Saturday, December 21, 2013

Book review: Aielund Saga, books 3 & 4

The Aielund Saga

The Aielund Saga is a series of books written by author and artist Stephen Nowland.  I first learned of him through a computer game called Neverwinter Nights.  It has a toolset that allows us to tell our stories through game modules using their game engine.  The Aielund Saga is a high-rated, award winning series of modules made by Stephen.  He's turned them into books that are even better.

You can find the module that includes the story for both of these books here: NWN Module

My reviews of the first two books are here: Book Review: Books 1 & 2 of the Aielund Saga

One of my favorite things about these books is that the author paints his covers.  Beautiful artistry. :)

Book 3, Ruins of Legend

Aspiring adventurers Aiden Wainwright and Pacian Savidge are tasked with tracking down an obscure relic, said to be capable of banishing the Kingdom's greatest enemy once and for all. But the two friends are at odds over Pacian's dire actions and their comrades are forced to choose sides as they scour the land for the lost artefact.

Along with their companions, both young men face challenges of such magnitude that the existence of entire cities are threatened. Only their valour and determination will see them through as they uncover ancient evils determined to assail their every move.
You can get it at Amazon
Or Smashwords


Lots of adventure in this one.  The adventures split into two and the author does an excellent job of making you want to know what's happening in one thread while he switches to another.  As a result, you have to read quickly to get back to it!  Then you want to get back to the other thread.

One of the author's strengths is in making the characters seem real.  Aiden is a jack of all trades sort of character who the reader wants to succeed.  Pacian is a definite anti-hero, but the reader wants him to do the dirty work and enjoys it when he does.  The supporting characters all have distinct and enjoyable personalities.

Quests lead them in separate directions in an attempt to find an artifact to save the kingdom.  The locations they travel to are easy to imagine without being over-described.  Enemies and other characters they meet along the way are just as colorful and diverse as the primary characters.

Surprising events lead to an unexpected conclusion to this story and more questions to be answered in the next.  The characters must find new resolve against despair and danger.  It sets up the next one excellently.

As with the other books, the dialogue has humor scattered throughout, the battle scenes are vivid and intense.  If you enjoy rousing, epic adventures, this is an excellent series for you.

Book 4, Legacies of Fire and Steel

With Fairloch safe from the villains who sought to wrest power from the royal family, the resources of the city are diverted to a last-ditch effort to find a way to stop their implacable foe. Slow progress toward a solution is being made, until the immortal engine of destruction prematurely breaks free of its century-old prison and embarks upon a single-minded quest for domination of the land.

With the countryside awash with deserters and brigands fleeing the onslaught, Aiden Wainwright and his companions must face down old enemies and forge new alliances to aid the beleaguered country in the impending clash against their relentless enemy. But before they confront it, Aiden must learn the answer to a question of singular importance: How do you kill that which cannot be killed?            

You can get it at Amazon
or Smashwords


"Legacies of Fire and Steel" is the culmination of the events in the first three books.  The world is on the brink of destruction from an indomitable enemy that has no human emotion or mercy for fate of others.  Aiden and Pacian are back together, along with newcomers while others have left, some in tragic circumstances.  New characters fill the vacancies nicely along with the core.  A few from books past also make appearances.

Dark happenings have had difficult effects on the characters.  Past events weigh heavily on some members while others have become stronger in spite of them.  The author weaves the different threads of each individual with a deftness that Fate would envy.

Moral dilemmas and the quandaries of what is right and what is wrong are considered and argued by the characters.  This is one of my favorite things to do as a writer.  I like having characters discuss issues and their feelings about it, even argue about it.  It's an excellent way at looking at problems.  I've learned a great deal from writing such things, and throughout my life by reading such things.  I find a good book to be one that makes you a little smarter just by reading it.

These conflicts could very well doom the mission and the very fate of the world.  Various entities our heroes meet along the way have their own agendas and goals to follow that prevent the quest from carrying on.

Then of course there are dragons, sandstorms, barbarians, armies, giant bad guys without weaknesses, priests, criminals and countless others who would like to interfere with the saving of the world.

Do they save the world?  Hmmmm . . . With Stephen's books you never know . . .

About the Author

I am often astonished by the sheer amount of ideas that go through my head. I have tasked myself to grab hold of as many as I can, weave them into stories, shaping them to my will, and like, writing them down, because people can't read thoughts.

I spent over fifteen years dealing with poor health, including chronic fatigue syndrome (a symptom of other stuff, but annoying nonetheless) which gave me ample time for thinking, but slowed me down in the way of actually writing.

My first novel was actually done back in aught three, but I didn't care for that sort of thing at the time, so I scrapped it and started writing a new story for Neverwinter Nights, that RPG video game thing you may or may not have heard of.

The story was so successful (filled with rich, creamy character development) that I lamented that only people playing the game would ever see it. In 2009, with my health improving, I resolved to novelize the stories I'd written, in addition to developing the world in which they exist, for fun and profit.

Thus was my first novel conceived, and lo, it was published online, for the enjoyment of all! The saga will be five books in total, with another 4-5 books after that as a second saga that's in the pipeline.

Oh, I also paint. Expect to see more cover art with each title, probably becoming more technically sophisticated each time.


I have decided to review books that I enjoy. I am an avid reader of fantasy, so most of them will be in that genre. I'm not taking any requests, just reading what catches my eyes. You'll find that most of these are from Indie Authors. The way I figure it, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, Alan Dean Foster and Piers Anthony (my favorite authors) already have enough reviews, but Indies could always use a few more.

It is important to note here that while I am a writer, I am doing these reviews as a reader. I also know a number of the authors I will be reviewing. This is not an exchange of reviews, nor have I been solicited by those authors to write the review.  If I don't like a book, I won't review it.

All my best,

John H. Carroll

Sunday, November 24, 2013

3 years published. Thank you.

November 24th, 2010,

Three years ago today, is when I self-published my first book, Rojuun.  I've now written a million words in 24 unique stories, sold 10,000 total books, met many wonderful fans, hugged countless emo bunnies and made awesome friends along the way.

Thank you all so very much for your support.  I hope to provide you with many more stories that make you smile, laugh, cry, and care about fictional characters more than is healthy.

Pow the Panda

And to celebrate 3 years, I am releasing my 24th story, "Pow the Panda and the Rainbow Dragon" 

All my best,

John H. Carroll

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Amazon Ebook Returns, AKA Piracy Enabling


This is more of a rant than an article.  It's about online piracy and theft of artistic work.

I'm a writer.  I write books and try to sell them.  My books sell better than many authors, but not near as well as others.  I guess you could say I'm a low-end midlister.  I work hard to write more and I market to get people interested in my books.

Since I primarily sell my books as ebooks, it's very easy to steal them.  I understand this and accept that all of my works have been put on pirate and torrent sites.  It's simply a fact of life.  But there are times when the theft is so blatant and obvious that it upsets me.

The reason for the rant.

Amazon's return policy is great for customers.  I'm okay with it sometimes as a writer.  But when someone goes in and buys every book in the Ryallon series and then returns them all at once, it really does make me angry. :(

My book sales for November. "Units Refunded" are the returns. You can see that each of my books of Ryallon has been returned.  Those showed up in the last hour.

Writing is hard work.  I spend countless hours writing, editing and formatting hundreds of thousands of words.  I work full time at it in  addition to working full time to support my family.

There's not much I can do about this other than protest it publicly and to tell Amazon it's wrong.

I give books away for free so people can see if they like my writing.  The books after that are a reasonable price.  Those returns in the chart above aren't from someone who didn't like my writing.  They're from someone who wanted to copy the books and either keep them for themselves, sell them to others, or download them to torrent sites.

I'm angry with Amazon

I accept the thief for a thief.  I have a problem with Amazon being an enabler.  Amazon has everything on their site categorized in countless ways.  It's just as obvious to them as it is to me that someone bought my series of books and returned them, yet they allow it.

I get it.  Amazon puts the customers first and has become Goliath by doing so.  The companies, or struggling individual artists in this case, are simply a tool to accomplish their hunger to become the biggest.  It's a brilliant policy and along the way, they've truly been instrumental in changing the face of publishing.  I've been very fortunate to benefit from this, but I have no illusion any of it was done for my benefit or the benefit of self-published authors like me.

The end result

I'm still going to keep writing books.  I love it and I'm fairly decent at it.  There's not much I can do about piracy other than continue to point out on occasion that it's wrong.  Amazon enabling it in such a way is also wrong, but there's not much I can do about that either.

So that's about it.  I shall take deep breaths and get back to writing the next story.  There's a joy in weaving tales that no pirate or big company will ever be able to take from me.  Even if they someday come and take my computer, my eyes, my fingers and my tongue, the stories will reside in my soul.

So, naner naner.

All my best,

John H. Carroll.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ebook pricing $3.99 vs. $4.99


This is pricing for novels.  I'm pretty firm at $2.99 for novellas and collections, and $.99 for short stories.  I've seen no reason to alter those prices.  Also, these are Epic Fantasy novels, other genres may have different results.  In addition, bookstores like Amazon change their algorithms more often than Jeff Bezos changes his underwear, so this information may be wrong before I even write it.

The Pricing Dilemma

Big publishers have people to figure out how much to charge for books.  They have tons of statistics and expense ledgers that tell them how much to charge.  The author usually gets paid the least out of that, of course. ;)

As an Indie Author, I have to figure all that out myself using the information given by other Indie Authors, companies that share any information, my own sales data, and sheer guesswork.   Out of those, sheer guesswork has been my primary strategy.

My Pricing Schemes So Far

When I first published Rojuun 3 years ago, I priced it at $4.99.  I thought it was a good price.  Half of what Traditionally published books went for, but a fair price for the work I put into it.  At the time, I hadn't researched what others were doing and were astonished to discover that $2.99 was the preferred pricing.  I lowered the price to $2.99 for a while, then went to $3.99.  Once I had a couple more books, I made Rojuun permafree to drum up interest for the sequels.  That's been my most effective sales strategy overall.

However, I've always struggle with whether to charge $3.99 or $4.99 for the sequels.  (My readers prefer $3.99, I'm sure. lol)  I've gone back and forth, testing.  I'd finally decided on $4.99.  Recently though, I came across a Smashwords post about $3.99 being the sweet spot for books.  In it, Mark Coker states:

"One surprising finding is that, on average, $3.99 books sold more units than $2.99 books, and more units than any other price except FREE.  I didn't expect this.  Although the general pattern holds that lower priced books tend to sell more units than higher priced books, $3.99 was the rule-breaker.  According to our Yield Graph, $3.99 earned authors total income that was 55% above the average compared to all price points."

So I changed my pricing to $3.99 for the second time in the last couple of years.

The Results

Both times I lowered the price, my sales remained level.  There simply hasn't been a quantifiable increase.  Keep in mind that when I lower the price, I make 50-80 cents less per sale.  So instead of making more money, I'm making less money.

At this point, I'd like to point out that I'm not trying to become rich (though I wouldn't turn it down), I'm trying to make a living off my writing and support my family.  If I can do that, then I can write every day and produce more stories for you to enjoy!

There was one other thing I was testing when I did this: the effect on a new release.  You see, when I released Wyvern, the book hit Amazon's hot new releases list and the sales did extremely well.   That was at $4.99.  It hit the list a couple of weeks after release, about when I reached 30 sales.  Books can only be on that list for 2 months.  The sales took a dive after that.

When I released the next novel, Liselle, the price was $3.99.  It reached 30 sales in the first week, however, it didn't hit the new release list. About 6 weeks after release, I changed the prices back to $4.99.  One week after that, Liselle went on the hot new releases list and sales spiked . . . for the 3 days it had before the 2 month time limit ran out. *sigh*  Oh, and I still had the sales dive after it went of the list. *doublesigh*

Now keep in mind I don't have any inside information as to how Amazon does things.  I'm basing all of these results on my own interpretation of my sales.

My Decision

I've decided to keep my novels priced at $4.99.  I believe this is a fair price for both me as the writer and for my readers.  I believe it maximizes quantity of sales along with profit.  The first books of the series are free, so readers can see whether or not they like my writing.  If they do, then they have an idea of what they're getting when they pay the $4.99.

I'm sharing this information primarily for other writers in the hopes that it will help them with their decisions, but I like to let my readers know my reasoning for the decisions I make too.

All my best,

John H. Carroll

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chapter 3 of "Liquid" - Book 2 of the Wyvern Trilogy - John H. Carroll

This is the third chapter of "Liquid", Book 2 of the Wyvern Trilogy.  It's an introduction to a young man named Jolen and an artifact of great power and importance to the Blue Wyvern Mercenary Group.  Please note that this is a first draft.

Copyright 2013 John H. Carroll/Rachael Schiller - All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 3

A firm knock at the door startled Jolen from his reading.  He jumped up, set his book, The Study of Atypical Magical Gestures, upside down over the arm of his favorite cushioned chair and rubbed his tired eyes.  After a moment of wondering what he was supposed to be doing, another knock sounded on the door.  Jolen realized who it probably was and hollered up the stairs.  “Father, I think the Blue Wyverns are here.”

The elderly wizard’s words spilled down the stairs in their typical rush.  “I’ll be down shortly.  Entertain them.”  Professor Klunjun did everything quick and efficiently unlike his son who believed life should be sauntered through in as casual a manner as possible.

Jolen scratched his chin through his untrimmed beard and surveyed the large main-level room of the tower that he was supposed to be cleaning that morning.  Books magical and mundane were scattered around worn furniture in the living area.  He hadn’t put them away because all the bookshelves were already full along with a few stacks sitting on crates.  Dust covered the fireplace mantel, the unlit lanterns and drifted in the light that filtered through filthy windows.  Nearly every dish in the kitchen along the far, rounded wall was dirty and stacked just as haphazardly as the books.

He ran long fingers through greasy brown hair and mumbled a half-hearted curse upon hitting a snag.  It was Jolen’s job as his father’s apprentice to clean the tower, but he had no desire to do so.  Professor Klunjun had eventually decided not to come down to the main level until Jolen couldn’t stand living in the mess and got around to taking care of it.  That was a year ago.  The situation had devolved into a battle of wills.

Pounding on the door startled Jolen once more.  Looking down, he remembered that he had forgotten to change into his good robe, though it was nearly as dirty as the once-orange garb he wore now.  For the umpteenth time, he mumbled that his father should have put a self-cleaning enchantment within the runes that dotted the garment.

The hammering at the door had a metallic tone to it as though someone was using the hilt of a sword to knock.  Jolen ambled over to answer, not willing to take the chance that they might use the pointy end of the sword to knock next.

Heat and city noise burst through as he swung the door open.  Jolen squinted as he peered at four figures standing under the awning that protected them from the late morning sun.  A few people made their way along the cramped street beyond, paying no attention to the squat tower at the end of a poor orphanage.

Irritation showed narrow face of the officer who held the hilt of her sword up as though to pound on the door once more.  She lowered the weapon slowly as though debating whether to put it away or use it on the young man in front of her.  Green eyes with a heavy dose of brown looked Jolen up and down in clear disgust at his disheveled state.  Her harsh voice knocked Jolen back a step with its intensity.  “I am Captain Emaate, White Talon Company, Blue Wyverns.  This is Lieutenant Koanee, Sergeant Donda and Practitioner Melise.  I was told this is where Professor Klunjun resides.”

“Yeah, this is it,” Jolen admitted.  He didn’t like dealing with people and the Blue Wyverns didn’t strike him as friendly company.  “Come on in.”  He left the door open and gestured carelessly for them to enter behind him.

Captain Emaate marched into the room and halted before running into the dawdling wizard.  Lieutenant Koanee was a whip of a woman with her hand unconsciously hovering near a thin sword at her hip, Sergeant Donda was a burly woman with fist meaty enough to make a man proud.  Behind them was Practitioner Melise in a blue wizard’s robes and cowl.  She held a multi-crystal topped staff in her hand that bespoke of power and experience.  Jolen could tell by the palpable aura surrounding her that she was not to be messed with, certainly not by an apprentice like him.  Even his father would hesitate to challenge her, though he wasn’t the sort to engage in wizard’s duels.  The four surveyed the messy room with obvious distaste.

Jolen started to clean a stack of books off the couch, but thought better of it when realizing that it would take a long time to clear off enough for anyone to sit.  He would probably work up a sweat doing so.
The officer’s eyebrow raised expectantly when he turned to face her.

He gestured at the couch.  “There’s really nowhere to put any of the books.  You can just stand I guess.”  Jolen headed to the kitchen to see if there was anything for him to eat.  In doing so, he missed the captain being restrained by her soldiers when she attempted to lunge at him.

“It’s not worth it, Captain,” one of them said.

Jolen turned.  “Hmm?”

Fierce eyes bulged from the captain’s ruddy face as the woman struggled against the hold of the others.  If the burly soldier hadn’t been so strong, the captain might have broken free.

Jolen noticed that the pinkie on the captain’s left hand was only a scarred stub.  He wondered what had happened to it.  It occurred to him that if he wanted to ask, he should at least attempt a bit of courtesy.  “Would you like something to drink?”

Captain Emaate relaxed and tugged on the bottom of her tunic to straighten it while the other two let her go.  They stayed ready just to be on the safe side though.  “What do you have?”  She glanced dubiously at the kitchen.

Jolen frowned.  “Nothing really.  I usually just have water.  It’s not very good though.”

The sergeant grabbed Captain Emaate’s arm even though the captain hadn’t lunged again.  She let go when the captain slowly turned a glare on her.

“Captain Emaate . . . I’ve heard your name before.”  Jolen tapped his chin in thought.  “A bard friend of mine told me that you saved your company by riding up the gangplank of a beached pirate ship and beheading the captain with a single blow.  He said it was an incredible act of bravery.” 

Captain Leacy took a deep breath and recollected herself.  “I have found that bravery is one of two things.  Either you do what you have to even at great danger to yourself, or you do what you do something without realizing how stupid and perilous it is.”

“Which one fits you?”  Jolen asked.

Lieutenant Koanee answered for the Captain.  “I’ve known her to be guilty of both on more than one occasion.  We’d like to speak with the professor now.”

“Here I am.”  Jolen’s diminutive white-haired father jogged down the steps, still spry with wiry muscles lining his short frame from underneath a short-sleeved shirt and vest.  Unlike nearly every other wizard in the world of Ryallon, Professor Klunjun forwent traditional robes for comfortable pants and sturdy clothing.  He wore a bejeweled set of golden necklace, earrings, eyebrow piercings, nose piercings, bracelets, rings and a belt that held the protections and amplifiers commonly found in wizard’s robes like Jolen’s and Practitioner Melise’s.

Covering the professor’s aged skin were a slew of runic tattoos that also amplified his abilities.  They lined his face, traveling down his neck and arms and over the rest of his body, though most was covered by the clothes.  Tattoos were popular among people in the Kingdom of Swelth, but few people realized the exact nature of the professor’s ink.

In his arms was a silver-banded maple chest that he carried with surprising ease.  He strode forward with it.  “Captain Emaate, I presume?”

The captain, clearly grateful to be done with Jolen, stepped toward him.  “Yes, we haven’t had the fortune of meeting, but it’s an honor to meet a man of such accomplishments.”

“Hardly an honor, Captain,” Professor Klunjun said deprecatingly.  “For all my accomplishments, I can’t even get my own son to clean up after himself.”  He gestured at the filthy room.  “If I’d been smart, I would have traded him in for one of the orphans.  At least they appreciate having a clean place to live.”

Jolen gritted and smiled, but didn’t let his feelings show.  His father always gave the expected speech on the rare occasions they had company.

The professor looked for a place to set the chest.  Seeing that there wasn’t a clear table or chair, he grunted and set the chest on the floor.  “Well there is the Liquid Wyvern.  Your company wizard should have the enchantment to unlock the chest.  If she doesn’t, you won’t be leaving here alive.”  The threat was made without malice, but there was no doubting the sincerity of it.

Practitioner Melise had to push through the soldiers in the cramped space to get to the chest.  Her voice spun through the air like whispering silk.  “Liquid Wyverns are too vital to risk and death is appropriate for any who would try to steal it through force or trickery.  I know the enchantment.”

The professor gestured for her to proceed.  Jolen took a few steps back and mentally planned his escape route should he even suspect that the practitioner did it wrong.  He didn’t know the enchantment, his father wouldn’t trust him with such important things, but he did have a sense for when spells were going wrong.

Words of power slid from the practitioner’s mouth.  Mystical breezes of magic that accompanied all spells swirled around her, rustling her robes and strands of hair that slipped loose of the cowl.  The oddity of the wind was that it only affected the caster.  Jolen had read numerous books on the effect, most in disagreement with the others.

Runes along the silver bindings of the wooden chest glowed amber and moved around each other in an intricate dance until the latch clicked and the lid slowly opened of its own volition.

Jolen joined the soldiers leaning forward in anticipation.  The head of the Liquid Wyvern peered above the chest, seeming to look back at its audience.  The silver-scaled liquid alloy that gave the statue its substance glimmered in the dim light of the room as gentle waves ebbed along its body.  The sapphire eyes glowed with an even brighter light.  Jolen knew better, but found himself staring deeply into the raw power of those sapphires.  After a moment, he shook off the sensation and noticed that only Professor Klunjun was unaffected by the dazzling artifact. 

The professor tapped the lid.  It closed as slowly as it had opened and then the runes moved along the silver bands to their original positions before disappearing.  “It is very easy to become soul lost in one of these, especially one that hasn’t received its final tuning.  You’ll be safe from it as long as the lid is closed.

Jolen knew that magical traps had also been set all over the chest.  No one would be able to steal it from a full company of Blue Wyverns, but even if they did, they would pay in the opening of it.

Captain Emaate and her companions breathed, not realizing that they had stopped for a moment while enraptured.  Rueful expressions crossed their features and they chuckled in the process of regaining their composure.  “That’s easily one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my life,” Sergeant Donda proclaimed.

Practitioner Melise rubbed her face with both hands.  “I’ve been working with them for years now, but never has one taken my senses from me like that.”

“I tried some new techniques,” Professor Klunjun said.  “But the fact that it hasn’t been tuned contributes to the rapture it creates.  Tuning it to the other Liquid Wyverns and giving it a home will make it so that it can be looked at for a short while without that effect.”

Practitioner Melise knelt before the chest and grabbed the handles on each end.  “Until we can do that, it’ll be locked securely in this chest.”  She grunted as she tried to lift it, but it only came an inch off the ground before falling back with a thud.

Professor Klunjun laughed.  “Thought it would be light just because a short old man carried it, did you?   Ha!  I’ll leave you to it.  Hopefully you’ll find your way out of this mess of a room, because I hardly believe my son will remember to let you out any more than he remembered to feed his bird.”  The professor pointed at a cage near the cold fireplace and then headed up the stairs back to his lab.

Jolen clenched his fists in irritation.  His father was always quick to point out Jolen’s shortcomings.

Lieutenant Koanee maneuvered her way through stacks of books topped by dirty dishes to the cage.  “By the gods!  The poor creature is still at the bottom of the cage!”  She spun on a heel to face Jolen with an expression that was both outrage and dismay.

“I thought for sure that I had emptied the cage.”  Jolen rubbed his chin in thought.  A rumble in his stomach interrupted the thought and he wondered whether or not he had eaten breakfast that morning . . . or dinner the night before.

“It’s half skeleton, half zombie,” the lieutenant proclaimed, looking at the cage again.  She shook her head and moved away, her face decidedly green.  “Get the chest Sergeant and let’s get out of here now!”

The sergeant squatted next to the chest and grabbed the handles.  She tried to make it look as effortless as Professor Klunjun had, but there was obvious strain in her neck muscles as she lifted.

The four Wyverns left Jolen with varying looks of contempt and disgust.  Captain Emaate stopped at the door, shot him a glare of accusation and slammed it shut behind her.

He briefly considered whether to be offended or possibly ashamed, but another rumble from his stomach interrupted him.  The plates nearby were all dirty, but one wasn’t too bad.  He rubbed it off with his sleeve and set it down on a pile of books.

The sleeves of Jolen’s robe slid down his arms as he raised them and flexed his fingers to cast his favorite type of spell.  A grin of anticipation lit his face as guttural noises erupted from his throat and his body began to sway with hypnotic motions.

Jolen was using Throuala Magic learned from exotic books rather than the dull teachings of his father.  It was primal magic created by primitive people, perpetuated by reclusive tribes and written about by the most adventurous of scholars.  The three books he had were extraordinarily rare and they were one of the few things he took care of properly.

A whistling sound rose above the deep notes, manipulated by the curvature of his tongue.  Supernatural winds had little effect on his matted hair, but they tugged at the hems of his robe.  The magic gave him physical pleasure as it came from his body instead of the environment.

With a thrust of clawed hands and a shout that came from his gut, he completed the spell.  A juicy, cooked steak as thick as any of the books in the room appeared on the plate.  Next to it was a glob of steaming mashed tubers and rich gravy.

Creating food was a specialty few wizards engaged in because there was little profit and often the meals would disappear before they could be fully enjoyed.  In worst case scenarios, the nourishment would even disappear after the food was consumed leaving the eater hungrier than before.  Another issue was that casting magic took extraordinary amounts of energy and required substantial amounts of food and rest after being cast.  Thus, wasting that magic creating food became a waste of time, as few wizards were efficient enough to create enough to balance the craving.

The primal magic Jolen cast didn’t have the same effect though it came from the body.  For some reason, casting the spells never left him tired or hungry, at least not any hungrier than he was naturally.

As he cut into the steak with a mildly dirty knife and fork he found lying around, Jolen assessed his condition.  There was no weakness within him.  In fact, he felt stronger having cast the spell.  Another advantage was that he didn’t have to exercise like his father and other wizards.  Magic did so much damage to a body that any wizard who cast it had to work hard to maintain their health, requiring food, rest and exercise.  Professor Klunjun dedicated hours to his fitness between research and castings.

Most wizards found a balance between casting magic and becoming more powerful while avoiding the casting and preventing burnout.  It was a delicate dance and those who mastered it became wizened archmages.

Jolen had grown tired of the cleaning and chores that came with slowly learning the craft of wizardry in the first year of his apprenticeship with his father, a fact that still upset his father to this day.  Instead, he voraciously read books trying to learn secrets that would make him powerful without putting in the work.

It had been two years ago when he found the books on Throuala Magic.  They were fascinating to Jolen as he voraciously read them over and over and began trying the techniques within.

Jolen had kept the knowledge from his father, but Professor Klunjun had finally discovered him practicing one day.  Of course, the professor had forbidden Jolen to have anything to do with the barbaric art, but that would never stop the younger man from feeding his desire.  Jolen did what he wanted, when he wanted, and damn the consequences.

Eventually Jolen’s father just gave up on trying to have any influence other than the occasional barb or nasty word.  Any other child might have felt abandonment, but Jolen was happy to be left alone.

He finished the last of his steak and potatoes.  A sleeve across his mouth wiped away some of the gravy and juice that had dribbled past his lips into his beard.  The plate should be cleaned, so he took it towards the kitchen, but along the way he remembered that he had started that morning searching for a book he had once seen on how the body channeled magic through different parts of the body.  Jolen was sure that Throuala Magic originated in the gut rather than traveling through bones, blood and nerves like most types of magic.  Why that would affect things differently was beyond him, but he was hoping the book would hold answers.  He set the plate down and headed toward a stack of books near the fireplace.

After a good twenty minutes of surprisingly single-minded searching, he wiped off the cover of The Origination of Power from Areas of the Body.  “Aha!  I’ve found you and I shall read you mercilessly.”

A colossal boom, as though the world of Ryallon was gulping, erupted from outside.  Everything in the room, including Jolen and the decaying bird in its cage was propelled a foot into the air before being slammed down to the ground.

If the living room of Professor Klunjun’s tower had been messy before, it was an outright disaster after explosion.  Jolen scrambled to his feet and looked around, trying to understand what could have happened.  His father didn’t make mistakes outside of having Jolen as a son, so it couldn’t be a spell gone wrong.  Agitated dust floated through the air, upset at having its peace disturbed after years of being allowed to accumulate.

Screams and shouts filtered in from the orphanage and the city outside.  Jolen scrambled over the books that had fallen out of their stacks to flow into an ocean of pages that blocked the way.

A though occurred to him that he should check on his father.  It was shoved out of the way by the thought that he didn’t know where The Origination of Power from Areas of the Body had fallen.  That disturbed him, but not enough to stop him from pulling the door open enough to get through.

The shouts were louder outside.  Across the street, the baker’s shop had collapsed.  The baker, blood flowing from cuts in his scalp and his arm cradled at his side, was scrambling over stones screaming the names of his wife and children.

Smoke rose above the conical rooftops to the left.  Jolen shut the door and ran at full speed in that direction.  He didn’t hear the baker’s shout of despair upon finding the lifeless arm of his wife, nor did he hear the countless other pleas for help as he followed his curiosity along the rubble-strewn cobble.


I hope you enjoyed the sample.  "Wyvern" Book 1 of the Wyvern Trilogy can be found at Smashwords and other stores.

All my best,

John H. Carroll

Monday, October 28, 2013

Destroying a character you've never met.


That's right.  I'm destroying a character you've never met.  This means she will never be in any of my books.  She's hitting the Grey Void.


Because I'm a jerk of course!  Actually, the real reason is that I've been stuck and unable to figure out why. I finally realized this character is the reason.  I created her over a decade ago before writing "Rojuun".  At the time, the world of Ryallon had elves, dwarves, tollomes (half gnome, half halfling) and other D&D style races.   Those races disappeared when I sat down to write "Rojuun" and make it primarily human.  That's changed to, but that's a different story.

So in this book, I planned on bringing the character Jenna into play.  She's half human and half elven.  The original concept for elves was that they would have opal eyes, be tall and skinny.  She also ended up with purple hair and purple striations in her eyes.  Her favored magic was purple too . . . Fans of the Willden Trilogy may recognize those traits. ;)

Again, why?

All of my leads in the Dralin and Wyvern Trilogies are female for one.  And this character would just be Ebudae light.  She's also commonly unique.  By that, I mean that most characters in fantasy, mine included, have traits that make them special and different from everyone else.  Jenna has them in spades.

What traits?

1. She's beautiful
2. She has purple hair
3. She is an exceptionally powerful mage
4. She's super smart.
5. She's loyal
6. She's super good
7. She's an orphan
8. She has super awesome magical clothing and jewelry.
9. She's too D&D.

Why is she all these things?

Well, I was playing D&D at the time and I specialized in writing character bios.  It's a lot of fun to do.  So I wrote a character bio for all my main characters (Including Pelya.  Remind me to show you that one some day)  

What's wrong with perfect characters?

Lots, really.  There are all kinds of articles on it that I've read now.  Most of them are irritating.  But suffice to say, characters should be relatable to a greater or lesser degree.  Perfect characters are annoying.  Liselle is the most perfect character I've written so far and I've gotten a few bad reviews specifically about her.  I've corrected that in certain ways with the latest book about her.

So this character is perfect?

Close enough.  She's also too much like Liselle, Ebudae and Vevin. They probably took their traits from her to a degree. I have all sorts of female leads around Pelya too, and while I like that, I need to come up with something different to provide some contrast.  So I'm going to create a male character (or two).  I haven't decided who he will be yet, but I'll get to that as soon as I'm done with this blog post.  She originally had a brother named Jolen too, but he's disappearing too for similar reasons.  I'm thinking maybe troubled brothers for this or something.

Anyway, I thought you might want to meet Jenna before she gets carelessly tossed into the Grey Void.  Keep in mind, I wrote this when I had different plans for the world.  You might be able to see hints of the magic system and other ingredients from my books. :)  Also, I haven't edited it.  The quality leaves a lot to be desired. (Oddly enough, I think I did some things better back then)


Jenna about nineteen.  She has a high level of maturity beyond her years.  She is a very beautiful girl.  The ears are only slightly smaller than a full-blood’s.  Her eyes are elven with the exception of the purple taint.  Her hair is beautiful now, without being as bright as it had originally been.  She keeps it long and combs it frequently.  The human blood in her has removed some of the elven thinness.  She has become very graceful and walks with a calm confidence that one would not expect from an orphan girl.  Jenna knows eight languages in addition to most magic languages current and archaic.  Her voice is normally very light.  She pronounces all of her words with a precision that comes from necessity.  Enunciation requires exactness when casting spells.  When casting spells, her voice becomes strong and firm.  She can yell up quite a storm when she feels it necessary.  (Literally.)  All in all, Jenna has a very strong and confident personality.  She is not normally sociable but can be a very good and loyal friend once she gets to know you.

The first thing that you notice about Jenna is her purple hair (if she does not have it covered in her hood).  This was caused as a result of an accident at the orphanage.  One of the more eccentric tollome professors was tinkering in his lab.  To this day, he is still not sure what happened.  It seems that some fluids mixed together over a couple of scrolls with magical runes and started fizzling.  The next thing he knew, the whole thing was exploding in purple flames.  Jenna had been a favorite of Professor Klunkin’s.  He would allow the poor orphan half-elf girl to watch him work.  As she grew older, he began teaching her his lunatic (that’s what everyone else called them) concepts, inventions, and ideas. 

He came across the girl when she was sitting in the corner of his hallway crying.  This was when she was fifteen years old.  That is the equivalent of a six-year-old human.  She looked so frail, alone and vulnerable that he couldn’t help but take pity on her.  Only when he picked her up, he found a sudden place for her in his heart that could not be explained.  Perhaps it was the fragile look in her opal eyes that clenched an old tollome's chest.  It could have been the way she instantly seized him and held on for dear life as if he were the only safety in a stormy sea.  (You know, life really does seem like that at times, I would imagine that the feeling is intensified if you are an orphan.) 

No one at the orphanage knew who her parents were.  She was found abandoned at a secluded place in the city park.  The guard was able to find no clues as to where she came from and who left her there.  The orphanages of Zimth are known throughout Auropea for their compassion in taking care of lost children that are usually left to lives of crime, poverty and misfortune in other cities.  It is said that parents who actually care somewhat about those children that they abandon are left in Zimth.  It is very likely that Jenna was one of those children, then again there could be an entirely different reason for her being left in such a manner when she was ten (four, human).  Whatever the reason, Jenna became an unwilling inhabitant of the Felth Orphanage. 

The Felth Orphanage was named after Banba Felth.  Banba was an unimportant member of the Zimth city bureaucracy.   He was a treasury bureaucrat of medium rank.  What he did have going for him is that he controlled where the city’s orphanage fund went.  The Felth Orphanage was named after him because he approved the contractor’s bid, and it was part of the kickback he received.  Banba was fired shortly thereafter due to a standard inspection of spending.  It turns out that he actually took the highest of eighteen bids, and was living quite well in a nice section of town.  His name was never taken off of the home for lost children because it was too poor of an orphanage for anyone else to want. 

Two hundred years later, it has become even more run down and dilapidated.  The orphanage is in the poorest part of town.  The children there do not always fare well.  Truth be told, some of the worst rascals in Zimth come from this place.  The Downhill Flats of Zimth are notorious for their thieves and shady characters.  Everyone that lives in this part of town has at least some knowledge as to the disreputable professions available in the world. 

The Felth Orphanage is run by Gugga Dimt, the headmaster.  Gugga is a cruel sort of a tollome that really doesn’t like children.  He calls them mean names and pinches and pokes them, calling it all humorous joking around.  Headmaster Dimt doesn’t seem to realize that he is the only one laughing.  Actually, there are two others who laugh.  Mistress Ligga and Mistress Chooli.  They are two of the governess’ at the orphanage.  These two laugh at all of his pranks and encourage him with their own mischief that tends to be even crueler.
Jenna has run afoul of the headmaster and his two governesses a few times and the have been especially mean to her.   Mistress Chooli in particular was harsh with the girl.  The Mistress’ real name was once Chooliinna, an elven name.  She was an outcast from the Willden Elves.  It is not known in the orphanage why she was an outcast, but a dark rumor seems to follow her about a dead child, perhaps something she was responsible for.  Chooli has the attitude of elven superiority that leans some to treat half-breeds such as Jenna as scum on the world.  And the Mistress had this attitude in abundance.  Whenever Jenna comes into view, Chooli gets a look of hatred in her eyes and has even been known to run after the girl in order to cause her pain.  The abuse she has put Jenna through goes beyond mischief.  Mistress Chooli has beaten Jenna more than a few times.  It was shortly after one of these beatings that Professor Klunkin found her.

The Professor has lasted a long time at the orphanage for a few reasons.  To start with, he is a very good professor and his students learn a lot from the old tollome.  His brother was the previous headmaster at the orphanage at a time when it was actually a little less disreputable, though the brother was no saint either.  The main reason he is allowed to stay it that he gives the headmaster no choice in the matter.  The one time Master Dimt tried to throw Klunkin out, the old professor cast a few spells.  Dimt spent a full six weeks in the infirmary recovering.  No one is stupid enough to mess with the Professor now.  His quarters are actually a suite of eight rooms in the northernmost tower of the orphanage.  It takes up three levels of the top of the tower.  The uppermost room is one room in which the professor keeps his most powerful magical items and books.  This is where he does most of his work as well.  The next floor down is the living quarters with five rooms.  This is actually the ground level.  Two of the three towers in the orphanage are three story towers.  The professor’s tower is two stories, and considering that the rest of the orphanage is two stories high, it makes the tower not very noticeable as a tower.   These five rooms are mostly cluttered with various books and miscellaneous magical items of relatively low power.  The lower level consists of two rooms that the professor uses for experiments and alchemy.

The first room is a room that is warded in such a way as to prevent stray magic from escaping.  There are magic absorbents that distribute magic so that powerful spells can be performed with a minimum effect.  For example, if the professor were to be trying to interpret a scroll, and wild magic, or a trap were to go off, the result could be easily controlled.  A fireball would become nothing more than the flame of a candle. 

The second room is filled with tubes, bottles, and various ingredients used in alchemy.  This room is where the professor mixes various ingredients used in spells as well as potions and concoctions that are for sell.  The professor makes quite a bit of money off of this side business; actually he makes quite a lot considering that he mixes some of the most dangerous liquids available. 

*                              *                            *

            After five years of abuse in the orphanage, Jenna wanted nothing more than to get away from the hell that her life had become.  She had just received another beating from the Mistress Chooli.  When the Mistress had turned her back to speak to another orphan, Jenna ran.  She got lost in the large orphanage and ended up wandering down a long lonely hallway.  At the end of this passage, there was a locked door.  She tried to open it, but had no success.  She collapsed in the corner of the hallway and burst into tears.  Life had been terrible since she had been abandoned and left to the Felth Orphanage.  She just couldn’t take being beat up anymore and didn’t know how to escape. 

            Professor Klunkin was a good five hundred and fifty years old.  This was a very respectable age for a tollome.  He made his home in the Felth orphanage for the last hundred and fifty years.  Klunkin is three feet, eight inches tall.  He has bright yet dark blue eyes that are in the teardrop shape of the tollome.  To go with that, he has pure white hair on his head and chin.  He has had this color hair for all of his life and it was commented at an early age that it seemed appropriate on him due to his maturity and wisdom even early on.  Klunkin is usually messy and unkempt.  His clothes look much like his quarters; scattered and thrown amuck.  He has a wonderful sense of humor and likes to smile.  The only problem is that he usually only smiles for the children and a few of his true friends.  Among the orphans, he has a reputation as the nicest and friendliest professor alive.  Among his colleagues and the clients that wish to buy products from him, Klunkin has a reputation as a mean and fearsome lunatic of a madman mage.  In fact he has even used that as a means to announce himself in social circles. 

            On this cold winter day, Klunkin stepped out of his rooms in order to see an old friend across town.  He almost tripped over the half elf girl crying in a bundle on the floor.  The professor looked down at the lass that now looked at him with terror in her opal elven eyes.  The tears had been streaming down her cheeks, which looked as though they had both been slapped more than a few times.  The rag of a dress was torn and barely covered the girl.  She looked emaciated to a degree that questioned whether she was being fed at all.  After just a moment of his scrutiny, she began sobbing terribly, and curled up as though she expected the beatings to continue further.  Klunkin reached down and tenderly ran his fingers through her hair, making calming cooing noises.  The shocked girl looked up at the old tollome as he took into his deceptively powerful arms.  All of a sudden she desperately threw her arms around his neck and began crying in earnest. 

            The professor took care of the girl from that point on.  He didn’t simply protect her, he moved her in with him.  Professor Klunkin gave Jenna food and nourishment and within a few short weeks, she looked more the little girl than a skeleton.  He bought her some clothes that fit her and had some color.  When Mistress Chooli came looking, the professor informed her that the girl would be staying with him and he would turn anyone that so much as laid a hand on her into a worm with five legs and promptly slammed the door in her face.  Klunkin took to teaching the girl on his own.  He did this in part to protect her from having to go into the rest of the orphanage, which could be dangerous to her despite his threats.  He also realized that he had no apprentices throughout his life and had not passed on his knowledge to anyone.  He did not have an heir either.  It wasn’t long before he realized that Jenna was the one that he would be passing all of his knowledge to.    

            Jenna learned fast.  No longer being abused and mistreated, she was able to start understanding the things that were placed in front of her to learn.  She wished to please Klunkin due to the fact that he was the only one that ever treated her well.  The professor began teaching her how to read and write first.  This she seemed to take in almost immediately.  As she gained nourishment and became more and more healthy, she took in information faster.  Jenna seemed to have an instinct for learning.  Within the first year, she caught up to the other children her age.  In five years she could amazingly read and write in three different languages.  Professor Klunkin gave her a balanced schooling, with such subjects as mathematics, history, geography and many other basic teachings.  Then he proceeded to school her in the arcane arts of magic.  He started her off on the basics of magic, with theories and ethics of magic included.  Jenna seemed to take to all of this knowledge with a passion and joy that pleased the old man well. 

            Jenna rarely went into the rest of the orphanage and then only with the professor.  In case of emergencies, she was taught a few defensive spells early on.  Ones that would hold or trap a person that intended to do her harm, so that she could get away.  There was also a wand that could be used in a pinch if necessary.  The biggest disadvantage to this seclusion is that while it kept her safe, it also kept her from becoming socially active or knowledgeable. 

            Jenna did not mind this really.  There was the occasion where she wished for a friend other than the wonderful old tollome that had fallen for a thin wraith of a pitiful girl.  There were always the books and the enormous amount of information to be absorbed.  She felt that she could take on any amount of data and still want more.  To Jenna, being in the professor’s quarters with all of these books was rather like any other child in a candy store.  The girl especially liked listening to the Professor talking of magic and enjoyed learning how to wield it herself.  By the age of fifty years (about sixteen in human years) Jenna was already fluent with basic forms of magic.  She could wield many styles of magic and understood most languages of the arcane.  In addition to this, she came to know alchemy and the specialty forms of magic such as rune magic and weapon enhancing.  In truth, while next to Klunkin she was an apprentice, the girl could hold her own as a master next to most mages in the world. 

            It was at the age of twenty-two that Jenna experienced the purple explosion.  While the professor does not know what happened, Jenna does.  You see; it seems that a little scamp of a tollomish orphan somehow managed to get into the professor’s tower.  The boy was looking around in areas that no one was allowed to be.  In the tower study, the professor was examining a special magical item and had his various chemicals, scrolls and other ingredients around him.  The boy was quietly sneaking around taking a look at this and that, peaking into this box or examining that container.  Jenna walked in about that time and noticed the lad poking around.  She was about to say something when she noticed that the professor was involved in work that simply could not be disturbed.  It was then that the boy noticed Jenna.  He dropped the box that he had been looking at and a wind came forth from it.  This wind blew papers and scrolls about the study.  One of the scrolls, a particularly powerful one with a wooden holder in it, knocked into a vial of purple liquid used for identifying spells.  The liquid spilled out onto a few scrolls and mixed in with the runes.  Professor Klunkin began frantically waving at the liquid trying to stop it from causing harm.  At this point he suddenly remembered that he was in the process of wielding magic.  This magic wafted around like a small mystical breeze fanning the liquid drenched scrolls.  This was a very bad thing.  Luckily for both the professor and Jenna, they were wearing their warded necklaces that protected them from such explosions that occurred next.  The boy did not need a necklace.  In the way of the truly mischievous, he ran at the first sign of trouble and was out of the tower at the time of the explosion. 

            Jenna woke up a few of days later.  She had been staring at everything that had happened.  When the explosion occurred, she was looking straight at it.  The professor had had the sense to duck just in time.  Jenna however, was caught in the full blast and not even her necklace was enough to save her.  The half elf girl had three broken ribs and a fractured wrist.  The worst part of it was that her hair was now a rich velvety purple color.  The burst of color that was mixed in the blast had even managed to put light purple striations in her bright opal eyes.  They weren't very noticeable for the most part.  Somewhat of a light lavender to begin with.  When Jenna gets angry, they darken into lightning streaks of purple that flash throughout the iris.  This upset Jenna very badly for about the first few years.  Then she began to realize that the hair made her unique.  And her eyes were quite intimidating when she became angry.  These things set her apart from others and gave her a little bit of a personality that she didn't have in common with most other beings.

Though was raised as an orphan, she became well off due to the fact that she assists the professor in the making of potions and scrolls of magic.  Many of the items she makes herself.  This has increased profits for both of them.  Due to the fact that she now has money she is able to buy nice things for herself.  Jenna likes to have nice dresses and will spend a little more for them.  She felt very guilty at first until she realized that they could in fact afford such.  As far as jewelry went, Klunkin made magical pieces that were not only functional, but actually looked very nice.  For Jenna’s fiftieth birthday he presented her with a set of jewelry that had powerful enchantments on it.  It included an ornate necklace, a tiara, two bracelets that covered the entire length of the lower arm and ended in a semi glove with a ring over the middle finger.  These bracelets looked like a metallic sort of lace.  They have four rows of four amethysts down the arm.  These are magical conductors for the bracelets.  There is also an opal on the back of the hand that is the primary power source and the gem that communicates with the other pieces.  There are opals and amethysts on all of the jewelry.  There are also matching shin guards that resemble the bracelets.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nadir's Zenith, book 3 review and Kickstarter

"Nadir's Zenith" series by Jackson Compton and Jerry Bennett

With the advent and harnessing of hyperspace technology, mankind left for the stars with reckless abandon. In the year 2112, corporations are the off-world governments policed by the Intergalactic Peace Corps. Follow the adventures of IPC Space Marshal, Captain John Nadir on his adventures through the galaxy. "Nadir's Zenith" is Space Opera, 100 years in the making!  Follow the series on facebook

Also, they are in the process of doing a Kickstarter project for comics 4 and 5.  From their Kickstarter page:

Hello, everyone! We'd like to thank our fan-base for the unwavering support shown for the first three issues of NADIR'S ZENITH. Your continued interest and enthusiasm for our comic book is why we've started this Kickstarter project. Everyone loves our story and the only complaint has been, "When will the next issue be out? Hurry it up!" We're an independent comic book producer. That means we produce only as fast as funds are available. Lean months mean longer gaps between issues. We want to remedy the time-lag and with your help, we'll do just that. We have streamlined the production/printing process during the first three issues and have the procedures down to a science.  We are constantly sold out at our local comic book shops. We've even been picked up by Comixology.

(All images © Jackson Compton and Jerry Bennett. All rights reserved.)

Nadir's Zenith is the Brainchild of Jackson Compton brought to life by the fantastic art of Jerry Bennett.  You can read my review of my first two here:

Comic #3


Star Fighters attack Moon City and Captain John Nadir uses his skills in an attempt to remedy a dire situation. With the advent and harnessing of hyperspace technology, mankind left for the stars with reckless abandon. In the year 2112, corporations are the off-world governments policed by the Intergalactic Peace Corps. Follow the adventures of IPC Space Marshal, Captain John Nadir on his adventures through the galaxy. "Nadir's Zenith" is Space Opera, 100 years in the making!

Nadir's Zenith is the Brainchild of Jackson Compton brought to life by the fantastic art of Jerry Bennett. Follow the adventures of Captain John Nadir, Space Marshal of the Intergalactic Peace Corps (IPC). Nadir's Zenith is Space Opera, 100 years in the making...

Nadir's Zenith #3 TM and © Enigma Endeavors Productions, Jackson Compton, Jerry Bennett. All rights reserved.

My Review

The biggest problem I have with these comics is that I can't wait for the next one!  The suspense is killing me!  From the beginning of book 1, suspense has been established in the story.  It grows intense in book 3.  More details are unveiled (I'm not telling you what they are because it would be spoilers), but each of those details open numerous questions.  Things are becoming more exciting with each turn of the page!

Captain Nadir is likable with his smirk, wry humor and disregard for authority.  He's brave of course, as every intergalactic space captain is bound to be, but I think it's because he likes getting into trouble more than anything.  There's also a great deal of mystery surrounding his past and future.

There's another character from the first book that I didn't expect to see in this one and the appearance of that person brings up a hundred more mysteries!  I'm very intrigued.

The artwork is excellent again.  It puts the reader in the scene and also conveys so much more than just words can.  Each detail of the characters brings personality.  The faces are expressive and help to convey emotions.  I love the sci-fi landscapes, especially of Moon City where most of this story occurs.  In one of the first scenes, you even get to see the Millennium Falcon!  I have an inside source who says there a lot of Easter Eggs in it like that, but that's the only one I caught.  I'd be curious to see if anyone else found anything.

I don't know when the next episode will be out, but I am eagerly awaiting it.  I love the story of Nadir's Zenith and can't get enough of it. :)

About the creators

Jackson Compton
is a wonderfully handsome (so he says)novelist, screenwriter, comic book writer, and founder of Enigma Endeavors Productions, LLC. His first fantasy novel, “Night’s End,” was published in 2008 and his second, “The Crucible of Happenstance” in 2011. He co-wrote the screenplay for Felix Matos’s horror movie, “Pumpken,” and had a small role in the film.  He is the creator and writer of the space opera comic book series, “Nadir’s Zenith,” with fellow artist, Jerry Bennett. Future projects include: the sequel to "Crucible," the graphic novel “Flora & Fauna,” and comic book series “Tainted World” and “Wayfarer.”

Jerry Bennett
is a comic book artist at heart, but because of his diverse drawing styles, he's been fortunate enough to illustrate several children's books, draw and/or paint murals, portraits and shirt designs for Marvel, Lucasfilm and many more.  Jerry loves connecting with his fan base at the many conventions he's attended where he sells prints of his work as well.  Just recently, The Stan Lee Foundation reached out to him for exclusive prints and representation.  In his spare time, Jerry is writing and illustrating a middle grade graphic novel about alien cats.

Indy Planet, a great source for Independent Comics

If you're interested in the extraordinary selection of comics available out there, check out Indy Planet.

POD (Print On Demand) comics

Just as I have my books printed on demand through Createspace, Comic creators can have theirs printed through Ka-Blam.


I have decided to review books that I enjoy. I am an avid reader of fantasy, so most of them will be in that genre. I'm not taking any requests, just reading what catches my eyes. You'll find that most of these are from Indie Authors. The way I figure it, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, Alan Dean Foster and Piers Anthony (my favorite authors) already have enough reviews, but Indies could always use a few more.

It is important to note here that while I am a writer, I am doing these reviews as a reader. I also know a number of the authors I will be reviewing. This is not an exchange of reviews, nor have I been solicited by those authors to write the review.  If I don't like a book, I won't review it.

All my best,

John H. Carroll

Monday, October 14, 2013

Updated Maps of Ryallon


This isn't much of a post.  I've been working on the map of Ryallon recently and wanted to share the updates I've made.  My maps were originally drawn by hand, but I've gradually improved them using GIMP.

I've done previous posts on my maps, which you can find here:

It's interesting to see the changes that have happened along the way and how things have evolved. :)

What was changed

The first was to clean up all of the borders from the rough pencil markings to computer generated markings (high-tech way of saying I used the mouse as a pencil in GIMP)  This just makes everything look cleaner.  I also made slight adjustments to borders.  Blame it on the emo bunnies.

The next, and more important thing was that I added cities.  I didn't name the cities with a couple of exceptions, but I put the little dots on the map.  (That's the super hard part, you know)  Then I added the highways.  It gives a little idea of where people travel.  It also looks like super cool spider webs.

I didn't complete all of it.  The Iynath Empire is untouched as are a couple of other countries on that side of the map.  I don't have anything happening over there any time soon, so it can wait.

Also, the cities that are marked are larger cities.  The continent of Nulanea is bigger than Asia (Don't hold me to that. I'm a writer, we change our minds more than is healthy)  There will be countless smaller cities, towns, villages and thorpes (I'm not going to tell you what a thorpe is. :p)

The Maps

Continent of Nulanea, Ryallon

The Country of Eddland and surrounding countries, Setting for the Wyvern Trilogy.

 The country of Soaarth, Primary setting for the Crazed Trilogy.

I hope you've looking at made up maps for a made up world (so far as you know)  I've certainly enjoyed making it up (so far as you know)

All my best,

John H. Carroll

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Book Review: The Dawning of Power Trilogy

 Review of The Dawning of Power Trilogy by Brian Rathbone

This series is available at all online stores, including Smashwords, Amazon, B&N, Kobo and Apple.  I highly recommend it.  There are six books in the series.  The Dawning of Power Trilogy is the first three.

Call of the Herald


Book One of The Dawning of Power trilogy. Echoes of the ancients' power are distant memories, tattered and faded by the passage of eons, but that is about to change. A new dawn has arrived. Latent abilities, harbored in mankind's deepest fibers, wait to be unleashed. Ancient evils awaken, and old fears ignite the fires of war.

My Review:

As an avid reader of fantasy, sometimes it's hard to try someone new rather than re-reading books I love, but I'm so glad I opened this book.

The first character you meet, Catrin, is a strong female lead.  It doesn't take long to get to know who she is.  Other key characters are introduced quickly and fleshed out without taking the reader out of the story.   In fact, it didn't take long for me to get into the story to the point where I didn't want to put it down.

Catrin is a seemingly normal young woman, but the reader soon learns that there's more to her than she or anyone else realizes.  Times are changing (as they tend to do) in the world of Godsland and dire consequences have been prophesied.  Unknown powers find her and she has no idea what to do with them.  Add to that the threat of invasion and people hunting her and you have one stressed out young woman. ;)

The people who surround Catrin are interesting and well developed.  They don't cater to her, but treat her as a real person, which is nice to find.

The adventure and danger are exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat, ready for more.  My biggest complaint about this story was reaching the end and having to wait for the next book to load. ;)

Inherited Danger


Book Two of The Dawning of Power trilogy. Catrin leaves her homeland behind as she goes in search of knowledge and peace, unaware that she will face the greatest evil her world has ever known.

My Review:

An excellent sequel. New details and suspense begin to unfold.  New characters are added that are even more likable.  One of the things I like most about fantasy is that the authors always tend to was philosophical.  Catrin explores her senses and how they relate to the world and other life around her.  The concept of powers beyond the mortals and how they relate to supreme being/s really comes through.

There is more adventure and danger at every step of the way.  The world is on the brink of destruction (as most usually are) but it's possibly the mechanizations of mankind that are a greater threat than any supernatural hazard.

Once again, I'm left wanting to start the next book instantly. :)  These books are truly difficult to put down.

Dragon Ore


Book Three of The Dawning of Power trilogy. Clinging to life, Catrin Volker struggles to regain her strength as her foes go in search of even greater power. Ancient enemies threaten and forgotten alliances emerge in the exciting conclusion of The Dawning of Power trilogy.

My Review:

Lots of action in this culmination to the trilogy.  I enjoyed the interactions between the characters.  There are strong relationships and friendships throughout.  I've always been a big fan of character driven stories.  I like to get to know the individuals and love/hate them.  Catrin and her friends are definitely likable.

The villain doesn't quite become the archenemy that I expected.  There's not enough of his motivation and personality that comes through.  He seems more of a politician gone power hungry who never delivers on implied evildoer promise in the end.  The other enemies throughout present frequent challenges, with the greatest enemy being nature and power I believe.  The peril to Catrin and friends delivers constant suspense, which makes it difficult to put the book down.

Some of the events that happen around Catrin's home while she's gone are a bit confusing and it takes a bit of concentration to keep up with the myriad of details.  The world created is filled with sweeping vistas and exotic lands that are exciting for the reader to visit.

The ending comes to a satisfying conclusion for this story, but is left open for the next series and a future that promises great adventure.

Overall, this is an excellent fantasy series.  The characters and plot are original.  I definitely recommend giving it a read.

About the Author

Brian Rathbone is a horse trainer turned author and creator of The World of Godsland fantasy series, which includes Call of the Herald, Inherited Danger, Dragon Ore, and Regent (Feral and Regal are forthcoming). He is also the author of the Sam Flock novels, a paranormal adventure series that begins with Lure.

You can find him at Smashwords and Amazon


I have decided to review books that I enjoy.  I am an avid reader of fantasy, so most of them will be in that genre.  I'm not taking any requests, just reading what catches my eyes.  You'll find that most of these are from Indie Authors.  The way I figure it, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, Alan Dean Foster and Piers Anthony (my favorite authors) already have enough reviews, but Indies could always use a few more.

It is important to note here that while I am a writer, I am doing these reviews as a reader.  I also know a number of the authors I will be reviewing.  This is not an exchange of reviews, nor have I been solicited by those authors to write the review.

All my best,

John H. Carroll