Review: Never Die by Rob J. Hayes

Ein is on a mission from God. A God of Death. 
Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight year old boy to render the judgement of a God. Ein knows he can't do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die.

Ein has four legendary heroes in mind, names from story books read to him by his father. Now he must find them and kill them, so he can bring them back to fight the Reaper's war.

4 of 5 stars

Ein is a small boy who has been given a mission to kill the Emperor of Ten Kings. He's granted a mystical power to resurrect fallen heroes and tie them to him so they must help. We follow their journey across the empire Hosa as Ein finds legendary heroes and builds an army.

Traversing this land includes combatting Asian-inspired fantasy creatures, as they have to fight the minions of warring gods and confront an opposing army that is also vying against the emperor.

Will they fall before even reaching their goal? Will they learn to work together? Will they find enough courage within them?

Their journey is not an easy one. They must face successes and failures, and examine who they were in their previous lives and what it takes to keep them focused on this mission. Because of Ein's special ability, they don't have much of a choice of whether to follow him, but their path lends itself to a lot of reflection and challenges each of them to dig deep enough to find the resolve it will take to stand up against the emperor.

I recommend this to fans of dark fantasy looking for Asian-inspired lore with a mythological atmosphere, rife with battle and uncertain heroes hoping for redemption.

You can find it here on Amazon or here on Goodreads.

The space between raindrops

I crave the space between raindrops,
The pause before the breath,
The rise of that sweet stillness
That brings my heart to rest. 

Come fill me with an empty hall.
Nourish me with peace. 
The silence just before applause
Sets my soul at ease. 

Review: The Wolf of Oren-yaro by K.S. Villoso

A mass murderer's daughter, abandoned wife, and Queen of a divided land: the perfect catalyst for war. Now she must stop the ruin she helped create, but how do you fight what you are fated to fail? 

"I murdered a man and made my husband leave the night before they crowned me." 

Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien's life unfolded like a storybook. The shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart, her marriage to Rayyel, the son of her father's rival, spoke of peaceful days to come. 

But all storybooks must end. Rayyel's sudden departure before their reign began created fractures that left the land as divided as ever.

4 of 5 stars

The Wolf of Oren-yaro is an engaging read in a fully realized, complex world of varied Asian-inspired cultures and nations. In the story, some tribes are less "civilized" because they think magic is evil.

Talyien is queen of such a nation, and she has to travel outside her homeland in an attempt to meet with her estranged husband. Their wedding united two warring countries, and they were supposed to rule together. But five years ago, her husband abruptly left, and she's ruled their court in solitude since.

Afraid her advisors would not let her go, Talyien takes a small group of guards and leaves to find her husband, Rayyel, and bring him home. Far from Oren-yaro, in a foreign land she does not know, her plan gets thwarted when assassins intercede.

Now lost and alone, she has to endure many unqueenly hardships to seek allies and survive the schemes of her unknown enemies.

Will she find Rayyel? What would she say to him after all this time and distance? Can Talyien accept whatever part she played in his leaving?

Much is left unresolved at the end of the book, which I can only assume will continue to be explored through the series. This is an immersive story, told in 1st person through Talyien's POV. Nothing is clear cut for Talyien, and the feelings and decisions she must face grow continually more complicated. On top of the intricate politics, the story has true heart and a raw emotional journey.

You can find it here on Amazon or here on Goodreads.