Joseph and Eric can’t wait to start their summer vacation filled with video games and pizza ’til sunrise. But when the two best friends receive an unexpected invitation to try out the most anticipated game of the year at an exclusive tropical island resort, they jump at the opportunity. However, once they arrive, they are thrown into a fantastical adventure where nothing is what it seems. Friends and foes must be sorted, puzzles deciphered, and their own hidden abilities discovered. They will have to fight with all they have because life is not a video game, and there’s no respawning.
In Erift’s Journeys: Secrets of the Sealed Forest, author J.T. Tenera gives us a “finding one’s true self” adventure filled with action and video game references. The main characters go through various settings trying to stop an evil force from being released into the world. There are moments of calm in the book while the main characters enjoy a tropical vacation and meet new friends, followed by fast-paced danger when they encounter enemies much stronger than they are. The heroes are never guaranteed a win in their fights and end up seriously hurt at times. Characters “level up” throughout the book, just as video game characters would. In fact, the book is filled with references to video games – “tutorials” where they learn about hidden abilities and magic spells, new weapons and items found during quests, and a band of characters with specialized skills.
Younger readers may also connect to game streaming references, with one of the main characters trying to build a subscriber base. I felt at times there were many cryptic messages and long-winded explanations that didn’t add much to the storyline. Young readers will find characters they can identify and relate to, such as the arrogant, wealthy classmate with a posse and a slightly crazy scientist/professor with exploding inventions.
Erift’s Journeys: Secrets of The Sealed Forest ends with many questions unanswered. This is the perfect lead-in to the next book in the series. This coming-of-age novel for young adults will entertain them with action and adventure on a topic they love, video games.
Pages: 297 | ASIN : B09DMFR44V
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Valor Tale: Disenthrall follows a band of freedom fighters fighting to go on an epic journey to save humanity from a forgotten biological project. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
When I was growing up I played many video games. There were two in particular that inspired me to write this LitRPG series. Those games being Final Fantasy 7 (original) and Legend of Dragoon. Also some elements of the story Robin Hood and the politics of the early 2000s. I just found the concept of role-playing games to be fun and how “human” it can be by relating to people if you develop the characters right.
Dew Wilder is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Well, his first name is based on my initials. His military experience somewhat mirrors mine. Just like Dew Wilder, I had a close relationship with my grandfather too. From the story and two games I mentioned above that I got my inspiration from – I kind of took bits and pieces of each main protagonist mixing it with my personality. I didn’t want to make him too much of an archetypical hero. I wanted him to be grounded somewhat close to reality.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The central themes in this book deal with government corruption, oppression, and media control and censorship (more mirroring a lite version of Communist China), the futility of war (a lot of inspiration from the political propaganda of the Vietnam war and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and how the politicians benefited from such while the service members were strung along), the disconnect of the social classes, and just plain fun fictional action and a pinch of humor and memes.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The 2nd book should be out the latest in October 2021. I feel it’ll be better than the first. The main cast of characters get together and have a lot of fun.
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Greater Things Than Thou is an exciting mix of fantasy and science fiction. What was the inspiration behind this fascinating story?
For me the science-fiction and fantasy element was merely an impetus for the main character’s emotional state. The important element for me is the reflection backward. Old man Patrin spends a lot of time looking back on his life, but more than a summary of events he was involved in we instead get his feelings. Patrin is a person that was never able to move beyond the emotions of his childhood.
Patrin is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some themes you wanted to explore with his character?
The primary theme that runs through Patrin’s life is loss. I think it’s a feeling that we can all relate to, and for the story to be a success it must be relatable to the reader.
There is some deep world building in this book. What were some driving ideals behind the creation of your world?
The world building technique comes from my youth spent playing RPGs. I was always more concerned with the larger picture, because you can paint many stories in it, depending on government, culture, demographics, and so forth. In this our primary setting is the Kingdom of Denion, with roots in a ‘Great Migration’ that took place in the distant past. That past is very important in upcoming novels, because it also explains the origins of the ‘Gift’.
This is book one in the Blood of the Prince series. Where does book two pickup and when will it be available?
Blood of the Prince Book 2: ‘All Things Ruin’ is currently out, at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and some ancillary sites. It picks up about a week after the end of ‘Greater Things than Thou’ and continues Patrin and Xadik’s mission.
An orphan is told he is meant for greater things …
Gray eyes are the mark of those with the Gift: an inherent ability to connect with otherworldly technology. In a dangerous world filled with thieves and bloodshed, the Gift can change your entire life.
Patrin is one such gifted person, and he knows it’s the only reason he’s alive. As a teenager, rescued from bloodthirsty bandits, Patrin gives his loyalty to Galin, a deposed Crown Prince, promising to help him seize power.
As Galin teaches him about technology, history, and the shifting moralities of man, Patrin must choose where fate will take him. Galin intends for him to assassinate the current king, but Patrin does not know if he can carry out the bloody task.
With the help of new friends and the beautiful Lady Lena, Patrin will have to decide between helping one of the few people who have ever valued him, or forging his own way in a dark and treacherous world.
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Call of the Conjurer is a story about a group of diverse soldiers brought together to be initiated into magical combat. What was your inspiration for blending military fiction with magic and the paranormal?
Call of the Conjurer was actually written as a prequel to a homemade, stop-motion film some friends and I made when we were kids, way back around 1996. It was called Bloodfest, and it was mainly about a squad of modelling clay soldiers tearing through a Lego city full of demons and zombies. It would have been on youtube, if that had existed back then. Ultimately Bloodfest was just a weird little black comedy with minimal plot, although the whole setting and the characters stayed with me for years afterwards. It was when I started toying about with programming and began work on a Bloodfest video game that I started to give it more thought. The original story was a bare concept, and we had made the Bloodfest team far from professional – quite “Monty Pythonesque” in their quirkiness, so I had to ask myself: ‘Why was it up to this squad of soldiers to save the whole world from monsters? What made them capable to do such a thing?’ That was when I had the idea of giving them all super powers and magic spells. I wanted to make an RPG game, and to let players customise the characters with a selection of spells and abilities. I also thought more about the backstory, how the team were in service to a shadowy “Hidden Government” who deployed them to fight off extreme threats. Working on the world building to explain how and why the soldiers had magic; why their abilities were so rare and why there were monsters in existence, eventually led me to write Call of the Conjurer when I wanted to try self-publishing books. I decided to start from the beginning, and work my way up to writing Bloodfest as a novel. I never quite finished that RPG game, but maybe I’ll get back to it sometime!
I felt that the military jargon and tactics used was well displayed. What research did you do for this novel to get it right?
The main thing I had to research was what happens during military training, and then work that around the setting I wanted to write about. The military is something that has always intrigued me. In England we celebrate the heroism of those who fought in wars, and conflict is a big part of our history, so it is the kind of thing I’ve read about a lot over the years. I’ve also known a few people who have served in the British Army and United States Army, and one thing I wanted to get across in Call of the Conjurer was how these soldiers are just ordinary people with the same flaws and ambitions we all have. Bearing in mind the rarity of the recruits in the story – their magical abilities which are desperately sought after – the characters in Call of the Conjurer are granted more privilege than most soldiers would be given in reality. This allowed me to occasionally put the cast in relaxed situations where they could be themselves, which was important for building them up as a team who trusted each other, and letting them grow as individuals.
There is magic used throughout the story. How do you keep magic believable in your story?
For most of the characters in the book, magic is a startling experience to begin with but it eventually becomes second nature. Some of them had prior experience with it, and I wanted a world where magic is a natural force but being able to utilise it is a rarity. It is a mysterious power tied to genetics and human history, and the Hidden Government has an entire Magical Science department dedicated to studying the phenomena. Over the years these scientists have tried to quantify, categorise and explain magic; successfully turning it into a weaponised asset for battle, but like all fields of science their understanding changes with new developments. In this way I can make magic a standard tool for the soldiers who use it every day, but leave many mysteries and revelations to be explored throughout the Bloodfest series in upcoming books.
There are a lot of diverse and interesting characters in this novel. What was your favorite character to write for and why?
I wanted a diverse but small cast, and as Call of the Conjurer was written as a prequel, there were a few key characters that had to be included. I liked having this chance to re-establish characters like Ace and Shimon, writing about them several years younger where they were different people to how I knew them. Captain Mason was instantly a good character to write about. My aim for him was not to be a typical drill-instructor people might expect. He’s much kinder to the recruits (sometimes chastised for being so), but still has to be tough at times. He’s a warrior, and a powerful spell caster. He’s fatherly and considerate, though in private he is a very solemn individual with a huge burden on his conscience. His inner turmoil is a big undercurrent throughout the story, and becomes more impactful to the whole plot towards the end. I enjoyed writing Gretel as well. I wasn’t sure where she was supposed to go at first; how she would develop, but I wanted to write a character who is initially perceived as a snarky, aloof ‘Goth’ but actually has a lot of personality and depth. She’s full of surprises, and I’ve had a lot of feedback from people saying she was their favourite part of the book.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be published?
The next book is Typhoon of Fire, which is finished and in the proof editing stage right now. The story follows the surviving recruits from Call of the Conjurer several years later as fully fledged soldiers now on active duty. They’re on a mission in an arid setting, living rough and facing greater threats in hostile conditions. “Hell on Earth” is a big theme of the story, and the whole book is a strange mix of Vietnam War films and Dante’s Inferno. It is definitely grimier and darker than Call of the Conjurer was, taking away the safety nets and really pushing the characters into some difficult situations while expanding on the whole Bloodfest universe even more.
In the shadows, Just out of sight, A hidden army fights a secret war. In the autumn of 2003, a few remarkable soldiers from across the world are brought together. Each hasa a special gift, and they are to be initiated nto a world of magical modern combat. Captain Calbert Mason is their instructor. He is a Conjurer; one who can summon and control ethereal monsters. As the recruits confront their new powers and the monstrous enemies they will encounter, Mason must ensure their safety throughout the training programme, confront a vengeful ghost from his past, and see that the recruits survive their first mission against a rival, deadly Conjurer.
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