Day 1 Legionnaire by Gilbert M. Stack
Welcome to March to Other Worlds—a 31-day exploration of some great fantasy and science fiction novels and series. I hope you’ll check in every day to comment on the stories if you’ve already read them or to tell us what you thought about them if you read them after today.
To open the march I’m going to start with my own series which pretty much inspired the event. Legionnaire is all about marching as Prefect Marcus Venandus and his loyal followers rush from one trouble spot to another to protect the border regions of their beloved Republic of Aquila. Aquila takes its inspiration from Rome in the two generations preceding the birth of the empire, but there is magic in this world and the legions have had to incorporate it to maintain their edge in these very dangerous times.
Here’s the series blurb:
Legionnaire is a gritty High Fantasy series set on the borders of the far-flung Republic of Aquila. While political in-fighting and scheming are the order of the day in the heart of the Republic, the borderlands are awash with dangers only kept in check by the might of the legions. Fell magics, savage peoples, and scheming empires all threaten the country Patrician Marcus Venandus has sworn to defend using his wits, military strategy and his small command of highly disciplined legionnaires.
Legionnaire has come a long way since its beginnings in the Fire Islands. Now with eight books published and a ninth book expected for April, the war in the Jeweled Hills is fully under way and getting increasingly nasty and dangerous. Amatista, friend of Marcus’ native Aquila, is about to be crushed by a coalition of jealous rivals and only Marcus stands between it and disaster. Yet Amatista is not united against the threat. Competing ethnic groups make every problem Marcus faces a hundred times more complicated, and even as Marcus struggles to bind the groups together for the common good, the mighty Qing Empire is pulling strings to use this new war as an opportunity to better position itself in its struggle for dominance with Aquila. If you’re looking for a military fantasy that’s a little different than the traditional knights in shining armor trilogy, why don’t you try Legionnaire?
If you’re interested in Legionnaire, why not join the discussion on my author page at Facebook?
Day 2 Shards of Light by William L. Hahn
Continuing our march through fantasy literature brings me to Shards of Light by William L. Hahn, which I believe is one of the best heroic fantasies on the market today. It’s set in and round the city of Cryssigens as it confronts a crisis of leadership. The emperor whom the city reluctantly serves has just been overthrown and replaced by a dwarven adventurer whom no elf wants to follow. To make matters worse, the new emperor had the utter gall to conclusively demonstrate that the former Overlord of the city was secretly leading a cult of demon worshippers. Now it’s time to pick a new Overlord who will determine whether or not the city will rediscover its peace and stability or erupt into chaos in a futile effort to gain its independence.
These four books are simply wonderful. As you would expect in heroic fantasy, there are great characters struggling to accomplish the near impossible. But the thing that sets Shards of Light apart from the typical fantasy trilogy is the remarkable distinctiveness with which Hahn draws his three primary characters. Captain Justin, Feldspar, the adrenalin-crazed stealthic (quite possibly the most unique hero in all of fantasy literature), and the mysterious priestess, Altieri, are each written in a different person (third, first, and second respectively) and this greatly personalizes their exceedingly different style adventures. I have never read anything quite like this before or since.
So if you love heroic fantasy and you haven’t read Shards of Light yet,
I strongly suggest you download a copy of The Ring and Flag and get reading.
If you’re interested in Shards of Light, why not join the discussion on my author page at Facebook?
Day 3 Atlas of the Serpent Men by Chris L. Adams
I think most fantasy readers have a soft place in their heart for Robert E. Howard’s Conan. He’s a character with a surprising amount of depth who has inspired dozens (if not hundreds) of authors to try their hand at penning a tale of the archetypal barbarian marching across the nations of his world.
In today’s offering, Chris L. Adams provides an excellent take on everyone’s favorite Cimmerian in a free tale titled, Atlas of the Serpent Men. It’s got all the action one expects from Conan, but it also captures the feel of that long ago era that was so important to the success of Howard’s original tales. To make matters even better, there’s a surprise piece of flash fiction at the end of the story that should delight every reader.
Adams is an expert on the Pulp Era and the flavor of those long ago stories comes through strongly in his own works. They’re like a cask of whiskey that’s aged for decades ready to be opened and this story is a great way to taste his work.
So if you'd like to rediscover your taste of Conan, why not try Atlas of the Serpent Men and join in the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 4 Heroically Challenged by P.T. McCordic
While we’re marching, why not trek into an excellent parody of the fantasy adventure, Heroically Challenged by P.T. McCordic? There are four things I really like about this novel. First is the world building. This is a story that really fits solidly in the LitRPG genre, but unlike most of those books it is not about a bunch of people playing a game (or trapped in a game). Instead its about people who live in a world where people can level up in a host of adventuring professions. McCordic actually found a way to make “ascending” make sense by having this new ability have entered the world alongside magic when the Blight started to devastate the land. Before this, there were no monsters, no magic, and no adventurers. Now, the new wizards of the world are trying to understand their newfound magic while the adventurers try and keep normal people alive.
Second, there’s an awful lot of humor in these pages. Most of it comes from the absurd situations they characters find themselves in, but a lot of it is generated by McCordic’s dry wit. It makes the whole book a lot of fun because you really don’t know what bizarre twist McCordic will inflict upon his helpless cast.
Third, the character Alyx was absolutely wonderful—so much so that I wish the book had started with his situation instead of that of the reluctant farmer, Erik. Erik’s not a bad guy, but he’s a little dry in the beginning where as Alyx has a gift for getting right into the middle of things from the moment he first appears on the page.
Finally, the thing that puts this book over the top is the absolute incompetence of the characters. They are the Stephanie Plumbs (inept bounty hunter from the Burg) of the fantasy world and their hopeless efforts added a lot to the overall humor of the story. Yet, at the same time, it was easy to empathize with them. They are all courageous, trying to do their part to save their world, but their inability to do even the simplest things without mishap makes their adventures priceless. To tell the truth, I wonder how many of us might find ourselves similarly challenged if we were forced to pick up a sword and try to chop a skeleton to pieces.
If you’re looking for something that takes a humorous look at the LitRPG genre, you should give Heroically Challenged a try. I know I’m looking forward to the sequel. In the meantime, why not join in the conversation about the book at https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 5 The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny
I doubt that there is any other character in fiction that does as much marching as Corwin, Prince of Amber. I first discovered him when I was in ninth grade and joined the Science Fiction Book Club. The club offered five-books-for-a-dollar to lure new members. I picked The Chronicles of Amber because it had a cool cover and the two volume set counted as one book. At the time I had never heard of Roger Zelazny, but after racing through the two-volume set, I would try and get my hands on everything he’d ever written. Yet even as I devoured his other works, I kept coming back to Amber. I’ve read the books a dozen times, listened to the audio version narrated by Zelazny, himself, played the RPG both in person and in an extended email version, composed my own stories imagining what would come next, and finally happily bought the e-book versions so I can continue to enjoy them again and again. This is one of the greatest adventure stories in science fiction and fantasy and if you haven’t yet read it you should stop reading this review right now and go get yourself a copy.
Like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Amber is really one novel broken into many parts, but unlike Tolkien’s masterpiece, Roger Zelazny took advantage of the publisher’s decision to present the work as five separate books to tell five different types of stories. Nine Princes in Amber is a Who Am I? tale. The Guns of Avalon is a straight adventure piece. The Sign of the Unicorn is about politics and intrigue. The Hand of Oberon is a story of manipulation. And finally The Courts of Chaos wraps up the adventure with an epic journey which completes the hero’s growth while simultaneously providing an exciting and highly satisfying ending.
So take a visit to Amber, or, if you’ve already read it, return as if you’re seeking out an old friend. In honor of March to Other Worlds, the Written Gems group on Goodreads has decided to discuss Nine Princes in Amber in early April. We’d love to have you drop in and join us.
You can find the discussion of Nine Princes in Amber at Written Gems: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/519247-written-gems In the meantime,why not pop over to my Facebook page and join in the discussion there: https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 6 Fierce Girls at War by Mike Adams
Marching to Other Worlds naturally brings military-themed fiction to mind and Mike Adams’ Fierce Girls at War is one of the best military SF series I’ve ever read. It holds its own with top series like David Weber’s Honor Harrington and John Ringo’s Troy Rising. Stylistically, it’s a mix of serious infantry action and behind the behind the scenes know how of a W.E.B. Griffin novel. The result is an often gritty, always fascinating, exploration of earth’s first colony and its run in with a peculiar alien species called the Rift.
In addition to the tight military action, politics plays a very important role in this series, but not the traditional high level presidential-style politics. In the Earth of the future, terrorism continues to be a significant problem and much of the anger of the terrorists is focused on the growing interstellar economy. Adams deftly uses this movement not only to establish the foundation of his series, but to add plausible tension at every level of the interstellar enterprise.
Another of the strengths of the series is the multiple points of views from which the reader gets to explore Earth’s first interstellar colony. Not only are their multiple POVs in the colony of New Hope, but Adams gets the reader into the nitty-gritty of life on a starship as the great ships transit the vastness of space. There is also usually a couple of chapters in each book grounded in the cast members still located on earth.
The cast is the greatest strength of the novel. Adams opens the series by introducing three generations of the O’Brien family. The matriarch, Kelly O’Brien, is in charge of firearms training for the NYC Police Department. Her children are almost preternaturally gifted marksmen, the beneficiaries of a training technique invented by their deceased father. Rick O’Brien and Sergeant Molly Bennett quickly run afoul of the Hassan Gul terrorist organization by killing several of the chief terrorist’s sons and are eventually forced to leave the planet to keep from being assassinated. From this very exciting beginning the whole series unfolds.
At New Hope Colony, Rick and Molly carve out a place of influence for themselves in the colonial logistics office while the alien Rift begin taking covert steps to reclaim the planet they feel the humans have stolen from them. The Rift are an advanced, economically focused, alien species with very little experience of war. They do their fighting with primitive mercenaries who are physically durable and are indiscriminate carnivores. Over the early books of the series, the reader watches the colony and an approaching starship begin to pick up hints that something is wrong, but not quite putting the facts together before the invasion begins in earnest.
From this moment forward, the series moves into overdrive, as the invasion advances, the colony struggles to respond, and Rick and Molly, together with a group of some fifty high school girls, find themselves marooned in the dangerous back country of New Hope Colony, hundreds of miles from civilization and unable to contact the colonial authorities for help. With their communications satellites rendered inoperative, the colony can’t even communicate with the starships slowly making their way into system. The already high tension continues to ratchet up as the war continues.
If you’re looking for a well-thought-out military sf series with plenty of action, you should take a look at Fierce Girls at War. You can also join the discussion at https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 7 Wearing the Cape by Marion G. Harmon
For our next series, we’re going to march into what I believe is the premier superhero series anywhere: Wearing the Cape by Marion G. Harmon. I first encountered this series through a free snippet (the first ten chapters or so of book #1) and the moment I finished I bought the full book and I haven’t stopped reading yet. I love it so much that I’ve also listened to it in audio format.
Wearing the Cape is the story of Astra—a young woman who undergoes her “breakthrough” when a supervillain drops an expressway on top of her car. She survives, but she can’t sit still waiting to be rescued when other people are dying all around her. So she pushes a few tons of concrete off of her vehicle and changes the world.
On the surface, that’s not very different than most superhero series out there. What makes Harmon’s books stand out head-and-shoulders above the rest is his attention to world building, continuity, and character development.
World Building: Wearing the Cape is the most realistic super hero world I’ve ever encountered. A lot of that realism is based on the politics Harmon has so carefully crafted. Marvel and DC have built their empires on the vigilante but he explicitly explores what the rest of us have always intuitively understood—there is no way the government would ever permit vigilantes to act the way they do in the comic books. In Harmon’s world, each state has developed its own policies regarding breakthroughs—and those policies seriously impact the ability and the willingness of supers to operate within their territory. And if that isn’t enough, Harmon shows a lot of sensitivity to how culture (like in Japan or New Orleans) would impact the breakthroughs and their relationships with the public and the authorities.
Continuity: Each novel builds seamlessly on what has come before. That’s important in and of itself, but Harmon is especially adept at finding ways to fix weaknesses that become apparent in earlier stories by enhancing, not destroying, his continuity. My favorite novel in the series, Recursion, cleverly reinterprets everything that happened in the early books in a way that strengthen the whole Wearing the Cape universe.
Character Development: On the most obvious level, this is simply making amazing and lovable characters that matter even after they’ve died. Harmon does this very well, but so do a lot of authors. But in the supers genre, the super abilities themselves also make a kind of character that often drives the plot and peoples’ actions, and Harmon develops the coolest of super powers both among his heroes and his villains. I never know what to expect when a new cape shows up on the scene. What’s more he’s found a way to incorporate supers with magical abilities and super science capabilities that doesn’t totally alter modern America from anything we can relate to.
So if you’re looking for a superhero series that gets it right every time unlike Marvel and DC, you should take a look at Marion G. Harmon’s Wearing the Cape. In the meantime you can read my reviews of the whole series here. And you can join in the conversation about Wearing the Cape on my Facebook Author's page here: https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 8 The Andorra Pett Series by Richard Dee
There are lots of different ways to explore the solar system and Richard Dee has chosen the whodunit as his vehicle of choice in the zany mysteries starring Andorra (Andi) Pett. Andi suffers from terminal niceness. She can’t be mean to people even when they do her wrong. Yet this quality is quite endearing and attracts to her a wonderful cast of loyal friends who would move heaven and earth to help her if she gets in trouble—which is all the time. You see, in addition to terminal niceness, Andi just can’t stop poking her finger into little mysteries which other people would definitely prefer to remain unsolved.
So if you enjoy a good mystery and would like to see it set in an exotic
locale, you should give Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café and Andorra
Pett on Mars a try. Dee plays fair with the clues so you have a genuine
chance to solve the mystery and his imaginings of the future make a lot of
sense, but mostly, these books are just an awful lot of fun.
Day 9 Run Like Hell by Elliot Kay
There’s a lot of marching—ur, walking in this next book as Elliot Kay’s cast of misfit antiheroes attempts to escape a dungeon ahead of the adventurers who are clearing it.
In Run Like Hell, Kay takes the current trend toward writing stories that are really simply roleplaying adventures and turns it on its head. The monsters are the good guys—but here’s the twist—they really are. Our “heroes” are a group of outcasts who band together to try and survive a group of adventurers who are overrunning the dungeon they are currently employed in. Most of the monsters in that dungeon are nasty bullies but our heroes are the ones who were getting kicked around by them so in addition to avoiding the adventurers they have plenty of trouble with their supposed allies. And of course, there are the legions of undead who inhabit the lowest levels of the dungeon (an old dwarf stronghold) who are a threat to everyone.
As the novel advances, Kay does an excellent job of drawing out the backstories of these misfits making them even more likable and sympathetic. He also shows us that they aren’t wimps. Their problems largely resulted from having no one to watch their backs in the survival of the fittest atmosphere of the barbaric monstrous society. We also learn that the humans, elves and dwarfs are not so likable either (or at least their governments aren’t). The humans have broken a treaty with the monster races that had kept the peace for three generations and appear to have done so for the basest of motivations—greed and racism. Even the adventurers (who would normally be the heroes of this tale) show themselves to be the worst kind of mercenaries.
This is a fun series all around and I look forward to the next installment. I’m particularly grateful that Kay avoided all the leveling up and character statistics that usually dominate this subgenre. The novel was much better for concentrating on story and characterization than on character sheets.
So if you can spare the time from looking over your shoulder to see if that group of adventurers is catching up with you, why not pop over to Facebook and join in the discussion of this great book: https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 10 City of Smoke and Mirrors by Nick PiersWhere Marion Harmon has created the most realistic super hero world I’ve yet encountered, Nick Piers has created a detective super hero series that is an extraordinary tribute to both Raymond Chandler and Batman. Not that Dilbert Pinkerton, mutated armadillo raised in a lab, is anything like Batman, but he is a hardboiled detective who could easily swap one liners with Sam Spade or Hammett’s Continental Op. Now add to that Piers’ beautiful gift for words—description and dialogue alike—perfect pacing and fascinating plot and you’ve got the makings of a great mystery. But it’s the super-powered cast that puts this book into the March-worthy category. And just think, when you finish City of Smoke and Mirrors you get to top it off with The Dame Was a Tad Polish.
Day 11 Morgaine by C. J. Cherryh
In the Morgaine series, C. J. Cherryh’s heroes literally travel to a new world in each novel, bringing pain and destruction to the inhabitants in their efforts to stop a large catastrophe striking all of human space. Like the Chronicles of Amber, I got the opening trilogy to this series as part of my initial membership in the Science Fiction Book Club. As I recall my mother had to sign off on my joining because of my age and she wasn’t happy about it, but she did it for me. (Thanks, Mom!) I stayed in the SFBC for the next ten or twelve years and bought hundreds of books from them, but those first ones stand out in my memory: A Heinlein Trio, The Chronicles of Amber, Riddle of Stars, and The Book of Morgaine. Each was at least a trilogy because I wanted to get my money’s worth, and oh did I get it. That was the single best dollar I have ever spent in my life!
Over the last four decades I’ve read dozens of Cherryh’s books and decided on Gate of Ivrel and its sequels for this event because they fit the theme so well. This is the story of the enigmatic, Morgaine, a cursed woman out of legend, and Vanye, who becomes bonded to her and her mission to save humanity by closing down a series of gates that can transport people through space and time. These gates offer the potential of great power, but they also have the potential to destroy civilizations if someone uses them to tinker with the past. A human civilization sent a company of soldiers through the gates to close them one after the other until there are no more. (So it’s a suicide mission because they will only discover that there are no more when they don’t come out the other side of the last gate.) Morgaine is the last (and possibly not the first generation) of those soldiers and her tale is amazing in no small part because the Gates offer power and the possibility of immortality and many fight her in her efforts to close them down.
Cherryh tells Morgaine’s story through the eyes of Vanye, the bravest man in literature who was ever condemned for cowardice. He is the epitome of honor and we watch him be tricked into serving Morgaine whom he loathes and fears as a witch who got ten thousand men killed a century earlier. Over the course of the book he grows to understand just how selfless and heroic his lady truly is. In doing so we watch him navigate a world in which none of his peers (save one) lives up to the ideals that he embodies. Cherryh’s greatest strength as an author has always been her ability to portray new and distinctive cultures in great detail but without exhausting the reader through long and tedious descriptions. Vanye is one of her better tools for accomplishing this. We learn about his people by contrasting his actions and motivations with those of everyone he encounters. I love this series and I bet you will too.
So if you're interested in amazing sf that reads like fantasy, why not drop over to my Facebook page and join in the discussion of Morgaine: https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 12 Dead Moon by Peter Clines
Zombies would normally be part of my Occult-tober event, but when they happen on the moon it seems to fit the March to Other Worlds just as well, so I’ve decided to make Peter Clines’ Dead Moon the focus of the twelfth day of this event.
In the future, the moon has become a massive cemetery with something like 16 million bodies interned there. A space elevator makes transportation to the moon really cheap and the notion that bodies buried on the moon don’t decompose appeals to a lot of rich people. So several cemeteries have sprouted on the moon and a new profession—caretaker—has developed to take care of the deceased.
On top of that, the moon is a tourist attraction with classes of rich students going to the moon instead of Disney World on elaborate field trips, not to mention business ventures, etc. So there are lots of potential victims for the coming zombie horde.
Matters begin in a pretty straightforward fashion. A meteor strike results in the undead beginning to rise and—very realistically I thought—no one believes it’s happening. Official reaction is extremely slow and further complicated by the fact that one of the first presumed victims of the zombies is the spoiled son of the company CEO.
Then things get really interesting. These zombies are not just mindless brain-seeking corpses. They have a disturbingly high level of cunning. They might even be smart.
I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises in the novel, so I’ll just say that the reader (with slightly more information than the characters) understands that there is more going on than the dead rising. Just what that is, however, is not immediately clear—even though Cline gives plenty of clues that I kicked myself for missing earlier in the book. This is a brilliantly plotted novel that also appears to be very well researched. I’m not an expert on the moon or conditions there, but the description of what a person goes through when exposed to the cold vacuum of space was riveting and totally believable. Even if the rest of the book had been terrible (and let’s be clear, it’s awesomely good) that one scene and it’s follow up chapter would have been worth reading the entire novel for.
Every time I thought I was approaching the natural end of the book, Clines shook things up and ramped the tension even higher. I’m proud to say I figured out a big chunk of how our heroes were going to deal with the final monstrous problem, but I’m not sure how much credit that should give me because I didn’t figure out that that particular problem was going to need to be solved until Cline hit me over the head with it.
I’d like to wrap up by noting that novels can be made or broken based on the skills of their narrators. Fortunately, Ray Porter has the kind of voice and cadence that could make the wandering dead stop and listen to him. He does a phenomenal job and it just makes a great book all the better.
If you’re looking for zombies in a new and interesting environment, you should listen to Dead Moon. You should also join the conversation at: https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 13 The Test of Fire by William L. Hahn
The Test of Fire is probably my favorite book by William L. Hahn. (I love Shards of Light an awful lot too, but The Test of Fire is a genuine standalone novel despite technically being a sequel to Plane of Dreams.) In this novel, Hahn proves that great writers do not need to have their heroes save the planet to construct a gripping tale. What it takes is fascinating, well-developed characters willing to risk everything they have for a cause they believe in. That’s the situation that Querlack finds himself in. He’s a retired adventurer who has invested the loot from his wilder days in a foef—a bit of mostly swampy land that doesn’t appear to have much of a future. A poor investment by any contemporary standard, made more so by Querlack’s determination to better the land for the sake of his peasants, not to milk it for every coin he can extract from it.
His neighbor, Sir Cran-Kalrith Pritaelseran, is a hard elf with a rigid sense of honor that basically comes down to the following—everyone exists to better him. He finds his new neighbor offensive and decides to continue a centuries old conflict and attempt to expand his own borders—a strategy he has used successfully on other neighbors. It’s a serious threat, but not the only one Querlack faces as he learns more and more about his new home.
This is a great book—made all the better by its primary focus on a relatively small territory. Hahn has always been capable of “painting” the master strokes of epic conflict—demons threatening his Lands of Hope. Now he proves he can be just as effective in small scale adventures and in doing so makes us cherish his characters all the more.
If you're looking for a new tale of heroic fantasy, why don't you join in the conversation here: https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 14 Redshirts by John Scalzi
Star Trek boldly marched to more new worlds than most series through a combination of television, movies, books, and comics. John Scalzi’s novel, Redshirts, is a laugh-out-loud parody of the original series through the eyes of the…well, redshirts—the expendable cast of extras who mostly die in horrific ways to drive home the point that the latest adventure is terrifyingly dangerous.
This novel is incredibly creative—no surprise for anyone familiar with John Scalzi’s writing—as the book focuses in on those all-too-expendable people. You see, they’ve figured out what going on an away mission means to them and they will do anything to keep from coming to the attention of the “stars” of their starship. But it’s not until one of the expendables decides to do something about the terrible situation he and his friends are in that the novel really gets trekking. Can an extra take over the show to stop it from killing off scores of people? That depends on just how well they’ve figured out the bizarre physics of this takeoff of the Star Trek universe.
You don’t have to be a Star Trek fan to appreciate Redshirts.
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Day 15 The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Like so many fantasy novels, there is a lot of marching in the Shannara series, so for the fifteenth day of the month I’ve decided to focus on The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks in honor of my father-in-law who ultimately sacrificed his life for his country when agent-orange-created-cancer finally killed him eleven years ago today.
The sequel to Terry Brooks’ famous Sword of Shannara, Elfstones is all about sacrifice. A mystical tree called the Ellcrys is responsible for holding demons away from the earth. After millennia of guarding the planet, the Ellcrys is dying and as a result all of civilization is threatened by a return of the demonic hordes. The only possible hope is for a young woman named Amberle, the only surviving chosen of the Ellcrys, to bathe a seed from the tree in the bloodfire and then return to her kingdom to replant the tree before the demons over run it. On the one hand we have a classic quest while on the other a powerful military campaign striving to keep the Ellcrys from being destroyed before Amberle can return to start a new one.
More than thirty years after first reading this novel, Amberle remains one of my favorite fantasy characters although frankly she does very little by modern standards to make their quest successful. The other principle female character, Eretria, is tougher, more physically courageous, and frankly smarter than the other characters in the novel. But Amberle is the only person who can save the world and when the choice is finally forced upon her she embraces a fate I found worse than death so that millions of people she would never meet could go on living.
That’s a pretty powerful story and we haven’t even taken into account
the huge military clash which features another of Terry Brooks most memorable
characters, Stee Jans, The Iron Man, and his army fighting to give Amberle
time to complete her quest to save them. No wonder I’ve remembered it so
vividly across the decades.
Day 16: Tunnel through Time by Lester Del Rey
We’re marching through more portals in Lester Del Rey’s Tunnel through Time. I first read this novel when I found a copy in my grade school library. It’s an adventure story geared toward a younger audience told from the perspective of Bob Miller. Bob’s father has invented a time portal through which his close friend, a paleontologist, travels 80 million years into the past. Unfortunately, the paleontologist doesn’t return when the portal is turned back on sparking a crisis. After a couple of days of checking the equipment and worrying, 17-year-old Bob, and Pete, the teenaged son of the paleontologist, are chosen to go after him and find out what went wrong.
Obviously this decision on the part of the scientific team that invented the portal should require a substantial amount of disbelief by the reader, but it’s actually easy to get past as the boys begin their adventure. They find Pete’s father but the portal is damaged when a dinosaur stumbles into it and getting home quickly becomes a major problem. They can’t generate enough power to bring the three travelers back to the present in one jump. They can’t even generate enough power to let them jump together. So we get to visit more than the Cretaceous period. It was exciting when I was ten and it is still exciting now.
A final note of caution. Evidently, Lester Del Rey never read Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder even though it was published 14 years before this novel. Bob and his friends shoot and kill everything. They eat dinosaur eggs. They basically take no care to preserve the past at all and Del Rey never tries to deal with that potential problem. Now I personally think that if stepping on a butterfly could change the results of an election eighty million years later, than just breathing the air would have been a problem, but it still seems like Del Rey should have at least addressed the issue by throwing out some theory that the past is robust and can’t be affected by what time travelers are doing. That being said, I remembered these scenes vividly forty years later and especially the fate of the little girl, Gina. That’s saying quite a lot about a novel. This isn’t a great work of literature, but it’s a story that for me has withstood the passage of time.
If you're one of the millions who read this story growing up, or if you're thinking about doing it now, why not join the discussion on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 17 The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
For the 17th Day of March, we’re returning to the moon and one of Robert A. Heinlein’s all-time best novels and his most detailed exploration of his libertarian ideals. The moon is being used as a prison colony for mostly political prisoners from Earth. It’s a one-way sentence because after six months or so on the moon’s surface, physical changes to a human’s body chemistry make it impossible for people to return to earth and live a full and active life. However, three generations later, 90% of the people on the moon are the descendants of deportees—not actual prisoners even though the Lunar Authority continues to treat them that way.
The moon holds an important position in the Earth’s economy providing food for the mother planet’s 11 billion people. The market for lunar grain is completely controlled by the Lunar Authority which sets the price it will pay for grain and the lunar ice which provides the water to nurture the plants. In three generations it has never raised those rates even while the cost of production rises rapidly and the prices it charges individual Lunies for power, water, air, food, etc. continues to rise. It provides no genuine services (such as police protection or education) but exerts iron control over the lives of the people of Luna.
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a tale of reluctant rebellion forced upon the inhabitants of the moon when they discover that the growing demands of the earth and the Lunar Authority for grain, coupled with the decreasing availability of the resources required to produce that food, have put the colonies into a downward cycle toward food riots and cannibalism. This discovery is made through the calculations of the most interesting character in the novel—Mike, the first (and only) self-aware computer in existence. Mike is the computer of the Lunar Authority, but he has hidden his “awakening” from the Authority because he finds their programmers “stupid”. They are not interested in conversations, but in programming him for routine tasks. The narrator of the story is a computer technician who is a third generation Lunie who has the advantage of being “not stupid”. He likes, Mike. Quickly understands what Mike is and accepts him as a friend, not trying to use him or to “fix” him. When Mike comes to understand the threat the Lunar Authority represents to Mannie (and two other friends) he joins (and in fact leads) the revolution to free Luna.
The novel is told from the perspective of Mannie many years after the successful revolution. Mannie was non-political at the start of the book. He has a steep learning curve if he is to save his family and friends so there is a lot of political philosophy in this book as Mannie comes to understand what a revolution requires and what dangers governments represent to the freedom of individuals. There is also a lot of exploration of alternate ways of structuring society (for example, family units) which helps to make the lunar society more vivid. These people may be transplanted earth men and women, but they have become something remarkably distinct from their terrestrial counterparts.
The novel is wonderful on multiple levels and well worth reading, but its ending is not truly a happy one. Why not join the discussion at https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 18 The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin
You don’t have to move anywhere to discover new worlds in The Lathe of Heaven by Ursuala Le Guin who is best known for her Earth Sea Trilogy. The Lathe of Heaven is for a more mature reader dealing with themes like responsibility, hubris, compassion and love.
When the novel opens George Orr is an unassuming man with a problem. He’s convinced his dreams can change reality and he’s taking illegal drugs to keep him from hurting people while he sleeps. He’s put under the care of Dr. William Haber whose skepticism quickly disappears as he begins to unethically abuse Orr’s gift through hypnotism and an experimental machine to remake the world into a better place where his own importance is recognized and the big problems—war, racism, overpopulation, etc.—don’t exist anymore. But Orr’s power works through the unconscious mind and Haber never quite gets the results he wants—not that he blames himself. Success is due to his genius. Failure is the fault of the man he’s using his legal hold over to coerce into changing the world.
Orr’s effort to get legal help introduces the third and most interesting character to the story. Heather LeLache is a lawyer who becomes interested in Orr’s case and actually sees the world rewritten while she observes his therapy. The shared experience brings Orr and LeLache closer but can their growing friendship—hidden from Haber—survive an ever-rewritten world?
The ending of this novel is a painful one filled with growth and horror,
but not without hope. This one will make your head spin.
Day 19 The Garrett Files by Glen Cook
It seems unfair that Glen Cook should be the master of both the fantasy warfare genre (The Black Company) and the fantasy detective novel (The Garrett Files) but he undeniably is. Of the two genres, I suspect that the fantasy detective series is the most difficult. Not only does he have to have memorable characters whom the readers can love to cheer for (and against), exciting action scenes, magic that enhances the story without overwhelming it, and a believable fantasy back drop, he has to come up with a credible, multi-layered mystery. Cook does this in The Garrett Files by adopting the Nero Wolfe template with his character the Dead Man (four centuries in the grave but not ready to move on yet) playing Wolfe and his hero, Garrett, filling the shoes of Archie Goodwin (drinking beer instead of milk, but otherwise pretty much the same). Add in a growing cast of memorable friends and you have the recipe for outstanding mysteries in a remarkably fresh setting.
You can read my reviews of the first few books of the series here: https://www.gilbertstack.com/the-garrett-files
Day 20 Maelstrom by Peter Cawdron
Worlds collide in Peter Cawdron’s Maelstrom—a book I almost didn’t buy but am now very glad I did. On the surface, Maelstrom struck me as a run-of-the-mill story of beings and creatures passing between parallel earths, but it proved to be much better than that.
The novel is broken into three parts. The first is told from the POV of Elizabeth Cali, an American doctor working in rural China. Security guards at her medical center have a violent conflict with a tribesman from the nearby desert. The tribesman has brought in a sick elderly man and for reasons that aren’t immediately apparent, the guards are fighting with the younger tribesman who performs feats of amazing strength and basically wins the battle. The doctor calms him down, gets security to back off, and starts to help the sick man who is dying of heart problems. She realizes that both tribesmen have deformities. Neither can speak, their skulls are elongated, and more. She gets x-rays and realizes that both are Neandertals. Excited that she thinks she has discovered a possible Neandertal tribe that has survived into the present day, she investigates further and learns that the situation is much more bizarre than that. The Neandertal have been passing from their world into ours for centuries and there is frightening evidence that more worlds are colliding with ours, opening up passes between them in a manner that will eventually destroy our planet.
The second portion of the story follows a NYC cop, named Mark, and a jogger in Central Park who are caught in the next collision of planets and transported to a world where Homo Sapiens does not appear to have risen and prehistoric lions, saber tooth tigers, and more roam what on our planet is NYC. This is both the best section of the novel and the one that requires the greatest suspension of disbelief—it seems highly improbable that for the first time a portal will open in a major city just as Dr. Cali was discovering that the portals exist. That small problem aside, I was extremely impressed by how the author, Peter Cawdron, handled this dislocation and the terrible problem of trying to help a woman trapped in the rubble of NYC buildings that collapsed when they were pulled onto this new planet. This is a painfully powerful section that had me on the edge of my seat.
The third section follows many of the people introduced earlier in the novel as they move through the portal (called a maelstrom) in China to try and figure out how to save our planet. This seemed hopeless to me when they started, but again, Cawdron has brilliantly thought through the situation that caused the maelstrom and I was totally satisfied with his conclusion. This is among the very best of parallel universe stories that I’ve ever had the pleasure to read and the three narrators in the audio book do a magnificent job of bringing the text to life. I’m very glad I bought the story and I’ll be looking up other books by Peter Cawdron.
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Day 21: Oblivion Threshold by J. R. Mabry and B. J. West
In Oblivion Threshold, J. R. Mabry and B. J. West put a twist on the classic space war for the survival of humanity. Actually, they put two twists on it and both are really good. First, the alien Prox are just weird. They ride on the outside of their spaceships and scavenge solar systems for all of their collectable metals. There are a lot of creepy images associated with this trait, but the best is the sound of alien creatures landing on human spaceships and starting to carve them open so they can harvest their metals. Humans aren’t food here—they’re just in the way.
The second twist is the accidental solution that might let humanity survive these creatures. Captain Jeff Bowers is killed while spying on the Prox but a second group of aliens—a sort of group intelligence who have transcended above physical bodies—intervene and reconstruct him. In doing so, they accidentally show him how to translocate objects across lightyears of space instantaneously. If Bowers can master this power, humanity will be able to bolster its defense against the Prox by fully utilizing all of its military assets while jumping them around space to keep them out of harms way. Problem—the second set of aliens don’t want Jeff using his powers this way. They seem to think that there’s a decent chance he’ll accidentally destroy the universe.
So Oblivion Threshold develops two very different, but totally intertwined, storylines involving two different alien species—and it is fascinating watching the cast try and sort through their problems. I do have a couple of nitpicky complaints, but I want to stress that these didn’t harm my overall enjoyment of the novel. First, and most importantly, the obvious solution to the second alien race’s fear is for them to help humanity defeat the Prox by doing the translocation for them. They might have said no, but they needed to be asked. Second, I found it unlikely that the one military commander whose ship successfully fought and escaped the Prox would have later been risked in an experiment that any captain could have handled. It seems to me that her expertise would have been tapped to prep humanity for its next encounter with the hostile aliens.
Those complaints aside, this is a really fun book that people who love a bit of military space opera are likely to enjoy.
Oblivion Threshold authors Mabry and West have made the novel free on Amazon from March 20-24. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B083ST56P6/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0
The second book in the Oblivion series is selling at 99 cents on Amazon until March 30. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B083TB72PR?notRedirectToSDP=1&ref_=dbs_mng_calw_1&storeType=ebooks
Why not the join the discussion at https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 22 A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
A Princess of Mars reads as a pretty straight forward adventure piece. Earthman John Carter finds himself on the planet Mars, meets the woman of his dreams, and moves the Martian equivalent of heaven and earth to rescue her from a horrible fate. Along the way there are loyal and heroic friends, terrifying monsters and epic fights and battles. When you sum it up like this, the novel doesn’t sound that ground breaking, and yet it has inspired the dreams of generations of readers and many of those readers (such as Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Jack Vance) grew up to inspire even more readers of all ages.
This book is also important to western culture in general. First off, it’s inspired two movies, numerous comic books, and an amazing amount of both fan fiction and authorized sequels by ERB’s estate. It’s also an important piece of literature in its own right as it (and its many sequels) popularized the science fiction subgenre called the Planetary Romance.
Planetary Romance is not a term that’s used a lot today, but anyone who’s seen Avatar knows exactly what this subgenre is all about. The hero (or heroine) encounters adventure on a foreign planet and moves heaven and earth because of love. Another prominent modern example is the Planet Hulk and World War Hulk comic series. Classic examples can be seen in Buck Rogers, Adam Strange, Dune, Pern, the World of Tiers, Darkover, and the Hainish Cycle.
So how does A Princess of Mars stack up today? In my opinion it’s one of ERB’s absolutely best works. He will later be accused of being formulaic in his prose, but that charge cannot be brought to bear against this work because it’s his first. What we have instead is a pretty straight forward adventure story with awesome heroes in the form of John Carter and Tars Tarkas, one of the best pets in the history of fiction, and the titular heroine who—while not a fully formed modern heroine—breaks early twentieth century gender expectations both as a stateswoman and as a selfless defender both of John Carter and her nation, Helium.
If you’re interested in this book, stop by
Written Gems at Goodreads. This was the first book we discussed in that forum
and it’s never too late to make a comment or ask a question. You can find
Written Gems here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/519247-written-gems
Day 23: Poor Man’s Fight by Elliott Kay
Marching to Other Worlds brings to mind military fiction, so I think it’s time we look at another great series. Poor Man’s Fight by Elliot Kay has everything you need in military sf—great action and memorable characters. It also has the extras that take a book from being fun to great—convincing politics, really rotten bad guys, and a setting that helps build the credibility of the storyline rather than burning it away. Let me start with that setting.
The key to understanding Kay’s future society is debt. The major interstellar corporations have succeeded in basically taking over human space by corrupting politicians and effectively tricking the population into enslaving themselves through various kinds of debt. It starts when children are actually children being charged for their education and continues throughout their lives with a thousand tricks to keep the debt rising no matter how hard people work to pay it off. And if that isn’t bad enough, the whole system is secretly rigged to make certain that nobody can actually get out from under the corporate thumb and take control of their own lives.
Enter the solar system of Archangel—ninth largest economy in the Union—whose newly elected leaders have constructed a very dangerous plan to free their people from what is effectively debt slavery. This ongoing effort is important to the entire series, but it’s just getting ratcheted up in this first book. It’s driving the action, but it’s mostly behind the scenes making you wonder which of the many bad things that are happening to and around Archangel are really the result of nefarious corporate efforts to stop Archangel from freeing itself and its citizens.
While all of that is happening in the backdrop, Kay spends most of his energy focusing on Tanner Malone. He’s an incredibly bright kid who gets shafted by his parents and the system and ends up tanking on the all-important Test that determines how much money each student owes as he graduates high school. Feeling he is out of options, Tanner joins the navy as a way to start paying down his debt and getting some help with college. The early portion of the novel is a boot camp story that was surprisingly interesting despite the fact that I’ve probably read a couple of hundred other boot camp stories over the years. It’s entertaining and really helps us get into Tanner’s head. The young man really isn’t fit for the military because he really hates the idea of hurting other people. He’s not a pacifist, but he’s really too nice for his own good. Helping him come to the point where he understands on an emotional level why militaries sometimes have to hurt people is a great set up for the crises he faces in the rest of the book.
I don’t want to put any spoilers into this review, but I will say that the crises—especially the final one—are exceedingly well done. Tanner accomplishes things that should have had me closing my book and saying—no, that’s too much—and yet I really didn’t have any problem believing anything that happened. That not only requires great writing, it demands superb characterization. Something that has always been a strength of Kay’s novels.
Day 24 The Reaper of Iremia by Kenneth Rocher
Marching back to fantasy, we have The Reaper of Iremia by Kenneth Rocher. It’s an action-packed fantasy novel set in a very modern-feeling city that seems to have been modeled on the medieval Italian city states. It’s got strong characters and an involved mystery with a lot of surprises. But the thing I liked the most about it was the big bad’s magic item. I don’t want to give away the coolest part of the plot, but this item was an extremely creative idea that I don’t remember coming across before in the hundreds (thousands?) of fantasy novels I’ve read. And it creates a truly fascinating problem for our heroes as they attempt to save the day.
So if you like mystery, mayhem, betrayal, action, a little vigilantism, all culminating in a fight to save everyone, you should take a look at The Reaper of Iremia.
If you're interested in this book, you can join the discussion on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 25 The Singularity Trap by Dennis E Taylor
Dennis E. Taylor is probably best known for his Bobiverse trilogy (which rumor has it may get more novels) but I thought I’d take a look at one of his other sf adventures, The Singularity Trap, for our March 25th spotlight. This is a remarkable novel with a strange twist on first contact. The aliens arrived well before humanity existed, prepared a “gift” (the Singularity Trap of the title), and left again. The story picks up with the human mining crew who are going to discover the aliens’ parting present.
This is where the story moves into high gear and gets incredibly interesting. The alien gift begins to transform one of the mining crew members and threatens his ability to control his own mind and body. This naturally scares the authorities of his nation and heightens the tensions in a futuristic cold war. There are issues of strategic defense, human rights, and mob mentality to deal with. At the same time there is an extraordinary mystery to be uncovered—what are the aliens, what do they want, and why are they messing with our hero’s body?
As we move toward the finale of the novel, our hero must carefully outthink just about every side in the book as he struggles to find a path through the complex future maze that leads to the survival of humanity. This is a thoroughly enjoyable, thought provoking, science fiction novel that took me in directions I never expected to go.
One again, narrator Ray Porter really shines as he brings the cast of this novel to life. He’s one of those narrators who really adds value to the books he reads by making each and every character distinct and vivid.
If you're interested in this book, you can join the discussion on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 26 Optional Retirement Plan by Chris Porteau
Optional Retirement Plan by Chris Porteau walks us into a different kind of world—the world of mental illness. Oh, it’s also a great sf adventure involving travel in the solar system, but that’s not what I found most intriguing about it. No, this is a novel about a hitman whose boss thinks he’s slipping into Alzheimer’s and wants to “permanently retire” him before he can spill any more of the company’s secrets. To make matters even worse, the hitman, Stacks Fischer, isn’t sure if he’s really sick. So while bounty hunters and corporate assassins are coming after him, he’s trying to figure out if he’s actually losing the ability to think the way he always has.
Stacks Fischer is a fascinating protagonist. He should not be likable, but he truly is. He should not be sympathetic, but you can’t help but feel for him as he struggles to find out what’s wrong with his mind. He has a code of honor and a sense of—well not justice, but something remarkably close to it that makes him easy to cheer for. It helps that narrator R.C. Bray has the perfect voice for Fischer, bringing his pain to life as he struggles to keep living for just a few more days.
If you're interested in this book, you can join the discussion on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GilbertStackAuthor/
Day 27 Planetside by Michael Mammay
Michael Mammay is staking out a reputation for constructing sophisticated mysteries that intertwine the interests of his futuristic military and the corporations that supply them with their hardware. His novel, Planetside, caught my interest from the very first pages and didn’t let it go until I’d read the final word. Colonel Carl Butler is getting ready to retire when his old friend and the second most powerful general in his branch of the military asks him to travel to the planet, Cappa, halfway across the galaxy to investigate the disappearance of an important politician’s son. It actually seems like a pretty straight forward assignment except that at Cappa, no one will cooperate with him. And Butler does need help. After all, the injured young man was evacuated from the battlefield by a shuttle but the hospital claims he never arrived and the shuttle pilots can’t be questioned because they are conveniently dead. As if that isn’t bad enough, all the records that might trace what happened have disappeared—and all of that is BEFORE the mystery gets complicated.
This is both a great story and a great mystery. Carl Butler is a superb character—an old colonel with a heroic past he won’t discuss and very little in the way of diplomatic skills. He’s a bulldog who won’t stop once he has a mission and yet he also has a peculiar sense of honor and duty that becomes very important to the resolution of the case.
Mammay plays fair with the reader throughout this book. I don’t say that just because I figured out the core of the mystery halfway through the novel. There are plenty of clues, many of them coming in the middle of shocking surprises. The ending was powerful, made total sense, and yet, I didn’t see it coming. Anyone who likes a good mystery will enjoy this novel.
Finally, narrator R.C. Bray, really enhances an already superb novel with his spot-on depiction of Butler’s voice—a totally credible aging colonel who lacks patience for most of the BS happening around him.
Day 28: Team Newb by M. Helbig
Here’s another example of the increasingly popular LitRPG subgenre. I think this sort of novel works best when it mixes its action in the game with events in the real world. Helbig has found a fairly unique way of handling this interaction by having his main character trying to find out why he was murdered—not to mention get justice for the crime.
Resolving this situation is not easy for Lucas because, let’s face it, he starts out as one really stupid player with no impulse control whatsoever. But as you would expect, he matures as the game is played which in practical terms means he gets smarter through a believable story arc. This shows up in his dealing with his murderer, but also in his interactions with other players in the game and in his ability to resolve the many problems he encounters in the game.
Other subplots also involve real world problems. One of the players is looking for his son who has been lost in the game while a different player has some strange interactions going on which appear to be connected to life outside of the digital realm. Lucas has to put a lot of the brain power he’s developing through playing into solving the mysteries that these two players bring to the game.
Which leads me to another place where Helbig excels. While he includes tons of damage counts and hit point checks in his prose, most of the important battles are not solved by in game skills but by clever tactics and problem solving. I suspect that if I were playing the game, this would annoy me, but as a reader it made for a much more enjoyable experience.
If you like LitRPGs and are looking for one that is both clever and humorous, you should give Team Newb a try. And if you prefer to read in audiobook format, you’re in for a very special treat, because Will Hahn has delivered another superbly theatrical performance.
Day 29 The Hunter and the Sorcerer
As the March nears its end, I’m excited to return to the works of Chris L. Adams. If you will recall back on Day 3, I spotlighted a Conan short story written by Adams which showcased his love for the pulp era of adventure stories. In his newest book, published just a few days ago, Adams takes that love of grand adventure stories and pours it into a short novel that plays homage to the old masters while producing a thoroughly modern tale.
Bru the Hunter’s whole life is falling apart. Gla, the worthless fire-feeder, has just tricked the tribe into thinking he killed Tysk, the mighty tiger, and now Bru’s love Oona is to be married to Gla. To make matters worse, when Bru objects, the tribe turns on him. Outcast, Bru doesn’t think things could possibly get worse, but he is about to discover just how wrong a hunter can be.
Kidnapped by an alien creature from an extraordinarily advanced society, Bru will be tortured into becoming something radically different than he began—an extraordinarily intelligent well-educated man. And that is where this story truly begins for to return to his people and the woman he loves, Bru is going to have to go head to head with the galaxy’s most advanced civilization. They haven’t got a chance!
I found a lot more in this novel than the simple adventure story I thought I was reading. So brace yourself! While there’s plenty of adventure, you’ll also find heaping helpings of culture clash, hypocrisy and prejudice, and ultimately you’ll be forced to think about what it means to be human.
I’d also like to point out that the multi-talented Adams painted the cover to this novel himself—but did the idea for the novel come first or the painting? With someone as creative as Adams, even he might not know the answer.
Day 30 Judgement’s Tale: The Complete Omnibus by William L. Hahn
William L. Hahn sets all of his novels in his Lands of Hope, a fascinating collection of countries that are defined mostly by their respect for a set of nearly deific heroes who drove off the forces of Despair three thousand years earlier. That Despair still exists is a matter of faith for most, but in practice, as in modern life, many do not behave as if they believe that Despair could ever truly threaten them again. As everyone reading this will suspect, they are about to discover that they are wrong.
Judgement’s Tale is a towering work of fiction that reads much better as a complete work than it does in smaller installments. The story is built upon the consummate outsider, Solemn Judgement, a fascinating young man of deep convictions who may be the only person in the Lands of Hope who comes from outside both Hope and Despair. This unique status permits him to see the weaknesses in the lands around him that its long-term inhabitants are blind to. That blindness is the crack that the forces of Despair intend to exploit to reignite the millennia-old war and Solemn Judgement is the best “hope” to stop that from happening. Yet Solemn has major flaws that greatly hinder his efforts to awaken the population of Hope and that makes his tale endlessly fascinating.
I first encountered Solemn Judgement in Hahn’s Shards of Light series and absolutely loved the enigmatic character. But there are many more intriguing characters in this story—a prince struggling to keep to the path of honor and avoid a senseless war, a band of adventurers seeking their fortune through the extermination of evil, and an intriguing knight whose religious devotions mask a serious problem in the city of Conar. This is an impressive work of fantasy that deserves to be taken alongside the great tales of Donaldson and Jordan. You won’t regret reading it.
Day 31 Winterhaven by Gilbert M Stack
March has come and gone amazingly quickly and as I began with one of my fantasy series, I thought I’d end the journey with the other. Winterhaven has been a labor of love for me going back to my senior year in college. After about six years of tinkering with it, I finally wrote the first draft while I was researching my dissertation in England. That draft led to many more and more than twenty years later I finally finished it and wrote two sequels that have been my honor to share with all of you.
In its largest sense, Winterhaven is the story of the last outpost of the Ardenesse who rallied to the call of their God, Vapin, and left their world to wage The War of Night in their current land. They have had their share of victories, defeats and betrayals, but now, centuries later the descendants of those original men and women think that the great deeds of their world are confined to the long past Age of Heroes. In Winterhaven, they begin to find out that they are very wrong and if my heroes and heroines survive the struggles of the first few books they will realize that the fate of many worlds will ultimately depend on the strength and courage of the last descendants of the Ardenesse and their Duchy of Winterhaven.