Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Friday Reading Fun: Chris Nuttall’s Two Newest Fantasy Novels Are Out…

with 17 comments

Folks, I have to admit that I am biased in favor of Chris Nuttall. I often edit for him, and indeed edited the two newest books I’m about to talk about here at my blog. (One, THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY, I co-edited with author and editor Christine Amsden, and of course Twilight Times Books publisher Lida Quillen also keeps an eye on things, so it’s like having three editors for the price of two.) But as with Kayelle Allen’s newest book SURRENDER LOVE, these books are just so much fun that I have to write about them.

First, take a look at this gorgeous cover by artist Brad Fraunfelter:

THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY is the 22nd book in the Schooled in Magic series, and stars Emily, a young woman from our Earth’s Kansas who was translated to the Nameless World in her mid-teens. Emily was bookish to a fault before she was brought over; unfortunately, she was originally meant to be a human sacrifice to a necromancer. She was saved, at the last minute, by an enigmatic man who goes by the name of Void. (I have to put it that way, as true names are seen as more powerful than not, so most sorcerers and sorceresses go by use-names or partial names like a nickname.)

In the intervening twenty books since the original SCHOOLED IN MAGIC novel, Emily has grown, changed, and developed. She’s unquestionably powerful, and as Void’s surrogate daughter (he’s more or less adopted her; the people in that world think she’s his true offspring), she’s recently been on an extended internship with Void learning about the roots of magic. She’s also killed six or seven necromancers along the way, not to mention several people who wished her ill. And during most of the novels, she’s had a running adversarial relationship with a young woman named Nanette…and yes, that’s relevant to the discussion. (Trust me.)

So, Emily starts off THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY by fighting off a posse of corrupt magicians in the pay of one of her adversaries, Master Lucknow. (Chris would tell you I’m skimming over a lot of stuff, here, but I’m trying to highlight the best without getting unduly bogged down in details. That’s hard in a twenty-two-book series.) Void helps her at the last minute, as he often does, then Emily is taken into custody by Lucknow under the eyes of Void and Emily’s mentor, Lady Barb. (Yes, she’s named after me. But she has blue eyes, for one…I definitely don’t. Going on…) That way, Emily can have as close to a fair trial as possible, while Void goes and rallies her other allies (of which Emily has many.)

Now, how did Void know Emily was in trouble again? This time, her boyfriend — a young sorcerer by the name of Jan — went to go get him. This was a real problem for Jan, because he had been an apprentice of Master Lucknow’s. (When you work against your master, that effectively ends your apprenticeship nine times out of ten.) Jan isn’t as engaging as Emily’s two previous boyfriends, Caleb and Cat, nor have we seen as much of him as we’ve seen of Caleb and Cat. (Emily has a talent for keeping her friends close, even if they once were her boyfriends.) But he did the right thing here, and that’s all that counts.

Anyway, a deal is brokered by another of Emily’s allies, Queen Alassa of Zangaria. (Emily is a Baroness there, though she truly doesn’t like it.) Alassa and Emily are old friends (to the point Emily does not have to say Your Majesty except in public), and the deal brokered is for Emily to go to Alluvia — a place that’s in massive unrest, partly because the peasantry there have risen in Emily’s name.

Of course Emily had nothing to do with that, but that was one of the justifications Master Lucknow was using to get her arrested, tried, and jailed. So it has to be mentioned as a plot point.

What is Emily going to find there? How does Nanette play into this mess? And will Jan lose his apprenticeship, or not? All of these questions, along with some truly shocking plot twists, will be answered by the end of THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY.

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned Void much since the beginning. There is a reason for that. He is key to the end, in such a way that I can’t talk about it unless I want to give the whole game away. (And I truly don’t want to do that; what’s the point in you going to read the book if I do?)

Next, it’s time for another lovely cover, again by artist Brad Fraunfelter:

In THE FAMILY NAME, we have two equally compelling stories going on at the same time.

First is Akin Rubén, the Heir Primus to the Rubén Family (a huge family that is wealthy, well-run, and overly proud of its descent from nobles from the old Thousand-Year Empire). Akin is engaged to a young woman, Caitlyn Aguirre (known as Cat; note that Cat in this series is a very capable woman, while Cat in the Schooled in Magic ‘verse is a very capable man). Technically, they’re betrothed, and have been since about age twelve; this was done to broker a peace deal at the time as the Aguirre family is also extremely wealthy and powerful. The two of them together can perhaps steer a more peaceful course, but there’s infighting within and without both families that’s been causing distress since they were betrothed. Fortunately, Akin and Cat have grown to love one another, and truly want to be married.

Second is Isabella Rubén, the disgraced twin sister of Akin. If you read THE FAMILY SHAME (and I truly hope you have; it’s a marvelous book), you know that Isabella has dealt with major changes in her life that were brought on because she’d taken part in an attempted coup with a disgruntled member of the Aguirre family, Stregharia. Only the fact that Isabella was just twelve at the time saved her life, and she was packed off to remote Kirkhaven to deal with a mad warlock named Ira. She did that, but along the way met a young man, Callam, who has similar talents as Akin’s fiancée Cat does. They both have these talents (Callam and Cat) because they have no magic at all, which is rare in that world, but necessary for the forging of powerful Objects of Power. (Think of it as blacksmithing and you’re not too far wrong.)

Anyway, Isabella and Callam have become engaged because of a true bond, same as Cat and Akin. However, when Isabella at long last is recalled to her home, she finds much trouble brewing. Will she be a factor in the instability, or will she back her brother? And what will Callam think of it all?

As for Akin, what will he do when the faction in his family tries to interrupt his plans to marry Cat? Will he stick with the family? Will he run? Will he back his sister in her schemes (if she indeed has any)? And what will he think of Callam?

All of this, plus a whole lot more, is in store for you as you read THE FAMILY NAME.

I’m proud to have worked on both of these books, and urge you to read them without delay if you love young adult fantasy (mixed with romance more so in THE FAMILY NAME). They’re fun reads, both of ’em, yet they have a lot of questions for you to ponder once they’re done. And as both series have progressed, Chris gets better and better at telling a full story, yet always leaving people to want much more. (Further editor sayeth not.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 5, 2021 at 4:44 am

17 Responses

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  1. Oh wow. Oh wow. I started to drool a bit when I read these stellar reviews Barb, but there was this whimpering, whinny little voice saying ‘But there’s 22 books of one series and the other is a series an’ y’ll never read them…’cas you got the reading attention span of a fruit fly.’
    But they are on Audible!! Bliss…double bliss and both series are on my wish list for my monthly credit plan.
    Covers to faint over and kudos for you for being in the editing team.
    No more grim military histories (you can read too many) for me to use up my credits on!
    Just have to work through the Detroit Free Zone series by Rachel Aaron first and then I will be off and away!!
    (Reblog)

    deteremineddespitewp

    March 5, 2021 at 8:04 am

    • Thanks, Roger! I hope you’ll enjoy them. 🙂

      Barb Caffrey

      March 6, 2021 at 7:25 am

      • I’ll be sure to let you know

        deteremineddespitewp

        March 6, 2021 at 7:31 am

      • This has been described as a series that gets better with every book, and I don’t think that’s all just hype. I, personally, think the books picked up speed around book four, WORK EXPERIENCE. (They were good before that. Then they were very good.)

        Barb Caffrey

        March 6, 2021 at 7:33 am

      • Looking forward to them, it might take me more than a year or so, but sounds a good adventure.

        deteremineddespitewp

        March 6, 2021 at 9:07 am

  2. Reblogged this on Writing Despite Computers and Programmes and commented:
    Now here are series worth considering…True the first is into book 22 but I’m going to give them a shot on Audible.

    deteremineddespitewp

    March 5, 2021 at 8:05 am

    • Thanks, Roger! I really hope you will enjoy them. 🙂

      Barb Caffrey

      March 6, 2021 at 7:29 am

      • I’ll let you know. Both series look most interesting, far removed from my recent reading and writing subject matter(s).😃

        deteremineddespitewp

        March 6, 2021 at 7:32 am

      • I know what you mean by that. I have been reading a book about the Norman Conquest of England. Thinking about the atrocities committed then, and how that’s viewed by the historian as a step up from previous historical atrocities (as William the Conqueror let nobles live rather than kill them outright, and “only” maimed and/or blinded non-nobles without killing them) is difficult to bear.

        That said, we came from that place, most of us. Or from similar societies doing similar things. It behooves us to remember that we are still human, and have many of the same frailties and foibles (not to mention faults) as people did in William the Conqueror’s time.

        BTW, would you like to read another chapter of KEISHA’S VOW? (Work in progress, here.) I can post that, too, if you think you’d like it. (I posted the first part, which was with the _very_ bad magician, already.)

        Barb Caffrey

        March 6, 2021 at 7:35 am

      • If you feel in a heading spinning mood try reading about the Wars in Ancient Greece from about 400BC to 150 BC. So much chopping and changing of sides, the casual slaughtering of all males in some luckless place then selling all the women and children into slavery .
        Then fast forward to the 20th and 21st Centuries and see things have not changed all that much.
        Yes Barb I would like to read that! Could you send the first part too, when changing computers and then having to reboot with the new one, quite a few records were lost.
        Send to e-mail nnqp1863@yahoo.co.uk
        Thanks

        deteremineddespitewp

        March 6, 2021 at 9:13 am

      • Sure. I’ll be happy to do that.

        And yes. Reading about the ancients is even scarier than reading about William the Conqueror.

        Barb Caffrey

        March 6, 2021 at 10:10 pm

      • Oh yes, and down the ages it’s always the same story…only we became more ‘efficient’ at the destruction part.

        Send the extracts in your own time Barb, will like to read them!

        deteremineddespitewp

        March 7, 2021 at 4:56 am

      • Yeah, and trying to pretend we don’t have this side to us as humans is incredibly pointless.

        (I appreciate the latter message, too.)

        Barb Caffrey

        March 7, 2021 at 5:54 pm

      • The fight against these inner demons in a long one, they can be very subtle.

        deteremineddespitewp

        March 8, 2021 at 3:42 am

      • Very true, Roger.

        Barb Caffrey

        March 16, 2021 at 1:16 pm

  3. I applaud the endeavor of 22 books in one series. I have about the same number of books in the same universe, but in different series, with overlapping characters. It’s a lot of work, but with your editing as an assist, definitely doable.

    Kayelle Allen

    March 5, 2021 at 8:53 am

    • Thanks, Kayelle. I appreciate that. 🙂

      Chris had this series in his mind for years — or something like it — before he came to me seven or eight years ago and sent me the file. Because he wanted Emily to be an American, I got to say lots of things like, “No, Americans don’t speak that way” and “No, we don’t use that term in this way” and “No, that’s just not something we say at all.”

      (Picture me laughing, here, in a positive way of course.)

      Fortunately, Chris understood me, and I tried to point out (as I always do) what was good in his MS (and there was a lot of good there). That made the corrections more tolerable, perhaps… 😉

      Anyway, I’m glad that Chris has done so well for himself. It’s good to be a part of it, and I hope people will continue to enjoy his writing for a long time to come.

      Barb Caffrey

      March 6, 2021 at 7:28 am


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