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Building New Worlds and Writing in a Different Time by Nicholas Lovelock

The blog tour for Discoucia, a Victorianish Fairytale, started on 10th July (YAY!) and for my part – as well as providing a review – I requested a guest article on world building and writing in a different time, and guess what?! Mr Lovelock duly obliged and put together a great piece with mountains (literally) of sound advice! See below…

Building New Worlds and Writing in a Different Time

It may not seem like much of a task to create a world out of imagination as many of us go through this scenario on a daily basis, but to make a truly believable world an awful lot of work must go in.

Using my world of Alavonia as an example, you begin with a name that you will use throughout your narrative and from there you move to continents or countries. Alavonia is a planet four times the size of Earth and has 11 main continents. They are Discoucia, Lesiga, Neo Firmania, Tela Bilega, Caparonia, The Fire Islands, Capari, Insatia, Colsolia, The Ice Islands and Immoratia.

This works like Inception, as you have to go further in at every step. You have the world, and now you have the continent. For this we shall use Discoucia itself which has sixteen main counties, all with different identities and customs. They are Evermore, Elowe, Yande, Fina, Ervie, Icester, Adlin, Ashin, Chene, Harrha, Proceur, Gard, Cesta, Thorisea, Tanalos and Sorro.

The county we will focus on is Chene, which needed its own identity to make it different from the rest of the counties and became the commercial centre of Discoucia. It gained sovereignty from the rest of Discoucia so it could avoid all the extra taxes from the empire and became a sort of Victorian New York with skyscrapers and massive streets. It couldn’t be surrounded by water so I gave it a massive wall that backed on to the mountains, and allowed the use of sky-ships to be used in the plot as more of a necessity.

To make your science-fiction more appealing, you need to come up with a plot device that is different and makes your writing interesting and remarkable. For instance the average Alavonian lives for 1000 years, and to put it in perspective Arthur is 220 which would be 22 in our world. The age that people live to explains how so much technological accomplishments could be made, from subterranean tunnels to underwater research laboratories like Infinica that appears later.

As far as writing in another time, you have to pick which one you want. If you are going to write it in the future then you need to think about how people would live. It is all fine to create fantastical spaceships and futuristic cities, but you have to consider if that is how people would live. However if it is simply a pure fantasy you wish to create then let your imagination run wild. The constraint of writing in the past is that it is set in stone; then again alternate fiction allows history to be distorted for the sake of plot.

In a film like Django Unchained, historically it was highly unlikely for there to be a freed slave becoming a bounty hunter, but the idea was plausible enough for it to fit into the contemporary history of the time. The plot still works with historical accuracies like the feel of the time and the setting, but takes liberties with other things such as the two main characters actions.

Going back to Alavonia, once you have the setting you need to have characters that are likeable or dislikeable to the audience. In the instance of Chene the rulers are Princess Amberlia, who will take over the throne when she reaches 180 and seems to be as evil as any Dickensian villain. She is assisted by her weak sister Princess Sophina in getting rid of her other sister Princess Mona, all while a festival is taking place where the main characters are unaware of what is going on above.

Amberlia represents a spoilt child about to be put in charge, but sees her sisters as enemies that in her paranoid mind she must get rid of. I hoped to achieve what so many authors have done successfully, which was making a horrible villain that has a reason for doing what they do but it still doesn’t condone what they do, but at the same time is interesting because you have to wonder when she is going to suddenly think that what she is doing is wrong and change her mind.

In a sense building a world is just as much about the people as the landscapes, however when it comes to the landscapes it does help to have high mountains or giant caves since they have become so synonymous with the science fiction and fantasy genre.’

A big thank you to Nicholas for that, I know I got a load from it and hopefully you did too! My stop on the blog tour is on July 19th so please share the hell out of it for me and let me know what you think.

I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did, feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts 🙂

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*Novella Review* Rend the Dark (Rend the Dark #1) by Gelineau and King

*Novella Review* Rend the Dark by Gelineau and King

‘The great Ruins are gone. The titans. The behemoths. All banished to the Dark and nearly forgotten. But the cunning ones, the patient ones remain. They hide not in the cracks of the earth or in the shadows of the world. But inside us. Wearing our skin. Waiting. Watching.

Once haunted by visions of the world beyond, Ferran now wields that power to hunt the very monsters that he once feared. He is not alone. Others bear the same terrible burden. But Hunter or hunted, it makes no difference. Eventually, everything returns to the Dark.’

‘Dark’ is the operative word here because with comes in tons!

I’ve previously reviewed some of Gelineau and King’s works and they are fantasy-lite. Not in a bad way (they were very good stories) but a way that a novella should be, short, interesting, and leave you wanting more.

Rend the Dark had all of these, but also something more; horror. 

 That’s right, there is some scary scenes in this story and the creatures are actually damn frightening! There is no levity to be had throughout and it left me with a sinking feeling. And you know what? I actually really enjoyed it!

Character-wise, it’s quite good, although the creatures take more of a front seat, leaving the human characters less evolved. Having said that, Ferran is bad ass! He’s one of those characters that is skilled, strong, but not invulnerable. And he has a face tattoo, I mean, what’s not to like?!

Gelineau and King do it again. Great stuff!

3.5/5

*BOOK REVIEW* Battlemage (The Age of Darkness Trilogy #1) by Stephen Aryan

*BOOK REVIEW* Battlemage (The Age of Darkness Trilogy #1) by Stephen Aryan

‘I can command storms, summon fire and unmake stone,’ Balfruss growled. ‘It’s dangerous to meddle with things you don’t understand.’
‘BALFRUSS is a battlemage, sworn to fight and die for a country that fears his kind.
VARGUS is a common soldier – while mages shoot lightning from the walls of his city, he is down on the front line getting blood on his blade.
TALANDRA is a princess and spymaster, but the war will force her to risk everything, and make the greatest sacrifice of all.
Magic and mayhem collide in this explosive epic fantasy from a major new talent’

Battlemage tells the story of the war between the mad king Taikon of Zeccoria (with aid from the dark wizard, The Warlock) and the people of Seveldrom, led by Princess Talandra; through the eyes of the aforementioned trio of key players. The novel is set around the fight itself and the various manoeuvrings of the armies both on the front lines and behind the scenes.

First of all, I will point out that this is a book that I bought before I’d finished reading the blurb; it just had everything that I would want form a fantasy novel; magic, battles, gods, blood, and guts. My hopes were high.

The parts of the book I enjoyed most were those with the characters that operate behind the scenes and that is rare for me; usually I’m a sucker for a balls-out all-action warrior! but in this case, it was the various spies being deployed that really hooked me. The way they went about their business and influenced with subtle societal shifts was a great touch to the story and helped to paint the bigger picture.

There are also other great parts of this story; the action scenes were good, with some ‘close ups’ of the battles in little snippets and some interesting characters. The biggest problem I had with this novel was the lack of depth to the characters. Now, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was missing from this novel and i had to consult various people in Facebook groups and found that I agreed with the criticisms; it’s just a bit… shallow.

The characters aren’t fleshed out enough for me and because of that I found it really hard to buy into them. I found myself not caring whether they died, and that’s bad! there are a congregation of Battlemages from various parts of the world and they had the potential to be awesome, hell, they were ALMOST awesome but they just didn’t quite get there. The regular battles between the magical Battlemages and the enemy were not detailed enough, I wanted loads more action but I just didn’t get it.

Also – and this is a weird aside – I think that the personalities of Balfruss and Vargus aren’t suited to their names; I would have switched them around (how arrogant and crass of me). That is the most subjective thing I’ve ever written but screw it, in my head, they’re in reverse!

This being said, I think the potential of this world is huge, and for that reason, I have bought the next two books in the trilogy.

The writer’s style is easy and fluid and he has created a world full of dying magic that has got me interested…just. If the books in this trilogy improve with every instalment, then Chaosmage will blow my head off!

Where to find Stephen Aryan;

Website: https://stephen-aryan.com/

Where to find Battlemage;

 

I really hope this was a balanced review as I have thought about this for a few weeks since I finished it.

Anyway, thanks for reading 🙂

*BOOK REVIEW* Bane and Shadow by Jon Skovron

*BOOK REVIEW* Bane and Shadow by Jon Skovron

‘A killer adventure fantasy follow-up to HOPE AND RED, set in a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, where two young people from different cultures find common purpose.
Red is being trained as a cold-blooded assassin by the biomancers. As he becomes increasingly embroiled in palace politics, he learns that even life among the nobility can be deadly.
While terrorizing imperial ships as the pirate Dire Bane, Hope stumbles onto a biomancer plot of such horrifying scope that it makes even the massacre of her childhood village seem small in comparison.
With the biomancers tightening their grip of fear over the empire, Hope and Red struggle to fill their new roles and responsibilities, but the cost will be greater than any of them realize’

Bane and Shadow picks up almost immediately where Hope and Red left off (you can read my review of Hope and Red here); Red is with the biomancers after giving himself up to free Hope, who is now sailing the high seas under the name of Dire Bane, an infamous pirate.

First off, I’ll be honest, I LOVED Hope and Red,  it had a freshness about it and the world built by the author was outstanding; so I opened up Bane and Shadow with a lot of expectation. Luckily, there was not let down in sight!

In Bane and Shadow we have the same trope of characters – some are in rather unexpected places – with a few small additions, all of whom offer something to the story (thank God!)

Rixidenteron (or Red as he is or commonly known) is living it up with the aristocracy, ribbing shoulders with the future King, and being trained/experimented on by biomancers in the meantime. There is a nice little side story within Rixidenteron’s arc, as he  is troubled by a ‘shadow demon’ that is finding small pockets of resistance against the biomancers and is slaughtering them. Rixidenteron makes it his mission to  find this shadow demo and out and end to it. The author also sets up the court politics within this story and introduces other lands and other cultures, something that could make this a world that could be expanded and expanded (which i hope it is!).

Hope – sailing under the fearsome name of Dire Bane – with her crew (new additions of Red’s inventive cousin, and a complicated biomancer, Brigga Lin), are sailing the high seas and capturing vessels with links to the biomancers. Hope was the one part of this story that didn’t do everything for me; she was tough as hell in the first novel but we never quite see her specialist skills put to use here. I mean fine, she has lost a hand, but come on, she still could have swung something about, ell, it would ave been cool to see her lose and then do something to re-hone her skills.

Bane and Shadow  is a good follow-up novel to Hope and Red and introduces the pecking order of the biomancers and their e’er so devious plots. What the author does well is to give us an insight into the biomancer culture and their lifelong goal of total domination, as well as their ever increasing influence over court politics. There are also some fantastic little twists throughout the story and some characters that really steal the show; the author pulls back the curtain on some of the loftier parts of society and damn! it’s awesome!

This is the most fun book I have read in a long time! Piracy, world-building, and damn fine characters; this is a swashbuckling fantasy-fest that will not disappoint!

Where to find Jon Skovron;

Website: jonskovron.com

  

 

Where to find Bane and Shadow

 

 

 

*BOOK REVIEW* Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson

*BOOK REVIEW* Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson

‘Two wizards, 350 years apart. Can they save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past? 

An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria. 
Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate. 
Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer. 
The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?’

Visions of Zarua tells the story of Paddren, an apprentice wizard who must find the killer of his Master, Kalesh, and the motives behind it. Cue Nagras, brooding, assassin’s and strained relationships, oh, there’s a boat load of magic as well. Score!

This book starts out feeling like a Raymond E. Feist novel, the apprentice wizard, the tracker, and their friendship. What is different is the immediate death of a powerful player, and one who is extremely close to our main character, Paddren. Master Kalesh dies in a way that is heart-breaking for Paddren (and the reader) and leaves more questions than answers; this starts of the adventure that leads to the ancient city of Zarua. but before we get there, there’s quite a bit in store…

Paddren is a character that I struggled to connect with at first, his secrecy – even from the reader – left me feeling a little cold towards him. however, he does warm throughout the novel and his motives, and knowledge, become very clear. Paddren has a connection to an ancient wizard, Jago, who was a key player in Zarua centuries before, and he’s actually one of the coolest characters in the book, I would love to read more about him!

Varnia is Paddren’s best friend and extremely skilled tracker. Now Varnia was a strange one for me; like Paddren she is hard to warm to, but unlike Paddren, I never really got a feel for her. I found myself not caring whether she died or not (don’t worry, no spoilers) and that indifference is worse than disliking a character. I found Varnia to be frustrating and overly broody, and I found myself wishing that she hadn’t bene brought along on the adventure.

Leyoch is Varnia’s lover, and a very skilled fighter, he didn’t get as much time on the page as Varnia and, to be honest, I wish they’d swapped roles. I really liked Leyoch and he comes into his own once the steel starts clashing, he’s a warrior and he’s noble, i quite liked that in a world that had a lot of darkness.

The magic system is explored really well in this book and I love the old magic school trope that is hearkened back to through Paddren’s connection to Jago. There is sacrificial magic that lays the foundation for the motives behind both sides of this battle. The darkness of the magic is never far away from the main trio, and even closer than some of them may think.

So, is it worth reading?!

Damn straight it is! Rogerson writes with an experienced hand, the world is interesting, the characters are provoking, and the evil is, actually, EVIL! Because, without a truly bad guy/gal, what’s the point?!

A definite read for any fantasy lover!

Where to find Suzanne;

Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Where to find Visions of Zarua

  

*TRAILER REVEAL* The Unforgiven by A. Katie Rose

About the book

The Unforgiven by A. Katie Rose

‘When the moon and the sun
Are joined as one,
From tears of strife, from the bitter ashes,
From sorrow and from rage
That what was once parted
Shall again be one.’

First Captain Vanyar: Disgraced. Outlawed. Haunted by the chilling murder of his own men, he is consumed by guilt and knows he can never find redemption for his crimes. The most talented Shape-Shifter ever born, only he can save Princess Iyumi from a Witch’s evil, and help her find the child of prophecy. But his Atani brothers, seeking justice for the slaying of Vanyar’s unit, plan his private execution against the King’s orders.
Princess Iyumi: She is the legendary “She Who Hears”, the voice of the gods, and the gods’ chosen tool. Only she knows where to find the child spoken of in the ancient prophecy, the child who will unite two feuding countries and protect the world of magic from obliteration. Caught between two warring men, only her love is hers to give, to offer to the only man she ever wanted.

Prince Flynn: Despised by his own people, cruelly abused by his father, he fights to hide his magical gifts from those who would slay him for possessing them. By blood and by fire, he gains a terrible power, and condemns his own soul. He must find Princess Iyumi and the child, and bring them to his father’s mistress, the Red Witch. Or the only people who ever mattered to him, his mother and his sister, will die.

The trailer for The Unforgiven!!

How freaking awesome was that?!!

About the Author

A. Katie Rose is a workaholic living in San Antonio, Texas. With her day job as a photographer, she writes in what little remains of her spare time. She enjoys long walks, reading (when possible), watching movies, red wine, and drinking beer around a fire with friends. Among her extracurricular activities, she rides her horses and rescues cats.

A Colorado native, she earned her B.A. in literature and history at Western State College, in Gunnison, Colorado. Her first novel, In a Wolf’s Eyes, was published in April of 2012. Her second book, Catch a Wolf, was released in July, 2013. The third of the series, Prince Wolf, was released in May of 2014. The Unforgiven was published in March of 2015. Book Four, Under the Wolf’s Shadow was published in June of 2016. She is busy working on the fifth of the Saga of the Black Wolf series, The Kinslayer.

Where to find A. Katie Rose

Website

 

Where to find The Unforgiven

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

 

 

 

 

                        

 

 

*COVER REVEAL* Heroes Never Fade (A Maxilla Tale) by Rick Haynes

*COVER REVEAL* Heroes Never Fade (A Maxilla Tale) by Rick Haynes

As you can see above; the cover for ‘Heroes Never Fade’ has been revealed *cheers wildly* and i quite like it! It reminds me of the older fantasy books and there’s a slight tinge of nostalgia to it. So, to the book itself, what is it actually about? Well, here’s the blurb…

“In the land of Cpin the Queen has mysteriously disappeared. Discontent is spreading and the threat of civil war looms ever closer, for the Tormented King is marching towards the city.
Tarn obeys a command to enter the world of the magical Souls, for those close to him have been threatened.
The lure of gold seduces Grona to a meeting with Abastor, the leader of the Souls. His options are limited, tell no one, follow instructions or die.
War is inevitable, but can the combined forces of the few, oppose the host from Marathi?
And would any man trust the Gods to prevent the slaughter?”

 ‘Heroes Never Fade’ is the second of the Maxilla Tales, following on from ‘Evil Never Dies’ (my review can be found here). It looks as though Haynes is dealing with the themes of good vs evil, and the juxtaposition of Gods and Humans, something that was excellently explored in Evil Never Dies.

The world of the magical Souls also sounds really cool and I’m hoping Abastor is as bad ass as I think he’ll be, I do love a good ultimatum!

Evil Never Dies was a book that I really enjoyed, the action was lightning quick and the author’s writing style was fluid and easy, something that I love in a book. I am really excited to read Heroes Never Fade, I’m sure it’ll be action packed and fantasy-filled!

Heroes Never Fade will be released on April 11th and can be pre-ordered on Amazon here. Also, join Rick and 4 special guest authors on April 11th for his Heroes Never Fade release event; check out his Facebook profile below for details of the event.

Where to find Rick Haynes;

Website: www.rickhaynesauthor.com 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rickhaynesauthor/

MY ‘TBR’ (To Be Reviewed) Pile

I like to read, no, scratch that; I LOVE to read! From fantasy to thriller, not much is off limits – although I’ve never been one for romance. I also review the books that I’ve read, as a way of sharing my opinions and hearing those of others. Do we like the same book? Yeah? Cool. No? Cool, tell me why.

There’s nothing better than talking to someone who loves the same book or author that you do, and waxing lyrical about that character or this character. It’s awesome! And this is why I get excited about the books I haven’t read yet; I am about to discover a character that I like, or even better, a character that I absolutely hate!

Below is a list of just some of the books I currently have on my ‘TBR’ pile. Let me know if you’ve read any of them yet, and if so, what did you make of them?

Continue reading “MY ‘TBR’ (To Be Reviewed) Pile”

Book Review – Scavenger: A.I. (Sand Divers #2) by Timothy C. Ward

Book Review – Scavenger: A.I. (Sand Divers #2) by Timothy C Ward

*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

The book blurb;

‘Hundreds of years ago a nanotech virus nearly wiped out humanity. The kernel of that technology has been locked in a buried military and guarded from warlords and tyrants by a class of sentries. Divemaster Rushing Stenson and his wife Star thought their journey underground would lead to the discovery of the ancient city of Danvar. Instead, they resurrected a power perfect for the tyrant that put them there. He plans to use this self replicating technology to rebuild America and give life eternal to those loyal to his empire.’

Continue reading “Book Review – Scavenger: A.I. (Sand Divers #2) by Timothy C. Ward”

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