Tag Archives: fantasy

Review: The Varangian (Book 3) by Bruce MacBain – An Exciting Viking Adventure

Today I have a review The Varangian, which is book three in a great historical fantasy series that I’ve been following (Odd Tangle-Hair Saga). However, it looks like it might end up only a trilogy. It’s so well-done though I can’t help but wish for more. You can also read them stand alone, but you’ll get so much more out of it if you read them all. Don’t forget to check out the giveaway for the book at the end of the post!

perf6.000x9.000.indd

Review –

I really can’t say enough good things about the Odd Tangle-Hair Saga penned by Bruce MacBain. The Varangian is the third, and it seems the final, in the series. You can view my review of the second book, The Ice Queen, HERE, and an interview I had with Bruce HERE. I was first drawn to this series because I love historical books that combine into fantasy, especially if they are dealing with ancient civilizations or Vikings.

Bruce’s story telling ability draws in the readers and often as soon as I start his books I’m completely absorbed into the worlds and legend he has created. Of course, with great anticipation, it was the same with The Varangian. Without being over flowerly or academic or hard to follow, Bruce somehow writes in a way that allows to feel as if we are also privy to the story as if we were in it ourselves. It’s like the long lost story your Viking grandpa would tell if you lived in a more far away time and you  had a Viking grandpa (haha)…but you get my drift.

I couldn’t wait to see what adventure Odd Tangle-Hair became drawn up into and as he venture into Byzantine empire in this book, I was as enthralled by Bruce’s authentic details and descriptions of this time and place as much as his protagonist was in the story. Of course, Odd must have some suspenseful mission up his sleeve as always that will take us through excitement, danger, sadness, and this time, even love. Constantinople is the perfect setting for such deep emotions and Bruce plays into that very well, allowing the reader to be swept away as well.

It’s also very obvious that Bruce is a true historian. He knows the people and places of the ancient worlds like he was living among them. This allows the reader, especially historical lovers, to be immersed even more into the story. A true feeling of place is captured in his dynamic prose.

Book three probably brings us the most compelling and climactic action as Odd finally comes head to head with antagonist Harald, as well as the friction between so many various cultures all coming to a point at this beautiful city of Constantinople. Both Odd and Harald are written with a high level of characterization and depth, but Bruce is also adept at bringing us a strong supporting cast of new characters in each book. They were exceptionally well-done in The Varangian, allowing the time and place to be even more engaing as you can’t have a good story without good characters.

As Odd tells his story, a perfect narrator, I could definitely smell, taste, hear, and see his adventure as if I lived it with him. I’ve completely enjoyed this series and will treasure it for years to come. Very highly recommended.

02_The Varangian.jpgThe Varangian by Bruce MacBain

Publication Date: November 29, 2016
Blank Slate Press
eBook & Print; 341 Pages

Series: Odd Tangle-Hair Saga, Book Three
Genre: Historical Fiction

The third volume of Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga finds our hero in Golden Miklagard (Constantinople), posing as an ambassador from the Grand Prince of Rus. But his real mission is to assassinate his former master, Harald the Ruthless, who has now risen high in the Emperor’s Varangian Guard. Odd is dazzled by the brilliance of the Byzantine capital and its beating heart–the Great Palace, with the astonishing Throne of Solomon that levitates above the heads of kneeling courtiers.

Here, Odd will meet Constantine Psellus, an ambitious young bureaucrat who mentors him in the ways of the court. He will be drawn into an intrigue that involves the Empress Zoe, who spends her days brewing vats of perfume, and John the Guardian of Orphans, the powerful and sinister eunuch who schemes to advance his family. And Odd will fall in love with Selene, an alchemist’s daughter, who supports herself by gambling in the waterfront taverns.

Finally, after a hard-fought campaign against the Saracens in Sicily and the overthrow of an Emperor, Odd reaches the pinnacle of power and believes he has vanquished his enemy Harald once and for all.

Then disaster overwhelms him.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Praise for The Varangian

“Thoroughly effective at explaining the intriguing and highly complex circumstances of the time period, Macbain’s (The Ice Queen, 2015, etc.) book shines in a way that only historical fiction can. Who needs King Jon Snow in Game of Thrones when one can get a glimpse of the historically real and undeniably sinister John the Guardian of Orphans? Even the most terrifying dragon pales in comparison to the sheer horror of a society so comfortable with castration. As the story ventures outside of Constantinople, the reader is treated to a plot that can only be described as epic … a highly entertaining Viking adventure.” – Kirkus Reviews

“This is the third and final of Macbain’s Odd Tangle-Hair novels. All three have been spellbinding in their storytelling, though this one may be the best. Odd’s journey takes us around the Mediterranean and eastern European world, and all the way north back to Iceland. The characters are wonderful, the story intriguing, the combat real but never superfluous, and Odd makes for the perfect protagonist. Highly recommended.” – Historical Novel Society

“Written by a historian with deep understanding of the cultures, peoples, and languages of this world, The Varangian speaks with an authoritative and compelling voice that can equally present naval battles decided by Greek Fire and court intrigue culminating in advancement to lucrative rank or in mutilation and blinding. This is a masterfully written and suspenseful tale that weaves fictional characters into the dramatic story of eleventh-century Byzantium and ambitious women and men, some home grown and some drawn from afar, who aimed to profit from an empire of legendary wealth and splendor.” – Emily Albu, Professor of Medieval and Byzantine Studies, UC, Davis

“The Varangian is the third and final volume of Bruce Macbain’s Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga, and like the first two entries, it is as compelling and wild a ride as historical fiction offers. Macbain brilliantly weaves in his vast knowledge of 11th century Viking and Byzantine life with a great storyteller’s ability to drive the plot forward, a plot filled with intrigue, violence, betrayal, and lust.” – Barton Kunstler, author of The Hothouse Effect

“Detailed and vivid writing.” -Albert Noyer, author of the Getorius and Arcadia Mysteries

Author Bruce MacBain, Biography

03_Bruce MacbainBruce MacBain has degrees in Classics and Ancient History and was formerly an Assistant Professor of Classics at Boston University.

He decided to stop writing scholarly articles (which almost no one read) and turn his expertise to fiction—a much more congenial medium.

His previous novels include two mysteries set in ancient Rome (Roman Games, The Bull Slayer) and the first two novels in the Odd Tangle-Hair series (Odin’s Child, The Ice Queen).

For more information, please visit Bruce MacBain’s website. You can also find him on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Goodreads.

Giveaway

To win a copy of The Varangian by Bruce MacBain, please enter via the Gleam form below. Three copies are up for grabs!

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/MTA2D/the-varangian

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US & Canada only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Follow along with the tour!

Hashtags: #TheVarangianBlogTour #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #Historical #Vikings

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @BMacbain

04_The Varagian_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Review: Stunning Novel Avelynn: The Edge of Faith by Marissa Campbell

Today, I have a review of book two, Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, in the Avelynn series from one of my favorite writers, Marissa Campbell! I read this some time back and fell in love with it, kinda like I did the first one, Avelynn. You can read that review HERE. It’s a series, but they can be read stand alone as well. Secondly, check out this beautiful cover by Jenny Q, and then the blurb of the book, so you know a little about what it’s about….

Avelynn-Edge-of-Faith-eBook-Cover-Large.jpg

Avelynn: The Edge of Faith

by Marissa Campbell

Publication Date: September 26, 2016
eBook; 302 Pages
ASIN: B01KUC6N9Y

Genre: Historical Romance/Medieval
Series: Avelynn (Book Two)

Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, a stand-alone Viking Romance from author Marissa Campbell.

It’s the year 871. Charges of treason, murder, and witchcraft follow Avelynn into exile as she flees England with Alrik. Arriving in Wales, they find refuge among Alrik’s friends in the Welsh nobility. Cast out by his half-brothers, Alrik seeks to regain his honor and earn favor with the gods. When war threatens, Alrik embraces gold and the opportunity for his crew to become mercenaries, aiding the Southern Welsh kings in their fight against Rhodri the Great.

Desperate to return home, Avelynn seeks to find a way to prove her innocence, but she is pitted against Alrik as their desires for the future clash. With battle looming, Avelynn’s faith in their relationship is further tested through a bitter struggle with Marared, a jealous lover from Alrik’s past. Marared’s threats turn deadly, and Avelynn runs afoul of magic and sorcery, causing her to question her beliefs and role as priestess.

When Avelynn and Alrik are betrayed, Avelynn is captured and Alrik is charged with regicide. The two become separated, a chasm of greed, deceit, and ambition driving them apart. In an act of harrowing faith, Avelynn will stop at nothing to find her way back to Alrik and break them both free from Wales’s bloodthirsty grasp.

AVELYNN: THE EDGE OF FAITH is a stand-alone novel and #2 in the Avelynn series.

Review –

Let me start off by saying that Marissa Campbell is a phenomenal writer. For me, being an editor and long time book reader and reviewer, it takes <this> level of writer to allow me to fully immerse myself in a book in a way that makes it entertainment for me. It’s hard for my mind to allow me to be swept me away to another time and place without habitually dissecting the work. And I’ve been craving that because I love reading!

I read her debut novel, Avelynn from St. Martin’s Press, last year and have been looking forward to more from Marissa since then. This is the type of writing that immediately captivates me and holds me hostage. My mind doesn’t wander innately to seeing content or dialogue flaws or ever get glitched by sentence structure or errors. Marissa doesn’t realize what an amazing writer she is and how much she stands out in an overwhelming sea of books. She’s a blockbuster in my opinion. Her second novel, Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, is a stand alone but also follows the story of the characters from the first novel. I believe that this second work is even better than the first and I didn’t think that was possible!

So what makes Marissa’s writing and Avelynn: The Edge of Faith so good? Besides being quite flawless editorial wise, her words flow poetic, like sugar on my tongue. The story dissolves smoothly and quickly and her vocabulary and phrasing makes even me in awe. I want all my writing to come out like hers. With a beauty not often found in novels these days, her writing is art and her characters and settings glow.

Speaking of characters, in this second book we really are able to see Avelynn blossoming in her own right, asserting her independence and knowing her need to be respected, yet also respectful of her betrothed – Alrik. She’s vibrant and strong, flowing with the power of the goddess and I could SWEAR I KNOW Avelynn personally. I connected to her and she flies off the page in fully dimensional development, but yet that’s an after reflection, not something I thought about during the reading of the novel. I was too wrapped up in her emotions, trials, fears, and triumphs. She has so much power inside her and that reverberates so clearly. Alrik’s character is also fully developed and the perfect complement to Avelynn – he’s also strong and knows how to gently reign in her in. He’s the protective type and a rock to her, giving her more strength and the ability to grow within herself. Marissa knew just the right type of man to place with Avelynn. Their ease together – their dialogue and actions – through arguments, tension, and gentle moments is both comical and endearing.

This relationship is the basis of why this is categorized as a romance, though to me, someone who rarely reads romances because I find them so fake, forced or contrived, I feel the romance encased itself as the glue to the suspenseful drama of the plot of this book. And…that was a GOOD thing. I see why this was lightly compared to Outlander by Diana Gibaldon, even thought it’s not time travel in nature. For me, I totally love the show Vikings, and this book is helping to cure my pining for the next season to return, so this is absolutely like mixing the show Vikings with Games of Thrones. It was about relationships, including romance, mixed with the strife and fighting of the times! I LOVED the romance in this book, and yes there is some steamy scenes, because Marissa knows how to write romance to make it feel real and natural (and HOT!). She makes me blush. It’s the type of passion that so many authors have trouble with…but not Marissa. I swear she is a sex whisperer. If you want a totally clean read, here’s your warning that this is not it, but maybe if you are feeling daring this is the book for you to try!

As for the plot in the book, Avelynn and Alrik have had to flee England as Avelynn is accused of witchcraft and murder, among other things. She is a preistess of the goddess and adheres to her pagan beliefs seriously. She feels the power and the hand of the gods with her and wants to stay grounded and follow their guidance. However, she is not a witch and doesn’t relate to magic. When she meets a past lover of Alrik in Wales, who threatens her with evil witchcraft she doesn’t know how to react at first. She seeks the counsel of her ancestors but is left with more questions rather than insight and has to figure out her proper path on her own with one constant – she wants to be by Alrik’s side. Things don’t always go as planned though, even if you have the gods on your side.

This is what I enjoyed the most the book – all the fantasy elements. To me, this book primarily read as a fantasy-based historical and I suppose that is where some of my Games of Thrones attribution comes into play. When Marissa digs into her writing with fervor, she is unmatched in description and detail. She creates sense of place and atmosphere at different stages that made me not just feel like I was painted a picture, but that I was inside a virtual reality sequence – walking around in the place myself behind the character, or maybe even that I AM the characters – kind of like I was in the movie Avatar! Marissa’s ability to write visually is exceptional. I totally wish that this would become an historical fantasy show on streaming television, because I totally want to watch it!

When you read Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, you’ll read way more than a romance or fantasy though, you’ll see the struggles of intertwining faiths and practices at a volatile time for England during the Viking take-over. You’ll read a woman fighting for her beliefs while also trying to come to terms with some of her own practices and those of others. You’ll read a well-researched historical base, so superb in fact, you’ll forget that the author had to create this world from historical basis mixed with a large imagination. As a reader, you’ll feel what the people of that time may have felt – a deep desire to hold on to ancestry and yet grow with the times testing her own inner faith and desires.

I don’t like to give too much plot away in my reviews, but to tell you my experiences. This was a very smooth and quick read that dipped me on a vacation back to medieval Wales, with lush and decadent description, sizzling romance, strong fantastical elements and plot, and I wouldn’t care if I couldn’t use my hair dryer or inside plumbing, I WANT to be in this story as Avelynn myself. Thank you Marissa for captivating me and making me feel passionate about words – oh, and feeding my Viking obsession.

So, book three ready yet, eh??

Get your copy now – I promise you – you’ll love it!!

AMAZON (KINDLE) | BARNES & NOBLE (NOOK) | KOBO

03_marissa-campbell_author-1

Author Marissa Campbell, Biography

Marissa Campbell is a published freelance author, and co-author of the award-winning, spiritual self-help book Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day. Her debut historical fiction AVELYNN, was published through St. Martin’s Press, September 2015.

She is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, and local critique group B7. When she is not writing, she is busy looking after her wonderful children, spending time with her fantastic husband, hanging out with her awesome friends, teaching yoga, dancing, laughing, and having fun!

For more information visit http://marissacampbell.com. You can also follow Marissa Campbell on FacebookTwitterGoodreadsGoogle+TumblrPinterest, and Instagram.

04_the-edge-of-faith_blog-tour-banner_final

 

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Uncategorized

A Grave Inheritance, Second in Historical Fantasy Series, Leads Celtic Goddess Descendant to Victorian London

02_A Grave Inheritance_Cover

Review~

When I read Kari Edgren’s A Goddess Born, the first book in this series, earlier this year I fell in love with it. You can see my review of that here. Not only do I like historicals, but I love paranormals/supernaturals (especially those with mythological components) and though I don’t normally like all kinds of romance, I do like them when they are not sappy or southern, so to speak.

So, when A Grave Inheritance, book two in the series also called Goddess Born series, became available to me for review, I was anxious to read it. It pretty much picks up where A Goddess Born leaves off, yet takes us to new places and on an action-adventure that kept me turning the pages. If you haven’t read the first book, she does do the usual back telling in a way that you’ll still enjoy the story, but both books are so good, you might want to go back and read the first one. They’re in digital format, so they are relatively cheap enough to buy the whole series.

In this second book, she takes her protagonist Selah (who is human, but with some powers of the supernatural, as she is descended from a Celtic goddess). Kari escorts her, and readers, back to Victorian England and ingratiates us to all the atmospheric details that emanate from that time period. She writes with a vivid and lively pen in a way that swept me right into the tale. Her descriptions are lovely and sweet-tasting, her sentences lovely. She’s one of those writers that treats writing like a work of art.

She’s labeled New Adult, but she crosses many boundaries. Without the paranormal element, she’d be historical romance. And really, to me, it’s more supernatural historical fiction! They are clean, which is the way I like my romances too (I’m not a prude either!). They essentially are good for young adult readers, too, and I’d love to share these with my daughter at some point. If you are buying for YA, they are good for 18-25, but younger also based on their interest and reading level. They are a sophisticated break from some of the dystopian, vampire, zombie, and etc. novels. I’d say they are wonderful for those young readers who like mythology, and in my case, adults too.

They do have enough meat to be read and enjoyed by adults, unless you like strictly old school Harlequin or erotica romance. But see, it’s the kind of meat that, personally, that I love in a book.  A great plot, magical story, courageous and kind main female, and a dreamy, but decent man who treats the woman as equal all score high marks with me for this book. The characters have challenges and conflicts to face, giving the reader twists and turns to enjoy, and this creates an exciting tale–one that had me sliding past each page of my Kindle with fervor.

I love Kari’s original tale and her ancient supernatural elements. I think that A Grave Inheritance was even better than the first, bringing more suspense and drama and great sense of time and place as they head to 18th Century London. I liked the villains she portrayed and the introduction of more with goddess-like powers.

I am super happy Kari chose to write this series; it has taken me to my fun place of reading magic and mythology and Old Word tales mixed with love and adventure. I absolutely can’t wait to read the next one. Highly recommended for any weekend night you have free! It will enchant you in a way that will lead you to read it very quickly.

A Grave Inheritance, Synopsis~

02_A Grave Inheritance_CoverPublication Date: December 1, 2014
Carina Press
eBook; ASIN: B00OHV6MFA

Series: Goddess Born
Genre: Historical/Paranormal/New Adult/Romance

Selah Kilbrid may descend from the goddess Brigid, but her heart beats—and breaks—the same as any human. Yet enduring the scorn of London’s most noble lords and ladies is a small price to pay for a chance at true happiness. Selah would endure much more for love, and her betrothed, Lord Henry Fitzalan, is prepared to challenge anyone foolish enough to stand in their way—even another goddess born.

But when a captivating young gentleman draws Selah into a world shadowed by secrets, she is forced to confront her darkest fears. What if some differences are too great to overcome and a future with Henry is doomed from the start?

With these doubts threatening her impending marriage and the very last of Brigid’s fire draining from her soul, a violent attack on an innocent child pushes Selah to the very edge of her power. She must find a way to cross into the Otherworld and regain her strength—or forfeit the streets of London to death and disease.

Buy the eBook~

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Author Kari Edgren, Biography~

03_Kari EdgrenKari Edgren is the author of the Goddess Born series. In 2010 and 2011 she was a semifinalist for the Amazon Break Through Novel Award. In 2013, she was a RWA Golden Heart finalist.

Ms. Edgren enjoys writing both historical and contemporary fiction, so long as there’s a spark of paranormal. She resides on a mountain top in the Pacific Northwest where she spends a great deal of time dreaming about the sun and torturing her husband and children with strange food and random historical facts.

For more information please visit Kari Edgren’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Sign Up for Kari Edgren’s Newsletter.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/agraveinheritanceblogtour/

Hashtags: #AGraveInheritanceBlogTour #GoddessBornSeries #Historical #Paranormal #Romance #NewAdult

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @KariEdgren @CarinaPress

04_A Grave Inheritance_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Viking Celebrates the August Finale of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians Series

This August, Viking will release THE MAGICIAN’S LAND, the spectacular conclusion to Lev Grossman’s New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy (On-sale: August 5, 2014; 978-0-670-01567-2; $27.95).  Below the details about the series and final book, you’ll find a GIVEAWAY of a MAGICIAN’S KIT which includes a sneak chapter, cool clock buttons, and extra cool postcards from an amazing artist!

About The Magicians Series and The Magician’s Land~

book-magicianslandThe trilogy opened with The Magicians which Junot Díaz called, “Stirring, complex, adventurous…[a] superb coming of age fantasy.” NPR called the sequel The Magician King “a spellbinding stereograph, a literary adventure novel that is also about privilege, power and the limits of being human.”  Legions of fans now await THE MAGICIAN’S LAND, a novel full of the subversive brilliance that has put Grossman at the forefront of modern fantasy, which will bring the Magicians trilogy to a shattering, triumphant conclusion.

Familiar faces return alongside new characters in THE MAGICIAN’S LAND. After being booted unceremoniously from Fillory, Quentin Coldwater returns to his alma mater, Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, to stake out a new life as a teacher. But the past catches up to him, and before long, he and the brilliant student Plum must set out on a black market adventure, taking him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost forever. Quentin discovers a spell that could create a magical utopia, a new Fillory—but casting it would set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them, he must risk sacrificing everything.

THE MAGICIAN’S LAND is a tale of love and redemption—the story of a boy becoming a man, an apprentice becoming a master, and a broken land finally becoming whole.  Old readers will devour the rich and riveting final book and newcomers can binge-read the series in full.

GIVEAWAY~

The Magician’s Kit goes to one U.S. Winner and will be mailed by Viking/Penguin.

It contains:

  • An excerpt booklet containing Chapter 1 of THE MAGICIAN’S LAND
  • Clock-face buttons in 3 different designs: click to view here
  • A set of 4 postcards featuring Magicians fan art by Christopher Shy

<<<<<Click HERE to link to the Rafflecopter Form and try your luck!>>>>>

Praise for The Magician’s Land~

“Sink your mobile devices into the nearest wishing well and duct-tape your front door against gnomes, pollsters, and other distractions. THE MAGICIAN’S LAND is beckoning, and demands your full attention.”

— Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and Egg & Spoon

“Lev Grossman has conjured a rare creature: a trilogy that simply gets better and better as it goes along. THE MAGICIAN’S LAND is sumptuous and surprising yet deliciously familiar…Literary perfection for those of us who grew up testing the structural integrity of the backs of wardrobes.”

Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus

Lev Grossman, Biography (his words)~

bio-levI was born in 1969 and grew up in Lexington, MA. My parents were both English professors, so naturally I read a lot. I read a lot in college too, and read even more in graduate school, then I moved to New York City and started writing full time.

My first novel, Warp, was published in 1997. My second, Codex, came out in 2004 and became an international bestseller. The Magicians was published in 2009 and was a New York Times bestseller and one of the New Yorker‘s best books of the year. The sequel, The Magician King, came out in 2011 and was a Times bestseller as well. The third and (almost certainly) last Magicians book, The Magician’s Land, will be out in August 2014. The Magicians books have now been published in twenty-three countries and have garnered praise from George R.R. Martin, John Green, Audrey Niffenegger, Erin Morgenstern, Joe Hill, William Gibson, Gregory Maguire, Junot Diaz and many others.

Since 2002 I’ve been the book critic at Time magazine, and the New York Times described me as “among this country’s smartest and most reliable critics.” I’ve  written a dozen or so cover stories for Time, and my work has also appeared in the Believer, the Village Voice, the Wall Street Journal,the New York TimesSalon, Wired, Entertainment Weekly,  Lingua Franca and many other places. I’ve won several awards for journalism, including a Deadline award in 2006. I make regular appearances on campuses, including Harvard, Yale and Oxford, and as a commentator on NPR.

I live in Brooklyn with my wife, two daughters and one son, in a creaky old house.

**********************************************************

You can learn more about Lev Grossman on his website http://www.levgrossman.com and follow him on Twitter @leverus.

Leave a comment

Filed under Feature Articles

James Matlack Raney Offers Tips and Thoughts on Writing Fantasy Literature

Today I am very pleased to introduce a wonderful guy and author! James Matlack Raney writes fantasy adventure in his books Jim Morgan and the Prince of Thieves and Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull! Below is a guest article about why he likes and writes fantasy books, in which he offers some tips for writers who are writing or who want to write fantasy for themselves! I really enjoyed the article; I hope you do too.

***********************************

Guest Article:  Hints for Writing Fantasy Literature
by James Matlack Raney, author of the Jim Morgan series

Headshot1More than any other kind of book, I love reading and writing fantasy adventures the most, losing myself in their mysteries, discovering their hidden treasures, and exploring the self-reflective borders between their worlds and mine. I grew up on Lewis and Tolkien, Stevenson and Defoe, and later, King and Rowling, walking the paths of Hogwarts and Gilead, sailing the oceans of Narnia and Middle-Earth in my mind. If you’re reading this post, odds are you have a favorite fantasy world as well, maybe from the old classics, or perhaps among the new ones, such as Panem or the Glade. But how did those worlds get there? Where did they come from? Perhaps you’re wondering how you might go about creating your own. I don’t have the answers to all those questions, nor perhaps does anyone else, but I can at least give you three hints from my own writer’s journey.

The first hint is to open yourself to your muse. C.S. Lewis famously said the entire world of Narnia was born from a single image that popped into his mind, a picture of a faun, walking through the snow, carrying a pile of Christmas packages in his arms. While I am certainly not C.S. Lewis, a single flash in my imagination gave birth to Jim Morgan’s adventures in a world of pirates and magic. I saw a young man, a black crow on his shoulder, standing on the pirate ship’s prow, the sails caught on a morning breeze. I can’t explain how the amazing human imagination works, but being relaxed, taking long walks, listening to music, all those things help daydreams take hold and grow. Close your eyes. What do you see? When you find a picture that captures you, grab hold of it and don’t let go, for somewhere in that image is a story to be told!

The second hint is to learn the language of storytelling. Once an author has a picture in mind, one that has begun to take root and grow, how does she successfully transfer it to the page? Even though most well told stories feel unique and original, the majority of them follow a measured and well-worn road, one travelled by many storytellers before, a specific set of beats and notes, a series of guideposts that aid both writer and reader in finding their way from beginning to end. If you look closely at your favorite books, you may see the pattern take shape. But if you’d like to learn from an expert, try Joseph Campbell’s books or Christopher Voegler, who has helped make Campbell a bit more digestible. Don’t be afraid to learn form and formula! I promise it won’t rob you of your creativity. On the contrary, it will help you more easily shape and mold on paper the world you wish to build in your mind.

The final hint I’ll offer is to never forget our real world as you create your fantasy universe. To me, one of the most moving moments in all the Lord of the Rings is the death and confession of Boromir, very much the same way that one of the most challenging moments in the Hunger Games is the death of Rue. There is nothing fantastical, magic, or unrealistic about either of those scenes, scenes of loss, of friendship and loyalty broken, of pain. But they are the moments that connect us most deeply with the characters and plots of the stories. The heart of every perfect fantasy is found in earthbound emotions and human experience.

So there you have it! Three hints to the creation of fantasy adventures; I hope they help you on your own writer’s journey, or at the very least, aid in your enjoyment of the great fantasy literature so many amazing authors continue to produce. Perhaps, if I’m lucky, a few of you might add Jim Morgan to your list, and join him, the Ratts, Lacey, and Cornelius on an uncanny adventures full of pirates, sorcerers, and sea monsters.

JMKTSecondBookKindleCoverAbout Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull (#2 in series)~

Hot on the heels of Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves, which was praised by About.com’s Fatherhood Guide, YAReads.com, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and influential book bloggers across the globe as “a rip-roaring good tale for children of all ages,” Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull sees old friends, new foes and magic forces tempt and test its protagonist, who is, one year following King of Thieves conclusion, at long last ready to return home to Morgan Manor.

Faced with terrors beyond his imagination – pirate battles, hidden islands, sorcerers and sea monsters – in Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull, the formerly spoiled-rotten Jim Morgan must learn to trust new allies, discover the power and magic of true friendship – and, just possibly uncover a hero hidden within him.

Ripe with fantastical challenges and miraculous victories that will resonate with any young reader who finds themselves in the thick of navigating young adulthood’s complexities, Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves is a good old-fashioned adventure story fit for a 21st century attention span.

“I wrote Jim Morgan to grab the attention of boy readers who have few options on bookshelves in today’s marketplace,” says Raney of the series. “Contrary to popular belief, I feel that boys actually enjoy reading, provided it’s rich with excitement, danger, and emotional themes they crave.”

James Matlack Raney, Biography~

JMRJames Matlack Raney grew up all over the world, including Europe, Latin America and Africa. These days, he calls Southern California home, and spends his time writing adventures…and occasionally living a few of his own.

Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull is available now via Amazon and in select brick-and-mortar retailers.

Find James Matlack Raney on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and his blog, Storygazing.

Website: http://jimmorganbooks.com/

STAY TUNED FOR A REVIEW AND AN INTERVIEW COMING UP OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS!

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Posts