The People of Dirt (Dirt Series 2: Bookj #3) by C.C. Hogan
Regular readers of my reviews will know that I am a long-time fan of C.C. Hogan's magnificent fantasy series set in the land of Dirt. My latest read from Hogan, People of Dirt is book three in series two of the story of this amazing fantasy world. As such, it appears to be the last in this particular story, which does sadden me somewhat. I have come to love and enjoy the principal characters from Dirt, especially the three women; Silvi, Ferrett and Mistry. These strong, young (although one of them is actually over 500-years-old) are a wonderful portrayal of leadership. They all have their weaknesses and their faults, but deep down they are driven by the search for peace and justice. I love all the characters in Dirt, but, of course, especially the dragons. I mean, who doesn't love dragons? The dragons of Dirt are drawn, by Hogan, with the characteristics, mannerisms and morality of humans, but even more so. They are more moral and upright, it seems, than us.
In this final iteration of Dirt, things are coming to a head. As Dragon Leader, Sylvi, tries to unite the bulk of Preland against the invaders from the north, led by the fanatical priests, the True Path, who have corrupted the legends of Pree for their own benefit, you can tell the final battles will not only be climatic, but bloody and action-packed. People of Dirt is a substantial book, but at no time did I notice the length of the story. Hogan's ability to keep a reader entranced with both action and great dialogue is well known to me.
I am in awe of the incredible depth and detail of the world created by C. C. Hogan. This author has made real a world of fantasy and dragons that few authors are capable of achieving. Without giving away the plot, at all, I would just say this: "Any author who can make a reader physically cry over the death of an imaginary dragon character is an author worthy of respect and following." C. C. Hogan IS such an author. I can highly recommend People of Dirt and the entire, wonderful, Dirt series. I will miss it. Kudos to Hogan.
The Rainmaker (Saga of the Chosen Book 2) by Petra Landon
The Rainmaker is the second book in the Saga of the Chosen, of a planned four book series that delves into the world of the Chosen, the hidden group amongst us who possess the ancient powers of magic. This is the third Petra Landon book I’ve been fortunate enough to read and every one improves on the last. This truly is the best part of being a reviewer; watching indie authors find their niche, whilst growing and developing, as writers, within it.
Rainmaker, first and foremost, is a continuation of the story unveiled in the first book; The Prophecy. Unbeknownst to us mere mortals, magic beings live amongst us, their one guiding dictate is to never do anything that may reveal their existence to humanity. All Chosen are not created equal, though, with there being four distinct and separate groups who avoid each other like the plague. The Shifters (or as we probably think of them – the werewolves) comprise a group that live rigidly dictated lives, where fealty to the Clan Leader and loyalty to their pack is paramount above all else. The Wizards are a disparate group, split by politics, personal ambition, and greed. The Originals, who see themselves as above all, have very little interest in, or concern for, the other Chosen. Finally, we have the lowest and most scorned of the Chosen – the Vampires, who are generally reviled by all.
A prophecy made by a powerful wizard/mage some twenty-five years ago is beginning to come to fruition, with the re-emergence of a woman, long thought dead; Lady Bethesda. Her desire to unite her three daughters, from three different fathers, to claim power over the Chosen world, has thrown the most unlikely of allies together in a desperate attempt to stop the prophecy from coming true. Were-Alpha Protector, Raoul Merceau, gathers around him a collection of Wizards, Originals, Shifters, and even the odd Vampire, to try to expose Lady Bethesda’s evil plan for what it is and to stop her. The key to the whole drama, however, may lie with an unassuming, young Level 2 Wizard, Tasia Armstrong who holds some deep and powerful secrets very close to her chest.
To say that Petra Landon has created an amazing array of multi-faceted and fascinating characters is an understatement. Despite the characters all being “otherworldly” to some extent, they are incredibly believable and identifiable. The character development is superb. The stars of this story are undoubtedly Tasia Armstrong, Were-Alpha Protector Raoul Merceau, and, for me, typically English Were-Alpha, Duncan Hawthorne. However, the supporting characters; Hawk, Sienna, Jason, Franciszka, et al, are equally well developed and interesting. The sexual tension between Raoul and Tasia is electric and although hinted at in The Prophecy, it now becomes a full-blown reality in The Rainmaker. Will they… won’t they, is a question I couldn’t stop wondering throughout the length of this book. This story is so much more than a fantasy adventure; it is a beautifully put together story about life, choices, morality, loyalty, and decisions, set in a fantasy world.
The Rainmaker perfectly fulfils the bill as an Epic Fantasy. It is long, for sure, at 657 pages, but those pages just fly by as you are transported into a world that is familiar, yet so very different to the world we know. Set principally in San Francisco, The Rainmaker will draw you in and not let you go. This book is definitely one of my reading highlights for this year and an early contender for the Annual Grunter Awards.
I can give no greater accolade to Landon than to say I was devastated when the story ended and I wait with baited breath for the third instalment of this amazing series; The Siren. Get writing Ms Landon… please! What a winner The Rainmaker is.
The Infinity Mantle (Lore of Arcana #1) by Elaina J Davidson
Some authors write fantasy, Elaina J Davidson writes epic fantasy and she does it with the care and aplomb of a true master of the craft. Her books are usually wide, sweeping tales of fantastic worlds, amazing creatures and terrifying magic and sorcery. The Infinity Mantle, the first book in the Lore of Arcana series, is just such a book. It brings us the worlds of Valaris and Ardosia, both threatened by the evil Darak Or Margus. To battle this universal evil, Davidson brings together an ensemble cast of humans, guardians (Immortals) and even the greatest ruler of them all, the original being that ruled both Valaris and Ardosia from the very beginnings of sentience.
This story is massive in its scope and one thing I appreciated from the author, especially given that this is the first book in a series, was the time she spent to introduce and understand the principal characters in this strange new world. Too often fantasy authors leave us, the reader, to flounder along wondering who is this character and why is he/she reacting this way. Davidson takes the time to build her world, to set the scene and to explore her characters. I applaud her for this.
Once the adventure starts, the action is fascinating and beautifully written. We are able to follow the various arcs of the story and relate one to the other, which is the sign of a superb writer, which Davidson certainly is. I particularly liked the emotional nature of the interactions between both the humans and the humans to the immortals. There was always a deep feeling of mistrust and fascination between the two groups, which was wonderfully played by Davidson. The principal character (if there can even be one in such an ensemble cast) Rayne of the Mantle was perfectly complex and riddled with issues, especially identity issues. I look forward to exploring more of these fascinating characters in the next few books in this series.
Davidson is both prolific and talented as an author and I would certainly place her high up in the list of indie authors I have read and as a fantasy author, she is up there with the very best. An author to follow for sure. I highly recommend The Infinity Mantle, if fantasy is your genre - and even if it's not, I suggest you give this one a crack.
drum roll please:
But, there does have to be a winner and this year's 2018 Grunter Awardee in the category of Fantasy Fiction is: The Rainmaker (Saga of the Chosen Book 2) by Petra Landon
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