A Lila Review: Witch King by T.A. Creech

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Witch KingKing Solna Nalion is tired of war. Standing in the aftermath of yet another battle over an ancient insult, he longs for the possibility of ending the wars at last — and finds it in Vius Tylele, a wounded warrior who is not what he seems. In light of Tylele’s charm and intelligence, Nalion schemes to unite their countries for a lasting peace, one that might even bring love.

Nothing is as it seems and Vius Tylele knows that all too well. But King Nalion’s marriage proposal, while ridiculous, has merit. Between petulant generals, tainted magic, and falling unexpectedly in love, Vius discovers he has more to lose than he thought. His country, his magic, and even his heart.

Witch King was a surprising find. I loved the book’s premise and how vivid the opening scene was. Solna’s and Vius’s connection became evident with the simplicity of their first contact and the reverence Solna had toward the injured man he kept in his arms until he had to let go.

From the beginning, we get a good view of Solna’s commitment to his people and how hard he had worked to defend them. It was nice to see a king willing to do everything to bring peace to his kingdom even if it was at his expense. Vius was lovely and his reasons, when different from Solna’s, were more important than his own happiness. We get two selfless men in search of more from life.

There are many secondary characters involved in the story. We get their names, relationships, and a good reason for most of them to be part of the story. There’s also a good sense of place, and the world build is perhaps too far reaching for such a short story. It has good bones; it just needed a couple of extra pages.

Yes, the story suffered just like any other novella from the lack of additional content to explain how things happened behind the scenes or to wrap-up every single loose thread. It feels like it’s missing some chapters and a solid ending. Overall, it’s a fantastic story with lots of potential to be turned into a novel or a series of novellas.

I like the cover, but personally, I’d had switched the two pictures, having King Solna on the bottom and Vius on top.

Sale Links: JMS Books | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 88 pages
Published: June 11, 2016, JMS Books
ISBN: 9781634861281
Edition Language: English

A Lila Review: The High Kings Golden Tongue by Megan Derr

Standard

Rating: 5+ stars out of 5

The High Kings Golden TonguePrince Allen has trained his entire life to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious mother, who has made their kingdom one of the wealthiest and most influential in the empire. For the past few years he has trained to become the new consort of the High King. The only thing no one prepared him for was the stubborn, arrogant High King himself, who declares Allen useless and throws him out of court.

High King Sarrica is ruling an empire at war, and that war will grow exponentially worse if his carefully laid plans do not come to fruition. He’s overwhelmed and needs help, as much as he hates to admit it, but it must be someone like his late consort: a soldier, someone who understands war, who is not unfamiliar with or afraid of the harsher elements of rule. What he doesn’t need is the delicate, pretty little politician foisted on him right as everything goes wrong.

The High King’s Golden Tongue is an excellent fantasy tale of love, trust, family, and friendship.

The original story, in which this book is based on, was written in 2012 and was around 40 pages long. I read it about two years ago and rated five stars as well. I went back and skimmed over it, and found myself reading further than I first intended. The bones were all there, but this extended version is everything a reader could have wished for and so much more.

The fantasy world the author created includes several kingdoms with different languages and traditions— each of them with a rich history, royal families, and plots to take over the Empire. Simple things like food predilections, crops, and fashion are taking into account and spun into a well-connected tale.

Prince Allen is that connection between the kingdoms, but especially between the reader and the story. He had trained all his life to be a silver tongue, but more specifically, to be a King/Queen’s consort. He’s knowledgeable in politics, business, logistics, and many other things a regent would need to be taken care of. When Lord Tara’s family suggested him to be the Consort of the High King, he trained for two years just to be what King Sarrica needed.

Being a widower with two small children and a kingdom ready to go to war takes King Sarrica’s full attention. It’s not until the moment the Council brings a consort for him that he realizes that he didn’t want anyone to replace his late husband, Nyle. If forced, Sarrica wants a soldier, like him, to help him defend his Empire. He didn’t see value in Prince Allen’s knowledge and training. He pegs him as a spoiled royal looking for pampering and multiple lovers.

Sarrica’s dismissal puts Allen in an awkward position. If he returns home, his family would see him as a failure and his kingdom can take offense. If he stays, he would constantly be waiting for Sarrica’s call. Even if it’s just to warm up his bed, Allen wants to serve the stubborn King.

A series of misunderstandings, clever resolutions, and dark situations would mark a separate path for Sarrica and Allen. Their separation would show Sarrica how much he needed Allen and what he was willing to do to get his Golden tongue back. At the same time, Allen would find the friends he never had and a real reason to survive. He’s finally putting to practice everything he learned since childhood and discovering his own strength.

All these adventures are detailed, engaging, and fascinating. There isn’t a slow moment in this book. The plot moves forward steadily with every situation, and all the characters had a reason to exist. The amount of characters and setting involved is grant, but not overwhelming. Everything is presented cohesively and the narrations, as well as the dialogues, were well-written and witty.

I loved Tara, Rene, Lesto, and many of the Fathoms Deep and Three-headed Dragons. The friendship between Sarrica, Lesto, and Rene added a sense of familiarity and reality to the story. The settings, the fashion, and the food descriptions were great; the books and treaties, too. I only had trouble following some of the gender neutral names and I wished the author had explained the reason why some of the males  were able to bear children.

Overall, an exquisite fantasy story filled with unique scenes and engaging characters. Really happy to see more books being added to the series.

The cover by John Coulthart is beautiful. The intricate design and the attention to detail bring small parts from the setting & the castle to life. It definitely has the feel of a medieval High Court.

Sale Links: LT3 | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 400 pages
Published: November 4, 2015, by Less Than Three Press
ISBN: 1620046245 (ISBN13: 9781620046241)
Edition Language: English

Series: Tales of the High Court
Book #1: The High King’s Golden Tongue
Book #2: The Pirate of Fathoms Deep
Book #3: The Heart of the Lost Star (2017)

 

 

 

 

 

A MelanieM Review:Locked (Telluric Realm #1) by Anyta Sunday

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

LockedA curse threatens the Winter Kingdom.
A brother is turned to ice.
A rebel uprising is on the horizon.

Marble-maker Rye Cunnings is at the center of it all—and doesn’t know it.

He doesn’t know he’s the lost summer prince. Doesn’t know his blood can unlock Winter’s curse. Doesn’t know why the marbles he makes flutter with magic. All he thinks is that he’s crazy. That he sees things others don’t, like dragons and strange markings on his skin.

But when a dark dragon snatches away Rye’s only friend Milo, he is forced to face the crazy in his life and figure out a way to bring Milo back.

Help comes in the form of Cerdic Leit, a warrior who finds Rye to take him “home” to the Telluric Realm and their kind. All Rye has to do is follow him into Gatreau, the gateway to the four Telluric kingdoms, and all his questions will be answered.

In the hopes of saving Milo, Rye steps into this new and dangerous world. A world where he learns of the Tellurics and their Hansian foes. A world that is swept up in a bitter battle of justice and hate.

And a world that won’t let Rye leave again.

I adore a wonderful fantasy saga and Anyta Sunday’s latest novel, Locked, has all the markings of making it into my top  fantasy list.  Its the first in her new series, Telluric Realm, and it sets the ground work not only for her series universe, which includes multiple dimensions, but a cast of characters complete with dragons, kingdoms at war, lost princes and curses that will break your heart.

We jump into Rye’s life as he’s running, fleeing actually, towards the comfort of his marble shop, Marvels Marbles:

Rye Cunnings shivered and hoofed it down the cobblestone road, fixed on the slice of his marble store ahead. This was just another morning. Just another morning.

A drizzly dawn fingered through the low-hanging mist creeping along Bristol’s narrow streets. Lamppost lights flickered and blinked out, sucking their murky reflections from deep puddles. Rain hit Rye’s neck and face and the palm he pressed against his chest. The drops snaked down his sleeve and mixed with the blood at his wrist. It tingled, and Rye dabbed his cuff over the cut—a circle intersected with twelve loops.

A cut that he’d gouged out with his keys, following the shimmery pattern that had marked his skin for as long as he could remember.

 

Already, the author has told us so many things, there’s a  spooky pattern playing out in Rye’s life, he has an odd design on his wrist and his cuts the pattern repeatedly.  That’s just the opening paragraphs, the following ones just cement your curiosity about this haunted man, the incredible marbles he makes that give him so much peace and perhaps act as a balm in more ways than one.

The action starts in too.  Anyta Sunday is not content to “tell you” but picks up the pace of her narrative (which was already fast), to whip along at dragon flight speed.  There is plenty of action, oodles of subterfuge,  political bad history between the kingdoms, lost princes and other back history for the author to lay out.  Oh and romances as well. Three of them to be exact if I’m following the threads here, not just the main characters, which is a total delight.

But, a cautionary note, the romances are of the slow building type.  You can see it happening, the chemistry the  author has created between several couples in her story is delicious.  Its the wonderful dialogs, great scenes, that deliver in some cases (ok, more than one) the prickliness and snark, the huge misunderstandings and the betrayals, but the actual falling, verbally, in love?  The commitment and the kissing? Don’t expect to see here.  It will have to be won, and too much will have occurred between all of the characters here  for that to have happened.  Trusts need to be rebuilt, and in some cases, people will need to be…well never mind, laughing, I’ll let those bits to the story and storyteller.

As I said before this is a long tale, with a saga’s worth a world building to layout for the reader.  At times, it gets a bit bogged down under the weight but it quickly picks up steam again.  And, honestly, you need that information later on in the story and series.

Sunday’s descriptions of fights and action are tremendous, I see the action happening as though it was just in front of me.  There are more than a few white-knuckle moments here and they were outstanding in making me wonder at the outcome, for the book and our hero (even as I knew there was a sequel coming).

Only the ending left me a little hanging. It felt less complete  and more like a setup for the next story.  Its really the only reason this story didn’t get a 5 star rating.  But I suppose that as saga’s go, I’ll settle for that and eagerly await the next installment in the Telluric Realm.

I’ll leave you with a  dream that Rye constantly has:

 

He lay back, practiced emptying his mind, and tossed and turned toward sleep.

Then, like a heavy weight plunging into deep water, Rye sank into The Dream.

She was there again, standing in a narrow alley, a slip of light overhead and a black shaft gripped in her hand. She held herself straight, chin up, honeycomb hair spilling over her shoulders. With a flick of her wrist, the shaft extended to the length of a cane and she stilled, statuesque for a long moment, and then spun into a fluid dance, the sharp end of the shaft cutting easily into the ground.

From inside her coat she pulled a vial and poured a glittering fluid over the markings she’d made. She flipped the shaft to its bristly end and traced the glitter over the wreath of symbols at her feet.

She came close, filling his vision.

“Shhh,” she said softly. “He won’t get you.”

His vision blurred to a curtain of golden hair, then sharpened, and her figure shrank away. The edges of the dream warped, distorted. There was a flash of orange light, followed by the woman’s wretched, agonized scream.

The alley entrance darkened as a scaled body slunk past, and then swiveled…

Fierce black eyes glared at him through thick plumes of smoke. One massive ball of fire shot out and bounced back at him. The dragon reared back, wings shooting out, belly expanding. Its jaws parted, jetting out a mighty burst of flame…

Again, the fire bounced.

The ground shook as the animal slammed against the alley entrance and roared. Then he flew overhead, diving down toward them. Again, something blocked him. Over and over he tried, retreating and slamming, retreating and slamming, retreating. . .

The dream warbled again, jerky

Do I recommend this book?  Absolutely!  Its exciting, its adventurous, highly imaginative and kept me glued to my Kindle until it was over.  Just how I love my fantasy tales to be told.

 

Cover Design: Natasha Snow is lovely, with just a hint of the designs that cover Rye’s body.

Map Design: Renflowergrapx

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 330 pages
Published April 26th 2016
ASIN B01DX3EAZQ
Edition Language English

A Paul B Review: Broken Prince, Mismatched Eyes (The Mauritanian Saga Book 1) by Layla Dorine

Standard

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars       ★★★★★

Broken Prince Mismatched EyesCaden DeMott might be the son of a noble but he clearly is not treated as such.  Born with two different colored eyes, many people in the area believe that he must be evil according to their traditional beliefs.  His stepmother makes his life miserable and effectively keeps him away from his stepbrothers.  Even his father can be distant at times to keep peace with his wife.  The only companionship Caden can rely on is his two dogs.  Because of all of this, Caden is withdrawn.  One morning, his father informs him that due to a business arrangement made by his stepmother several years ago, he is to be married to the prince of the family’s most important trading partner, the country of Mauritania.

Prince Rhys Gwyther was supposed to be married three years ago.  However, an accident while he was touring a mine left him almost a paraplegic.  But with determination and a lot of hard work, Rhys has learned to walk again, albeit with a limp.  While there are some in the kingdom calling for him to be bypassed as heir, Rhys is bound to live up to his birthright.  He makes the week voyage by boat from his country to the DeMott estate to meet his future husband.

When Rhys arrives, things go from bad to worse for the two of them.  Rhys takes an immediate dislike to Caden’s family.  But in Caden he finds potential for a mate.  However, both young men are waiting for the other to fall along long established patterns of abuse that they have suffered due to their “deformities.”    This will continue to shape the beginnings of their relationship.  Outside factors also contribute to drive the young couple apart.  Rhys’s father adds to the problem unintentionally making a decision meant to help them but only makes matters worse.  Will they find their happily ever after?

I really enjoyed this novel.  Caden and Rhys each have had their own problems over the years and have dealt with them as best they could.  These problems almost doom the relationship before it even starts.  Only after they agree to forget what others say and concentrate on just themselves do things begin to turn around.  But Caden’s family and past, along with those who do not feel Rhys should be the next king continue to threaten the princes.  The conclusion of the book wraps up the causes of the problems for both men, with the villains getting their just comeuppance.

The cover art by Kellie Dennis is just stunning.  Our two heroes are standing with shirts partially opened exposing well-formed chests above a picture of a boat sailing toward the land of Mauritania.  It fits the book really well.

Sales Links:  Wayward Ink Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details

Kindle Edition, 328 pages
Published December 4th 2015 by Wayward Ink Publishing
(first published January 1st 2013)
ASINB017WXGBM8
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series:  The Mauritanian Saga