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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Spotlight on Some Independent and Small Press Titles of Interest, R.S. Hunter, Travis Heermann, Daniel Rabuzzi, David M. Brown and Mark Kalina (with comments by Liviu Suciu)

A great cover, an interesting blurb and an irresistible title. The first few pages read well and as the book is a September release, I should have a review at some point next month. The Exile's Violin is steampunk with a twist as per the author's website. The novel will be published by Hydra Publications.

"Why hire mercenaries to kill an innocent family just to obtain one little key? That question haunts Jacquie Renairre for six years as she hunts down the people responsible for murdering her parents.

Not even accepting an assignment to investigate a conspiracy that aims to start a war can keep her from searching for the key. Armed with her father’s guns and socialite Clay Baneport, she continues her quest for answers abroad.

With the world edging closer to disaster, Jacquie is running out of time to figure out how the war, the key, and ancient legend are intertwined. The fate of the world hinges on her ability to unravel both mysteries before it’s too late."


From Travis Heermann, author of the quite good Heart of the Ronin (FBC Rv),E-Reads has published Rogues of the Black Fury in May of this year. Another novel that starts very well, this time adventure in a secondary world with an early industrial flavor from what I have read so far.

"When a band of shadowy fanatics abducts Javin Wollstone's little sister, Bella, from his care, his only hope to bring her home is turning to a hard-bitten band of special warriors, the Black Furies, led by Commander Rusk. Javin follows Rusk and his men through a maze of political intrigues, religious fanaticism, and centuries of distrust. 

Little do they know that little Bella Wollstone could be the spark that sets off a war of Armageddon. The investigation unfolds into a frantic chase that leads Javin, Rusk, and the Black Furies across trackless, pirate-infested seas into the ancient heart of Fartha, the religion-steeped land of prophets and priest-kings. Using stealth, guile, and sheer audacity, the Furies fling themselves into the teeth of the serpent, trying to snatch Bella back before she is swallowed forever. 

Javin finds himself torn between his genteel, noble upbringing and the raw, brutal necessity of what he must do to save her life. And after all of their trials, neither Javin nor Bella will ever be the same."


The second volume of the Longing for Yount series by Daniel Rabuzzi comes in September from Chi-Zine Publications. I have reviewed Choir Boats which I greatly enjoyed a few years ago and The Indigo Pheasant seems to be a treat too from the few pages I have read so far. 

I will have a review in early September and we also plan a guest post from the author together with Deborah Mills, his wife who has illustrated so wonderfully both books. The series is a tale of wonder and adventure for all ages.

"London 1817. Maggie Collins, born into slavery in Maryland, whose mathematical genius and strength of mind can match those of a goddess, must build the world's most powerful and sophisticated machine— to free the lost land of Yount from the fallen angel Strix Tender Wurm. Sally, of the merchant house McDoon, who displayed her own powers in challenging the Wurm and finding Yount in The Choir Boats, must choose either to help Maggie or to hinder her.

Together— or not— Maggie and Sally drive to conclusion the story started in The Choir Boats— a story of blood— soaked song, family secrets, sins new and old in search of expiation, forbidden love, high policy and acts of state, financial ruin, betrayals intimate and grand, sorcery from the origins of time, and battle in the streets of London and on the arcane seas of Yount.


A traditional fantasy tale, A World Apart is the kind of book that typifies epic storytelling. So the usual ingredients - once upon a time there was a boy etc and with lots of detail so not for the impatient - but the author is a very good storyteller at least so far and I plan to review David M. Brown's novel here next month or in October at the latest.

Note that the book is set into a world that the author has mapped some 47,000 years of history from and it is the second Elencheran Chronicles novel after Fezariu's Ephiphany. Chance led me to this novel and the available 20% Smashwords extract made me buy it on the spot, but I expect I will read the previous novel too if the storytelling keeps entrancing me.

"Demetrius makes his first mistake when he lets his best friend Halcyon marry Eleyna, the love of his life, without saying a word. On the day of the wedding, he walks away from the Elencheran town of Dove's Meadow and joins the army.

He makes his second mistake when the pirate Black Iris tricks him into letting dozens of men, women and children die in a fire. Demetrius is imprisoned in grief and disgrace.

But he can atone. The Black Iris is dead. The Ivory Rose has risen to the top of the pirates and is leading brutal raids on the coast. If Demetrius can capture and kill her, he'll win his pardon.

And then Demetrius discovers the Ivory Rose is Eleyna. He must decide which will be his third mistake: Losing his last chance at a pardon, or destroying the one woman he's ever loved."

Update September 2 (short raw thoughts): I finished A World Apart and I am of two minds of it - great storytelling to the end that kept me turning the pages, but the world building comes up unconvincing (those 20000 years of same are really hard to take as human history tends to move much faster), and the story itself is a a bit meh and pointless.

Overall the author has narrative pull but needs more interesting stories and a more convincing world building to get to the top level of today's fantasy
, a place where his strong narrative skills deserve to be if he can come up with memorable characters and more interesting and less predictable stories. Definitely an author to keep an eye on as the potential is there.


Finally there is Hegemony by Mark Kalina, a military space opera novel with fast ships, daring pilots and adult relationships so the adult filter at Smashwords is operative, but once disabled you will have the chance to sample some 20% of the book too.

Hegemony was another chance discovery and while at the time a month or so ago, I was "I have way too many books and I have just bought another 3 or 4 that I should read", somehow the sample and the main character, interceptor pilot Alekzandra (Zandy) Neel remained with me, so I had to buy this one too; now of course I have to find time to read it, but as it seems to be a fast and engaging novel, I should get to it quite soon too with a review to follow.

"The Hegemony of Suns is the greatest of the empires of mankind that have spread out through space from an abandoned and dying Earth. The Hegemony's vast warships dominate the skies over a hundred worlds, protecting its subjects and enforcing its will.

The interceptor pilots of the Hegemonic Fleet are the cutting edge of the Hegemony's military might, the tip of the spear. In a split second, they can decide the outcome of a battle that can affect the fates of whole star systems. The life expectancy of an interceptor pilot is measured in minutes. It's debatable if they're still human. It's debatable if they're even alive to begin with.

Alekzandra Neel has attained what she sought; a place among the stars, a chance to be an interceptor pilot of the Hegemonic Fleet. She doesn't expect it to be safe or easy. But as war clouds gather and billions look to the skies with nervous fear, she has no idea what the real cost could be."


M. R. Mathias said...

I had Hegemony on my list. Thanks for sharing the others.

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