Monday, 26 December 2016

Review for "Comrades We" by A. Louise Olson

Comrades We

Comrades We” by A. Louise Olson is a fantasy drama about a groups of young friends and their abilities. In the world of this book, Olson has melded fantasy, magic and human dramas together to tell the story of 7 young people growing up and discovering their place in the world while shouldering great responsibility and learning about relationships. The Kingdom of Yaidanain is the primary location of this story, an empire that seems to be on the brink of something no one can understand, but they find an ally in the newly appointed Greatmage, who must also learn about his new power and what lies before him. His friends are always at his side however, and ready to support him and each other as they begin a quest that spans this series.

We learn a lot about this world, about the provinces, the languages and customs of the various kingdoms, as well as about the main characters. As these young strangers are introduced they all become fast friends and find themselves responsible for much more than their studies at the Academy of Yaidanain. It is clear this was designed as an introduction to the rest of the series, laying the foundation for what the reader needs to know to understand adventures in future books.

This book was great; it was fun and enjoyable, without too much complexity to it. But as I find often with some independently published books I found it way too short. Now normally my complaint is because there is so much left unsaid, so much more that could have been created and because I love the book and the story I want more, however in this case it was less about my enjoyment and more about solid story structure. We learn about the kingdom of Yaidanain, and that there are other kingdoms, but we have very little understanding of how they interact, or don’t interact with each other. We meet characters so briefly and are expected to form strong attachments to them. In the same vein we witness the deaths of characters we barely know and are supposed to be emotional about this. At 170 pages this felt exactly like a roller coaster; you are initially plunged off the edge into a deep drop and encounter many twists and turns, and then just as you feel like you are getting to grips with the ride it’s over and you have to get off. While I could see the bones of a great series in this book, it would have read much better if Olson had taken more time with it and eased the reader into the world more slowly. To put it into perspective in 170 pages we are taken through approximately 4 or 5 years of the lives of the main characters, where they study and build relationships with others, and sometimes end relationships. Imagine if the Harry Potter series of books was condensed into 170 pages, how much would you feel like you were riding in the Indy 500? With so little writing space I have to wonder how much Olson felt restricted in her writing, felt that details about the environments or descriptions of people had to be cut in order to cram in all the plot points of this book.

That being said I am impressed that Olsons’ writing style clearly didn’t suffer because of the short length. She has some impressive writing chops and it was a delight to experience them. The way she organically takes the reader on a tour of the Academy buildings when a new student enters the mix, rather than try to stuff it into the beginning when we first encounter the building was a smooth as a professional. The nature of the relationship between humans and gods was intriguing and the brief glimpses of this left me sufficiently intrigued to learn more.

Olson has the bones of an excellent and far reaching series on her hands, and with some patience and care could be on the verge of an enduring world. My only advice to her would be to take things slowly, don’t pigeonhole yourself or feel like you have to restrict yourself to a particular number of books or a particular length of book. You are the master of this world and this story is yours, you have so many options and so much you can create that the sky is the limit here. You have the talent behind you now all you have to do is show the world what you can really do!

For more about the author click here
To buy the book from Amazon click here

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Cover Reveal for Enden by David Kummer


Displaying ENDENB1COVER.jpg

They have grown strong in the shadows, the kingdom of Oldon. The land is void of hope and of strength against them. The human kingdoms grow corrupt everyday, so that the lines between good and evil are slurred.

One young man from a small village in the valley could change all of that. He fights with the passion of a warrior and the luck of a magician. And when the barbarians force him out of his home, the journey begins.

Trained by a knight, shadowed with secrets, and against the kingdom he once called home, Jonathan is an outcast, a rebel. But more than anything, he is a leader.

Enden is a world filled with wars, famine, sieges, torture, and death. But the greatest battle of all is to survive. Only one thing is certain. Something is rising, in the distance near the edge of the world where forgotten secrets brew. Something has risen. And it is coming.It is coming.

Enden comes out January 1st, buy it here

Friday, 16 December 2016

Teaser for "Enden" by David Kummer

Enden by David Kummer

The Siege of Moslow
Moslow, Ormdel, In The Far West

With a roar, he swept his axe low, cutting off the legs of his opponent. The screaming
soldier tumbled off the wall, falling into the crowd of troops below. Lord Dargu raised his axe
again, staring at the large and barbaric man directly ahead of him.

It was the main point of a long war, a strategic point on the Saic River. Oldon was
crushing down on the small, nation of Ormdel. The city was their final hope. If they lost the city,
their homelands would be open to pillaging and death. The majestic, towering city of Moslow
rose up from the plains, standing against the dark forces. Now, it was covered in soldiers like
ants, as war raged inside it and on the walls. Ormdel’s final hope.

Men screamed as they surged forward on the walls of Moslow. They raised their swords
and swung, cutting through skin and sinew. Blood poured like a waterfall over the side of the
stone walls, staining every inch of the glorious city. The soldiers glinted in early sunlight as
metal beating against metal sent clangs and crashes up from the battle.

Lord Dargu, dwarf king of Ormdel, charged forwards, leading the battle on the wall. They
were trying to retake the city and win a losing battle. He led the rush of soldiers, crushing
against the enemy. They were forcing them back, inch by inch, as they took back their walls.

The Oldon soldier ahead of him was waving a heavy sword with both hands, squaring up
against the king of Ormdel.

“For Ormdel!” the king screamed, rushing at the enemy soldier. He jumped in the air,
bringing his axe down on the man’s head. There was a disgusting, cracking sound as the
enemy’s skull imploded and brain specks flew out, smothering the axe.
“Press forward!” Lord Dargu shouted. “Drive them off our walls! Win back this city!”

Even as he struck another soldier dead, his own men swarmed around, protecting
him. With the group of friendly fighters in front of him, he relaxed for a minute. Lord Dargu
was about to thunder forwards into the battle, when he heard somebody shout his name
from behind.

“Lord!” cried the hoarse voice again.

His own soldiers were now pushing the enemy far back, so Lord Dargu turned around
and away from the battlefront. There was a small dwarf, holding his axe tightly. The man’s eyes
were exhausted and his skin sweaty, but his features gave the sense of urgency.

The king stepped forwards and clasped arms with his fellow dwarf. Lord Dargu’s long,
dark beard rose as a smile formed across his face. “It’s great joy to see you, friend,” he said with
a deep voice.

The dwarf nodded, but spoke in a hurried, jerky voice. “Yes, my lord. But look, lord! Bad
news!” He gestured out at the horizon and squeaked, curling his arms against his chest

Lord Dargu turned and peered across the fields in front of their city. The Oldon army was
routed, fleeing from Moslow. But in the far horizon there was a great cloud of dust. Storms of
men were heading over the land in their direction. It was an army too great to be numbered and
too dense to make out. Like one swift disease, it was spreading towards their homeland.

“What is this?” Lord Dargu’s shaky voice faded, even as the cheers of victory went up
from around them.

“Navarro has brought them all, lord. The king of Oldon is here, with his army.”

“We don’t stand a chance,” said Lord Dargu, wiping sweat from his forehead. Praying to
all the gods he knew, he asked for mercy on their doomed souls. “How long until they arrive?”

“Our scouts say a few hours. My lord, when they get to the city, they will burn it. We have
to leave, don’t you think?”

Lord Dargu did not answer at first. He gazed back at the remaining soldiers in the city.
They were celebrating and cheering, because they could not see the army on the horizon.
Across the walls, however, all the troops were terrified. This high up, they could also see the
Oldon soldiers, the doom that was coming to their country.

The king bowed his head. “Yes. We must leave.”

“On boats?” the dwarf asked. “We could sail to the south of our kingdom and regroup
there. If we hold out long enough, we might get help from the human nations.”

The Saic River ran alongside the city of Moslow, flowing out to the west where the
enormous Omega Sea lay. The river watered their crops and citizens. It was the sole reason
Moslow had flourished over the last many years. But this time, it could not save them.

“The river is close…” mused the king. “But no. We must retreat by foot. If we go through
the mountains, we will be quicker than them. We can stay in Wursburn in the south.”

The king focused on the steps a bit ahead that led down to the city ground. He directed
his steps towards them as the smaller dwarf tripped after, trying to keep up.

“Won’t they follow us there? They might attack Wursburn then!” The dwarf groaned,
throwing his hands up. “This is hopeless!”

“They may follow, but we can send a message to Kelormen. They share a border with
Oldon, and could help us attack,” the king said, approaching the staircase.

“The human kingdom?” the dwarf asked incredulously. “They’ll never help us, and you
know it.”

“They might.”

The dwarf sighed. “But what if they don’t?”

The king stopped when they reached the ground. “Then we are truly doomed.”

Within minutes, the order was given to flee. Every citizen would gather their families, and
then in one long line they would leave the homeland.

Evacuating the city was quick work, but at times the people fell into panic and trampled
each other. They were all pushing to get out of the back gate, which pointed south and towards
their destination. Possessions were mostly left behind, although some people brought what they
could carry in their arms. The livestock was set free to roam, all the horses brought along to load
supplies on, and any food wrangled from the city was put in pouches and bags.

The possibility of starving in the mountains was very real and very sobering. Despite this,
Lord Dargu insisted that they had to travel by foot. They had the advantage of quickness and
experience, knowing much more about the mountains than Oldon did. If they chose to travel by
boat, there was the danger of an Oldon fleet. It would be just like Navarro to set up his own
boats and then wait to kill them as they tried to escape. They would have surely been sunk. For
all these reasons, it was better to go on land.

As the herds of humans and dwarves were flooding out of the gate with soldiers
attempting to keep them in line, Lord Dargu sat quietly on his horse observing. His general,
Templeton, sat beside him, glancing around at the city. He was drinking in the homes soon to
be burned, and the walls that would crumble within a day. The whole city would be ashes, the
battlements fallen to the ground, the crops raided and gone. Moslow would fall, and Oldon
would have opened the gateway to victory.

“It’s the worst part of war,” Lord Dargu said simply. “I hate seeing your friends die, your
home burned, and all the treasure you’ve gathered burned to dust.”

“If we don’t move quicker, the army will overtake us,” said the general. He nodded
vaguely as the crowds of people. “They will slaughter us and them.”

“Fear can do many things,” said the king. “If they understand what is coming, they will
move faster and we will be fine.”

“But do they understand?”

“They will.”

Silence enveloped the two companions, as they sat in the morning sunlight. Last night’s
battle had taken its toll on both of them. Exhausted as they were -exhausted as they all were they
had to move.

It was a dirty move by Oldon. They attacked by surprise in the middle of the night. If not
for the quick speed of Ormdel’s scouts, they would have been caught entirely off guard and
massacred. As it was, they had prepared enough to withstand the first surge of the army. When
the iron gate had finally broken, they fought their hardest and gained the victory. Now, despite it
all, they were once again retreating, once more running from a foe they could not defeat on their

“These are dark times, friend.” The king folded his arms, burdening to keep his head tall.
It would have been easier to fall forwards and lean against his horse, or even more to ride back
and fight to the death. Dying was terrible; retreating was worse.
“They are, yes. Our country is doomed, it seems.”

Lord Dargu shook his head. “Not just us. Enden as a whole is seeing dark times, more
than any in our life. Kelormen is weak, Byrum is lazy, and we are fading quickly. Unless
something changes, there will be nothing left.”

“I really like this city,” General Templeton said thoughtfully. “I like the gigantic walls, the
gleaming buildings, the way the sun sets over the plains.”

“Get your last glances then, friend. We won’t be back here. This is all we have had, and
we are leaving it behind.”

“You’re quite the dramatic type,” Templeton joked. He smiled feebly, but it was gone in
an instant.

“Am I dramatic or is this war?”

“Now isn’t the time for one of our theological discussions, my lord.”
The king sighed, wrapping a hand in the reins of his horse. “I suppose you’re right. And
it’s almost time to go, anyways.”

Their chestnut horses began a steady walk out of the city. The last of the citizens had
passed through the gate, and so they went ahead. While Templeton remained facing forward,
the king peered around with the wonder of a small child, drinking the in the hauntingly empty
sights of the city. He wondered how close the Oldon army was now.

“Do you really think there’s hope for us, Templeton?” the king asked quietly.
“I was about to ask you the same.”

A birch perched above them on the city wall. It was surrounded by its fellow clan of
poultry, until they flew off into the sky. Yet the one bird remained, standing alone defiantly on the
wall. Lord Dargu scratched his beard absentmindedly and smiled to himself.

“I never thought I would leave this place for good.”

“We will return,” the general assured him.

“No,” said Lord Dargu, “I don’t think we will. This very well could be the end, Templeton.”

“We have gone through much together, my lord.”

“No need to call me that,” the king grinned. “I am not your lord. We are friends, who find
themselves presently on the brink of death, and have fulfilled all of their lifelong dreams.”
He chuckled, but as they passed outside of the city wills, a tear rolled down the king’s
face mixing into his beard.

“Not all of them,” Templeton said.

“What haven’t we done?”

“You still haven’t beat me in a swordfight, friend.”

Lord Dargu chuckled as they passed out of the city gate and into the warm sunshine. Far
behind them in the distance, the army of Oldon was roaring.

*Enden comes out January 1st, buy it here

Monday, 12 December 2016

Review for "The Illusions of Eventide" by Sarah M. Cradit

The Illusions of Eventide” by Sarah M. Cradit

The Illusions of Eventide by Sarah M. Cradit is deep drama surrounding a Southern American family who is not entirely what they seem. Blessed (or cursed) with mystical gifts and a large estate they seem to have it all, but reluctant patriarch Nicolas is definitely not content with his lot in life, until he meets a strange woman named Mercy, and his whole life, as well as the lives of his family, change forever. Secrets are revealed that will change relationships and forge new ones and ultimately the Deschanel’s and the Empyreans will have to make some difficult choices.

This book by Sarah M. Cradit is captivating. Less fantastical and more centred around human dramas we meet the characters rather organically as they are slowly drawn into the world of Mercy, a mysterious woman on the run. Cradit does a lovely job of laying out the world her characters inhabit without giving you a history lesson in the process, difficult to do but here it works. The bonus is that if you want to learn more there are prequels and sequels aplenty.

I have to say that I don’t always read the authors notes at the beginning of their books, I have so many to read that I try and get to the meaty stuff as soon as possible, but in this case I did read it and I am so glad I did. Cradit has obviously taken a long time to build this world and the stories that populate it, and she makes sure you know where to go if you want to find more. For example, the relationship between two of the characters, Ana and Finn, are part of a prequel book in the series and give you the juicy details of events that are only alluded to in this book. Additionally, Cradit mentions that maps and genealogical documents for the characters are available as bonus material on her website, as adding them into eBook formats compromised the look of those files. Extras aside Cradit has clearly put a lot of work into this series and I think it pays off.

As I said it is rife with human drama, mostly centered around relationships, and while I love the melding of different genres I do have to say the extended exposition of some of the characters did sometimes strain my understanding of them at times. Especially in the case of the Nicolas, he would often go into long winded bouts of self-assessment about his feelings that you might think his entire persona is centered around his feelings. Occasionally some of his feelings are contradictory and the reader is left feeling confused about what THEY should be feeling as a result. In the end though this conflict within the character leads us to see him as the flawed three dimensional person the author intended, in stark contrast to the low life single minded person he tries to project himself as in the world.

Emotional exposition aside, the book is captivating, complicated and shows just how messy love can be, in all its forms. The sprinkling of fantasy elements only adds to this message, that no matter what kind of being you are emotions can be tough to translate. If you want a book that has some legs to it, then look no further than the Crimson & Clover series. 

To see more about the author click here
To buy the book through Amazon click here