A MelanieM Review: The Oracle’s Golem (The Oracle #3) by Mell Eight

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Cover - The Oracles FlameOnce Golem was the proud Dragon of the Earth.  Then the Oracle’s plans for him left him broken and despairing.  In his pain and rage, he left the society he was born into, melding in all ways, including physically, with the mountain they live on. And there the Golem hid deep within its recesses, paying little notice to the passing of years or the actions of the people he came from.

Then one day a child falls asleep in his lap …

That child is Lichen, the gifted problem child of the Earth Caste and he is followed Marl, a lowly Earth caste member who is chosen to look after Lichen and keep him out of trouble.  Marl came out of his testing with only brown dirt and a seed on his back, instead of the more impressive and powerful designs that would have boosted his status and gifts.  Marl has been content to garden and use the gifts he has in gentle ways, including looking after a lonely, intelligent child easily bored with his lessons.

Prodded by the attentions of Lichen and Marl, Golem slowly returns to human form and awareness of the struggles of the people around him.  When the truth of Golem is revealed,  it just might make Marl choose between his duty or the person he has come to love: Oracle or Golem?

Once more Mell Eight has delivered an enchanting fairy tale in The Oracle series, an imaginative and wholly captivating universe.  The Oracle’s Golem is a prequel (in a manner) to The Oracle’s Flame (The Oracle #1)  and The Oracle’s Hatchling (The Oracle #2) as the events that take place in this tale start off in the years preceding those stories.  In fact, Golem is the prime figure in the main drama of The Oracle’s Hatchling, something that the reader will easily recognize early on.

Every part of Mell Eight’s enchanting universe is fascinating and fully developed to include rich details and layers of mythology.  Four castes of Elementals, and which caste you belong to is decided at a ritual testing ruled over by the Oracle.  Where a person falls within the  Caste they are ordained for is revealed by a  tattoo or pattern that appears on their back, much like a tattoo.  Only these tattoos change and come to life.  At the pinnacle of each Caste is a Dragon, whether it be the Dragon of Fire (first story), the Dragon of Ether (second story), the Dragon of Water (still to come) and the Dragon of Earth which is featured here.  Then the levels (and people) drop in status and power and are given names accordingly.

Here is another brilliant element of this author’s universe, the names.  The name corresponds to a element of each person’s caste.  All Earth caste members have names that come from the Earth.  Marl’s name (he is a lowly caste member)  describes the clay and calcium deposits that fertilize soil.  Lichen?  That’s a composite of a number of organisms and has many uses so, yes, high on the scale.  I love how inventive this author is when it comes to naming the characters.  And then there is those fascinating patterns that appear on the back proclaiming each person’s gift and future.  Poor Marl…only a field of brown dirt and a seed, a pattern that makes all the others looks down on him with distain or ignore him all together.  If you find yourself a tad gleeful with anticipation when pondering that design, then this is the book for you.    There are so many layers of meaning to be uncovered and appreciated here.  This is a fairy tale universe for all who love champions, worlds in peril, and unexpected heroes.

Mell Eight’s narrative will draw you in completely into this world and Golem’s pain.  You can almost feel the weight of the earth on top of him as he sits, so a part of the mountain that his appearance is that of stone and soil, just another boulder for a lonely, bored child would use to climb and sit on when escaping his lessons.   Which is exactly how Lichen finds him.   We move from past to present and back again easily, sliding through the years and memories of the characters.

I really have only two issues with this story.  One, it felt that the ending came a little too quickly, and secondly, that rushed feeling made it feel a tad incomplete.  I could have wished for a chapter wherein it seemed like only pages, a slight flaw in my opinion.  But the world and stories Mell Eight has created for The Oracle series is far too rich and complex to let such a small issue pull it down.

You could read these stories out of order but you might find yourself saying things like “pirates? where did the pirates come from?”.  That won’t happen if you read them in the order the author has written and released them.  I love this series and eagerly await the next installment.  Pick them all up today, including The Oracle’s Golem.  It’s the perfect present to give yourself for the holidays.

Cover artist London Burden does a great job of branding this series with the stylized dragons on the covers.  Love it.

Sales Links:   Less Than Three Press  (preorder now)            All Romance (ARe)      links to come      amazon             buy it here

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: January 21st 2015 by Less Than Three Press
original titleThe Oracle’s Golem
ISBN139781620045152
edition languageEnglish
seriesThe Oracle #3

Book in The Oracle series:

Review: The Oracle’s Hatchling (The Oracle #2) by Mell Eight

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Oracle's HatchlingLing was 18, old enough to be tested no matter his parentage.  Yet the Masters barred his way into the testing chamber when he arrived at the choosing ceremony.  forcing him to steal his way into the Oracle’s chambers.  It wasn’t his fault that his birth killed his mother, but that didn’t stop everyone at the Monastery from reviling him nonetheless. But when Ling is tested, the mark on his back is that of an egg instead of one of the four castes, leaving Ling in a worse position than when he went in.  Mocked and hated and now further separated by his tattoo, Ling obeys the Oracle when she sends him off to find employment and a life in Altnoia.

Once Ling has settled into life in the castle’s kitchen, he accidentally falls into a plot to overthrow King Edan and the Oracle who supports him.  Behind the plot is the son of the man who killed the royal family and  usurped the throne. The twin princes and their dragon killed his father and now Prince Damarion lives alone, angry and plotting in the dungeons below.  But Ling understands the pain behind the mask that  Damarion wears and starts up an unexpected friendship with the vengeful prince.  Neither man is prepared for the relationship that follows.  And where it will lead them only fate and the Oracle knows.

Not quite a continuation of the first story,  The Oracle’s Hatchling, the tale of Ling, the Hatchling of the title, is set after the events that took place in The Oracle’s Flame.  The twin Princes and Dragon now hold the throne of Altnoia but the effects of the treachery by the King’s brother continues to spread throughout the kingdom.  At its center is the son of the man who killed his brother and most of his brother’s family.  Now an orphan, Prince Damarion is the focus of all the rage and hatred the people of Altnoia felt towards his father.  Brooding, sulking, and somewhat petulant, he still remains a sad figure, one who has isolated himself from Prince Edan and the other residents of the castle.

Mell Eight manages to take two young men, different in status but not in the manner in which they both were made outsiders by events outside their control, and make them both realistic and worthy of our compassion.  Ling has suffered the worst, he lost his mother and then any place he might have had in the caste societies that live within the Monastery.  Constantly taunted and belittled, his only hope for something better, goes seriously awry or so the author makes us think.  The descriptions of the relationship between Ling and the Oracle are tender and bittersweet, almost guaranteed to bring forth a tear or two. And the moment in which Ling leaves the Monastery and everything he knows for the outside for the first time is something we can relate to, that first step into an unknown future that requires you to leave home maybe forever.

Damarion is another recognizable character.  And by that he feels like that older teen, twenty something young person, who is angry over the things that have happened in his life, things he had no control over and has acted impulsively to the detriment of all.  Our papers are filled full of these young men.  And Damarion’s anger, and sense of indignant self- righteousness and pain makes him an easy target and tool. Again we can understand his behavior and general outlook. Concentrating on only two characters made Ling and Damarion more fleshed out then the Princes because I felt we got to know these characters better. And how Mell Eight brings those two together seems just right as does the communication that starts the relationship between them.

In The Oracle’s Hatchling, we see the kingdom from the viewpoint of those that serve the most basic necessities of the castle.  The cooks, and household staff which is a nice contrast with those scenes where we are reunited with Dragon and his Princes.  There are some wonderful action scenes.  But my favorite? That has to be when we finally see what is behind that egg on Ling’s back.  That is so magical, so imaginative, that as much as I liked the entire book, that made the story for me because it was so unexpected.

Mell Eight intends to write a story about each caste in the Monastery and maybe one more that contains a surprise.  I really don’t know how she will top the surprise in this one.  I can’t wait.  The first story is obviously the Fire Caste with Dragon.  Ling’s Caste is something of a surprise which takes some explaining (see the author interview later this week). While you don’t necessarily have to read The Oracle stories in order, it certainly helps to understand the events and timelines that occur.  I continue to find the Oracle and her Monastery fascinating.  The Oracle’s Golem is next. What will the Earth Caste bring? I can’t wait to find out what is in store next for this magical series.

The first story was m/m/m, or should that be m/m/dragon?  This one is m/m.  No matter, both are imaginative and wonderful, the descriptions vivid and the action engrossing.  I loved the fantasy and Mell Eight’s world building and think you will too.  Pick them up and start reading.  The third is coming soon.

Cover art by London Burden.  I like the simplicity of the cover and the branding design for the series.

Books in the series include:

The Oracle’s Flame
The Oracle’s Hatchling

Book Details:

ebook, 20,000 words, m/m
Published March 5th 2014 by Less Than Three Press LLC (first published March 4th 2014)
original title The Oracle’s Hatchling
ISBN139781620043257
edition languageEnglish
seriesThe Oracle

Buy Link

Contest Winner Announcements and the Week Ahead in Reviews, Author Spotlights and Contests

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Winners of the Book Tour Contests and Author Spotlights

 

Every Inch of the Way coverFreeFalling_500x750Angel's Hero cover

To The Very Last Inch

 

 

 

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  • Winners of The Professor’s Rule Tours (Every Inch of the Way and To the Very Last Inch) by Heidi Belleau and Amelia C. Gormley. Winners are Sonja and Flutterfli. Congratulations to you both. And my thanks to Heidi Belleau for Amelia C. Gormley for stopping by on their tour and bringing the contest with them.
  • Winners of SE Jakes Free Falling Book Tour Contest are: Kathleen Power,Robbie Bauldree, and Kassandra Appel.  They won  SIGNED copies of SE Jakes’s Hell or High Water series: Catch a Ghost and Long Time Gone.   Congratulations to all three!
  • Winner of Kerry Adrienne’s novel, Beautiful One, is Ashley E. Congratulations to Ashley E and my thanks to everyone who stopped by and left comments.

 

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Now for the Week Ahead: Short and sweet this week!  Mell Eight is a new author for me.  I have already reviewed The Oracle’s Flame, the first in her new series.  This week I start off my reviews with the second story, The Oracle’s Hatchling which will  lead into Mell Eight’s Author Spotlight on Wednesday.  Thursday  I am reviewing When All the World Sleeps by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock.  I really wasn’t sure what I was going to feel about this story and it just amazed me with its intensity, and commanding characters.  Dark and a must read.  Friday is the second in Liz Boreno’s Angel series, Angel’s Truth. And finally, SJ Frost is here to finish out the week by talking about her new vampire series and book, Vampire Prince.

And its April.  Will the snow finally stop and the cherry blossoms start to bloom?  Who knows?  We can only hope….

This Week’s Schedule:

  •  Monday, March 31:        The Oracle’s Hatchling by Mell Eight
  • Tuesday, April 1:             Vampire Prince by SJ Frost
  • Wed., April 2:                   Author Spotlight & Contest: Mell Eight
  • Thursday, April 3:          When All the World Sleeps by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock
  • Friday, April 4:                Angel’s Truth by Liz Boreno
  • Sat., April 5:                    Author Spotlight & Contest: SJ Frost

 

Review: The Oracle’s Flame (The Oracle #1) by Mell Eight

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 (rounded up to 4):

The Oracle's FlameThe Oracle has looked into the future and sees nothing but devastation and ruin after the King of Altnoia, along with his Queen and  Heir are killed, assassinated by his cousin who then assumes the throne.  Missing from the carnage is the rightful’s King’s young son, Prince Edan.  Missing or dead?  Only the Oracle knows the truth.  If the Kingdom and all who live there are to survive and thrive, then Prince Edan must be found and restored to the throne.

Dragon, the newly minted Dragon of Fire, has been chosen for the job.  He must find Prince Edan and then keep him alive, a desperate mission when the forces of the Usurper are scouring the Kingdom looking for the Prince as well.  But it’s Prince Edan’s secret location that upsets Dragon most of all.  Edan is hiding out on a pirate’s ship and the last place a fire loving dragon wants to be is on the high seas and seasick.

Not only seasick and sick of the water, no one will tell Dragon which pirate is the prince.  And not even the Oracle could have prepared Dragon for a pair of sexy twin pirates and the feelings they engender inside a lonely dragon.

New author, new series.  Both things make this reviewer extremely happy.  Add a dragon or two and things get just that much better.  The Oracle’s Flame, the first in The Oracle series, sets the foundation for this universe and the stories to come.  The story begins in the Monastery, built into and under the Sacred Mountain.  In this ancient building, more city than single structure, the Oracle and the Four Castes live and carry out the Oracle’s plans.

Mell Eight has created a wonderful, fascinating universe for this series.  The Oracle herself is thousands of years old, exchanging human bodies as is necessary but retaining the knowledge and feelings of all the Oracles inside.  At the moment, the Oracle is a young girl, the previous body/person having recently perished.  Into her personal chambers she calls for her new Dragon of Fire.  As Dragon proceeds down the hallways of the Monastery, he recalls the chain of events that made him the Dragon of Fire only three days prior.  Inside the Oracle’s chambers lie the testing room into which all the young are called to be tested.   When they leave it will be as a member of one of the Four Castes, Air, Water, Earth, and of course, Fire.  Each young person leaves changed in appearance and with a tattoo marking their new position and Caste on their backs.

For Dragon, his hair has turned cherry red, the color of flames.  And his eyes are the bluest of blues that you find in the hottest center of a candle’s fire.  All members of the Fire caste have red hair and blue eyes after testing.  But only one has the red dragon tattoo on his back, signaling his high position.  And only the Elder Flame is higher in the cast then the Dragon of Fire.  So many rich details….and the author continues to add continuously to the atmosphere and minutiae of the Monastery and the world created within to the reader’s delight.

But  Mell Eight has the dragon leaving this mesmerizing location for a mission he must succeed at otherwise the Kingdom of Altnoia will be lost. From deeply serious to highly humorous and back again, the narrative swings merrily as Dragon boards the pirate vessel in a most unusual manner, assuming a lower caste position to hide his true nature and lowly name to go along with it.  Quite naturally, a fire dragon will not be pleased to be surrounded by water, rained upon and or tossed about by waves.  And at all times, it is easy to remember that Dragon is also quite new as a Dragon of Fire and out on his own for the first time in his life.  It’s an all around precarious position for Dragon and the author makes the most of it here to our delight and sometimes consternation.

There are many other characters involved in this story, including a pair of brother pirates, twins Shev and Shov. Physically identical, they couldn’t be less alike in personality.  But both brothers are attracted to Dragon who is confused by his attraction to them both and unsure of what it all means.  There is a charming naivete and innocence to Dragon, one recognized by the brothers and other pirates aboard.  I enjoyed the fact that aspect of Dragon’s character was valued rather than exploited by those around him.  And that aura of innocence that surrounds Dragon makes the relationship that finally evolves between the three of them not only something the reader will be able to relate to but all aspects of their unusual relationship as well. That The Oracle’s Flame involves a m/m/m relationship as well as one that includes twincest feels as though it was meant to be instead of something kinky or misplaced.  It does occur towards the end of the story for those readers who find these elements not ones they normally read but the events that lead up to it feels natural and not strained by circumstances.

What will everyone find marvelous?  Oh, the wonder when an angry dragon takes flight!  Mell Eight makes us feel the fury and the beating wings, the fire as it explodes upon contact and the happiness of a dragon when a tiny flames dance in his hands.  During those moments, Dragon is so alive, so unbelievably real and magnificent that you wish dragons were as real as Dragon feels on the pages before you.  Of course, he felt that way too as he moaned with seasickness and shivered under the onslaught of a torrential rain, pitiful and endearing always.

Ultimately, it’s the characters that make a story or series.  In The Oracle’s Flame Mell Eight has provided us with many to love and wonder about.  I only wish that I had seen more of the fight to win the throne.  How satisfying that would have been.  But I was happy with this tale of love and adventure and thrilled with Dragon and his twins.  I think you will be too.

Cover art by London Burdon.  Minimal but it works for the story and as series branding.

The Oracle series includes:

The Oracle’s Flame, #1
The Oracle’s Hatchling, #2

Book Details:
Publisher’s Warning: Contains twincest and a threesome relationship
ebook, 18,700 words
The Oracle’s Flame at LT3 Press

Published November 20th 2013 by Less Than Three Press LLC (first published November 19th 2013)
original title The Oracle’s Flame
ISBN13 9781620042823
edition language English

Snow Again and The Week Ahead in Reviews

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Snow again.  ‘Nuf said.

The Pulp Friction 2014 contest continues  until 3/21 for the $25 ARe gift card.  Visit wp.me/p220KL-28d with all the Pulp Friction authors to learn about this year’s characters and series. Then leave a  comment and email address to be entered into the draw. I am reviewing TA Webb’s story, Higher Ground, this week, the first in his series.  The 2nd story in Laura Harner’s series, Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire) has just released and promises to be a good one. Look for a review of that story in the coming weeks ahead.

This week SE Jakes and Kerry Adrienne are visiting on tour, bringing insights into their latest releases with them as well as contests to enter.  And books in all different stages in many series are reviewed this week. There is fantasy and contemporary romance with Oracle’s Flame by Mell Eight and The Artist’s Touch, both of which are the first books in new series by their authors.  Free Falling is from SE Jakes wonderful  Extreme Escapes Ltd series.  Higher Ground is TA Webb’s 1st story in his Pulp Friction 2014 series. And finally, To the Very Last Inch by Heidi Belleau and Amelia C. Gormley finishes The Professor’s Rule series with a flourish.  Truly something for every one.

And later today I will be announcing the winner of the ebook Song from Spring Moon Waning from E.E. Ottoman’s contest.  All while resolutely ignoring any white stuff that may be falling outside the window.  Again ‘nuf said.

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Here is the week ahead:

  • Monday, March 17:     Lofty Dreams of Earthbound Men by Susan Laine
    To the Very Last Inch by Heidi Belleau and Amelia C. Gormley
  • Tuesday, March 18:    Author Spotlight: Kerry Adrienne ,Book Tour & Contest                                                                                                            ………………………………The Artist’s Touch by Kerry Adrienne
  • Wed., March 19:          Higher Ground (PF2104) by TA Webb
  • Thur., March 20:         Oracle’s Flame by Mell Eight
  • Friday, March 21:        Free Falling with SE Jakes Book Tour and Contest
  • Sat., March 22:             Free Falling by SE Jakes