A Scary Review Redux: Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall (A MelanieM Review)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5 (for story and cover)   ★★★★★

Once upon a time . . . that’s how the old stories always begin.

And so this one begins, in a land both foreign and familiar, it’s a tale of princes, and merfolk and love…of a sort.

Once upon a time there was a king of a fallen kingdom. He was just and he was beloved. Or so the numbers said. One day, he gathered together the greatest, wisest minds in all the land—not sorcerers, but scientists—and he bade them fashion him a son. A prince. A perfect prince to embody his father’s legacy. 

Sand and Gold and RuinBut as fate would have it, nothing ever turns out as planned and the golden perfect prince had other ideas for his future. After gazing upon the dances of the mer in a performance, our prince runs off to join the circus, the Cirque de la Mer.  Once there the prince trained the merfolk,  he performed with them, and  thought he was happy…for a year.

Time brought strange thoughts and emotions to the prince the closer he got to the merfolk. Then Nerites arrives, a mesmerizing merman who refused to be trained or tamed.  Nerites was something far more than the prince ever expected.  Nerites was savage and unknown.

How does the tale end?  Ah, there’s the rub.  For every prince, there exists a beast, and for every love, there exists a forever heartbreak.  Sand and Ruin and Gold has them all.

Sand and Ruin and Gold hearkens back to the olden stories.  Not the comforting ” Disneyfied” fairytales but those of Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson.  Here the darkness and unknown reign supreme, not happy endings or light.  Less a tale of romance, this beautifully written short story builds an atmosphere of  creeping foreboding, a sense that not everything is as it seems.  The poetic nature of the narrative combined with an imagery that will enchant, then leave you haunted by the possibilities, make Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall a short story that refuses to be limited by category or trope.

The feeling of something just off kilter is already present at the beginning.  Hall’s prince isn’t born, he’s a genetically perfected young man, created to be the ideal heir to a “good” king who resides over a fallen land.  The clues and telling phrases are slipped in sparingly at first, then in ever increasing numbers. As new descriptions of the circus and the shows appear, a far different picture emerges from our original assumptions of the merfolk and the circumstances at the Circus.  And along with it comes the feeling one gets when the hairs rise off your arm when frightened or the queasiness that originates in your stomach when it dawns on you that something you thought was happily normal or ordinary turns out to be fearfully, horrifically wrong.

Alexis Hall understands how to build a powerfully evocative story, one that runs more along the lines of those classics passed from bard to bard, told around fires in great halls and forests alike.  Whether those bards be from the past or perhaps even our future, that is but one more chilling aspect of this story, a tale that exists in the mists and ocean eddies of the dark seas of this unknown world. But its Hall’s stylistically vivid and powerful narrative with its lush descriptions that makes this story so stunning, so poignant.  This is how it starts out:

“I must have been very young when I saw the mermaids at the Cirque de la Mer because it was the nurse who took me and her place in my life was soon surrendered to tutors. I don’t think my father ever found out.  He would not have approved.

The day is little more than a sensory haze, of pastel children, the laughter of strangers, and the burn of salt and chemicals at the back of my throat.

The mermaids, though.  They are as vivid as stained glass, even now.”

Told from the prince’s pov, we feel his assumptions of his life and the circus fall slowly away as comprehension and understanding arrive building block by building block as events unfold around him.  It is a tale of deep love faced amidst horrifying truths.  One reading will not be enough to capture all the incredible and terrifying moments as sudden realization, and insight sets in.

And then there is that ending, the one that will refuse to let you go.  Its in the words and feelings that emerge, and the tears that will run down your face as you try to decide the implications of words strung like pearls, luminescent and beyond value.  An ending that will send you back to the beginning of the story and start this tale once more.

I highly recommend this story to all readers.  This is a story that should be on everyones shelf, whether it be made of wood or eReader.  This is one of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2014 as is its cover.

Cover Artist:  Simone.  The artwork for Sand and Ruin and Gold is every bit as lush and haunting as the story itself. One of the best covers of the year.

Sales Links:    Riptide Publishing           All Romance (ARe)        amazon          Sand and Ruin and Gold

Book Details:

ebook, 39 pages
Published September 22nd 2014 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626492318
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://riptidepublishing.com/title

A MelanieM Review: Obsidian Sun by Jon Keys

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Differences must be put aside when vengeance becomes all-consuming.

ObsidianSunFSAnan, a spellweaver of the Talac people, returns from a hunting trip to find his village decimated, his mate dead, and everyone else captured by Varas slavers. The sole survivor is Terja, a young man without the velvet that covers most Talac, marking him as a spellspinner. Since Talac magic requires both a weaver and a spinner, Anan and Terja must move beyond their ingrained mistrust. All that remains is revenge and a desperate plan to rescue their tribesmen before they are sold to Varas pleasure houses. A goal Anan and Terja are willing to die for.

With the blessing of the Talac gods, they discover new and surprising ways to complement each other’s power. But as they race through terrain full of enemies and dangerous creatures to reach their people before they pass into Varas lands, they must take drastic steps to face the overwhelming odds against them. Understanding their connection might be their only hope.

What a wonderful debut novel from Jon Keys!  The story was imaginative, heartbreaking, layered and beautifully developed.  What a high mark to hit with your first book.  But first a sentence or two about the power of a book cover.  You see, it was that amazing Paul Richmond cover that caught my eye and made me want to  read the blurb.  Those eyes combined with the presence of skin marks and a web?  Mysterious and compelling.  I had to know more.  What I found matched that powerful  cover in every way.

Obsidian Sun by Jon Keys is a story told from multiple points of view (one of the only issues I have with the story).  We start with Anan, a spellweaver of the Talac people coming home from a hunt to carnage.   Anan’s village  has been raided by the Varas people, the dwellings burned, the people horribly murdered except for those younger members taken for the slavery trade and for their velvet skin.  Yes furred skin.  The Talac, a semi-nomadic tribe, is a clan of furred individuals, with the exception of the hairless spellspinners.  That marked velvet covering of their bodes makes them prized not only as sex slaves (it seems the Varas are addicted to sex with them) but they are skinned as well, various colors like golden velvet prized above all others.  These facts reveal themselves slowly as Anan goes about the gruesome and heartbreaking business of checking the bodies and readying himself for the “release  ritual”.  But he’s not the only one left alive, there is one more person hidden away . Terja, a young spellbinder.  Together they do what they know is required to release the souls of the dead and swear vengeance on the Varas traders.

Keys’ descriptions of Anan and Terja’s final sweep of their village and the scenes that follow are haunting, poignant, carrying a deep emotional impact that will stay with the reader.  Yes, it had me in tears. It also serves to bring us immediately into this amazing world and the cultures of the people that live there.

There are at least two distinct cultures at war here…that we know of.  But the one we immersed in completely, at first,  is that of the Talac people.  The Talac have several strata of tribes that make up the whole, that includes the Kuri tribes that follow the kuri animals much like some western American Indian tribes did the buffalo.  The author weaves many Native American tools and beliefs here into his story.  In one  scene, Anan and Terja cook a stew using the Eastern Woodland Indian method of putting a hot rock inside the  stew to cook from within inside of sitting a pot on the fire, handy when using bark containers inside of pottery.  Bark is lightweight and easy to transport, not so much a heavy clay pot, something very important if you are a nomadic tribe.  The use of native resources by Anan and Terja also echo the ways indigenous peoples all over the world use the land and animals around them.  Its an element that flows through this story and it gives their universe both a familiar yet alien feel to it.  This layering gives Obsidian Sun a realistic aspect to it that helps connect us to it and the characters.

That also brings us to spiders.  I love spiders, all of them.  Here the similarities also arise between spiders and the Talac.  You can divide spiders into 2 types of carapace types.  One is furred, some gorgeously so (like tarantulas and jumping spiders, which have all the colors of the rainbow and more patterns than you can imagine). Other’s have a hairless carapace that shines as though its been shellacked. Most orb weavers are of this type.  That mimics the two skin types of the Talac.  But it goes further with the Talac gods, and the  Twined Beings, First Weaver and First Spinner, avatars to the Gods.  They appear as  humongous  spiders.  Spiders and weaving form the weft and warp of this story.  From the religious rituals and cultures myths Jon Keys creates and then uses throughout his story to the weapons  and fighting styles,  Keys’ imagination and ability to translate those ideas into emotionally laden,  action packed scenes and storylines is stunning.  So is his love of and ability to use natural history to enliven and deepen his plot and characters.  Nothing is left to chance, even the spider silk is used much like the silk worms are here, right down to the technique required.  Really, its just amazing how well Keys meshes known natural history with his own creations.

There is a growing romance between Anan and Terja, brought on by need and circumstances that becomes something deeper and spiritual (and incredibly sexy).  Their hunt for vengeance is suspenseful,  and heart stopping, especially when they are in peril.

But there are other characters involved and that brings me to my only issue here.  There is far too many points of view.  Different characters , some of the kidnapped Kuri, others of slaves in residence, voice their perspectives of the action and their captivity.  This format of multiple povs only serves to take the momentum away from the developing relationship between Terja and Anan and cuts the reader off from the anticipation and suspense of the ongoing hunts for the traders and the slaves.  I understand why Jon Keys wanted us to see the “captives” side but there are other ways of establishing the terror they are undergoing while giving us the information he wanted to impart about the Varas people.  Too many voices muddy the narrative and that happened here.

Multiple perspectives aside, this is a powerful, layered saga, one I hope will continue.  The ending is a HFN, leaving so many options for a sequel to go forward.  I certainly hope that Jon Keys is already hard at work to give us one.

Obsidian Sun (a solstice event much like our solar eclipse) is a must read novel by Jon Keys!  If you love fantasy, mythology, natural history and imaginative world building combined with sex, love and adventure, then this is a story for you.  I  can’t wait to see what Jon Keys has in store for us next, hopefully a sequel!  Fingers crossed.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  One of my favorite covers of the month, perhaps even the year.  This cover clearly demonstrates the power of a cover to entice you into reading a story by a picture alone.  Perfection.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback | All Romance |Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published July 10th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781634762922

A MelanieM Review: Blue on Black by Carole Cummings

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Blue on Black coverKimolijah Adani—Class 2 gridTech, beloved brother, most promising student the Academy’s ever had the privilege of calling their own, genius mechanical gridstream engineer, brilliantly pioneering inventor… and dead man. But that’s what happens when a whiz kid messes with dynamic crystals and, apparently, comes to the attention of Baron Petra Stanslo. Killed for his revolutionary designs, Kimolijah Adani had been set to change the world with his impossible train that runs on nothing more than gridstream locked in a crystal. Technically it shouldn’t even be possible, but there is no doubt it works.

Bas is convinced the notoriously covetous and corrupt Stanslo had something to do with Kimolijah Adani’s tragic and suspicious end. A Directorate Tracker, Bas has finally managed to catch the scent of Kimolijah Adani’s killer, and it leads right into Stanslo’s little desert barony. For almost three years, Bas has tried to find a way into Stanslo’s Bridge, and when he finally makes it, shock is too small a word for what—or, rather, whom—he finds there.

I am often at a loss as to how to categorize a Carole Cummings novel.  Sometimes its fantasy, or alternate universe, or steampunk or a bit of all of those.  But no matter how  you want to classify them,  the fact remains that Carole Cummings is one of the most inventive, imaginative storyteller out there.  Cummings’ Wolf’s -Own series, stories I love, is a perfect example with its blending of cultural mythology, action/adventure, mystery and romance.  So I was very excited to see a new book, Blue on Black, was being released by DSP Publications.  Did the new story meet my high expectation for a Carole  Cummings novel?  A resounding yes in every way.

Our main narrator, Bas, provides our view into his bleak, tech driven world.  Its a place where a catastrophic event or series of events has changed both the political and  natural landscape…for the worse. Bas’ society runs by and is dependant on its psionic gridTechs, of varying strengths and abilities.  These techs, few by nature, are in so much demand that they are often captured, or kidnapped to be sold at a sort of Underground Tech Black Market.   Bas is a Directorate Tracker and its his job (along with his fellow trackers) to find the missing Techs, shutdown whatever operation or group had them, and return  them to the Directorate.  Its a tough, often perilous job that often means working undercover. Only now Bas is being sent undercover to do not only his job as a tracker but to cover for a dead Directorate agent as well.  Why?  Because someone has to get into the town of Stanslo’s Bridge, no matter the cost.  An evil is spreading out from there and at its heart is the Baron Stanslo.

I love a book that just sweeps me along, pulling me into worlds and situations so fantastical that I felt like whooping with glee.   That’s Blue on Black, where we go from the territory and city of the Directorate to the wild, wild west of the badlands or lost lands that surrounds the town that is the domain of an insane tyrant.  There is only one way in and out.  To take any other route means death,  given the strange creatures that exist out there and the extreme uninhabitable landscape.  The  tales shifts from high  tech to wild west steampunk, and gets richer in description and sheer inventiveness.

What else pulled me in ? An element that had me sold from the beginning. Remember the old movie “Laura”?  It’s one where a detective is investigating the murder of a young woman and falls in love with her portrait and the person she was from the pieces gathered from  his interviews.  From its haunting theme song to its film noir atmosphere, it remains a favorite and that element happens here.  Bas is fixated on Kimolijah Adani—Class 2 gridTech whose death has hit everyone hard whether they knew him or not.  Kimo was a genius on the brink of a major discovery   concerning the  Techgrid when he died.  And Bas can’t get him out of his head.  From Kimo’s writings to his photographs, the deceased psyTech is contantly in Bas’  thoughts.

His journey to hell and discover starts at the broken down train station, the one with a corpse of a scryTech nailed to the door.  Bas takes one barely running steam run train and then must switch to another (all in the company of some of the tyrant’s gang).  Here is Bas in the second train:

It’s different than any train Bas has ever been on before. Instead of the heavy ka-chunk ka-chunk of wheels on tracks, there’s more of a wheezy hum, smoother somehow, and it just has a lighter feel to it. Instead of the thick haze of stoke smoke and steam, there’s a hot reek of burnt gridstream and a charge to the air. It’s sort of exhilarating, because Bas has no doubt whatsoever he’s riding on a train that’s being powered solely by gridTech, and he’s pretty sure he’s one of a very few to even see something like this, let alone get a demonstration. It takes a little bit, but it does eventually occur to him that that’s likely the reason for the switch and the way station. Harrowgate is isolated, yeah, and even more so now that there’s no more relay office, but people do live there, and rumors do find a way of traveling long distances. If Stanslo doesn’t want anyone outside of his little desert barony to know he’s got what looks to Bas like a train that runs on independent gridstream, then he’d do best not to let them see it at all.

I was right, Bas thinks again and blinks when his jaw clamps too tight and his eyes narrow down to angry slits. Kimolijah Adani was killed for his designs. And now I’m riding into hell’s teeth on one of them.

And what Bas finds when he finally enters Stanslo’s Bridge is shocking, bleak and terrifying.  What’s worse?  Bas has to fit in as one of Stanslo’s enforcers.  This story is full of heartbreak, pain, death, magnificent inventions and hope.  I moved from one emotion to the next, swept along by Cumming’s vision and  amazing characters.  I felt so connected to them all because each person felt alive and believable, no matter the circumstances.

DSP Publications releases stories where romance is not the main element in the plot.  There is some here but for those looking for unadulterated passion and romance?  That is not Blue on Black.  What I found here was so satisfying and complete that I never felt the lack of any element.  But others might.   This is not a hearts and flowers story by any means.

I won’t go further, too many spoilers would pop up but the beauty of Cumming’s language sinks you  deeper into this story and characters, the words can transport even while making you believe in the ugly, mean, stripped down place that is Stanislo’s Bridge.   At times, I found myself holding my breath, tense, waiting for the next awful thing to happen, the suspense darn near killing me.  At  other times, I just marveled at the people trying to hold onto their lives, no matter how miserable the Baron had made them, that sense of hope floats over the story like a hawk in flight.  And that ending,, a perfectHFN, sings with a fierce joy and  lyricism  that makes me read it over and over again.

This is a book to relish, one to hunker down with and read in one session.  I highly recommend Blue On Black by Carole Cummings,  In fact, I recommend all of Cummings stories.  Pick this one up and get started today.

Cover art by Anne Cain.  I like the cover.  But it doesn’t contain any of the  darkness that fills the story.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications |   Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 380 pages
Published June 16th 2015 by DSP Publications
ISBN139781632169501
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dsppublications.com/ *

[Note: DSP Publications is a non romance imprint of Dreamspinner PRess.  DSP Publications books and stories are not meant to have a romantic element, although some do.  Those looking for total romance should turn to Dreamspinner Press].

Review: Lofty Dreams of Earthbound Men (Isleshire Chronicles #1) by Susan Laine

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Rating: 3 stars (rounded up) out of 5

Lofty Dreams of Earthbound Men coverObadai Bashim is walking through one of the city’s parks on his way to the solstice celebration when he hears someone calling him. That voice belongs to a young boy, clothes in tatters, who begs for his help.   Jules Sterling, a young engineering sage, has been on the run from The Theocracy’s assassin since his master was killed by the ripper who is now after him.

The political instability between the Five Kingdoms and the Divine Theocracy has always stayed far from County Isleshire where tolerance and freedom from religious persecution has been the norm.  But now the Theocracy has gotten bold under the complacency of the Five Kingdoms rulers and they threaten to overturn the years of acceptance and freedom to destroy all science in the name of their religious doctrine.

Jule’s Engineering Guild is the target of the Theocracy and the death of his master is just the beginning.  For Jules is hiding a larger secret, one that he must protect as well as finish the job that he and his master had been contracted for….repairing a broken  airship inn.  If Jules can’t make the repairs the entire airship will crash at the solstice celebrations, killing many.

Obadai has his own secrets, ones that could make him the object of one of the Theocracy’s hunts.  So will helping Jules finish his mission.  But Obadai’s sense of duty and the attraction he feels towards Jules makes Obadai agree to help.   With the ripper on their trail and an airship beginning to founder, Jules and Obadai face a multitude of obstacles before them.  But its the Solstice and magic is in the air and anything is possible under the stars.

After reading Susan Laine’s Acknowledgement page for this novel and learning that this has been a beloved project of hers for over 20 years, I really wanted to like this story, if for no other reason that to reward her diligence and creativity.  But unfortunately I have had to work hard to get past the narrative which is so dense, so jam packed as to be impenetrable.  You know the author is in trouble when this is the start of the story.  Look how quickly the action turns into a morass of descriptions:

 A small shape climbed out of the bushes, nothing more than a silhouette. “Please, don’t hurt me.” The tiny voice cracked. It was a masculine voice, but shaky, scared, and on the verge of tears.

“Who are you? Why were you following me?” Obadai asked just as the midnight bells rang in the Abbey’s clock tower, their deep, gloomy sound echoing throughout the fortress town of Dunbruth. Everyone knew that the chartered town’s name was old Scottish Gaelic. The founder of Larkhall—the old bailey and keep—Sir Ector Macaledon, had been of Scottish descent, a rogue who had been granted this faraway county to rule as an Earl. The initial town name had been longer, Dùnan Bruthach Súmaid, which meant “Small Fortress on a Steep Slope of Waves.” The current form had been abbreviated and twisted by time, wrongly, as it happened. It was supposed to mean “A Fort on Surf Mountain” since the hilltop castle stood on the summit of Surf Mountain—but because the word bruthach didn’t abbreviate correctly, the literal translation was “A Fortress on Pressure.” Considering the crazy times, it had begun to make insane sense. Of course, all that business with Sir Ector had happened seven hundred years ago and had no bearing on the events of tonight. The Dunbruth Clocktower chimed for midnight mere moments after the Abbey bells, more melodic and higher in pitch, like a cheerful echo to the prior darker rings.

.And that is only the beginning.  Each time a small step forward is made toward momentum in the plot, the author inability to restrain herself from giving the readers what is clearly 20 years of thoughts about her universe building steps in.  From that moment the plot is gone, smothered under endless details and nonsensical names.  It becomes almost impossible to concentrate on the characters because we see so little of them from page to page.  The action gets underway, the characters start making their way towards the airship.  All good, with some really terrific scenarios and ideas sketched out before us.   Then this happens.  Again, And again.  Here is  Obadia trying to explain to Jules how the Snow Maiden Bridge (a bridge they have to cross) got its name. Keep in mind that the killer is on their tracks, the airship is about to fall and they have just met.  See if you can follow it:

“No, I guess not,” Jules agreed slowly, wistfully. Then he studied Obadai with a curious frown. “I thought it was called Stone Maiden Bridge. Yet you call it Snow Maiden Bridge. Every time.”

Obadai chuckled. “Both are correct. It’s a matter of personal preference what to call that huge block of stone on the side of Surf Mountain, from where the lake waters spring and which vaguely resembles a gray-cloaked nun bent over in prayer. Sir Ector brought the myth of the Cailleach here with him from his native Scotland. It has become rooted here, part of the local folklore.” Jules’s eyes widened with bemusement. “What is a…Kai-luck…?” His voice rose at the end in a question, indicating his doubts about proper enunciation. “In Scottish mythology, Cailleach is the Crone Goddess and the Queen of Winter.” “Ah. The Snow Maiden.” Jules looked pleased at having figured it out. “Exactly.” Obadai was becoming quite fond of the sight of a smiling Jules. “Also known as the Storm Hag, Cailleach is a terrifying natural force. Wise but frightening, a blue-skinned figure wielding a freezing staff and clad in a gray shawl and cloak.” “Gray… Hmm. Stone Maiden?” Jules seemed pensive and intrigued. “Kind of. Cailleach reigns during the winter months. Then, during the vernal equinox, she is defeated by the radiance and warmth of St. Aestasia.”

Jules’s eyes shone with glee upon hearing a familiar name. “I know her! She’s the patron saint of the Virtue of Benevolence with Fervor.” “Yes. A pioneer in charitable works, she had a passion for kindness and doing good. Here, in County Isleshire, as the Sun Maiden, she embodies the victory of summer over winter, a lady of fire, light, and heat. At the equinox, St. Aestasia turns the Cailleach into stone, to be awakened again during the autumnal equinox.” Jules nodded, smiling. “Ah. Stone Maiden.” He got a faraway look in his dreamy eyes. “So many stories here, so much history and legend. Almost makes me forget the troubles we’re in. At least makes me hopeful of things to come.”

Do they now get underway?  No, they do not as pages of more description is to follow which does nothing to build any anticipation over the impending crash or suspense over the killer after them.  Long run on sentences in which Laine attempts to further describe universe she is building quickly impede her story. Instead of letting the information come out more naturally throughout the narrative, in small bits and segments, the rush to get everything she has created comes out as a gusher, washing characterization and plot out of its path.   Never has 76 pages felt so long. Plus, this the first book of a series, surely some of the information dump could have been left to succeeding stories.

There are some truly delightful elements here, ones that I expected from the author of Sparks & Drops.  Obadia is a type of plant mage (although he has another title which I won’t give away).  In his garden can be found Snapdragons. No, not our snapdragons but plants capable of snapping in two the hand that feeds them the fertilizer, a very funny and engaging idea (at least to this gardener’s mind).  And then there is a wow of a fight scene on the floating inn that is marvelous in combining action with other unexpected elements.  As I was reading it, I kept wondering why the rest of the book was so enervating. Here was the vivid descriptions, concise and exciting I had been waiting for.  Here the characters exploded into life along with the plot.  Too late, however, to save the story.

There is also a case of instant love and hot sex (yes, all in 3 hours of meeting each other,  with fights and killers).  In fact the whole time frame of the story is three hours. In another story that might have been a larger issue.  Not here where  so many others took precedent.

Why did the fight scene not save the book?  Because the author couldn’t let go, even then.  This is almost the end and Obadia introduces Jules to a man who will help them.

Quickly, Obadai expressed his opinion of the nobleman they had just met. “Yes, he can be trusted. Mr. Graham is a scientist himself. A dendrologist only, but still apparently on the Theocracy’s watch list. Residing in a manor house by the village of Sun Rock these days, the House Dikunu has a history of shielding sages and inventors from the clutches of those who oppose factual knowledge, scientific progress, or just freedom of choice. They’ve even waged a war or two for those ideals in the course of the past couple of centuries, and they have loyal soldiers at their beck and call. So yes, I do trust him.” Jules nodded, lifting his chin firmly.  “Then I shall trust him as well.”

Laine should have stopped at “yes, he can be trusted” but of course, she didn’t.  I should have stopped when I saw each chapter was  labeled thusly and didn’t.

“11:59 p.m., Newsday, 24th of Golden Peak, Year 2659 of Epoch of Pious Virtues”

You the reader now have the choice.  If everything you have read above is just the thing that tickles your fancy, then grab it up and settle down for several hours, no days, of reading.  If you are like me and found all that verbiage overwhelming, then I would skip it and read Susan Laine’s Sparks & Drops (The Wheel Mysteries, #1).  There be the magic not here in the Lofty Dreams of Earthbound Men where it should be.

Cover artist is Paul Richmond who did his typcially wonderful job in conveying elements of the story on the cover.

Book Details:

ebook, 76 pages
Published January 29th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published January 28th 2014)
ISBN13 9781627983716
edition language English
series Isleshire Chronicles