Thursday, December 28, 2006

Louise Cooper

Imagine breaking a forbidden rule and being responsible for the destruction of your people. Or, imagine living in a world where gods of order and chaos vie for supremacy. These and many other Fantasy worlds are the creations of British author Louise Cooper. Her works are filled with memorable characters, imaginative plots and complex themes. She is an author every lover of Fantasy should read. Whether part of a series or stand alone books, she leaves an impact on readers.

One of Ms. Cooper's longest series tells the story of Indigo. This character is a young woman, like Pandora, who sets demons loose in the world because of her curiosity. Her people and family are killed, and she is given immortality until she defeats all the demons she turned loose on the world. Indigo is helped by a sentient female wolf called Grimya. In each book, they travel to different parts of their world to fight one of the demons. Indigo grows with each new story. The eight books are: Nemesis, Inferno, Infanta, Nocturne, Troika, Avatar, Revenant and Aisling.

Ms. Cooper's other series books are part of her Chaos and Order world. The seven gods of Chaos and Order struggle for a delicate balance of control. The stories of the complex characters of Tarod, Cyllan, Yandros and many others unfold in two trilogies. The first consists of The Initiate, The Outcast and The Master which tell the stories of Tarod, Cyllan and Chaos restoring the balance to their world. The next trilogy is about the battle to stop a powerful Chaos demon's daughter from conquering the world. The books here are: The Deceiver, The Pretender and The Avenger. A prequel trilogy was not published in the United States except the first book called Star Ascendant.

She has written many stand alone books too. Mirage is a Dark Fantasy. It tells the complex story of the city Haven and the troubled characters locked in a final battle. Most of the other books are Young Adult Fantasies and not available in the United States. This is a shame since she is an excellent writer for any age.

Louise Cooper is a Fantasy writer of great imagination and story telling ability. She uses her interests in music, folklore, mythology and comparative religion to weave entertaining stories with difficult themes. Her books are worth seeking out and reading. More information about Louise Cooper's works can be found at

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Master of Mythic Fantasy, Robert Holdstock

Robert Holdstock is a British author of mythic fantasy. His works derive from myth and the archetypes of the unconscious. He delves the mythologies of many cultures to bring a mythic past alive in a modern day context. As a review stated: "Holdstock manages to bring back a mythic past so fresh it hasn't stopped bleeding." (Locus Magazine) ". . .both tough and subtle enough to vie with the horrors of our modern world." Mr. Holdstock has created memorable fantasies that leave a lasting impression on the readers.

In his books, he has combined elements of mythology, the occult and science to explore how the unconscious part of our minds influences human lives. He did this with the creation of his fantasy world of Ryhope Wood in the 1984 World Fantasy Award winning novel Mythago Wood.

Ryhope Wood is a small remnant of forest left over from the prehistoric past. The wood is smaller on the outside, but vast in the inside, going on forever. In this wood is where the mythagos come to life and exist. Mythagos are ancient memories and archetypes that take physical form. They are generated and manifest from the unconscious part of the human mind.

The first book defined the fantasy world of Ryhope Wood, but succeeding books deepened the exploration. Mythago Wood and Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn explore the problems of the Huxley brothers and how they are changed by the wood. Lavondyss tells the story of a young girl and her life time spent in the wood. She returns changed by her experience. In The Hollowing, we read the story of a young boy, his friends and an evil version of Gawain.

Another book, Unknown Regions, is not a Mythago book, but is different. This book is a dark ghost story about a boy with the power to bring back historical objects from the past. The family is disintegrating over the struggle to help the boy deal with his power. It is a tale of abuse and the desperation for love that a child needs.

Ancient Echoes is a book that explores how the conscious and unconscious part of the mind interact. The main character enters his own unconscious mind, where he experiences the archetypes of the collective unconscious in a border land between fantasy and reality. Part of his unconscious manifests in the real world as a threat to his daughter. Eerie overlays of the imagined world with the real one give a dark edge to this wonderful book.

Merlin's Wood is a slim novel dealing with the Arthurian story of Merlin and Nimue. The wood in this story is reminiscent of Ryhope with a haunted Broceliande of ghosts and visions that only the main characters can see. These manifestations affect the people's lives in complex, dark ways.

His most recent books are part of the series called the Merlin Codex. These books explore the mixing of Arthurian and Greek myth. Merlin is a forever young magic user that meets up with Jason and joins the Argonauts in the pursuit of the Golden Fleece. They meet again in the modern world to pursue the quest of finding Jason's lost sons. Several mythic themes are explored in the first two books of Celtika and The Iron Grail. The third book, The Broken Kings, will be published in 2007.

Robert Holdstock is an author to be read and savored. His complex, dark-edged mythic fantasies are not to be missed. Holdstock's works leaves a reader with resonances that last for a long time. I look forward to his next venture. So should you. His web site can be found at:

Friday, December 01, 2006

Review: _Magelord_ Trilogy by Thomas K. Martin

Imagine a world ruled by powerful mages. The Magelords were mages whose powers made them nearly gods. They ruled the world, enslaving other humans to their wills. Humanity survived them, but the terror they left behind lingers to the current day is this world causing persecution of anyone with magic talent. Can one man stop the terror to save his people? “MageLord” is a trilogy by Fantasy author Thomas K. Martin that tries to answer that question. The trilogy explores the themes of corrupting power and persecution. It is an exciting trilogy for readers.

Magelord: The Awakening is the first book in the trilogy. Bjorn lives in the Wastes with his father avoiding persecution and hatred of mages. He comes home one day to find men in front of his home. Prince Gavin of a nearby kingdom has asked Bjorn for help because he suspects his father’s advisor is a dreaded Magelord. Bjorn believes Valerian is not a MageLord, but a rogue mage. He travels with Gavin to the kingdom to see Valerian. His skepticism turns to fear on seeing the king’s advisor. Bjorn, Gavin and others must fight to save the kingdom while Valerian starts a clan war. This book contains plenty of action with battles, sieges and powerful magic. It is a gripping beginning to the trilogy that leads into the second book.

The second book, Magelord: A Time of Madness, tells the story of the mages trying to stop their persecution. Picking up a short time after the events in the first book, the action starts quickly. Gavin’s fear of new MageLords emerging form mages creates the Hunt. Any discovered mage is burned at the stake. First Knight Mathen leads the Hunt and is ruthless in destroying mages, even killing children. Ivanel, Gavin’s uncle, wants to set up an underground railroad to save fleeing mage families by getting them away from the persecution of the Hunt. He sends his young son Ian to set up the escape route and find Bjorn. The author continues to weave a gripping story for the middle book with plenty of action.

Magelord: The House of Bairn, the final book, finds Bjorn pursued on his trip to the far south. His people fear he has become a rogue and must try to kill him. He ends up tripping a spell that casts him into the past during the height of the MageLords and the Time of Madness. The MageLords used powerful magic and were arrogant, not caring about ordinary people. In order to fit into that time, Bjorn becomes an apprentice to the MageLord Rylur, working his way up the through the ranks. He wants to find a way to save his people in the future. The book is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.

The “MageLord” Fantasy trilogy by Thomas K. Martin is an entertaining series for readers. Interesting plots and an abundance of action keeps readers hooked from the beginning. One flaw in the books is the lack of any dynamic women characters until the last book, but they mostly remain in the background. Still, the trilogy is an entertaining, fast read for Fantasy lovers.