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Our Epic Worlds

The Epic Unmasqued World by C.T. Phipps

 

Tell us about your novel.

I WAS A TEENAGE WEREDEER is a comedic urban fantasy novel about Jane Doe, an eighteen-year-old shapechanger who has the psychic ability to read objects. She lives a pretty normal life until her high school rival is found dead in the woods with her brother as the primary suspect. Teaming up with the victim’s sister, an eccentric FBI agent, and the local crime lord–Jane has to solve a case which seems closed before it even began. Jane is an irreverent and wonderful character which people seem to love. It’s very much in the style of my SUPERVILLAINY SAGA books and I hope fans of them will check her out.

I was originally inspired by the classic Twin Peaks story of the murder of Laura Palmer and how everyone in the town was affected. I decided to swerve my own way, though, by creating a town of supernaturals as well as modernizing the characters. Also, unlike David Lynch, I’m perfectly capable of creating a story where the metaphysics makes sense and the plot has a conclusion. Hehe. Just kidding. I love you, David. There’s a bit of Life is Strange and the Dresden Files plus Mercy Thompson too.

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Review of Shattered Dreams by Ulff Lehmann

Shattered

The first chapter of any novel makes promises to the reader. The first chapter of Shattered Dreams by Ulff Lehmann promises that this will be a book where nothing is held sacred, that anything and anyone is fair game to ravage and defile. I’m not sure those promises held true throughout the whole of the book, but I did enjoy Shattered Dreams enormously – much better than I would have if the novel had ended as hopelessly as I’d feared it would.

I was happily surprised to find this a well-rendered story of tragic romance and a battered hero’s quest for redemption.

Enter the hero, Drangar Ralgon. Possibly a murderer. Possibly a victim. For most of the book, we’re left to wonder—all we know is that he thinks he killed his beloved some years before, an act which destroyed his life and set him on a path of self-destruction. If that wasn’t enough of a burden, this self-loathing warrior becomes the target of a series of brutal attacks that threaten to destroy him, body and soul.

This is a story that benefits from multiple story arcs, and Drangar’s is just one. We also meet two very strong female characters, the wizardess Ealisaid and the warrior Anne Cirrain. There is also a large and diverse supporting cast: priests, elves, sentient squirrels (whom I loved!), demons, demonologists – you get the idea. This is a richly populated world.

The only criticism I have is the story could have benefitted from a little more world building, but that I assume will be delivered in the sequel. Otherwise, the book flowed very well. It was well-edited and well-written, with a good pace and solid characterization. The main character’s physical and mental anguish drew me in and kept me flipping pages. There was a good amount of mystery built into the plot also served to keep the suspense elevated.

I would highly recommend Shattered dreams to adult fans of dark fantasy.

 

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Review of I Was a Teenage Weredeer by C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus

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I Was a Teenage Weredeer is a fantastic first installment of The Bright Falls Mysteries Series that I found positively deerlightful! I’m not usually a fan of Young Adult or Urban Fantasy, but this novel is truly a departure from the norm.

This is a story that transcends genre and plays on tropes, offering a rather cynical side of YA that I found to be refreshing.

Written in the same world as Phipps’ Straight Outta Fangton, Weredeer introduces a new protagonist in the form of Jane Doe (yes, you read that correctly). Jane seemed to be a lot like Bella from Twilight, only capable and likeable. She finds herself wrapped up in a murder mystery after her brother becomes a suspect, and finds herself teamed up with a mysterious FBI agent. Pop culture references fly like fouls at a AA ballgame.

I found Jane very easy to identify with due to her vast capacity for cynicism,  sarcasm, and a never-ending supply of teenage angst. The plot moves forward at a steady pace, keeping the pages turning.

Not only is the story very well-told, a variety of societal issues are addressed, making this a weightier read than your average YA novel. There is something for everyone between these pages.

In conclusion, I heartily recommend I Was a Teenage Weredeer to a Young Adult-Adult readership. My only suggestion is to make sure you block out a good amount of time for yourself before you begin this read, as you probably won’t be going anywhere until the last page is turned.

 

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Review of Warlock’s Sun Rising by Damien Black by ML Spencer and Jamie Tivendale

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Warlock’s Sun Rising is the second book in the Broken Stone Chronicle series that started with the current SPFBO entrant Devil’s Night Dawning. This truly is epic dark fantasy that held my interest and was intriguing throughout. I’d summarize it as:

“The Exorcist meets Kingdom of Heaven”

I had a great experience reading Devil’s Night Dawning, so went into this book with high hopes. Thankfully, this story did not disappoint. This novel moved at a much quicker pace than the previous one, yet lost nothing of its enjoyability. Which means Warlock’s Sun Rising is even better than its highly enjoyable predecessor. It is much darker with the personal stakes being far greater for the characters. The plot is unapologetically brave, going places some readers may find unpalatable. So, let this be a word of warning: this is not a book for the squeamish. Any novel that starts off with execution and rape in the first chapter is going to command your attention, although the following action could divide readers of the genre.

Warlock’s Sun Rising begins with Adelko and his master Horskram hunting the powerful warlock Andragorix. As it turns out, there is an even more despicable evil at work. We get to see characters from the previous book’s various story arcs finally brought together as the larger plot unfolds. And then, towards the end, it appears the plot threads are destined to separate once again…

There’s so much to discuss when it comes to this analyzing this novel. The most striking element though is the writing, which is spectacular. Damien Black is not only a consummate writer, he is also a medieval historian, who is unafraid of using the language of the period to season his prose. The reader is submerged in the world, delivered on a tide of text that achieves setting with syntax.

The novel is also notable for its compelling religious system, which is very much based on crusader-era Christianity, but tweaked in clever ways. Anyone with a knowledge of this period, the militant orders, and medieval concepts of chivalry, will give a nod of appreciation. I greatly appreciated the way religious constructs are called into question and offered up on the dissecting table.

The magic system is unique; it reminds me of isomers in chemistry, with a left-hand and right-handed path. The way the moral ambiguity of the novel’s religious concepts spills over into Black’s magic system is highly engaging.

To conclude, I am extremely excited to see what happens next for these characters and how their destinies may change their overall world-views. For fantasy book fans who like to exercise their minds and truly lose themselves in a story, I cannot recommend this enough.

An utterly unique and enthralling dark fantasy tale which I’ll be thinking about until the next entrant in Black’s series arrives.

 

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The Epic World of Ardhi Anasa by Michael Robinson

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King O’Saka is soon to be the richest man in the world. He has been put in charge of the Dark Grimoires,(The most extensive book of evil spells and documents). His infant son and a baby gorilla, named Saka & Thundar will be known as the Twin Souls and they will become the most powerful beings on the planet. Icya Assasen, a beautiful enchantress will be their guide through a dangerous world of dark magic, legendary monsters, treachery, and death, that will lead to a great ancient power.

Loved ones will be lost, and true love will be found,in this ultimately original Coming-of-Age Young Adult Naturalistic SciFi/Dark Fantasy Journey.

Background of Twin Souls

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My Review of Scars of the Sand: A Tale of the Blackshield Dogs

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I have been looking forward to this novella since I finished To Brave the End, and I was not disappointed; Scars of the Sand was even better! I have become an avid fan of Frank Dorrian. His work is dark, gritty, and gruesomely beautiful.

Dorrian is a master at dragging steaming entrails through the mud to produce art of the highest caliber.

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Damien Black’s Epic Devil’s Night Dawning

DND _ ebook cover

Devil’s Night Dawning is essentially a supernatural whodunnit that takes place against a backdrop of war, in a high fantasy world of epic proportions with some very dark undertones.

Adelko and Horskram stumble on to something big when they learn a fragment of an ancient artefact has been stolen by a demon from their monastery. They don’t know who is behind it, but Horskram realises that if their mystery warlock succeeds in recovering the other pieces some serious One Ring shit is gonna go down… As they set off to warn the head of their Order in a distant kingdom they are pursued by agents human and supernatural, presumably sent to eliminate them by the very mastermind they are trying to uncover. To make matters more complicated, civil war breaks out in their native kingdom of Northalde, and the two monks become embroiled in this and a series of other misadventures. So there’s a lot going on: war, politics, high adventure, supernatural horror, human ambition, magic, and characters that struggle internally with their own identities and decision-making.

How does your main character fit into this world?

Adelko is a novice monk, indentured the Order of St Argo, a sacred body of monks tasked with apprehending warlocks and fighting demons and other malign spirits that cross over from the Other Side. He has been seconded to Horskram, one of the Order’s foremost exorcists, for on-the-job training in fighting demonkind and sorcerers. But there’s a lot of politics that goes with being an Argolian, as he gets to find out!

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Craig Munro’s Epic Books of Dust and Bone

The Bones of the Past Cover Image

The Night Guard walk the streets of the old kingdom of Bialta seeking out threats that are beyond the abilities of the common soldier.

Nial is one such threat―a girl changed into something “other” and on the hunt for human souls.

Salt, a sailor recently rescued by the Night Guard, has been inducted into their ranks. He’s a quick study, but as new threats multiply all around them, will he have what it takes to survive?

Bialta is not alone in its woes. Sacral, a city that vanished in the distant past, has reappeared where it once stood at the heart of the Wastes. Like many of Sacral’s people, Maura is content living a quiet life, ignoring the outside world. But she finds herself desperately fighting to save her home as war comes to the city returned.

Meanwhile, across the Great Desert, creatures are stirring. Carver, the last living master of the magic known as fleshcarving, has won the support of the tyrant of Tolrahk Esal. Together they will unleash his twisted creations to sweep across the land and forever disrupt the balance of power.

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Daniel Stride’s Viiminian Empire

Wise-Phuul-Front-Cover (2) (1)

 

Walking corpses and black-market liquor: the quiet life.

Teltö Phuul, Necromancer and Library Clerk, likes his days safe and predictable. Not for him the intrigues of the Viiminian Empire, a gothic monstrosity held together by sheer force of will.

Until the Empire’s dreaded secret police come knocking. Caught in a web of schemes in the diseased heart of Kuolinako, the underground Imperial capital, Teltö can trust no-one. Not the Northern theocrats who abhor Necromancy, and certainly not the Grand Chancellor, whose iron-fisted rule has kept the old order alive that little bit longer.

When one false step means torture and disappearance, this journey will change our Necromancer forever.

What makes your world special or different?

Necromancy, the ability to raise the non-decomposed dead via mental command, is a universal ability in this world. The homeland of our protagonist, the Viiminian Empire, bases its entire socio-economic and political structure around this: the undead serve as a slave labour force for factory work, essentially making them flesh robots, while the society itself is ruled de facto by a necromantic caste.

The neighbouring state, the Skeevereet Principality, regards necromancy as abhorrent, and against its religious tenets. However, whereas the Viiminan Empire is  meritocratic – enjoying complete equality of gender and sexuality – the Principality is theocratic, misogynistic, and militaristic. As such, there is much innate hostility between the two countries, with neither being particularly nice places to live.

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