3 BOOK REVIEW
by M. Edward McNally
The Trade Houses of the Miilark Islands control the shipping lanes linking four diverse continents across the blue vastness of the Interminable Ocean. The Houses are represented abroad by the Guilders; men and women skilled in business and burglary, salesmanship and swordplay, merchandising and musketry. Tilda Lanai has trained for years to take her place among them, but now the House she is to serve is imperiled by the sudden death of the House Lord. Scenting blood in the water, rival Houses are beginning to circle. The desperate search for an exiled heir takes Tilda across a war-torn continent and to the gates of the Sable City, where centuries ago dark magic almost destroyed the world. Along with a sinister sorceress, a broken-hearted samurai, and a miscreant mercenary long on charm but lousy with a crossbow, Tilda must brave the demon-infested ruins to find the heir who may yet save her House.
by M. Edward McNally
The Second Book of the Norothian Cycle, and the sequel to "The Sable City."
After a narrow escape from the Sable City, Tilda and company have arrived in Souterm, where the Duchess Claudja is able to contact the Emperor and announce that her home realm of Chengdea has accepted the Code. While such an acceptance may stave-off invasion by Ayzantine forces, King Hughes of Daul will not take the betrayal well, and a new war threatens to erupt between the Empire and the River Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Nesha-tari learns that she must perform additional tasks for her Blue Dragon Master before she will be allowed to return home. Together with others in the Dragon's service, the sorceress must enter the murderous world of Ayzant politics, where Crown, Church, and Cult vie for power.
by M. Edward McNally
With the Trade House disbanded during John's absence and his Law Sister, Rhianne, reduced to poverty, the last of the Deskatas have no choice but to take up the ancient Island right of the blood vendetta, and turn to piracy on the high seas. The people of Miilark say that the Wind governs all lives, and the course upon which John and Rhianne are blown will bring them into conflict with worse things than enemy Houses. But with a little luck, John will cross paths with some old friends as well.
The Norothian Cycle. Muskets, Magic, and Matilda Lanai.
With all that being said, on with the review. The writing style was masterfully done. Everything was perfectly balanced. The characters were done flawlessly. Their realistic personalities, combined with the richness in the detailed world, blurred the lines between real and fantasy. The author has an uncanny way of drawing you so far into the story-line that you can easily lose yourself. The pace was unrelenting. It never let me peel my eyes away from the pages of the story. It kept my eyes at bay with the twist and turns, edge of your seat, burst of humor, and the lively playfulness. The plot's climax could bring you to your knees. The only disappointment I had, was like all things, the book came to an end.
All three of these books easily made a 5 star rating, with mind blowing grace.
Author Interview with Author M. Edward McNally
- Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure, as little as you'd like. :-)
Let's see, I'm of Irish/Mexican descent, North Carolina born, grew up mostly in the Midwest along the northbound lane of I-35 (KS, IA, MN), now live in the Sonoran Desert on the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ, surrounded by scorpions and javelinas. Went to college for about ten years as I'm a slow learner, and am writing an epic, Musket & Magic fantasy series along with "contemporary" short story collections.
- Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I do, actually. In about third grade in Kansas City, our class wrote poems (cutesy little kid kind of stuff, I think mine was about a garter snake), and mine got picked to run in the local paper. My name in print, I was hooked. :-)
- What surprised you the most about the writing/publishing process?
That the two have absolutely nothing to do with one another.
- How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I'm what is known as a "pantser," in that I write "by the seat of my pants," just sort of following where the characters take me. Of course in the editorial stages I have to make sure there is actually a story being told, but so far it has worked. Basically, I love to write for the same reason I love to read: To find out what happens next to people I come to care about.
- What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Hyphenated adjective phrases. Kidding, really it's all about the characters for me. Love 'em or hate 'em, they have to be "real," and if they are, I'm in.
- Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Presently drafting the fourth volume of the fantasy series, loosely titled "Devil Town." At the moment, around chapter nine, Tilda Lanai is trying to convince a former ninja, now priestess, named Amatesu that she should be more upset that a gnome knocked out one of her teeth with a frying pan in a bar fight.
- In Twitter Fashion use 140 characters or less, sum The Sable City for us.
Girl seeks Boy. She's Tilda Lanai, newly-trained Guilder. He's John Deskata, the exiled heir without whom Tilda's Trade House is doomed.
- How did you come up with a story that was such a whirlwind of events?
Just tried to keep up while Tilda and company were running around. :-)
- How long did it take you to write it, and did you have any writer’s block along the way?
This is perhaps odd, but from about 1997 to 2008 or so, I made a conscious decision to stop writing fiction. I think I had some idea about getting a "real job" or something like that, and after finishing a Lit MA I went right back into school in a History program.
While I wasn't writing fiction during that time, I did spend about ten years where my free-time hobby was a sort of "world-building" exercise where I wrote the history of a magically active world, from primitive tribal times to an early gunpowder, Age of Sail tech level. Also, it combines some European, Asian, African, and primarily Polynesian elements. See, I told you it was an odd hobby, but it was cheaper than cable. ;-)
A few years back, the people of said world, or at least one Miilarkian Islander in particular, started insisting that I tell her story. And that is what I have been doing since.
- Will we be seeing a following book to this stories?
Indeed. Two subsequent volumes (Death of a Kingdom, The Wind from Miilark) are presently available wherever fine ebooks are sold, and the aforementioned volume four is en route.
- How did you come up with the Female Lead character?
I'm not 100% sure I did come up with Tilda, it feels more like it was the other way around some days.
The thing that started me writing again at first was an image. A haggard, wounded warhorse out on a steppe, under a gray sky, watching with narrowed eyes as a young woman slowly approached it through waist-high grass, holding a bright red apple in her hand. I wanted to know who she was and what she was doing, and I have been finding out now for 3+ books.
- I always must ask, If you could pick one actor to portray Male Lead on the big screen who would it be and why?
This kind of question gets asked of writers a lot, and I'm sad to say I'm pretty bad at answering it. My problem is that the way I "see" my characters in my head, they are themselves. They don't look or act like anybody I know, or have seen in a movie. John Deskata looks like John Deskata, Zeb Warchild acts like Zeb Warchild.
So, that being said, have the casting director send me over some strapping young bucks with a lot of emotional range, who can deliver either angst or a quip with equal charm, and I'll pick out a couple. ;-)
- Was there anything you find particularly challenging when writing this book?
Time. So much to say, and so few hours in the day.
- What were your feelings when you first saw the cover of your finished book?
Let's see, the first was a terrible little map I did myself, which looked hopelessly amateurish, I lost that one right quick.
The second came through an artist living in Hungary (mimulux) I met on line, who does this really beautiful, sort of creepy stuff. I saw some images in a gallery of hers called "Buildings of Darkness," and they literally looked a lot like how I pictured some of the black basalt locales within "the Sable City." That is, the devil and demon-infested place to which the characters find themselves drawn throughout the first book, for various reasons and with various goals.
I really liked the dark ambiance of the cover image and the fine detail was amazing, though of course a lot of that washes out in a thumbnail, or on an e-reader. The same artist has done the subsequent volumes, which are brighter as we have been working with the idea of having each volume in the series "marked" by its own color scheme that refers in some way to the plot of that book. Of course, that leaves "Sable" dark, and obscure, which is probably not the way to go on the first volume of a series when trying to "catch a reader's eye." And really, the series isn't "dark fantasy" per se, as the cover of the first book might imply. So anyway, some ideas are being discussed at the moment.
Basically, I have come to realize that I don't have a particularly good eye for cover art. I can't adequately explain why I like the ones I like, and the ones everybody else seems to like are the ones that look to me like every other book out there, which I guess should be the point. ;-)
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