Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: A. J. Spencer, Author of The Thol-ra

Join me in welcoming AJ Spencer back to the blog! He’s the author of The Thol-ra, a short tale of epic fantasyas well as the beloved SnowRaven ChroniclesCheck out his previous interview on Dab of Darkness. GIVEAWAY!!! Scroll to the bottom for the chance to win an audiobook copy of The Thol-ra.

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

Grand Admiral Thrawn (from Timothy Zahn’s Trilogy of Star Wars Books from the early 1990’s). He was one cool cat who was playing for the wrong team…..I wish he was on our side!

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

Sword & Sorcery – huge back in the day…..but has now faded away…..

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

A book that has the meaning of life would be nice. The lost books from the library of Alexandria……I wonder what they were. One historian said civilization was set back 1000 years when all that ancient knowledge went up in smoke….I think he was right.

If you could pick a fictional character to officiate at your wedding or renewal vows, who would it be?

I always thought being married on a ship, by a sea captain was very romantic (and if you want to have a honeymoon on a cruise ship, two birds with one stone). How about Captain Picard onboard the Starship Enterprise…..The holodeck could create one hell of a theme wedding!

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’d have to say superhero (Is Batman available?) I think the supernatural creature and/or space alien would probably be causing the peril in question…….

What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book?

I read somewhere that a ship was washed ashore during a big storm in the 1800’s, pushed right up on the beach and was just left there. People see the surreal image of an empty ship on a beach and say “Boy that was a bad storm…..or, isn’t that odd, kind of spooky”……Bram Stoker thought – vampire on board! This event became an inspiration for Dracula. That’s how inspiration works with a writer – could just be one little seed, one spark that can start a whole franchise. To answer your question – There are many, many mysteries I want to explore in my stories….but they are the BIG Mysteries of the universe (That run throughout all of Science Fiction, folklore and Mythology).

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

Actually, I was a teenager in the 1990’s.…..I wouldn’t mind reliving that time knowing then what I know now (but doesn’t EVERYONE?)

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

DEFINITELY the food replicator from Star Trek…..just ask for something, ANYTHING and it just appears on your plate, I like that. I like that A LOT!

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

I’ve had good days and bad days….and many days somewhere in between on every job. This question reminds me of  an interview with Rod Serling – he said the hardest part of writing was being your own boss…..the discipline of writing a certain quota each day. I also heard a story about a writer who kept missing his deadlines, just had too many distractions in everyday life. So his agent (or publisher) set up an empty cubicle in his office building and had the writer come in 9-5 Monday through Friday and just write the rest of the book they had given the writer an advance for. The writer didn’t rebel – but thanked him for doing this! Saying he never would have finished without that structure!

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

One of my favorite authors – Robert E. Howard (The creator of Conan The Barbarian); JRR Tolkien – if anyone knows about magical quests, its Tolkien!; George RR Martin (THE expert on Fantasy intrigue, and machinations); and JK Rowling, to school our team on conjuring a little magic of our own!

Finally, what can we expect from you next? I adore SnowRaven! Any chance for more stories about her? 

Thank You – you are the SnowRaven’s biggest fan 😊I don’t have writer’s block, but more of a writer’s OVERLOAD. I have LOTS of ideas, but am having a hard time pinning the story down. Getting the look and feel just right, and fleshing out the characters into 3 dimensional people. I am currently working on a big Science Fiction Anthology style book – having a REALLY hard time with it……but it could be one of the BEST things I’ll ever write (If I can pull it together that is…..) Some stories veer more toward fantasy, some are futuristic….some could be another SnowRaven story (The Thol-Ra was going to be a SnowRaven story but went in a different direction. The same may happen with the new anthology). However, I do want to put the same poetic flare into this story as the SnowRaven stories (the same style) and the main character of my big Sci Fi opus is very SnowRaven like…..very much a cyber punk SnowRaven!

Places to Follow AJ Spencer

Facebook

Amazon

Audiible

Book Blurb for The Thol-ra:

A city under siege…. An ancient book of forbidden magic…. A power that will save or destroy all!

The ancient desert city of Al-zora is under siege by a swarm of man eating insects – unleashed by a deposed queen’s vengeful curse.

But on the eve of total destruction hope for salvation comes…. In the form of Princess E’feena – the renegade princess who enlists the help of the noble swordsman Alcar, her sworn protector, and Jzemlek the alchemist and thief. To claim an ancient book of forbidden magic.

A book hidden deep in the very heart of the city – a vile swamp haunted by man eating plants every bit as ravenous and deadly as the attacking swarm.

But to save her beloved city from total annihilation E’feena will risk anything – ignoring the warnings of the sages, defying her father, the king -whose word is law! Defying all who fear the uncontrollable magic will bring a far greater calamity!

For E’feena means to unleash the most powerful force locked within the mysterious tome….a force with the power to not only destroy the insatiable swarm….but also create a true nightmare….a fate far worse then the horde encircling the city walls -For princess E’feena means to unleash the dreaded Thol-ra itself!

Audible ~ Amazon

Book Blurb for The SnowRaven Chronicles: The Shafra-Copian

The lady Snowraven becomes entangled in a tempestuous industrial revolution that promises to liberate the bleak mountaintop kingdom of Arkel-nia from the dominance of the Vosharian – a race of cunning and cruel bio-luminescent insects who have drained the kingdom’s wealth for centuries. Nightmarish creatures whose taste for human flesh has decimated countless generations of Arkel-nian maidens – human sacrifices given in exchange for the glowing orbs that only the Vosharian can create. A vicious, unending cycle for the orbs, prized above all for the light and warmth they give. The only source of energy in the whole of the desolate snow covered mountains- until now…

Audible ~ Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

AJ Spencer is offering up 6 copies of his short epic fantasy, The Thol-ra. Yep, 6 winners! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: Do you have an Audible.com account? What authors would you take on a fantasy quest? Optional: Follow AJ Spencer any way you want and tell me in the comments how you follow him and under what name. Giveaway ends June 22nd, 2017, midnight. Giveaway is limited to those that have an Audible.com account.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Will Collins, Author of A Darker Shade of Sorcery

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to William Collins. He’s the author of The Realmers, a dark urban fantasy series, of which A Darker Shade of Sorcery is Book 1. Scroll to the bottom for info on the ebook giveaway!

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

Awesome question. I’d love to be an extra in any sort of medieval or epic fantasy movie/tv show. I think it would be particularly fun to be the extra during a massive battle scene. I also think playing the part of an elf or orc would be an incredible experience.

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

All of the jobs I’ve had have been manual labour, so writing is a stark contrast, but far more enjoyable.

Who are some of your favourite book villains?

Oh, there’s many, often I like the villains more than I do the good guys. I’ll have to give a nod to Lord Loss, from the Demonata Sage and Tyler Durden from Fight Club; if he counts.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

Oh it’s definitely a creative mess. I can plan/brainstorm anywhere, but I always have to do the serious writing in my ‘author cave.’ I get into a zone and often write the first versions of my works very fast. I’d proably look like a mad man if I did it in public. J

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

H.P Lovecraft – Creator of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Katherine Kerr – Author of the Deverry series.

Terry Pratchett – I’m sure everyone knows who this is.

Ray Bradbury – Another very famous author, a master of short stories too.

Robert E Howard – Credited for creating the sword and sorcery genre, his most famous character is likely Conan the Barbarian.

I can’t decide where they would rank, but I’d be most fascinated by merely sitting at the table with all five of them and seeing them interact.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Unfortunately, I haven’t met any other authors yet, although I’ve talked briefly with Darren Shan and Philip Reeve on twitter, but that doesn’t really count. J

The first time a fan gushed over my work was quite a surreal experience. It’s still surreal to me when readers reference the little things in their reviews, such as using the swear words I invented etc. It’s cool though, I haven’t experienced anything awkward. I myself would be the one to bring the awkwardness if I encountered a favourite author.

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 love side characters, they’re often my favourite characters in novels. My favourite side character in Harry Potter is Gilderoy Lockhart, who probably isn’t a character popular with many people, but I think he’s awesome. In my own works a few side characters appear to be liked by many readers, when I didn’t necessarily write them to be likeable, so that’s really interesting to me.

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

Can I cheat and jump on Luke’s back like Yoda?

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

You can find the first book in The Realmers Series, A Darker Shade of Sorcery.

Inside the Amazon page are links to book 2 and 3 in the series.

Book 3 was published recently, and I’m currently writing book 4. Meanwhile, I have a spin off set of novella’s that accompany the main series, the first of which has also recently been released. Here is Choo Choo Your Food, Book 1 of The Realmers Chronicles Book 1.

A second novella will be published within the next few weeks, and I’m halfway through a prequel novella for the main series too.

Thanks for having me, and I hope any who read this enjoyed it.

Places to Find William Collins

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Book Blurb for A Darker Shade of Sorcery

The lonely and grieving Evan Umbra is the newest Venator to enter Veneseron, the school for demon hunters.

A Venator is a wizard, a spy and a demon hunter rolled into one. They’re taught how to wield their sorcery and enchanted weaponry by orcs, elfpires and aliens alike.

Their missions range from battling monsters and saving countless lives in the multiple worlds, to the more peculiar, like wrangling killer unicorns and calming down drunken yetis. In their free time Venators enjoy goblin soap-operas and underwater bubble travel, but they also understand that every new mission they’re given could be their last.

Whilst learning how to manipulate the elements, summon creatures to fight for him and shoot Spellzookas, Evan encounters a dangerous rival and meets a girl who makes him feel nauseous; but in a good way. He makes the first friends he’s ever had in the carefree Jed and the reckless Brooke. Whilst Jed gets on the wrong side of a rival Venator, Brooke finds herself falling for the enigmatic demon hunter who brought her to Veneseron, not knowing he isn’t quite human. But it soon becomes apparent that Evan is more than just a Venator. Everyone wants to kill or capture him, from demons to Dark-Venators and even people he’s supposed to be able to trust.

Evan reckons he probably won’t survive his first year at Veneseron.

Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

Will Collins is offering up 3 ebook copies of A Darker Shade of Sorcery, open internationally! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: What country do you live in? Who is your favorite side character? Giveaway ends June 10th, 2017, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Time Travel Tagging

I was recently tagged by Lynn over at Books & Travelling with Lynn. The subject is all about books and time traveling, in one way or another. I really enjoy these tag posts as they often give me something to talk about without having to use a lot of brainpower. Here are the Q&A.

SummersOwlDanceWhat is your favorite historical setting for a book?

It’s hard to pick just one. I’ve read plenty of stories set in ancient Greece (Mary Renault), Roman murder mysteries & ‘celebrities’ (John Maddox Roberts, Conn Iggulden), and the 1800s of the American West (David Lee Summers, Cherie Priest). Also, the Tudor era attracts me. In fact, I’m currently wrapped up in Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory.

AsimovStarsLikeDustWhat writer/s would you like to travel back in time to meet?

Isaac Asimov is near the top of my list. His books feature prominently in my childhood/teen years. I read his Lucky Starr series but also many of his adult novels. For kicks, I’d love to meet Homer and put to rest the age-old argument on whether Homer was male or female or collection of authors. I wouldn’t mind meeting Pearl S. Buck. Her novel, The Good Earth, was required reading in both the 5th and 9th grades (I moved and changed school districts, so that’s why I got hit twice with this classic) and I loved it both times. She had a very interesting life and it wouldn’t just be her books I’d pester her with questions about, but also her travel and years living in China.

LynchTheLiesOfLockeLamoraWhat book/s would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?

There’s so much good stuff out today! Apart from a few classics, most of the ‘safe’ or required reading I had access to as a kid was boring and often felt fake or like it was missing a big element of life – you know, all the gooey, messy bits that make all the good parts that much better. Luckily, I had full access to any SFF novel in the house and there were plenty of those. So to supplement my childhood bookshelf, I would give myself Andy Weir’s The Martian, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, and The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

Chupacabra
Chupacabra

What book/s would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?

I would speed ahead to my future self and hand her a copy of Robert E. Howard’s stories. His writing is some of the best I have enjoyed and yet several of his stories, Conan or otherwise, have certain sexist and racist elements that really repel me. This book would remind me that humans, including myself, are flawed and that things change over the years, such as views on a woman’s proper role in high fantasy adventure. Yet despite these shortcomings, a person can still love a story, or a person, or a country, etc.

ChaneyTheAmberProjectWhat is your favorite futuristic setting from a book?

I always enjoy closed systems and several feature in SF stories. These are domed cities (Logan’s Run by Nolan & Johnson), underground villages (The Amber Project series by JN Chaney), underwater towns (Lucky Starr & the Oceans of Venus by Isaac Asimov), very large space stations (The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey), etc.. There’s the wonder of discovering these places, seeing how they are supposedly working and will go on working forever, and then watching it all come apart in some horrible way that means death for most of the people in the story. Yeah, welcome to my little demented side.

 

Grahame-SmithAustenPrideAndPrejudiceAndZombiesWhat is your favorite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?

For fun, I wouldn’t mind visiting Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I really like the idea of making polite ball jokes, decapitating zombies, working out in the dojo, and politely trading British insults over tea. Honestly, I think that is the only way I would survive the Victorian era.

RobertsTheKingsGambitSpoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?

Back when I was eyeball reading printed books (I do mostly audiobooks now) I had a ritual. I would start a book and at that moment that I knew I was hooked, that I had fallen in love with the story, I would turn to the last page and read the last sentence. Most of the time this didn’t spoil anything, but every once in a while there would be a final line that gave away an important death or such.

PriestMaplecroftIf you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?

Actually, I do have a Time Turner. My husband bought it for me at the start of September while he was at an SCA event. It was right after we learned that I was quite sick but a few weeks before we learned just how sick. So, lots of bitter sweet emotions tied up with that piece of jewelry.

Anyhoo, if I had a working one, I would go everywhere and do everything. I would start with planning things that Bill and I have wanted to do together (like celebrating Beltane in a pre-Christian era) and then add in things that I have always wanted to do but which my be a big snooze fest for Bill (such as Charles Darwin’s Beagle voyage).

JonasAnubisNightsFavorite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods?

Currently, I’m enjoying the Jonathan Shade series by Gary Jonas. Time travel really becomes an element in this urban fantasy series in the second trilogy with Ancient Egypt featuring prominently. I also adore Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I finally read a Stephen King novel, 11-22-63. The characters were great even as the underlying premise was only so-so for me. The Dinosaur Four by Geoff Jones was a fun, crazy creature feature.

ButcherColdDaysWhat book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, for sure. I’ve read the early books several times each and I get a laugh out of them each time. Also I would like to experience Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey all over again for the first time. That book showed me how prudish some of my ideas were when I first read it. I wonder what it would show me now? Perhaps the same thing, if indeed this book has had as big an impact on who I am as I think.

Tagging Other People

So in general with these fun tagging posts, I never want anyone to feel obligated to play along. As usual, if any of you want to play along, I definitely encourage you. You can answer any of the questions in the comments or you can throw up your own blog post and then let em know about it so I can come read it. Here are some people who I think would like this particular time travel subject:

David Lee Summers

Under My Apple Tree

Beauty Is A Sleeping Cat

On Starships & Dragonwings

Audiobook giveaway & Interview: AJ Spencer, Author of The SnowRaven Chronicles

SpencerSnowRavenArt1Everyone, please welcome AJ Spencer. It is with great pleasure that I have AJ on the blog today. I absolutely adored his SnowRaven Chronicles! So I was thrilled when he agreed to be interviewed on the blog. We chat about the long road to producing The SnowRaven Chronicles, crazy dinner parties, movies, and plenty more. Also, AJ has offered up a wonderful audiobook giveaway so make sure to check that out at the end of the post!

Saska SnowRaven is a warrior, sexual, strong-headed, loyal, and endearing. How did you come up with such a winning character?

I dreamed up the character more then 10 years ago (her exploits have been rattling around in my head for a long time)

Originally, I envisioned The SnowRaven as a series of stand-alone stories, either as a comic book (one or two pages each story) or some sort of animation (five minute shorts) possibly online, or as part of an established magazine (I pitched the idea to “HEAVY METAL” Magazine many years ago, but they passed…..)

That is why the stories are so episodic in nature.

And why she has the white fur hat, B&W Face paint and fur lined boots, because I wanted to have a wide array or Artists working on the series with their own unique styles (Classic Comic book, American Cartoon, Japanese Anime, etc….) but you would always recognize her as The SnowRaven.

I also thought Linx would be a fun idea for an artist to play with – that he would always be in motion (like a living feather boa).

The SnowRaven books (as they are now) were born from 3 separate story ideas:
One, a LORD OF THE RINGS like epic (with the insect like Vosharian hordes)
Two, a Fantasy Adventure centering on energy orbs (with Tommy Calvoore as the lead character)
And The SnowRaven Shorts themselves.

After many drafts over many years – I had quite a collection of rejection letters – then I had the idea of combining many of the main elements from all 3 stories (with the SnowRaven as the lead). That is why the stories are so dense (a lot packed into them) and how I was able to write them so (back-to-back) fast.

SpencerSnowRavenArt2If you could be an extra on a fantasy series or movie, what would it be?

I think it would be great to be an extra in the new Star Wars (I would luv to be an action figure)…..and become a bit of movie trivia (everyone can point to my one scene and say “That’s the guy that wrote the SnowRaven Chronicles.”)

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why? 

I do enjoy a good mystery the first time, but it’s also fun to watch them again knowing who-dun-it. Come to think of it, I feel exactly the same about many of my favorite movies and TV shows no matter how many times I’ve seen them.

Quite a bit of graphic art went into the creating of the series. Tell us a bit about that please. 

There are 3 things you need to know about writing a book-

#1 You Write what you know

#2 You Must Have a great hook

#3 You need a GREAT book cover

Comic books are in the SnowRaven’s DNA – so I googled Freelance Comic Book Artists – and found OctoGraphics.

They do great work and being a frustrated artist myself (who paints with words), I relished the chance to describe what the SnowRaven looks like – the pose, the weapons…..it was great fun to see her come alive with their help.

I launched a KickStarter Campaign to fund some promo comics a while back – the campaign was canceled but my video intro is still there:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1369659460/the-snowraven-chronicles-comic-book-illustrated-no?ref=nav_search

SpencerSnowRavenArt3If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

My dream job would be having my own Animation Studio – bringing fantasy to life as only animation can.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I do not enjoy that part of self-publishing at all (I wish I had my own promotional team to handle all of that). It is very challenging trying to stand out as a self published author (I often feel like I am being lost in the crowd – or rejected out-of-hand because I self publish……).

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

Ernest Hemingway (A big juicy steak), F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda (both would order the salad bar so they can mix and mingle with all the people in the restaurant), Robert E. Howard (who wouldn’t order, but just bang away on his typewriter the whole time), and Hunter S. Thompson, who would order something so completely gonzo that the waitress would just stand at the table with a blank stare.

Oh, what a night that would be…..

SpencerSnowRavenArt4I have to ask about the clothing-optional fighting that often occurs in the SnowRaven Chronicles. I love it but how has the overall response been to this?

I have always loved fantasy artwork – especially Frank Frazetta. Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell’s calendar has hung on my wall for many a year. I wanted to capture some of that look and feel in my books.

I also like to “play against type” – insects do not live in Arctic Regions, and medieval warriors usually wore as much armor as possible. It’s fun to mix things up.

What do you do when you are not writing? 

The usual day to day stuff that makes up Modern American Life. I am a BIG Movie Guy from a BIG Movie Family – a lot of my free time has been spent with my DVD collection over the years.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or not)? Will there be a tasty libation involved? 

The champion of NINJA WARRIOR (did you ever see that show?) no libations….I go through life stone cold sober…..it’s quite an experience!

SpencerGIJoeVX257Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I did write a new short story – part of “The Kindle Worlds” Program. GI JOE VX 257 – based on the classic animated show from the 1980’s – It was great fun!

http://www.amazon.com/G-I-JOE-Kindle-Worlds-Short-ebook/dp/B00SXJ3S18

SpencerSnowRavenChroniclesShafra&CopianBook 1: The Shafra-Copian book blurb:

The lady Snowraven becomes entangled in a tempestuous industrial revolution that promises to liberate the bleak mountaintop kingdom of Arkel-nia from the dominance of the Vosharian – a race of cunning and cruel bio-luminescent insects who have drained the kingdom’s wealth for centuries. Nightmarish creatures whose taste for human flesh has decimated countless generations of Arkel-nian maidens – human sacrifices given in exchange for the glowing orbs that only the Vosharian can create. A vicious, unending cycle for the orbs, prized above all for the light and warmth they give. The only source of energy in the whole of the desolate snow covered mountains- until now…

SpencerTheTreasureOfOkra-BaneBook 2: The Treasure of Okra-Bane book blurb:

The lady SnowRaven sets out to claim the fabled treasure of Okra-Bane, hidden amongst the mysterious circle of stones – the ancient remnants of a long forgotten civilization deep in the snow covered mountains of Andora.

But little does she know that a swarm of vengeful Vosharian are stalking her, awaiting the ideal moment to strike, or that the circle of stones holds many, deadly secrets to ensnare treasure seekers. The most terrifying is the ancient creature that sleeps deep within the mountains: a pagan god to the ancients, mere myth & legend to this enlighten age, a force to be feared by all who dare to steal its most coveted treasure.

SpencerSnowRavenChroniclesWine&WizardsBook 3: Wine & Wizards book blurb:

It is adventure on the high seas when the lady Snowraven sets sail to reclaim the fabled banner of the doomed expedition, lost long ago.

But, she is soon entangled in the war of ideology that is reshaping the very fabric of her world – between those creating machines of industry, fueled by ethanol, and those clinging to the old ways of “magic” holding steadfast to the glowing Nexil-Orbs and the elite classes that create them.

The Snowraven guided by fate.

For an ancient prophesy foretells the coming of a new age – heralded by a mighty queen to sit upon the throne of Nubodia – the wealthiest realm of them all.

But one inflicted with a truly monstrous foe of both nature and man’s creation. A vile creature that shows the most terrifying enemy – is the enemy within.

SpencerSnowRavenChroniclesThianOilBook 4: Thian Oil book blurb:

The lady Snowraven, fallen out of favor with the duke’s inner circle, returns to the simple life of a humble shepherdess… But to lead her flock through the very heart of the mighty Andereke mountains, she must either cross the fabled bridge of Nelchatta… and pay the troll’s terrible price… or risk being trapped by the nightmarish Thian Oil pits… a dark and terrible fate from which few escape… The putrid sludge from centuries of nexil-orbs – haunted by the vile creatures transformed by its insidious evil.

SpencerTheThol-raWhile this is not part of The SnowRaven Chronicles, I really enjoyed The Thol-ra as well. Here is the book blurb:

A city under siege…. An ancient book of forbidden magic…. A power that will save or destroy all!

The ancient desert city of Al-zora is under siege by a swarm of man eating insects – unleashed by a deposed queen’s vengeful curse.

But on the eve of total destruction hope for salvation comes…. In the form of Princess E’feena – the renegade princess who enlists the help of the noble swordsman Alcar, her sworn protector, and Jzemlek the alchemist and thief. To claim an ancient book of forbidden magic.

A book hidden deep in the very heart of the city – a vile swamp haunted by man eating plants every bit as ravenous and deadly as the attacking swarm.

But to save her beloved city from total annihilation E’feena will risk anything – ignoring the warnings of the sages, defying her father, the king -whose word is law! Defying all who fear the uncontrollable magic will bring a far greater calamity!

For E’feena means to unleash the most powerful force locked within the mysterious tome….a force with the power to not only destroy the insatiable swarm….but also create a true nightmare….a fate far worse then the horde encircling the city walls -For princess E’feena means to unleash the dreaded Thol-ra itself!

Places to Stalk AJ Spencer & The SnowRaven

Facebook

All the audio books are available on Audible.com  

Giveaway!
AJ has most generously offered up 5 copies of EACH SnowRaven audiobook! Yes, it is possible to win 1 of each book, but no worries if you don’t. They each stand alone quite well. Enter the Rafflecopter below or answer me the following in the comments: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? 2) Leave a way to contact you. 3) What are some of your favorite comic books and/or graphic novels? Giveaway ends August 31, 2015, Midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kull: Exile of Atlantis by Robert E. Howard

Waffles cuddling up to my book.
Waffles cuddling up to my book.

Where I Got It: PaperbackSwap.com

Narrator: Todd McLaren

Publisher: Tantor Audio (2009)

Length: 11 hours 47 minutes

Author’s Page

Many folks know Robert E. Howard for his sword & sorcery character Conan. However, before there was Conan, there was Kull from Atlantis, a mere man who won the crown of Valusia. This book comprises the previously published and unpublished Kull stories and poems. Additionally, there are two essays by Robert E. Howard enthusiasts. In this book are the following stories: “Exile of Atlantis,” “The Shadow Kingdom,” “The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune,” “The Cat and the Skull,” “The Screaming Skull of Silence,” “The Striking of the Gong,” “The Altar and the Scorpion,” “The Curse of the Golden Skull,” “By This Axe I Rule!” “Swords of the Purple Kingdom,” “The King and the Oak,” and “Kings of the Night.”

I think this book would be great for REH enthusiasts but perhaps not for the REH beginner. The opening essay on the magnificence of REH lasts about half the first CD. This essay refers to things a newbie wouldn’t know about – like specific imagery in the Kull and Conan stories. I personally have only read one collection of Conan stories plus Wolfshead. So much of the references to the Kull stories were completely lost on me. I was ready to jump into the Kull tales right away, so I skipped ahead and came back to the opening essay later.

The collection of stories is great. Since most of the tales follow chronologically one after the other, they almost read like one big novel when strung together. I was very surprised to see that there were no racial slurs as I have seen in the Conan stories. I honestly don’t know if this collection was sanitized for modern readers or if that is how Howard truly wrote them. I do know that nearly all of these tales went unpublished until long after Howard’s death. At any rate, I got swept up into the magic, the betrayals, the sheer might in wielding a heavy sword!

As with other Howard stories, the ladies are few and far between. They don’t always get names or spoken lines. If they aren’t sexual objects to be protected and bedded, then they are betrayers. This is a theme that has been in nearly all Howard works I have read (the exceptions being those works that contain zero females). I am sure there are some interesting psychological analysis of Howard and his works out there.

This audiobook also contains drafts of his Kull stories which are very close to the final versions and I found them a bit redundant. The book ends with another essay on the awesomeness that is Kull and REH. I think this second essay was more interesting simply because I had some knowledge of the Kull stories at that point.

Over all, I loved the imagery of the Kull stories, the adventure, the male bonding and camaraderie. REH has this way with words that turns scratches on a page into a full, lush landscape. He would be one of my favorite writers if he included some worthy female characters. Alas, that isn’t to be.

Narration:  Todd McLaren was a good pick for this book. He had that noble, yet gruff, voice for Kull that made me want to strap on a leather loin cloth, arm myself to the teeth, and set off on an adventure with the warrior. He also had excellent voices for other recurring side characters like Brule. There is one cat character that talks and McLaren did a good job making it sound like a snobby cat. His female voices were done well, especially the old crone.

What I Liked:  The cover art; Kull and his sense of nobility; REH’s way with words; the adventure and camaraderie; the final essay.

What I Disliked:  Very few female characters and nearly all of there were ridiculous; the draft versions of the stories were not significantly different and therefore, not particularly interesting.

What Others Think:

Kowalski’s Realm

Daniel’s Corner Unlimited

Green Man Review

Fantasy Literature

Militant Reviews

BTIBMTGT: Orson Scott Card & Robert E. Howard

Books That I’ve Been Meaning to Get To (BTIBMTGT) is an idea from the depths and crannies of Lady Darkcargo (check out her stuff at Darkcargo.com).

On that note:

Why did I let one linger for ever and why have I avoided the other? Let’s talk. Come, sit. Tea?

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card is considered one of the important books in science fiction literature. Back when I was 17 or 16 I read the first in the series, Ender’s Game, and never made it any further in the series. I enjoyed the book, but didn’t get the ending. I also didn’t happen to have Speaker for the Dead on hand and throw those two facts in with moving off to college… But the excuses have to end. So this month I will be listening to Speaker for the Dead. Having recently read Ender’s Game, and enjoyed it immensely, I am most certainly looking forward to the sequel.

Robert E. Howard is famous for creating Conan, who started off life in a loincloth running around short story pulp fiction magazines in the 1920s and 1930s. For years I heard what great stories the original Conan were (mostly from My Main Man). Earlier this year I read my first Conan collection and certainly had mixed feelings; the writing itself was excellent but there were also gender and ethnic equality issues. So I thought I would give this short novel a try. Personally, I am curious to see if the difference in media (pulp fiction magazine versus publishing house book) equals a difference in writing style.

Review of Ender’s Game

Review of Wolfshead