Joshua Landeros is at it again with a sequel to his prequel series with Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Julissa Marconi is ready to take on the ultimate villain, Chancellor Venloran. All that stands between the United Nation Republic and Mexico is the rebels, who seek to resist the tyrannical influence of the more powerful country. This struggle will not end cleanly as Venloran deploys his cyborg soldiers, which leaves Julissa questioning if she can really stop this assault. She may have to become what she fights.
And once again Landeros hits it out of the park with this novel and there is a maturing of his prose in a way that should greatly satisfy his readers. Poison centers around the conflict, or rather, Expansion, that the United Nation Republic is forcing upon Mexico. There is a resonance here with the current events of immigration and Mexico with the US, which does not make this seem like an accident on Landeros’ part. The engagement not only of the struggle of soldiers, but of entire populaces, bumps up the stakes of what has been up until now, a waltz down memory lane to contextualize his main Reverence series.
This installment breathes new air into the series and gives the prequel series more weight going forward. In some ways the look at the national conflict tends to make the conflict become too political and the characters are lost in the back and forth, but it eventually re-centers and the story becomes an intimate tale about identity and duty.
The style of Landeros is largely unchanged aside from his deeper engagement with thematic elements helping his subtle prose along. Robert Heinlein would be proud as would Atwood with his struggle to both dignify the society he has created, and draw parallels from our world to the world of Reverence. For the science fiction reader, there may be more thriller, political drama than one is used to, but we can always count on Landeros to bring the fight to us.
In the grander scheme of his series and world building, Posion begins to show the end game that will follow, since the Expansion is only a piece to Venloran’s ongoing long game. We all know the players who are involved at this point and it’s really just seeing it all unravel. Truly, a pulse-pounding thrilling read.
Pages: 226 | ASIN: B07BNTQRTJ
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The Civil War was filled with pain, suffering, and too much death for both the North and the South. The often-untold stories of suffering and valor are those of the slaves and former slaves. Out in Missouri and Kansas some of the most brutal fighting occurred, not from the armies, but from guerrilla warfare. Honor Among Outcasts continues the story of the Dark Horse inhabitants that have joined the Union Army as soldiers in the Missouri State Militia Ninth Calvary. This is a story of how a group of former slaves fight for their freedom along with their half Indian partner. They face war, racism, and the loss of family and friends, and a multilevel conspiracy; but through it all, their spirit and honor never waver.
Ed Protzel uses historical fiction to bring light to things that went on during the Civil War. While the story of Durk and Antoinette is fabricated there is truth underlying their situation. Generals in the war often didn’t agree with the side they were on; but cared more for their political status than the men they sent off to die. Colored soldiers were especially expendable and were not given adequate supplies and provisions to fulfill their missions, yet few cared. Protzel does an amazing job showing the fear for each decision and action that the soldiers in the Dark Horse regiment had to make. It was never a simple decision of what makes the most sense, it was always about, what will keep us alive the longest while maintain honor. Paralleling their story, is the one of the women from the Dark Horse plantation. These women could not join the army, so they had no protection when all their papers are lost. This was a common issue among freed slaves. You could not go anywhere without your documentation or you were at risk of being put in jail or hung. This fear is so prevalent in the writing.
Reading about the harsh conditions in Missouri that the soldiers lived in is hard, starvation, lack of medical care, equipment shortages in the way of horses and weapons. Soldiers being sent out with little more than their bare hands to fight off guerrilla attacks. I know growing up and learning history I never heard about the guerrilla warfare and the complete brutality of it all. It didn’t matter who you supported, they were merciless and only cared about collecting the spoils of war. Killing meant nothing to these mercenaries. Double agent spy’s playing to whatever side they could is not a far-fetched idea and I’m sure it happened more often than even Protzel makes mention of. Lives and families torn apart and those left alive must suffer from it all.
Reading Honor Among Outcasts, I can see where Ed Protzel got the title. Everything is stacked against the Dark Horse group, men and women, but through it all they retain their honor. They refuse to take the easy way out of things to save their own lives. As I read this book I wanted to see the happy ending, I wanted everything to be okay, but true to real life, that isn’t always the case, not everyone will live, not everyone has a happily ever after. There is still another book in this series and I look forward to reading it to see what happens with the remaining Dark Horse members’, just maybe they will find peace.
Pages: 269 | ASIN: B077YRFB9J
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A young American physician Dr. Scott Fitzgerald from Pennsylvania sets out on a journey to fulfill his fathers dream by returning to Afghanistan where his father Bryan had spent nearly twenty years as the first American in that remote kingdom. Bryan had befriended Prince Akbar, the hero of First Anglo-Afghan, and won the hearts and minds of Afghans receiving a golden sword and the title of the American Prince. Like his father, Scott wanted to take the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution to the farthest lands of the world. Following many adventures he joins Prince Ayoub, the hero of the Second Afghan War.
Scott travels from Philadelphia across Europe, Russia, Afghanistan, India to the Far East. He returns with lessons learned and truths he discovered and writes them in this book to reach the present and future generations. He regards the American Republic as an indestructible fortress of freedom and democracy that all extremes of left and right factions are inevitably drawn back into the fortress of ‘Immortal Ideas”, built by their forefathers with their genius, their fortunes and their lives. Scott believes, as Americans we have never claimed to convert or to rule the world. We just want for others to have the same inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of their own happinesss.
Scott quotes a great American, The Constitution of the United States is the impassioned and inspired vehicle by which we travel through history. It grew out of the deepest inspiration of our existence that we are here to serve Him by living free. That living free, releases in us the noble impulses and our best abilities so that we use these precious gifts for good and generous purposes and that we will secure them not just only for ourselves and our children but for all mankind.
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The resistance fighters have suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Chancellor Venloran. With many of his enemies dead or imprisoned, the Chancellor is ready to move to the final phase of his scheme: The International Summit. The historic event is just hours away, drawing leaders from all over the world to the United Nation Headquarters in New York City. Venloran believes peace through dominance is at last at hand.
At the same time, Will is hell bent on launching an assault on that very night, though the remaining troops are weary and few in number. The renegade cyborg has the help of tech experts Alex and Bri, along with pilot Gabriella, but the opposition may be more than they can handle. Awaiting any threat are the Chancellor’s deadliest soldiers, among them the cyborg hunter Aliss Howard and Will’s very own former superior officer, General Kane. Looming in the back of Will’s mind is the reality that innocent people will have to die to see his vengeance finally realized.
As both sides prepare to collide, none are aware that an unscrupulous politician, Secretary General Vanzetti, is eager for the bloodshed to begin.
Check out the finale of the End of Knighthood Arc and prepare for a thrill ride. The Reverence Series transcends the science fiction genre and will entertain readers of horror, war, fantasy, and even the western.
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The future will crumble as history re-writes itself in the great time travel apocalypse.
It is the year 2258 when nineteen year old China Winter discovers her ability to cross the veil between worlds. On a quest to find her missing brother Maddox, she finds herself summoned by the father of time travel – Nikola Tesla to help save the whole of humanity; both past and future souls. China must sacrifice so much as she is dragged ever deeper into a treacherous and eternal time war.
Stepping back in time from her steampunk-esque existence, China finds herself caught up in the most incredible battles. Every army that ever existed can materialise in the wrong time or place, at any given moment to lay siege upon the earth. Slipping back and forth between the mists of time, history re-writes itself, playing havoc on the very fabric of reality. Can she survive the world of hauntings, poltergeist manifestations and time slips to save the universe from complete obliteration?
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Ballad of Demise is the third and final installment of the End of Knighthood series by Joshua Landeros. Set in the far future, we continue following Will Marconi, the renegade cyborg super soldier, who is aiming to launch an assault the same night as the International Summit. Chancellor Venloran, emboldened by his victory against the resistance fighters, moves into the final phase of his scheme. The International Summit will draw leaders from all over the world to New York City, and he will be able to achieve peace through the dominance of his design. It is up to Will, Alex, Bri, Gabriella, and others to stop the Chancellor and his deadly minions.
Ballad of Demise is an explosive and satisfying conclusion to the End of Knighthood trilogy. Landeros has been getting better and better with every installment. Expanding the borders of military science fiction, Ballad of Demise incorporates elements of horror through war and the suspense of a thriller. All of this adds up to a book that does its best to defeat the conventions of the genre and archetypal narrative structure.
While confining this book to virtually 48 hours and flashbacks, one would think this is a bold move from a relatively new author, but Landeros manages to pull this off with skill. The pace is snappy and engrossing for the reader. The internal struggle of Will and even Venloran shape the tone and theme of the work, which keeps asking if the ends justify the means. Even for the proposed hero, Will finds himself questioning if everything is acceptable for him to have his vengeance.
If there are any issues in this book at all, it would be that Landeros tries hard to stretch out these two days. Some of the action seems forced, and in other places, the dialogue slows the pacing but never enough for the reader to notice for too long. These are minimal problems and ones that take nothing away from the story itself.
For a trilogy, this series sets a high mark for the rest of Landeros career. In other ways, readers will be sad to see this cast of characters go but maybe they will return in future stories? Either way, this book is memorable and a fantastic sound off for Will Marconi. One can hope that such a world does not arise in the future, but these books seem to be asking, what if?
Pages: 161 | ASIN: B076BW7YLJ
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Necessities tells the story of David Lewis, a double amputee Iraq War veteran who has taught himself to box and run half-marathons. David is bitter and angry but determined to succeed despite his injury. He has a promising career as a reporter for the Cleveland Post. His life is turned upside down when Cordelia Lehrer, with whom he had a brief fling in college seeks him out. Cory’s father is the publisher of a chain of an ultra right libertarian newspapers. Cory is looking for a newspaper man who can win her father’s approval and father an heir. David buys into the arrangement and finds himself in the middle of dysfunctional family wars and an increasingly difficult marriage, especially after young Tony, the heir, is born.
Coming in November 2017
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The King’s Move follows cyborg super soldier William, who seeks vengeance after finding the latest weapon the Chancellor holds. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The original idea was to have a straight forward revenge plot with Will pursuing Chancellor Venloran. As I wrote on, I wanted to give the supporting cast more to do and explore their own demons. It turned out to be just what the story needed because the original draft had far too much of the action delegated to Will. Giving other characters a chance to shine was a breath of fresh air.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
For this entry, I had a lot of fun writing Gabriella. I feel like she’s changed a lot since the first book where she was more naïve but optimistic. She’s become very jaded, more so than her brother and to some extent even Will. She’s tried to purge herself of all mercy and I wanted to explore how it has skewed her judgement.
The characters remain, along with the action, some of the best parts of the novel. What is your writing process like?
My writing process is probably hardest in the beginning. I try to plan things out with a synopsis and before each chapter is written I like to have a detailed set of events in mind. The easiest, and most fun, part is putting the meat on the bones. After that comes editing, which I like to do as I go before letting a professional give it an additional look.
This is the third volume in your Reverence series. Will there be another book? If so, where will it take readers and when will it be available?
I have a lot of books planned for the series. The finale to the EOK arc will come in September, latest October. I’m editing it as of now and trying to get the pace just right. The next book we’ll see the Crimson Angels try to launch a counterattack on Chancellor Venloran. Unbeknownst to them, Will is wrestling with the offer given to him by Vanzetti. A ticking time bomb is how I would describe the story, and I’m confident it will be a blast for readers.
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A Higher Calling follows Sam as his reputation follows him even though he’s retired from his gun wearing days, and his new life is threatened as the opportunity for revenge comes knocking. Why did you think this was a good starting point for book 2 in the series?
At the closing of book one, Sam had gotten a glimpse of what his life could be instead of the anger and violence filled existence he had accepted. For a few months he is able to enjoy that normalcy. He is not only seen by the family and neighbors as a husband and father, he starts to see himself in those roles. Even a few friends from his past are willing to give him a chance to be a different man. Too soon, a stranger demands Sam return to the gun. The stranger bribes Sam with money, but also carries a threat in order to manipulate Sam to do his bidding. Sam must choose who he is to be.
Sam must achieve a series of steps in order to become a member of a civilized society. I think of them as similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. First, Sam had to forgive himself and see himself as something more than just a killer. Now, he is making commitments to a family. He has the chance to become a part of that family if he chooses. Hence the name of this book, “A Higher Calling.” Which is the higher calling? Be a husband and father or avenge the death of a friend.
We get to dig deeper into Sam’s character in this book as he has to decide if he is Sam Cardiff or Sam Moses. What were the obstacles you felt were important in develop his character further?
Sam, to me, represents soldiers and Marines who return from combat and are unable to adjust to the quieter life. We only hear about them, unless we know them, when they commit some horrendous act of crime or violence. Sam gave me the opportunity to tell people, who don’t know, that these men and women are wounded as surely as if they had lost a limb. The only difference is the wounds can’t be seen.
That’s what I wanted Sam to tell the reader. He was just a guy with dreams, plans and hopes who circumstances put in a situation so ugly he couldn’t cope. In the aftermath, his value system, his self-awareness, his expectations of himself as well as others are distorted.
Are you a fan of western novels? What books do you feel influenced you as a writer?
I grew up reading Louis Lamoure, Clair Huffaker and Will James. While I read more than just one genre, I am a fan of the western, but I also have a complaint about them. Too often, the characters are single dimensional or at best shallow. This series is the story of the internal struggles of a war vet. I chose the Civil War as I felt it allowed me to tell a better story. I could have chosen any war, but I felt there was a poetry in choosing a 19th century warrior inflicted with a 20th century injury.
Where will book three in the Sam and Laura’s Story series take the characters?
Recovery from any emotional/mental illness is a progression of steps. In book one, Sam came face to face with himself. Who was he going to be. The changing of his name represented that turmoil. In book two, Sam had to find his place in a family but also a community. Once he accepted himself, he had to find a way to accept those around him and allow them to accept him. Book three addresses Sam’s relationship with God and nature. He has spent several years cursing God and wishing God would strike him dead. Now, he must find a way to resolve that conflict.
“What is the matter with you? We do not need his money!” She stood behind him; her hands on her hips.
“It’s not about the money.”
His voice was calm. He could have told her what day of the week it was with the same level of excitement.
“Then why? Why must you go back and try to get yourself killed? You have responsibilities here!”
Sam stopped brushing and seemed ready to turn and face her. He then thought better and did not. He returned to brushing the horse.
“Samuel, you turn around and face me! You tell me why I have to get ready to mourn a second man in my life. You tell me what I’m supposed to tell our children!”
His turn was powerful and deliberate; he faced her, “Our children, Laura? It wasn’t that long ago you told me in no uncertain terms they were your children and I was a bad influence. You share them with me only when it suits you. They are our children if you think you can use them to your advantage.”
“Is that why you’re doing this? To punish me for what I said?”
“Laura, please. Do you really think that little of me? I gave the man my word. I promised him I would avenge him if this happened.”
“You promised? You promised? You also promised my husband you would look after us. I know Wiggins was your friend, but he is cold and dead in the ground. There is nothing you can do that will change that.”
Sam’s’ brows furrowed, “And how is that different from William, your husband? Is he not also cold and dead in the ground?”
Laura stepped forward and took his free hand. She placed his hand on her chest, between her breasts, “Does this feel like it’s cold and dead? Do you not feel the love that surges through my body with every beat of my heart? Tell me what I have to do to keep you here? What must I do to change your mind?”
Sam Moses was in a quandary, a crossroads. He had followed the beautiful Laura Stoddard and her children to Missouri in order to care for them as he had promised the dying William Stoddard, the husband and father. He was determined to keep his word.
Now, he had received notice a friend had been murdered. A friend whom he had promised to avenge if such a thing happened; now, it had. Avenging his friend would most likely kill him but he had given his word.
Now, after living most of his life being beholden to anyone, he must choose, which promise is the higher calling?
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End of Knighthood Part II: The King’s Move keeps the action blazing forward! The second installment, by Joshua Landeros, follows rebel cyborg super soldiers and continues the story of William Marconi, who seeks vengeance from Chancellor Venloran. After finding out what latest weapon the Chancellor holds, rebel fighters Captain Halsey and Gabby, were lured into a trap and are at his mercy. This sets the stage for what the rebellion needs to do. Will, who started this rebellion, may get his chance to achieve his vengeance and end it, but the cost may be even too great for him to bear.
The King’s Move wastes no time in getting back into the thick of the action and picking up where we left off in the first. The action does not break and the events become more heinous as we reach the book’s climax and the tragic conclusion. Landeros continues to borrow the best from classic military sci-fi authors with short, clipped sentences and telling “only the facts” when denoting action and danger. His world building is subtle and should please any reader who pays attention to the craft of writing. With this second part in his series Landeros has escalated the conflict and moved the stakes to an even higher plane.
The characters remain, along with the action, some of the best parts of the novel. His rather wide cast of rebels and villains are all a thrill to read and fun to follow as they attempt to achieve their various goals. The book remains a blend of sci-fi/thriller that would keep any fan of those two genres satisfied. The dialogue shoots back and forth between the characters as fast as the bullets, keeping the pace quick and the readier on the edge of their seat. These are a welcome distraction from the brutal carnage that sometimes occurs.
The lack of description hurts this work at times, which it makes up for since with prose that has improved since the last installment. He continues to borrow heavily from screenwriting techniques, with consistent dialogue on almost every page, while providing only deep description of the action scenes. His fast pace style will suit casual readers as well as those used to thrillers and military sci-fi.
The King’s Move is an exciting bridge that keeps the reader entertained and swept away on the plight of these rebel cyborgs. Anyone who enjoys a military science fiction thriller will find their palates pleased with Landeros’ work and hungry for the third installment.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B073WHFL24
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