Marc reviews ‘The Queen of Lies’ (Architects of the Grand Design 1) by Michael J. Bode. Published by the author on April 7th, 2015. The book is 319 pages long.
RGR received a review copy for the purpose of an honest review.
As you guys might know by now, I’m always looking for great fantasy and sci-fi books. While I read all subgenres, these are my true passion. So when a review request for an epic fantasy book came in, I claimed it ASAP. Given that books in this genre tend to be long and will be a major time investment for readers, I hope this review will be helpful in finding out if you might enjoy it.
Please check out the author’s guestpost and my review of his debut book and comment on the post for the chance to win one e-copy of the book.
Perhaps, like me, you will find yourself drawn into an exciting new fantasy world that feels like a mix of G.R.R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ and Terry Prachett’s ‘Discworld’ novels, while retaining a fresh and unique quality that will make you unwilling to put down the book for even a second.
Giveaway Details Below. Good Luck 🙂
Maddox is a mage with dreams of immortality and a drinking problem. Heath is a faithless priest working as an assassin for hire, paired with a sentient sword. Jessa, the last daughter in a long line of Thrycean tyrants, is a timid young woman seeking to escape her domineering mother, Satryn.
Rivern, the greatest city in the Protectorate, is a place of arcane magic and mechanical wonders that has stood for five hundred years as a bulwark against the tyrannical Stormlords of Thrycea. But Rivern’s strong foundation is beginning to crack. People are dying in their sleep, the dead are walking the streets, refugees are flooding the city, and a mysterious Harbinger has returned with dire omens that could mean the end of the Protectorate.
Murder, magic and politics create a menacing tangle that the three must resolve before the Protectorate is crushed. But first they must save each other.
Buy Link: Amazon
The cover model represents a storm lord, a wielder of powerful and hereditary elemental magic and she turns out to be pretty bad-ass once readers get to know her. This story is told through several perspectives, including gay characters. I love the look of the cover. Expressive eyes, full lips in a sort of smile, tear tracks, something mysterious going on – it just drew me in.
I love court intrique, secrets, mysteries and all those things, so the title ‘queen of lies’ made me want read the book.
Starting a new fantasy book is always an interesting thing for me. Readers won’t just meet new characters, they will be introduced to a completely new world. I must admit, while I was intrigued, I worried. The author introduced more and more new aspects of this world and kept on expanding the world to epic proportions, with many different perspectives showing the world from different sides. I didn’t know if he would be able to tie everything together. I really hoped he would, though, because I was greatly enjoying myself.
I think what really helped was that the author kept the setting primarily to one region, even when readers are introduced to characters with very different powers from very different regions. There also is a distinct story line that is hard to see at first, but becomes more clear with every page.
There is a reason for everything and a way it connects and it is a very big story. It is not just about the fate of the characters or their families, or their cities. It is about the fate of the world. There are several threats the characters have to fight against as they struggle to understand what the hell is going on in the city.
I love that the characters have faults and I didn’t initially like all characters, even though I realized quickly that I cared for them. Even the ones, who don’t turn out to be the heroes of this stories. Having perspectives from different characters also means that we end up liking characters, who have opposing and seemingly mutually exclusive desires. That is something I liked in the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ books and I really liked that here as well.
You can already guess that this story is fresh and unique, when you read the blurb. I was happily surprised that what seemed slighly crazy, if intriguing, actually works in the story and is not just a gimmick.
The book is gritty. This fantasy world is not OZ (the one somewhere over the rainbow, not the prison show), there is sex, violence and especially in the beginning a lot of swearing. Even if it might be a bit much at times, I prefer a world that feels gritty and realistic to the alternative and it worked well for this story. It does get dark in places – at times I almost did not believe what happened – so anything else would not have fit.
While there was sex, including gay sex, there wasn’t really any romance. The focus was more on all the many dangerous threats that aimed to end the characters and their world. There are however many LGBT fantasy books where the romance starts after book one, like the ‘Nightrunner’ series or the ‘Astreiant’ series. There is potential for such a romance to develop and I am looking forward to reading the next book and finding out how the story and the characters’ lives will develop.
This is a must read for fantasy fans, who don’t mind a gritty world and don’t require a majore romance sub plot.
Let the story draw you into a fantasic new world!
9 out of 10 pots of gold (90% recommended) – Compares to 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Michael J. Bode talks about Gay Main Protagonists in Fantasy Novels
I’d like to start with a call to action: We need more gay fantasy novelists writing gay main characters.
When I was coming out, gay fiction meant literary fiction. Literary fiction in college, was the 2000 Barolo to the PBR of “escapist” fiction. God forbid anyone waste their talent writing for the purpose of entertaining people. Sci Fi and Fantasy were forbidden in my creative writing class. Meanwhile, in my gay literature class we read brilliant, depressing prose about New York.
I was a D&D loving video gamer, but I had several publications under my belt before I even set foot in a writing class and knew I wanted to be a writer. The subtle messages in my writing classes were clear—“You may have the talent; but you need to put away the kids’ stuff if you want to be taken seriously.”
And I gave it my best. I wrote about relationships, and the messed up people I knew from my hometown. I later found a loophole where I could slip in some supernatural elements under the guise of “postmodernism” as long as it didn’t play to tropes. I wrote a few genre pieces on the side. But there, I had to worry about “commercial” viability… I thought putting a gay character would limit my market and having spaceships shut me out of the gay literary markets.
After college, I lost interest. I hit a writers block that lasted nearly two decades. And no wonder. I couldn’t write the stories I wanted to write. I wanted fantastic settings and to explore cool ideas. I also wanted characters who shared parts of my experience, but I didn’t want their sexuality, or their quest for relationships, to totally define them.
It took a long time to re-embrace my speculative creativity. It wasn’t until the boom of self publishing that I started to feel empowered. I knew there must be more readers like me who are hungry for the types of mainstream books I like to read, with well-written characters they can relate to. But aside from Richard K. Morgan’s excellent book, The Steel Remains, I had a hard time finding them.
So in the immortal words of Toni Morrison: If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
So I did.
And that’s my challenge to LGBTQ writers out there struggling with their creative imagination and the imagined restrictions of genre. We need your voice. The world is a different place in 2015. You don’t run the same risk of alienating readers or even publishers.
And as for commercial viability? Well, I made more money with the book I enjoyed writing than with the unfinished draft I abandoned.
Mike bode is the author of The Queen of Lies, the first installment in the ongoing series, Architects of the Grand Design. His new book, The Mirrored City, the second installment in the series, came out this Thursday (October 29th, 2015). Sign up for the mailing list for more info. You can find him on Facebook, and Pinterest. (You can also follow him on Goodreads and even Amazon)
Comment on this post for your chance to win one e-copy of Michael J. Bode’s ‘Queen of Lies’
You need to be 18 or older to win. Void where prohibited. Etc.
This Giveaway will be open until November 18th, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST. Good Luck!
Michael James Bode was born on Valentine’s Day and grew up in rural Indiana surrounded by woods and horses.
Bode received a degree in sociology from Indiana University. In the technological sector, he used computers to process natural language.
The Queen of Lies is Bode’s first novel. He has published a number of short stories and performed spoken word pieces. The daily life of the characters inhabiting fantasy worlds fascinates Bode, compelling him to explore the ways in which such people could carve places for themselves in worlds where the fantastical is commonplace. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
His website is www.mikebode.com