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.
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
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.
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.
Notation on Cover Art: I am simply in love with the cover art for this book series –
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.
Places to find the book:
Published by Self Published
on 26th October, 2020
Format: Trade Paperback
The Gifted and the Cursed Trilogy:
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
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: