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A Sinister Combination of Joy and Pain

Alex C. Vick Author Interview

Alex C. Vick Author Interview

Breaking Magic takes place in a world where people are genetically engineered for jobs and no one is able to question their function in society. What was your goal when you started and how did it change as you were writing?

This question is interesting, because I’m not really a plotter. The details of each story tend to evolve as I’m writing, and in the case of Breaking Magic, things changed a lot. What the villain did to recreate the world of Imbera according to his own evil design was more complicated than I originally expected. It allowed me to be quite creative in terms of my protagonist’s journey. My goal was to show that everyone has unlimited potential – no matter what society tells them, or the obstacles they face. That did not change, but the story behind it certainly did!

The story follows Callax, one of the workers, as he struggles to overcome his predetermined life and learns more about the world. What was your inspiration for his character?

Callax is the storyteller, and he shares what he learns and the emotions he is feeling without much of a filter! He gets scared sometimes and he says the wrong thing as often as he says the right thing, but he’s brave and determined too. I wanted Cal to be someone the reader could relate to and care about.

In Breaking Magic the Opta are the ruling class and the Exta are the workers. What themes did you use to develop these two contrasting groups?

The overriding theme is the importance of hope, even in the face of the impossible odds that the Exta are facing. The Opta needed to appear invincible, so their leader, the Breaker, is an intelligent antagonist. The Exta are not allowed to grow up, they are engineered to be only fragments of their potential selves, and his magic uses a sinister combination of joy and pain to disorient them. Yet they never quite stop hoping, and this gives them the strength to fight.

How does this book fit into your Legacy of Androva series and what is next for Callax?

Breaking Magic was a great opportunity for me to take a minor character and bring him into the limelight in a standalone book. I expect that Cal will turn up again at some point, but for the sixth book I am writing Galen’s story. Galen is a seventeen-year-old Androvan magician from Seeking Magic, the third book in the series, who abandoned his world two thousand years ago for love of a Terran girl. I plan to return to the core series in the seventh book!

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Breaking Magic (The Legacy of Androva #5)

Callax is fifteen, and he already knows he won’t ever grow old. Twelve years after leaving the childstation he will be summoned to the Gathering, where life essences are taken by a deadly, irresistible spell. On his world, this is one of the many ways in which the Exta serve the Opta. His best hope is to avoid an early binding by staying out of trouble.

But in protecting his younger brother Benedar, he was noticed by the Breaker, the evil magician in charge of the Gathering. The closer Callax gets to the ruling house and the girl who lives there, the more he learns, and the greater the danger. A danger he might not understand until it is too late. Callax thinks the Breaker’s defeat will save him, but he is wrong.

Additional information: Although Breaking Magic is part of the Legacy of Androva series, it can also be read independently. If you have read Controlling Magic and want to know more about Imbera, Breaking Magic is Cal’s story. The book retells part of Controlling Magic from Cal’s point of view. Recommended for lower young adult.

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The Destiny She Cannot Escape

D. Hart St. Martin Author Interview

D. Hart St. Martin Author Interview

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.

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Protector of Thristas: A Lisen of Solsta NovelFifteen 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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Totally Unexpected

Harry James Fox Author Interview

Harry James Fox Author Interview

The False Prophet is set in a post apocalyptic America and follows Donald of Fisher, our unlikely hero, as he must confront an army raised to conquer the land. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

The question applies to the first novel, The Stonegate Sword as well as The False Prophet although it is not necessary to have read the first book in order to understand the second. The initial idea was to create a character with a world view similar to present-day America and place him in a society with very different values, such as Medieval Europe. I considered a time-travel approach, but then hit on the idea that in the future the world could enter a second Dark Age.  So the main character, Donald of Fisher is a lore-man, steeped in the study of the past from an early age. Then circumstances forces him to take up a sword and take on the role of a warrior. The conflict between the evil figure in the west owes a bit to Tolkien and a bit to the prophecies of the last days in Biblical prophecy. I made no attempt to create the details associated with the Antichrist, except that if the imagery in Scriptures is taken literally, it sounds as if the final battles will be fought with antique weapons. I realize that this could be figurative language, but I decided to take it literally, and that implies, again, that a dark age lies in the future.

The story follows two characters, The False Prophet and Donald of Fisher, which I felt were two contrasting characters. What themes did you want to capture while creating your characters?

The story follows the archetypal “hero’s quest.” Don is the hero and must face adversity. The False Prophet is the anti-hero and he does not actually appear in the first novel, being only a rumor, a malignant force driving the forces of evil. In the second novel, he is revealed to be a ruthless despot of the kind with whom we are all familiar. The Prophet’s armies are the driving force behind much of the conflict that Don must face and overcome, though human frailties (his own and those of his companions) are other obstacles in his path.

There were many biblical undertones throughout the novel. Where do you feel you paralleled the Bible and where did you blaze your own path? And how did that help you create an engaging story?

The story of the novel does have some similarities to the Bible in that the Israelites were often raided by their enemies and the kind of weapons were similar. The military tactics I describe are probably not similar to those used in Bible days, although some of the principles are timeless. The use of walled cities reminds one of the Bible and also Medieval Europe. The political situation in the free cities east of the mountains reminds me of Israel during the time of the Judges, when there was no king, and “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” The apostasy or falling away from the faith is prophesied in the Bible. The rediscovery of lost technology, for example, cannons, is a new path. The idea of a man of sin arising in the last days is found in the Bible.

The False Prophet is the second book in the Stonegate series. Where does book three take readers?

Book three will take place a generation later. The False Prophet was not destroyed, and the evil in the West rises again. It is up to the children of Don, Rachel, Carla and Howard to bring the saga to its final conclusion. Donald, now a middle-aged man, past his prime, attempts to mount an invasion of the West to overthrow the Prophet, but his attempts are met with disunity among his friends and overwhelming might of his foes. As to be expected, the victory depends on help from a totally unexpected quarter.

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The False Prophet (Stonegate, #2)This is the sequel to the award-winning Christian fantasy novel, The Stonegate Sword. All the major characters return, Donald, Rachel, Carla, and Philip.

Stonegate remains the key, and Donald returns to that great walled city and his beloved Rachel just as the hosts of enemy are also closing in. Part adventure, part love story, this epic saga covers the vast panorama of New Mexico deserts and Colorado Rockies in a possible future that looks very much like the medieval past. But duty, love, courage, and honor remain and are even more important than ever.

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Good Guys Don’t Always Win

Ken Cressman Author Interview

Ken Cressman Author Interview

Sins of the Father is a non stop adventure novel following two detectives as they hunt down a dangerous drug kingpin who seeks revenge. What was the inspiration to the setup to this exciting novel?

This is actually the third installment in the Larkin and Colt series. As I was preparing to write the first book I established, just for myself, extensive backstories for the main characters, including their years as undercover ‘contractors’ for the government. Among the stories I created was the takedown of a notorious and supposedly untouchable drug kingpin. After I finished my second book, I found myself wondering what the possible long-term repercussions might be of some of Larkin and Colt’s past actions. The opening scene of a gang of assassins breaking into Larkin’s house popped into my head almost fully formed. From there, it was pretty much off to the races.

My favorite character was DEA Agent Scott Bowman, whose dry humor kept me smiling throughout. What themes did you want to capture while developing your characters?

I wanted to create a character who was dedicated to his job and trying to do the right thing, but who had been doing it for so long that he knows that achieving any kind of long-term solution is pretty much impossible. He’s a realist, and he knows that he’s pretty much rolling a rock up a hill, but he still refuses to give up hope. When he’s approached by Larkin, he sees a chance to maybe do a little bit of good, despite his knowledge that the good guys don’t always win, and the bad guys are incredibly hard to stop.

Sins of the Father is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a adventure, thriller, and action as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

I try to write the story I’d want to read. I don’t outline, but I pretty much have the whole plot worked out in my mind before I start. I have the major story points, but not necessarily all the fine details. I sort of let the characters tell me what happens next and where they want to go, as long as we’re always moving toward the outcome I have in mind. I try to let the story and the characters’ actions flow naturally, at the same time hoping to surprise the reader.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently working on a sequel to my science fiction adventure Pegasus, which is not a Larkin and Colt book. It’s entitled Intrepid, and where Pegasus was about a trip to the moon and back, this time they’re going to Mars. When they arrive, things go horribly wrong, and the crew has to figure out how to get their crippled ship back home before their air and food run out. It’s sort of Apollo 13 meets The Martian. It should be out sometime in the fall.

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Sins of the Father (Larkin and Colt Book 3) by [Cressman, Ken]“I was in my kitchen making breakfast when the three men broke in and tried to kill me…”

So begins the latest exciting episode in the adventures of David Larkin and his partner Samantha Colt.

Eight years ago, Larkin and Colt were part of a team that terminated notorious drug kingpin Francisco Salazar. Now Salazar’s son Ramon has grown up, taken over the family business and sworn his revenge upon them. Their only option is to follow the trail of drugs and bodies backwards, from Virginia to Miami to South America, to stop young Ramon before they become his latest victims.

Sins of the Father is loaded with the exciting action, wry humor and memorable characters that fans of Larkin and Colt have come to expect.

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Apollo’s Raven

Apollo's Raven by [Tanner, Linnea]

When a historical fantasy grips you from the very first page, you know you are in for an excellent read. With Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner, we are brought into the world of the not-so-distant past when Rome set their sights on Britannia. We follow the experience of our protagonist Celtic princess Catrin and her star-crossed Roman lover, Marcellus. On opposing sides of a battle that grows fiercer with every passing day. There is more to this tale than love and war for magic and mysticism are part of the lifeblood of our characters. This is more than a tale of might and magic. This is also a tale of a woman coming into her own as a powerful warrior and a strong mystic. Catrin has faced uncertainty and hardship even within her own family. When pitted against the Roman Empire will she find the strength she needs to survive?

When you write a story that has its base in history, research is a must. You cannot simply write whatever you wish and hope that it makes sense. Tanner realizes this and does her best to research her time period. How people acted, how they dressed, their beliefs and their mannerisms are carefully reviewed in this tale. At the end of the book she does acknowledge that the Celts did not leave much written history. This is a blessing for a writer though, because it leaves an open creative license. Since they didn’t keep records, who is to say that the druids did not behave in exactly the same way they did in this book? This is where the fantasy aspect comes in. Tanner is careful not to get too carried away and the tale feels believable and relatable.

Tanner begins each chapter with a brief excerpt. This gives the reader a sense of where the story is going. This can be a useful tool when you take long gaps between readings. While there is some slightly graphic content, a teenager would find this to be a friendly reminder of what is about to happen and can help jog the memory if they haven’t picked up the book in some time.

The way Tanner portrays women in this book is also very empowering. Our protagonist is a princess, yet she is not fragile. There is no Snow White here. She is forged with fire and metal and trains to be able to reach the pinnacle of fortitude her eldest sister has. For a young woman who is trying to figure out where she belongs in her world, this tale is relatable to other young women in our timeline who are also trying to figure out where they belong.

If you’re looking for something entertaining with a fast, action-paced rhythm, Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner is a definite must. The first in a series this book firmly establishes backstory while also being able to stand alone if necessary. It’s a very exciting read and readers of all ages and genders will find something to identify with in this tale. How will things turn out for Catrin? What will happen with her relationship with Marcellus, scion of the Roman Empire sent to oppress her people? You’ll have to read and find out.

Pages: 400 | ASIN: B06XJQ74H6

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For Their Sins

For Their Sins

For Their Sins, written by Rebecca Tran, is based on the life of Alexandria Diego, a woman born in 1707, as the descendant of angels. She is a born warrior but with her skin surviving the burn of the sun, she will be destined to breed. Bearing the responsibility as the gem of House Diego, Alexandria’s life will be filled with life altering decisions and consequences. Alexandria will fight for both her family and honor, training and leading warriors into battle as she continues to rise her house to ultimate power. But twisted romances and secret affairs lead her on a destructive path where she will find herself in a battle of revenge when she fights to rescue her love from the enemy.

For Their Sins begins with Alexandria Diego as a child where she learns the ways of her house through history, science and religion. Born an angel, her life is determined by the path that she chooses to follow, whether it is to be someone who can bear children or someone who is a warrior. Some can face the sunlight, others can’t and these traits can determine the rules of how you live. But love, lust and the urge to be something more will create Alexandria into the wonderful warrior that she becomes.

Expect a mix of supernatural and adventure with beautiful women giving birth at 400 years old and in place of milk, blood will feed these baby angels. There are religious tones throughout the plot line as it dips into discussions about the creation of mankind, God and the existence of angels. We are taught about the creation of vampires and thrown into a world of coachmen and swords where bloodlines and heritage can determine which house you belong to.

At times the story line will seduce the reader, as Alexandria learns the lines between lust and love through exploring her friendships. In an almost primitive style, there are battles between those who wish to have the strongest male or female to breed with, to ensure their line will continue throughout history. Love mixes with politics and the characters become mixed up within following their heart or following the urge to rise to power instead.

Rebecca Tran’s way with words will tug at readers heart strings through strong themes and emotional experiences that the characters endure. The plot line feels like a roller-coaster at times with shocking events and twists that will left me feeling unnerved at the unexpected outcomes. Occasionally the story felt slow, only for a shocking event or twist of the plot to happen which drew me back in for more.

The story moves through history, first beginning with sword fights and eventually entering a period of cell phones and guns. Mixed through the historical events are relationships and lustful connections that will influence the politics and wars that occur when they face enemies such as the Morderes.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a supernatural story crossed with action and a twist of romance.

Pages: 428 | ASIN: B0716SVRDS

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The Rashade

The Rashade' (Chronicles of the Coranydas Book 1)

The Rashade, written by Rebecca Tran, tells the tale of Mara, a purposeful and strong willed woman whose life mission revolves around avenging the death of her father. Mara is a trained soldier, a skilled fighter and is determined to find the man who murdered her father (whilst she was forced to watch), leaving both physical and emotional scars that haunt her nightmares. As she sets out on her epic adventure she will meet new friends, new enemies and finally face off with the evil mage Laran who has his eyes set on taking over her homelands.

The Rashade is the first book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series and delivers an adventure filled with magical characters, valiant warriors and a determined young woman who has her eyes set on avenging her father. The story begins with Mara applying for leave through the High Priestess, who also happens to be Mara’s mother. Mara is a trained soldier in the League and hopes to use her time away to finally face the evil Laran.

The Rashade has similar tones to books such as Deltora Quest and Game of Thrones as the main characters set on an adventure where there are tombs, priestesses and sword fights that will leave the reader on the edge of their seat in anticipation. Epic battles crossed with a burning desire to destroy an evil man will mean the reader will be captivated until the very end.

Not everybody is who they seem and I thoroughly enjoyed the progression of each character as we learned more about their life through the unexpected relationships that develop. The characters come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from soldiers to priestesses to mages- humans who possess magical powers and mysterious grey eyes. Romance, swordsmanship and magical weapons will intertwine into a plot line that is consistently entertaining.

Mara and Kess are friends who set off together after decisions made by the High Priestess. Kess is sometimes shy, sometimes brave and the reader will quickly begin to appreciate his ability to be there when Mara needs him most. But Mara is an independent and strong woman, and it was a breath of fresh air to read about a woman warrior, rather than the typical man going into battle.

The Rashade has elements of olden day romance with flirting consisting of showing ankles in a bar, arranged marriages and oaths that stand the test of time. The outfits, swords and horses will throw the reader into an era that was far before our time. It was easy to get lost in a world of fantasy and transported to a place where magic and priestesses exist and readers will be pleasantly surprised at how easily time gets away when you are lost in the pages of The Rashade.

I would recommend this to anybody looking for a fantasy novel with twists and turns that result in a heart-stopping conclusion. I look forward to reading the other stories in the series!

Pages: 425 | ASIN: B01N211HHR

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Literary Titan Book Awards June 2017

The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award

Gold Award Winners

Deity's Soulmate (The Goddess Training Trilogy Book 1) by [Kerner, Angelina]I'm With You by [Frost, Allie]See Me Forever by [Oriel, Susann]

The Fugitive's Trail (The Sean Kruger Series Book 1) by [Fields, J.C.]End of Knighthood Part I: The Chess Pieces (Reverence Book 2) by [Landeros, Joshua]The Perfect Teresa by [Silva, Ulises]

The Last Train (Detective Hiroshi Series Book 1) by [Pronko, Michael]Einstein's Fiddle by [Smith, W.A.]

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Book Award

Dining and Driving with Cats - Alice Unplugged by [Patterson, Pat]The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies (Students of Madness Book 1) by [Edwards, Wolfgang]False Gods (The Sentinel Book 2) by [Ramos, Yolanda]

Another Summer by [Lilley, Sue]Globes Disease by [Keeble, Lance]Barrow of the Damned by [Drake, Jonathan J.]

A Burning in The Darkness by [McGrath, A P]Sins of the Father (Larkin and Colt Book 3) by [Cressman, Ken]The False Prophet (Stonegate Book 2) by [Fox, Harry James]

“For me, books are important because they feed the imagination. Books can be portals to incredible worlds and thrilling adventures or a mirror to real life, and they offer unique perspectives through diverse characters, voices, and stories.” – Allie Frost, author of I’m With You

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

Across the Realm: When Two Tribes Go To War

Across the Realm Book 2: When two tribes go to war (The Across the Realm Series)

The war between the North and the South has made its way to the Arab Territories. Theoretically allied with the North, they instead decide to put up a forcefield to sequester themselves and block the Southern fighters.  The Arab Territories quickly realize that their enemies in the South are much stronger, smarter, and more dangerous than they ever suspected. The war for the South to take Pearson Station in space continues to rage on, as both sides try to develop technologies to protect themselves and exploit their enemy’s weaknesses.  Despite being spread between more than one fighting front, the South proves to be a formidable enemy for everyone that falls in their cross-hairs. 

Across the Realm, Book 2: When Two Tribes Go To War by Isobel Mitton is the second in the Across The Realm series. After finishing the first one, I couldn’t wait to get hold of the second one and jump right in. It did not disappoint. Because there was less backstory to set up in the second book, things moved at an even faster pace than in Book 1, keeping me flipping the pages long past bedtime.

The Arab Territories are a part of this book, and I felt like the presentation of the people living there was a bit negative. A lot of Islamic beliefs are addressed in it, and I felt like they were largely being treated as backwards beliefs, rather than legitimate religious beliefs. I didn’t find this to be an overwhelming feeling, however, and it did a wonderful job illustrating the differences between the characters in the Arab Territories, versus the rest of the North and the South.

One of my favorite parts of the series is the skill with which Ms. Mitton creates differences between the characters in various parts of the realm. Each type of character is distinct. Although some characters are purely good, there are a number of characters that I both loved and hated in full measure in different parts of the book. Her ability to paint three dimensional characters that are incredibly realistic in their flaws and their strengths is part of what makes the book so addictive.

Another strength of the book is the way no one side is being treated as wholly the bad guy. It’s presented primarily as the warring sides not understanding one another, and not understanding each other’s ways, being the source of the primary problem. Both sides believe in the other’s inhumanity and are unable to comprehend their actions and behaviors. Even as they capture and examine one another, they are not looking for the common humanity between them, but rather seek to locate the other’s weaknesses.

All in all, this has been a great series to read so far. The book kept plowing ahead, gaining energy rather than losing it. Though I have not read a great deal of science fiction in this past, the Across the Realm series is inspiring me to read more.

Pages: 256 | ASIN: B01MUHOLM3

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Across The Realm: Life Always Finds A Way

Across The Realm: Life Always Finds A Way (Across The Realm Series Book 1) by [Mitton, Isobel]

More than six centuries in the future, the northern and southern hemispheres have divided. Between them rages a bitter feud that has lasted for centuries and left them in a constant state of war. Both believe their technology superior, but one of them is very wrong.

Southern Askari Naledi and northen  Commander Gregory Douglas encounter one another, and their fates entwine, leaving confused feelings and split loyalties. A tale of war, bravery, love, trust and betrayal comes together to bring about more violence between the hemispheres than ever before. As both sides play a game attempting to learn more about the other, they do a very dangerous dance.

The first thing I want to say about this book is that it blew away all my expectations. I don’t read a lot of science fiction, and though this one sounded interesting, I still had my reservations. My reservations were not well founded, and the book was an absolute pleasure to read. The story Ms. Mitton has weaved together is an intense, can’t-put-it-down ride through an advanced civilization 600 years in the future.

The writing was excellent, something I really treasure in a book. It can make all the difference between an okay book and a great book, and this one was definitely a great book. There was a balanced mixture of well written, easy to follow prose, accented with the terminologies that qualify the book as science fiction. In the first few pages, I felt a little overwhelmed with the unexplained terms, but once I got into the meat of the book, all the confusion was cleared up.

The characters were very well developed, each one having their own personalities and quirks.  Because of the unfamiliar names, it was a bit difficult to keep up with who was “mated” with who in the southern hemisphere, but I didn’t find that to be terribly distracting. There were also a lot of characters, but I didn’t feel as though that was a drawback, as it can be in some books.

There were themes of homosexuality in the book as well, which I commend the author for. I thought the potentially touchy subject was approached confidently and handled deftly. Also, boldly written in was stereotypes many people in today’s world still continue to believe in, particularly in regards to race and ethnicity.  I felt the book had social commentary on racist views that still exist in some people, immersed in a page turning science fiction novel set in the distant future.

From what I can discern, this is Isbobel Mitton’s first novel, and it showcases her talent wonderfully. The story was compelling, in places heart pumping, and always beautifully written. This book is the first in a series, and the second book is in publication as well. I’m certainly going to be buying it and reading it immediately, I must know what happens next!

I cannot recommend Across The Realm highly enough, for both lovers of science fiction and people who do not typically read it.

Pages: 343 | ASIN: B017FGWR2A

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