer does a fantastic job drawing the reader into his tale. There is very little dialogue throughout the novella so we are left with his amazing descriptions that make the words jump off the page.
Singer takes us on a journey of the strange world Astreus lives in. In the beginning it seems like a stereotypical medieval setting as our protagonist leaves his castle behind and journeys to a mysterious island. There, he becomes embroiled in a cruel test of his mettle while his emotions are toyed with and he learns that there is far more to the world than what he has read in his books at home. After leaving the island we come to a strange city occupied by psychic cats and their human servants. Our protagonist continues to grow and develop quite nicely. Nothing is forced or feels contrived at this point. Singer does a great job keeping the human development part of his tale as realistic as possible. Beyond the city of cats is a valley of certain death. Astreus continues to chase the tales and whispers of the Jabberwocky’s path in an eager effort to fulfill his quest.
Theodore Singer does as fantastic job with this tale that keeps the reader wanting more. Even with everything that happens in the tale the reader is not left feeling overwhelmed or left with questions beyond what imagination can answer. The nice thing about it being a novella is that you can allow yourself to get completely consumed without losing hour after hour of your day. Even the unexpected resolution of the Quest fits perfectly in these pages. It is a fantastic, compact tale of wonder and fantasy.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B00TUFU8YE
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