Reynwood’s Reviews: The Faded Sun Trilogy

57042Title: The Faded Sun Trilogy, omnibus edition

Series: The Faded Sun Trilogy

Author: C. J. Cherryh

My rating: 4 of 5


They were the mri — tall, secretive, bound by honor and the rigid dictates of their society. For aeons this golden-skinned, golden-eyed race had provided the universe mercenary soldiers of almost unimaginable ability. But now the mri have faced an enemy unlike any other — an enemy whose only way of war is widespread destruction. These “humans” are mass fighters, creatures of the herd, and the mri have been slaughtered like animals.

Now, in the aftermath of war, the mri face extinction. It will be up to three individuals to save whatever remains of this devastated race: a warrior — one of the last survivors of his kind; a priestess of this honorable people; and a lone human — a man sworn to aid the enemy of his own kind. Can they retrace the galaxy-wide path of this nomadic race back through millennia to reclaim the ancient world which first gave them life?

“This is a powerful story…inspiring in its determination and feeling of strange loyalties and stranger courage. It sticks in the mind long after the last page is finished.”– Analog


My thoughts:

To begin with, I have to confess my significant lack of experience in the genre of science fiction, having never had as much of an affinity to outer space and flying ships and aliens as to swords and dragons and elves, but this intrigued me. People always tell you not to judge a book my its cover, but the truth of the matter is: we do. More often than not it’s the first thing a reader sees, and I love the artwork on the cover for this omnibus version. The synopsis begged me to give it a try, and the fact that it was an omnibus ─ with all three volumes in one package ─ sealed the deal.

I really enjoyed it. The Faded Sun Trilogy is not one of fast paced, sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat action, which, unfortunately, may turn some people off. This is a shame. The story delves deeper into the characters and their motives for their decisions and actions, and Cherryh is truly detailed in her settings and plot. This is not something to read when you’re half asleep, because the depth and intricacy demands your full attention. It’s no bore, though, and I’ve stayed up too late on many a night entrenched in this world.

The variety and intricacy of the various species within this trilogy is amazing, exploring the culture, language, history, and physiology of the four involved, creating an unique and interesting environment with severely conflicting cultures and priorities that drives much of the convoluting relations between species.

And then there’s Duncan. His tactical mind, willing heart, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time make him the perfect vessel for the task he must undertake in this grand adventure through space and across worlds, becoming a lynch pin for the growing post-war conflict. The poor guy gets put through a lot of crap from the people who confess to loving him, whether as a son or brother, but his devotion and unwillingness to give in proves his character to those who would hate and reject him.

I think this is a great story worth every page; it has encouraged me to expand my genre horizons, and is that not, in the scheme of things, a sign of a worthy tale?

On Writing: Worldbuilding

Hello, everyone! These past couple of weeks have been wild with things going on, with the publication of the final volume 7 and my brother’s wedding ─ which was gorgeous, by the way. Here, I will show you a picture of them:

Aren’t they the best?

Anywho, things are finally beginning to settle down around here, going through the last stages of activity before regular routines are picked back up (for some, anyway) My brother (the married one above) goes back to Japan on Sunday, which is a super bummer, but that’s how it is in the service and we’re looking forward to his next visit. Our new couple are coming over tonight for dinner, so in between preparing for that I want to share with you a little bit about a subject in writing, fiction in particular: worldbuilding.

The concept of worldbuilding is exactly as the word describes: building a world, a template, an environment in which your story takes place, things like history, geography, mythos (legends and superstitions and whatnot), culture, wildlife (if your story involves fantastical creatures), and so on. The more in-depth you go the more realistic a place becomes, and sometimes (most the time) it’s the little details that make the biggest impact.

When I set out on this TJT project, I did not begin with worldbuilding before I started writing. There were a lot of things I did poorly and backwards when I began this project, actually, learning as I went, and I think now that doing even rudimentary worldbuilding beforehand is important. It helps dimensionalize the setting, and even influences aspects of the characters ─ this is the world they live in, after all. How is their home town/city structured? What sort of culture were they raised in? What history did they learn in school or were a part of? What is the land like around them? Arable? Arid? Prairie? Mountainous? The geography also influences the climate and weather patterns (which I’ve personally put into the category of serious worldbuilding, but it is a detail to keep in mind).

There is a lot of freedom in worldbuilding, giving your creativity ample room to stretch its muscles and make perfectly sensible just about whatever you want. For example: The people of Dalyss celebrate annually the Duck Festival, wherein they eat lots of duck-shaped food, dress up like ducks, and enter into the Duck River Run, where participants race their homemade ducks down the river’s current to a finish line some half mile downstream. The Festival was first instated thirty years ago by Baron Hans, whose life was saved during the Tinker’s Rebellion by a flock of ducks that caused a raucous when the rebels tried to pursue his flight, distracting them and allowing him to escape. The event was commemorated and made a local holiday.

Who knew ducks could be so influential? The above mentions 1) a cultural event, 2) an history of how it came to be so, and 3) an allusion to another event that took place in the town of Dalyss’s past. It also hints at how the townsfolk felt about their Baron, that they’d make such an holiday. These things give a place (and a person) depth and dimension.

I, personally, really enjoy the worldbuilding aspect of writing, more and more so as I’ve explored Sekon’dome and other places of Jasinda and all the possibilities available there, as well as thinking ahead to other stories I hope to write in the future. Regardless of on what scale your story’s world is built, from scratch or a preexisting environment (such as modern day or historical NYC or London) it will stand all the stronger for the extra thought and effort. You, and your readers, will fall into your world that much more thoroughly ─ and who doesn’t want that?


Don’t forget! The giveaway for An Odyssey’s End is well underway, so if you haven’t entered yet, now’s the time!

Purgatory Has Ended – Volume 7 Is Released!

Good morning, readers! Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for over the last few months with much anticipation, and I am so very excited to announce that the waiting has ended! The day is come! An Odyssey’s End, the seventh and final chapter in this saga, is released to the world and ready to satisfy that burning desire to know what happens next, how it all ends, or if it ends . . .

So! Without further adieu, I’ll write up a list of links to all the places you can find and purchase a copy of this beauty for your very own.

  — Personally my favorite place

   —  The ULTIMATE mercantile

  —  For all your ebook needs

  —  The one-stop shop for all the info on this title and virtually millions more

You are also extremely welcome (and in my deepest gratitude) to write a review on An Oddyssey’s End here on Amazon. Reviews help boost a book’s visibility as well as let other readers know what you thought, aiding them in the decision of whether or not to give it a shot.

Also, join in the fun and test your luck by enter the Goodreads giveaway, vying for a chance to win a free copy! Giveaways are a blast, both entering one and hosting one (I absolutely LOVE sending out packages), so give it a go! Each copy is signed and accompanied by a super cool series bookmark. Later this month we’ll run an ebook giveaway over on Amazon for the Kindle version, too, so everyone can have a piece of the action.

Thank you so much to all of you who’ve come along with me on this journey — it’s been a ride! I don’t know yet what the future holds after this project, but I can certainly say that it isn’t the end of stories — far from. Far, far from. But until we find out, enjoy this book and this summer (hopefully together!)

Volume 7 Giveaway is now Alive!

Hello, everyone, and happy July! The days are dwindling down to the publication day, and I am both thrilled for it to come as well as anxious — it promises to be a wild weekend, after all! But until that day comes I have here a pre-present: the seventh and final giveaway celebrating the run of The Journey Taken! You’ve all been so encouraging and supportive along this road, and I can’t help but feel a little surreal that it’s coming to an end after what? Has it been five years already? I believe so — how crazy is that? Thank you so much for walking this path with me!

The Day Draws Nigh

Hello, dear readers, and happy 3rd day of summer! Wow, I can’t believe it’s summer already – only 15 days left until my brother’s wedding! Only 14 days left until An Odyssey’s End is published! So excited!

Anywho, in preparation/anticipation of that, I’m going to play a little game here. I have with me the proof copy of AOE, and I will flip to seven random spots (not necessarily in order) and write down an excerpt from the page I come to, crafting a kind of flash teaser trailer type of thing. You ready? Lets go.

♠   ♠   ♠

Caution to the careless and woe to the souls of many, for the Destroyer of Worlds has come.

 – – –

“Way to hog the glory,” Teryn scowled.

“Don’t worry, there’ll be more,” he [Jonquil] replied, wiping his nose.

“Let’s hurry,” Sergil bade.

“Why?” Fwip asked. “We going somewhere?”

“If at all possible we should see if we can’t find some form of shelter,” the man answered. “The quicker we move the less likely are to get eaten.”

– – –

Her answer, and what she could possibly mean by ‘worse’, silenced them, and no one spoke again until she finished. By then there wasn’t a single mark left on the man’s torso, leaving no evidence of the mincemeat it had resembled just over an hour ago. Iris released her Spells and stepped back, taking a deep breath and fighting off a wave of fatigue.

The woman physician approached the once-injured man and passed a hand across his abdomen, the look of absolute amazement upon her features easy to read. “Truly a miracle! How did you come into such incredible power?”

“It was given to me by a pair of friends,” Iris replied, glancing at her hand a curling it into a fist . . .

– – –

“What is this?”

“That would be an aluminum can.”

“What’s in it?”

“Food. The label should say exactly what.”

“My Helosite’s a little rusty,” the man retorted blandly. “How are you supposed to open it?”

“The newer design is supposed to have a tab you can pull, but for these you’ll need a can opener.”

“And what in the name of briny hopswitch is a ‘can opener’?”

– – –

“I thought he’d be here sooner than this,” Thock said.

“Oh, I’m sure he’ll be here in no time,” Piffry assured. “You know how he is.”

“Then he’s probably snooping around instead of asking for directions,” Thock replied.

“I’m sure!” Piffry laughed.

– – –

Out of an adjoining room came Quincy himself, and in his arms he carried little Tao, asleep. “I was wondering when you’d come to see her,” he said in a rumbling whisper.

Teryn stopped short when he appeared. “Aye, well, I didn’t have any time before now,” she retorted. “And I still don’t have a lot of time.”

“Why is that?” he asked. “Are you needed back for the war council?”

“No, it’s because I’m needed back in Sekon’dome.”

– – –

Jonquil and Sergil ran to meet it, clashing in a duo, rapid fire attack that left no seam between their strikes. Sergil hefted his sword with a stony resolve, blocking and hacking with the gleaming edge, his body falling in time with the motions of a dual handed blade like an old dance he’d never truly forgotten. Jonquil wove in and out of their parries and attacks to deliver his own blows with a pinpoint precision that would have been fatal had their opponent been just about anything but what it was.

– – –

This was Sanctus, the purifying Spell.

Fires ignited all over his body, creeping across his shoulders and torso, piercing the murky depth of his tenuous form, blotting out the cast of his shadowed existence. Within moments Akairo became completely engulfed by the furnace, his triumphal laughter turning into howls of rage and agony as his darkness, his dross, was consumed.

“Curse you!” he screamed, high pitched and wild. “Curse you all to the depths of oblivion! Die! Wither! Fall to the worst and more painful deaths! I despise you pathetic, insolent worms! I hate you!

– – –

Fine. Keep your miserable and rotten children — they aren’t worth raising up.

But that would not stop him from razing them down.

♠   ♠   ♠

Well? How was that? I have to say, it was harder than you’d think, because there were so many parts that I thought ‘Oh! That would be cool!’ ‘Oh! I could do that!’ But alas, if I did that, then I’d have spoiled all the fun and written here the whole volume, and that would just not do.

I hope you enjoyed this, and don’t forget to mark your calendars! July 7th is the Promised Day, when dreams come true, bated breaths are released, and new adventures begin.


Don’t miss it! The Goodreads Giveaway for The Clandestine Crusade ends the 27th of this month — 4 days — so enter for a chance to win a free copy + bookmark!

Also, starting today and ending Tuesday, the ebook version of The Clandestine Crusade will be available for FREE on Amazon, so grab a copy for yourself, grab one for a friend, grab one for the neighbor and his friend! The possibilities are virtually endless, and no halfway decent person is less than thrilled at the magnanimous gift of a story.

On Writing: Timelines

When I began my writing venture, I never really studied on how to go about it, taking with me only my fervor for the story and a basic understanding of creative writing from a middle school course. I never dreamed about taking into account the technicalities of the art, at the time it hardly even crossed my mind. I started out with a basic plot of events I wanted to take place and then delved right in. For me, everything kind of just came together as I went, and that first draft proved a massive learning experience on so many fronts. So, so many. With so many things going on, I developed a deep and lasting appreciation for timelines.

Timelines are vital, whether your story spans a few hours or a few centuries. Listing everything that happens in chronological order is monumentally helpful in keeping track of the goings on; it keeps you from getting bamboozled and making mistakes that will cause the very bloody murder of your story. For lack of it, my own would have perished in a most piteous mess of inconsistency.

I once read a blog post somewhere listing a few different ways in which to timeline, and there really are an infinite (okay, maybe not infinite, but there are a lot) of ways you can do this. One is to simply list the events with bullets or numbers, and another is to set up a timeline on the computer. What I have done is something perhaps a little more eccentric. My bedroom has ample ceiling space, so I took a spool of twine (it was on hand) and strung it up there from one end to the other and then clothespinned note cards with dates and what happened in that year. It spanned well over a hundred years and recorded the big points of my characters’ lives (color coded, even) leading up to the actual story itself. (I only took it down so my awesome new windows could be put in).

And that’s just the one timeline I made. The other, which records the events of the story itself, is laid out in an old calendar from ’09 that I never used and had on hand. It’s great because it has the day-by-day layout that I needed to keep track of, along with the seasons. It also helped me see better the events of the sub-plots so I could rearrange everything so it all flowed smoothly.

So, setting your world in order is a golden nugget of the profound wisdom of the word sages from past ages. And in addition to all its usefulness, timelines are also a great way to see your progression, and that is a huge boost in confidence and morale. Sometimes writing is a rough road of rocks and sinkholes, so it’s always good to have something to show you where you’ve been and all there is to look forward to.

Reynwood’s Reviews: This Present Darkness

Title: This Present Darkness

Series: Darkness (#1)

Author: Frank E. Peretti

My rating: 5 of 5


Ashton is just a typical small town. But when a skeptical reporter and a prayerful, hardworking pastor begin to investigate mysterious events, they suddenly find themselves caught up in a hideous New Age plot to enslave the townspeople, and eventually the entire human race. The physical world meets the spiritual realm as the battle rages between forces of good and evil.


My thoughts:

Oh. My. Goodness. This book hit me on all the levels, as a writer, a reader, a person, and a Christian. Frank E. Peretti writes boldly, touching on real issues we deal with even today, decades after its first printing.

The narrative is well paced, carrying you along the river current, and then it begins to pick up, growing faster as you reach the white waters, and by that time you really don’t want to put the book down. Peretti’s descriptions are vivid, his characters, the problems they face, and how each one deals with them are realistic and relatable, no matter where you stand.

The theme of this story, depicting the (very real) warfare going on around us, is a refreshing change, I thought, from the analogies replete throughout literature. There are angels and there are demons, fighting within the wee town of Ashton, and the citizens don’t even know it, but as the fire heats up, eyes are opened to the truth and the danger. The best way to destroy a man is not always to take his life, but to undermine his family and demolish his reputation, beating him raw until his soul shatters.

I’ve heard many people talk about this book (and its partner Piercing the Darkness), that it was convicting and even prophetic. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to see it (I’m not always the most perceptive) but I saw it. The trouble harrying Ashton harries the wider world even today, becoming increasingly evident; it doesn’t take much effort to see it. The emphasis in this story is on prayer, and while I’m not entirely sure if angels really get their strength from people’s prayer and worship to the Lord, it has to be said that prayer bears much power. It is the single most effective action we as followers of Christ can make concerning any and every issue we face. Hank is an inspiration for what unashamed, unafraid, unshakable faith can look like, and what an honor to be accused of being a ‘little praying man’.

I highly recommend this story for the richness of its plot, creativity of its narrative, its conviction of faith and prayer, but also to those who are on the outside looking it. Whether searching for God or not, this story will give some insight into the world we see and live in.