THE TRAITOR GOD

the traitor godThe Traitor God by Cameron Johnston

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Angry Robot (June 5, 2018)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 400 pages

My Rating: 3 stars

The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston is best described as an action-packed video game come to life; a thrill ride of adrenaline, action, blood, and intrigue wrapped up in a story centered on one man’s pursuit of justice. Not every second of the book will dazzle you, but overall you will find yourself having a fun time and wanting more, more, MORE!

Edrin Walker is a liar, a scoundrel, and a damn dangerous magician. His past misdeeds and a deal with the rulers of his home city of Setharis having sent him into ten years of exile; these years spent wandering around the wilds, hiding from daemons who constantly pursue him and attempting to find some form of excitement to pass the time. His dangerous and dull existence only made tolerable by the knowledge that his absence from Setharis keeps his friends Lynas and Charra and their daughter Layla safe.

Then tragedy strikes!

Edrin and Lynas have always shared a magical connection, able to feel each other, sense the other’s joys and pains, even catch fleeting visions from each other’s eyes. And this is generally a good thing until the night Lynas is killed!

Without warning, Edrin is jarred by a vision of his best friends frantic flight from a daemon; the creature stalking Lynas down the alleys of Setharis, finally cornering and taking him down. A mysterious man then appearing to torture and skin Lynas alive. The final thoughts of the dying man that he must get a message to Edrin, warn him of what is going on in the city.

Brutal shock. Bottomless grief. Towering rage. And a touch of deep fear and confusion fills Edrin. His first thoughts that Setharis’s masters have broken their part of the old bargain, allowed harm to befall his friend, even though he has stayed away. The next is an overpowering sense that Charra and Layla will be in danger and that he must go to them, protect them. And, finally, Edrin wonders what exactly was his friend doing to attract the attention of such a heartless killer and whether his past deeds were the real cause of Lynas’s death.

Naturally, the rest of the book chronicles Edrin’s return to Setharis, his search for Lynas’s family, his investigation into the murder of his friend, and a descent into mysterious matters which will reveal the past to Edrin and cause him to question many things he thought he knew.

As I alluded to in the opening, The Traitor God is an action-packed thrill ride where the author drops you down into the middle of the maelstrom, doesn’t waste time explaining every facet of the story, and expects you to ride the wave of controlled chaos as it ebbs and flows from the beginning to the end. Or to put it another way, there is never a dull moment in this story. And it mostly works, providing an exciting tale filled with mystery, twists, magic, and loads of fantastical mayhem.

The main triumph of the novel would have to be the main character, Edrin Walker, whom I can’t say I really liked very much at the beginning of the story. Sure, he had some charm and a mysterious feel to him, but his egotistical nature was a bit too much for me. However, Cameron Johnson actually takes this guy on a real character arc, starting at the aforementioned egotistical loner start line before steadily molding him into a much deeper, more complex, and interesting character by the end.

The only real complaint I’d make toward the story would be the tendency of the author to tell not show, especially in the beginning of the book. I realize it is difficult to resist the urge to cast out proverbial life preservers in the form of paragraphs of explanation to readers after you’ve thrown them into the middle of a story maelstrom, but if you’ve determined to start in the middle of the action, you really have to let your audience survive on their own. Trying to split the difference between fans of slow, methodical plots and sink or swim lovers only serves to frustrate both types; neither of whom feel you’ve totally committed to their preferred narrative pace.

Overall, The Traitor God is a damn fine read. Sure, it is more oriented toward action lovers, having a tendency to skim over intricate plot or subtle character development in favor of more bloody fights or magical explosions, but if you are craving a fast paced, magical fantasy with plenty of action and more than a few twists, then this novel will not disappoint you.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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Posted in 3 Stars, Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FRIDAY FACE OFF JUNE 8, 2018

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Welcome to the Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme created by Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in the literary universe.  If you want to join us next week, check out next week’s predetermined them, choose a book, compare two or more different covers available for that book, then name your favorite. A list of future weeks’ themes are available at Lynn’s Book Blog

This week’s theme is:

“Raining Cats and Dogs – a cover featuring a stormy sky!

God, what is it with these difficult topics?

Really, stormy sky.  How many speculative fiction books have that as a cover?

Readers of fantasy like cool warriors posing in intimidating fashion with big swords or axes.  Scifi fans like covers with amazing alien visages or awe-inspiring planets with starships.  Stormy skies?  Not so much really.  At least, I can’t recall any right this second.

There are a lot of spec fiction novels with stormy skies, you say.  Huh, guess I need to take a look.  Let’s see if you are right.

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AND THE WINNER IS . . .

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First off, I actually like the angry face in the stormy sky.  It is unusual.  But the main reason I picked this cover and the book is because I really like this series by Marc Turner and always try to find a way to encourage others to give it a try!

So, do you agree with my pick?  Disagree?  Love them all?  Hate them all?  Let us know!

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WAITING ON WEDNESDAY: FOUNDRYSIDE

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Waiting on Wednesday is a meme I’ve participated in for years which lets readers share their excitement for books coming out soon, and this week the novel I’m eagerly awaiting is . . .

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Foundryside RD4 clean flatFoundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett.

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Founders #1

Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books (August 23, 2018)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 400 pages

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself–the first in a dazzling new fantasy series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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TOP TEN TUESDAY

TOP TEN TUESDAYS

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! This is a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where a new top ten list hits the web every week!

The topic this week is one I struggle with all the time: Books I think I DNF’D too soon!

Many of you know I’m an obsessive completionist about my reading; I try really, really hard to always finish any book I have taken the time to dive into.  Hell, I even have a shelf on my Goodreads account named “Try Again Later” because when I do stop reading a book I feel so bad I promise myself I’ll come back to it later and finish it!  All that means I don’t have a lot of DNF’d novels.  The ones I do have I already feel like I gave up on them too soon.  So this is a tough list for me to put together, but I’m going to try to focus on the books I’ve DNF’d in last few years, explaining why I did so, and whether I felt bad about DNF-ing them or not.


the darkness that comes before10. The Darkness That Comes Before

For those who do not know this already, I tried to read this book every year for three years in a row.  Every time I’d get through a few chapters I’d wonder to myself why everyone loved this story so much and put it to the side.  Finally I gave up.  Bakker just isn’t for me, I suppose.  Not sorry I DNF-ed it!

Purchase The Darkness that Comes Before at Amazon


golden age9. Golden Age and Other Stories

I heard so much about Naomi Novik’s acclaimed Temeraire series that I wanted to give it a try, and this book of short stories seemed like a perfect way to do so.  Wrong!  Maybe, the fact I had no emotional investment in this world or any of the characters was the problem, but I really didn’t feel bad DNF-ing this one.

Purchase Golden Age and Other Stories at Amazon


the path of flames8. The Path of Flames

Kick ass cover (though it is very reminiscent of Michael Moorcock’s Elric) and an intriguing premise plus a vocal fan base made me want to give this indie series a go.  I did, reading a large majority of the story on my family vacation last summer.  It just wasn’t for me.  Too generic, I’d say.  And I don’t feel bad I DNF-ed it.

Purchase The Path of Flames at Amazon


the alchemists of loom7. The Alchemists of Loom

I probably can’t sum up my reason for DNF-ing this novel any better than I did on Goodreads many months ago, so please forgive me when I quote myself, “It read like a YA masquerading as an epic fantasy to me. I’m sure others will adore it, but it just wasn’t what I was looking for.”  No, I don’t feel bad for DNF-ing it.

Purchase The Alchemists of Loom at Amazon


the palace job6. The Palace Job

A caper fantasy?  A humorous, heist tale?  Yeah, I think I can call it either of those.  And, honestly, I was real excited to pick this up a few years ago.  It really seemed like the light, fun fantasy I’d been craving.  Alas, it wasn’t to be, and the slapstick laugh-fest didn’t find a place in my heart, but did ensure itself a place on this list. Again, I don’t feel bad DNF_ing this book.

Purchase The Palace Job at Amazon


the forgetting moon5. The Forgetting Moon

Gritty and brutal.  Huge casts of characters.  Epic in scope.  A complex plot.  All of those things convincing me to give this weighty tome a go.  Can’t say exactly why, but after reading around one hundred pages of Durfee’s tale nothing captured my attention, so I DNF-ed it.  I do wonder if I abandoned it too soon though.

Purchase The Forgetting Moon at Amazon


a throne of bones4. A Throne of Bones

This was an epic fantasy with a touch of magic, a good bit of Christian faith, centered upon a Romanesque Empire and a prominent family dealing with internal struggles and warring goblins. It wasn’t a bad story by any means, but it was rather slow developing.  I was about 58% in when I called it quits, and I do wonder if I DNF-ed it too soon.

Purchase A Throne of Bones at Amazon


Doom of dragonback3. The Doom of Dragonback 

This is a side tale of the legendary war of the elves and dwarfs in the Warhammer Time of Legends.  It seemed like a can’t miss after I enjoyed the War of Vengeance trilogy, but this one did not resonant with me, being very insular and narrow in scope.  I definitely will be returning to it another time, so I do feel like I might have abandoned it too soon.

Purchase The Doom of Dragonback at Amazon


trial-of-intentions2. Trial of Intentions

Having enjoyed the Author’s Definitive Edition of The Unremembered, I couldn’t wait to jump into this follow-up.  What immediately struck me was a change in the tone of the story, a focus on new characters, and a shift into more introspective storytelling.  Didn’t work for me, so I set this one to the side.  I do wonder if maybe I should have given this one more time to develop.

Purchase Trial of Intentions at Amazon


empire in black and gold1. Empire in Black and Gold 

Whatever the reason, this book and I never hit it off. I thought the prologue was great: combat, intrigue, deaths, and a hopeless fight against a powerful enemy, then the actual story began. Two hundred pages of world building and four new main characters whom I never cared about. Perhaps if I kept reading I could have gotten to the exciting parts, but I gave up.  Feel bad about DNF-ing it now, because Bookstooge always tells me how great the series becomes.

Purchase Empire in Black and Gold at Amazon


End of list.  And please feel free to tell me why I should give these books another try!

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FUNDAY MONDAY, OR THE BOOKS THAT WILL HELP ME SURVIVE THE WEEK AHEAD (JUNE 4, 2018)

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Another week begins.  I quickly slip into my business suit and head back into the office to save a few innocent people. While I try to fool myself into being excited about the promise of a new week and the continuation of the regular grind, deep down, I’m not, so I’m going to escape dreary reality by finally reading a book I’ve been waiting for!

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wrath of empireWrath of Empire by Brian McClellan

Genre: Fantasy – Flintlock

Series: Gods of Blood and Powder #2

Publisher: Orbit (March 6, 2018)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length:  624 pages

The country is in turmoil. With the capital city occupied, half a million refugees are on the march, looking for safety on the frontier, accompanied by Lady Flint’s soldiers. But escaping war is never easy, and soon the battle may find them, whether they are prepared or not.

Back in the capital, Michel Bravis smuggles even more refugees out of the city. But internal forces are working against him. With enemies on all sides, Michael may be forced to find help with the very occupiers he’s trying to undermine.

Meanwhile, Ben Styke is building his own army. He and his mad lancers are gathering every able body they can find and searching for an ancient artifact that may have the power to turn the tides of war in their favor. But what they find may not be what they’re looking for.

Purchase at Amazon.

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FRIDAY FACE OFF JUNE 1, 2018

friday-face-off

Welcome to the Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme created by Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in the literary universe.  If you want to join us next week, check out next week’s predetermined them, choose a book, compare two or more different covers available for that book, then name your favorite. A list of future weeks’ themes are available at Lynn’s Book Blog

This week’s theme is:

“clinging and invasive – a cover featuring creeping vines!

Creeping vines.  Huh?  Nothing comes to mind, but I’m sure there are some book covers out there in speculative fiction which has some of these.  But let’s see what I came up with after doing a little research.

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AND THE WINNER IS . . .

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So, do you agree with my picks?  Disagree?  Love them all?  Hate them all?  Let us know!

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INDIE WEDNESDAY: THE DESTROYER

Indie-WednesdayAlong my reading journey, I’ve made a conscious decision to include self-published and small press works in my reading schedule.  But it is difficult to know where to start: So many new authors and books to examine to find the perfect fit for my tastes.  And to help others with this same problem, I’ve decided to talk about any indie/small press books which I have recently been enjoying.

This time out I’ll be reviewing an entertaining fantasy offering from Michael-Scott Earle!

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DESTROYERThe Destroyer by Michael-Scott Earle

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Destroyer #1

Publisher: Self Published (February 20, 2016)

Author Information: Website

Length: 401 pages

My Rating: 2.5 stars

I admit I picked up this ebook because of the cover.  (It’s a damn striking cover.) I also liked the description, which promised a light fantasy tale with some mystery thrown in for fun.  And, overall, The Destroyer was a decent read.  It had a cool premise, an interesting main character, and some funny moments, but there were some problems with the execution.

Everything is just a dream.  A stranger drifting through a beautiful world filled with floating, green islands, and while he knows nothing is real, he doesn’t really care since he is at peace.  Then it all comes to an end when he is brought back to life!

Once our dreamer awakens, he finds himself surrounded by strangers; a motley group of people speaking an unfamiliar language; their minds filled with feelings of fear as well as hope.  The main question they keep bombarding him with whether he is “The O’Baarni.”

One problem: our dreamer has no memory.  Of anything.  No idea what his name is.  No idea who he once was.  He could have been a hero who saved the world, or he might have been a villain who destroyed it!

The remainder of the story is a journey of self-discovery as the main character, Kaiyer,  slowly begins to regain his memory, understands the strange future world he has returned to, and somehow, someway tries to locate a woman to have sex with!  Which brings up the problems with an otherwise entertaining fantasy.  (And, yeah, I will address that sex remark in a bit.)

First, all the characters here — except for our awakened warrior — are damn generic as hell and completely one dimensional. You know, we have the “tough girl”, the “feminine girl”, the “old-warrior-past-his-prime”, the “asshole-bully-warrior”, the “wise-old-scholar” and the “young-scholar-who wants-an-adventure.”  Worse yet is the fact the last of those people (Paug, the young scholar who awakens our main character) is one of our main view point characters.  Problem being that Paug’s story has no actual plot and no character arc of any sort.  This guy’s chapters basically being that he really, really hopes Kaiyer is the hero who can save them all and that he desperately wants to be Kaiyer’s bestest friend in the whole wide world.  To say Paug’s portions of the novel added nothing to the narrative is an understatement, harsh as that may sound, but, simply put, they accomplished nothing except take page time away from Kaiyer.

Second, this story is set in a medieval type world with magic of the Avatar: The Last Airbender sort (Fire, Water, et cetera).  Nothing wrong with that at all.  I love medieval settings personally, and I don’t demand what I call “sugar coated popcorn fantasy” to have Brandon Sanderson quality magic systems.  Problem here was the author kept introducing modern verbiage (especially curse words), modern conveniences like homes with running water (Sure, it could be magic, but it isn’t explained that way at all.), and never felt any need to explain any of it, assuming a reader would automatically accept medieval people in this place talking and acting in a modern way.

Third, and lastly, the sex.  Okay, I’m not averse to some mention of sex in my stories, a few sex scenes if they progress the story, but here there were several chapters devoted to the tintillating.  (A little fantasy Fifty Shades if you will.) Sure, the intimate relationship with someone in the past somewhat set up Kaiyer’s motivations and helped flesh out his history, but the details of these sex scenes did more to explain Kaiyer’s constant need to proposition all females for sex than anything else, because though I understood this guy had been in a magical coma for a few centuries and had some urges he wanted to explore, the dude’s use of the line “I’ve been asleep a LONG TIME” grew annoying and reinforced to me again why most women hate stupid pickup lines.  Plus it never worked.

I mention all these problems with the book to set up a surprising revelation: I still liked The Destroyer more than I should have.  Weird, I know?  This raising the real question: Why did I like it?

Simple really: Kaiyer.  This awakened warrior’s mysterious past really sparking my interest.  The opening chapters with Kaiyer’s revival and reintroduction to the world sucking me into this narrative.  His surprising revelations of his past life and what the ancient world looked like keeping me turning the pages hoping to find another flashback in the next chapter.  The ancient warrior himself remaining an enigma to the very end; the real reason for his entombment in a forgotten crypt unrevealed, demanding I buy the next book to uncover the answer.

To sum up, The Destroyer had more than its fair share of issues, but somehow, someway I enjoyed the evolving exploration of Kaiyer’s revival and restoration.  Not sure if others would be able to say the same, but I personally am glad I gave the book a try, might even pick up the next volume in the series.

Purchase at Amazon

Posted in 2 Stars, Fantasy, Indie Wednesday, Self-Published | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY: A DEMON IN SILVER

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Waiting on Wednesday is a meme I’ve participated in for years which lets readers share their excitement for books coming out soon, and this week the novel I’m eagerly awaiting is . . .

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A DEMON IN SILVERA Demon in Silver by R. S. Ford

Genre: Fantasy

Series: War of the Archons #1

Publisher: Titan Books (June 12, 2018)

Author Information: Website | Twitter 

Length: 400 pages

In a world where magic has disappeared, rival nations vie for power in a continent devastated by war.

When a young farm girl, Livia, demonstrates magical powers for the first time in a century there are many across the land that will kill to obtain her power. The Duke of Gothelm’s tallymen, the blood-soaked Qeltine Brotherhood, and cynical mercenary Josten Cade: all are searching for Livia and the power she wields.

But Livia finds that guardians can come from the most unlikely places… and that the old gods are returning to a world they abandoned.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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TOP TEN TUESDAY

TOP TEN TUESDAYS

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! This is a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where a new top ten list hits the web every week!

The topic this time out is one all readers have considered from time to time: What fictional world would you like to live in?

I have to admit pondering this question a lot when I was young.  Probably that is because I was a fairly angst ridden teen who daydreamed about escaping what I then thought was a horrid existence.  As I’ve grown older, the idea of jettisoning my current life for the greener grass of fictional landscapes isn’t as tempting as it once was, but it still crosses my mind occasionally.

Understand that each of the ten fictional worlds I’ve picked below isn’t ideal.  (Honestly, if any of these places were great places to life without problems then there wouldn’t be any stories about them, right?) My desire take up residence hinging on something special about each one.

Last thing: I’m reserving the right to leave these places if I don’t get the right job, but that is a topic for another time!


BOOKISH WORLDS I’D LIKE TO LIVE IN


DRAGONLANCE 110. DRAGONLANCE

Sure, this is a Dungeon and Dragons cookie cutter land with all the normal resident of fantasy environments.  We have the dragons, the elves, the dwarfs, the knights, the minotaur, the halflings, and every other AD&D creature regularly appearing in your favorite module, but this place was also magic, rising above its generic fantasy design, and I’d love to visit every familiar corner of it.

Purchase Dragonlance Chronicles at Amazon


BISHOPS HEIR9. DERYNI 

How can I resist a fictional land where magic works but everything else is a near carbon copy of the European High Middle Ages.  There are lords and ladies, knights and artists, living together in a world where my chosen religion is the unchallenged foundation of the culture.  Are there problems, evil people, and the normal corruption humanity seems to always introduce into everything?  Sure, but it isn’t as bad as many other fantasy world’s I’ve read about.

Purchase Deryni Rising at Amazon


ALL THE WEYRS OF PERN8. PERN

The idea of living on an alien world where thread destroys everything every so often sounds pretty bad, but it does have one major thing going for it: dragons.  What I am specifically interested in being the possibility to be a dragonrider of Pern.  Sure, it sounds like a challenging task, but I’d sure love to be in a position to give that type of job a try.  Sounds much more fun than my real life occupation.

Purchase The Dragonriders of Pern at Amazon


complete conan7. CONAN

The World of the Hyborean Age seems like a difficult but exciting place to live.  Yeah, it is very reminiscent of all the other medieval type worlds in fantasy, but there is something grand about these lands where Robert E. Howard’s barbarian hero lives.  Perhaps I could take up thieving, become   a pirate, or just take over as king of mighty Aquilonia.

Purchase The Complete Chronicles of Conan at Amazon


STAR WARS A NEW HOPE6. STAR WARS

This franchise has fallen steadily in my esteem since its creator George Lucas sold out to Disney, but I still have a constant love deep down inside for the  galaxy far, far away from the Original Trilogy.  And if I could find the right position, a nice planet to settle down on, and some good friends, then I’d love to enjoy some quality life in this amazing place.

Purchase Star Wars Trilogy at Amazon


WHEEL OF TIME5. WHEEL OF TIME

I’m not really sure anymore why I continue to have a deep fondness for Robert Jordan’s fantasy world.  I mean, those middle books tried really hard to leech all the fun out of this epic saga, but I suppose the familiar fantasy traits, unique mixture, and a fascinating history really made me fall in love with this place.

Purchase The Eye of the World at Amazon


blood-of-aenarion4. WARHAMMER

This is a brutal world.  There are demons, vampires, undead, skaven, orcs, and much worse creatures seeming to lurk around every corner.  The terrible stuff happens far too often here.  But . . .there are so many wondrous things as well.  Magic, airships, and mesmerizing marvels.  Would it be difficult to live here?  Yeah, it would. But if you could, it might also be quite the experience – both good and bad.

Purchase Malekith at Amazon


promise of blood3. POWDER MAGE

This flintlock fantasy world has captivated my imagination; the powder mages overtaking the Jedi as my favorite “magic-users”, as difficult as it is for me to acknowledge that.  As for the world itself, it is yet another familiar yet unique variation of the familiar, but I still love it.

Purchase Promise of Blood at Amazon


THE CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT2. THE LAND 

I know many, many people hate the title character, Thomas Covenant, of this old school fantasy.  Believe me, I understand.  But what I have never understand is why more people don’t love The Land where this guy travels.  From magical creatures, wondrous forests, and undying warriors, this place is quite a spectacular environment.

Purchase First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant at Amazon 


lord of the rings1. LORD OF THE RINGS

From the ancient days of The Silmarillion to the glorious height of Numenor to the War of the Rings, Tolkien’s world is so complex, so believable yet magical that I feel in love with it the first time I ever opened one of his novels, and I’ve wondered what it would be like to walk the halls of Rivendell or climb up the streets of Minas Tirith since I was a preteen.

Purchase The Lord of the Rings at Amazon  

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MEMORIAL DAY

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While I remember all the sacrifice, I wish for a world where such sacrifices are never required of anyone again.  Perhaps one day people will learn to love one another, stop fighting, and live in harmony.

 

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