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Courage and Steel (Erlik's Saga Book 1)
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/13/2018 22:30:07

Thoroughly enjoyable stories, start to finish, and as the old saying goes, this tastes like more! Erlik's Saga is as good an adventure as can be found, chock-full of well-written action and supernatural intrigue. Vivid characters come to life so quickly, you'll devour this story and thirst for more. Michael C. Munson's illustrations and cover art lend focus and gritty realism to Erlik's Saga.

Weregild (10 years prior to Tides of Fate) - Erlik Rowanson must prove himself to his chief and father, Efelwere the Ring-Breaker, who gives him command of the left flank, choosing him over cousin Adulwulf. The long-awaited clash between these two cannot be called simply a "fight" as you breathe the stench of bodies, snort at the kicked-up dust and taste the metallic heat of hearts-blood. The name of Black Erlik is well earned.

Tides of Fate - Erlik the Black, Kinslayer, after a decade of raiding and reaving, returns to the windswept, rocky shores of his birthplace, and encounters a lovely woman who is not what she appears to be. Pursuing her, Erlik finds an ancient wise woman and learns something of his own past, as well as more legends of the isles, including the mysterious girl he chases across these bleak rocks.

Death Head - Palladius and Erlik, the Roman and the Northman, different as the sun and moon, yet truer friends never tread the open road. A farmer's family speaks of unexplainable killings, a local priest confesses of a tumbledown temple in the nearby swamp, and the warriors know the unconsecrated dead will return again to feast upon the helpless. With faith and torch and an almost plan, they brave the muck and mire to face creatures most malevolent.

Aviking - To sail and raid with his sea-wolves in the spring of the year, Black Erlik's thoughts of raiding are challenged only by the strength and love of a woman as fierce in spirit and rune-magic as he is at arms. Adventure calls the ring breaker and the gold giver, and away he must, under a black sail, with the tide.

King's Table - Bitter cold drives a weary Erlik to seek shelter, yet the wolf-eyed son of Efelwere quickly finds himself face to undead face with a fierce and ancient barrow-wight. The thing speaks of Erlik's renown and parentage, as the two warily circle one another in the richly appointed prison, bound by the wyrd placed upon this ancient, dead king's hall. Will the wily warrior survive the challenge placed before him, the king's table, or be overcome and take the cursed draugr's place?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Courage and Steel (Erlik's Saga Book 1)
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Ambush
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2018 09:37:23

Just when things slip beyond Tenet's control, Ambush!

Tenet, cursed with seeing The Truth of Things, meets Timothy Hammer, reporting for New Dawn magazine, 2001, Bakersfield, California. Questions arise about the Shadow People, those who have existed among us since shortly after the Fall of Man, as detailed in chapter three of Genesis, as you already may know.

Young Timothy is stunned to hear that a faction among these mysterious beings are actually seeking revenge upon him, personally, because of actions taken by his own ancient ancestors, the Sons of Hamor. Tenet draws Sicol, his silvered katana blade from Beyond, and wades into battle as prepared as he can be for such confrontation.

As they say, if things are going well, it's entirely possible you're walking into an ambush.

Fast-paced, mysterious as every Tenet's Tale has been thus far, Ambush kept me on the edge of my seat and tense for the entire story. I can't fault this story for anything other than being so short and leaving me wanting more. Definitely, and highly, recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambush
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Cold Vengeance
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2018 08:34:10

1887 Montana, swirling snow and piercing cold drive the three men on horseback as Tenet tracks alongside the rancher Israel and his local taxidermist and doctor friend, Jo. Last year the two had killed, and mounted as trophy, a wolf-like creature. Tenet knows from long experience that the thing had to be a Shunka Warakin, local name for a type of the Fallen. Jo may not think much of such "supernatural hogwash" but that doesn't stop it from existing, or being even more dangerous than Tenet's companions could fathom.

This adventure is short, a swift punch in the gut that takes your breath away, but well worth the read. If you have not yet met Tenet by way of The Truth is Out There, do yourself a favor and read that as well! Tenet himself is not a simple or easy character to get to know, but every adventure will have you rooting for him, whatever his ultimate fate may yet be. Now that I've read this second adventure, I'm on to read Ambush, third so far in the Tenet's Tales stories, hopefully with more to follow!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cold Vengeance
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The Truth Is Out There
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/20/2018 22:28:25

Reporter Matt Olsen's whole job is to write eye-grabbing stories that will satisfy readers looking for a ripping good story. All to sell as many copies as possible of that rag, The Observer. Behind the scenes, he believes the truth is out there, yet he is skeptical, and constantly searching for answers.

"Beware the Hantu, mortal." The voice from the alley a drench of ice water in the sticky-hot Singapore night.

Spine-chilling tales of the Hantu Jarang Gigi, ghostly pale ape-men. Lurid description, frenetic action and mystery abound in this gripping tale of Matt's venture into the shadowed depths of the steaming Malaysian jungle.

Hardly believing his own actions, Matt dives into the jungle in pursuit of his lost bag, brim-full with his own hand-written notebooks full of stories and secrets. Beyond that, he can only admit to himself that he couldn't leave the trail unfollowed, or the mystery unsolved. Only his iron-strong determination can save him from a fate worse than simply death.

I've already read this tale twice and enjoyed it immensely. It's fast-paced and keeps you on the edge of your seat for the whole ride. As this is the first in a series, I'll be seeking more of Tenet's Tales.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Truth Is Out There
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Dark Roots
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/16/2018 18:28:40

Through the centuries, the Reese family fight incomprehensible evil and pass their knowledge to the next generation, to continue their secret work and defend the innocent against such terrors. Three heroic stories, three different eras, and three very different encounters, though all share roots near the very gates of Hell.

AD 1611, Essex, England, and Scotsman James Reese investigates a hovel torn asunder by a nameless beast. Infuriated to find that a helpless child was taken, he meets a Moor who knows this creature of old. Twenty years he has given chase, and Penelton knows how nigh-on impossible it may be to end it's voracious killing spree. The story of The Hunters moves as fast as the chase and fighting to follow, tense with the knowledge that more than the life of a child and the soul of a man are at stake.

Shamelessly I admit my favorite tale in this volume is The Fox and the Hound, set in 1777 during the American Revolution. The Fox, a blockade-running schooner, captained by Elias Kirby. He and his loyal crew smuggle powder to aid the Continental Army against the British. Gifted with Sight, Elias secretly uses his gifts and innate savvy to navigate the Carolina coastline and evade patrols. Now Elias faces the challenge of a dangerously powerful and skilled caster aboard the Raider. This heavily gunned British sloop is the Hound determined to catch the Fox before the final battles for Independence.

Massachusetts 1925, and Eric Reese, veteran of the Great War and all too experienced with evil and death, is roused by a friend desperate for help, Andrew Firth, professor of antiquities, translator of ancient tablets and rites best left unspoken. A demon has escaped his summoner's control, committing lurid acts of violence, and suddenly The Snare of the Hunted catches us up in its bloody claws and races with wild abandon toward a crypt, and Reese's last hope to engage in supernatural battle and banish this creature to the abyss.

Included in the Kindle edition I read are stark illustrations of the monstrosities featured by Mike Munson, and highly entertaining excerpts from tales also published by Four Fools Press. I'll continue to watch for more about the fierce, fighting Reese family.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Roots
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Steel Ambition
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2018 20:45:49

This strange and mysterious tale made me feel the cold and sense that dismal time in Siberia during the reign of Tsar Nicholas II. We meet Padarovich, a disgraced and exiled Colonel, after a disastrous Japanese offensive defeated the Tsar’s forces in China. The year is 1908, the beginning of a new era, though most don’t yet realize it, though the winds of change are blowing.

Russia’s military is demoralized, there is rising unrest in the working class, and a bizarre and disastrous crash, possibly a meteor strike, has been witnessed in the small backwater known as Vanavara. Colonel Padarovich follows the trail north and discovers a technological wonder far beyond his capabilities to understand.

Who created it? Not the Tsar, surely, probably not the Chinese, but perhaps the Empire of Japan, so secretive yet possessing great technological prowess. Padarovich does not know for certain, but hopes that acquiring this colossus might change his fortune. Then he meets young Bolshevik Ioseb Jughashvili, a Georgian thinking himself Russian, enduring his third exile to Siberia, who wants only to avoid official attention.

The two men travel toward that far northern horizon. Both hope that what lays trapped in the steppe’s permafrost could possibly further the cause…of one of them. Who is this mysterious young Bolshevik and will his fortune be made by the discovery of this vast and alien technology, in the coming revolution?



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Steel Ambition
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Russian Apemen from Space
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/18/2018 17:39:33

Decades in stasis, now Russian Officer Lophyya awakens within the spaceship Null, but immediately he knows something isn't right. Alarms blare and that ever-calm computer voice isn't helping his nerves. Instinct and enhanced intelligence spur the apeman to determine where they are, what has gone wrong, if his Captain lives, and their beloved mates. Their ship, crippled, knocked off course, but their mission paramount, to defend Mother Russia, or die.

Their ship has crashed deep within the Earth's hollow core, though these genetically modified Russian Apemen don't know that yet. Lophyya succeeds in awakening his Captain Bahznt, just in time to fend off a sudden attack! Approaching the Null is a squadron of mutated Atlantean Warriors, whose mission it is to determine who these interlopers are, what threat they pose, to take their technology, and destroy them.

I can easily imagine these mighty ape-men with thick, Russian accents. The quick fighting action throws Lophyya into pure fight or flight mode. He must fight to survive, and defend his comrades and mates, above all else. Swiftly, this Russian officer, far from home and uncertain of his current footing, learns of the true terrors of the deep. Fear of the unknown will not paralyze these uncanny ape-men of Russia. Rage and blood lust meet head-on with heartless, thoughtless hatred.

Who, indeed, fires upon Mother Russia, and in response, who intrudes upon the domain of Atlantis?

This feels like the beginning of what could be an exciting serial story, released in installments the way they used to be, "...next week, when we return to the exciting adventures of..." and I'd be one happy reader to discover more of what might happen next in this standoff in the deep!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Russian Apemen from Space
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Something Under the Sea is Drooling
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/17/2018 21:14:55

I want to know more about those mighty Mindknaves and what happened with Cthulhu, just before Hal and Cobbs begin their journey across the gray, storm-tossed sea. Hal's got to hold onto his imagos, his magic, his power, any way he can, and his loyal lion-talisman, partner-pal Cobbs has to help him hold onto his cool. The doorstep of R'lyeh is no place to lose it, just as reality itself melts in mind-twisting ways. No, when everything you love is on the line, you have got to keep it together and go for it.

Sparks of humor in the face of even the most dire-seeming situations give this story all the heart and kid-like sense of wonder you could ask for, and I was charmed immediately. I found a healthy dose of Douglas Adams in the writing style, and enjoyed the creativity of description, which blended right into the action and kept the whole story vivid.

I want more of these likable, imaginative characters and their wild adventures!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Something Under the Sea is Drooling
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Prelude to Okolona
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2018 18:00:44

On the eve of another clash toward the end of the American Civil War, 1864, Confederates gather fireside. The air is thick and heavy with more than humidity as all worry they may be on the losing side, and consider recent defeats, and rampant rumors of Sherman's burning, looting, and worse. War has taken its toll on morale, and these farmers-turned militiamen are no wealthy plantation owners, but God-fearing and family-loyal, here to simply defend their own, their patch of farmland, and the right to live free.

Two men hold court and spin tales. Blustering Odell wonders aloud if they could turn the tide if only they had a stronger power on their side. His compatriot, long and lanky Cawlyer, scoffs at Odell's claims and is as chilled to the marrow as the other men, at Odell's casual mention of Mezikers, fearsome beasts bearing the likeness of Ol' Nick, or at least as close as might make most nightmares seem tame.

Cawlyer didn't have to like killing the enemy, they are merely men like himself, but he'd see this through and hold true to his deep-rooted faith, even if Odell lost his way. Their plight seems dire enough to beg the question, is God even on the side of these stalwart Southern farmers?

In the dark, wet, swamp the battle is joined. Confederates retreat among the twisted black lotus briars as the Union charge suddenly, mysteriously, goes sideways in a burst of unexpected violence. All Hell breaks loose, to the unnatural sounds of sucking mud, and then a diabolical hissing and clacking. What hope can endure in such dark places?



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prelude to Okolona
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Sketchbook of Scrivenings
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2018 17:23:42

I found inspiration in this collection. Here you will find verses both stark and honest, leaving no hiding place for useless words. Every phrase serves a purpose to the structure of the poem. Most feel adventurous or seem to speak of potential action. Sparse verse does not mean a lack of evocative vision. There is much to draw the daydreamer and celebrate he who has seen both dark nights and bright days.

From “River Song”:

“Heeded, the words of the river heal The heart and soles of many, And the tears of life its ripples steal, The spirits strengthened there are plenty.”

The author obviously enjoys using words to play and say what he is feeling. In this world of tweets and text-speak, it’s refreshing to read words so carefully arranged, sometimes humorously, often played against one another to pull from the reader a feeling, a memory, or share a vision.

From “Sunset”:

“The sun has set and settled behind the earth’s cold crust To allow his lady to grace the heavens above this sapphire ball of dust.”

To offer fair critique, I noticed in many of the poems the basic, alternate (ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, etc.) rhyme scheme. As much fun as the word choices are, I’d be very interested in seeing more varied rhyme schemes, such as can be found in his “Groundhogs and Gravediggers” on page 23, and “Leaves” on page 54, in this collection. Such experimentation could possibly produce more complicated storytelling in a longer form. I’ll definitely recommend this. There are many quotable and vivid phrases to inspire and I can see myself re-reading my favorite poems.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sketchbook of Scrivenings
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The Guestbook
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2018 17:22:13

Fast-paced, multi-faceted storytelling that punches first and doesn't wait for a reaction! Brief description suits this set of cabin-in-the-woods stories, throwing the reader directly into the action. Following the perspectives of each writer's main protagonist, the bizarre happening that swallows its hapless victims is fast-paced and makes you want more.

Each writer's style and perspective is nicely showcased and dovetails neatly alongside that of each other author. I'll be watching for more from these talented story weavers.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Guestbook
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Tides of Fate
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2018 17:20:23

There's more than meets the eye when we first meet Erlik on that lonely shore. Without delay, we are thrown into adventure, and learn what we can just as Erlik himself does. Thus the story is fast-paced and interesting, showing us as we go along for the ride, rather than weighing things down with too much description. The point is that Erlik's world is laid out for the reader as we follow him, right in the action with him.

I only wish this were longer, that I could discover more of Erlik's back story, so of course to slake that thirst, I eagerly seek more of Erlik's saga and would easily recommend this to Viking enthusiasts and readers of classic pulp adventure stories.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tides of Fate
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Weregild
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2018 17:19:03

Erlik challenged, must prove himself. As son of the war-leader, Erlik's place is not assured until he earns it, and among the Danes, only blood will tell. Another action-packed tale that does not disappoint, except that it's over so quickly and leaves you wanting more adventure! Worth reading, and re-reading. One on one battle at its best.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Weregild
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Death Head
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2018 16:48:32

No spoilers here. I thoroughly enjoyed being thrown directly into the action and learning myriad details alongside the characters. Not bogging down the reader with overly detailed description, our intrepid author nonetheless succeeds in weaving a tapestry of adventure and mystery full of vivid color.

You feel the wet heat of the fen, smell the rot of dirty straw on the floor, and see the guttering flame and black smoke from the torch, throwing its last light into the wicked, gleaming eyes of the enemy. Twists of fate abound and no one can be assumed to be safe, when unknown horrors haunt the land and attack in the dark of night.

Reading these Erlik stories continues to engage and entertain like all the best and most classic pulp adventure stories.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Death Head
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Finnegan's Wake
by Jennifer W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2018 16:46:47

What starts in a pub, between friends who’ve known each other for aeons, can end many ways. The detailed description of the pub hooked me. Drawn into the setting, of course I then want to know more about this adversarial friendship between Finn and Shaun, and from the start I know they’d be dangerous fun to listen to, over several pints. Oh, the fate of the good, the bad, and poor Mickey O’Shea.

Well-paced and a quick read, the supernatural arrives with a twinkle in its eye. I've re-read it twice and recommended it to friends. The banter between Finn and Shaun somehow reminded me of the odd friendship between Aziraphale and Crowley in Good Omens (Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman), so if you're a fan of that, this fits on that same shelf, to my way of thinking.

I only knock it down to 4 stars for two reasons. First, I wish there were more of it and second, the author keeps dropping teasing hints about past adventures and battles between Finn and Shaun. I strongly feel just a few more details of their history would flesh out both characters and lend weight to their actions. Overall, definitely a worthwhile read.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Finnegan's Wake
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