Tantamount

Tantamount Glass Spider Publishing copyright and written by CR Hruska.

The story opens in the year 550 in fragmentarily ruled Britain several centuries before larger tribes coalesced into the country of England. Although both the northern and southern sections were ruled by Germanic tribes that had immigrated earlier, the northern Angles were ruled by a man who wished to extend his kingdom to include a bordering particularly fertile section of southern Seaxe. Tolan Fising, a husky, hardworking 37-year-old farmer, his loving wife Leila, 10-year-old son Kenric and 7-year-old daughter Thea owned part of this fertile land. Along with their other animals, a particular large muscular horse called Stareyes was the favorite and became closely loved by the entire family. This is the tale of how the attempted invasion by the Anglican King affected this family, especially after their nearest neighbor, close family friend and loving husband of Avery Lawford is killed defending the country. The ensuing havoc initiated by roving bands from the north brutally kill Tolan’s family causing the fleeing Tolan to encounter a startling change in venue where he is saved and gradually introduced to an entirely new way of life and loving friends who he, in a split second, instinctively is moved to save at great personal sacrifice.

Discussion: The author has set forth a most interesting imaginative offering in a quite simplistic manner that seems most appropriate. The protagonist’s apparent ability to adjust to radical change without any seeming hesitation is a bit remarkable, but credible for an individual with a good intellect and a mind geared to constant change and the necessity to react quickly to changing conditions. For a first endeavor, this book is a most welcome addition to the fantasy/historical genre literature already published.

5* Unusual fantasy/historical tale most enjoyable to read.

Let’s Pretend

Let’s Pretend a book published by Amazon, copyright and written by Christian Hagesth III.

The opening passages of this book induce a reader to believe the author has set forth a fantasy novel loosely based on the ‘genie in the bottle’ theme. The protagonist, Peter Andresen  is a retired psychiatrist whose wife died several years ago in an accident and he has two grown sons who are ‘too busy’ to bother seeing him. He believes he is in his sixties, suffers from Parkinson’s disease, has been bankrupt and now “scrapes by on Social Security and V.A. Benefits.” He is alone and lonely and walking aimlessly on a beach with no person or even buildings in sight. He spots a corked empty bottle that has drifted ashore, picks it up and sees a note inside. Amused by remembrance of the old tales, he attempts to remove it. The task is difficult so bringing it closer a faint voice seems to emanate from its depths requesting release. Shocked, he rapidly reverts to remembered Marine Drill Sargent’s marching orders continuing until encountering a lovely young woman. She greets him with no hint of a sexual come-on, which would be useless anyway because his Parkinson’s long ago had removed the possibility of any such activity. They do however, acquire what seems to be a deep mutual understanding and attachment, so continue walking together and the young woman appears to be able to provide all manner of ‘good things’ out of nowhere. Thus, the tale’s subtitle “A tale of Mind, Imagination, and Healing” quickly is recalled. Holly is able to cause welcome sleep, wonderful breakfasts, fine dining with all of the amenities, sessions of swimming with whales, functioning as partner of a raptor and of an entire flock of birds and more. She also facilitates visits with his Aunt Nora, participation in conversational gatherings with historical medical figures such as Hippocrates and Galen, another non-religious individual from whom he learns that “God needs to be experienced, not dissected”, and other pertinent individuals.  But eventually from this non-physical reality where everything he needs is provided by his mind because it is not limited in the more usual manner by attention to material reality, the reader witnesses the evolution of a physically ill individual, additionally suffering from a degree of PTSD, who ultimately re-emerges in the ‘real world’ as a truly empathetic individual who is a true ‘healer’.

Discussion: This is an engaging book. It literally forces a reader to return to the too-often forgotten thoughts first provided on the importance of the mind on bodily action centuries before Sigmund Freud. As quoted by the author, Hippocrates stated “It is more important to know what patient has the disease than what disease the patient has” i.e. the mind’s content fundamentally is the important factor in treatment. As an extension on his theme, the author provides examples of the many psychological burdens carried by the protagonist. Included are early strange thoughts arising from the child’s bedtime prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep…”, being recognized as a hated other young boy instead of as her son by his mother just being returned from a psychiatric facility, thoughts about shooting himself in college and a horrifying experience after being shot down on a mission over enemy territory. Many more compelling features of mind-body interrelationship along with additional pertinent details and thought compelling reaction are included. A reminder of medicine’s mortal conflict with ignorance not only is legendary but particularly relevant again today by the recent resistance to immunization and the cautionary admonition “The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism” necessitating the cautionary remark “Be careful talking to people about your understanding of the infinite mind…you know it will be distorted. It will be seen as both heresy and gospel.” But enough! This is merely a review by a relatively knowledgeable reader who has been impressed by the author’s ability to bring forth, in a rather succinct manner, a basic tenet of the mind-body-disease relationship that, as stated, has appeared to have been lost for centuries. Granted, Freud, Jung and others resurrected a piece of it which H. Flanders Dunbar and others expanded to a degree. However, this particular treatise reestablishes the basic tenets and does so in a quite charming fictional tale that is highly recommended both as a simple fantasy, but even more importantly as a book to enjoy analyzing and absorbing its message.

5* Riveting dual level tale; enjoyable fantasy; crying for deeper analysis.

Verdunmull

Verdunmull is Book 1 of The Ikalreev Prophecies apparently published, copyright and written by Jared A. Zakrin.

A prologue opens the story with quotes from the Ikalreev prophecies which “predict a future grim and terrible, a glimpse of a dying epoch. We the Ikalreev write this script in an attempt to save the mortals of our distant future.” The story then unfolds with each chapter beginning with a quote from these prophecies followed by an unfolding of what occurs apropos its presented description. They range from 1:1 “At the precipice, angels will fall” to the last quite lengthy prediction (Chapter 24, “The First Seal 16:40-44. The power to stem the darkness will lie within the five mages…” and continues to tell what will happen should they fail. With conclusion of the activity pertaining to these prophecies, the storyline states: “To be continued” with prophecy 17:1-2 stating “Cometh chaos. Peace be forgotten?” which prepares the reader for the next volume in the series.

Discussion: Rather concise details of the story are succinctly offered in the prologue and the succeeding chapters introduce a relatively sizable number of characters of greater and lesser importance. The apparent lead is a human-like individual suffering from amnesia who was discovered wandering aimlessly by two elfin scouts who adopted him. He joins to help them and other members of the community as they are forced to fight an invading horde of weird creatures who are just one of many strange enemies successively encountered throughout the tale. His heroic activities lead to his appointment as Commander of a group who are dispatched by the King that furthers development of the story line. Devotees of tales of fantasy will be delighted with the large number of dragons, elves, dwarfs, variously formed monsters, disappearing and other strangely designed creatures and their ability to use magic to cause hurricane-like winds, develop and hurl fire balls and more, along with the inability of many to be killed.

5* Well-written fantasy for devotees of fantasy.

Ragnekai Winds

Ragnekai Winds, Kindle Edition, copyright and written by Peter Buckmaster.

This is Book One of a fantasy dealing with the subject matter of its subtitle, the Old Wounds Trilogy. It is set in and provided with a map of a mythical world of long ago where High King Sedmund, the most powerful of all kingdoms, long in failing health, suddenly succumbs. He has no heirs and strangely, had appointed no successor. It is rumored that he was poisoned by the sister of the ruler of one of the lesser kingdoms, who had been involved in a clandestine relationship with the king’s powerful general. Regardless, the lack of this overall deterrent, releases all of the frustrated ambitions held by others and each attempts to heal old wounds in their unique manner.

Discussion: The author has presented a well written tale of intrigue, distrust, deceit, betrayal and treachery interspersed with expressions of loyalty, faith and love. Many empathy worthy characters are engaged in activities reminding one of a well-played game of chess and many tragically pass away. The story is fast-moving with little ‘down’ time interspersed and the battle scenes are well described as relative to that era of warfare. As the reader progresses toward the book’s finale, he/she discovers that instead of being provided with some degree of resolution, still another element is introduced, although it had been alluded to in a most unobtrusive manner very early in the story.

Summary: The author indeed has set forth a most worthy story that meets all of the criteria for interesting and well-written manuscripts. It also plays well into the increase in escapist thinking generated by today’s hectic lifestyle; i.e. tales of fantasy that merely provide a substitute extension of the long-running TV shows and books depicting ‘Tales of the Old West’. The entire trilogy should be thoroughly enjoyed by all but regrettably a very few such as this reader and surprisingly a notable one other. It appears that perhaps a few prefer to have some degree of ‘closure’ at the conclusion of each book in a series. In this case, so many characters with whom a degree of empathy has been established have been killed that one is reminded of the old “cliff hangers” where a reader must wait to discover if the same fate has befallen several more. Most admittedly, such an admission ‘bespeaks a line of thought hearkening back to earlier times when such attempts to assure retention of the reader/observer’s attention for the next episode were initiated.’ (Granted, the idea goes back a long way, but probably not quite as far as thought; i.e. it was well before the era of dinosaurs.)

5* Well-written fantasy; the trilogy enjoyable for almost everyone.

Nightmare City

NIGHTMARE CITY ISBN: 9781698565439 apparently published copyright and written by P. S. Newman.

This Book 1 of the Nightmare City Series, introduces Eden Maybrey, a shade hunter. Shades are the living manifestation of persons conjured up by individuals during a period of sleep. They range in size from small viscous to huge viscous truck sized and occasionally larger animals, as well as human-like individuals. It is believed all are destructive, some being able to electrocute an individual by touch, others coated in flame and/or able to discharge balls of flame from themselves like projectiles from a gun and produce death and destruction in numerous other ways.  Much of the city is in ruins and the inhabitants in constant fear for their lives. Thus, the remaining portions of the city are heavily fortified and an entire department of shade hunters has been established and functions 24/7. Occasionally, a helpful rather than destructive, variant appears. However, because so much destructive activity has been exhibited by so many, the law has decreed that all must be eliminated on sight. Serious consequences result from disobeying this law or in any way attempting to shield or not report such aberrations. Because of the increasing number of lives often heroically saved by these ‘good shades’ a clandestine operation has been initiated by a group banded together as the Society for Higher Acceptance and Integration of Dreams (SHAID). It has been initiated, and originally funded by a pair of wealthy owners of a pharmacological manufacturing company, David and Sean, the first of whom is about to marry Cecelia, the city’s most relied upon homicide detective. The reader further discovers that, unknown to other than Cecelia, her 17-year-old sister Bella, David and Sean and a very few Directors of SHAID, Eden also is a shade who was dreamed into existence by Bella. From this point the plot expands to include another prominent shade hunter who literally despises the aberrations and is assigned to partner with Eden; a ‘good’ shade produced from Eden’s dreams; a shade sword that can think and speak; and several additional characters who produce a quite involved series of activities.

Discussion: To divulge additional material from this book would be a distinct disservice to the prospective reader. It is pure dark paranormal fantasy moving at an accelerated pace through an entangled plot that is quite unique. It offers a ‘new wrinkle’ that should appeal to, and be most enjoyed by, devotees of the genre.

5* Fast paced, pure dark paranormal fantasy with a ‘new wrinkle’.

Fractured: Dereck Dillinger and the Crystal Ball

Fractured: Dereck Dillinger and the Crystal Ball ISBN: 9781543939651 assumed published copyright and written by Eddie McPherson.

Dereck constantly is baby-sitting his 6-year-old sister Jessie because his mother has had to find a second job since his father died last year. He loves her and doesn’t mind except when meeting his friends who mock him. He has taken Jessie to the carnival where she now is riding a horse on the carousel and waves every time she passes him. Two of his friends see him and begin their usual routines. While he is occupied with them, he looks back and finds that Jessie is nowhere to be seen. From this moment, he is whisked away on an incredible journey through the land in which all of the characters about whom he has been reading to Jessie, reside. It is a world in which monsters, dragons, witches, fairies, magic and more and where Little Red Ridinghood, Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel and other of these famous people live.

Discussion: The author has provided a second novel to accompany the first which also had deposited him in this other world for a time before returning him to his home. His creative style is one that young readers will find entertaining and adults involved may discover amusing reminiscence. It is somewhat longer than most children’s books, but its pace and frequent introduction of new scenes and players should overcome any deterrent influence.

5* Enjoyable children’s book even adults reminiscently may enjoy.