Let Me Be Your Fantasy…..No okay, maybe not; I understand.
The fantasy genre is like Marmite; you either love or hate it. I break this company slogan; I can take Marmite or leave it without fuss. Blows their whole advertising campaign out of the water huh? Well, fantasy is the same, when its written well it absorbs me, pulls me into its unique world but often, geeks write fan fiction or else a poor pastiche of the classics; pass the pipe-weed Ent, I’m off to Gondor.
While the others offer original worlds, Kyrathaba Rising is Tolkienesque but in an ingenious and unusual way. Principally though, it’s a dystopian sci-fi crime thriller; taking a while to lift off but when it does the layers pile higher. Sheltering from a hostile alien race in an underground compound, a commune face invasion or else, the protagonists plan to save the human race by entering a virtual reality world whereby they can access a new life.
Anyone intelligent enough to program such an intense alternative world, the author theorises, stands to reason they’d be a geek and every geek loves a bit of “Lord of the Rings.” Therefore the world they enter is inspired by Middle-Earth with preprogramed representations of the many creatures from Tolkien’s world.
It’s obvious its author, William Bryan Miller, is as massively influenced by Tolkien as the programmers in his book, and while he’s not afraid to show it, he’s found a unique angle and reason in which to use it.
Others take to fantasy in a more direct way and provided it is carved out with creativity and originality then I cannot get enough. The next two books I think are similar in that, the protagonists both come from our world and find themselves delving into their respective other-worlds. The first is the world of the Never, shaped by the astounding CJ Rutherford.
Now, both Mr Rutherford and Cecily Magnon use the hook of a free prequel to suck you into his realm, its fair game and a great way for you taste their offerings before devoting yourself to the series. I guarantee now though, if you stick your little toe in either waters, you’ll want to dive right in.
How do they do this? Through a website called Smashwords, a wonderful cyber-bookshop where, if you want to avoid the one which sounds like a rainforest for your own reasons, you need look no further. Check it out and support the authors on there.
Back to Never though, defined as YA in genre, (young adult) but I pretend I’m young enough, it’s the duty of us big kids. It’s a world full of dragons and other archetypical creatures but the way it has been presented is engaging. Rutherford knows how to weave a fascinating story; the prequel starts in the fantasy world and leaves you hanging. Then book one plonks you back on Earth, in Ireland, where a couple of girls in university begin to analysis the dreams that haunt them, suspecting they’re becoming real.
Unlike Tolkien we are not expected to just be plonked in the middle of Never without a map; Colin is crafting his universe before us, opening our mind and pouring in the rich narrative and creative descriptions with ease. The multi-universe theory comes into play and the adventure unfolds; nothing particularly original in this but, and this is a big but, it’s charm is within the courageous wordplay, the real life conversations and situations that make this something very special. It reads beautifully, it does not confuse and it implements all we need to know to enter his world confident that we are no stranger.
It reminded me of Cecily Magnon’s amazing series, “The Order of the Anakim,” with its perfect mixture of rich portrayals and everyday conversation pieces and this, coupled with the modern scientific theory that melds our world to that of the Never this book keeps you beyond entertained and when it is over, dripping for more. And there is more, after you’ve downloaded the FREE prelude, Origins of the Never, there’s three novels; Souls of the Never, Worlds of the Never and War of the Never.
“The Order of the Anakim” also has three books after the FREE, Prelude to a Storm; Gathering Storm, Dark Skies and Tempest Dawn. The similarities are endless, it’s also YA but enjoyable for an old fart like me!
Two young and rather naïve American Girls venture across the Mexican border. Life is a breeze for them, not taking heed of warnings they find themselves biting off more than they can chew in a rundown café. There is something in the mist of the mood, something not quite right but it would seem they are in good hands when a strong willed young Greek man assists them with the undesirable cautions of his boss Rosa, owner of the café. With their suspicions they’ve found something unworldly and demonic they leave under the protection of their saviour.
Intrigued by the whole incident one of the girls returns and in turn the protector seems to become obsessed by her, locating her in San Francisco. However her relevance in all this is far from circumstantial as she is about to discover her role in a world of ancient magik.
Cecily tackles this fantastical unwinding narrative with certain ease, the words flow through you as if they are magic themselves; there is no mistaking the environment that you are imaging, it sucks you in and tosses you right into the eye of the action. With beauty and precision the wording is expressive, it is funny when it wants to be fun, scary when it needs to scare you; basically it’s astonishingly realistic.
Prelude to a Storm is literally as moreish as melting chocolate and the only thing you will want to do after reading it is liquefy into the series.
With the fuller books greater depth and narrative sustain the quality; they deliver this in abundance. At times the descriptions gave us rather a lot to digest, building up into a world that has the potential to remain exciting through a whole series and thus, Gathering Storm takes some time to develop.
However there is a reality through the dialogue and such a wonderful expression in the writing that it never bores you. Then, when Cecily does take you off for the action it is truly breath-taking and exhilarating either dramatic in its fantastical battles with demons or else in the magnificently crafted erotic interactions. If this was a movie, your popcorn would be all over the floor of the cinema and you wouldn’t have even noticed.