Into the Macrocosm by Konn Lavery is a collection of thought-provoking short stories about an unknown character who is the observer of 22 deaths. At the beginning of this intellectually invigorating collection readers are given intriguing theories on life after death. Konn Lavery addresses these theories in multiple ways, all of which are fictional in nature but spiritual at heart. Although the character is more of an observer in these stories, I like how I can still feel the personal connections while reading along. It was easy to get entangled in these insightful stories and there was a sense of adventure that was consistent throughout these stories. I also appreciated the subheadings in this collection because it helped me keep track of special events that lead to the plot twists.
Into The Macrocosm has so many fascinating stories that it will be impossible for readers to find at least one that speaks to them. None of the stories are overly horrifying, nor would I put these stories in the horror genre, there is just an ever-present ominous feeling that permeates these stories, enough to give you goosebumps rather than frighten you outright. This is a metaphysical exploration that leaves you with thoughts that are hard to shake. The way spiritual transformation is portrayed was enough for me to set the book down and ponder the implications for a bit. I loved that this collection used these dark stories to highlight the importance of self-awareness. I also loved how the author showed how much the darkness within us and around us can weigh us down.
Konn Lavery’s Into The Macrocosm is an exceptional short story collection that explores some provocative ideas through a darkly imaginative lens reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe or H.P. Lovecraft.
Pages: 420 | ASIN: B08SLM9DRX
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Quantum Messenger is the fourth novel in Caitlin Lynagh’s young adult science fiction Soul Prophecies series. In the year 2060, humanity has completely integrated artificial intelligence into everyday life. Robots are normalized in every household, workplace, and public setting. Each dedicated to the simple task of serving the human race. Apollo is a powerful new AI model designed to perform a myriad of tasks, but there is also something different about him, something his creators never planned or expected; consciousness. When Apollo is sold to a wealthy British family, he begins to question their choices and behavior, but most importantly he begins to question his own existence. He soon befriends Finley, the youngest son, and discovers his interest in piano music and space. As he explores and develops feelings, he wonders about love but instead discovers anger, which leads him to have a violent episode that separated him from the family forever. As Apollo’s feelings increase, so does his consciousness, and the more he wonders about his purpose. His journey takes him from the family to a warehouse, to a US military base, and finally, to an elderly woman in Boston who will help him eventually get over his hatred of humans and see the beauty in life. And while all this is happening, Apollo finds himself under the watchful eye of an unknown being he can’t quite fathom.
Quantum Messenger is a captivating science fiction novel that combines a fast-paced storyline with the deeper existentialist questions that have undoubtedly troubled every human. Even with the deep introspection the story still manages to keep a light tone through the robot’s point of view. The main character, Apollo, is introduced as an AI robot with a small degree of consciousness, which he explores and develops throughout the story. Reminiscent of the movie Bicentennial Man in it’s superb ability to delve deep into ideas while remaining jaunty, and a bit of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot in it’s ability to analyze humanity through technology. Apollo goes from questioning his feelings to developing a deep hatred against humanity and its injustices, but eventually also learns to view the beauty that life can provide, if you know where to look. Caitlin Lynagh uses this to explore both humanity and morality and I enjoyed how easy it was delivered. The book is narrated in the first person, which provides a front-row view of the robot’s perspective. Yet the author tells his story in a way that doesn’t get old by introducing the character’s most intimate thoughts, feelings, and ideas. The novel is well written, the story progresses smoothly, and the characters are intriguing yet believable. This is definitely of the best science fiction books I have read this year.
Pages: 294 | ASIN: B089QVXLR7
Protector of Thristas takes place fifteen years after the tumultuous One Day War and Lisen is faced with something far more challenging than ever before. What were some important themes for you to capture in this novel?
I’ve taken on several archetypes in these books with an eye towards shifting what originated as masculine-oriented myths into their feminine equivalent. Lisen is the hero of a story in which she must overcome many obstacles, including her own self-doubt, to rise at the end of the original trilogy to the destiny she cannot escape. I looked at heroes, such as Luke Skywalker and King Arthur, and asked myself how this would look not simply with a “girl” as the hero but with a gentler and more sympathetic way of presenting the momentous events that occur in the story. The battle at the end of Blooded is a case in point. Lisen found a way to break through the fighting and turn the combatants towards a negotiated resolution rather than one in which many people died or were left physically or emotionally injured.
So, when I decided to explore Lisen and the others as adults, to look at the relationships and their children fifteen years on, I made another decision–to raise the bar and tackle an archetype I refer to as “the king must die and live again.” This myth can be found in many nature-focused cultures. The leader of the people sacrifices his life (or acts the sacrifice out in ritual) and goes to the underworld, then rises again, all of which is symbolic of the “burying” of seeds in the fall and their rising as plants in the spring. It is a form of fertility ritual. It is also, in some ways, the Christ story, but this time it’s a young woman.
I think this book did a fantastic job displaying how emotional a mother-daughter relationship can be, and family relationships as well. How did you develop these complex relationships? Anything pulled from real life?
My mother was not the nurturing type which left my father with that role in my life. In fact, Korin’s nickname of “Fa” is the way my father, in his later years, signed birthday cards and such. But there was more to it than that. As I foraged deeper into the story and the wounded relationship between Lisen and Rinli, I realized one very important thing. I had to be very careful about how I framed the discord between the two of them. The critique group I belonged to at the time loved the portrayal of the mother-daughter conflict, but I began to recognize that I had created a very “earth-centric/potentially sexist” struggle. In my experience, women in our culture learn at a very early age that they must challenge one another over the attention of a man. Men are taught a similar lesson, but it manifests differently. Men thump their chests and growl at one another (figuratively) or go out and kick a football around, whereas women get mean. And it often begins in the relationship between a mother and daughter and their desire for the male in their lives–the husband/father. It’s fairly subtle in most cases, but it’s there, and once girls become teenagers with all those hormones raging, they may not “desire” their father, but they want what their mothers have and the fight is on.
I couldn’t let this be the basis for Lisen and Rinli’s conflict, so I struck out on my own to find something that didn’t smack of the sexism in the “typical” tension that can tear a mother and daughter apart. And although I may have no control over the enculturated eyes the reader brings to the story and her interpretation of what she sees in that relationship, I had to be true to my commitment to present Lisen and Rinli sparring not over the mean-girl stuff that can mess with a mother and a daughter but over the betrayal Rinli feels at her mother’s use of her as a bargaining tool to bring a war to an end. Add to that the fact that Lisen is not the nurturing parent in the family, and it becomes clear, in my eyes, at least, that their relationship was likely doomed no matter what Lisen did.
Rinli is resistant to the idea that she has her mother’s magic abilities. How did you handle magic in this novel that was similar and/or different from the previous novels?
In some way, I think the magic became more central to the story than it had been previously. I have always played the push as something unacceptable but sometimes necessary, even to Garlans who are pretty accepting of most hermit magic. As a Thristan, Korin distrusts hermits and what they can do, and Lisen has a powerful gift. This presented its own set of problems in the first trilogy and ultimately tore them apart. Now, with Rinli growing up and it becoming obvious to both of her parents that she has inherited her mother’s gift, Lisen and Korin have to make their peace over the magic thing and then band together to convince Rinli that the only way to stay safe amongst magic-fearing Thristans is to master her gift in order to control it. This is where that conflict I mentioned above manifests with Lisen trying her damnedest to reach out to Rinli and Rinli turning away. (I had one reviewer say, “So many times I just wanted to scream ‘Say I LOVE YOU!'” which would, of course, have simplified things a great deal. But it was about the magic in Lisen’s mind, and “I love you” wasn’t in her lexicon.)
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I began a followup to Protector of Thristas with the idea that it would be the final book in the series. I had to find a way to put down the characters and the world I’d created in order to move on to something new. Five books. The series would be five books. I was adamant with myself. Then as I wrote and wrote and wrote, I began to realize that this was going to be one hell of a long book. I set a word limit at which point I would break it up into two books. I’m still on first draft, and I am within 2500 words of that limit I set. It’s definitely going to be 2 books. Because I’ve been making changes that affect earlier scenes as I go along, I must finish the entire tome before officially splitting them up. (And even then, I’m probably going to produce draft 2 of both books together, incorporating all the necessary tweaking at one time, before I turn to book 5 of the series and complete it.) All of this is to say, that this has taken far longer than I wanted it to take, but I continue to move forward.
As regards where we go from here, having sent a young person as flawed as Rinli through the experience of dying and rising from the dead, I discovered (upon working on the final two books) a character who is not doing well emotionally at all. It’s been an interesting trip. Rinli was originally intended to be the character to whom Lisen would pass the baton, but she turned out to be a character very different from what I had expected when I began. Her last words at the end of the book blew me away, coming as they did as I was writing that last scene, and they set the tone for the remaining story. I had to ask myself “what does a world broken by Mantar’s Child look like?” It took a while to answer that question. Now first draft is finally winding down for books 5 and 6, and all I can say is “whew, what a ride!” “When will it be available?” I’m hoping for some time early in the new year for book 5 and spring for book 6.
Fifteen years after the One-Day War, Lisen, now Empir Ariannas, has developed into a just and capable leader. Together she and Korin have created a union of two souls based on respect, commitment and love, and their family has grown. In addition to Rinli, their daughter who made her first appearance in Blooded, two more children have joined the family, completing their complement of three complicated adolescents.
Now the sixteen-year-out Rinli prepares to take on the mantle of Protector of Thristas, a title destined for her in the treaty that ended the war. The Empirs of Garla have carried this title for hundreds of years, and Lisen anticipates changes once she hands this single title on to Rinli at the girl’s investiture. But the prophesy of Mantar’s Child, upon which Lisen and Korin depended in the treaty negotiations fifteen years earlier, refuses to remain but a convenient myth, and with the advent of the fulfillment of the prophecy, an epic begins.
Although Protector of Thristas includes the familiar faces and settings of the young adult Lisen of Solsta trilogy, it begins a new adventure for an older and often wiser Lisen and her allies. Looking at their world through their matured eyes, the book takes on the heroic tragedy that the trilogy could only hint at. Return to Garla. Enter its mystical environs for a new encounter with Lisen and her world’s gender-free culture. The adventure awaits.
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The Reaper opens with the revelation that the King of Akala is missing, and the new Queen, Leah, is now in power. She meets with President Inaeus Janu of Shaweh to offer a peace treaty that brings their long war to an end. Janu suspects the Queen is a figurehead and focuses on the mysterious Lialthas who seems to have an undue influence over the Queen.
In the meantime, refugees from Akala reach the city-state of Shaweh seeking asylum. The group includes the missing King Darius, his half-sister Moriene with the child Hannah in tow, General Victor Ikharson, and Sefas, once called Meddiah when he was an Empty One. They are shadowed by the black-clad Zacharias who used his magic to help them escape from Lialthas. When the Akalan’s gestures of peace turn out to be empty promises, President Janu and the Akalan refugees are whisked to a secure location as war resumes.
This is the second book in the Fallen Conviction series, and it wasn’t hard to catch up when the asylum-seekers told their story to Janu. This gave me the chance to get up to speed on the plot if you haven’t read the first book.
The interplay between Darius’ group of refugees and the leadership of Shaweh are the primary drivers of the plot. Character-driven stories are a big draw for me, and the author has a knack for showing the complex, often antagonistic relationships between all of these strong-willed characters. My favorite characters in this book were Moriene and Sefas, who were once under Lialthas’ control. Both escaped his grasp and recovered from being “Empty,” yet both still seem to be fighting the battles of the past.
I also enjoyed the high-tension setting. Being locked in a bunker with people you don’t like but are forced to trust is hard enough, but if that trust is tested, things are going to get violent. The situation erodes when Zacharias reveals that there’s something even worse that Lialthas out there, and they may not be able to stop it.
The first thing that struck me about The Reaper was the unusual formatting. At first, I thought it was a typesetting error, but it became clear that the line numbering was meant to give it a scriptural feel. Some of these passages have archaic sentence structure with rhyming words at the end of sentences, but it’s not always consistent and that can be frustrating for those expecting poetic meter. However, the nod to scripture isn’t surprising because gods and religion play a major part in this story.
Don’t assume that because this is written in poetic language that it won’t be exciting. This is a place where magic and technology that we would recognize today are both present, where battles are fought with WMD strikes as well as mind-bending magical attacks. War is gruesome, and the author doesn’t pull his punches when it comes to violence and mayhem. In this world, magic is fueled by blood, fear, and suffering, so whoever wields this power must harm others in order to succeed.
If you’re looking for a novel that offers both a unique style and a reading experience that challenges and defies “the usual” in fantasy, give this book a try.
Pages: 340 | ASIN: B06XRS3SFD
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What would it be like, if more than two-thousand years later Christ walked this earth again? Would he be confused by the spread of technology or would he already know about it from having watched over mankind from above? João Cerqueira tackles this idea and more in his novel Jesus and Magdalene. There is much for Jesus to consider when he returns to the world of man. Such logical concerns as his paternity and the vehicle he decides to use to come back to earth. Scarcely is Jesus walking among men once more then he meets Magdalene. She is the newer version of her biblical-self: wrapped up in an environmental movement with Judas, Mary, Peter, James and others she works towards renewal of the earth. As if it was simply meant to be, Jesus joins her on her mission and we are left to wonder how much of the stories in the bible will play out again.
If there is anything Cerqueira does well in this book, it is describing situations and surroundings. There is an explanation at the beginning of the novel where our author lays out his experience with Christianity and his thoughts on the matter. This is beneficial for those who cherish their faith and may take issue with the idea of a modern-day Jesus Christ. This should come as a comfort to those readers as Cerqueira certainly means no disrespect.
However, while the writing is a plus, it is also a minus. Cerqueira is almost too descriptive or flowery with his language. His metaphors and similes are beautifully written but they cause the story to feel heavy. This, in turn, causes the read to be quite heavy and rely on the intellectual prowess of the reader. While this is not completely a negative for the reader who prefers something a bit more intellectual, for the casual reader this can be a detriment.
The portrayal of technology and the development of character relationships is well played throughout the entirety of the tale. If you have never been an avid reader of the bible or studied any sort of religion while in school, you will not be lost. You can think of Jesus and Magdalene as a tale of two young adults who are trying to make a difference in the world. If you are familiar with these texts, you will find that there is much that overlaps with Cerqueira’s story. It is evident that the man has done his research and is not afraid to use that in his works.
The language that author João Cerqueira uses is beautiful. For a reader looking for something heavier, thought-provoking and requiring footnotes, you cannot go wrong with Jesus and Magdalene.
Pages: 324 | ASIN: B01IS20VQY
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Chaste is the third book by Jesse Teller in the Tales from Perilisc. In Teller’s prior book, Legends of Perilisc the god Cor-lyn-ber is mentioned the father of Hope and Light; Chaste focuses on Cor-lyn-ber and his followers in the small town. The town of Chaste is a remote town dedicated to Cor-lyn-ber that has been overcome with a deep sickness. Five strangers to the town arrive and all their destinies take a turn. The book is dark and filled with detailed violence. It is not for someone looking for fairies and elves. The theme of rape, abuse and murder run though the whole book revealing a dark and sick society struggling to find the light again.
The main characters are Father Frank, Cheryl the barmaid and self-appointed watcher of the town, and the five strangers, Ambul, Ruther, Sai, Sob, and Trevonne. Cheryl watched her parents die, her mother and battle and her father murdered. They were the religious leaders for Cor-lyn-ber and Cheryl from that point on lost all faith in her god. The first half of the book is all about the devastation of the town, the murders of their children, the sickness and evil that penetrates the land and people. The reader learns little about the five strangers only getting pieces of their history bit by bit. Trevonne is wizardass in training, she arrives in the town of Chaste weak and sick. Sob, an assassin and thief has taken on the role of protector of her. Ruther appears to be the leader of their group with a no nonsense mentality. Ambul and Sai call themselves brothers but they are not related. Sai is known as the great swordsman and dreams of a woman each night where they continue their love saga from afar. Ambul is referred to as the gentlest and good man known to man. He is an innocent and pure of heart, with a secret past.
The five strangers arrive in the town right after the death of another child. They all feel there is a wrongness in the town. The first night there Sob is out looking for jewelry to steal and comes in contact with the killer of the children. She recognized there was something evil and not human from the start but wasn’t staying around to investigate further. Meanwhile, back at the tavern and inn Ambul goes missing after a fight with Sai. The fight was brought on out of nowhere, the towns sickness already infecting them with its poison. From here the story of finding their missing friend, discovering the source of the sickness and purging the town of the poison is told.
The story of Cheryl is key to the novel, and she goes through a drastic transformation. Like all major transformation in life hers is a hard story and she learns lessons of pride and sacrifice. She also learns just how much control the gods of Perilisc have over her life and that of the world around her. She learns that her destiny is set by them, not herself. She must face her past, and Cor-lyn-ber himself.
Overall this book is not for the reader looking for a happy ending fantasy novel. This is fantasy at its darkest. Abuse, demons, and torture are key themes and some are described in vivid detail. If you can get past all that, the story is one of transformation, overcoming evil and delivering justice.
Pages: 244 | ASIN: B01J0FVC9S
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Legends of Perilisc is a collection of short stories that tell the mythological struggles of royalty, immortal love, unruly wizards, and lost heroes. Did this book always start out as a collection of short stories, or did you write the stories individually and later decided to consolidate them?
The stories were written individually. Many of them were written many years ago as a way of answering questions. I needed to know things about my world, like how it was created, and where certain things came from. Every world has a creation myth. I needed one of those. I wanted dragons, and I needed to know where they came from. Some stories in here helped me deal with my own demons and come to terms with my past. Some of the stories bind together books I would later write. Others were just dream stories. For instance, I always dreamt of knowing how Clark and Ferallorn met. To Love A Beast came from this desire. The plan was never to publish this book. It shouldered its way in when I realized I wanted to give prospective readers a look at the world to help them decide if they wanted to commit to reading one of my novels.
What is your favorite story from the collection and why?
I have two. The Apprentice’s War showcases a wizard named Saykobar. It is exciting to see his introduction to the world. It gave me a thrill to write the first words of his story because Saykobar goes on to do many great and terrible things. He shapes the course of the world. It was fun to watch him shrug up from the ground like the bud of a poison flower.
Then there’s The Stalwart. This was the first short story I wrote about Perilisc. I wrote it in 2005, sent it out to magazines for publishing, and received a handwritten rejection letter. I was told the story had promise, but there were major things wrong with it, major things wrong with the world it was in. No one source has had a greater impact on the creation of this world than that one letter. It focused me, helped me realize what I was doing. It’s my favorite of my many rejection letters, and I’m lucky to have gotten it.
Simon the Bard seems to be the only consistent character through the different stories. He travels the world claiming to be a simple story teller, but seems to be much more. What were your ideas when creating this character and did he turn out as planned?
In my family, there were fantastic storytellers. I wasn’t concerned with playing with my siblings and my cousins. I wanted to be standing by the poker table in the haze of smoke, listening to the adults tell wildly inappropriate stories. I always wanted to tell those kind of stories, always wanted to tell a story well. So I apprenticed under the great storytellers of my family, learning everything I could about how to craft a description and how to nail a climax. Simon is a result of that training. Stories are important. It’s how we understand who we are and the world around us. Stories give us power, the power of knowledge and the power of understanding. That was the concept behind Simon Bard. He’s a wandering storyteller. But he only goes to the people who need to hear the story. He goes to the heroes that need light cast upon the world around them in order to commit acts of bravery and startling deeds of wonder. Simon has shaped the world. He helped craft it and he loves it. He is trying to provide guidance. He is exactly how I planned him to be, and I’m very proud of him.
Will readers ever get to find out what “The Escape” is?
Yes, The Escape is so important. It is the defining moment of my world. It provides the B.C. / A.D. point for my history. The Escape is a world-changing event. It brings about much hope and much despair. I can’t tell these stories without it. It will be revealed in books to come, and its effect will forever change the face of my world.
Will there be another book that tells more stories of the land of Perilisc?
Oh, man. Is this ever a firm and resounding yes! Perilisc is the platform for 26 books. I have 21 of them written, and today I started the 22nd. In rough draft form, I have written 10,600 pages of Perilisc story. I have five more novels to write before I set Perilisc down for a moment and concentrate on other places. Perilisc is the name of a continent, not a world. These novels tell the story of that continent. But after these books have been written, I cast light on other corners of the world. I have conceived three acts to my career, and after these 26 Perilisc novels, I will have finished Act I. There is more Perilisc coming. I have decided to publish a book every six months for the next 32 years.
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