Category: Heroic Fantasy

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – in the conclusion of the trilogy “The End of Dreams” by Marcus Lee

Posted Wednesday, 3 March, 2021 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#EnterTheFantastic Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: During my 3rd Year of co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder, I was able to participate on my first blog tour with Storytellers on Tour which was featuring the author Brianna Sugalski on her “Disenchanted” blog tour. What I appreciated about Storytellers on Tour is their dedication to Indie Authors of Speculative Literature and their ability to find authors who are telling stories in Fantasy which intrigue me to read. Fantasy has been a challenging genre for me to explore even a bit moreso than Science Fiction – which is why I feel blessed to be on their blogger team. Whilst some of their tours I might seek out a book to consider for review, I also actively enjoy hosting creative content using book photography and/or featuring their authors in conversation (ie. interviews) or giving them the breadth of joy to write a guest post based on a topic of my choosing. Overall, Storytellers on Tour are dedicated to creating community and for championing those of us who are choosing to share our readerly lives each day we bring content to our book blogs. 

I received a complimentary copy of “The End of Dreams” direct from the author Marcus Lee in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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My thoughts on behalf of “Tristan’s Folly”:

At the heart of the series is the love story of Maya and Taran – of how they found each other and how their love grew out of the battle to survive the oppressive overreach of Daleth. Theirs is a romance that is rooted out of their relationship having a strong foundation of friendship and the mutual respect they each shared for the others’ gift. Without each other by their side, I am quite sure they would not have survived as long as they have now as they have a way of renewing each others’ strength as much as they are the truer compliment of each other as well. You cannot help grieve alongside them when their fears and anxieties about the prospects of their future are revealled – of the checks and balances they undertake to better recognise their advantages and disadvantages to re-engage in war with Daleth and yet, find small measures of joy in renewing their affirmed love for each other as well. The ways in which Lee has presented their relationship’s growth throughout this sequel re-affirms why this series seeks to redirect the reader off the war itself and re-align the reader’s eye on the more important aspects of what life is meant to give everyone. It isn’t about conquest or war nor is it about the rise of power – there is a unifying will to seek out one singular part of our lives which redefines the purpose of all men (and women) and truly illuminates our purpose through the strongest light possible.

Yana’s efforts to insurrect her own footing into the confidences of those round her was a bit discomforting knowing that her intentions were without honour. She could have given more to their cause if she hadn’t turnt her back on what a more just person might have pursued. Her mind was stuck on one particular goal and whatever came next paled in her original plans to overturn a relationship she had no right to interfere against. It spoke to her truer nature and of how she never set out to establish her own path to walk. She was constantly conniving her way into measures of confidence and trust with those round her and yet, part of me questioned how she could ever find true happiness if her happiness was completely tethered to the destruction of joy in others.

The greater crust of the story is about the battles themselves – the art of warfare and of how those who fought for either Daleth or Tristan had to choose their actions wisely against the intelligence of their enemies. Neither side would admit defeat and both sides felt they had the upper hand against each other – to more or less extent, this was true but the greater issue is what this world would yield once the battles concluded. What could be left of a world where everyone was pitted against each other and where those in power had their own agendas to see through which contradicted the reasons why the men and women fought in this war?

The hardest part of the story of course are the attacks of conscience of the players in this war whom are not below undermining others free will in order to gain something themselves. They seek to take what they feel is rightly theirs when in reality, it never was theirs at all. This plays out continuously as two persons in this story are content to pine after what they cannot have and then in the end, choose to take what cannot be given freely. It is this under-thread of deceit which has the greatest power to change the course of the souls in the series because of how much their survival is connected to the war itself. Each battle won is a small step forward towards the freedom of the world and yet, some battles are not on the battlefield but held in closed quarters where people bank against their own soul for the prize they desire moreso than the life they breathe.

-quoted from my review of Tristan’s Folly

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On my connection to Marcus Lee: I first crossed paths with Lee during the blog tour for Kings & Daemons in August 2020. Being fellow writers and voracious readers – it felt like a natural extension of the first blog tour, we would have something to talk about together about this world being built within the series of the Gifted and the Cursed as well as outside of the series itself. We continued to ‘chat’ privately after the blog tour and then, shortly before the start of the second we reconnected finding we’re both at different junctions of our writerly careers. However, I withheld discussing my thoughts about the sequel until my review for the second blog tour was released.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Lee through our respective joy in being writers as well as enjoying discussing the merits of Speculative Fiction as it applies to Dark Fantasy. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available. This also applies to hosting a guest feature by the author I share a connection.

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Notation on Cover Art: I am simply in love with the cover art for this book series –

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – in the conclusion of the trilogy “The End of Dreams” by Marcus LeeThe End of Dreams
Subtitle: The Gifted and the Cursed (Book Three)
by Marcus Lee
Source: Author via Storytellers on Tour

As Daleth the Witch-King and his horde ready themselves for the final battle, a small alliance prepares for a desperate last stand.
However, the alliance is weak and fractured, led by a king interested only in retaining his wealth and a lord commander consumed by his thirst for revenge. With a seemingly unbeatable army before them, invisible foes amongst them, and broken hearts between them, the alliance appears destined to fall.

Yet in these dark times, her light almost extinguished, a peasant huntress is soon to be queen. But if she can find what was lost, she might prove to be more powerful than two kings combined.

This war will bring about the end of dreams, but for whom, the gods have yet to decide.

Genres: Cosy Horror, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8598984192

Also by this author: Kings and Daemons, Tristan's Folly

Also in this series: Kings and Daemons, Tristan's Folly


Published by Self Published

on 23rd January, 2021

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 400

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The Gifted and the Cursed Trilogy:

Kings and Daemons by Marcus LeeTristan's Folly by Marcus LeeThe End of Dreams by Marcus Lee

Kings & Daemons (book one) | see also Review

Tristan’s Folly (book two) | see also Review

The End of Dreams (book three)

This is a Self-Published novel and series!

Converse via: #Fantasy, #EpicFantasy or #HeoricFantasy or #SwordAndSorcery
as well as #StorytellersOnTour #  & #EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads

About Marcus Lee

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #EnterTheFantastic
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Posted Wednesday, 3 March, 2021 by jorielov in #EnterTheFantastic, ArchDemons or Demonic Entities, Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Cosy Horror, Dark Arts (Dark Magic), Dark Fantasy, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, High Fantasy, Horror-Lite, Immortals, Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Storytellers on Tour, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Sword & Scorcery

An Indie Fantasy Book Spotlight and Extract | “Rising Shadows” (Book One: The Pillar of Creation) by Phillip Blackwater

Posted Tuesday, 16 February, 2021 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

Today it is an honour to host this lovely Fantasy blog tour with Storytellers on Tour – a blog touring company whose championing Indie Storytellers and giving us all a lovely chance to feature their collective works. I have been hosting with them for the past year and I have found quite a few lovely new authors of Fantasy Fiction who have given me wicked good explorations of the genre and of the vision the writers had for their worlds. It is wonderful to be able to showcase these authors and their stories – whilst featuring guest posts and respun memes whenever I am unable to read the books in print or host an interview.

As you might be aware if you’ve seen the tweet I posted on my @joriestory feeds earlier last week, there was a personal emergency which took me offline and became the reason why my blog was barely surfacing for the past week as well. Due to severe storms everyone is experiencing this new week as well as over the past weekend, I am sure having connectivity issues is something plaguing us all as book bloggers and tweeters alike. I wasn’t able to return to my blog until late Monday night, wherein I edited this featured spotlight for the blog tour and I was able to release my thoughts on behalf of a third installment on a Historical Fantasy trilogy I’ve been happily reading since last February! (ie. the Night Flyer trilogy by Edale Lane)

I had hoped to respin a meme post for Top Ten Tuesday today – however, my attentions were elsewhere and I needed to be with my family through this adverse time. Thereby I was grateful to Justine @ Storytellers on Tour for giving me the option to host this extended extract – as it is a bit longer than most and I decided as I place all extracts into a scroll box for easy reading for my visitors & readers alike – I felt this might be an extra special surprise for everyone! Plus, it will give you a good sense about the story and their world.

I did edit the extract a bit with permission by Justine – not just for length, as I kept it quite on the longer side of the ledger but for content. Some of the descriptions I felt were a bit outside what I would normally feature on Jorie Loves A Story as there were some graphic depictions of the battle scenes – some of which went into greater descriptive text than even I prefer as a reader whilst most of it I cut to trim it into an easier read for those following the blog tour.

This is the week I am starting to return to blogging and will eventually become more active on Twitter again as well. I appreciate your patience and for standing with me as I worked through the past week and was able to return at a point which worked best for me as a reader, book blogger and tweeter. Likewise, for those who are living through the incredible ice storms, power outages and blizzards – I pray you have power, food and plenty of heat to get you through the coming days and weeks ahead. If you’re browsing blogs to keep yourself entertained whilst you can’t get outside – I hope this blog tour might give you a reason to pick up a new Indie Fantasy author’s work.

As I love focusing on Indie Fantasy storytellers myself every #WyrdAndWonder – which I briefly mention at the end of this post. The reason I love Indie Speculative Fiction is because the writers of those stories are happily giving me wicked good stories to ruminate over and enticingly intriguing worlds to explore.

Brew yourself a cuppa and let’s find out more about “Rising Shadows”!

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An Indie Fantasy Book Spotlight and Extract | “Rising Shadows” (Book One: The Pillar of Creation) by Phillip BlackwaterRising Shadows
Subtitle: The Pillar of Creation
by Phillip Blackwater
Source: Author via Storytellers on Tour

As tension rises between the southern and northern nations of the small continent of Exitium in the world of Anteris, the Elves turn to their eastern neighbors, the Humans, for help. They wish to learn the ways of combat, which they are not accustomed to, for they have always wielded a power far greater than forged steel. The Shards of Creation, mystical artifacts of great and virtually infinite power, have always been their prized weapon, but times have changed. They now face the same threat as the Humans: the southern nation known as the Ethula.

Wariel Ritch, general of the Human army, will take upon his shoulders this burden. But when a shadow of a past long forgotten threatens what little stability is left in the world, he will have to leave everything behind to stop it. Medregal Tergrast, an Ethulan king, dead for a thousand years, plans his return to the world of the living to gain back his former glory and finally fulfill his destiny by gaining control of the Shards of Creation. But is he really the threat people make him out to be?

In the meantime, in the bowels of the Human Kingdom, the reign of Dana Crystaloak is put into jeopardy when people around her start questioning her decisions. If she falls, war could break out across all lands.

Genres: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B08H9PPGSK

Published by Self Published

on 1st September, 2020

Format: Chapter Sampler | Online

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Read an Extract from this Novel:

RISING SHADOWS BY PHILLIP BLACKWATER

Excerpt

Wariel Ritch, general of the Human army, stood in the fields south of Baylin, capital of the Human Kingdom.

Flanked by two of his soldiers, the Ironfist twins, Edgard and Edward, he faced a group of roughly fifty Ethulan men who’d come north of their lands to pillage and plunder the Human citizens.

They were dressed in rags, torn and muddy, with most wielding the weapon of the Ethulas. The sleben, a metal handle with a single short blade attached resting on the top of their hands, was wrapped around their wrists with cloth for more stability.

It wasn’t a particularly efficient weapon, but served two clear purposes: it was cheap to make, and you had to get in close to fight, which the Ethulas preferred.

Wariel liked to stroll outside the main city. The air was fresher; there was a lot more greenery – and fewer people.

This morning though, he could have done without it.

On the other hand, if he had not been here, a lot of his kinsmen could have met a gruesome fate.

What was he, if not the protector of the citizens?

He wasn’t sure why the Ethulas stood immobile before him, until he looked at their faces and saw them taking in his armor. It was completely coated with a layer of gold, aside from the silver sigil of the griffin on its hind legs embedded in the middle of his cuirass, which shone like a beacon with the early rays of the sun.

“Leave now, return to your lands and never come back.”

He knew they wouldn’t. It was only for his conscience of the things that would come next.

They stopped contemplating his golden kit and raised their weapons. “If we go back now,” one of the Ethulan men said, “we might as well be dead.” The same Ethula pointed his sleben toward Wariel. “But your armor could solve all our problems. Hand it over.”

“Maybe you should step back, General,” Edward said. “There’s a lot of them.”

“I’m glad you care for my safety, Edward, but this is the first group of Ethulas to ever reach Baylin. I’m not moving.”

“You lot should be the ones running away,” Edgard said. “You don’t know who you’re messing with.”

Wariel glanced at the hot-tempered Edgard. The twins were a head taller than the average Human. Their nickname in the army, the Twin Towers, was an exact description of their size. It gave them a confidence most men didn’t have. Yet Wariel wanted nothing more right now than to have Edgard’s mouth sewn shut.

The group of Ethulan men took a step forward. Wariel grabbed the silver hilt of his sword, or his work tool as he had taken to calling it.

“Fifty against three? We’ll take our chances.”

“Three? Haven’t you noticed the city behind us?”

“We see it alright, but I think we can get that armor off you before anyone else shows up.”

As if to begin their lethal duel, a bell rang in the distance, signaling that the city guards were aware of the Ethulas’ presence.

The group of foreigners charged and the three Humans took a step back to firmly plant themselves to fight.

Wariel unsheathed his golden blade, grabbed his tower shield from his back, and took a breath of cold fresh air before closing his mouthguard.

His heartbeat was stable.

He was ready to do what he had been trained for.

 

 

Wariel followed the main road to Baylin, passing amongst the buildings outside of the capital, and entered the area of Lower Baylin through the main gate.

Both areas looked alike: buildings made of a mix of dark wood and rocks, usually two stories high. The roofs of the buildings, with prominent slopes, unloaded to the ground what snow had gripped to it until now.

People, dressed not much better than the Ethulas that had attacked, were packed in the streets. Some went about making purchases of either clothes or food, while others were hard at work, as if the morning’s attack had never happened.

From tailors and coopers, to butchers and bakers, every service the citizens needed was established here. The marketplace where the farmers could come to sell their products was at the center of it all. In this part of town also lived the less fortunate of the Humans.

Wariel passed through the area at a quick pace, the people making way before him. Seeing the citizens in such crude conditions made him ashamed every time he paraded before them in his golden armor. For the number of times he had done it though, most of them had stopped paying attention a long time ago.

He quickened his pace even more when the wretched smell of sweat and sickness, made its way back through his nostrils and filled his lungs once more.

Although winter had lasted longer this year, he found himself wishing it back again. He would take the cold over the smell anytime.

He glanced behind him, to the opened gates of the city. The green of the outside, which had provided him with a much-appreciated break from the stench, disappeared when the road veered right.

After a while on the main road, he felt the small uphill climb burning in his legs. At the end, a large tower loomed over both Lower and Higher Baylin, which lay on the other side of another gate and wall separating the city in two.

It was the Guard Tower, where most soldiers resided while in function in the city. Besides the tower and behind another wall, was another part of the city, closed off from both Lower and Higher Baylin, the Military Academy, where he had spent his early life training to become a soldier, and in which every soldier to be was trained.

He had come into the school at an early age, after his family had fallen prey to the Ethulas, as a lot of other families.

Sword and shield were all he knew.

Nostalgia and sadness filled him at the same moment every time he thought of that part of his life. He often wished for a simpler time, when his family had surrounded him, and the fate of the kingdom didn’t rest on his shoulders. Fate had decided otherwise: he had been chosen to protect every citizen, every family like his own who couldn’t defend themselves.

The guards stepped aside when he approached the gate between the two halves of the city and saluted him with a nod. Higher Baylin was a place reserved for nobles. Only the wealthiest and most prestigious of the Humans could afford to live there.

It was arduous for poor people to ascend in the ranks of the Human Kingdom. More often than not, they stayed in Lower Baylin or small villages all their lives.

Mainzyr, second city in importance in the Human Kingdom, fared no better. Nobility was even rarer, and most citizens worked in mines, sweating, picking and pulling iron ore from the eastern mountains.

With unlikely prospects for bettering their future, Humans were starting to embrace the independent city of Al Fizyr, west of Baylin. Even if religion spoke greatly against migrating there, more people chose this avenue every year.

As Wariel made his way through the gate and into Higher Baylin, a delegation of Elves walked past him. They were accompanied by the queen’s advisor and some of her guards.

The general stopped, perplexed, to take a good look and make sure he wasn’t day-dreaming. One of the Elves wore a white robe, while the others were wearing simple chainmail and leather.

Elves didn’t usually leave the comfort of their kingdom unless they had good reasons. Their famous Shards of Creation were supposed to provide everything they needed. He had heard rumors that a group of them had entered the city a few days prior, but had dismissed the idea, pinning it on gossip.

What could they be doing here? The Elves cared for nobody, and nobody cared for the Elves, not even Wariel. He even heard that the Elves braided their hair simply to show their pointy ears so they wouldn’t be mistaken for another race.

Their presence here foreboded nothing good.

Wariel picked up his walk again. He was already on his way to meet with the queen. She would know why they were here.

Lost in his thoughts, trying to figure out what the self-proclaimed almighty Elves were doing here, he barely noticed a large shadow passing over him.

He continued until he reached the Town Square, the market area of Higher Baylin, where the shadow appeared again and he looked up to find a large griffin circling above. If it was so far away from its natural habitat, the northern cliffs and the island named after them, it meant it was probably the young griffin tamer who had come and gone a few times.

He had taken to flying to the various cities showing off his pet griffin, trying to get a few coins from it. Wariel should have probably stopped him from bringing his wild animal into cities long ago, but what was he supposed to do? Times were hard: there was an overabundance of people for the few available trades. The poor bugger was simply trying to make a living, and it distracted the people from the difficult times. They didn’t need more people leaving for Al Fizyr.

Wariel looked down again. A delegation of soldiers was approaching. The white cloaks they wore were the official sign of the queen’s guard. The two soldiers in front stepped aside and Dana Crystaloak, queen of the Humans, was revealed amongst them.

His heart jumped. Every time he saw her, a smile crept on the corner of his lips and his eyes gleamed. Whatever bad things had happened in his day, it always went away.

The queen was wearing her usual puffy dark red and white dress, with golden laces tying it in the front and back. Her shimmering pale blond hair, resembling silver, was majestically raised on her head in a bundle, her crystal crown placed amongst it.

Her crown, a gift from the Elves on the day of her coronation, was entirely made of crystal. In a way, it looked like an oak. The rim resting on her head was made of interlaced lines imitating roots. The lines, after completing the rim, went up in the front, conglomerating into a trunk.  It continued up, splitting into branches and some diamonds, ornated here and there, imitated leaves. It represented her family name well, though it had been decided long before her.

Her eyes, green as a summer forest, fixed Wariel, and a smile crept upon her face too.

Before she or Wariel could speak, a dozen people, only slightly better dressed than the ones in Lower Baylin, rushed in from all around.

“It’s the queen!”

The citizens fell to their knees where the queen had walked moments before. They tried to scoop mud and dirt from where she had walked, and what they could gather they would hold on to for dear life.

It was said that the Guide, the goddess of the Human religion, had come down from the sky riding a griffin to lay a baby girl at the feet of the first Humans. She had grown to become the first queen, and all first daughters after her were to be queens also, directly descending from the Guide.

While the griffin had lost its religious connotation and found new meaning as the Human sigil, the queen was still very much revered by the people, even though she played no active part in the Church’s activities.

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as well as #storytellersontour & #EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads

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Posted Tuesday, 16 February, 2021 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Book Spotlight, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Storytellers on Tour, Sword & Scorcery

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – within the second novel of the trilogy “Tristan’s Folly” by Marcus Lee

Posted Monday, 30 November, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#EnterTheFantastic Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: During my 3rd Year of co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder, I was able to participate on my first blog tour with Storytellers on Tour which was featuring the author Brianna Sugalski on her “Disenchanted” blog tour. What I appreciated about Storytellers on Tour is their dedication to Indie Authors of Speculative Literature and their ability to find authors who are telling stories in Fantasy which intrigue me to read. Fantasy has been a challenging genre for me to explore even a bit moreso than Science Fiction – which is why I feel blessed to be on their blogger team. Whilst some of their tours I might seek out a book to consider for review, I also actively enjoy hosting creative content using book photography and/or featuring their authors in conversation (ie. interviews) or giving them the breadth of joy to write a guest post based on a topic of my choosing. Overall, Storytellers on Tour are dedicated to creating community and for championing those of us who are choosing to share our readerly lives each day we bring content to our book blogs. 

I received a complimentary copy of “Tristan’s Folly” direct from the author Marcus Lee in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What kept me rooted to the pages of “Kings & Daemons”:

As you first alight inside the Ember Kingdom you are greeted by such a terrible reckoning of the high fatality rate which has afflicted the women in this world. For a couple who knew what was coming the day their daughter was bourne it was not bringing them the luxury of happiness (by her birth) but rather the pain of the loss which was imminent. Except to say if that had happened this story would not have a fierce warrior as a heroine as even in infancy. Maya had a special awareness about the world as she intuited pain and understood healing. The lengths in which her parents went to keep this secreted from others in their world points to a harder look at what any parent would do to defend and protect their child. You feel emotionally rooted in these opening scenes to where you want to stand in solidarity with this family and also become one of the guardians of Maya to ensure she is allowed to grow in this loving environment of her family without outside influences which might seek to separate her from her parents.

To keep herself removed from her own society she had become a forager of whom was allowed to be gone long hours of the day and return at dusk. The hardest part to understand about Maya’s life as she was growing out of girlhood into womanhood is the loss of her mother which was never fully resolved and the fact that in order to be alive she had to mask her truer nature as much as  her true identity. Even the ways in which she presented herself was the illusion her parents had chosen for her rather than the most ideal situation to continue for such a long time without drawing notice to oneself. You feel for Maya because she is not allowed to live authentically nor is she allowed any of the common courtesy you’d expect a child and young woman would be granted – such as conversation, friendship and being one with her own community. She was living a full step removed from this community and you had to wonder – what were they afraid of? What threat did her birthright and gift afford her that others afeared? Those are the thoughts going through my mind as I entered into the initial chapters and tried to muse about what could have happened in this world to have such a locked mindset which heavily prejudiced itself against each other.

There is such a humbling and honest scene involving Maya and the awakening she had with her gift – it is tender and sweet, with the innocence of how new birth and a re-genesis of the organic healing from within her can affect the natural environs she touches with her presence. It involved a rose and it is how this particular flower found its new roots under Maya’s tenderness of care and the thoughtfulness of how she helped a plant heal itself was truly a remarkable passage in the opening pages of Kings and Daemons! She is someone who can cause a transfiguration of growth – from the point of decay to the celebration of rebirth and it is beautifully written to give you this founding sense of what her gift means to her as a person (as it renews her own spirit to use it and cultivate it) and how that gift translates into the world in which she lives.

Taran by contrast is an interesting bloke in this world who is also harbouring a secret of his own about the innate gift he has developed first out of fight or flight circumstances and secondly out of his own instincts which have served him well. His own childhood had its own challenges wherein where Maya was folded into a loving home life despite the concerns of her parents that others might discover her truer nature – Taran was blighted with a childhood wherein his art of defence and skill to deflect his father’s domestic violence against himself and his mother was a defining part of his younger years. Yet despite what they had against them both Taran and Maya shared the will to not just survive but to survive with their gifts aiding their efforts.

Whilst reading Taran’s entrance into the story, I must admit, part of me wondered if this bloke could run out of luck because he enjoyed living on the edge of society. He might not have chosen this life for himself as that was a consequence of his father’s domestic abuse (which personally felt like an injustice of its own) but it was a life he had carved out of the embers of his former life and it had enabled him with enough to survive on in a world that was unwelcome to both change and strangers. As a wanderer you could say Taran would immediately connect with Maya because she wanders in a different way than he does in her own community. Each of them self-exiled away from both prying eyes and the framework of their societies.

I was truly bewitched and enchanted by how Lee has writ this novel – you feel so dearly rooted to both Maya and Taran whilst your reading that you can barely notice anything else in your own world after you’ve entered theirs! So much so, when Maya was being pursued by a hunger-mad pack of wolves it brought me back instantly to seeing The Neverending Story for the first time as a child and the terrifying moment where Atreyu has to defend himself against a wolf. Not since that cinematic moment have I found another writer whose writ such a harrowing account of predator vs prey when it involves a wild animal and a human. You are on the very edge of your seat as you want to encourage Maya as she flees for her life but then, at that moment where both instinct and hope seem lost – it is a battle of will to turn the pages and see what happened!

-quoted from my review of Kings & Daemons

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On my connection to Marcus Lee: I first crossed paths with Lee during the blog tour for Kings & Daemons in August 2020. Being fellow writers and voracious readers – it felt like a natural extension of the first blog tour, we would have something to talk about together about this world being built within the series of the Gifted and the Cursed as well as outside of the series itself. We continued to ‘chat’ privately after the blog tour and then, shortly before the start of the second we reconnected finding we’re both at different junctions of our writerly careers. However, I withheld discussing my thoughts about the sequel until my review for the second blog tour was released.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Lee through our respective joy in being writers as well as enjoying discussing the merits of Speculative Fiction as it applies to Dark Fantasy. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available. This also applies to hosting a guest feature by the author I share a connection.

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I will be the first to mention, this series is completely removed from my regular readings of Fantasy and a complete forward step outside all my zones of comfort – which is why if you are curious why I was originally tempted to read the trilogy and why I am continuing to read it now – it is quite simple: I love to challenge myself! To go into a niche of genre I am not as well versed in travelling through and/or to seek out stories with the layers of depth I love finding as a reader. Even if on the outside of starting those stories it would look like a full step removed from anything I’d generally seek out to read. Sometimes those are the moments you discover the stories which give you a hearty challenge to both read and dissect. This is one of those series for me.

Yet, it wasn’t until I started to binge watch the military drama series “Army Wives” this November (ie. I nearly saw the full three seasons of the show within less than a forthnight of watching it!) – I couldn’t quite put my finger on how I came to have an appreciation for Sword & Sorcery stories. The truth of it is – it was the fierce spitfire character of Pamela (Chase’s husband on the series) who tipped the missing gaps of my memory – as she was involved with an ill-fated tv series I loved back in the ’90s which was ROAR.

However, it won’t surprise too many of you who’ve been following me for awhile to know I have had occasion to blog about this particular genre in the past, as I was smitten with the ‘idea’ of a tv series pilot moreso than I was keenly curious to watch it. In other words, I sought out a way to interview the actors involved with the Sword & Sorcery pilot as well as the filmmaker and author behind the series; knowing I couldn’t read the books series which inspired it nor could I watch the pilot itself considering what you see on the takeaway shots and BTS videos via YoutTube! Take a gander at the interview I’m mentioning and perhaps the series might be a better fit for you – as it stands, I’m wicked proud of the interview and what I learnt out of interviewing everyone I choose to speak with about the production and their role in it.

If you visited with me for my first review in this series, you already know I have made a few notations about the level of violence and excessive use of violent sequences within the context of the story itself. Which became a bit of an underline issue with me as I am not a reader who appreciates explicit or excessive violence in any of the stories she’s reading but as you gleamed from my review, this particular book was the exception to the rule in regards of finding an author who redeemed himself by the breadth of how he wrote the larger scope of the story itself and how he endeavoured to give a layered central arc to thread into the next two installments of the trilogy.

Again, I could have had quite a few small battles excluded from the journey Maya and Taran were taking towards the Witch-King because it soon became a bit too repetitive for me to constantly see people swinging swords or stabbing with daggers and all round was nothing but death and the dead stacked in a reckless act of violent outrage. And, that too is also a keen aspect of the novel – as Dark Fantasy illuminates the darker variants of ourselves and our souls – keeping to that theme, Lee has used different techniques to showcase how darkness can overtake the mind, the body and the soul to where it is a maddening fight to find freedom from under that kind of influence and that is at the heart of where we first enter into this series. These people are fighting for not just the right to live and the will to live but they are fighting a battle against an enemy they cannot even fathom being real.

I might be a hard sell at times as a reader but it boils down to each individual author and how they choose to tell their stories – if they do it well, they have me hooked into their world and if they choose to make choices which remove all my enjoyment of reading their stories; I am a reader whose never afraid to call foul and claim a book as an DNF.

As I saw the calendar ticking down the hours for me to begin reading Tristan’s Folly, I must admit I had a certain level of anxiety. Where would the sequel fit within my readerly barometer of what I can both handle reading and appreciate reading? Which of my personal thresholds of angst would be tested and how would I walk out of the experience as both a reader and as a book blogger who inks out her thoughts and shares them with her readers?

The one blessing I had is trusting whichever way I walked out of this novel, the author would understand what I had to share about it because he already knows my bookish preferences and where I stand on some of what is inclusive to his genre of choice and the methodology of how its written. When authors understand the book blogger experience it makes reading their stories as a book blogger much more enjoyable because we don’t have to defend how we blog or how we choose to blog our readerly life – because all of us are blogging our honest thoughts, impressions and opinions about the stories we’re reading. There is a certain vulnerability to that kind of experience and after seven years as a book blogger, I still find myself feeling especially grateful and blessed to be in a position to read as diversely as I can whilst seeking out new genres, subniches of genres and literary styles as I have every month I’ve sought to propell myself forward into new dimensions of literature.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art: I am simply in love with the cover art for this book series –

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – within the second novel of the trilogy “Tristan’s Folly” by Marcus LeeTristan's Folly
Subtitle: The Gifted and the Cursed (Book Two)
by Marcus Lee
Source: Author via Storytellers on Tour

Tristan’s Folly. An ageing fortress built over fifty years ago to repel the invading hordes of the Witch-King, Daleth, an invasion that never materialised – until now.

Now the stronghold is a crumbling reflection of its former might, with a mere fifteen hundred men all that stands between Daleth’s savage horde of a hundred thousand, and certain doom for the Freestates.

As Kings and Daemons face one another, there is but one shining light that pushes back the encroaching darkness, but even her flame is slated to be extinguished thanks to Tristan’s Folly.

In this epic tale of a battle against the odds, the best and worst of humankind collide … sacrifice, bravery and love, set against betrayal, greed and hatred.

Genres: Cosy Horror, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8698105718

Also by this author: Kings and Daemons, The End of Dreams

Also in this series: Kings and Daemons, The End of Dreams


Published by Self Published

on 26th October, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 291

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Gifted and the Cursed Trilogy:

Kings and Daemons by Marcus LeeTristan's Folly by Marcus Lee

Kings & Daemons (book one) | see also Review

Tristan’s Folly (book two)

The End of Dreams (book three) ← forthcoming release!

This is a Self-Published novel and series!

Converse via: #Fantasy, #EpicFantasy or #HeoricFantasy or #SwordAndSorcery
as well as #StorytellersOnTour #  & #EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads

About Marcus Lee

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #EnterTheFantastic
Divider

Posted Monday, 30 November, 2020 by jorielov in #EnterTheFantastic, ArchDemons or Demonic Entities, Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Cosy Horror, Dark Arts (Dark Magic), Dark Fantasy, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, High Fantasy, Horror-Lite, Immortals, Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Storytellers on Tour, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Sword & Scorcery

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – through the first novel “Kings and Daemons” by Marcus Lee

Posted Saturday, 15 August, 2020 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

#EnterTheFantastic Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: During my 3rd Year of co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder, I was able to participate on my first blog tour with Storytellers on Tour which was featuring the author Brianna Sugalski on her “Disenchanted” blog tour. What I appreciated about Storytellers on Tour is their dedication to Indie Authors of Speculative Literature and their ability to find authors who are telling stories in Fantasy which intrigue me to read. Fantasy has been a challenging genre for me to explore even a bit moreso than Science Fiction – which is why I feel blessed to be on their blogger team. Whilst some of their tours I might seek out a book to consider for review, I also actively enjoy hosting creative content using book photography and/or featuring their authors in conversation (ie. interviews) or giving them the breadth of joy to write a guest post based on a topic of my choosing. Overall, Storytellers on Tour are dedicated to creating community and for championing those of us who are choosing to share our readerly lives each day we bring content to our book blogs. 

I received a complimentary copy of “Kings and Daemons” direct from the author Marcus Lee in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What drew my eye into this Fantasy series:

I am constantly intrigued and surprised by where my fantastical wanderings take me,.. as generally speaking it is quite rare I will feel motivated to read a darker Fantasy novel but there are exceptions to this rule as I am sure other readers have exceptions to their bookish wanderings as well. Likewise, a new subniche of Fantasy I have discovered over the recent year is *Fantasy Romance!* courtesy of reading my first story by H.L. Burke!

For a reader whose grown passionate about reading Romance – from Contemporary to Historical to Suspense – it is a wonderment to me how I somehow have *missed!* this other niche inside a genre I have loved reading since I was seventeen! The premise round “Kings and Daemons” is what first allured me into the novel – how a complete unknown in this world could reconcile their destinies after a person in power sought to destroy them. Who wouldn’t want to read about an unsung heroine and her ability to free her people from the destructive influence of a King?

It was not lost on me the spelling of the word demon and what this alternative spelling is pointing out in reference. This stems back to a lot of conversations I had in high school with my best friend who was as passionate about Fantasy as I had been about Science Fiction. It led to a lot of interesting conversations and discussions – something I hadn’t seen until I became a book blogger and realised there was this whole bookish community who were doing the same thing about the topics they enjoyed talking about themselves. I normally might have taken a right turn on reading this novel – yet there was just ‘something’ about it that spoke to me and I dove in head first. As you’ll see on my review I had many surprising takeaways and a reading experience I had hoped to receive but was wickedly delighted by having experienced.

One quick note to readers who might seek this out – I’d say this is Cosy Horror intermixed with High Fantasy with a cutting thread of Sword & Sorcery. 

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art: I love the art of book covers which give you an honest impression or gateway into the world you’re about to enter and “Kings and Daemons” is doing exactly that with this lushly vibrant cover art which truly gives you a keen sense about Maya and how she would appear if you were to meet her yourself. I loved everything about the design – from the choices in colours to the layout – original artwork like this one on Fantasy novels was something I have always cherished and celebrated! Especially if you look closely at what is being highlighted in this portrait of Maya – specifically look at her feet and then compare that to what is behind her and you’ll see how much she effects her world. 

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – through the first novel “Kings and Daemons” by Marcus LeeKings and Daemons
Subtitle: The Gifted and the Cursed (Book One)
by Marcus Lee
Source: Author via Storytellers on Tour

A tale of conquest, dark kings, and daemonic heroes. A spellbinding story that will enchant you with its plot of ambition, love, betrayal, sacrifice and redemption.

Over fifty years have passed since Daleth the seemingly immortal Witch-King and his army conquered the Ember Kingdom.
Now, with the once fertile lands and its enslaved people dying around him, the Witch-King, driven by his insatiable thirst for eternal youth, prepares his forces to march on the prosperous neighbouring Freestates. It will be the beginnings of a conquest that could destroy nations, bringing death and destruction on an unimaginable scale.

Then, when a peasant huntress whose rare gift was concealed from birth is exposed, it sets in motion a chain of events that could alter the destiny of generations to come.

Genres: Cosy Horror, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8646561931

Also by this author: Tristan's Folly, The End of Dreams

Also in this series: Tristan's Folly, The End of Dreams


Published by Self Published

on 26th May, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 414

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Gifted and the Cursed Trilogy:

Kings & Daemons (book one)

Tristan’s Folly (book two)

The End of Dreams (book three)

This is a Self-Published novel and series!

Converse via: #Fantasy, #EpicFantasy or #HeoricFantasy or #SwordAndSorcery
as well as #storytellersontour #  & #EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

7th Annual Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

This story received my award for Best Adult Fantasy subniche Dark Fantasy.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

About Marcus Lee

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #EnterTheFantastic
Divider

Posted Saturday, 15 August, 2020 by jorielov in #EnterTheFantastic, ArchDemons or Demonic Entities, Blog Tour Host, Coming-Of Age, Cosy Horror, Dark Arts (Dark Magic), Dark Fantasy, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Horror-Lite, Immortals, Indie Author, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Self-Published Author, Storytellers on Tour, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Sword & Scorcery