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Thursday, October 8, 2020

Exclusive Cover Reveal: A World Broken by Carol A. Parks

They say that long ago, the world was unbroken. That there was no war—nor poverty, nor disease, nor famine. That the gods themselves walked among mortals—choosing some to be their instruments of peace and justice among the races. They even say that there was no winter. 

Then, it all fell apart!

I am so thrilled to finally be able to reveal the cover to A World Broken, the first book in my new epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of the Lady Sar.

This book has been a long time coming, in several ways. First of all, the story has been rattling around my head for over a decade. It’s morphed significantly in that time (and has also been re-written a couple times), but it’s been around conceptually and in some written form since before Heretic Gods, my debut series, was even a seed in my mind.

Second, it was a long time in coming because I was supposed to publish it about 5-6 months before now. As it turns out, 2020 not only majorly screwed up my timeline, but it was a lot harder to switch gears from Heretic Gods to this series than I anticipated…and I confess I found myself just a little encumbered by perfection paralysis.

Nonetheless, the time is here at last. A World Broken will be released October 29th in e-book, with paperback to follow shortly thereafter. It has an absolutely gorgeous cover with artwork and design by Brit K. Caley, who also designed the covers for my Heretic Gods books.

But before we get there, a little about the book.

Unlike Heretic Gods, which is a dark sword & sorcery/adventure fantasy series that gets a bit more epic the further in you go, The Chronicles of the Lady Sar is epic fantasy in the classic sense, in both scale and scope—with a twist.

This story was born when I started to brainstorm an epic fantasy and became more interested in the backstory than the story I was brainstorming. That then led to the entire concept of turning a classic epic fantasy trope on its head—I think you’ll recognize it: (cue deep gravelly voice and dramatic music): “a long, long time ago, the world was forever broken, but now an old evil has risen again…”

Except, instead of writing about the old evil arising once more, I’m telling the story of the original events—how that first golden age of peace and abundance was shattered—for this particular secondary world, anyway. And in this particular secondary world, the world and story begin in a truly utopic time: as the blurb at the start of this post asserts, there is no war, no disease, no famine, no winter—and no poverty, because, in fact, they don’t even have money. (By the way—try writing a story without war or money idioms. You don’t realize how much they litter language until you try to avoid them.)

That blurb is written from the perspective of someone millennia in the future, looking back on the legend of this world. Here’s the rest of the blurb:

The five races of Erets have lived in one accord since the inception of the world. But now, the seeds of hostility are growing due to a dispute over an innocuous plant, and three people find themselves entangled in affairs they would have once found unbelievable.

An advocate—trained to promote mutual understanding between the races—must confront the unimaginable prospect that peace is out of reach.

A priest—one who refuses to bend the knee to the gods he serves—finds that the only vow to those gods he has made might be harder to keep than he expects.

And a seeker—a gentle warrior sent to uncover the truth behind an unthinkable murder—stumbles into a labyrinth of lies that could shatter the world.

These three must save the world that they know. But are they already too late?


Concept aside, what else will you find in this series? 

True to my favorite story-telling, this is a character-centric story: while the concept plays with a classic fantasy plot trope, this story revolves around the development of three characters who will later (in this imaginary world) be seen as legends. It turns out, in the “true story,” they’re just mostly normal (as normal as one gets in a world with magic, green people, and no money, anyway) people who happen to be in the right place at the right time—or wrong place at the wrong time, depending on how you look at it. And it’s less about whether they save the world but how they weather the storms that having to save the world brings (pun intended…I’m so sorry, I couldn’t resist).

Partially because these characters are “noble good,” (in a rather dramatic change from my previous series), and partially because of the world the series starts in, this is also hopeful fantasy. This is especially true of book one, which is really setting the stage for what is to come, but also the rest of the series.

Also true to my form, there is magic. Yay! While the magic system isn’t as scientific feeling as that from Heretic Gods, it’s still a nuanced or “hard” magic system—with rules and restrictions and all that fun stuff that I love—based around the literal use of emotions to do magic.

There are also fantasy races. Five of them, in fact, only one of which is human. They’re all made up by moi—no elves, dwarves, and goblins here. The magic system is linked intrinsically to the five races and their patron gods—who, by the way, also have lesser deity representatives that physically supervise mortal governments. I mean, you gotta keep those mortals in line and all, or you never know what they might do…

And, then, there’s the romance. I actually prefer to call it a love story rather than a romance, because there’s definitely not much in the way of “romance,” in the typical sense, in A World Broken. You will, however, find a priest who has taken a vow of celibacy falling slowly for a woman he can’t have, who also just so happens to begin to develop feelings for him as well. Oh, it’s terrible, it really is. One day I’ll tell the story of why I wrote these characters this way and how it completely backfired on me.

However, you’re probably not here for more anecdotes. You’re mostly here because you wanted to see this cover you were promised, aren’t you? So, with no further ado
It seemed rather unfair to me that I got to ramble on about this book for the purposes of showing you the cover, and the actual artist gets to say nothing. So, I asked Brit if she had anything she wanted to add, and here’s what she had to say:

When Carol first pitched her cover idea for A World Broken, I couldn't wait to get started. It sounded so intriguing and beautiful with highlighting not the characters but the structures they live in. Researching ways to bring this world to life was challenging but also fun. I'm so honored to be part of this project and can't wait for book 2!”

As usual, Brit has brought the atmosphere of this book to life visually. The structure on the front is a temple—and after I gave her the scene where it was described as possible inspiration for a cover, she came back with a concept that was even better than my description, so I updated it to match!
The scene set on the cover evokes a classic epic fantasy feel, but the mood is almost whimsical. Her “painterly” style brings a soft beauty that really captures the world—with a touch of melancholy in the lone figure overlooking it all. It’s perfect for this book, and I adore the way it turned out.

I hope you adore not only the way the cover but also the way the book turned out. There’s a ton of fantastic darker fantasy out there, with angsty and sometimes grey characters—as I myself have written! But if you’re looking for something with a more hopeful tone, character-driven with honest-to-goodness good characters that you can be terrified about how I’ll try to break in subsequent books, world-building that includes hard magic and made-up fantasy races, physically present deities with maybe mysterious motives, and a slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow burn, sweet and tortuous (non-)romance, then I hope you’ll give A World Broken a try.

Official Author Website
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Carol A. Park

is the author of The Heretic Gods trilogy and the upcoming series The Chronicles of the Lady Sar. She lives in the Lancaster, PA area with her husband and two young and active boys–which is another way of saying, “adorable vampires.” She loves reading (duh), writing fantasy novels (double-duh), music, movies, and other perfectly normal things like parsing Hebrew verbs and teaching herself new dead languages. She has two master's degrees in the areas of ancient near eastern studies and languages.


Deborah Makarios said...

I must admit this headline made me think for a moment that the FBC guys were ladling out undue blame for the world being the way it is!
But that's a lovely cover.


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