Review: Kings of Ash by Richard Nell

The much anticipated continuation of the Ash and Sand trilogy...

Follow the long, bloody journey of Ruka, son of Beyla through the islands of Pyu and the frozen wastes of the Ascom; see the return home of Ratama Kale Alaku, the 'Sorcerer-Prince', and the terrifying rise of his 'miracles'. Before the end, a shocking history will unravel, ancient connections unfold, and all will learn the cost of unleashing the Kings of Ash...

5 of 5 stars!

This sequel to Kings of Paradise picks the story up where it left off, and we’re shown more progression leading up to a tragic and inevitable war. An attack filled with political risk jeopardizes the fate of the cultures on both sides. Three compelling leaders, each empowered in ways they don’t themselves understand, are set on a collision course that terrifies fate itself.

“I am not a man, Prince of Paradise. I am a thousand years of children buried nameless in rotten earth. I am the rage of their helpless mothers, weeping beneath an empty sky. I am the bitter fruit of frozen tears.” 

Much of this book shows events from years past, to give the reader an exclusive sort of insight into the lives of Ruka, Farahi, and Kale. Fans of the first book will appreciate the deft storytelling and calculated ease at which the stakes are revealed. All along we’re haunted by the mantra: It matters why.

And why indeed. Ruka fights for his people, for a future filled with warmth, peace, and bounty, for something beyond mere survival. Farahi’s goals are much the same, a unified island chain surrounded by safe seas, a future in which his family line is secure. And Kale, who has risen to every challenge, driven by his love for others, continues to ascend in the face of turmoil. The author expertly weaves through the years and drama of their lives, building to a cinematic final battle that tore me open and left me in tears.

If you’re looking for epic high fantasy that’s vivid and grand, you will cherish this series.

You can find Kings of Ash here on Amazon or here on Goodreads.

Interview with Author Ian Gregoire

A few weeks ago, I reviewed The Exercise of Vital Powers. This book was a semi-finalist in SPFBO3. I'd heard so many great things about it, and I was not disappointed! Gregoire has created a unique and diverse world, and he was kind enough to share a bit about his creative process with us today.

What inspired your world building process? 
I tend to develop the world building for a story while I am writing it. With each draft it gradually evolves, becoming more fleshed out and coherent, until I have it all set in stone when I write the third (final) draft.

Inevitably, my world building is inspired primarily by the creative works of other writers, whether those stories were told in the pages of books and comics, or via the visual medium of film and television, or in the recordings of audio dramas.

With regard to my first novel, The Exercise Of Vital Powers, the world building was influenced a great deal by the book Shadowfall by James Clemens, and to a lesser extent, the Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan.

Who are you writing for and why? 
For as long as I can remember, I have always written for myself (who better to write a story I’m guaranteed to like?). So, even though I’ve known since early childhood that I wanted to be an author, it wasn’t until the last four years or so that I actually started writing with the intention of having my stories read by persons other than myself. But I remain the primary audience for my stories, if other people enjoy them I consider it a bonus.

As for why I write: I guess it’s in my nature to be a storyteller. Since I was a young child I’ve had a very active imagination, and been prone to daydreaming about the make-believe. I think that’s the only way to make sense of why I feel compelled to write the stories constantly playing out in my mind.

What do you do to recharge your creative energy? 
I like diversions that will boost my creativity by happenstance. So when I need to take a break from writing I enjoy reading, listening to music, and when time allows, watching films, bingeing TV series, or playing games; all these things invariably contribute to my creative output.

Sometimes, I also like going for long walks just to clear my head.

What reactions do you hope to inspire in others? 
It would be nice if my stories inspired self-reflection in my readers: to get them to contemplate why they think the way they do, why they feel the way they do, why they do the things that they do. Failing that, if they are entertained by what I write then that is still an accomplishment.

Ultimately, I hope that my work will kindle an appreciation for storytelling that will inspire future storytellers to want to write and share their own stories, in much the same way that the writing of C.S. Lewis inspired me when I was a child.

Where is your writing taking you? 
Hopefully to a bank balance that will make J.K. Rowling envious. If that isn’t a realistic prospect, I would like to reach the point where I earn enough money from my writing to allow me to write full-time. I have many unfinished stories to complete, and even more yet to be started ideas to begin writing.

Here's where you can find Ian Gregoire online:







Review: Darkfall by M.L. Spencer

The invasion of the Rhen has begun! Darien Lauchlin is determined to find a refuge for the people of Malikar by any means necessary—even if it means conquering the nations he formerly swore to protect. Wielding the most powerful magical talisman known to man, Kyel Archer stands opposed to him. And there could be no higher stakes—the reversal of the magic field is only weeks away, heralding the destruction of all the world’s mages and the long legacy of magic. Only one side of the War for the Rhen will emerge victorious, and the survival of an entire population hangs in the balance. 

Darkfall is the fourth and final novel of the epic fantasy series The Rhenwars Saga. If you like morally gray heroes, page-turning action, and mind-boggling plot twists, then you’ll love Spencer’s award-winning series.

5 of 5 stars!

A fitting end to a thrilling series. Loyalties are tested and characters are pushed to the limits of their fortitude and resolve.

Time and again, Darien's fate has been fraught with hard choices. In this final installment of the Rhenwars Saga, everything is at stake—the fate of the world, the fate of the magic field, the fate of the Well of Tears, and the fate of Darien's soul. How much strife can a man endure before becoming vengeful and evil? At what point will Darien break?

Darien has been willing to go through almost any means to reach an end he sees as righteous, often with honorable ideals in mind, though not always honorable in method. In this volume, we see a clear contrast to Darien through the character of his former acolyte, Kyel Archer. Kyel has long been a voice of reason, unwilling to compromise his integrity and forever optimistic in his worldview. Where Darien leans toward isolation and distrust of others, Kyel upholds a sense of reliance on the goodwill of those he works with. These two dichotomies play against each other remarkably well here, where the inherent advantages and disadvantages with each stance inevitably play out, with sometimes shocking results.

I do think this book would benefit from one more round of line editing. There were no glaring errors, just a bit of repetitive word choices that were sometimes distracting.

The epilogue was the absolutely perfect way to close out the series, and to me came across as extremely poetic.

I want to thank the author for the focus and dedication exhibited throughout the series and building into its conclusion. I have nothing but high praise for this extensive endeavor. Thank you for this world, for its villains and heroes, its pain and its beauty, and for bringing all of it to life for readers.

Darkfall can be found here on Amazon and here on Goodreads.