Interview: Jeremy Flagg, Author of the Children of Nostradamus Series

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Jeremy Flagg. We chat about his love of graphic novels, the hope for a Salvatore-based tabletop game, and plenty more.

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten its deserved amount of attention?

Currently with the boom of comic book movies and TV shows, I’m honestly surprised the same hasn’t happened in the literary world. I grew up on comic books, in fact, it’s how I learned to read. However, the jump from illustrated stories to novelization seems to be a slow process. With only a few breakouts such as Brandon Sanderson or Peter Clines, the market is vastly underserved. But despite the market having yet to sway in that direction, there are some amazing superhero inspired stories happening. I think the ability to get inside the head of the hero makes it a unique medium that brings a lot to the table for the genre.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I’m a superhero writer, I should pick a superhero, but I think I’d have to go with the supernatural. There is something about these myths and folklore that continue to make us wonder. I like the idea that there is a world we’re not quite sure about. I’m curious to see what wonders there are. Granted, with my luck I’d be stuck with a grumpy gnome saving me.

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

I’m a 90’s kid through and through. I was born in the early 80’s, and loved the music of the time, but nothing will surpass the 90’s for me. My playlists are filled with songs from the late 90’s and even the weird look we had during that period sticks with me. Despite that though, there’s a bit of an 80’s child hiding in there. I secretly like to think I’m a punk in corporate clothing.

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

We’re on the verge of so many emerging technologies, I think it’s fascinating to see how much science fiction has simply become science. Still, the thing I’m dying to see is the computer screen from Minority Report. I find myself frequently annoyed that I don’t have enough screen space and constantly flipping through windows. I frequently have my laptop hooked up to a TV and my iPad next to me. It’d be amazing to have it all in one place and just be able to manipulate it with my hand. We’re not far from it, I think this one may actually happen during my lifetime.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Not the worst by a long stretch, but definitely the most difficult would have to be teaching high school. I’ve been a high school art teacher for a decade now and it’s a demanding job. You’re constantly pushing kids to be creative and step outside their comfort zone. It’s extremely rewarding, but after a day of wrestling with kids, you find yourself lacking the creativity to do your own work. There are the hand full of kids who give back as much as you put in, and those have been the ones that continue to inspire. Writing on the other hand, during my off months is a walk in the park. The only temperamental thing I have to deal with is my laptop, and that’s nowhere near as complicated as wow-ing a room of twenty-five teenagers. The only difficulty is in forcing myself to sit down and write when I have the time (which isn’t too difficult for me.)

You’re granted a super power and given the chance to team up with 4 other superheroes (or supervillains). What power do you have and who have you teamed up with?

The obvious answer is teleportation. I will always want the ability to teleport. I hate going places, but I’m always happy once I’m there. As for the others I would team up with? Not that I haven’t thought about this in depth, but it’d be Nightcrawler, Colossus, Magneto (every time needs the slightly villainous character) and Phoenix. That’d pretty much be the unstoppable superhero team. I may have spent more than a little time figuring this out (aka a lot.)

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

I would love to see R.A. Salvatore’s Demon War Saga turned into some sort of tabletop game. Salvatore has a wonderfully unique perspective on traditional fantasy and I think it’d make for a great storyline. I’d love it even more if it were turned into a console game similar to Skyrim. I’d want to play Pony, one of my favorite female leads who wields magic and her female intuition like a weapon. That’d be a pretty badass game.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in comics & graphic novels, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

I actually teach a college class about graphic novels. There are a variety of great pieces that should be in there. I like to blend great stories such as the Watchmen alongside classic superheroes such as X-Men’s Inferno with things like Maus. My favorite question to pose the class is to ask, do comics influence society or does society influence comics? I like exploring the need for diversity in mainstream comics and how smaller companies are filling in these niche categories. I feel if given enough time, there could be entire concentrations in comics similar to Art History at this point. Unfortunately, I don’t think we respect comics as much as we do novels. I am happy however to see them get more attention thanks to the popularity of movie adaptations.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Marvel beats DC. Star Trek over Star Wars. Sub before Dub. With the company I keep, there are always geeky conversations happening. I’m always down for a geek argument.

About Author Jeremy Flagg:

Jeremy Flagg is the author of the CHILDREN OF NOSTRADAMUS dystopian science fiction series and SUBURBAN ZOMBIE HIGH young adult humor/horror series. Taking his love of pop culture and comic books, he focuses on fast paced, action packed novels with complex characters and contemporary themes.

Jeremy is the Co-creator of Massachusetts Science Fiction & Fantasy Authors and member of the Metrowest Writers writing group. He is also an active member of the New England Horror’s Association and Broad Universe.

Jeremy spends most of his free time at his desk writing snarky books. When he gets a moment away from writing, he watches too much Netlix and Hulu and reading comic books. Jeremy, a Maine native, resides in Clinton, Massachusetts and can be found in local coffee shops pounding away at the keyboard.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

Synopsis of Nighthawks:

New England is a walled off radioactive prison. People exhibiting extraordinary abilities are hunted for experiments. The only talent twenty-six-year-old Conthan has in life is his art and knack for sarcasm. When a cop threatens his life, Conthan discovers he has the ability to teleport. Hunted by the military and a woman with her own gifts, Conthan finds exiles in the Boston wastelands with powers of their own. For the first time, he sees potential to become a hero. But as he unravels a conspiracy threatening the world, he must decide between his survival and his humanity.

Audible ~ Amazon

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Colin Falconer, Author of Opium

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Colin Falconer. He’s the author of the Opium, along with his newly released Sleeping with the Enemy, and my personal favorite, Colossus. Scroll to the bottom for the ebook GIVEAWAY of 3 copies of Opium.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Starwars, Susan. I’d be a Stormtrooper: only I’d bring my own gun and be the first Stormtrooper to ever actually hit someone. (Probably Luke Skywalker, he annoys me.)

Or I’d be Blofeld’s cat.  All that screen time but I wouldn’t have to remember any lines.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Moby Dick. I’d like to see him swim off to a marine park reserve safe from idiots like Ahab. Maybe have some little humpbacks with a Mrs Di-, well with a wife. And while we’re on the subject, I think it’s long overdue that the guy who killed Bambi’s mother be brought to justice. I hate that guy, have done ever since I was 3.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold? 

This is weird but – the entire collection of Classics Illustrated Comics. You can read the entire canon of great Western literature in a single wet afternoon. It is the cheat notes of all cheat notes, a condensation of every great classic story ever written; Jules Verne’s Michael Strogoff, Dumas’s Black Tulip, Wilkie’s Moonstone.

Unusual choice, I know. But it would also bring back memories of my Aunty Ivy, who used to buy them for me at Chingford markets, so I had something to do on wet Saturday in London. At eight years old, I fell in love with Story.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

The most difficult job was my thirteen years as a volunteer in the country ambulance service. It was also the best and most rewarding, outside of writing.

I worked with a fantastic team of people and the challenges were exacting, auto accidents and beach rescues being among the most arduous but also the most rewarding. One moment I’d be tapping away on the laptop, the next I’d be crawling into a car wreck.

There is absolutely no comparison to the writing life but I loved it just the same.

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

The Lord of the Rings. Call of the Wild. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

Michelangelo’s David. I’d put it in my front garden. Only I’d put shorts on him so people would stop laughing. I’ve always felt sorry for the guy.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

I’m intrigued by Queen Gertrude in Hamlet. We never really learn what was going on in her head, or how culpable she was in the death of Hamlet’s father. For me, she’s almost as interesting as Hamlet.

Orr, in Catch-22. He drives Yossarian crazy, and everyone thinks he’s a moron, and Yossarian won’t fly with him because Orr crashes his plane every time he flies. But he turns out to be the smartest guy in the whole squadron and the key to Yossarian’s final triumph.

Then there’s Judas in the Bible. Why does he hang himself at the end? More going on there than we’re told, and perhaps the traditional answers about him don’t ring true. Definitely a case of an Unreliable Narrator.

But the quintessential secondary character for me is Tybalt. He’s not in the original poem that Shakespeare took his play from, but ‘Romeo and Juliet’ wouldn’t work without him. Tybalt makes Romeo likeable and gives the play its impetus at the midpoint. That’s why Willy invented him.

For my own characters – well my favourite minor character is Ruby Wen. She was supposed to be the villain’s love interest but just took over CHASING THE DRAGON. The girl couldn’t lie straight in a torpedo tube, but she’s sexy and spirited and funny as all get out.

Pity what happened to her in the end, but it was inevitable, I suppose.

Chupa snoring

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? 

Clearly, Superman if I wanted to win it.

But if I wanted to just trail along behind, drinking and smoking cigars, like I did in the school cross country races, then Charles Bukowski.

Places to Find Colin Falconer

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Audible

Book Blurb for Opium

Vientiane, 1960. Laos is a sleepy post-colonial backwater, run by generals and at war with the communist Pathet Lao in the north. Corsican gangsters, left behind after the French departure five years before, run the opium trade, flying raw opium out of the mountains to Bangkok and Saigon. The most celebrated of the milieu is Rocco Bonaventure, cursed with a daughter who turns heads everywhere she goes. Baptiste Croce is kind of man her father has always warned her about – a handsome and womanising pilot with his eye on the main chance. But Noelle is a woman to be reckoned with, as both Rocco and Baptiste discover for themselves. Their affair, conducted against the looming mountains of Indochina and its blazing poppy fields, change all their lives forever. Baptiste risks his life for her again and again in the air; or is it for control of his father’s opium business? Meanwhile in the teeming slums of Hong Kong’s Walled City, a Chinese refugee uses his cunning and his fists to rise to become Red Pole of the Fei Leung triad. He sees beyond the filthy opium dens to a day when the drug will help him rule the world. From the jungles of the Golden Triangle to the tenements of sixties Hong Kong, from colonial Saigon to the skies of northern Laos, romance and horror collide in a stunning novel of passion and greed and breath-taking action. The Opium series charts the story of the drug trade in Indochina, from sacks thrown in the back of tiny planes in the nineteen sixties to the multimillion dollar international industry that soon became the plague of the western world.

Amazon

Author Bio: 

Colin Falconer is an internationally best-selling author. Born in London, he was a freelance journalist and advertising copywriter for many years. But writing novels was his passion and led him to write his first book, Venom, based on his own experiences in South East Asia. 

He has now published over 50 books that have been translated into 23 languages.

His next novel with Lake Union THE UNKILLABLE KITTY O’KANE is out in November, and the first novel in a new crime series will be published by Little Brown in London in April 2018. His latest novel SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY is available with Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2ohHfdg

GIVEAWAY!!!

Colin is graciously offering up 3 copies of her ebook Opium. Giveaway is open internationally! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: What country do you live in? What has been your most difficult job? Optional: Follow Colin Falconer anyway you like and tell me in the comments where you follow him and under what name. Giveaway ends June 21st, 2017, midnight.

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The Beauty and the Beast Book Tag

Heya Everyone! I was recently tagged by The Audiobookworm in this fun book tag. Feel free to comment on my book choices or to add your own for each category in the comments. I’m going to tag a few people at the end, but if you want to throw up a post with your answers, leave me your link in the comments so I can swing by.

1. “Tale As Old As Time” – A popular theme, trope or setting you will never get bored of reading.

Theme – Underdog

BrownRedRisingThe Red Rising series by Pierce Brown was excellent. Can’t wait to see more from this author. If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s a mash up of Roman mythology/military command structure with terraforming of Mars and beyond. Be proud of your scars. You’ve earned them!

BernheimerConfessionsOfDListSupervillainD-List Supervillain series by Jim Bernheimer – which is just a lot of damn fun! Mostly, the supervillains in this series are just anti-organization. The various super-characters are imaginative and there’s plenty of humor.

Trope – Artificial Intelligence

DircksTheWrongUnitI recently read a whole bunch of AI stuff. The Wrong Unit by Rob Dircks was a delight. It had that right mix of humor and serious bits. The AI units are programmed to learn to care for their humans, so the anthropomorphizing of the AI units is realistically built into the story.

PerreaultProgenyRay Jay Perreault has written several stories that feature AI and I have been enjoying making my way through his audiobooks. Progeny is one of my favorite AI stories, though his AIs run the gamut of cold, calculating evil to human-like societal beings.

Heldig and Chupa being anything but helpful.

Serengeti by JB Rockwell was super intense in several ways. The story starts off with a space battle and the AIs are the ships, though they all have human crews. This space battle takes perhaps as much as half the book. Then the second half is the story of this one ship trying to limp home. The humans have to go into stasis, so that just leaves the ship’s AI and her little AI minion bots. The struggle to reach their goal, to stay sane over the lengthy years, to keep functioning just enough to keep the human crew alive – just an excellent tale.

Setting – Ancient Times

There’s plenty of stuff that happened in ancient times. Most of it is interesting, gritty, and dramatic. Here’s a list of some of the stuff I’ve read so far and have really enjoyed.

SmithRiseOfZenobiaConn Iggulden’s Emperor series – This series focuses on Julius Caesar, starting with his boyhood years and going all the way through his life to the dramatic, bitter end.

The Rise of Zenobia by JD Smith – set during the Roman empire in the Syrian city of Palmyra. I learned from this book and that always is a plus.

John Maddox Roberts’s SPQR murder mystery series – Set in 1st century ancient Rome during the time of Crassus and Pompey. Who could resist murder mystery and ancient Rome? Not me!

Patrick Bowman’s retelling of The Odyssey for young adults – The Odyssey of the Slave series. In this series, the focus is on a young lad who is taken as a slave when the famous city of Troy falls.

Colossus by Colin Falconer – This is a tale of Alexander the Great. Technically, it’s an alternate history, but if you don’t know much abut Alexander and the arc of his life, you wouldn’t know it. I really enjoyed this tale – elephants!

The Sekhmet Bed by LM Ironside – set in ancient Egypt. Ahmose was raised up to Great Royal Wife status. Political intrigue plays a big role in this story.

RobertsClaimedByTheEnemyRise to Power by Uvi Poznansky – set in the land of Israel in the 1st or 2nd century BCE. This is the first book in a series about David and his rise to power told from a secular point of view.

Claimed by the Enemy by Shauna Roberts – despite the title and the cover art, this book is pretty darn good. Set in ancient Mesopotamia during the time of King Sargon, the book focuses on two young individuals who were placed in difficult positions.

2. Belle – A book you bought for it’s beautiful cover that’s just as beautiful inside too

KayUnderHeavenGuy Gavriel Kay never fails to provide a beautiful story and his covers are always so well done. Recently, I read Children of Earth and Sky, and the cover is indeed just as beautiful as the tale inside. If you said I had to pick my favorite GGK novel, I would be hard-pressed to say which it was. His Sarantium duology is about the fall of an empire, so plenty of vast ideas going on there but with excellent pinpoint characters that do a great job of showing the human side. I also loved The Lions of Al-Rassan, which is based on Moorish Spain. There’s plenty of areas of conflict but also plenty of areas for commonality. I could go on and on, but you should just go pick up some GGK for yourself.

Slinky was chewing on my shoes so I gave her a book to look at.

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear was one of my favorite reads of 2015. The cover did a great job of capturing the Wild West and Steampunk mix of the story. Karen was also a wonderful character, not being a stereotypical kick ass heroine that are so abundant lately. She does kick ass, she’s just also a real person who happens to be brave when backed into a corner.

3. Beast – A book you didn’t expect much from but pleasantly surprised you.

AllendeZorroZorro by Isabel Allende was a pleasant surprise. In essence, it was an origin story for Zorro. I loved watching the black & white TV show was a kid so it was pretty cool to read this book and get Allende’s take on how Zorro came to be. There was a lot more depth to this character than I expected, which, in retrospect, was silly of me. Zorro lived during a time of Spanish colonialism in the New World – there were plenty of cultures and conflicts. Allende did a great job of pulling those elements into this tale.

ClinesTheFoldThe Fold by Peter Clines was one of the best SF Thriller novels I have read. It was fun. It was intense. It had SF themes that I could get into. The characters were also interesting, especially the lead guy who has a true eidetic memory. This was both a help and a hindrance to him.

King11226311-22-63 by Stephen King is the first King novel I have read. It won’t be the last. King did a really great job with the characters in this book. I know some folks have labeled him as a horror novelist, and nothing more. However, this book shows that he has a lot more going on. It’s obvious he put quite a bit of research in to the time and location (1963, Texas) of the bulk of the book. While I do expect that as I explore King’s works, this novel won’t be my favorite but it certainly delivered more than I expected.

4. Gaston – A book everyone loves that you don’t.

Luxor looking for another human who will do his will.

Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel – I was on the fence about this one. I liked that it was a post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel that wasn’t full of angst. However, I didn’t really care for the character Arthur Leander, who all the other characters are somehow connected with. He was boring and I wanted to know more about these other characters but the story kept coming back to him.

CoehloAlchemistThe Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo – it’s a young man’s adventure quest and it’s been done so many times before. All the ladies are in some subservient role, which is also a standard (unfortunately) in such adventure tales. Most of the men have a Personal Legend to find or to fullfill. Meanwhile, the 3 female characters lack any such ambition.

Grahame-SmithAbrahamLincolnVampireHunterAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith – The most exciting parts of this book were the dream sequences and even those were mean tricks. The reader enters each of the dream sequences as if they are the next part of the story and only at the end of the scene do you realize it’s a dream. I really liked Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and his Unholy Nights was pretty entertaining as well, so I was sad to say that I found this book to be a snoozer.

5. Lefou – A loyal sidekick you can’t help but love more than their counter part.

LynchTheLiesOfLockeLamoraJean Tannen from The Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch – This series is full of creative cursing, thievery, camaraderie, magic, death, romance, pirates, evil people getting their due, the good guys getting the crap beaten out of them, and more creative cursing.

PriestBloodshotHeldigAdrian from the Cheshire Red Reports by Cherie Priest – Adrian is still a bit of a mystery, since I have only read the first 2 books in this series (I hope there will be more in the series!). He’s ex-military on a search for his missing kid sister. He’s also a dragqueen, and his parents have disowned him because of this. He makes a great sidekick for Raylene, the vampire thief.

6. Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumier & Cogsworth – A book that helped you through a difficult time or that taught you something valuable.

For over a year now, I have been going through this medical thing. I’ve basically been on bed rest for a year now and I was finally diagnosed in May with CTEPH – which is basically blood clots that have hardened in my pulmonary arteries, which has caused pulmonary hypertension to a moderately high degree, which will be fatal…. in perhaps 6-10 years, unless I have this big, kinda cool in a SF way, kinda scary in a mortality rate way, surgery. That’s scheduled for early February. So, these books have helped me cope with this lengthy process.

Good cat, good book, what else does one need?

Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford – this is a coloring book for adults and it’s the first one I ever bought. It’s remarkably detailed and it’s pretty amazing how coloring really takes me out of my current situation. Also, it’s something I  can do while listening to audiobooks.

CareyKushiel'sDartTerre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey – This series has been awesome and I have been part of a group read along with several wonderful ladies on the blogosphere. I’ve read Book 1, Kushiel’s Dart, so many times but it was quite something to share it with others in this in-depth discussion of the book. We started the read along back in May 2015, and now we’re on Book 7, Naamah’s Kiss. We’ll have to finish the last two books after my surgery – so that gives me something to look forward to. If you haven’t checked this series out, then I highly recommend it for alternate history and epic fantasy fans. I know sometimes it gets panned because there is plenty of sex in it, but the amount sex doesn’t outweigh all the awesomeness – the political intrigue, the sword fights, the desperate straights of the heroes, the saving of the realm! Honestly, the sex enhances the characters instead of just being padding to up the page count.

7. “Something There” – A book or a series that you weren’t into at first but picked up towards the end.

JordanPathOfDaggersThe Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan – It took me about 4 books to really get into this series, but I’m very glad I read it as it is a touchstone for epic fantasy fans. The first book really took a lot from Tolkien’s works and I was bit insulted the first and second time I read it. However, I was encouraged by a great group of book bloggers, who were part of this big 2+ years-long read along of the series, to keep going. Also, in an interview, Jordan spoke about how he wanted to model Book 1 on Tolkien’s works to give readers something familiar. Eventually, starting at Book 4, Jordan’s genius really starts to show through. I am very much hoping they do make this series in to a quality TV series or a quality series of movies.

8. “Be Our Guest” – A fictional character you’d love to have over for dinner.

ButcherDeadBeatHarry Dresden & Bob the Skull from Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files – This is one of my favorite urban fantasy series. The first few can be read in any order, but I think the series is best read in order since the larger story arc starts really building on itself around Book 4 or 5, though there are small things even in Book 1 that are tied into again later in the series. Bob would be a hoot at any dinner party. He doesn’t get much socializing, so he lacks all those hindrances that make most dinner conversations so dull.

HearneShatteredAtticus & Oberon from Kevin Hearne’s The Iron Druid Chronicles – this is yet another favorite urban fantasy series. Oberon would bring the appetite and the humor with his simple doggy demands. Atticus, being the 2000+ year old druid that he is, would be able to chat about several entertaining subjects.

Tagging Others

So now I would like to tag some other bookish folks, though please don’t feel obligated if this isn’t your cup of tea. Also, if I don’t tag you but you want to play along, please do! And leave me a comment with a link to your post so I can visit.

Lynn from Books and Travelling

Andrea from Little Red Reviewer

Julie from Oh, Julie!

Austine from Novel Knight

Book Wins from Novel Knight
Book Wins from Novel Knight

And I would like to smash into this long post a big thank you to Austine! I won a very fun book package from her recently. It was full of books and bookish things and fake tattoos and a red mask and nail art. And then she wrapped everything in gold paper! This box of goodies was such an upper, especially since I have been sick. I loved unwrapping everything and modeling the mask, tattoos, and nail art for my man. Thank you Austine!

Colossus by Colin Falconer

Chupa snoring
Chupa snoring

Where I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Neil Shah

Publisher: Recorded Books (2015)

Length: 10 hours 17 minutes

Author’s Page

 

This is an alternate history that features Alexander the Great. The main heroes of the story are Gajendra and Mara. Gajendra rises swiftly in Alexander’s army, going from an elephant boy to general of the elephant forces. Gajendra’s personal elephant is Colossus who is the largest bull elephant in the army. Mara starts off as a grieving window who has lost her children as well and becomes an elephant boy herself (hiding her gender). Colossus is an important force in the army but also an important side character in this story, often being the reminder of more gentle things for both Mara and Gajendra.

I have long been fascinated by Alexander the Great, having read several fiction and nonfiction works about him. So when I saw this alternate history featuring him I had to give it a read. I was not disappointed. In fact, if you didn’t know much about Alexander, you could read this book and believe every bit of it; the story so masterfully intertwines fiction and facts.

Gajendra is a very interesting character. His Uncle Ravi took him in when he was a small boy and taught him the secret language of elephants. Right from the start of the story, Gajendra has mighty aspirations. He fell in love, or lust, the instant he spotted a certain noble woman, Zahara. Since then, he knows he must rise high in the army if there is to be any chance of winning her. But he knows he must treat the elephants well, not just because he cares for them as deeply as his uncle does, but because he knows they are the key to his success. As Gajendra rises in the ranks, he comes to the attention of Alexander himself. Throughout the tale, these two share some very intense conversations. Indeed, just remembering a few specific ones makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Now Ravi and Gajendra march together in Alexander’s army and they march upon Carthage. Many of Alexander’s foes have never faced elephants in battle and their mere presence unnerves both soldiers and horses. Of course, they take a lot of care when the army isn’t battling anyone and a disgruntled elephant can do quite a bit of damage to Alexander’s army as well. Indeed, I feel I learned some important things about elephants in reading this book. They were definitely an integral part of the plot and not just scenery.

It took longer for me to like Mara. We meet her at the depth of her grief, having lost all her family except her father, a general of Carthage. When the city is attacked by Alexander’s army, her father orders the loyal family servant to protect her at all costs. Lucky for both of them, Gajendra is the one to find them in the aftermath of the attack and take them in as the lowest of elephant boys, mucking dung and fetching water. Eventually Mara’s grief crystallizes and she puts it to good use. Colossus is key in her return to life. By the end of the book, I was very glad I had made the journey with Mara as I came to admire her efforts.

There are very few female characters in this book. Zahara is essentially a love interest and has very few lines. There are perhaps 2 priestesses mentioned and I seem to recall one of them having a few lines. Mara has the greatest presence in the book for the ladies. She is written well and has full depth of character as well as a character arc. My one little quibble is that I would have liked a few more female characters that had a bit of depth.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher (via Audiobook Jukebox) in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Neil Shah did a great job. His voice for Alexander was excellent and I can imagine it was a bit difficult to maintain. Alexander’s voice is described in the text as having a kind of high pitched grating to it. Shah did a great job of getting this across to the listener while also keeping Alexander’s voice commanding and intense. His voice for Gajendra was also excellent having a light Indian accent. His female character voices were believable. 

What I Liked: Fascinating alternate history tale; great narration; Alexander is intense!; Gajendra is a complex character; the elephants are key to the story and not just scenery; Mara’s eventually won my heart; the ending was very satisfying.

What I Disliked: Would have liked a few more female characters with depth.

What Others Think:

Open Letters Monthly

Killer Aphrodite

Night Owl SciFi

2 Book Lovers Reviews