Fantasy Book review, Mistborn #1: The Final Empire

mistborn-vin-christian-mcgrath-art

Hello to my readers. I hope you all had a lovely Holloween. I’m attempting a new type of post—a book review of other science fantasy works I’ve read. This review will focus on Mistborn book 1: The Final Empire. I wanted to read the second book—The Well of Ascension—before I finished this review. I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum.

With that said, let’s delve into Brandon Sanderson’s world of intrigue—a perfect start to November!

Mistborn, the Series

Premise

Mistborn is an epic fantasy series that spans multiple books. The story also incorporates some dark fantasy elements. Each book is long—and well worth it. Expect to invest time in each installation if you so desire.

If I could describe Mistborn in three words, it would be—gloomy, epic, and intricate. There is a sense of adventure too, though most of the plot takes place within a capital city.

Characters

The main character, Vin, struggles to understand herself in a turbulent world of war, oppression, and darkness. She meets many characters in her journey, most that popped out of the page for me, the reader.

Sanderson did an excellent job with the characters. The cast came off as likable and amusing. There were a few scenes where I laughed and had to reread for the fun of it. Sanderson knows when to cut the tension with old-fashioned comedy relief—an essential element in manuscripts, by the way.

The villains were sadistic enough—and arcane enough—to warrant interest. The antagonist in book 1 is practical a god who survives decapitation, experiences immortality, and can manipulate thousands of people at will. Talk about a challenge for the protagonist!

Magic System

The magic in Mistborn is intriguing—an alchemical system where a person burns metals within the body. Each metal provides a specific power when burned. The effect is usually temporary and limited by the metal resources at hand.

Superhuman feats are common in Mistborn, so, expect some Avengers-grade thrills. The action blew me away and kept me reading. It is refreshing to see supernatural action mixed it for once rather than the usual sword or gun fighting.

My one complaint is that the action is a little confusing with all the unique terms. Brandon Sanderson could have improved on the readability during these scenes. I sometimes skimmed over the fight scenes because they weren’t easy to follow.

Romance

The romantic interest for the main OC, Vin, starts late in the book and builds up gradually. It may not read like the best romance novel—and came off a little flat to me—but it fits in well enough with the plot and characters.

Romance does play a stronger role in the second book, Well of Ascension; admittingly, Sanderson did a better job of it in the second installation.

Conflict

Mistborn is rife with conflict—another good detail of the book. I couldn’t go ten pages without feeling sympathy, pain, or anticipation. Sanderson knows how to keep the pages turning—never a dull moment.

I sometimes compared the feeling to Dragonlance—another favored series of mine.

Overall Summary

The Good

The characters, magic system, conflict, and atmosphere of the book are my favorite elements of Mistborn. It set the proper tone for a dark fantasy epic novel. I imagine I’ll be rereading it again in the future.

The Bad

The action/combat scenes were confusing, and the romance was not deep enough. I feel Sanderson could have developed these scenes more. Regardless, they weren’t terrible and never impeded the book’s flow beyond a few pages.

The Ugly

There were a few graphic scenes in Mistborn, some which made me pause (not in the wrong way, mind you). I’m all for gore and blood if it helps add dimension and immersion to a book. That said, this book isn’t nearly as extreme about it as Song of Fire and Ice (another excellent book, by the way).

Still, Mistborn isn’t for the light of heart. After all, it is a dark fantasy novel to some degree—and I still enjoyed it.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars—outstanding

Thank you all for reading. This review post was a first for me. If you have any feedback, comments, or suggestions, let me know in the reply boxes below. Love and gratitude to my readers. 🙂


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Lately, I’ve been live streaming creative writing on Twitch. Sometimes I stream other media too. Come check me out sometime.

For more information on dark fantasy or other types of science fiction, be sure to check out my guest post here, hosted on Richie Billing’s blog. Cheers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touching base

Hello to all my readers. I’m just touching base in this post as per my absence, and I wanted to jot down some of my thoughts and feelings for those interested.

My new job has kept me busy (6 days a week at a postal position does that). It’s not my ideal occupation, but it’s certainly a step up from my last one. I plan to save up enough money with this job to pay the bills and hire an editor for my upcoming book: Dragonsoul. The postal job is difficult, so, I’m hoping I make the probation period and become regular. Personally, I’d prefer fingering through a book or manuscript than a bundle of letters. As a CCA, the perks you get are good exercise and fresh air.

Outside of work, I’ve busied with reading science fantasy like Ender’s Game, The Dark Tower, Mistborn, and an informative book for writers called The Frugal Editor. I’d highly recommend these books for any SF writer, especially amateurs like myself.

Outside of reading and family obligations, I’ve done editing passes with Dragonsoul. It sounds better with every pass, but I always find new typos or issues to resolve. I’d say my manuscript is coming along, and I look forward to the end product. I have two other books planned for a trilogy at present. Creating fantasy worlds, especially on Atlas where Dragonsoul takes place, gives me a lot of fulfillment. No matter where this project goes, I’ll always be grateful for this chance to engineer such a beautiful world.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll post a new writing article when I get the chance. Thank you for reading. Love and gratitude. 🙂


For anyone who has read my series thus far, I’d be interested in hearing feedback or if you have questions about it. If you haven’t read it, I’m always looking for more beta readers. Let me know in the comments below. Thanks. 😀

 

 

Dreams of the Scarlet Swordswoman #6

A scarlet girl traveled plains thick with snow. The snowflakes stung her eyes, obscuring vision, their petals frigid to the touch. Continuous they fell, freezing her body and slowing her progress. Her objective: an old Grasnout resting by a leafless tree uprooted and savaged by the elements. Her feet sprang into a sprint, but the snow dampened her approach. Her distance from the bear grew, her effort wasted. She collapsed into the snow, succumbing to the cold at last. A soft matt of fur brushed her body. She looked up. The beast had come to her, licking her face amiably. The redhead stood, grasping the warm, rugged fur of the tusked bear. Warmth returned to her face.

The wintery plains changed to summer. The white transitioned to a lush green, and an azure blue replaced the overcast sky. The chirping of birds filled her ears from the overturned tree, its branches gnarled like spheres, each globe containing untold blossoms. The sharp chirps of the birds were delightful, peaceful even. She smiled as the small creatures landed on the ground, regarding her with a ruffling of feathers.

“We come to you, child of the universe, in the name of the One.”

The birds flapped their wings, dazzling the girl in a bright flash of light. Three tall humanoids stood before her. They were dragon-like in appearance, covered head to foot in soft plumes of blue and violet. Lengthily hair wrapped around their bodies like a toga. Red eyes settled on the girl, yet they were gentle and full of wisdom. Long brows of yellow rolled off their heads like fountains of gold. Their mouths shaped like elongated beaks and long tails of swirling colors swiped about. They were double her height and half again as wide. An intense glow enveloped their bodies, too painful and bright to stare at for long, yet with a sensation of inexpressible euphoria. The girl found herself tearing out of sheer joy at this beautiful experience.

The bear next to the girl grunted, bowing its head. The blue dragon-like serpents raised both hands up and bowed in greeting, pressing the talons adjacent. The redhead moved forward. She attempted the same gesture but found her hands unable to comply.

“Do not fear, child of the One,” they said in unison, like a musical ensemble. “We are the Faber. We are the guardians of your ancient world. We are those who initially seeded your planet with intelligent design–the dragons of the cosmos, the symbol of transmutation. It is through Dragonites and you that a fragment of our blood flows the strongest.

“Patience, love, gratitude, humility, wisdom–these things you must realize. The way forward is not as you think. You must confront your inner demon first: the ego. In this, there comes true strength, genuine courage, and the path to ascension.” Together, they gestured a talon behind the girl. A massive shadow in the shape of a hideous serpent emerged but faded away moments later. The girl cringed.

“Dawnstar is not the enemy. You must help this individual, not destroy him. Destruction only begets destruction, for this is the way of the universe–Etherea, who rules over all Aspects and Creation.”

They paused again, this time for a shorter interval. Smiles curled on their beaks, and their serpentine eyes glowed with a gentle light. Blue scales glinted under their feathers like mystical waterfalls. “Find it within yourself the tool to reforge creation. One among you already knows of this. Seek her out and the other children who carry hope’s guidance. Gather the sacred artifacts and those of the old lineages to heal the Ethereal Seals Gate. Your destiny takes you to the Southern Wastes and against the Syre. Good luck, brave hero.”

The dragons lifted their hands and sang loud hymns in some obscure language, vanishing in a pillar of light. The girl shielded her wincing pupils.

She turned to the resting bear, bent low, and hugged him. He licked her face again, the scar on his eye evident. Then, everything turned to fractured glass. A loud boom rent the plains, starling the girl. She scanned about, but could not find the source. The glass shattered.

Ethereal Seals theory

This is a short essay on my original work, Ethereal Seals. I wanted to reflect back on how ES came to me and my intentions behind it, how those have changed, and the ongoing inspiration for my work.
ES started out as a collection of forum postings back when I was in high school. At the time, I mainly fooled around with childhood favorite TV shows, video games, and stories, such as LOTR, DBZ, and The Legend of Zelda. While initially inane and disjointed, over the years they mutated into something more concrete. Then I got into forum roleplaying. I met a handful of people I would later remain close in contact with for several years.
I continued to develop and refine the concepts behind the story, goaded by my forum and Skype peers. Life circumstances changed and I found myself unable to communicate with them much, due to a new job. Frustrated with unable to roleplay, I began writing my own story. My sole intention was to create a short series of roleplays for ES. Now, nearly a year later, I have over 500 pages of a rough manuscript in development. Sometimes I stare at the document in disbelief. Life can twist and bend in strange ways. With my inability to find a career in my college degree, I believe this is a new route blossoming before me.
So, what are my future intentions for Ethereal Seals? Honestly, I can’t tell you the fine details just yet, but I do have a general plan laid out. This story is too far along not to publish it; whether it will be done traditionally or digitally I am unsure. In addition to my story, I’ve been researching the publishing process. I also set up a creative Fiverr gig on the side, which you can view here if interested: https://www.fiverr.com/energyflux
ES is developing beautifully in my eyes. Currently, at over 320,000 words, I am debating whether I should follow the Robert Jordan route with his Wheel of Time series and conglomerate a massive science fantasy epic. I could also go the Dragon Lance road and split it up into individual novels. Either way, I’m confident it will be a success. Once the first arc is done, I have addition sequels planned. This isn’t going to be a short-lived trilogy, but an ongoing project. ES is my life’s work, I’ve come to realize, and it always will be until the day I leave this planet. Whether or not I can take it with me to the beyond and develop it there remains to be known, but if I can, I will. Still, if Ethereal Seals has empowered humanity and set it on a positive future, that alone will be enough. Thank you for reading.

Revised tidbit of chapter 1.1

An up-to-date sample of chapter 1 for my beta manuscript. I’m looking for beta readers. If you’re interested, let me know, and perhaps we can arrange something after I get to know you. Regardless, I hope you enjoy my chicken-scratch! 🙂


 

Shadows crept around the ancient blade. Its destination was a red-haired young woman with a brand of fire and ice. Two armored knights, one a dark twin of the other, created a crescendo of intensity within their shadowy arena. The redhead missed her mark, and the dark twin found its own. The defeated girl fell to her knees. She retreated into silence before the enemy’s blade finished its job.

 

“Damnit,” cried the defeated youth.

The girl gazed at the legendary sword in her left palm, now a worn oaken stick. Through extensive use, the practice sword was little more than a wooden splinter. She tossed the makeshift sword away and sighed. Dirt mounds next stole her attention. She stood and brushed the dirt off her tan work clothes. “Enough daydreaming–and swordplay for the day. It’s time to get back to work.”

Pepper yawned and stretched her tall body. The bright light from the Twins, two stars of the sky, outlined her developed feminine figure and athletic build. She winced at the view of midday and combed her head, running fingers through long strands of fiery red hair. Touching the knot of her long ponytail, she withdrew her hand. The girl’s tanned and freckled complexion radiated a youthful look, no more than twenty-three. Shielding her vision from the bright rays, she noticed round air vessels gliding through the skies. Further still, she recognized three moons. One of the satellites emitted a bright commercial flash of activity from its surface.

She curled her bare toes in the soft, luxurious dirt, feeling the warm earth swallow her flesh. Her gaze turned to the sloping leas, circumvented by clusters of distant snowy mountains and tall thickets. The sound of insects tickled her ears. She closed her eyes and allowed a gentle gust to rustle her hair. Humid but balanced with a dry wind–typical weather.

The scarlet woman examined her hands, well callused from horticulture. “That dream was surreal, fighting with a shadow duplicate. Maybe someday I’ll become a knight and get a chance to explore the world again and figure out what to do with my life.” She frowned. “Yeah right, maybe when I learn how to fly properly.”

Pepper dug into her pocket and withdrew a coin of gold. Despite the worn edges, the depiction of a gauntlet shrouded in vines shone clear as day. Underneath the design, curvy Atlasian cuneiform, engraved with a master smith’s arm. “The Slyhart family emblem,” Pepper said. She smiled and squeezed the coin before setting it on the ground.

The bauble flashed and a pillar of light shot up a few inches high. The image of a tall man with red hair and a long ponytail emerged. He wore a blue jacket with a sword strapped to his undershirt.

“You’ll get your chance at adventure, Pepper,” he said. “Life isn’t easy for everyone, especially us. Treasure it like I treasure your mom.” He fiddled with outstretched arms, as if for a weapon. “When we get back from this war, I’ll have some thrilling stories to share. We’ll take some epic voyages too–hoo-hah!”

An image of a woman in a silver dress and a green braid hugged his side. She bore a stubby tail and pointy ears. A pair of leathery wings folded behind her. She frowned. “We hope this message reaches you well, dear. We love you very much.” Pepper rolled her eyes. “There’s extra food in the shed and a month’s worth of gold if you need it. Please promise to stay out of trouble. Don’t forget to water the fields.”

“We’ll have these demonic invaders routed by month’s end,” the red man averred. “We’re sorry about the delay, Pepper, but we’ll be home as soon as we can!” He clenched a raised fist as his silhouette wavered with the green-haired woman.

The vision vanished and the coin’s light dulled. Pepper pocketed the coin. She hesitated and brought a hand to her rear. At the base of her spine, there was a short stubby tail of scales. It twitched at her touch.

“A tail but no wings,” she said.

The girl picked up a fist-sized crystal of aquamarine where the dark twin had once been, its mirror-like surface still reflected faint images. “Yes mom, I’m right on it,” she said.

Her focus fell on the rock. Mist spouted from forth, intelligently drenching the rows of crops around her. The crystal gave a low shriek and a flash of light as it finished.

“I miss them more than I thought I would,” she thought with a frown. “This is the third message this month.”

“I see you’re still having fun with the farm plots, Miss Pepper Slyhart,” said a calm, masculine voice.

Pepper turned to the voice. She smiled and ran towards a youthful and slender looking man of white robes who had approached her from the far road. His blond hair flowed down his back like a stream of gold, broken only by a pair of long pointy ears. His youthful and slim complexion suggested him in his early twenties. He was a head shorter than she was, with an oaken staff tipped with crystal and some prayer beads, nested inside a metal circle. Vir’gol, they were called, or conduits for divine miracles.

“Tarie Beyworth, I wondered when I would see you again,” she said. The redhead and the monk exchanged bows and clasped their hands sideways–a native sign of Atlasian greeting.

Glancing over his robes, she examined a symbol of a roaring flame imprinted onto the center of his habit. Numerous herbs and medical bags hung at his waist. “How are you, my friend?” she asked. “I see you still haven’t grown a beard.”

“Nymphians don’t grow facial hair,” he laughed, “you know that. You Hyers are the ones with all the fur on your faces.”

“I’m only teasing. What news do you have of your abbey and the rest of the world?”

The monk stroked his elfin chin and grinned. “Well, affairs around the planet keep my church busy enough. One involves a clan of brigands and cultists causing mischief in several cities.” He hesitated. “I’d say our planet Atlas still recovers from the war from years ago, let alone the previous conflicts.”

Pepper clenched her fists. “Those damn Elemental invaders. If they hadn’t shown up, we wouldn’t be in such a state.” She punched at a nearby bale of hay. It scattered over the vicinity. Gritting her teeth, she let out a deep breath to relax. “Now we have these Nog’roth demons plaguing our planet again. What I wouldn’t give to enter the Royal Guard and show them what for.”

Tarie gave a start. “I-I understand your frustration Miss Slyhart. Maybe someday the Royal Guard at Midvale will accept your application as a knight. Though, I remember you’ve tried applying ten times already.”

“I suppose I can only keep trying, as depressing as it is for me. The best I qualified for was the rank of squire.” She kicked at a rock. “I know I’m worth more. Maybe it’s because my mother is a Dragonite. That makes me half-dragon and half-Hyer.” Her stubby tail gave a twitch of agreement.

“Dragonites are guardians of the planet,” Tarie said, “what with their supernatural strength. Their breath has dominion over temperature, spewing deadly breaths of flame or frost at will and their wings create powerful storms.”

“For all that’s worth, I can’t do any of that,” Pepper said. Her voice acquired a husky tinge, “Here I’m stuck defending the farm plots from hill bears, crag wolves, and heavens know what else. My father was a renowned war hero for goddess’ sake. He taught me swordplay and for what? How did it come to this?”

Tarie frowned and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Not many know of your dragon heritage. Thank the Aspects too. They say there’s a terrible curse, in which dragons trade their sanity for power.” He grimaced. “Anyway, you’d sooner be imprisoned rather than denied employment in the guard.”

“Society doesn’t condemn us half-breeds without cause,” Pepper grumbled, “but they sure keep us on a tight leash.”

He shook his head. “Take heart, Miss Slyhart. Good things come to those who are patient. If there’s anything the church or I can do, please feel free to ask.”

She smiled. “I appreciate the concern Beyworth, but maybe I’m not cut out for the guard. I do well as a farmer anyway. It’s been months since I’ve seen my parents. I hope they’re okay.”

“Perhaps it best you ask around this area for ideas? You may get inspired that way.”

“I had this nasty dream last night,” she said with a pout. “Actually, I’ve had it on a routine basis. I face off against this shadow variant of myself. I’ve used training holograms from crystals to replicate it; every dream I get killed by this doppelganger. She’s always two steps ahead of me.” She leaned up, hands behind her head. “I don’t understand it–and the dreams are painful…too painful for a normal dream.”

“You’ve had a lot on your mind,” he observed. “I do believe some food and time off the farm may help you consider the idea better. This will be on the church.” He winked.

“You’re serious? You’ve been so busy with the abbey, and I wondered if you–” She hesitated. “I mean, that sounds fine with me, Beyworth. Let me grab a couple things at my house first.”

She ran towards her conical residence. An oaken barn stood next to the egg-shaped house, painted with a worn polish. Metal bars bolted the door tight, but with metal rusted and bent from use. A small brick alcove opened towards the end, where a smithy stood. Smoke trailed through a metal pipe in its stone roof. The glimpse of an anvil and a rack of hammers and metal tools caught the corner of Tarie’s eye.

“Alright,” said he, “I’ll take in the scenery here while you prepare.” The Nymph found a pile of hay for rest. He smiled at the sky and white clouds.

He stood when his pointy ears twitched from approaching footsteps. Pepper now dressed in long emerald skirts, guillotined with white and opal gemstones. Her fiery earrings glinted in the afternoon sunlight, a match for her hair. The fragrance of pleasant herbs wafted into Tarie’s nostrils. He studied her speechless and slack-jawed, the image of the young woman a stark contrast to the rugged, dirty farmer. He cleared his throat. “That green dress looks exceptional on you, Miss Slyhart. The place I have in mind shouldn’t be too far.”

Pepper blushed at his compliment. “I’m guessing Traveler’s Rest.” She smirked, hands akimbo. “Judging by that astonished smile, I’m right, aren’t I?”

“Yes, Traveler’s Rest is a small local town, but it has its share of marvels and plentiful commodities.”

How should we get there? My parents took the family’s ship.” She folded her arms, staring at the farming plots. “I wonder where they are right now.”

Tarie pointed above. “I take it you still remember the art of flight?”

Pepper bit her tongue and glared at the sky. “I was never good at it, but I do recollect the basics. Can we try something safer like riding an airship? Then again, ships cost a fortune, unless you work for the Grust Cartel–a bunch of greedy and corrupt merchants they are. We’d be lucky to rent a small shuttle for the day selling my whole farm. I have a Yazell ostrich mount I use for business trips.”

“That wouldn’t be fun,” he teased. “Come on, I’ll guide you through it, Slyhart. Ships and Yazell are better for long-distance travel anyway. Traveler’s Rest isn’t too far.”

“Frankly, I’ve only practiced Atlasian telepathy from time to time, but with my reclusive and dutiful life, I rarely get many chances to leave the farm.” She sighed and shrugged her shoulders. “My parents never taught me the basics of flying for fear of me traveling abroad because of my genetics, I think. They wanted to keep me around the Crescent until I was ready, and I had the habit of going off on little adventures when I could. The one time I did try an extensive flight trip as a child, I ended up in a coma for a week.” She cringed. “It’s been years since I attempted it and the idea makes me uneasy.”

I’ll keep an eye out for you. You can fly close to me,” Tarie said telepathically. The voice echoed in her mind and filled her cells with a warm tingle. “Be sure to ease into it,” he added, switching back to vocal speak. “Remember to first still your mind and then visualize a sphere of force around your body. The air of the Ether should surround you like a bubble.”

“Fine, I’ll give it a shot again,” she telegraphed, “You go first.”

Tarie nodded and kicked off from the ground with his oaken staff. His long blond locks flowed like gold curtains in the breeze. Tarie gazed down.

Taking several deep breaths, Pepper shut her eyes and wrung her hands. The air churned about her, swirling against the force of gravity. Pepper heard a popping noise as gravity weakened. The refreshing breeze of weightlessness filled her being. “Heavens, it has been a while,” she said, lifting into the air unsteadily.

 

 

Ethereal Seals Part 1 Synopsis

This is what I have so far for a beta manuscript; just some thoughts I’m brainstorming and fitting together. I hope you enjoy. 🙂

Love and gratitude to my readers.

Spoiler alert(?)

Political and racial tensions abound in the sophisticated world of Atlas. Within this mythical land, trouble looms within the Ethereal Seals Gate, a relic that anchors the holy Ether and supports the crystal technology within society. Seven Seal Gems complement the Gate. Now a clan of druids ransacks the Gem shrines, seeking to please their shadow goddess and establish her new empire. The fate of the planet rests on the edge of steel; yet, the legacy of a cursed young farmer’s daughter unfolds–the half-dragon progeny of a war hero.

The alleged red-haired bastard, Pepper Slyhart, a disliked minority, finds herself at odds with a lieutenant of the Royal Guard, Gerald. After a scuffle with the captain, Pepper’s mundane life shatters during a casual jaunt in town with her life-long friend and clergyman, Tarie Beyworth. Through the will of an elderly hermit named Razaeroth, Pepper inherits her father’s old sword. Overcoming the threshold’s guardian, she accepts a pact with her sentient blade, forever sealing her fate to the weapon, and it to her. With her destiny renewed, she embarks on a journey across Atlas to prevent the destruction of her homeworld.

Upon visiting Tarie’s abbey atop a floating island, Pepper learns more about who the druids really are and their twisted alliance with the region’s capital, Midvale. She discovers Gerald’s connection to recent terrorism, connected to the disappearance of the city’s queen. The half-breed delves into Midvale Palace to decipher the wanton madness spreading from the city’s newly appointed ambassador, Reneriel Dawnstar, and the young lustful captain, Gerald.

The red youth interfaces with Tarie, and discovers him to be more than just a friend. While forbidden by the church to marry, Tarie’s growing sympathy for the half-breed transmutes into a romantic passion, one that he can no longer suppress. With his biological parents long gone, Tarie finds it ill to forgive himself for this childhood loss, furthering his sense of guilt for betraying the abbey, the only family he has left. Yet he finds comfort in Pepper’s presence and begins to question himself. Friction develops between home and his love. Tarie arrives at a crossroads, unable to choose both his adopted family and Pepper.

From the highest peaks of the mountains to the lowest reaches of the darkest dungeons, Pepper encounters an unlikely host of allies who join her cause; some come with shifty ambitions, and others form their own independent company. Pepper meets an energetic Ashia, a dragon girl princess who proves to be as much of an ally as she is a love rival for Tarie. Zihark, an outcast assassin, also joins the party, though for his own selfish reasons. A rabbit singer named Lily and a muscular mason named Gilies come later, citing concern for Midvale’s decay. Through happenstance, Lily recounts her dreadful past to a willing Gilies, hinting at a possible attraction to the big man.

Betwixt mortal battles of steel, science, magic, and romance, Pepper unravels the terrible price of her mythic blade and its connection to the Ethereal Seals. With a need for power and the constant provocations from Gerald and a mysterious soldier named Zolt, Pepper succumbs to her inner draconic urges. The red girl unknowingly sacrifices her sanity, become no more than a mindless beast. It takes Tarie and her other loyal companions to bring her back. Zihark loses faith in the redhead’s outbursts and forms his own company with Lily and Gilies.

As she traverses Midvale and its palace, Pepper fights a vengeful Gerald, who reveals to her the traumatic reason behind his hatred for half-breeds. Pepper also clashes with Zolt, discovering the officer’s unusual station and honorable demeanor. The redhead confronts Dawnstar. She recovers one of the Seal Gems and rescues the captive queen, Zelinda. An injured Dawnstar flees with his ilk, promising Pepper that her fate now entwines with his and that of the druids, never to rest their hunt of her. Dawnstar regards Tarie with a vague sense of familiarity before he departs thereby foreshadowing dire tidings of his connection to the cleric.

The skirmish leaves Midvale in ruins and her companions demoralized. Pepper’s company returns to Tarie’s abbey to recuperate. The heroine receives a lucid dream from the gods, providing guidance and wisdom. She garners her newfound courage and drives her own ambitious quest to protect the other Gems and the Gate from the druids’ machinations, no longer fettered by her own anxiety. She confronts Zihark, the disliked recluse of the group, and wins back his trust with her newfound conviction.

Midvale’s queen unveils further secrets to the situation within the abbey. The empress initiates a journey to a mountain-city named Stonehaven for the aid of her city. As diplomacy rages within the church, Tarie weighs his confined life in the abbey against Pepper, him now unsure of his traditional complacencies. Selecting excommunication over heartbreak and restriction, the cleric surrenders his home, adopted parents, and his vocation to journey with her.

Within the ruins of Midvale, the druids acquire Gerald’s mangled body. The captain consents to their plans to alter his remains, he now demoralized from the betrayal of Midvale’s court, and a need for power.

The first part of the book ends as Pepper and Tarie depart with Ashia, Lily, Gilies, and Zihark for the Slyhart farm and the southern forest; Zelinda’s company breaks west.

[Guest Post] Spirituality and Magic in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Gods and magic in SFF. Come on and check out this cool guest post I composed. Cheers. 🙂

Richie Billing

I’m delighted to introduce Ed White, writer of creative and visionary fiction, who’s contributing to the blog this week with an insightful post on a significant subject in SFF: spirituality and religion. Enjoy!


The Gods and Goddesses of myth, legend and fairy tale represent archetypes, real potencies and potentialities deep within the psyche, which, when allowed to flower permit us to be more fully human.

Margot Adler

In the realm of sci-fi/fantasy, gods are a curious breed. They represent something abstract—an idea or avatar beyond the reaches of mortal minds. This disconnect from the divine serves as a source of intrigue for the reader, and a subtle impetus for protagonists as they strive towards what no mortal has ever achieved.

Religion also plays a significant role in real-life. Gods and goddesses exist in every culture and region of the world, and there are hundreds of them. The power of…

View original post 949 more words

DREAMS OF THE SCARLET SWORDSWOMAN #5

Shadows crept around the ancient blade. Its destination was a red-haired young woman with a brand of fire and ice. Two armored knights, one a dark twin of the other, created a crescendo of intensity within their shadowy arena. The redhead missed her mark, and the dark twin found its own. The defeated girl fell to her knees. She retreated into silence before the enemy’s blade finished its job.

“This is a dream,” she said. The red woman stood, the twin vanished in smoke. She rubbed her eyes and stared into the void that surrounded her. The environment was a dark gray. Her body looked colorless. Only her fiery hair pierced the drab atmosphere. Her gaze settled on two similar figures in the distance, both holding sharp blades that glittered in the grey air swirling.

Shadows crept around the ancient blade. Its destination was a red-haired young woman with a brand of fire and ice. Two armored knights, one a dark twin of the other, created a crescendo of intensity within their shadowy arena. The redhead missed her mark, and the dark twin found its own. The defeated girl fell to her knees. She retreated into silence before the enemy’s blade finished its job.

“No more, please!” the redhead whimpered. She grunted and staggered backward. She tumbled to the ground, but her fall made no sound. Her eyes gazed upwards at the sky. Two figures danced around the pale clouds.

Shadows crept around the ancient blade. Its destination was a red-haired young woman with a brand of fire and ice. Two armored knights, one a dark twin of the other, created a crescendo of intensity within their shadowy arena. The redhead missed her mark, and the dark twin found its own. The defeated girl fell to her knees. She retreated into silence before the enemy’s blade finished its job.

The girl screamed, holding her head. She shuddered on the amorphous floor. Tears streaked down her cheeks, becoming mirror images of herself. The reflection smirked at the redhead.

“You are already mine, fool. With the power I can offer you, no one will stand in your way. Not Dawnstar or even the Aspects themselves will compare. Tarie Beyworth will be yours alone. You are a fool to reject such a bargain. Now, surrender to me, or I will wreck unspeakable harm upon your soul!”

“I won’t,” the redhead cried out. The tears froze on her cheeks, forming a small scene with two figures carrying swords.

Shadows crept around the ancient blade. Its destination was a red-haired young woman with a brand of fire and ice…

With a final cry, the redhead woke from her torturous state. The dream plane faded into grayscale vision, and all turned to glass.

Ethereal Seals: Part 1 of Dragonsoul; potential pitches

I’ve thought about an ideal pitch for my upcoming book, Ethereal Seals. I’ve little experience with writing pitches, so reader feedback is much appreciated. Below are some I thought of. Keep in mind this is a sci-fi fiction/fantasy novel of average length (120-130k words), not an epic fiction like Wheel of Time, Battlefield Earth, or Game of Thrones; although I do have three parts planned, and may at some point merge them together.

  1. Political and racial tensions abound in the sophisticated world of Atlas. Heroes of old rise from their graves and ancient evils infect kingdoms. The fate of the planet rests on the edge of steel, magic, and science; yet, the legacy of a cursed young farmer’s daughter unfolds–the half-dragon progeny of a war hero.
  2. With naught but an ancient sword and the will of an old hermit, Pepper Slyhart must choose which destiny to save: her planet, Atlas, or her own. Facing foes of battle and romance alike, the half-dragon girl discovers what it truly means to be a bastard knight of Atlas.
  3. A new war seizes a planet called Atlas. Within this mythical land, trouble looms within the Ethereal Seals Gate, a relic that anchors the holy ether and supports the crystal technology within society. Pepper Slyhart, a cursed dragon-bastard, must discover her destiny betwixt battles of steel, science, magic, and romance, all before her own dragon blood betrays her and the world she loves.
  4. Pepper Slyhart’s destiny changes when she and her childhood friend, Tarie Beyworth, discover a legendary sword and its guardian. Through the will of the sword’s steward, Pepper embarks on a journey throughout the technologically bizarre Atlas, seeking the truths to the wanton madness and to the draconic curse that plagues her.
  5. Pepper Slyhart’s life on Atlas takes a turn for the worse when she acquires a mythic sword given to her by a mysterious old hermit. Beset by her inner turmoils as a half-blood dragon, she must unravel the secrets to her draconic nature before her world dissolves into shadow.
  6. On Atlas, crystal technology erodes the doctrines of morality, and racial tensions flare. Pepper Slyhart, a half-dragon bastard, finds herself with her father’s old sword, now doomed to continue his partitioned legacy. Pepper must forge a new destiny with her childhood friend, Tarie Beyworth, or face dire consequences at the hands of an evil goddess and her inner draconic self.

This is what I have so far. Let me know your thoughts below. Thanks for reading. Much love and gratitude to my readers! 🙂

 

On Tarie Beyworth, my OC: the elfin spiritual path

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Tarie Beyworth is a secondary protagonist in Ethereal Seals. He is a short blond youth in his early twenties. As an orphan of a church, Tarie is schooled in the ways of the mind and soul, rather than the body. He is a meek and genial person who supports the main heroine, Pepper Slyhart. Other than his timid nature, his greatest obstacle is acknowledging his dark past and his late parents, though he has yet to forgive and forget his sorrow.

Through the contrasting attributes of Pepper, Tarie accrues wisdom and inner strength. Pepper’s emotional and fierce mien challenges Tarie, invoking his faint childhood memories and spurring growth to his character. The two transition from friends to lovers and the stakes rise higher. Tarie weighs his confined life in the abbey against Pepper, now unsure of his traditional complacencies. Friction develops between home and his love, and Tarie arrives at a crossroads, unable to choose both his adopted family and Pepper.

Tarie comes to a startling realization about the main antagonist and his dead family.  Like Pepper, he inherits a family artifact, which scales in power relative to his ability to accept and forgive himself. His worldview twists around, and he faces the residue inner demons that plague him. Tarie regards Pepper more than a friend and his lover but like his twin soul, destined to help Atlas recover from its morbid age of decay. After traveling with the redhead, Tarie unexpectedly and uncontrollably parts ways with her, facing his own quest and aiding Pepper from afar. He matures into an independent youth later, with his heart forged and renewed, destined to reunite with his love and end the madness on Atlas.

 

Thank you for reading this short reflective essay! I hope you enjoyed it. 🙂


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