When the effects of a hypnosis inducing drug fade, April slowly begins a conscious awakening. Memories of her past are unclear and she has no recollection of her identity or her whereabouts.
As the days slip by, April realizes there is more to life than existing when she is introduced to an occupant who does just that—her sister. The more she learns about her environment the more she wants to escape.
Will April remember her past, her sister? Will she have the courage to leave? And if she does, where will she go?
Experience through April’s eyes her struggle to remember and her determination to escape in this sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, suspense story.
My Review – 5-Stars
Sandra’s debut novel, Promised Soul, was originally released in 2015 by her former publisher. A short story, Not Worth Saving, was published in New Zenith Magazine’s 2016 fall issue. She also has had several sports articles published in a local newspaper. She holds a professional membership with the Canadian Author Association and is a member of Writers’ Ink. Sandra’s second novel, Playing in the Rain – Book 1 of the Escape Series, released in September 2017 also by the same former publisher.
Sandra lives with her family in a rural setting in Eastern, Ontario. She is currently working on Book 3 of the Escape Series, her first trilogy.
5 Star Books, Author spotlight, Award Winning Books, Best Fantasy Books, BnV, Book reviews, BooknVolume, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Book Reviews, Kindle Unlimited, swords and sorcery, ~Morgan~
S.J. Hartland is an Australian journalist, emerging epic fantasy author, and foil fencer (Cyrano club in Sydney,) who has spent too many holidays wandering around obscure castles, and is obsessed with anything medieval. She is originally from Townsville, north Queensland, lived in Sydney for many years, and now calls the Darling Downs home. She recently chatted with me about her Shadow Sword series and gave me some juicy behind the scenes insights!
I wrote the early drafts of The Sword Brotherhood when I was in a very dark place. Depression, anxiety, which I’m at times prey to, struck that year. Writing became a “flow” activity which helped me fight free of overwhelming emotions.
Roaran’s journey, his suffering as his enemy’s prisoner, became an odd sort of mirror for me. His battle was as much against his past, his feelings of despair and hopelessness, as it was against his captors. My battle, too, was to find meaning and a way forward.
In that sense, Roaran’s jailer, Raggamirron, in the early drafts became a psychologist of sorts to Roaran, leading him on a path that today we might think of as “mindfulness.”
Yet in the end, most of those chapters had to go; in fact more than half disappeared into a desktop folder called “dropped chapters.”
The Sword Brotherhood, however, remains a dark book. Because it’s Roaran’s story, because it’s about his path to redemption and self-acceptance, it was always going to be the darkest in the Shadow Sword series.
Although the first in the series, The 19th Bladesman, was at its heart about fatherhood and letting go of power, redemption is a key theme across The Shadow Sword books. Characters often have to confront guilt or shame. But to balance that out, almost as a result of the darker feelings, characters can find hope or acceptance, or simply a way to go on.
Val’s path in The Last Seer King is particularly disturbing. Not only does a sorceress strip him bare emotionally and psychologically, but she forces him to confront his long-buried past. I tried to balance his despair in recounting what happened to him in a tower room centuries ago with Heath’s desire to free Val from his pain.
As Heath says, they could have been friends, with all that friendship offers. Hope. Freedom. Understanding, even comfort. A different kind of love–something I think is rarely explored.
Sometimes I wonder if these themes reassert themselves because I’m a Methodist, going back generations on both sides of the family.
I’m interested in guilt, in how it shapes us, but at the same time, I’m a deep believer that all of us can be redeemed–even Roaran, the Seer King, whose actions had to make sense even if we can’t agree with his choices. Even Genya, who acts out of anger and hurt and costs others their lives.
Her journey into darkness has only begun. Dannon, too, has important lessons to learn in the forthcoming The Sword and its Woman and the fifth book, loosely titled Broken Kingdom.
The Sword and its Woman is set largely in Quisnaf, a city of caves ruled by warrior women. I’ve tried to reverse every gender role I can think of in what is largely a Val tale. In Quisnaf, his worth is no longer measured in his ability with the sword, his classical education, or his position as a lord of Telor, but in his handsome face and his ability to provide children.
Perhaps it’s a risky book; it certainly takes Val in a new direction. He may find something he didn’t expect. But then he will lose it. Of course he will. When am I ever kind to characters?
The book also introduces one of my favourite characters, Rohane, a cursed berserker warrior of Quisnaf.
But before that, I’ve got the first in a new series coming out. Blade Lord is the story of Decallion and Sinnabar. He’s the only blade lord whose soul is not tethered to a ruling family in the distant Circle Kingdoms, which not only makes him valuable but puts him in grave danger. She’s a fura, or enforcer for the temple.
To save Decallion, Sinnabar will rebel against the temple and travel to the lawless Guildlands. She’ll risk her life and her soul. But, Decallion, cursed by magic, is destined to never remember her.
Although set in a dangerous world where the menace of the Shadow Kingdom across the fiery abyss pervades the realm, there are links in Blade Lord back to the world of Telor.
If I get it right, ultimately both series will fold together in a bizarre way.
My 5-Star Review of The Sword Brotherhood
The Sword Brotherhood is the third book in The Shadow Sword series by Susan Hartland. Having not read book one or two, I had some research to do in order to full appreciate book three. The book opens with the lead, Roaran, a prisoner of the lead villain Archanin., who was once his ally, but now wants Roaran to lay his secrets bare. Of course, Roaran endures with determination. The dark imagery and torture is distressing, but immensely effective. I connected with Roaran, I felt the pain of his betrayal and I couldn’t wait to see him liberated.
The Sword Brotherhood combines riveting action and intensely, visceral scenes from page one! While Archanin keeps Roaran imprisoned in a castle protected by magic trying to extract dangerous information that could change the fate of the kingdoms, Dannon struggles to keep the Sword Brotherhood together. He enlists the help of a mighty sorceress, Genya, in an attempt to free Roaran and defeat Archanin, but secrets and savagery stands in their way.
Great fantasies explore the boundaries between ‘good and evil’, and offer glimpses into alternate realities, shaking us from our apathy and challenging our perceptions. The Shadow Sword series achieves this while seducing readers with elaborately crafted realms, enticing plot twists, and unexpected revelations into characters that beguile and disturb.
The Sword Brotherhood reveals a world tearing itself apart through manipulation, domination and subjugation, that was chillingly familiar.
You can find Susan here
Duty and love collide in this powerful epic fantasy about shattering loss, betrayal, and the price of power that will enthral fans of Game of Thrones, Blood Song and the Mistborn trilogy. If you love dark plots, dark magic and characters with even darker secrets; pick up The 19th Bladesman, first in the sensational Shadow Sword series.
For centuries, Roaran sought redemption. Now he can vanquish a tyrant and save a realm in chaos. But only if he cuts his last ties to humanity. Only if he returns to the one place he swore he’d never dare go again…
A breathtaking, heart-pounding journey into darkness and the redemptive power of friendship.The darkest yet in the Shadow Sword saga, The Sword Brotherhood will enthral fans of this epic fantasy series from the author of the award-winning The 19th Bladesman.
I want to Thank S.J. for taking time out of her busy schedule to give us some insights into her amazing story. It certainly is a sweeping epic tale that has captivated me and I hope will intrigue you as well 🙂
I’ve never liked the protagonists in stories. Too often, they are just too gosh-darn graceful in adversity, as if they’re in the eye of a hurricane. People tend to reserve their love for “the proverbial Tyrion Lannister(s) and Aragorn(s) rather than the rounded (sometimes ugly) Hound(s)” and Boromir(s) of the world. From where I sit, the measure of a man is not in effortless perfection, but his struggle against adversity. Flaws and tribulation, internal and external, is what makes characters human, fallible, and worth rooting for. My quiet love affair with supporting characters drove the development of my own debut novel, Neither Officers Nor Gentlemen, in a few key ways.
- You’ll Hate the Protagonist.
The main character in Neither Officers Nor Gentlemen is a young man named Wilhelm Geier. Readers spend quite a bit of time in Will’s head, and they’ll quickly learn that he, unlike most protagonists, is terrible. This is not an iteration of revisionist Disney origin stories which cast villains as misunderstood (see: Maleficent). He is a spoiled, drunken, man-child by design. Geier has few redeeming qualities, and is patently unworthy of any love of he receives from other characters (furthermore, unworthy of reader’s admiration). I made a deliberate choice to steer readers affections away from the main character and, based on the feedback I have received so far, it has worked.
- You’ll Love the Antagonist.
Professional editors and reviewers who have read the book have all favored another character, called Roo. If not in reality, she is Will’s perceived antagonist. Roo is a Cimaroon, an escaped slave-turned-insurgent, in the Spanish Main. She is Will’s opposite. He was born into privilege, coddled, and externally motivated. In contrast, her traumatic past is an unexplored certainty. In the face of slavery and living for subsistence, she proves capable and cunning. She is internally motivated, but not at the expense of generosity or warmth.
- But, in my Opinion, the Supporting Cast is Peerless.
Personally, I like Roo as well, but you’re supposed to. At the risk of being labelled a hipster, I think that superlative adoration for Roo is almost as cliché as fandom for Katniss or Harry Potter himself. So, I wanted to take a moment to share why my prospective readers should give “Ugly,” and “Drunk Johnny,” a fair shake.
“Ugly,” was a green sailor, much like Will, who might’ve been called Jim before life at sea. Ugly had been a promising farrier’s apprentice at age ten, and had an unimpeachable work ethic, but had gotten kicked in the face by a mule. He was left disfigured, and developed a crippling fear of all large animals. His apprehension thrust him towards privateering, where he hoped the only horses he’d encounter would be seahorses. The former-farrier never fails to stand his post or deliver on his assigned shipboard duties, but landfall eventually brings him face-to-face with his greatest fears. In his moment of weakness, will he continue to deliver, or will he falter?
“Drunk Johnny” was an apt description for the seasoned drunk and veteran seaman who sailed with Will and Ugly. He lived in an impressively uninterrupted state of inebriation. He managed to wake and stand post as scheduled, but his aptitude for such was dubious. When we meet Johnny, he escapes punishment for his shoddy work by bribing his ranking officer, a glutton, with salted pork. He was a slightly built man with gaunt features, and a ghastly dental malady that ensured that every time he spat it came out a shade of brown or red, depending on the amount of blood in it. Despite his shortcomings, both in sobriety and virtue, Drunk Johnny is the most capable and functional alcoholic you will ever hear of. On multiple occasions in the book, Johnny proves himself to be a resourceful combatant, and an astounding marksman – redeeming qualities for a privateer. Unfortunately for Johnny, privateers are subject to high rates of attrition. There is no guarantee that the next Quartermaster will be swayed with extra rations of pork – there is no promise that his failings will continue to be overlooked.
I have always had a thing for supporting characters in books and movies. As the writer of Neither Officers Nor Gentlemen, I fell in love with Ugly and Drunk Johnny, and I hope that you will too. These are not vacuous placeholders, but they have backstories that leave a bit to the imagination. The balance of detail and omission in these characters, to me, makes them both complex and mysterious. At the same time, I invite you to read the book, and to disagree.
Jake Lanum has worked in corporate security, investigations, and intelligence since 2011. In this capacity he was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, and eventually published an academic study in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Threat Assessment and Management. At 30, Jake endeavored to undertake law school, and to write his first book, “Neither Officers Nor Gentlemen.” While Jake remains in steadfast pursuit of his Juris Doctor, the latter made its debut in Fall of 2020.
After the Spanish discovered the Americas, world powers endeavored to project naval power and occupy the promise-filled void. This gave rise to the golden age of privateering and piracy.
Neither Officers Nor Gentlemen is a fast-burning tale of maritime adventure. A cobbler’s son, Wilhelm “Will” Geier, joins an English privateer, Captain Drake, on a journey at the ends of the earth. In search of gold and glory, Will learns the trade. He hunts for subsistence in wildlands, finds allies in far-flung insurgencies, and struggles against the perils and threats looming in every navigable stream.
5- Star Review
Neither Officers Nor Gentlemen by Jake Lanum is a tale of old. A young man who feels as if everything should be given to him. It’s the year 1572, and Wilhelm Gaier is that seventeen-year-old young man. Will dreams of a lavish lifestyle and therefore purposely ruins every apprenticeship his father sets up for him. Will’s father is a cobbler, and he does work for the right Socialites to get him on a ship as a privateer.
Will struggles to grow up and mature, even with his new life. While raiding a village one night, they come into the company of Cimaroons. This is where we meet “Roo”. She is fluent in her native tongue but knows little English. She is very cunning, and Will admires her prowess skills. They became thick as thieves, inseparable as they steal from the Spaniards. Will devises a plan to help Roo.
My favorite character is Roo. She is different, in every way possible, but that does not stop her. She is herself and everyone loves her. In a world where women did not navigate the seas, let alone do anything other than be a Debutante, she gains the respect of all the men. They listen to her. She fights alongside them. She is not a sex object to them. She is one of them.
I am awarding this book 5 stars. It is well-written and well-edited. It does contain minor profanity, violence, and some nudity. The year in which our story takes place is 1572, so there are subjects like slavery and how people of color were treated, which could make this book inappropriate for young or immature readers. Being a sailor myself, I enjoyed this book and recommend it to mature readers who love a historical piracy novel. Who doesn’t like pirates?
Aliens. Assassins. And the Apocalypse. They killed his mentor. They tried to kill him. And now, they are trying to kill her. Tortured by his past and uncertain of his future, the Assassin Core’s most promising apprentice, Aero, vows revenge on the time-shifting Anarchists, but soon finds himself caught in a web of lies, deceit and espionage. The Central District is under attack from above and within: the Alien Hosts have been silent for days, the Assassin’s Core has a mole, and when Aero discovers Fletcher, the man like a father to him dead, it’s all but too late and things spiral out of control. On the run, he encounters Astrid, the undefeated decagon champion who seems to be at the center of the murders, and despite his best efforts, seems to always be one step behind. They will have to risk it all if they hope to escape the Anarchist’s clutches-and if they fail, they’ll lose everything, including their lives… Hit “Buy Now” and start your ya scifi, cyberpunk journey today. ★★★★★ A short, heart-pounding thrill-a-minute, post-apocalyptic dystopia!
Tell us your initial thoughts of Assassin Rising?
I don’t typically read much science fiction, but I do read a lot of dystopian futures. I loved the unique twist that Assassin Rising has, and how simple yet well thought through the characters are.
What was your favorite aspect of Assassin Rising?
I love how anything goes. Aliens, alternate universes, Neuralink technology, why not? It seems like it would be overpowering, but there is just a pinch of everything and it ties it together.
Who was your favorite character? Why?
Even though he was only in Assassin Rising shortly, I loved Ben. I loved how he interacted with the other characters, and was mature and professional enough to not lash out against Aero or respond to Aero trying to get a rise out of him.
Who was your least favorite? Why?
I don’t have a specific least favorite character, but I do remember when I first read through I had a dislike for Larissa. I’m not quite sure why, as reading through a second time, I see nothing that she did or say that would make me dislike her. In fact, after reading it again I have to say I like her character more, and loved how she interacted with the others in the second scene she’s in.
If you were to compare Assassin Rising to any other book, which would it be? And why?
I can’t really compare Assassin Rising to anything I’ve read before, as this is the first time I’ve read something like it! It’s something fresh and new, yet still has the dystopian aspect like in The Hunger Games.
Who would you recommend read Assassin Rising?
I would recommend Assassin Rising to people who love dystopian futures. I’ve already recommended it to a few friends who love books like Divergent, The Giver, and Legend. It’s not your typical dystopian storyline, but instead takes it and twists it into something new and exciting.
What sparked your interest in this story that made you want to read it?
The first sentence really pulled me in, but what really caught my interest was the tie in with events happening in our current year, how it affects the rest of the timeline, and how they deal with it.
What surprised you about the story that you didn’t expect?
I was not at all expecting the end of the book. The last few chapters were a big surprise, especially the thing with Astrid. I especially loved chapter 15, the final chapter, due to how different it is from most books and movies.
Which scene has lingered with you the most? Why?
I can’t stop thinking about the scene in chapter two, where we get a backstory for what has happened. I love how Assassin Rising talks briefly about COVID and nuclear wars. That scene also had me wondering about other things that were mentioned, and to top it all off, I loved the interactions between Ben and Aero.
If you could ask the author anything about the book, what would it be?
I’d love to learn more about the Sky Wars, as it’s just mentioned once or twice, enough to keep the reader interested and needing more information.
What are you hoping to see happen as the story moves forward?
As a tie in to the previous question, I’d love to dive deeper into the backstory of the Sky Wars, and learn what went down in 2044. I’d also love to read an interaction with the Hosts, and meet them
Assassin Rising: 2044 The Alien Gene Project is the first novella in the series. Stay tuned for next in the series, coming out late 2020!
ENTER THE WORLD OF PENTHARA … a world governed by five elements and their five seasons …
The human kingdom of Barredom has been at war with the qindrid territories of Aggedon ever since the Qindrid Curse gripped the land. What were once humans are now grey-skinned, ageless, sleepless abominations, enhanced by the shadow element of their descendancy.
When the entire border army of Aggedon vanishes overnight, the obsessive General of Barredom orders the Westwalker, the infamous hunter of hunters, to investigate the disappearance. But the actions of men may test the resolve of the outsider who was long ago forced under the cursed transformation himself.
The new cycle of Kingfall proves worthy of its name when the savage elvan king of the Glace Isles is slain during an ambush. His elite war party, along with his three legendary axes, are deposited in the dungeons of the Frostdale Deeps, the domain of the Royal Inquisitor Honorah Bayn. Her task is to extract information from the enigmatic prisoners, but her desire is to exact revenge, and her lust for suffering is set to thwart the distracting aspirations of her unwitting son and daughter.
The unusual fortune of Barredom delivers one other gift when the leader of the Aggedonian qindrid surrenders herself into the custody of the elusive king of Barredom. It’s up to the renounced prince of Barredom, Ondrew Roth, and his motley group of spurned knights to escort her on a clandestine mission beneath enemy territory, through the underground tomb of an elvan race thought long defeated.
Prepare for a dark tale where all are the many hues of grey, and where any might not be as they seem
My 5-Star Review!
Let me tell you a little about the beginnings of creating this story. I’m thirty years old now. But the idea for The Journals of Ravier series started back when I was fifteen. It was in the Fall, the first week of school. Oh yeah! I almost forgot to mention I was homeschooled K – 12th grade. Though not an ideal way to grow up, as I spent a lot of time alone, I survived. A lot of things happened, prior to school starting that year. I was never the same. This story helped me to stay sane, during a time in my life when I was lost and lonely; hurting so, so bad inside. I needed an escape. And I got it through writing that first horrible, ugly draft in a spiral-bound notebook. It’s true what the battle-scarred authors say. First drafts are never pretty. The original story began with something like this: ‘What if horses had wings, and could fly? A boy once found this horse, and he named her Angel. He found her in the woods by his home. A boy named, Tyler Craven. This is their story.’ Not a good beginning, I’ll admit. But it was a beginning.
In 2005, around the time Hurricanes Katrina then Rita hit, is when I made the start. It was such a sad year. Yet a good year. Lovely Texans opening their hearts to their Louisiana neighbors . . . that was a beautiful thing. Recently home from a lengthy visit to Texas, my heart was bursting with so many emotions. Through it, I found a love for writing. And here I am, fifteen years later. My third book will be out, at the end of this year or sometime at the start of 2021.
In 2013, I changed the focus of the story. I made it better. Closer to what it is now. Caucasian Tyler Craven became Tyler Malik Ravier—half Caucasian, half Iraqi. Angel was renamed to Awngelic and then finalized as Awngeleik, similar in sound to the name of Angelique. I won’t even mention what Gemma Galloway’s name used to be. I will say this, however. Tadashi’s name was Ted! Amira was Gloria. All the characters were Caucasian. But I changed that, in 2013. Started thinking of new things. New names. New storylines. Then I wrote a rough draft, in 2015. That draft became the foundation for the first three books in Tyler Ravier’s series.
I’ve spent countless hours dreaming of the landscape of Muraine, tweaking it as needed . . . I wanted something unique. See, I grew up in a place with few trees around. Southwestern Wyoming. Always took twice as long for trees to grow to a “normal” size. It was a place at risk of droughts, well, quite a lot. Very dry. Unbelievably windy. Lots of snow, in the winter (usually). As you can imagine, I wanted a place vastly different to escape to. A place with lots of trees. Hence, Paragon was born. A model of excellence. The ideal sort of place I’d love to escape to. I later realized it needed a foreign name. Therefore, Pawv’Ragaen it became. I think that was in 2014.
Writing the books in this series has been a wild ride. I never thought I’d be an author. Though I’m self-published, I’m proud of it. Proud of the work I’ve put it. My writing isn’t perfect, but it is heartfelt. I’m honored to be the author, who’s steering Tyler’s story. Being a writer is so many things, really. I hope the product of my imagination wins you over. And know that I’m just warming up. I can feel it. Tyler demands that more be said than what the three books contain. And who am I to stand in the way of an amazing story being told through his eyes? Truly, there are days I simply feel like the characters are writing the story. That I’m their voice. Lol! I feel what they feel. I laugh with them, cry with them, cheer for them. As they grow, I grow. Not the other way around. Being a writer has changed who I am, as a person. I’m better, kinder, stronger. I actually like who I am. I didn’t, before. I simply existed. But that’s not living.
In parting, I must tell you . . . if you want a dream badly enough, chase it. Don’t give up. Just know that it takes time. Persevere.
J.R. Vaineo is a self-published indie author, residing in Salt Lake City, UT. In 2018, she published her first book: Kings of Muraine. When she’s not writing, she and her husband, Jessie, have many adventures together. Mostly in cooking, hiking, photography, analytical talks, and fawning over their two adorable fur-babies.
While J.R. Vaineo writes mostly fantasy fiction—combining elements of epic, portal, paranormal, and dark fantasy—she enjoys reading all genres; except, perhaps, for horror stories. After finishing a creative writing program, through the Institute of Children’s Literature, she continued to improve her craft of writing. In 2013, she graduated with her AA degree in psychology. During that time, she expanded on many things, especially focusing on what would prove invaluable for fleshing out characters and plot twists. What started out as a writing prompt, in 2005, has now become a nine book series she is currently working on: The Journals of Ravier. Sometimes, she is quite jealous of the characters’ abilities, found within her own writing. If that is a sign of anything, it is this: Obsession.
All the best,
Find Julie on:
Where to Purchase
Barnes & Noble:
Thank you so much to Julie for taking time out of her busy schedule to share her story with BnV and Word Mongery and Musings 🙂
Winner – Pinnacle Book Achievement Award.
Runner-up – Independent Publisher Book Awards.
Finalist – Foreward INDIES Book of the Year Awards.
Finalist – National Indie Excellence Awards.
Darkness stirs in a world that is ill-equipped to confront it.
A prophesied king is born, but not all will benefit from his foretold conquests. In a realm where only clerics are permitted to practice magic, Kibure, a mere slave, draws the attention of much more than just his master after wielding an unknown force in a moment of desperation. In a twist of fate, Sindri, the priestess hired to strip Kibure of his power, defies the law, revealing designs of her own. But trust is in short supply in a land ripe with deceit. This wayward pair will have to work together if they hope to evade capture at the hands of the Empire’s most potent wielders.
Halfway around the known world, Aynward’s knack for discovering trouble drives him deep into conspiracies within which he does not belong. Too arrogant to accept counsel, he will have to learn the hard way that some actions have consequences that cannot be undone…
This epic fantasy series will be especially enjoyed by fans of Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Michael J. Sullivan, Patrick Rothfuss, and Michael Wisehart. .
In a unique Reverse Interview, Author Derrick Smythe interviewed on of his readers for more insights into the book:
So here it is…the very first (Possibly ever!) Reverse Book Review where the reader reviews the book and then is interviewed by ME….and YOU! Yes, thats right, you can ask any questions you like about the book(s) and Chad will be happy to answer them. So lets get right to it, shall we?
Misericorde (Mercy Series Book One)
Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2020…..Cynthia A Morgan wrote the Dark Fey trilogy and I loved that…this is a very different sort of book. For one, it’s slower paced and the work of a very talented author who has time (there are 3 more books to come in the series) to let the story unfold, to allow the reader to know and understand the characters, times, environments. She is patient and assured – 2 words I would hesitate to use to describe most anything culturally. We are raised on soundbites and fed headlines, but this book/series is, especially the more I think about it, so difficult to adequately distill into a short synopsis. It’s spiritual and human. It’s violent and tender. It’s desperate and deeply hopeful. I can’t wait to see where she takes us from here.
Who is your favorite/least favorite character and why?
My least favorite is easy: Sauvage. In a space that is forgetting any resemblance of gentleness or care, his absolute lack of humanity is repulsive.
My favorite has been Chevalier or Levesque for the same reason. As I raged at their apathy and unwillingness to DO SOMETHING, I knew why they didn’t (or couldn’t.) They did for the same reason we stand idly by while the least of us are utterly taken advantage of and great violence is inflicted. Morgan couldn’t have known the specific political/social landscape when she wrote it, but this story is perfect for us, now. I guess it’s perfect for any time, because we are too often Chevalier or Levesque and not enough Tzadkiel and Lourdes. (As it turns out, why I love them is that they DID finally DO SOMETHING and I am proud of them, and it gives me hope for us, for me.)
What surprised you about the story that you didn’t expect
In my reviews I talk about your patience. It’s shocking to me that this story is given such beautiful space to breathe and be exactly what it is. It feels much less like a contrived product driven by bells and whistles and more like a living breathing organism. Then when the bells and whistles do come, they are genuine and unforced and we discover that we actually care deeply for these characters. It’s like we’re watching lives unfold and not just an event.
What are you hoping to see happen as the story moves forward?
Of course, I hope they find their way home and that they can heal from the tremendous amount of pain they’ve suffered. I don’t know if I can hope for anything other than Death to ride, it sounds like that is written so it shall be done. I just hope they all find peace. I love a happy ending (whether there can be a complete one with Death is doubtful.)
Which scene has lingered with you the most? Why?
The 2nd rape/abuse scene at the campsite was horrible and not something I will soon leave behind. It was much more impactful than the 1st (though the act itself is so vile) because I had grown to love them. I read it through tears, with an upset stomach. The visceral reaction I had was surprising…actually, I was absolutely sure the abuse wouldn’t happen. Absolutely sure! And then it did, written so descriptively it was REAL, and I barely kept from throwing up in horror. I still can’t move on.
Does the story remind you of any other books/movies?
There’s nothing like this.
Did you disagree with any of the characters decisions and why?
I think the disagreement was in the complete breakdown in human kindness and civility, like “how can they do that???” But I know, I know. It’s a mirror of what we can become and an invitation to become something more of what we were created to be.
Did you get any message / positive inspiration from the story?
The invitation I mentioned previously, and the quote, “May we show our thankfulness through kindness and appreciate our blessings through generosity,” has become the subject in a series I am teaching in our faith community and has been quoted often in my life. We should all aim so high.
If you could ask the author anything about the book, what would it be?
How does it end???? And How COULD you DO THAT to HER???????????
Reviewed in the United States on June 25, 2020
Chad Slabach is a friend I’ve known for twenty+ years. If you are a long time follower of my blog, he was the inspiration for The Burning Question series. He is the leader of a non-denominational faith community based in south-central PA as well an as avid music fan and writer. You can find Chad on his WordPress Blog The Bridge Faith Community.
I’d like to Thank Chad immensely, not only for his enthusiastic support, but for taking time out of his busy schedule to read and review The Mercy Series AND to provide his insights in this Reverse View 🙂
Amazing Original Artwork by the following Exceptionally Talented Artists:
Lee Jun at DeviantArt.com
It’s the year 2446, and the first three Horsemen of Revelation’s Apocalypse have ridden.
Pestilence, War and Famine have changed the world into a dictatorship ruled with an iron fist. Commoners have few rights, and liberty is a distant memory.
Before the final Horseman is released, the Archangel of Mercy – Tzadkiel – makes a bold plea, asking for permission to find even one human who remembers the meaning of mercy and compassion. He is given 100 years, until Death will sweep across the land.
Taking human form and coming to Earth, he finds a place ruled by greed, hatred and fear. With time running out and Death growing impatient, can Tzadkiel find what he’s looking for… and how much will he need to sacrifice?
5 STARS – Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite
Misericorde is the first installment in the Mercy series. It is a work of fiction in the epic fantasy genre and was penned by author Cynthia A. Morgan. Set after the first three horsemen of the apocalypse have been let loose upon Earth and shifted humanity into a feudalistic series of dictatorships, the Archangel of Mercy begs for a reprieve for humanity before the final horseman is unleashed. Given a hundred years to find a human capable of mercy and compassion, the Archangel is dangerously close to the deadline when they meet one person on a planet filled with hatred who may meet their criteria. The novel contains some moderate content that may not be suitable for readers below a mature teen level.
Author Cynthia A. Morgan has crafted a lavish and detailed read which audiences are sure to devour from cover to cover thanks to its quick pacing and highly engaging plot. I particularly adored Tzadkiel as a central character, whose determined belief that humanity may have hope yet is a central theme that endears him and his quest to us. There is a great atmosphere in the writing and lexical choices made by the author, painting the pseudo-medieval world with a bleak and desolate brush. This makes the juxtaposition of hope all the more important and prominent when the search reaches its potential conclusion. I found the plot structure to be well-timed and with plenty of ups and downs to keep the story interesting. Overall, I would certainly recommend Misericorde for fantasy fans everywhere.”
★★★★★ – “The Reviled has everything you could want from an epic fantasy adventure.”
★★★★★ – “This author has an incredibly visceral and intense writing style. I loved the interplay between the light and the darkness.”
★★★★★ – “Morgan is a master of description. If you want something fresh, try out the Dark Fey Series.”