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For those of you who have read some of my posts hereabout, you will have come to know that perhaps sci-fi is not my favourite genre of book. So, when I read an email that arrived in my inbox a few days ago, from the wonderful K Esta asking if I would be willing to review a sci-fi serial, I did pause, briefly, but then thought that I am always willing to give something new a read – why not a sci-fi story?
The story, Dosterra, can be found on a serial fiction site called JukePop Serials. It is free to sign up to, and stories are published a chapter at a time. If you like the chapter you have read, you can vote for it, helping to raise the ranking of the story and hopefully the profile of the author! Yay! You can read the first chapter of a story without signing up, so go and check it out!
Dosterra is a wintry mining planet. With a monopoly on natural resources and transition technology, it is the undisputed leader of the Earth Origin Colonies. But Lexie has stumbled across something that threatens their dominance. What if their power was built on a lie? On the run, she’s forced to seek the help of Iden, a scientist with the Transition Regulation Centre, though his motives for helping her are unclear.
The story begins dramatically, with a friend of Lexie’s, Tem, turning up at her home bearing some bad news: the authorities are looking for her, and they have to leave immediately. With the aid of some stolen equipment they travel back in time twenty four hours, in the hope that they can avoid being caught. When Lexie finds out that Iden, a former friend who she believes is responsible for the loss of her job five years previously, is behind the procuring of the equipment, she is not happy. However, after narrowly avoiding being caught for a second time, Lexie and Tem are forced to go to Iden for help. Lexie is unsure whether or not they can trust him, but it seems they have no other choice.
Not only was what I have read so far well written but I, a sci-fi newbie, was completely drawn into the story, which given the genre, did surprise me. The characters were engaging, as was the interplay between them and the descriptions of the places mentioned were vivid.Although I am not an expert in the world of sci-fi, and some of the terminology was beyond my grasp (that, of course, is my own fault, and not the fault of the author) it did not detract from my enjoyment . The story was pretty fast-paced from the get-go, and I will certainly be checking in to see how Lexie fares in the future. Currently there are only six chapters available for reading, but I am excited to learn just how the story develops and what K Esta has in store for the characters.
My verdict: definitely worth a go, whether you are a sci-fi fan or not. I myself, am eagerly anticipating the publishing of the next chapter because the last one ended with quite a bit of suspense.
The following is a piece of flash fiction, inspired by my interest in the palaeolithic. I have already posted it here, but thought I would post it again
As I looked down at the ochre-stained object resting in my hands, I felt an undeniable sense of peace.
Was I cradling a representation of the first goddess? Her features were so unlike those we would associate with divinity today. She did not fit our socially-accepted standard of beauty. And yet, she was not ugly. I did not find her repulsive. There was a different sort of beauty about Her, one I couldn’t explain, but I knew it was there, carved upon the stone, nonetheless.
There was power in Her. I could sense it. The power of love, the power of protection, the power of peace…the raw, untamed energy of the deep earth. It radiated out from the tiny statue that had been carved with such care and love thousands upon thousands of years ago, with a quality that couldn’t be diminished over space or time. She was as She had always been and would ever be.
It was such a small object, but its presence evoked so much more. I wanted to cry, so moved was I by Her.
There is no evidence to suggest that what you are holding is an ancient goddess. I heard the words I had read earlier echo in my mind.
I don’t need any evidence to prove it one way or another, I responded. Why?
Because the tears rolling down my cheeks told me all I needed to know. Because I knew it in my heart, and it was enough.
The High Lord is the third and final instalment in The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan. Having read The Magician’s Guild and The Novice, by the time it came to read the final book in the series I was already hooked and I just knew that I was going to love this one, whatever happened in it.
The High Lord continues on with the story of Sonea. She is still a novice, studying magic at the university, and yet the secret that she had learned by accident when her powers still threatened to consume her and everyone around her, is now even more relevant, not just to her, but to the whole of Kyralia. As she does her best to keep this secret and protect those who might be harmed should the secret be revealed, things take an unexpected turn and she finds herself at the centre of it. The repercussions could be disastrous if word gets out about the secret, but not in the way she had first anticipated.
Intrigue, black magic, love, trust and unwavering loyalty are themes that are dealt with in The High Lord, and twists and turns in the story keep you engaged throughout the entire book. I can honestly say that I felt I was there, with Sonea, as the dramatic events unfolded around her.
By the time I had reached the second half of the book, there was never any question of me putting it down until I had finished reading the whole thing, apart from a few brief pauses where I was consumed with anguish as the end got ever closer. This is how I personally measure a good book and great series; if I feel traumatised and grief-stricken, knowing that it is or soon will be over, how can I not have enjoyed it? How can I not think that the author is amazing?
As the book draws to a close, all loose threads are tied up, all questions are answered, and the series is rounded off perfectly. This book is everything a good fantasy book should be, and more than that, it is everything a final book in a series should be.
This was my favourite book out of the three, by far. It had the most action, adventure, and heroics than the other books, but be warned, there is sadness also. I was a little dismayed with the ending but I can see why it ended the way it did. Not much of a criticism, I suppose, but I do feel terrible for voicing it. I just wished that it had ended differently. :-( However, that didn’t detract from how well-received the book was, not a bit.
This is the best fantasy book and fantasy series I have read in a long time. I fell in love with many of the characters instantly, and the descriptions of the places were vivid enough for me to imagine them, to feel as if I too was there. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
The Novice is the second book in The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan, a series that I am completely immersed in at this moment in time. They are, quite frankly, a treasure.
The Novice follows on from where The Magician’s Guild left off. Sonea, the slum dweller who had surprised everyone, including herself, when she discovered she had powerful magic, is now studying at The Magicians’ Guild. However, not everyone is happy that there is a former slum dweller in their midsts, tainting an institution that has become solely identified with the Houses, the richest inhabitants of Imardin.
This instalment, moves away from where she has come from and instead focuses on her transition into the world of Magicians. The plot twists and turns as the author shows us glimpses of the world outside of Imardin, introducing new characters and developing those of whom we are already acquainted.
Although in the first book, the villain is only hinted at, in the second we are offered a little more to go on. However, whether they really are villain or not, and whether their crimes are what we are led to believe, are questions we carry with us into the third and final part of the trilogy. Canavan’s ability to reveal just enough is no doubt a credit to her as a writer, and why these books are unquestioningly a success.
Bullying, jealousy and prejudice are important themes throughout this book, as is learning how to overcome obstacles in the best possible way, the right way. It is not hard to empathise with Sonea’s situation and the issues raised are dealt with sympathetically.
Although I enjoyed both books in the series so far, and rated them the same (4 out of 5), I do believe that The Novice was faster paced and had an equal measure of action and intrigue throughout.
To quote how I rounded up the review of book one, for I believe there is not much I can to it:
“This is a great book and I am certain that I will read it again. The author can spin an engaging narrative, one that ensures that if the reader has to put the book down, it is begrudged.”
I really enjoyed The Novice. As the sequel to The Magician’s Guild, this book was fast-paced, the character and story development, engaging…a real page-turner. I could not put this down and will be starting the final book in the series immediately. I am so happy to have come across these books and this author. Great stuff.
4 out of 5
(My Goodreads review of The Novice by Trudi Canavan)
The Magician’s Guild is the first book in The Black Magician Trilogy. I stumbled across the entire trilogy by accident at a book sale, and I must say that I haven’t been able to put these books down since I picked them up. In fact, I am already half way through the second book in the series, but thought I had better review the first one before I get any further!
The story is set around a young girl named Sonea. She is what is referred to as a ‘dwell’; an inhabitant of the slums of Imardin. They are the poorest of the poor, and the rest of the city believe them all to be thieves and criminals.
Every year, the magicians from the Guild purge the streets of the city clean, doing their best to remove as many of these dwells as possible. Each year, they are met by groups of young dwells, who frustrated by the way they are treated, do their best to hinder the purge.
When the story begins, Sonea finds herself caught up in this act of defiance. There is nothing that these dwells can do to prevent the purge from going ahead; there is nothing they can do harm the magicians, or even make them think twice about what it is they are doing. All they can do is create a little disruption and throw a few stones.
Although Sonea doesn’t want to participate, and she has been instructed by her aunt and uncle to avoid it at all costs, Sonea, like many of the dwells, is feeling desperately frustrated by the way the poor of Imardin are treated. That very morning, as part of the purge, her family is evicted from an overcrowded slum dwelling, and understandably Sonea is angry. As she throws her own stone at the magicians, her anger and emotions flow over. Although she expects nothing to happen, only that her stone will bounce of the shield the magicians use to protect themselves, something extraordinary happens. The stone passes through the shield and strikes one of the magicians on the head. He is subsequently rendered unconscious. This can only mean one thing, something that alarms the magicians greatly; Sonea, a dwell, possesses magic.
This one small act, precipitates a city-wide manhunt. Sonea goes into hiding, but there are only a handful of people she can trust to help keep her safe. As the net closes around her, the magic that she has somehow unleashed within herself, becomes uncontrollable. The magicians say they can help her, but can she trust them? She has never seen or heard that they have ever helped a dwell before, so why should they want to help her now? And yet, if she doesn’t accept their help, the power within her that she has no control over, might destroy the very people she loves.
The Magician’s Guild is a refreshing fantasy book. There are no monsters or demons here, only a young girl, who is as confused as everyone else as to why she is all of sudden in possession of powerful magic, magic she can’t control and doesn’t understand. Issues of class divide and social status are explored, as are issues of turning your back on where you have come from in order to truly understand and accept who you are. Friendships are tested, opinions challenged and questions of trust and loyalty are asked.
This is a great book and I am certain that I will read it again. The author can spin an engaging narrative, one that ensures that if the reader has to put the book down, it is begrudged.
I really enjoyed The Magicians’ Guild, the characters were engaging, the setting felt authentic and the storyline kept me interested until the very last page. I am certainly looking forward to reading book #2 in the series.
4 out 5 stars
(My Goodreads review of The Magician’s Guild by Trudi Canavan)
This captivating short story is set during the coronation of William the Conqueror at Westminster Abbey. For such a short tale, it is crammed with historic detail and manages to clearly capture the tensions between the conquering Normans and the conquered Saxons, highlighting the difference between the two, both in language and in the law. The legal standing of women under each is even mentioned.
The only criticism I have with this short story – which is hardly a criticism at all – is that it wasn’t long enough. That being said, the story was a complete, captivating read, one that hints that there is the possibility of further stories in this direction from the author. Or perhaps, I am just seeing what I want to see…
I can’t recommend this short story highly enough. If you are looking for a quick historical yarn, I suggest that you consider downloading this from Smashwords.
Following on from last week’s publishing post, A Question of Publishing Routes, I thought I would continue by looking at some of the self-publishing options out there that I am considering or that have caught my attention…In the first part I shall focus on ebooks…(and don’t for a minute think I am an expert, these are only a few random thoughts )
First off, I don’t the like idea of paying someone an upfront fee for publishing my work, either digitally or in print. The way I see it (at the moment, at least) is either my work will be published on its own merit, or I will publish it myself, meaning that although I will have to do all the hard work, and there is a lot of it to do, if it pays off, I will get all the rewards too. It just seems a little cheeky to me to be expected to pay someone else to publish my book, and on top of that, give them a cut of the money it makes as well; one or other is fine, but both? No, that makes me a little uneasy.
I already use the Smashwords platform as an eBook distributor. Granted both of the ebooks I have available through them are free books. Having looked into selling ebooks through them I found out that US tax law requires Smashwords to retain a certain amount of money made through sales, until you supply them with a certificate from the UK’s tax department (because I am based in the UK). This sounded rather complex and convulted, which made me seek out some of the alternatives available out there and I came across…
XinXii, a European-based ebook-publishing platform who don’t require non-EU writers to provide any tax documentation (obviously wouldn’t apply to me anyway). The returns would be more or less the same as Smashwords without providing the previously-mentioned paperwork. However, XinXii doesn’t seem to have the international marketing and sizeable audience that Smashwords has. Out of the indie authors that I have so far come across through blogging, etc, I have never seen any that use XinXii. Most use Smashwords or…
KDP, that is Kindle Direct Publishing. Of course, the Kindle and Amazon platform is huge, but I must admit that I have heard that some find the publishing procedure complicated, and with a certain option (the KDP Select) you can only offer your book exclusively through them and nowhere else digitally. However, the fact is that many authors do use KDP and do so successfully.
There are other options out there, including print publishers who include ebook publishing with the services that they offer, such as Lulu, who I shall discuss in the next part of this publishing series.
I think, if I am honest, I will stick with Smashwords. Both my attempts at publishing with them were easy; I had no issues whatsoever with formatting and made it into the premium catalogue with my first attempts (fingers crossed, that run of luck will continue!). The bonus of getting the ebooks into the premium catalogue is that the ebooks are then able to be distributed elsewhere, including Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Apple’s iBooks. KDP doesn’t appeal to me; it sounds too complicated, and I like the idea of being able to offer my book where I like (of course, I reserve the right to change my opinion on this at a later date ). I liked the sound of XinXii but it doesn’t really seem to offer a reach as big as Smashwords. I know that success with Smashwords is only really possible if you are willing to really put the effort into your marketing, but isn’t that the case with all the self-publishing options?
Are you an indie author? Who do you publish your ebooks with? How would you describe the experience or your success? Any words of warning or advice? Please feel free to share any thoughts you might have below…