Broken Monarch ISBN: 9781090260742. Assumed self-published, copyright and written by Tom Schneider.
This short book opens after an introductory statement: “All places, secret programs and some events were real.” The entire story extends from August 19, 1979 through sometime in September, seemingly in the same year, although the injuries suffered by the protagonist would make the following year more probable. The story opens with a man and woman discussing an upcoming apparently clandestine operation in which the man seems to be the manipulator and the woman the subject’s ‘handler’. The next chapter follows the activities of another person named Glenn walking away from a just exploded vessel docked in a marina. From these somewhat confusing, but definitely dark opening activities, the story evolves into a sinister tale of a shadowy group of individuals who are initiating a series of activities by which they intend to control the world. The MKUltra project, now referred to as Monarch, is a procedure initiated somewhere in the CIA or other such weird-thinking organization to experiment with controlling minds with a sub-project referred to as Spellbinder. The objective was to create sleeper assassins that could be activated by a trigger word, phrase or even a symbol who could then act with no subsequent memory of the activity. Congressional hearings shut down the project, but unfortunately a shadowy group of powerful ‘insiders’ simply moved it into a hidden agenda and continued. The plot evolves by following Glenn as pieces of his memory begin to reappear, strengthened by meeting and becoming emotionally involved with his ‘handler’, and the plot moves quickly through subsequent violent activity. The ending fully prepares the reader for the following installment.
Discussion: The basic plot is somewhat reminiscent of a theme of the motion picture “The Manchurian Candidate”. Here it perhaps is somewhat more involved with both sides being visited and more details of the procedures revealed. It is a short, quickly evolving tale that additionally provides an emotional relationship between the subject and his handler with perhaps unexpected results that provide a basis for the next episode. The story’s initial phase is somewhat indeterminate but builds well and with a few hiccups provides a fast pace of violent activity that many thriller devotes will thoroughly enjoy.
5* A short, quickly accelerating action tale for dark thriller devotees.
Master of the World Book Two of the Chelandra Trilogy, Rocanadron Press, copyright and written by Karina McRoberts.
This second book in the Chelandra series continues to follow the travels of Galla as she continues throughout her world on the only dirigible that has been built and, as explained in book one, has been given to her. Her world still is suffering from numerous devastating earthquakes and still encountering periods of plague-like disease that some finally are associating with their principle mining product ‘rockscar’ that contributes to the city/states’ wealth. She meets numerous new individuals and associates again with old acquaintances; is forced to spend time in a Muslim-like culture that appears in some ways to be even more like the old Caliph era where men’s’ and women’s quarters were separate entities with eunuchs providing security for these latter; problems of what was being done with immigrants; another war with the Qudasi again attacking Gaklari; attempting not to have anyone killed for any reason whatsoever until faced with the question when the act might be mandatory in order to save individuals important to her; suffers heartbreak and resulting despair; descends into loneliness and self-loathing and feels like a child with no one to whom she can turn until suddenly a figure appears to offer her help. The person is Vrenfru, the brilliant leader from book one who gradually deteriorated mentally until passing away. When questioned, he convinces her that although physically dead, he “just is” and will always answer her call if needed. Meanwhile, her companions Masandi and her uncle are conducting their own crusade with some not quite expected results that lead to the appearance of the first firearm with again resultant speculation about their use; and finally bittersweet termination of this volume to lead into the final book in the trilogy.
Discussion: The author has introduced an occult figure that furthers the fanciful thrust of this trilogy. No doubt this addition, as well as the rest of the story’s rambling content, will continue to have great appeal to those who enjoy pure fantasy. Galla is as headstrong as in the first volume and makes as many rash decisions, but now without the restraining influence by her uncle, so the described reactions result. Her acquaintances similarly continue in their expected paths and new villainous characters arise. The author, obviously most knowledgeable of world conditions as well as historical facts, introduces many controversial subjects that are most relevant to today’s situation throughout much of the world. She also demonstrates a thoughtful sensitivity by explaining the derivation of tunes included in the body of the work that provide sensations in accord with the music. Regrettably therefore and with apologies to the author, this reviewer finds Galla’s continued activity as a ‘spoiled child’ in addition to the continued rambling character of the tale leading to introduction of the elements prevalent in today’s societal activity, detract from this otherwise completely fanciful tale. It also is strongly suggested that a prospective reader become acquainted with the contents of volume one before continuing with this trilogy.
3* 5* Well-written, fanciful tale; -2 for reasons provided.