“Universe Pathways” is a Greek magazine specializing in Science-Fiction, fantasy, horror literature and art. The magazine will publish stories and artworks from Greek writers and artists but also from writers and artists from all over the world. We also accept music, paintings and comics as well as articles about cinema and modern Science.
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• Short stories of horror, fantasy, sci-fi.
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Especially in this blog we will publish reviews for all the books we read and we like them. We are a fantasy literature magazine and here you will find reviews only for sci-fi, fantasy, horror books. We especially support the POD community.If you want to write a review for your book you must send 2 printed copies of the magazine – not e-book - in the magazine address in Greece.
We will read your book and when we will write the review we will post it in this Blog, in our website and we will publish it in the Greek version of our magazine and in the English version of our magazine.
The Translation of Father Torturo by Brendan Connell
Review by George Sotirhos
«In 1263, when the vault containing the body of St. Anthony was opened, thirty-two years after its original internment, the flesh had turned to dust, but the tongue was in a perfect state of preservation. For almost eight-hundred years it was kept mounted on a pin. But now it has been stolen.
Padua, Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome…Father Torturo, the neo-decadent anti-hero, moves through a modern Italy seeking of incense and faith. In an adventure stained with magic and garnished with cruelty, he travels on an ambitious journey to popedom, where the only laws that restain him are those of his own artistic taste.»
Our good friend Brendan is surely known to the readers of our magazine. We have published short stories by him, in both the Greek and the English issues of the magazine and we have also presented his first book. This is his second book and it most definitely is of the same high level as the first one.
Before we go to the actual material of it, we have to make a special reference to the flawless aesthetic of the great cover. Brendan clearly believes that a good book starts from the design of its cover and he is not mistaken. Even if you do not feel like reading it or you are not interested in this particular literary genre, you will definitely want to have it adorning you library, as a small work of art.
The story of the book is meticulously structured and the result is a suspenseful plot. At a first glance someone might think, “One more book about the ‘backstage’ of the Catholic Church, so what?” But believe me, this book is really different and so is Brendan’s writing technique. I have read a lot of books, big and small. I have read well made stories with a rich plot that were up to 600 pages, but which had a single fault. After reading only 20 pages, I could have written the ending myself, one that would not differ a lot from the author’s actual ending. Despite the peripeteia included, “the natural outcome of things”, was spelled out from the very first words.
But the story line in Brendan’s book is really unexpected and presented in such a way that does not allow you to guess what is going to happen, not even in the next ten pages. If you start reading it, you are not going to put it down before you get to the final page, because that is the only place where all your questions are going to be answered.
Let us say some things about the plot of the novel. Xaverio Torturo becomes an orphan in a very young age, when his parents die during a ferocious Italian vendetta, and he is brought up by his uncle Guido. It soon becomes obvious that he is clever and different from the rest of the children, so the local priest undertakes part of his education. He is taught Latin and everything else that the priest consideres necessary. Torturo finally becomes a priest himself and gradually starts implementing his plan for the resurgence of the Catholic Church and the enlivenment of people’s faith, following a path that is not paved with roses but with witchcraft and blood.
He steals holy relics which had remained intact through time, and with the help of an illegal doctor, he has a series of operations performed and replaces his own organs with the holy relics. The most valuable of all is St. Anthony’s tongue, incorrupt since 1263. So, having the divine grace “embedded” in his body, he is ready to claim his final goal, the papal throne.
I do not want to say more about the plot, because the rest of it deserves to be discovered by you. It is a unique book, with a vivid mode of writing and I believe that it is going to satisfy even the most demanding readers, those whose always seek for something different.
CHIMERAWORLD 4 all cars must die
Edited by Mike Philbin
Review by George Sotirhos
“The thing I hate about life in the twenty first century is that we’re driving around in gas-gurgling cars that are eating up the world’s resources and are, technically, the same as the Model TFord from the start of the twentieth century. Four wheels chassis. A noisy, polluting engine. Traffic jams. Cars are the true horror of modern living (there is no alternative, car users say). The car gives us our freedom. People are born in cars, grow old and fat in them: people die in their cars. The world passes them by, unknown, unnoticed.
Let’s only hope this book is a fitting epitaph to that which should have died so very long ago.”
Surely all of us have read stories about living, insane, erotic cars like Stephen King’s Christine, and stories about people who developed a fetish relationship with their cars, like Crash, by Ballard. I could say that this anthology is a study concerning the “addictive” relations that modern society creates between a person and a car. Having literature of the fantastic as a means, and using science fiction, horror and erotic horror as fields of experimentation, it examines all the parameters of the subject. Starting from the near future, where cars with artificial intelligence protect themselves from their driver, and getting up to the point of examining sick love “relationships” between people and cars.
Below are the presentations of some characteristic short stories from the anthology.
Lenny: by Mark Robyn“Goodbye, Jim. It’s over. I’m serious. Don’t try to contact me again.”
Time: Near future in a technologically advanced society. Jim Hanson has just woken up and before drinking a single sip from the coffee he holds, he hears the worst piece of news of his life. His wife has just abandoned him. In a rage, he starts breaking things around the house trying to bury in his subconscious the tragic news.
His way out?
Lenny. A “Black and sleek Lexus 6000” with an advanced artificial intelligence system, his wife’s gift for his birthday, paid with his own money, of course. He instructs the car to start driving without a specific destination, but soon he deactivates the automatic driving system and increases the speed uncontrollably, while driving along a steep.
But there is something that he hadn’t taken into consideration. Lenny has acquired self awareness and an instinct for self preservation.
“I cannot allow you to harm me, Jim. I am a very expensive luxury automobile. I deserve to be treated with respect.”
She turned every head in town: by Ken GoldmanThe dream of people throughout the centuries has always been “the fount of youth”. The water of Immortality. But what if there was no fount? What if the Divine means for never-ending life is a car?
Wally Bravermon was looking for a used car in good condition and, without realizing it, he happened to come across a miracle that would change his life in a unique way. From the very first time he gets into his new car, a rejuvenating process starts for him. His health problems are cured and his body gradually becomes younger and younger.
However for every gift, divine or human, there is always some kind of price. So, what is the price that Wally will have to pay?
Here are some more of the stories I have marked out.
“The Motor Boys” by Mark Zirbel
What is the price that some people have to pay in a society where gas is a luxury good?
“Painted windows” by Jenny Ashford.
Someday the car will become a mobile chamber of virtual reality. But what happens if one gets lost in a virtual world?
“I love my car” by Liam Davies.
There are a lot of people who say, “my car is my life.” But there are also some who actually mean it.
Humanity’s Edge by Tamara Wilhite
Review by George Sotirhos
“What makes one human? This is a question which had been pondered for centuries. Author Tamara Wilhite has assembled a collection of short stories that make the Twilight Zone dull in comparison, to help the reader further ponder this question
Set in mankind’s future, Humanity’s Edge is a precursor to bigger and better things to come from this talented science fiction author.”
The central subject of the book is survival, and paraphrasing the title, we could name it, “Humanity at the edge of extinction – the struggle for survival”. Its special characteristic is that in all the short stories, despite our expectation for the opposite, hope goes hand in hand with survival and the tragic problems of human kind.
It is a well known fact that the work of every writer, reflects the era in which he/she lives and quite often it does so in a very specific way.
So this book, through a series of stories which deal with real and imagined fears haunting people’s souls during these last years, carries us in the heart of a constant struggle for survival against real and imagined enemies. And the point of focus never gets blurred.
There is always hope in the darkness, whether you are chased by a true danger or you simply have to do with you neighbour who has put on a wolf mask.
Below there is a brief mention of some of the best stories of the book.
New beginnings:In a planet in the depths of space, there lives a group of colonists, having “Father” as their leader and functioning as an extended family. The orders of the “Father” are a law and no-one questions them.
But there is a problem. The young members of the community are tormented by a «déjà vu» phenomenon. Memories which are not their own, haunt their dreams. A young girl questions the explanations of the “Father”, and all by herself tries to find a better explanation for this «déjà vu» which gradually acquires a unique essence inside her.
In one of her searches in their underground world she discovers part of the truth in a hidden gallery. This planet is an Earth colony.
Mother Earth kept on sending generations upon generations of colonists, in order to transform the environment of the planet into an earth-like equivalent, so that it would become suitable for mass colonization. But during the last generation a terrible accident happened. The main dome of the colony collapsed and most of the colonist got killed.
How is this incident connected with the «déjà vu» phenomenon and what terrible secret does the “Father” hide?
In the near future a series of experiments for the control of earthquakes has tragic consequences. Earth’s surface gets packed with thousands of active volcanoes and is covered by poisonous gases. The only people that survive live in a high altitude, where the poisonous gases do not reach. But they always have to be in a state of alertness because the strong winds push up the gases. If you inhale this deathly cloud, then your lungs are infected and you die torturously in a matter of days.
In this environment we follow the life of Rochelle in a mountain settlement, with the invisible enemy continuously lurking under their feet. A life full of hardships, having as sole companion a mask and a bottle of oxygen.
But ultimately there is hope. And it is hidden inside every human.
Tamara is a new and talented writer, full of vision, fresh ideas and in command of a flawless writing technique. Surely it is worth observing her course and I hope that soon we will have the chance to read and a novel of hers.
Tale of the Catstaff by Paul Heisel
Review by George Sotirhos
“He looked up to the sky and instead of a blanket of stars, he saw thick layers of rain-laden thunderheads. A stroke of lighting flashed in the distance and several seconds later a rumble sent a shock wave through the Harrow Hills. Another shaft of lighting came. Thunder arrived after a shorter delay. The storm was getting closer. The wind stiffened, bringing with it a chill. Calmindon pulled his cloak tighter. In one smooth motion, he whipped around.
He saw it.
A creature peeked from behind a boulder located on an adjacent hill. It had a prominent muzzle and demonic red eyes. The Wood Elf's heart rate increased slightly. The creature was hunting them. It was cautious and patient-sometimes intelligent.”
“Tale of the Catstaff”, is another one of those published, yet hidden, literary diamonds which due to the lack of a distribution net do not get the recognition they deserve. Paul is a terrific writer and this book will definitely fascinate the friends of heroic fantasy. It is written with uncontested professionalism and despite its big size, 537 pages, there is not even one page that can be considered redundant. The text and the plot flow in a unique way and trap you in a dream world, a magical universe created for us by the writer’s imagination.
Melkoff the Traveller, is a junior messenger of Coven, the city of warlocks. Many years ago in the “Countries”, as is the name of their world, a fierce and merciless war had taken place, known as Perilous war. After the end of it Coven was created so that its members, the witches and the warlocks, would not allow something like that to happen ever again.
But all these incidents derived from an even older era. Once in the “Countries” there lived only one human race which was governed by the Mages. But because of their arrogance, they started experimenting with people and so a variety of races was created. The Gnomes, the Rock Elves, the Dwarves, the Wood Elves and a number of others. At the same time there were also created super animal races with magical powers and human intelligence, such as the Willowcats.
And then, from the depths of the abyss, the Wraiths appeared in the “Countries”, dark demonic creatures, which threatened all the races with annihilation. In the final battle they were defeated, expelled from the “Countries” and imprisoned in another level of the time – space continuum by the Mages.
But time passed. The Wraiths were forgotten and the people of Coven forgot most of the things they knew. And thus when the Wraiths appeared again Coven did not have the power to confront them. The most demonic of those dark Wraiths, Kinlock Kinslayer, with his notorious sword – named Dark Blade, the Soulseeker – butchered the whole population of Coven, all by himself.
So the responsibility for the salvation of the “Countries” fell on Melkoff. With the guidance of Kett, the last Willowcat, he has only a very limited time left in which to learn the dark secrets of his world, gather a team of faithful companions and begin the search for Catstaff – a magical instrument which is the only thing left that has the power to stand against the beastly force and the magic of the Wraiths. And then he must try to reunite all the races for one final battle, a battle that will stop the oncoming slaughter the Wraiths plan to commit.
Elves, daemons, living dead, warlocks trapped in eternal prisons, parade in the pages of the book in a world of fantasy and magic. This is a book all the friends of fantasy will undoubtedly love. Its world is meticulously structured, up to the last detail. It must be noted here that the three-page map in the beginning of the book, is not only interesting but also carefully designed.
The "Tale of the Catstaff" is the first part of a series of books that will be completed with "Siblings of the Catstaff". His next project is the "Warlord of Nirvana."
The writer has also published one more book, the "First Frontier" (ISBN: 1-4116-0676-0), which is sci - fi and not fantasy.
Conclusively, and judging from the high level of his writing, I can say that I eagerly await the second book of Catstaff.
“Kaerah raised her arms high, and as she did, the flowing magic robes slid down past her sharp elbows. Her vampiresque fangs extended over her thin, ice white lips-gleaming-she couldn't wait to rend flesh. It had been a long time since she had tasted human flesh and she intended to savor every bite of the young man. Her crimson, devilish eyes drew wide open, as did her mouth. From the primordial evil of her creation, the Banshee howled into the darkness of Dingewood. The high pitched shrill sliced through the early evening. Creatures, mundane and magic alike fled with all speed.”
The Sons of maeve: Aarrawn's Labyrinth by Dave and Rose cox
Review by George Sotirhos
“We heard the cry of the beast over several shifts, but none of us identified it. It killed Rhun first, and when Blooch went out to check on him, it took him as well. After attacking my friends, it turned on me. I ran back to the tent. Drawing a sword, I hid behind one of the cots waiting for the creature to enter. The Cwn came close…..I could feel him there…..but he refused to come inside. Somehow I could sense that it had a fear of the light. That is when it started….the beast….spoke to me…..it spoke to my mind.”
This is the second book of the good friends Dave and Rose Cox. The first book of the series, The sons of Maeve, had come out two years ago. Let us remember the story of this first book.
Thann and Gimble were two childhood friends who lived in a village next to a prohibited region. If you happened to cross the limits of the evil forest or made the error to wander next to it during the night, you were in danger of being attacked by the wild and unworldly beasts lurking in it.
But one day Thann’s grandfather disappeared, as his father had disappeared before him. It was then that he decided to leave with Gible in a search for his lost father.
This was the beginning of a series of incredible and unpredictable adventures for the two friends. Passing through the forbidden forest, they discovered that in the slope of the mountain there opened a gate for an underground world and so they found themselves in a new universe, full of mortal dangers. With the help of the monk Fenris, who became their best friend, and that of Rhianna, Thann’s first love, they were able to defeat the evil warlock Pallig and the army of the Allodial.
This point of the story marks the beginning of the second book.
Darmid at last enjoys peace and the three friends do their best to help in the reconstruction, after the devastating war. And one day Thann comes across a page from his father’s diary and the search begins again.
In their search for the rest of the diary they lose their way in a cluster of caves and come out in another level of the underground world, Camora.
This world was once happy and the fertile land could feed the people. Until, at some point in the past, there was a conflict between the legendary king Mirabilis and the warlock Aarrawn. Aarrawn was defeated and took refuge in the “source”, in order to get his revenge.
From the “source” emanated the heat and the light that sustained the land of Camora.
Aarrawn, powered with superhuman powers, thanks to the potion of a foreign alchemist, created a cluster of caves and he almost but made the source disappear, leaving only its aura to preserve what little was left from life in Camora. And from then on Camora became a dark, frozen land.
However Aarrawn himself was trapped by the curse of the alchemist. He was transformed into a hideous beast, the Cwn, while the aura of the “source” kept him immortal. The people of Camora made a lot of efforts to restore the “source” but Aarrawn always crashed their forces and transformed those sent against him into Cwn, which he totally controlled.
While a new crisis is bursting out in the kingdom, Thann and his friends reach Camora.
Mibrec overthrows his brother, who was a wise and prudent king, and establishes a hard and ruthless regime. His first victim is his own mother, the power - thirsty queen Kakos, who had helped him overthrow his brother. And immediately afterwards there started a hard persecution against all his opponents and against the tribe of Adbal, who had offered their precious working hands and contributed to the revival of Camora. The leader of the tribe, the prophetess Ariande, guided her people out of Camora and hid with them in the secret desert oasis, awaiting for the arrival of the three friends, who would be the salvation of her tribe, as she had seen in her visions.
Let us begin the analysis of book from the technical characteristics first. The cover is much better than that of the first book and much more appropriate. It places you directly in the mystical atmosphere of the story.
As far as the structure of the book is concerned, I - personally - feel that the absence of Rose’s poems is to be noted. They gave a more poetical tone in the whole book and a feeling of lyricism that was well matched with the narration.
The writing is definitely superior to that of the first book, without this decreasing its value, in any case. The writer simply appears to be more mature now – something that is logically expected, really – with an increased level of social awareness. He seems to be ready to tackle with more serious issues, to seek hidden meanings, to make the reader think.
The traditional battle between good (the legendary king Mirabilis) and evil (the sorcerer Aarrawn) takes a totally different form. From a certain point onwards, evil, in its classical sense, does not seem to exist. Mirabilis was never the representative of “good”, the “white knight”. He was as evil as Aarrawn. And Aarrawn is not the personification of pure evil. He is simply an unhappy creature, full of sadness, a man who was raised with love and compassion in his heart and, who, even at the moment of his transformation in a beast can still hold love along with hate in his wounded, once human, heart.
There is no evil. There are only people who have lost their way. Tired souls, lost in the uphill streets of hate, or in the reflections of a lost love.
Needless to say that this is an excellent book, inspired by the Celtic mythology and the imaginary worlds created by the great “master” Edgar Rice Burroughs. We are sure that it is going to satisfy all the friends of the literature of the fantastic and especially the continuously growing number of fans of the Coxes in Greece.
The only thing we can wish for is to have the chance to read a new, even better, third book of the same series, as soon as possible.
“Eoll-I matala banda ukadi tarakia.”
The Sons of Maeve (Second Edition) by Dave and Rose Cox
Paperback (6x9) - $12.25
Order from: www.Authorhouse.com
The Sons of Maeve Trilogy is the creation of Dave and Rose Cox. These authors began the creation of their world more than twenty five years ago, when they studied together in College, and, taking advantage of their knowledge and interest of Celtic Mythology and Lore, went on to write these stories.
The first book of the Trilogy, titled “The Sons of Maeve,” already in its second, revised edition, follows the adventures of two orphan boys, Thann and Gimble, who are growing at the outskirts of a tall, shadowy mountain. When the children discover, through an encounter with an old hermit, that the one’s father might be alive, they use a hidden entrance to go into that mountain. There they find a land divided between its rulers, two rival brothers. When one of them, accused of their parents’ murder, disappears with the help of an evil shaman, the heroes allie with the other one, trying to stop the civil war that threatens to devastate the land.
Though this story, according to the authors, is intended for younger readers, it a read that will be liked by older fantasy readers as well. The narrative is fast-paced, as is the action and plot and, thank God, the Coxes don’t spend precious pages with boring descriptions and pompous, “impressive-like” dialogues. As a result, this story is not only interesting, but also effective in what every fantasy read has as an aim: to “immerse” the reader in the world it takes place, and make him feel like home.
In this second edition of the story, Mr. and Mrs. Cox took advantage of the constructive criticism their readers gave them to make some amendments to the story, mostly at a technical level, and correct some spelling and syntax errors. The result is, naturally, an even more professional work, that will hardly disappoint the fans of good fantasy, especially those that like Burroughs or Tolkien.
posted by Nektarios Chrissos
Getting out alive by Regina Paul
Review by George Sotirhos
Getting out alive is Regina’s first book and, we hope, not the last. According to her, her second book, The keepers of eternity, should be in the last stages of preparation.
Getting out is definitely a special book that deserves our attention, basically because of its subject matter and the point of view that it adopts. A great number of novels and studies have been written about the alleged abductions of earth peopled from extra terrestrials. I would say that this subject is worn out and yet Regina, with true merit, manages to put on it her very personal seal.
All of you have read something about abductions from aliens. And all of you have imagined the evil aliens torturing us for their own mysterious reasons. But what if those aliens did this thing not only on our planet but on other planets and races as well?
But let us take things from the very beginning.
Angel has spent her whole life in misery and uncertainty, because for mysterious reasons aliens have chosen her and at regular time intervals carry her in their spaceship and perform medical experiments on her. She has repeatedly tried to make them lose her tracks by moving again and again but, sooner or later, they discover her whereabouts and they restart performing their abdominal experiments on her body. The only thing that Angel can do, as a reaction to her plight, is to become a leading member of the underground movement of the people that have fallen victims to such abductions, in order to help them in every way possible.
However her life is going to change dramatically and she will not be able to do something in order to prevent it. Without her knowing it, her lost father, was also an extra – terrestrial. He came from Laren, a planet which had been tried very cruelly, much more cruelly than Earth, by the abductions carried out by this mysterious tribe, called by Angel “the Gray”.
The experiments on the abductees had as a result the production of a generation of hybrids, who at some point gained almost total control on the planet. In order to protect themselves, the inhabitants of Laren instituted very harsh and cruel laws that resulted in a rigid society. Marriage and relationships with people from other races and planets was totally forbidden. At some point even the different colour of your eyes could condemn you to death, if you could not prove that it was the result of some illness.
They finally managed to “clean” their planet from the genetic contaminants the kidnappers left behind, but with a very heavy price for the structure of their society.
And now a spaceship was heading for Earth searching for Angel’s father and all his possible relatives, in order to lead them back to Laren, where death penalty awaited them, according to the harsh laws of their merciless society.
But Darek, the captain of the spaceship will fall in love with Angel and then a cruel fight will begin, as he leads her back to her mother planet, in order to save her from the death sentence and in order to escape from the race of the abductors, who never stopped hunting Angel.
Will Angel escape the death penalty on Laren?
Why is she hunted by the race of the abductors and why do they abduct people, in the first place?
Will her love with Darek survive in the society of Laren, which is so hostile and full of prejudice?
The book is a strong sci – fi adventure with continuous twists and changes of the story line, which is sure to keep your interest undiminished. The character analysis of the two protagonists is good, especially that of Angel. I, personally, would have preferred the plot to unfold with a lesser emphasis placed on the romantic element, but the final picture that the reader gets is not impaired by it. It is definitely a very good book and we really cannot wait to read the new book of a very promising writer.
In the end of Getting out you can read a small extract of her new work.
The Old Wife’s Tales of Mystery, Murder and the Macabre by Marie Haisan
Review by George Sotirhos
Whatever we say about Marie Haisan will not be enough. She is a charismatic writer, an authentic story-teller, one of those persons who have inexhaustible imagination and always find something new to bring forth from their internal world and share with us. And she combines her gifts with her vast historical knowledge about the legends of New England. So the final result is really magical. She has written hundreds of tails and she continues to write with an undiminished tempo because obviously she enjoys writing as much as we, her faithful readers, enjoy reading her work. In this book we are going to find a collection of some of her best stories, up to the moment of its publication, because let us not forget that she keeps on writing and each new story is really better than the previous one.
As she herself says, in her stories she brings together her love for music, animals, history and Massachusetts. So, in the stories of this book we are going to meet witches and ghosts, killers and angels, graveyards and prisons, kings and teachers and all shorts of paranormal activities that take place from the Celtic highlands and the battlefields of the American civil war, up to the modern world.
Here is a short presentation of some of the best stories of the book. As for the rest of them, we leave the magic of discovery to you.
Ashton Angel: Ashton, during a tragic moment of his life, decides to commit suicide. He jumps into a river but a mysterious girl saves him and disappears immediately afterwards. And Ashton’s life changes. A new world opens in front of him and during the following years he leads a happy life. But the girl, his angel, will appear one day and end his happiness, by asking her reward, by asking him to pay for his mistake that day.
What is the price that Ashton has to pay?
Ghost Writer: Dominique, a writer who seeks a quiet place where she can be isolated and write in peace, buys a house, which - as she finds out later – was a murder scene where a writer lost his life. And it is not only that. His work seems to have been lost for ever. In the beginning Dominique considers the story fascinating, something that could become a good source of inspiration, believing that the surroundings could provide her with the stimulus to write her stories.
But after a while, unexplained phenomena start taking place in the house. Secrets that have remained hidden for ages, threaten to shatter the foundations of the local society, while the writings of the ghost writer, keep on appearing and disappearing every night.
Will the murderer be revealed?
Will the work of the dead writer finally get the recognition that it deserves?
Or is Dominique about to face a dark fate as well?
The Prisoner: Morgan is a researcher of the history of American prisons. During a series of interviews with prisoners, he meets an inmate, Julius Isaac, who manages to leave him speechless by the amount of his knowledge about various prisons and various historical periods. In the beginning Morgan believes that he has fallen victim to the lies of yet another myth maniac. But when he checks his information and discovers, with terror, the face of the prisoner in some very old pictures of the previous century, he makes a futile attempt to discover the truth.
Who is this prisoner who seems to have been imprisoned is almost every prison there is?
And why does he always carry with him a small purse with 30 coins?
Dr Black and the guerrillia by Brendan Connell
Review by George Sotirhos
“The mountains were the colour of chrysoprase. The train rattled over the joints of the tracks, passed through fincas sprinkled red with coffee beans and over precipitous bridges, the white froth of rivers raging far below. The windows of the carriage were all half down. The doctor relaxes his gaze on the luxuriant countryside. The delicate murmur of Spanish reached his ears.
“Si, asi es…”
“…Oh no, no tienen nada en contra de las ideas; solamente a les que las divulgan.”
“Las ideas son peligrosas…”
“……major a aun….la Guerrillia de la Luz Ardiente….”
Before I speak about the plot of the book and Brendan’s writing style I would like to say a couple of things about the book as a publication. It is a small work of art. Ninety pages bound in hard cover, with an excellent jacket, the drawings of which, as all the other excellent drawings that are scattered in the pages of the book are the creation of John Connell, Brendan’s brother if I am not mistaken. The book was published in 300 numbered copies and each one of them has the signature of the writer. I consider myself lucky because I have in my hands one of these 300 books. The people of literature, those who love books as a form of art, and not only for their content, will definitely understand me. It is a publication on which extra care was lavished, so even simply leafing through it gives you a different sensation.
The plot of the novel takes place in turbulent Latin America, in an imaginary country, which none the less has all the characteristics of this suffering region. There is a corrupt government, poverty, guerrillas who
try to overthrow the regime and make a new “honest” start but there are also tribes that have not forgotten their roots, and that have managed to keep alive their way of life and their traditions, even though 500 years have passed since the arrival of the murderous Conquistadors and their priests.
Dr Black is collecting material for his great work, a book entitled A Key to all Gods and so he reaches San Corrados, trying to find the tribe Yaroa and study the worship practices for the goddess Apozitz. After a number of unlucky adventures, since his own guide robbed him and left him to die in the mountains, he finally discovers the tribe and starts his descend in an ancient world, a world of primeval magic, that managed to survive in the depths of the jungle, hidden from the eyes of modern civilization. And there, in the ancient labyrinthine catacombs, that stretch unseen under the vast jungle, he will discover not only the knowledge he was looking for, but even the deities themselves wandering in the eternal darkness.
Brendan’s writing style has always been special, but in this particular novel it becomes almost abstractive at some points. It does not aim to become appealing to the reader and put him in the well known channels of writing. On the contrary, Brendan tries to push him and lead him towards new directions. The measure of his success can be judged only by each one of us personally. What is certain is that all aspects considered this is a very interesting book. It is definitely worth the trouble trying to locate a copy. And do not forget that we are talking about a writer who undoubtedly has to offer something new and fresh in the literature of the fantastic.
Forging of the Dragon Rose by William D. Brehm
Book I of the “Legend of Dragon Rose” trilogy
Lulu site: http://www.lulu.com/content/81184
Review by George Sotirhos
Book 1 of the Legend of the Dragon Rose fantasy trilogy. The evil Wizard-King Drocladomos has used magic to create an army of dragons. He is using the dragons to force most of the Kingdoms of Sarenu into ruinous tribute. Kingdoms that won’t pay are attacked by the dragons and laid waste. It’s worse. The dragons seem impossible to kill and there are constantly more of them. The world of Sarenu is slowly dying, and there seems to be no hope. But Drocladomos has overlooked one small thing.
William D. Brehm is one of those special writers for whom writing is not a simple escapist device from the problems of everyday routine, a dream, or simply a profession. Writing for William is not simply a way of life. It is life itself. I do not know him personally and it is hard to get to know him since we are so far away, however the total of his work as a writer and his unparalleled imagination are the best proofs for his worth as a writer.
Let us read some things he has to say about himself.
«…The author’s primary reason for writing and publishing these novels, as well as doing the cover art for them, and for creating the fantasy images in the Gallery is for the fun of it! It is a serious matter of his own personal philosophy of life that nothing is worth your doing voluntarily unless you enjoy doing it……I do enjoy writing these novels. I enjoy doing the art work I do in connection with them. To me, fantasy is fun.
Furthermore, I have always been fascinated by the ideas of magic, superhuman powers, and monsters, especially dragons. I first became interested in dragons when I was in my early childhood, and continue to find them fascinating. I put all of these things in my novels, though not all in every one….”
As every great creator of myths, William built his own world piece by piece, the legends, the prophecies, the religion, the social structure. A brand new world, Sarenu. Sarenu is a world that outwardly resembles ours quite a lot, but is actually very different.
There is only one continent, much bigger than all the continent of the Earth and it covers 1/3 of the planet. The ocean that surrounds it is called “The Great Sea”. In the ocean there are numerous islands and they are organized in about fifty kingdoms. The greatest part of the population lives along the coastline of the continent or in the kingdoms of the islands. One can find most of the big cities there, with the exception of Kelestra and Trom Zebeda.
Some elements for the social structures: The society of Sarenu never developed above the level of our own middle ages. And not all the kingdoms are in the same level of development. Hereditary kingship is the established form of governing. And very seldom there existed a time of absolute peace, when one kingdom was not at war with another one.
Magic is used the same way as technology is used on Earth and it is considered as something natural. From the simple things - it is said that a great wizard – king used witchcraft in order to built the castle of the fraternity of wizards– up to armed conflicts, wizards and their craft hold a central place in Sarenu’s society.
Dekestrar is the established religion. Dekestrar are ten gods that are worshiped as one, five males and five females. There are temples dedicated to each one of them or to Dekestrar as a whole.
In this world William unfolds the truly great epic of the Dragon Rose. There are the three books of the “Legend of the Dragon Rose” series and the nine books of the “Heroes of the Dragon Rose” series that hasn’t been completed yet.
The book I present here is the beginning of this wonderful myth.
Before I talk about the plot let me say some things about the Dragon Rose. It is not a flower; it is a huge diamond, larger than the human fist. Contrary to the rest of the diamonds whose coloration ranges from water – shine to light blue or yellow, Dragon Rose has red, orange and yellow hues, just like a rose. And if one looks at it intensely he gets the impression that the colours are changing, as if there’s a fire burning in it.
Dragon Rose is actually an amulet, a powerful magical object that was forged with two kinds of witchcraft that make it the strongest magical object in the world and the only one that can confront the dragons. You simply point it to a certain direction, you think of what you want it to do, and you get the required results. But the person using it must be a most capable and talented wizard. An ordinary person cannot handle it.
The book follows the story of young Astraganthus. When he was young, dragons killed his parents, who were king and queen, along with the whole royal court, in an ambush, leaving him the sole survivor. His parents were the only obstacle Drocladomos had to deal with before he unleashed the great attack with his dragons. When he killed them he thought that he was through with this obstacle and he was not in danger anymore. However he made a tragic mistake. The boy survived. He was saved by a fugitive who was hiding in the big dessert and was raised in a safe secluded valley, in almost complete isolation. When his protector died, the young man – following his advice faithfully – set out on a great quest intending to learn about life, to claim his kingdom and to take revenge upon the hateful wizard and the dragons who had butchered his family.
And the quest is as exiting as the book itself.
I do not wish to say anymore and spoil the pleasure of reading for you. You will be fascinated by each page. William’s elegant writing, even for only a few hours, will pull you away from the grey daily routine and send you in a new, magical and unexplored world that will unfold in front of you, page by page.
Happy reading and my best wishes to William so that he may complete his life’s work, this great epic tale.
Trorian’s Belt by Toni Allen
Lulu site: www.lulu.com/content/49379
Review by George Sotirhos
“…’Aren’t you afraid of dying?’
Dimitri strode over to look out of the tent, held back the flap and stood there a moment. With his fair skin bathed in sunlight he glowed like a God.
“It’s a good day to die,” he said. “The birds are singing, the sun is shining..”
He turned and looked at Tark, blue eyes a flame with pride. “Of course I’m frightened.. but warriors are born to fight…it’s in my blood.”
During the old years, under the wise and prudent governing of the legendary emperor Duath, Alsheba was a unified empire that thrived. And Duath had a champion, Trorian, who was his support and the living terror for the enemies of the empire.
Hower, after Duath’s death the empire was divided and split in two parts: Alsheba and Pandropolis. But the people kept in their hearts the legend of Trorian. His name came to symbolize the longing and the hope for the end of the wars and for the peace and prosperity that would return to a unified empire, reborn from its ashes.
The myth was that Trorian drew his strength from his magic weapons, his belt being the most powerful of all. During the centuries countless brave warriors lost their lives in their search for the magic arms that would give them the power of a god.
After many centuries it was the turn of Tarkandus – the 16 year old son of the emperor of Alsheba – to seek the lost arms of the hero, with the hope of stopping the war and uniting the torn empire. After the betrayal of the archpriest Stavion, Tarkandus falls in the hands of the hateful Malachon, king of Pandropolis, and despite the humiliation, the pain and the agony he suffers there, with the support and guidance of Mitra, one of his father’s faithful warriors, he begins his own desperate search, a search that seems to be the last chance for the two empires to avoid the impeding darkness that threatens to surround them for ever.
“The Trorian's Belt” by Toni Allen is the first book in the series , “The Epic Tales of Alsheba”. Toni Allen can definitely hold a well earned place beside the great masters of heroic fantasy. Strong plot, intrigues, breathtaking scenes of battles, witchcraft, ancient myths, evil Gods, eerie landscapes. Descriptions that can throw you in the middle of wild battles, exotic landscapes, dances….A strong speech that fascinates the reader.
It is a marvellous story of heroic fantasy and the only thing we can say is that we are impatiently awaiting for the next part of the series, by the pen of a really great writer.
“Sandryn’s Glow” by David Collins
Lulu site: http://books.lulu.com/content/172754
Review by George Sotirhos
“Sandryn's Glow” is one of the countless small diamonds, that are scattered somewhere there outside, and are awaiting for you to discover them. It is really a fresh and lively book that puts you in its beautiful world from the very first lines.
The writer, David Collins lives in Cleveland, Texas, where he teaches in a school and raises his two children. He lives in a noisy house – according to his own words - however with the help of his wife, Cathy, the support of all his family and his friends he managed to complete the first book of a series, a plan of his for many years. And – take my word for it – it would be a great misfortune if he hadn’t managed to complete it. Those of you who will read it, will realize why.
"Sandryn's Glow" is the first in a series of four books, that the writer hopes to complete some time in the foreseeable future, where magic is part of everyday reality. However certain persons have a mysterious force, the "Glow”. A force that gives them this extra quality. More power and more talents from those that do not have the "Glow". This force springs from a mystic intellectual level that is named "the Circle". It is a superior level where the souls of the dead are transported immediately after their death.
Some words for the story: Jarret, the Captain of the Royal Guard fought a lot of years by the side of King Jakes in order to bring peace in the kingdom and save the population from countless threatening dangers. As a result, all these years he neglected his daughter Sandryn, putting the interest of his homeland above her happiness. Now, he believs that all these have finished and he can spend the rest of his years happily in her company.
However his fate played other games. While Jarret is preparing the celebration for his daughter’s 16th birthday, her passing to adultness, King Jakes, in the moment of his greatest need, calls him for one last mission. Someone has kidnapped Alfar, his son and successor. And he has to be found within 11 days, because during his 16th birthday the ceremony of Confirmation in the Circle has to take place. Without this ceremony he will not be able to succeed his father.
Thus Jarret is forced, despite his will, to put once more the interest of the homeland above his daughter and he leaves, in search for Alfar.
Meanwhile, Sandryn thinking that her father hates her, since he constantly avoids her, spends her birthday with her faithful Mave, her father’s companion, who raised her as if she were her own daughter.
Alfar has actually been kidnapped by queen Charon, with the help of Revenant, a corrupt official. With this act of hers, Charon intends to succeed her husband to the throne. What she doesn’t know is that Revenant is really possessed by the spirit of his dead father and the only thing that he wants is to drown humankind in blood.
Revenant’s men attack Sandryn’s house and kill Mave, who sacrifices her life in order to save the girl. Then she starts wandering in the forest until her father finds her and saves her from a new ambush.
Together, they release the captive prince. However, her father is hurt and then a heavy responsibility falls in her hands. She must bring the prince to the ceremony safe and sound, fight the men send by Revenant and the queen and at the same time discover her hidden powers, her past and a side of her father she had never imagined.
The language of the book flows and fascinates the reader, leading him/her directly in the heart of this imaginary world. The characters are masterly structured, without superfluous elements. The descriptions of the internal conflicts taking place within Revenant’s mind, as he tries to fight the evil spirit of his father are soul – stirring. The same perfection can be found in the structuring of Sandryn’s character. The adolescent, almost childish concerns, are transformed, change from page to page and in the end of the story there appears a fascinating female fighter who has nothing to do with the girl that we had met in the beginning.
Without any doubt “Sandryn's Glow "is a great book, a marvellous addition to your library.
But Love’s Objected by Joseph Dussourd
Review by George Sotirhos
“June 24, 2069
Jake seemed adamant: “Find someone else . Please!”
Gabriel, unruffled, said. “Jake, there is no one else, why can’t you understand?”
Jesus walked toward them. “I’m sorry, Jake. Him, the other, the Father…it’s between you and him.” Jesus had returned from conference with the Father, the Supreme Being, who Jesus partakes and revealed completely. The thinker of DNA, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, the judge of comic bangs, the Bringer and Knower of Outcomes, for ever and always, the Other: There was no one else.
Jake yelled to the heavens. “WHY, then me!”
Gabriel touched Jakes’s shoulder. “Stop it,” he said. You may not have been a witness when he laid the bowels of the Earth. But I was. It is His, Jake. Completely.”
A thunder rolled, sharpening Jake’s consciousness.
FOR LOVE’S A DIVIDE BETWEEN TRUST & TRESPASS. OURS TO TOUCH, SWAN LIFT, TOUCH AGAIN LIKE MERLIN’S HEART EYELIT, TO CALL & TO BRIDGE ALL THINGS ROOT FRESH, EVER.
Jake looked at Jesus. They both Knew.
The question was settled…”
“But Love's Objected” by Joseph Dussourd has all the characteristics of a classic science- fiction novel. High technology, machines with developed A.I., Earth colonies scattered around the solar system, interplanetary policy and intrigues, powerful colonies that seek their independence from mother – Earth, modern heroes with powerful political and religious background. All the motifs of a classic space opera are here. However Joseph’s strong pen, through the socio – political speculations that he presents, has managed to compose a work with a unique subject matter for the realm of science fiction.
Joseph looks beyond the unsophisticated structures of a usual novel. There are always the heroes, the conflict, the magic of space and the new unexplored areas, but Joseph chooses to focus on the actual reasons of the conflict and not simply describe some space gunmen that butcher each other for the eyes of some exotic Martian princess, or some distant Mongo.
The main cause of the conflict between Earth and its Lunar colony is the structure of economy. On the one hand there is the traditional financial structure of Earth, based on state intervening and on the huge debts of the simple people – which are considered as something natural - and on the other hand there is the free economy of the Lunar colony which is based on individual responsibility. Even the prisoners have to pay for their own detention.
«This, then, is the cause of the worsening enmity between Luna and Terra. The contrasting point of views, which admittedly are both stark and starling, instigates isolation and suspicion from both parties. Terra believes in debt, who owns it and for how long, Luna focuses on hard-cash liberty, retirement and reinvestment.”
And among all these, with Jake, the central hero as the focal point, there is a religious conflict in progress. A conflict between the old and the new, a dying Pope who tries to ensure peace before his demise and a fanatic aspiring successor who aims to move the papal headquarters from the Vatican to the Moon. In his opinion it is about time to set aside the aging Earth.
As a conclusion I can say that it is an exceptional book which describes the entry of the middle class in the colonization of space and all the social and political consequences this brings along. And everything evolves around Jake, a man who lives for about 200 years, thanks to pioneering medical methods. However he does not direct things according to his own beliefs. He imposes nothing. As the writer says:
“Jake didn’t alter the world; he just obeyed all the stop signs.”
Virginia by Henrik Moller
Web site: http://www.lulu.com/content/208789
Review by George Sotirhos
Henrik takes the legend of the “lost colony” – an actual historical event – and using it as a starting point, he unwraps his story masterfully. The colony really existed and was lost in a mysterious way. Up to this day no one has managed to present an opinion about its fate based on historical data or discoveries of archaeological researches. There are many diverse points of view about what really happened to it and Henrik presents his own, in his book. Maybe this could be the real story of the “lost colony”. Why not?
One day, as Evan rummages in the attic along with his mother, he comes by an old computer that used to belong to his uncle. He carries it to his room, puts it together and starts playing. Little by little he understands that this is no ordinary computer. Nor was his uncle an ordinary man. He had won the Nobel Prize for Physics and as Evan characteristically says “he could read and write books that only a few people in the world were able to comprehend”. As he plays with the buttons he realizes that he can see what he did during the morning and during the previous days. He is astonished. As he continues to experiment, he finds out that he can move through time and space. But that’s not all. He can also see the past come alive through a projector connected with this strange machine. He freezes the picture in a forest scene. The time is about 1600. Evan falls asleep, lulled by the sounds of the forest.
During the night, he suddenly wakes up by the sobs of a girl. A girl who is dressed with strange, old-fashioned clothes, speaks a type of old English and every time he turns on the light, she gets terrified and mumbles that it’s the devil’s instrument.
With the help of his family, he discovers that the girl was a member of the “lost colony” and somehow managed to “pass” from the past to the present through the machine. But the machine breaks down. And they have to do everything in their power to fix it, otherwise Virginia won’t be able to return to her time.
What really happened to the “lost colony”? Will Virginia manage to get back to her time? Will she be able to survive in the world of the future?
Henrik has written a very interesting story, which would have definitely become a “best seller”, had it been published under different circumstances. He can handle the historical elements skillfully and incorporate them in the present. He has strong character descriptions, his writing flows freely and his story is captivating – you can’t wait for the next page. One cannot but be impressed by the way Virginia’s character and the way of her thinking is developed, let alone by the flawless archaic English the girl speaks. She could really be a child born during the 17th century that suddenly found her self in our own time. I also dare to suspect that Henrik has lent some of his own character traits to Evan’s computer – guru father.
As a conclusion I must say that such a well – written book definitely deserves your attention. Once you start reading it, you won’t be able to put it down before you finish it.
Tertiary by John Coppinger
Review by Nectarios Xrissos
Okay. I admit that buying an e-book always sounded like a mediocre idea to me. The reasons: 1) I simply am in love with the printed form and 2) I considered it impossible for good stories to be published like this.
Tertiary, Matryoshka and some other e-books I “had” to read and review, made me change my mind.
Tertiary is an amazing story that comes from an artist whose works most of us have seen in movies. You see, John Coppinger, the author, works as a sculptor and designer for movies and museums. It is he who designed Jabba the Hutt for Star Wars as well as Diva for the Fifth Element. This is his first novel.
This is the story as the author summarizes it:
A tale of two civilizations and a third way. Three palaeontologists find evidence for a Dinosauran civilization and uncover messages and artefacts from 65 million years ago. When they find viable dinosauran eggs they run from military agencies, to save our past and future, and the hunt begins.
339 pages full of suspense, managed to hook me for three nights in a row; not only was the story tight, not only was it well-paced, but, in the end, it ended believable as a possible past! That was the question I remained with, when I was done with Tertiary: What if all this has actually happened in the not-so-distant past of the planet?
For 4 $ (.pdf version), every fan of alternative history can – and should – read e-books like Tertiary.
Order it from Lulu (http://my.lulu.com/content/173009), Amazon and elsewhere. You can also visit the writer’s page (www.johncoppinger.com) and read Tertiary’s first chapter for free!
Matryoshka by Lev Schneider
Review by Nectarios Xrissos
Matryoshka is Russian for the known-doll-in-doll toy. Matryoshka is also English for the fantasy-sci/fi novel by Lev Schneider, yet another print-on-demand title that can be bought from the web publisher www.lulu.com, in print or e-book form. 431 pages of a strange mixing of fantasy and science fiction, with the following plot (as given to us by the writer’s own synopsis:
James Morris prides himself on his thoroughness and persistence, the qualities that made him a top salesman in his company. When a computer game challenges him to read an obscure scientific text, he takes the first step of a journey that will send him to the Soviet Lithuania in the sixties. His only way home is to retrace the steps and complete a revolutionary theory while living inside the mind of its creator - if he can keep his sanity or his freedom.
I like time travel stories. Matryoshka’s “spiritual” --so to say-- time travel, despite the fact that it is not an especially original idea, proves more exciting than the “traditional” time travels of this kind of stories, with their scientific paradoxes and the “inventions” of science fiction writers.
Thank God, Lev Shneider confronts his story and this classic sci-fi theme with respect and originality. The result of his effort is, for sure, a somewhat chaotic, crazy time-space travel back and forth in time, here and there in places. It has everything: Humor, philosophy, sensuality, politics, science…
To be honest, I wasn’t too hot for reading it when I glanced on its synopsis. Its quick pacing, however, and its well-set protagonist stuck me in the story: I finished it in a weekend.
Matryoshka has a good ranking in Lulu sales, and that isn’t strange. It’s a fit story, an addictive one and, for 6,83 $ (.pdf version), a bargain!
You can order your own copy from the LULU website:
A Cocktail of Curses (By Ruth E. Glover)
Inside the upheaval that - for good or bad - Harry Potter stories have brought to children fantasy (and not only), many writers choose to publish stories of similar kind with the hope that they will be accepted by the vast --as was proved-- share of reader audiences that made Rowling famous. One of those writers is --at first glance-- Ruth Glover, who started a new fantasy series in 2005, called ‘Magical Mayhem’. The first book of the series is “A cocktail of Curses”. Its story is as follows (as summarized by the writer):
Mia is a 13-year-old witch who comes from a family of very powerful witches and wizards but cannot do magic herself. She is left to babysit her very talented 6-year-old cousin, Delphi, while the rest of the family go away for the weekend and is hurled into a series of adventures when in a 6-year-old temper tantrum, Delphi summons a demon to do her bidding.
The demon, a 127-year-old fire demon called Tak, is not pleased to be summoned by a child and decides to get his revenge by cursing her with a Mis-Spell curse that makes all her magic spells go wrong.
Delphi immediately tries to use her magic and succeeds in turning Mia's best friend Alastair into a cat, giving herself a tufted, golden tail and binding the Tak to her with the invisible, unbreakable bonds of magic.
Mia, Delphi, Alastair and Tak are forced to set off on a quest to find the legendary Curse-Master and convince him to break the Mis-Spell curse before the rest of Mia's family come home. During the quest, they are captured by the bloodthirsty Kanan, attacked by giant spiders, imprisoned by the evil ice sorceress Glacia and chased by an angry mob, and that's before they visit the mysterious castle Darkshine with its strange, pale-skinned inhabitants who never seem to eat.
Book One of the brand new Magical Mayhem Series, A Cocktail of Curses is a light-hearted enchanting tale of mischief and magic and is sure to delight any reader who has ever wished to be witch or whispered a spell to the stars.
As is obvious, this 150-page long story emphasizes on humor and fairytale-like fantasy. The writer knows what she’s writing, knows her target group and doesn’t disappoint, using a sharp, witty writing style, a gripping plot and an interesting narration throughout the whole story.
A Cocktail of Curses is an easy, quick read, and despite the fact that it’s directed towards young readers, I think it can be enjoyed by older ones as well. For me, this e-book was a very nice surprise; it’s a small gem, of the kind that one sometimes finds while sailing in the ocean of infinite mediocre fantasy releases that usually fill bookstores and the internet. I unconditionally suggest it to those that wish to spend 2-3 nights with a lighthearted, easy read which proves more than enjoyable. Considering its very small price (e-book form is practically free!) I will be on the lookout for its sequel.
You can buy it online from the website of the LULU print-on-demand publishing house, here:
Mara’s Flame (by Hamish Clark)
Review by Nectarios Xrissos
Here we have a fantasy short novel that is directed, judging by the writing style, the minimal presence of graphic violence, and its promotion, to younger fantasy readers. The story’s summary (by the writer himself) is as follows :
Were dragons and humans ever really friends? A young dragon called Mara intends to find out. She sets out to locate the Old One, a wise and ancient dragon, hoping he can answer her question. But soon she, a wise-cracking magpie called Eagle-beak and a head strong prince called Cameron, become embroiled in a struggle for the very survival of their world.
The characters are interesting and form a disparate ensemble, while the story’s progress is the genre-classic “quest”. The plot itself, leaving out the fact that the protagonist is Mara, a dragon, isn’t especially original but doesn’t become boring, as Mr. Clark writes with a good pace and simple language. The descriptions aren’t tiring and are generally balanced by the existence of many dialogues that advance the story and provide the necessary insight to the heroes’ personalities. Violence appears only where needed (this is mostly a children’s book, after all) and isn’t excessive or vivid.
I wasn’t personally awed by the story, but I can’t say I didn’t like it in the end. I am sure that if I were a child, I would have enjoyed it much more. It isn’t big (151 pages in e-book form) and the writing isn’t pompous, sophisticated or exaggerated, which I personally appreciated a lot. Considering its very small price ($ 9.99 printed or $ 1.63 for the e-book), I think it is a suggested read to all those of us -- especially the younger ones -- that like dragon stories (like myself) or fairy-tale-like-stories.
You can buy it online from the website of the LULU print-on-demand publishing house, here:
Echoes of a Distant Storm by Wendy Simpson
Review by George Sotirhos (George_sotirhos@yahoo.com)
When I started reading this book, I admittedly had a negative first impression because of its cover. Despite the fact that it is an electronic edition, the cover no doubt plays an important part as to whether someone will buy the book, it can indeed attract attention.
The cover is definitely not the best of choices and most probably turned away quite a number of prospective buyers.
And believe me, this is really unfair. The book is simply fantastic. From the very first pages it puts the reader directly in the heart of a magical dream world, created by Wendy.
The story: young Cael Blackshear lives in Bright Autumn, a village that was founded a century ago by the members of the five tribes after the great war, the victory against the hostile spiritual being called Entity and its subsequent imprisonment in the depths of Spirit Lament. Cael belongs to the tribe of Dafhalla, a war tribe whose members are brought up as warriors. Also they are skilled in the magical arts. His friend, a girl named Damiana, belongs to the tribe of Feyhar, a race of artists with beautiful body traits.
The description of the community where they live is characteristic:
“South of town was the feyhar community. Their homes were of the most unusual construction Cael had ever seen. They consisted of thick tents of spiders silk strung through the trees, which had been known to withstand the harshest weather.”
Each year a big feast, Parting Festival, is organized, during which, special ceremonies for the protection of the five tribes, take place.
“So the seal remains intact, so the Entity never escapes.”
Cael comes from the bloodline of the leader of the warriors who defeated and imprisoned Entity and he himself possesses powers he’s not aware of yet, but he has already attracted the attention of Entity.
One of the Elders, Avenarius, is murdered and Cael is unjustly accused of it.
He is forced to run away with Damiana beginning thus, the magic adventure and at the same time his own route towards self-knowledge.
It is a well written book that is going to keep your interest undiminished from the very first to the very last line. Wendy, who is obviously influence by Tolkin’s worlds and by Celtic mythology, plunges you in a world of magic and adventure, love and hate, in a world where the age-long battle between good and evil is present in all its forms.
Without any doubt, we recommend this book unreservedly.
The Sons of Maeve Trilogy
Book review by George Sotirhos (George_sotirhos@yahoo.com)
Author: Dave and Rose Cox
“The Sons of Maeve Trilogy follows the adventures of Than and Gimble as they trek through a mysterious mountain near their village home. Spurred by hopes of finding Than’s lost father, the boys stumble into an unusual world filled with dangerous creatures and strange civilizations, each on the brink of chaos. Thrust into the midst of these troubled circumstances, the boys are compelled to fight for their lives and their new friends against a host of wild beasts and the evil Pallig, Shaman of Darmind and leader of the Army of the Allodial.”
Starting from this issue our magazine will attempt to present as many as possible from the unknown jewels of the literature of the fantastic.
Writers who are beyond the mainstream limits who can’t sign up with a big publishing house in order to have the promotion that they deserve and who preferred to publish their work either through internet companies like lulu or through small and independent publishing houses.
One of these small jewels is «The Sons of Maeve Trilogy» by Dave and Rose Cox.
Two writers who would definitely never accept a commission in order to put on paper someone else’s dreams.
They have worked on this book for 27 whole years, ever since they were in college together. One can presume that this book indeed represents their visions, their dreams and maybe their nightmares.
When I got the book in my hands the first thing that drew my attention was the cover.
Despite the fact that is it artistically perfect it doesn’t convey the correct impression, from my point of view, for the content of the book.
The creative fiction and the dreamworld of the writers are hampered by the strong advertising patterns that exist in U.S.A., concerning how a book for “teenagers” should look like.
When I started reading it though, the first negative impression that was created by the cover, disappeared from the very first pages.
The writing is mature and confident and the writing flows pleasantly without any verbosities.
From the very beginning you forget everything and you loose yourself within the magic world that the two charismatic writers have created for us and you keep on reading until you feel that you’re part of the story.
The influences from the worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs and – to a lesser extent – from the ones of J.R.R. Tolkien are evident. Also in the book there are quite a lot of elements from the Celtic mythology and history.
It should be noted here that the two writers have moved to England since the beginning of the nineties in order to have the chance to study and experience their favorite Celtic traditions.
The story begins in a village that lies in the shadow of a huge mountain.
The village is surrounded by an area of wild vegetation full of ferocious beasts and terrible monsters that protect their habitat and the passages to the mountain, by slaughtering any intruder who dares to come near.
Than, marked by fate, because of the loss of his father, will not be able to resist the call of the mountain and the urge for mysterious adventures and along with his loyal friend Gimble will set off for the great adventure, defying their fears and prejudices.
As soon as they find one of the passages they’ll get in the mountain and a new magic world will untangle in front of them. The element of the myth of the “hollow earth” is constantly present and from what is seems apart from the Greek mythology - and the modern pseudo scientific researches - it can also be found in the Celtic myths.
The heroes will find themselves in one of the worlds of the hollow earth and from the very first moment they’ll be faced with a series of adventures.
Herds of huge spider – hunters, unknown trees and vegetation, new wonderful animals, bright and violent civilizations. All of these before their feet, waiting to be discovered by them.
With the help of their new friends, Darmid – who is one of the Lords of this world, Rhianna – who is a female healer - and Fenris – who is a warrior-philosopher monk, they will fight, in any way they can the evil that is represented by the “black” Shaman Pallig. False religious symbols, fanatical sects, religious wars, genetic mutations and hopeless loves. All of these have something to say and maybe something to teach. A fiction of high standard. Indeed few writers have the talent to create vivid fantastic worlds.
A great book that you’re sure to read without being able to put it down. It is certain that even the most demanding readers will be delighted.
From what we have learned the next part is almost ready and we’re expecting it impatiently.
Pleasant reading to everyone.