The Winter of Swords starts when Eisa is snatched by a monster which begins the convergence of several different characters. What was the inspiration for this thrilling story?
The story was originally inspired by a song: “Protectors of the Earth” by Two Steps from Hell. I visualized a scene in a forest clearing, where an army of dark creatures, led by a terrifying six-limbed beast, faced off against a massive wolf. I wrote the sequence with the intention of having my protagonist realize that he shares a magical bond with this wolf (a spirit guardian of nature). After finishing the chapter, the story took off in a completely different direction. I’d been reading a lot of fantasy at the time, and struggled with the disappointment that so much of it was the same, and not just tropes, but theme, archetypes, and even magical creatures. I was tired of dragons and elves especially, but also of questing heroes. I wanted cool new beasts, but more so, I was looking for something that would terrify me. The answer was Doombringer – whose physical presence might only be surpassed by his cunning and intellect. I wanted a creature that characters can’t simply run away and hide from, but one that watches, understands, and hunts them. I structured the beginning of the story differently, too, as I wanted to defy expectation and convention. And heh, everyone loves a good twist! Eisa, Hunter, and Luca are integral to the overall arc in the series, but their stories don’t necessarily move as most people expect. A seemingly routine trip into the wilds to collect resources proves to be the catalyst for a much grander story in scope and scale.
There’s an assortment of varied and well-developed characters in this novel, and I found everyone to be interesting. Who was your favorite character to write for?
This is a hard question to answer, as I love all of my characters. In fact, it feels like trying to single out one of your children as your favorite. But if I had to choose, I would say that Roman is my favorite to write. As you discover in The Winter of Swords, he has a fairly tragic backstory. To me, Roman represents resiliency, honor, and an unflappable sense of nobility. He’s introspective, shy, and a bit socially dysfunctional, but it’s his relationship with his adoptive companion, Tusk, that makes him so loveable. So many people struggle to fit in, and Roman is no different. I think that, in part, is why his interactions with Dennah are so much fun for me to write. You get to see how two people from vastly different upbringings can bond and find mutual ground. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Roman is also probably the most complicated character in the series – for reasons people will see by the time they finish Before the Crow. Beyond Roman, another of my favorites was Balin – a slippery rogue in Gladeus’ employ. In the original draft of the book, Balin appeared for a total of two or three paragraphs. By the time I finished the draft I was so enamored with him and his story that I had to go back and expand on him as a character. I think those morally gray characters can add such a wonderfully complicated dynamic to the story.
I enjoyed the in depth world building in this book. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your world?
I wanted to present the concept of the “ancient evil returned to threaten the world”, but wanted to avoid the “good vs evil” light fights the dark, or the evil lord who refuses to die returns once again to enslave the world, tropes that were prevalent in Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and so many others. That in part is why the readers get to see the antagonists, too. By seeing their rebirth, understanding a bit about their fall, and their motivations and aspirations, I think it makes the conflict a little richer. I’m also a huge nerd for history. So much of the back-story in Denoril is shades of feudal Europe, the protestant migration to the new world, the concept of world war, and the effect of colonialism on indigenous people, and abolition of slavery. The theme of indigenous people plays out in with the dalan – a magical people readers don’t necessarily get to meet until a little further into the series. I think it’s worth the wait!
This is book one in the Overthrown series. What can readers expect in book two, Before the Crow?
Oh, boy! That’s the question. The Winter of Swords really sets the stage, but like so many introductory volumes, it scrambles things up and tears the characters down. Before the Crow picks right up where Swords ends in that regard, so it is definitely “binge ready”. The conflict deepens and spreads, but the cat is out of the bag to an extent, so we get to see how some of our characters start to deal with the threat, but also what might set them apart from everyone else, and in the end, help them become the heroes Denoril needs so badly. For people who read through to the end of Winter of Swords, I strongly suggest they go right into Before the Crow. They just might find some events at the end of the second book incredibly rewarding!
An intelligent, six-limbed beast snatches a girl away from her family.
An orphan confronts the darkness in his past, while a menace stalks his small town.
A young woman cast into servitude tries to forge her own path in an unforgiving world.
And an inexperienced soldier following the path of honor and duty comes face to face with a foe born from his worst nightmares.
Seemingly unconnected, this small group of normal folk will fight to survive, for an ancient evil has awakened, and Denoril will need heroes if it is to endure The Winter of Swords.
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Tags: Aaron Bunce, adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, dark fantasy, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, magic, military, mystery, nook, novel, overthrown, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, story, sword and sorcery, The Winter of Swords, writer, writer community, writing
What begins as a carefree adventure among siblings turns deadly in a heartbeat when Eisa is left alone following the violent deaths of her loved ones. Snatched from the scene and carried away by what can only be described as a monster of epic proportions, she is left wondering why she was allowed, or perhaps chosen, to live. A story seemingly unconnected to the tumultuous lives of Julian, Roman, Dennah, DaeGeroth, Balin and Gladeus soon becomes much more clearly interwoven into the experiences of all of the them. None of them could have predicted the evils that lie beyond the wide expanses of beautiful countryside they all know so well.
The Winter of Swords, by Aaron Bunce, is a stunning visual of fright-filled fantasy, old world charm, and a wide assortment of well-developed characters. From the moment I began reading of Eisa’s experience in the wilderness, I was swept into a world of creatures and hidden realms from which I found it difficult to separate myself–the hallmark of effective writing. Eisa’s entire ordeal set the stage for some of the most fantastic imagery I have read in a long time. Not many books can boast such horrifying beings so vividly described and so dreaded by even the reader.
Roman, one of the chief characters in Bunce’s work, has the most poignant subplot in my opinion. His backstory tugs at the heartstrings. The scene set by Bunce at the farm owned by Garon is a step-by-step reveal of one heart-wrenching horror after another. It is an artfully written chapter that has the feel of a slow motion movie scene set to an emotionally-gripping score.
Though Bunce’s book is filled with delightfully terrifying images, for me, there was none quite like the scene that takes place involving Julian in the simple town of Craymore. When an author can conjure up a visceral reaction with the mere mention of the sound of a horn in the distance, you know you have found an author to follow. More unsettling than the beastly gnarls was the powerful commandment of the horn’s sounding–wonderfully ominous and capable of provoking a sense of mystery.
Bunce has managed to give readers a novel rich with dialogue. Not every book of this genre is able to carry out a plot so heavy with character interactions. Many books rely on narrative to tell the story, but Bunce is more than capable of telling the tale via characters’ thoughts and exchanges.
While it is solidly based in fantasy, the element of mystery is strong throughout the plot, and that is one of many striking factors in Bunce’s work. Bunce has created a spectacular work of fiction which will appeal to readers who enjoy fantasy with incredible creatures, high drama, and an assortment of strong lead characters.
Pages: 818 | ASIN: B07MCX4CFD
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Lukas is unlike any other boy. Not a boy but not yet a man, Lukas has been hit with more loss, more trauma, and more inexplicable realizations than most adults experience in their lifetimes. When his grandmother takes him under her wing and begins to train him, Lukas is inundated by her pleas to not forsake the Goddess. Lukas, overcome with the pain of the loss of his parents, the tragic eradication of almost everyone else he loves, and left alone in the world with a new acquaintance, turns his head again and again from his Goddess, defying his grandmother’s wishes and, possibly, putting much more than his own life at risk.
E.L. Reedy and A.M. Wade present a most unique set of characters in their young adult fantasy, Soul Dark: Chosen. Lukas, the book’s protagonist, is almost overshadowed by the authors’ vivid descriptions and fantastic choice of dialect and idiosyncrasies given the secondary characters. Jacob is a standout in my book. For as meek and mild as the authors initially portray him, he shines like a light from the pages, and he easily steals each scene from the other characters.
As a reader, I more than appreciate a story with numerous twists. Though not a huge nor especially unforeseen twist, I was glad to see the integration of the “knowing” character with introduction of Matthew. Those types of hidden gems in a story make all the difference; Reedy and Wade have this technique down to an art in this book.
One of the more gripping scenes in the book is the moment Lukas meets the old man, Theo Deville. The authors paint a stunning scene when the two lock eyes. Their dynamic is imperative to the success of the overall story line, and it is within this moment in the book that the authors set that tone. I found myself rereading that section more than once.
I found the breaks away from Lukas’s own dramatic situations between the chapters to be quite effective. By taking readers, if momentarily, to another realm, Reedy and Wade are able to keep the momentum of the plot and continue to build interest as the story plays out. These brief interludes serve as important reminders to readers that Lukas is not yet out of the woods, and his true test is always just around the next corner.
I don’t doubt that someone else will make this comparison, but I feel Soul Dark: Chosen can be likened to a modern-day The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The underlying theme of faithfulness, loyalty, and good versus evil are apparent from beginning to end. A strong cast of characters who all rely on one another and are driven closer and closer together through shared traumas is not a new concept, but it is one that Reedy and Wade seem to have given new life.
Not many authors can successfully combine modern day settings with those of ancient times to bring to life a book filled with both action and humor. Reedy and Wade have more than accomplished that task. I highly recommend Soul Dark: Chosen to any reader interested in young adult fantasy and looking for a book with a well-placed and strong theme of faith.
Pages: 246 | ASIN: B07P2L6655
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Imber follows a young queen on a deadly journey to save her kingdom from an ancient enemy. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
Honestly I’ve always been a huge fan of epic fantasy; huge, sweeping books that pulled you into another world, or games that let you have powers and forge bonds. Larger than life enemies, heroes that don’t always win. I grew up on JRR Tolkien, Garth Nix, Julian May, and JK Rowling. I’ve poured hours and hours into the Dragon Age and Elder Scrolls games, and more still into Dungeons and Dragons sessions. So when I started writing I leaned into that. I followed the magic. And while I still have a lot to learn from those greats, I knew going in that I really wanted Imber to encompass what I love about fantasy–the trials, the adventures, the magic, the friendship.
Natylia is an intriguing character that I enjoyed following. What were some driving ideals behind her character?
With all of my characters I stick very firmly to the ideal “write what you know.” Who was I at 19? I was young, and impulsive, and made mistakes. So what would I have done thrust into a spotlight I wasn’t quite ready for? I would have been young, and impulsive, and made mistakes–mistakes I would later learn great lessons from. I’ve always loved flawed heroes, because they felt more real to me, and I wanted Natylia to feel as close to a living person as one could living inside pages.
The novel has a rich backstory that I hope to see more of. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?
I think there’s a lot of conversations that aren’t being had in our real, living world, and I tried to weave some of those into my world building. I’m all for a story with a message, and I tried to throw in a few that were important to me.
Natylia has panic attacks because of crowds, and because that’s what felt natural to me; but mental health isn’t often addressed in fiction and when it is, often it’s in a harmful or inconsistent way.
I also wanted younger readers, since Imber is YA, to be reminded that they will be underestimated, and they will make mistakes, but that they can move forward from them.
I wanted to reinforce the idea that sometimes family isn’t blood, but the people in your life who love and support you. Specifically, Natylia’s relationship with Jyn. They’re really important to me because I think strictly platonic male-female relationships are almost nonexistent in literature, and they shouldn’t hold the strange taboo that society puts on them, but also because when Jyn had no one else he still had Natylia. Those kind of friendships are rare and should be cherished.
This is book one in your Thanatos Trilogy, where will book two pickup and when will it be available?
Book two will pick up two to three weeks after the end of Imber, and it will be available Fall 2019. Right now I’m aiming for a late September/early October release.
The locks are failing
The keys are calling.
The Titans are waking.
Crowned before her time, nineteen-year-old Natylia is thrust into an unpleasant reality–her people don’t want her, her family doesn’t need her and,despite her best efforts, she can’t seem to shake an incorrigible suitor. But when rumors begin to swirl throughout her kingdom the young queen shifts her focus and realizes that the world she loves could be destroyed in an instant.
An ancient enemy, long thought gone, is trying to return.
Forgotten legends have resurfaced, stories that tell of three scepters: the keys to unleashing these foul beings. Across Araenna the hunt rages for this trio of formidable power–to command the keys is to hold the power of mortal gods.
Aided by her snarky elven bodyguard, an unassuming blacksmith, and a clever nature witch, Natylia races to correct the mistakes of the past… before they can destroy her people’s future.
Tyffany Hackett’s book Imber follows the journey of a young girl named Natylia, who becomes queen before she is of age and takes her mother’s throne. She is accompanied throughout the story by friends like an elf, an herbalist, and a blacksmith. Natylia, after hearing about the legend of an ancient artifact, decides to go with her friends and find the artifact before others take it. Our heroine toils through loss and political conflict to successfully achieve her goal of benefiting the kingdom and saving it from an ancient doom.
Set in medieval times, this book contains so many fantastical things that are superbly described. The characters were well developed and gained layers as the story progressed. Natylia is one example of such a character. Throughout the book, you can see she reacts to stresses and pressures in a believable and relateable way. There is a complexity to all the characters stories, starting superficially and growing into something deeper, which is explored and hinted at throughout the book. One such example is Jyn, who is a friend of our protagonist. He’s ever faithful, and even with his temper he’s something more than Natylia’s guard.
The book explores themes of growing up in the face of adversity, as seen with the protagonist’s ascension to the throne. The trials she faces make her grow up from a young girl into a full-fledged woman right before your eyes. This coming-of-age theme really kept me turning pages all the way through. The author’s writing delivers complex ideas easily, but at times I felt the story was hampered by excessive descriptions, which detracted from the momentum built with some very well orchestrated action scenes. At the same time however, I can’t help but feel that the descriptions helped cement the world better and evoke a stronger image about the story. I suppose this is to say, if you like deep descriptive world building then this book is for you.
While the character development was excellent, I felt that some of the relationships that Natylia has throughout the book were shallow and easily cast aside. There were some relationships that I did enjoy, such as our protagonist’s relationship with her parents and siblings, but others seem to be thrown aside or not developed. I was given just enough to be deeply intrigued and begged for more.
Nevertheless, even with these flaws the book was a thrilling read. The prose was crafted with care and the author was very descriptive throughout. When the action came it kept me on the edge of my seat and was very fun to read.
Pages: 424 | ASIN: B07CMGSDRD
Tags: action, adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, blacksmith, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, coming of age, ebook, elf, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, herbalist, ilovebooks, imber, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, magic, medieval, mystery, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, romance, shelfari, smashwords, story, sword and sorcery, thanatos trilogy, tyffany hackett, writer, writer community, writing
Rathen: Into Bramblewood Forest follows Rathen and his crew as they fight against an ancient and terrible deity. What was your inspiration for the setup to this novel?
Bramblewood Forest is the second book in the Rathen Series and continues from the first, but also reads well as a stand-alone story. The inspiration for the series came from when Steve and I played role playing games in the early 80’s. Steve, as my step-father would bring home a variety of board and card games where you had to create background stories. I am not sure many people these days can imagine a life without the internet or well-made computer games, but we had to be creative and use our own imaginations for entertainment.
We also played a lot of Dungeon & Dragons back then where we created entire worlds with a complete cast of characters. I was just a teenager but I learned what went into creating a story. My particular passion homed in on how the characters were influenced by their environments and worlds and how an ordinary inhabitant could strive to be a superhero even without supernatural powers.
The legend of Ghrakus Castle was roughly based on a story Steve created a long time ago. I took the idea, drew more into it, and added that as a background for the characters to interact. Steve and I have endeared a long lasting collaboration on stories and role playing game ideas and hope to keep it going for a while longer.
This is a thrilling book that combines elements of science fiction and fantasy. What was the collaboration like between the two of you while writing this book?
This was the fun part. Steve and I would sit and talk for hours brainstorming new ideas and concepts that we could integrate into the story. We created the magic system in Rathen’s world and explains in detail the strengths and weaknesses. We described things from completely other worlds and even went as far as explaining how the deities came into being. My favorite creation was the ancient being known as “Arg’grimorem” Rathen and his group had to face. Believe me, it isn’t easy coming up with new ideas in the fantasy genre, but I think this creature was unique.
There were so many intriguing characters in this novel. Who was your favorite character to write for?
That is a difficult question. I really got into the heads of all the characters giving me such a strong connection to them. Rathen is always fun to write, but we had such a variety in this book. Magom, who is the character that really stands out in the group, was a challenge since he is an undead being. I had to really think what it would be like to be dead but yet still walking around and interacting with others. But I have to say my favorite character to write for in this book was Caswen, the young cleric from the temple. She had such a fun `coming of age` story and her character arc really made her feel complete. I wanted to continue writing her even after her story had ended.
This is book two in The Rathen Series. Where will book three take readers and when will it be available?
Book three, “The Battle for Korganis”, is still being written. Rathen will enter Bandark’s strange new world and help fight against the forces of the evil deity. It is shaping up to be quite an epic battle. It may be overly optimistic, but I am hoping for a release near the end of 2019.
A man driven by revenge. Another world in peril. A long-forgotten deity determined to destroy all in its path to ultimate power.
Rathen, ex-captain of the late king’s army, pulls together a team to defeat the evil that threatens them all. The Book of Ziz, with its instructions for protective spells against an evil deity has fallen into the nefarious hands of High Priest Litagus, meaning soon untold evil will reign unchecked if Rathen fails.
Consumed by his personal vengeance for the betrayer in the earlier death of his friends, Rathen travels to the ruins of Ghrakus Castle to enlist the aid of the very being who tried to kill Rathen once before. Only the black powers of this ancient evil can ensure their mission to steal the book back, but can those powers be trusted?
To safeguard his group, Rathen also recruits Caswen, an inexperienced young healer determined to make her mark on the world. Together with Bulo, an ex-gladiator and fellow warrior, Thack, a one-armed half-orc, and Bandark, a mysterious mage from another world, the group heads through the menacing Bramblewood Forest to confront Litagus and his followers.
Posted in Interviews
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The Hunt for the Three Roses follows Callie and Kane as they try to leave their old life behind in a world consumed by war. What were some themes you wanted to carry over from book one, and what were some new ideas you wanted to explore in this novel?
This trilogy is all about the upsides and downsides of organized religion. The first book was about how a religion can be a source of guidance and hope in the best of times and a source of uncertainty in the worst. The second book is about how wicked and/or misguided people can make things up that fit within their worldview and pass it off as official religious doctrine. The very identity of the Three Roses (at the risk of giving a spoiler!) is about how different minds and ideologies can fracture a faith for better or worse.
Kane and Callie are intriguing characters with emotional depth. Was there anything from your own life that you put into your characters?
Much of my early life I put into Kane. I tended to be a goody-two-shoes who pointed out people’s bad behavior, especially their profanity. I’ve relaxed that side of me, just as Kane eventually did. Callie is simply someone I’d like to be more, a person who has little problem in speaking her mind and being rambunctious.
This novel, and series, have a rich backstory. Did you create the backstory before writing the novel or did it develop organically while writing?
Some segments in my early books were created organically, but Hunt for the Three Roses was mostly planned ahead. I thought about the plot for months before, often making changes without needing to write anything down. When I started to write, I felt well prepared to go ahead and work without fear of writer’s block.
This is book two in the The Three Roses Trilogy. Where will book three take readers, and when will it be available?
Sean and Callie have settled down, but not for long. They’ll have to be taken well out of their comfort zones so they can discover the truth behind the Three Roses, and just as Callie’s past came to haunt her, so too will Sean’s. Despite the presence of magic, the action scenes in the second book were rather grounded, but in the next one, the action will be rather ethereal. The release date may be sometime in 2020, or possibly 2021.
Change is in the winds in this high-stakes, emotional fantasy adventure!
On the run from the army which he once proudly served, Kane Bailey changes his name to Sean, leaving nearly every shred of his old life behind. His old tutor, Master Cypher, helps guide Sean and gives him a mission that’s more important than Sean realizes: Bring an older, simple-minded man named Jonas to the Royal Palace, where he’ll be safe.
Callie meanwhile is unsure what she wants to do in life. Leading a criminal lifestyle is all that she knows, but it would mean starting from the very bottom. But while her future is up in the air, her dark past rises to haunt her. Rainer the assassin has a score to settle, and he wants to make it as painful and heart-wrenching for Callie as possible.
In this second installment of the Three Roses Trilogy, the hunt is on … and there will be blood.
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I immediately liked Asuf the moment I started reading the book. On their hunting spree with Valhelm, the latter confessed how scared he was to hunt. He mentioned that he had heard stories, unpleasant of course and that something could be lurking around the part of the caverns the two were hunting. Asuf shut his partner down, Saying that whatever Valhelm was on was weakness and unacceptable. I like bold characters in books; Characters like Asuf, who are not frightened by minute issues. Though a little bit aggressive, I admired how Asuf demanded respect. He instilled a little fear in Valhelm when speaking, in that Valhelm felt inferior in his presence.
The book gets to be more interesting as one reads on. I like how the society in Igor Valec’s book held authority in high regard. A subject could not address the king in any manner. They had to use the appropriate title when speaking to those at the throne. One could also tell the mood and tone of the subjects Vis a Vis the king.
King Lortar’s reaction to discovering that there was a heathen cult in the kingdom was priceless. How and where was that? I appreciated Valhelm for informing Lortar about this cult. As they were speaking, one could feel Lortar’s concern in his words. He was worried that Valhelm had gone on his own to do the hunting. I enjoyed the conversation that followed as everyone was given a chance to air their views.
Damnation: A Grimdark Fantasy Political Drama is not your average book. Through the story, the author incorporated themes of leadership, family relations, and infighting among members of the same society, politics, and fantasy. Every chapter built on the story and tension of the last chapter, so as you read you always felt like something was about to happen.
Igor Valec’s character choice was marvelous. Looking at how the characters were distributed across the book, I have to admit that the author took his time to select which traits to give who. Hirr Valhelm remained my favorite character. Other characters I found interesting include Vost Kon Schmitt, Wiktor Kon Oydrich and Lady Eidi Kon Huss and of course King Lortar. I found the kingdom’s way of dealing with criminals and those who went against the king intriguing.
I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a good story. The characters in the book are fascinating. The plot is superb and the writing style is amazing. I loved every page of Damnation. The book is action-packed, with suspense, adventure, drama, twists, and turns.
The book is fairly long, at 600+ pages, but this story does not feel overwhelming. I felt that opposite actually, the ending leaves you on a cliffhanger and I wanted more. This leaves the book open for a followup book to start, what could be, a fantasy series with a deep backstory and dynamic characters.
Pages: 644 | ASIN: B07HVHVDDY
Tags: action, adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, cult, Damnation, dark fantasy, drama, ebook, fantasy, goodreads, grimdark, igor valec, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, king, kobo, literature, medieval, nook, novel, political, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, story, sword and sorcery, writer, writer community, writing