Hollow Road, by Dan Fitzgerald

As with all good speculative fiction, Fitzgerald has asked some hard questions about our society

I’m pleased to be participating in the Storytellers on Tour blog tour for Hollow Road, Book I of The Maer Cycle by Dan Fitzgerald.

Legends describe the Maer as savage man-beasts haunting the mountains, their bodies and faces covered with hair. Creatures of unimaginable strength, cunning, and cruelty. Bedtime stories to keep children indoors at night. Soldiers’ tales to frighten new recruits.

It is said the Maer once ruled the Silver Hills, but they have long since passed into oblivion.

This is the story of their return.

Carl, Sinnie and Finn, three companions since childhood, are tasked with bringing a friend’s body home for burial. Along the way, they find there is more to the stories than they ever imagined, and the mountains hold threats even darker than the Maer. What they discover on their journey will change the way they see the world forever.

Travel down Hollow Road to find out which legends are true, and which have been twisted.

Three friends on a journey together: what a classic start to a fantasy story! Two men: an apprentice mage and a soldier; one woman, a skilled archer. They’ve been hired (and well paid) to take the dead body of a friend back home for burial. Too well paid, in truth. Why?

Danger lies on the road home; danger that comes from legend and story: the Maer, a humanoid people reputed to be cruel, fierce fighters. But as Finn, Sinnie and Carl discover, the perceived danger from the Maer is mostly that: a perception, the result of fear and lack of communication. The Maer are as human as they are, although their appearance is different, and their culture perhaps more advanced than the three companions’ own.

Hollow Road is the first book of a trilogy. It serves as a wonderful introduction to Fitzgerald’s world, introducing the societies, the conflicts, and the main characters deftly. The three main characters are distinct personalities: conflicted Carl, who’d wanted to be a mage but had no skill; Sinnie, a woman who knows she can’t settle to the village life of her mother; Finn, the young adept who quickly will outstrip his mentors. Each has a role to play in the tentative alliance with the Maer, and each have things to learn from them.

The scale of Hollow Road appealed to me. The world is small (so far); the action takes place in a limited geography, devoid of huge armies, fortresses to storm, or vast distances to travel. Sufficient small details build the world without weighing down the story, building a believable iron-age society with some magic, but not so much that it dominates. Finn’s body magic assists the trio in their goals, but only in a way equivalent to Carl’s prowess with a sword and Sinnie’s skilled archery.

I had two small niggles with the story, neither major. One is the pacing of fighting scenes, where I felt tension could have been increased by a change in the rhythm of the narrative; the other is in some of the language in dialogue. Fitzgerald’s characters speak naturally, often using modern words in an iron-age setting, and while for the most part I didn’t find this jarring, one or two words did jump out at me as inappropriate.

As with all good speculative fiction, Fitzgerald has asked some hard questions about our society; about how we judge and fear people by their outward appearance. His characters – and readers – see that once true dialogue begins, commonalities outweigh differences. But while individuals learn this, and accept the Maer as human, will the Realm, the larger government which is only hinted at in this first book? Hollow Road ends with questions that should make the reader impatient for the next book in the trilogy, The Archive, due out December 4th. It certainly made me frustrated that I couldn’t keep reading the story immediately!  Strongly recommended for readers who like character-based fantasy with a solid plot.

Win a signed paperback copy (US only) of Hollow Road!

September 13, 2020 at 12:00am EDT to September 20, 2020 at 11:59pm EDT

Hollow Road by Dan Fitzgerald. Adult Fantasy, 243 pages, published: September 17, 2020 by Shadow Spark Publishing.

Book Links

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54801285-hollow-road

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08FDPR332

Author Information

Dan Fitzgerald is a fantasy writer living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When he is not writing, he might be gardening, doing yoga, cooking, or listening to French music.

Find out more about Dan and his books at www.danfitzwrites.com, or find him on Twitter or Instagram, with the handle danfitzwrites in both places.

Author Links

Website: http://www.danfitzwrites.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DanFitzWrites

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danfitzwrites/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/danfitzwrites

An Interview with Aaron Hodges, Author of Soul Blade

Soul Blade has just been released on Amazon to consistent 5 star reviews.

Today I’m talking to Aaron Hodges, author of the The Sword of Light trilogy.  The third author-picturebook, Soul Blade, has just been released on Amazon to consistent 5 star reviews.

Aaron, where are you from and what do you do outside of writing?

Sure thing! Well, the first thing you should know about me is that I’m from New Zealand. And yes, I like The Lord of the Rings ;-). I am an Environmental Scientist by profession, but gave that up a few years back to see the world – an Overseas Experience (OE) as we call it in New Zealand. And, well, since then I haven’t really looked back. I’ve travelled through SE Asia, lived in Canada, backpacked down the west coast of the USA, bused through Mexico, Central and South America, and I am currently living in Argentina.

As for my writing, that came about almost completely by accident. During my travels, I started rewriting a story I’d written for an old High School project. I finally completed and published it back in December 2015, and to my surprise, it took off. Since then I’ve been working on book 2 and 3 while continuing my adventures around the world!

Where did you get the inspiration for your first series?

My first series is The Sword of Light Trilogy, and I think it draws on a lot of my own experiences throughout life. At its heart, my first trilogy is about standing against darkness whatever the odds – and those odds are pretty bad for my poor characters. In the words of one of my reviewers: “Toughest. Baddies. Ever.” In my own life I have faced a few challenges, including the loss of my father when I was 13, and those challenges have definitely added to my works.

Tell me about your process for writing a book?

My books actually developed in waves. As I mentioned, The Sword of Light Trilogy first began way back in High School, which was over ten years ago for me… But in the ten years since then, I’ve revisited the story several times, rewriting it over and over again. In each of those rewrites, more aspects of the plot came into light, and it slowly grew and developed into something quite substantial over the years. Questions like ‘where did the God of Light go?’ are actually answered now, in this third book, Soul Blade, rather than being a mystery that is never resolved.

Who is the bad guy in your books?

My primary antagonist, Archon, first seems a reflection of the classic epic fantasy villain. For example, Sauron in The Lord of the Rings. All powerful, completely evil, etc. But personally, for much of the story I think of Archon more as death himself – inevitable, a shadow hanging over all the characters. He is a dark power influencing things around them, always threatening, but never quite there. Not until the final book anyway – Soul Blade finally brings him to the forefront, and reveals the truth about his character.

What book are you reading right now?

I am currently reading ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed. Not my usual kind of book, but I picked it up in a hostel and have been slowly making my way through it. It’s an interesting read, although I must admit a few of Cheryl’s mistakes on the trail make me wince inside. As a traveller, the idea of carrying a backpack I can’t even pick up horrifies me. My pack is now a tiny 38L, and I plan on downsizing again the next time I’m home!

Who is your favourite author?

I actually have two: David Gemmell and Ian Irvine. David because of his characters. It’s a very rare thing that a writer can make me cry with his story, but the characters in David’s novel are just so real, so vivid, I can’t help but cry every time I read Druss the Legend.

As for Ian Irvine, I love his worlds. His Three Worlds books are absolutely amazing. He actually spent 20 years developing them before he began to write – he even created a map the size of a door to show just one of his three worlds. And that’s just the geography. There’s also a detailed history, magic system, and four races of human. It all makes for an incredibly rich story.

Now the Sword of Light trilogy is done, what are you working on next?

After taking a breather, I will be starting a new series. This time, I’m hoping to write a Science Fiction thriller focused around genetic engineering. It will focus on a group of young men and woman who awake to find themselves trapped in a prison. They remember nothing of a world outside or a prior life, but it won’t take long for them to find out their future is not looking too bright.

How can readers get in touch with you?

Readers can find me at www.aaronhodges.co.nz, or email me at author@aaronhodges.co.nz.

I now have three books on Amazon. The first book, Stormwielder, is now only 99c and can be found using this link.

Thanks, Aaron.  Best of luck with Soul Blade!

 

Soul Blade, by Aaron Hodges: A Blog Tour Post

Soul Blade is out today and is available for a limited time for $0.99 from Amazon.

I’m pleased to be participating in the blog tour of Aaron Hodges, promoting his newest book.  Aaron is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestselling novel Stormwielder, book 1 of the Sword of Light trilogy. It’s a Sword and Sorcery novel about a young man with an uncontrollable power over the weather. The trilogy follows his adventures as he learns to master his magic, while encountering your standard fare of magic wielders, dragons and Gods. Soul Blade, the third book of the trilogy, is out today and is available for a limited time for $0.99 from Amazon.

Soul Blade (The Sword of Light Trilogy #3)

soul-blade-2

 

The Three Nations are crumbling.

Darkness is gathering.

And only one remains to stand against it.

 

Eric stumbles through the wilderness, searching, hunting – desperate for sign of his sister. But the girl is gone, stolen away by the power of the Soul Blade. With each passing hour its hold on her tightens, her spirit fading before the onslaught of its magic. If he cannot save her soon, it will claim her soul. And he will have to kill her.

Meanwhile, Gabriel is lost in the darkness. It is his whole world now, its presence absolute, suffocating. Time, hope, sanity, all have long since slipped beneath the waves of his despair. Only it remains – the unrelenting voice of the demon. It haunts the darkness, mocking him with false promises of freedom.

How long can he resist its call?

 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32614241-soul-blade

Look for an author interview with Aaron Hodges on this site later this week!