Cover Reveal and Editor’s Review of Lord and King by Bestselling Author, P.L. Stuart

Cover Reveal and Editor’s Review

I am so excited about this book!

Last night, on Blaise Ancona’s Under the Radar SFF Podcast, Blaise went live with an interview with fantasy fiction author and my friend, P.L. Stuart, in which they reviewed Stuart’s books A Drowned Kingdom and The Last of the Atalanteans and they revealed the cover of Stuart’s latest book in the series, Lord and King.

This is not a traditional reader’s ARC review because I am proud to say I was the editor of this book, the third in The Drowned Kingdom Saga by the insanely talented bestselling author, P.L. Stuart. As a fan of the first two books in the series, I couldn’t wait to read the third, Lord and King, and when Stuart asked me to be his editor, I almost cried for joy and gratitude for the opportunity. I have never had so much fun as an editor, and Stuart made my job easy because he’s a brilliant writer.

I may be biased, but I am a fan of this man’s phenomenal storytelling, first and foremost. He is a master and has created one of the most compelling, multifaceted fictional characters ever in the vainglorious Othrun, King of Eastrealm. If you love medieval literature, a fully realized unique world, a complex protagonist, challenging, exciting antagonists, realistic battle scenes, mystery, magic, and fabulous love scenes, Stuart’s books are for you! And I was waiting for that fabulous love scene! Lord and King does not disappoint.

Lord and King is a thrilling page-turner that will keep your pulse pounding and your heart in your throat. The unexpected tragedies Othrun must face, as well as the addition of Queen Undala, who could potentially be the most formidable adversary Othrun has faced to date, make for what I think is the most exciting book in the series so far. And this fan cannot wait to find out what happens next!

Author’s Synopsis of Lord and King

Finally, Lord and King of Eastrealm, Othrun, aims to restore the glory of his drowned homeland, Atalantyx. But dangerous warlords are determined to stop Othrun from rising to further power.

Furthermore, Eastrealm’s ruler must confront internal forces that could tear his new kingdom apart. Embattled Othrun is also devastated by personal tragedy. His belief in his Single God, and his ambiguous guiding spirit, has never been more tenuous.

To fight his enemies, Othrun needs more than faith or his formidable knights. He needs a mage on his side. Is the conniving Queen Lysi, with her divided loyalties and her own designs for Othrun, the ally he needs? Or, are there other mages who can help the beleaguered young king, who he can trust?

And, Lysi is not the only formidable queen Othrun must contend with. An inexorable power, tied to ancient founders of Eltnish civilization, is coming. A legendary ruler, the likes of whom has not been seen for centuries, plans to reclaim what’s owed to her.

She is named, Undala.

Fear for Othrun and anyone else who dares stand in her way.

Othrun is clever, bold, resourceful. Yet, kingship comes with many challenges, including facing the cunning, powerful, vengeful enemies surrounding him, marking him for death. Will Othrun’s reign end on the battlefield, in blood, before it’s barely begun?

Expected publication April 30, 2023

BOOK REVIEW: The Last of the Atalanteans (The Drowned Kingdom Saga Book 2) by P. L. Stuart

Fantasy Fiction Book Review

Title: The Last of the Atalanteans (The Drowned Kingdom Saga Book 2)
Author:  P.L. Stuart
Publisher: FriesenPress
Released: March 31, 2022
Pages: 534
ASIN: B08VS15WTR
Book Reviewer: Christine Bode
Stars:  4.0

Book Two in The Drowned Kingdom Saga, The Last of the Atalanteans by fantasy fiction master, P.L. Stuart, opens with Othrun, Thurol, and Glathan: three Atalanteans in disguise as Lynchun soldiers using assumed names, entering the Lynchun border city of Lionshead, en route to its capitol, Lionfort. Together with the usurped Lynchun King, Centi, Earl of Lynchun, and the rightful King of Lynchun, Wely, this five-men ruse intend to get Wely’s kingdom back from his corrupt brother and wife.

Badan—the ugly Earl of Lionshead—sides with Wely’s usurping brother Orlu, Lynchun’s greatest, undefeated warlord. Badan is a man to be reckoned with and not discounted. Badan’s men are watching the “captured” Wely, for whom he hopes to be rewarded by Orlu, while nudging Centi out of the way so he can gain the king’s favour.

Othrun, the narrator and orchestrator of their remarkable play, hopes that their deceptive plan will hold and that within twenty-seven days, their forces will besiege Lionfort. But he has no idea what lies in store for them.

And so, author Stuart sets the stage for another grand and bold chapter in this epic fantasy saga. He writes this brilliant chess match between usurpers, warriors, noblemen and mages with a visceral description of the sights, sounds and odours of the places his heroes occupy. Stuart perfectly sets the tone for the adventure and inevitable battles to follow. Stuart skillfully interweaves the fascinating supernatural tale of Othrun’s beloved, albeit cursed, Atalantean steel sword, Sure-Steel, and the Anchali, an enigmatic angel who claims to be his true father. Othrun has a hard time wrapping his Single God-believing mind around the contradiction of the pagan beliefs he’s surrounded by, creating an absorbing conflict of a non-killing kind.

Stuart also reintroduces the powerful mage, Lysi, Princess of Nyrimia. She is my favourite character and the perfect adversary for the Fab Five of Fantasy—regardless of her sexual attraction to the married Othrun. Fierce, fearless and intelligent, Lysi is the femme fatale warrior who will hold the fate of the Five in her hands. In addition, she adds much-needed humour, magic, and sexual tension to Othrun’s tale as she challenges his spiritual beliefs.

There are spies amongst the band of warriors trying to make their way to Lionfort, making their journey treacherous beyond the inclement weather and inhospitable accommodations. The King of Lynchun’s wife, Syda, also a powerful mage, wants Wely dead. It will take cunningness and hyper-vigilance for Othrun’s men to deliver Wely to King Orlu in one piece. Lord Badan doesn’t view Othrun as the noble hero he believes he is, so the arrogant Othrun will have to hold his cards close to his chest to protect his ruse.

Othrun hates paganism and blames it for the seduction of his brother Erthal by Dira and the downfall of Atalantyx. He believes that there is no room in the realm for other gods. They must eradicate them. 

“It was the God-given task of the virtuous kingdom of Atalantyx, I believed, led by my royal house, to rid the world of those idolaters. I had seen the Anchali’s power, its glory, and its wonder. I knew our Single God to be real. Any other sort of worship was heresy. Yet there I was believing in pagan magic, as wielded by Lysi.”

In Chapter Twenty-Nine, Yedwol the Old tells the story of the Battle of Berefet to Othrun, and the reader learns more about the history of the Atalantean warriors. It is superbly crafted. Describing the tragedy of war from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old warrior with the spirit of a dragon, Yedwol’s tale will make you weep. Beheading women and children for the gold in their land is beyond atrocious. However, the Berefetish people still tried to kill and poison the three hundred warriors left in the Atalantean army after their colossal battle as they resisted their sovereignty. Yedwol and his young men stole everything they could and killed everyone who opposed them while praying to their Single God. And how that sickens me. There is no justification for such behaviour, and no way I could cheer for them.

Othrun asks himself if he could kill Eltnish women and children to bring monotheism to the continent of Acremia and secure gold for the prosperity of Eastrealm, his soon-to-be kingdom. However, he cannot abide rape or violence against women, children and the weak, so he watches the shine of his uncle’s glory tarnish.

As war rages between Russia and Ukraine, it is difficult to read such a passage knowing that millennia later, in the real world, men still kill each other for power, land, and greed and because they think their religion is the truth. War is not only something glorified in fantasy fiction or history books; it is inherent to man’s nature, which saddens this reader deeply. Of course, we should never ennoble war, but for those who enjoy reading about it and want to experience the horror, Stuart is a master narrator. He also manages to capture the humanity behind the carnage.

Othrun’s conflict is authentic and complex. This profoundly flawed man slowly evolves before our eyes in the second volume of this epic seven-book series that author Stuart is planning. In this story, he must be a follower rather than a leader most of the time. Othrun befriends a homosexual warrior named Hani, who enjoys cooking for their party of conspirators against Orlu. Although Hani favours sleeping with men, an abomination to the Single God, Othrun decides he doesn’t care and likes him anyway.

After reading Book One, I wasn’t sure if I would care enough about Othrun to follow him on his journey. But after reading Book Two, I am pleased by his evolving humanity, captivated by the storyline, and cannot wait for what will happen in the next instalment of The Drowned Kingdom saga, Lord and King, to be published next year.

If you missed it, read my review of A Drowned Kingdom (The Drowned Kingdom Saga Book 1). Then, buy your copy of The Last of the Atalanteans here.

P.L. Stuart will be a fantasy fiction legend like his heroes Cornwell, Martin, and Jemesin before the last book in this series is published.

Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon by Angela Stever

Fantasy/Sci-Fi Book Review

Title: Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon
Author:  Angela Stever
Imprint: Tellwell Talent
Released: October 30, 2021
Pages: 284
ISBN-13: 978-0228863120
Stars:  4.0

Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon is new, young adult, LGBTQ-friendly fantasy/dystopian science-fiction for the 21st century by well-known Kingston, Ontario radio host Angela Stever. The book’s hero, Seneca Ellis-Brant, is a girl just turning 16 years old, and she’s the youngest Light Seeker in Barsicon history. Seneca has been training her whole life to be a Light Seeker with the help of her two moms, Ma Marie and Mama C (Catherine), and her combat instructor, JD, a diminutive warrior with a neon-coloured mohawk.

In July 2022, two days before the Light Ceremony, she believes it is her destiny to conquer. Seneca meets Alex, JD’s cousin, who is referred to using the pronouns they/them. Alex is the first stranger Seneca has ever met, a popular singer in Light City, and sexual-spiritual fireworks ensue.

Seneca has trained diligently for the Light Ceremony, believing that she will complete it and be able to move her family from The Darkness, the land to the east of Light City, inhabited by the 1% elite of Barsicon on the shores of West Ocean. To gain the privilege of living in Light City, Light Seekers must complete Seven Steps into the Light, which amounts to a battle to the death. But has Seneca been brainwashed? Is the story she has been told about her miraculous birth true? Is she simply a pawn in a very toxic game?

Light City is ruled by President Barbara Crow, an angry woman with daddy issues whose father, General Walter Crow (a comic book buffoon of a bullying leader with no real backbone), demanded the construction of a wall between Light City and The Darkness following the Battle of Barsicon in 1972. Northern Warriors erected the barrier parallel to the coastline, two miles inland from the West Ocean. Only the wealthy live along the West Ocean; its residents are made up of people who sleep until noon and feast until midnight, playing games and dancing all day. The wall offers them protection from the ‘unworthy.’

While reading this book—which could arguably be a parable—during the middle of the umpteenth lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, one cannot help but recognize the parallels in the world in which we live and the authors’ world of Barsicon, a simply constructed, dystopian fantasy world. Many of us are seeking a higher spiritual path in light of the darkness we have found ourselves in for the past two years. The 1% elite who govern and decide how we will conduct ourselves and live our lives have divided us with vaccine mandates, passports, and other draconian restrictions. In today’s world, there is a divide between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, people who are described by the media and even our Prime Minister as unworthy of living in regular society. It may only be a matter of time before we are physically segregated, even though many of us can see that our leaders’ plan to deal with the pandemic is not working. Right now, most of our lives are about survival and not thriving, just like the citizens of Barsicon who live in The Darkness.

There are psychopaths, unexpected twists and turns in Conquering the Divide, and a little bit of magic, lots of mystery, and plenty of heart-centred heroes to cheer for. If you loved The Hunger Games or The Mortal Instruments, you’d want to join Seneca as she discovers her new normal and realizes her true destiny, moving out of The Darkness and into the light. This fast-paced, exciting adventure is filled with nuggets of spiritual wisdom and a satisfying ending that will leave you wanting more.

Angela Stever has peppered her story with “Easter egg” references to local singer-songwriters who music fans in this region know and love and named the main protagonist and another heroic character after her two sons. I suspect she may have used Prince Edward County and Sandbanks Provincial Park as inspiration for Barsicon. Conquering the Divide (available on Amazon now) is her first novel, and it is an outstanding debut. This reader cannot wait for more stories by Stever.

May the God of Light’s Final Judgement find you worthy before you are forced to die for the greater good. “The power should be in the hands of the people, not in the hands of one man.” As in all fantasy stories, there is a battle between good and evil, and the protagonists must overcome seemingly impossible challenges to defeat their adversaries. Sometimes the men in power are simply weak, bullying idiots being controlled by psychopathic puppet masters. And sometimes, it takes standing up to our oppressors and being willing to start a revolution before the light can shine through The Darkness.

Book Review: God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL by Shane Scott, a Writer to be Reckoned With

Fantasy Fiction Book Review

Title: God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL
Author:  Shane Scott
Imprint: Self-published
Released: February 6, 2021
Pages: 424
ISBN-13: 978-1735518275
Stars:  3.5


Gods, Devils, Titans, Dragons, Angels, Demons, Bool (a.k.a. Werewolves), Vampires, and Mortals all inhabit the fantastical worlds created by gifted author Shane Scott in his debut novel, God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL.

At the beginning of each chapter, the reader is provided with knowledge about the facts of the worlds that Scott has created by Miranda, God of Knowledge (a Titan librarian and historian of the ALL). Don’t skip reading these, as they contain essential information that you will undoubtedly go back to.

The story shifts back and forth through time, beginning in the year 2002 (January) on Planet Earth with Aja Ashe Jensen, a seventeen-year-old girl who lives in Maine with her father, Matthew Jensen. Vacationing at Matthew’s cabin in Naples, ME, with her dad’s friend, Dr. Theodore Kane, and his son—her best friend, Bobby—Aja is itching to take the new Ski-Doo she received for Christmas for a ride. As a blizzard is in progress, she must wait for the storm to pass.

We know almost immediately that there is something very different about Aja as she has begun to notice an electric blue and gold aura emanating from her person while a serpent has been twisting and turning through her insides.

The next day, Aja goes for her snowmobile ride and ends up having “an accident” that results in her and her machine going through the ice and her body instantly freezes. We soon discover that Silver, the God of Death and a Titan, is responsible for the death of Aja, the Dragon. We also discover that Aja’s father is Memnoth, God of Love, who has been hiding as a Mortal. However, not only is he God of Love, but also the God of Hate, Satan. And Lucifer is the God of Evil. I’m not clear on whether Lucifer is also Memnoth.

This is just the beginning of an extremely ambitious, complex story that weaves in and out of time, space, and different planets that make up the ALL. The author has provided the reader with a timeline that explains the main characters, significant dates for their introduction to the tale, and how they are related, but it is a bit hard to understand until we read more. There is so much going on in this story that one must pay close attention so as not to miss any key plot points.

We learn about different Immortals’ romantic relationships, how they are related to others, and what part they will play in the future of the ALL. We also learn that “before the beginning, God existed without form or substance. In the realm of Nothing, She existed as something.”  The author’s creation of the history of the universe that exists in this novel is interesting. Nothing is what we would expect based on anything in this genre we have read before. God creates time yet finds it difficult to hold Her thoughts, existing in a battle for Self. The only weapons in God’s arsenal are Her Will and Her Word, but She nevertheless made nothing into something and, with it, created Her own body. Time confuses many cultures in the ALL, and Immortals can walk through doorways into various places and times.

This book turns the myth of Creation that we understand upside down. God created Memnoth to be different from Her so that She wouldn’t be alone. Memnoth was her Next (soul mate). Memnoth named God Ashe, and he loved Her, but She didn’t love him. She was not capable of emotion. So, Memnoth created Spirit, resembling DNA, compiled of threads that go beyond infinity, as well as threads of emotions, to fix her or to give her the choice to love him or not. From this gift exploded a massive Dragon of Spirit that amalgamated itself with Ashe.

Ashe and Memnoth created Silver, God of Death, and the first of the Titans. However, Silver wanted what she couldn’t have, Memnoth. Silver kills Ashe, destroying Memnoth’s love, and Memnoth, God of Love, became Satan, God of Hate. Satan curses Silver to bring pain, suffering, and misery into God’s creation. And with her dying breath, the Voice of God whispered in Memnoth’s ear, “let there be life.” “An endless explosion of God’s perfect, pure love turned nothing into Everything. God’s ALL, 12 dimensions of infinite, came into existence.”

The use of the capitalization of the pronouns is a bit tedious for this reader. However, the story itself is compelling and engaging, and the author is a mad scientist genius with a wicked sense of humour.

In Part Two, we visit Planet Gella, Home of the Immortals (a place with few rules or laws), where no Immortal ever harms another as it is forbidden. The Immortal races control energy without technology. They touch sources of power and shape it to their will, which is majik. What a person does with majik or tek defines if it’s good or evil. Mortals capable of doing limited majik are known as Seer, Witch, and Sorcerer.

Sel, a Dragon, falls in love with Lilith, who is a Demon and a prisoner in the dungeons of The Castle Sovereign. He rescues her from the dungeons, and after Lilith gets sick because she has trouble acclimating to Planet Gella, Satan (Sel’s grandfather) and Sel take Lilith to The Downstairs (where Demons are chained) and set her in Hellfire. She absorbs its energy and stores it in her heart, which restores her health. Lilith slowly finds her way to trusting and then loving Sel.

Sel is the son of Aja and Wyatt/Yennifer/Gia, and his partner is Lilith. Jaxx is the son of Sel and Lilith, and his partner is Olivia. Jaxx and Olivia’s story takes place in the year 2236 on Planet Gella. Jaxx is the only Dragon with a Demon heart. He is in love with an eighteen-year-old Vampire named Olivia. Miranda helps Jaxx and Olivia understand their place in the ALL and the difference between Nothing and Everything, which is very helpful to the reader.

These characters mostly behave like humans, eating, sleeping, having sex, working, and participating in a fantastical soap opera directed by Satan.

In Part Three, we go to The Upstairs, a part of Hell and a place of decadent pleasure. Cassamodia (Cassy) manages The Upstairs, which is a hedonistic nightclub for every species in the galaxy. It’s where everyone comes to party in Hell. It’s also a place where they have a tough time keeping staff, but when Cassy hires a human named Evangeline (Eva), she soon finds not only a capable, loyal employee but, after a long Ebezzian courtship, a life partner as well. Eva has an AI chip she calls Hal installed in her brain, and it helps her to figure out how to win Cassy’s heart.

Wen, God of Chaos, is a Titan who stands between chaos and order. Her mother is Ashe, aka God. Her best pal is Beelzebub, the Chained God, who does anything he wants and makes the impossible possible. He hangs out in The Upstairs, where he enjoys teasing the hell out of Eva.

In Part Four – Dragon, we’re introduced to Hugh and Alexa Nash (nee Conroy), who met in 1587 at the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots and married soon after. Hugh Nash works for the Devil at H-Corp as a lawyer who lies for a living. And Alexa works there too. They are still working for H-Corp in 2002 and have been taking care of Aja’s body while she has been comatose. After two months in this state, Aja awakens to discover her inner Dragon, who she soon discovers is her identical twin, intended as a weapon of mass destruction. Dragon keeps Aja’s body alive and teaches her that lightning is hers to command and that she can do anything she likes, even go to Mars.

Alexa (aka Lexxi) tells Aja about the true nature of her father, but Aja has trouble believing that he’s the Devil. And I mean, really, who wouldn’t?

Aja meets John, a handsome young man who she discovers is a Bool, joined with Yennifer, a female human, and Gia, a female two-thousand-pound polar bear. Aja is attracted to John and stalks him until she bumps into him. John can shift into Yennifer (born approx. 900 AD and raised and tortured by Silver before she turned Yennifer into Bool), and he can see the past and all possible futures. He can also shift into Gia, and that is when things get remarkably interesting.

Establishing all the characters, their relationships, and their place in the ALL takes up almost half the book, so one must be a patient reader because the main plot point concerning Aja isn’t revisited until Chapter 16 in Part Four. I haven’t even mentioned all the characters here. There is little action in the first half of the book, but this is Book #1 in The ALL series, so the author intends for there to be lots more action to come.

This self-published fantasy novel has been very well edited, has striking, colourful cover art that may lead one to believe this book is for Young Adults (I would never let my children read something like this if I was a parent), and there is no denying the clever twisted mind or ambition of author, Scott. He has included a warning on Amazon to let readers know that this book is intended for people 18 years or older.

It turned my stomach to read this passage:

“Excitement coursed through Silver when she conducted her experiments. She touched herself when torturing others. The amount of animals, sentient animals, and human species the Titan tortured, raped, maimed, and murdered would have left Charles Manson vomiting and begging for it to end.”

I was afraid to read further because this isn’t the kind of content I like or am interested in, but I pushed on anyway. And that’s not all. Silver hates all cats and tortures kittens. Ugh. Silver and Lucifer help each other, but as often as they do, they also screw each other over, figuratively and literally, because Lucifer only wants to make Demon Bool while Silver creates the Born Dead. They kill their assistant and lover, Dr. Susan Baker, via sexual torture. The story contains considerable profanity, including the F-word and C-word, so read it at your discretion.

As someone who believes in a Higher Power, reading a book like this feels like bad juju to me. It’s like watching a graphic horror movie that I must turn my head away from because I don’t want to go there anymore. The world we live in is horrific enough. However, then the author writes statements like “No abomination can stand in the Light of God.”  I’m curious as to what comes next, so I proceed. By the end of this book, the tone shifts, and the reader is left to wonder about the answers to many unanswered questions asked by Olivia. We’ll just have to wait for those answers until Scott publishes God of Everything: Book #2 The ALL.

If you read all the above and still want to read God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL,  then this book is definitely for you. I didn’t read the Amazon warning before I read it, but I would have given God of Nothing four stars if the areas I found offensive had been toned down. All in all, Shane Scott is a writer to be reckoned with.