Bloodfest by Ryan Grimbly is a paranovel set in Pacoven – an isolated island in the Pacific Ocean that the government uses to conduct social experiments. The story follows the activities of an elite squad of Hidden Government soldiers captained by Ace McDagger, aided by his childhood friend Shimon. The soldiers are sent to Pacoven in a shroud of mystery, not knowing why they are going there or what, or who lies in wait for them.
The plot is fast paced but easy to understand. There are a couple of flashbacks to Ace’s childhood, however they are easy to follow and add to the depth of his character. Some of the flashbacks include Ace’s friend Shimon, this builds up their relationship and explains there closeness even in the professional field. However, the loyalties of some of the characters are tested, and as they progress with their mission it becomes unclear whom can trust whom. As with any good tale there are several twists and turns to keep you guessing.
Bloodfest is filled with characters. Most of the characters belong to the Hidden Government Army and work with the main character Ace McDagger. Other less developed characters are the residents of Pacoven. The characters are easily distinguishable and are not hard to follow. Some of the characters are described physically, for example Ace’s eye patch is often referred to. Others have their skills (often magical) described – Shimon reads minds and sees the future, another character – Resh- erases memories. The dialogue is cleverly written, with each character having their own unique dialogue that aptly fits their character.
Of course, there are also the paranormal characters – zombies, warlords and man-made monsters. These characters are also cleverly and thoroughly described; “one of bones and loose red flesh”. The vivid descriptions had to the suspense of the story.
Adding to the suspense is the setting itself. Pacovern is an island like no other. Although it appears typical with streets, shops, nightclubs, buses and churches looks are deceiving. It is in fact full of trapdoors, an artificial church and a vortex. Just like the humans and monsters traversing the island itself is dangerous and unpredictable.
Bloodfest is a fast moving and gripping read. The characters and setting are described in graphic detail, creating a book that is hard to put down.
Pages: 538 | ASIN: B07GBZ5KHJ
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In Typhoon of Fire we follow Ace Mcdagger who teams up with Captain Loxwell of November squad to rescue her teammates scattered in the forests of Malaysia. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
During Call of the Conjurer, when the characters were new recruits to the hidden world of modern, magical combat; they spent a lot of time in a regulated, clean environments. The characters were usually safe. I wanted to go the opposite way in Typhoon of Fire. I wanted the situation throughout to be very rough, challenging and dangerous. My very first thought, visually, was of Vietnam era war films like “Platoon” and “Apocalypse Now”.
The jungle is wild and hostile, and Malaysia is a location brimming with different environments which greatly inspired the events throughout. The characters explore flat, arid plains and damp rainforests, a rundown laboratory overrun by plants, an abandoned mine, a floating fortress above the clouds… I had a great time using colour schemes to set the mood. The use of natural environments also helped me to emphasise major themes in the book. Subjects such as ‘corruption of life’, ‘man versus nature’ and ‘Hell on Earth’.
I felt that the novel was very well paced and kept me engaged throughout. Did you plan the novel as you wrote or did it all happen organically?
It happened organically, for the most part. From my perspective, Typhoon of Fire is a prequel to another book I have written – but I decided it would be better to publish them chronologically. Certain events had to happen in Typhoon of Fire, and with that in mind I just had fun writing what I wanted: a creepy science-gone-wrong scenario!
Developing the supporting cast and their stories happened organically as well. They were new characters, who would not necessarily be seen again; so their personalities, roles and fates were all blank slates. I enjoyed unravelling these characters, adding little twists to their personalities to surprise the reader. A lot of the characters are very different people by the end of the story, for better or for worse. I suppose in essence, the main plot of Typhoon of Fire was an after thought for me. The subplots, however; the individual character arcs which pave the way for future instalments, are the real meat and bones of the book. Away from all the magic and sci-fi, this is a book about humanity and frailty.
Ace, Shimon, Tiffany, and Loxwell have brilliant dialogue and they feel like living characters. What things did you focus your character development on to bring your characters to life?
I absolutely adore writing flawed characters. I like my characters fumble their dialogue, on occasion, or misunderstand information given to them. It makes them more human, to be far from perfect. I enjoy the concept of the “unreliable protagonist” and bear that in mind when I write. Sometimes the characters make mistakes, and sometimes they lie, even to themselves. They are supposed to be human, despite any super human magical powers they possess. Careful dialogue keeps them grounded and relatable.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
Tricky one! I actually have two books in the proof reading stage now. One is a direct follow up to Typhoon of Fire, called Bloodfest, which was the book I had written before this one but decided to release later. The other book I’ve completed is a supplementary story called The Sardonyc, which focuses on the Science Department mentioned throughout Typhoon of Fire. The Sardonyc is a very different book to what I have written before, but it is still within the same self contained universe.
Bloodfest will be a straight up action horror / macabre comedy, continuing the adventures of Ace Mcdagger. He is more grown up and world weary by now, and is deployed to a mysterious island to dispatch a rising army of the undead. Definitely one for zombie fans!
The Sardonyc is more of a psychological thriller, about a troubled new character named Sidney. He is part of a research team stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean, and everybody is slowly going mad. Sidney must figure out why it is happening before he succumbs as well, and there are plenty of twists along the way.
I hope the Literary Titan will review my next book soon – whichever one is out first!
Three years after training; learning about magic combat and of monsters that terrorise our world, soldier Ace Mcdagger and his allies join Captain Rafaella Loxwell of November Squad for a rescue mission. Her team mates have been scattered following a disastrous attempt to seek out a rogue scientist deep in the forests of Malaysia. Their path is mired by many obstacles; treachery, psychic warnings, scientific abominations, and an overwhelming storm – the Typhoon of Fire, slowly closing in on the region without a known cause.
Worst of all, Ace has to contend with a personal challenge – keeping his mad cousin out of trouble.
Can Captain Loxwell save her team mates and complete the mysterious mission? And will Ace and his friends survive out here in the midst of true, heated battle?
Posted in Interviews
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Typhoon by Fire by Ryan Grimbly is a fun read! We follow Ace Mcdagger, who teams up with Captain Loxwell of November squad, to rescue her teammates who are scattered in the forests of Malaysia. Three years after basic training in combat and the use of magic, while studying monsters that roam the world, Ace and his team will be put to the test. A rogue scientist was the quarry of Captain Loxwell and remains at large. The joint effort is faced by many obstacles including psychic anomalies, scientific experiments gone awry, and a storm that threatens to consume the region…the Typhoon of Fire.
Grimbly’s writing is one that ensures good pacing. He gives us a small introduction to Ace and Shimon, two of the main characters, showing their roots of where they came from. The prose reads well and quickly, which for a novel such as this is a plus. The blend of genres is a notable factor considering I feel this fits into a military thriller, paranormal, or even urban fantasy. The book could even count as young adult with the playful elements within, but some of the language may be too intense at times for teens. The fact that this blend seems rather seamless is a good reason for any reader that likes these genres to pick this book up.
The prose is strongest with the interplay of Grimbly’s characters. Ace, Shimon, Tiffany, and Loxwell all have brilliant dialogue with one another and they feel like living characters who come off page. It is one of the reasons why I felt this book was such a pleasure to read in the first place. This along with the action that bristles in the scenes that fill most of the book, makes sure to keep the reader turning the page. The blend of military training, magic, and psychic powers may be off putting for some readers, but I think Grimbly manages to balance all of these genres surprisingly well.
Despite all of this, the book is not without some flaws, which include some of the plot and description. I won’t spoil the plot here, so I can’t say much on that front. I will say that those remarks do not mar the good points of this book. Grimbly does skimp on the description and enough that I often became lost in some of his scenes. And as a reader there is nothing more disconcerting than realizing that you’ve lost the sense of “space” that a character or characters exist in.
With all of this in mind, the novel is a wild ride that does not let up until the end. The book is part of a series that I may check out in the future as well. I would encourage fans of urban fantasy, paranormal, and military fiction to take a dive into The Typhoon of Fire.
Pages: 474 | ASIN: B00UYRYZVE
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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.
Posted in Interviews
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Call of the Conjurer by Ryan Grimbly is a story about soldiers brought together to be initiated into combat, but not any type of combat; magical combat. These soldiers each have a special ability that makes them critical for an army. One particular soldier, Ace Mcdagger, is unaware of what his special power is, but clearly is able to survive situations that seem impossible. The ordered to train the soldiers is Captain Calbert Mason. He is forced to face his past while the soldiers battle their own challenges
One of the things that makes this book so interesting is that it seamlessly blends magic with science, romance with horror while also revealing the horrors of war. If you are thinking this will be a typical military strategy book, you are both right and wrong. There are elements that set this book apart such as the magical elements, but also things that make it very much like a military book such as the battle scenes along with some technical tactical jargon. Which I believe would be great for anyone who likes a good military fiction novel. But if your sensitive to profanity, be warned, there is a lot in this novel.
Grimbly excels at creating vivid scenes that draw the reader into the story. He paints a scene that readers are able to visualize and almost feel the effects of a war happening around them. Transition between scenes are done seamlessly which is the technical mark of a good writer. It is very evident that Grimbly did research on military tactics, maneuvers and formations which gives the book an air of realism, even among the magical and supernatural elements to the story. The idea of building an army based on different magical abilities is interesting and draws readers to a new genre such as a fantasy lover reading a military-based novel for the first time.
Overall this book was well written and an entertaining. It successfully blends two different genres for readers who enjoy military, war, and strategic novels, and those who like fantasy and magic. I would recommend this novel for people who are trying to branch out for their normal reading genres. You’ll find plenty to enjoy in this fantastic paranormal fantasy novel.
Pages: 340 | ASIN: B00IVUH43M
Tags: amazon, amazon books, army, author, book, book review, books, call of the conjurer, combat, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, fighting, horror, kindle, magic, novel, paranormal, publishing, reading, review, reviews, ryan grimbly, soldier, stories, supernatural, tactics, urban fantasy, war, writing