Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘excellent books

Why I Wrote “Bringer of Chaos: The Origin of Pietas” — a Guest Blog by Kayelle Allen

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Folks, do I have a treat for you today!

A few months ago, I edited Kayelle Allen’s BRINGER OF CHAOS: The Origin of Pietas, and couldn’t wait to tell you all about it. Pietas is a strong character, someone who starts out dark, forbidding, and almost impossible to like…but somehow, with Kayelle’s insight, Pietas becomes much more than that. BRINGER OF CHAOS is a science fiction novel of cultural clashes, personal growth, friendship, sacrifice, and much, much more. It’s beautifully written, in some spots deeply moving, and a book I hope everyone will check out right away.

Now, on to Kayelle’s excellent guest blog, already in progress…

3d-boc1When I wrote Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas, I was creating the background and origin story for the most notorious villain in my scifi universe. In a series of books based in the Tarthian Empire, I had gone to great lengths to instill a sense of awe and fear in readers regarding the immortal king. Honestly, Pietas scared me, and I created him! I knew the depth of his cruelty because I’d created him to be the baddie all the other baddies feared. In the universe of those stories, he was known by many names: Impaler, Hammer of God, Marauder, Soul Ripper, Destroyer of Worlds, Slayer of Innocents, Hound of Hell, and more famously, the Bringer of Chaos. To reveal the reason he became such a terrifying person, I needed to delve into his head and get to know him better. *Gulp.*

I mentioned to my friend, author Houston Havens, that I didn’t know how to write an emotionless sociopath. First she laughed, then she took me to passages in my own books and showed me the emotions Pietas had displayed. Houston was right. Pietas was far from emotionless. Sociopath was as far from his reality as moonlight is from sunlight. One is cool and pale; the other hot and vibrant. I was trying to write him as a moon. Pietas was a sun.

Houston suggested that we “interview” him. She and I talk almost every day on Skype, so that was easy. I would “be” Pietas and answer on Skype as him. It would be an exercise in free association, and we would record it so I would have reference. Once we got started, it was surprisingly easy to get into his head. She asked him questions that were simple at first. Then she asked about his father, which made me delve into my own past as a child and parent. Mine was innocent and filled with love. My villainous hero, however, had a different bent.

When I was a child, the parent-child bond set my life on a certain path, and I believe no matter how old I get, I will always be the way I was molded to be from childhood. Pietas is immortal, and apparently, so is his love/hate-mostly-hate relationship with his father. Delving into that in detail will take more than one book. In fact, I’ve gone from wondering how I could possibly write a whole book about Pietas to planning another four.

Pietas now fascinates me. Getting to know this character helped me break past an episode of writer’s block that had lasted seven years. I had written, but was producing only non-fiction (Tarthian Empire Companion) and books about the characters (An Immortal’s Guide to Tarth). With Bringer of Chaos out of the way, I’m back where I belong — in the world of the Tarthian Empire. The galaxy of stories beyond that is, as Pietas would say, “ripe for the plucking.”

About Kayelle Allen

Kayelle Allen is a best selling American author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.

About the Book

Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas
Author: Kayelle Allen
Publisher: Romance Lives Forever Books
Editor: Barb Caffrey
Heat level: PG13
Genre: YA (older young adult), action adventure, science fiction, space opera, military science fiction, space marine, genetic engineering
Wordcount: 52,492
Pages: 186

Two enemy warriors: one human, one immortal. Different in belief, alike in spirit, marooned together on an alien world.

Imprisoned and in isolation over a year without food or water, the immortal Pietas survives. Though broken in body, his intellect and will are intact, thanks to Six, the special ops warrior who captured him, but kept him sane. The warrior had no hand in his deprivation and, like Pietas, was betrayed by his own kind. When Pietas is abandoned on an alien world with nothing but his honor–and Six–he must find and rejoin other immortal exiles. After centuries of war, Pietas detests humans and kills them on sight, but he is too damaged to continue on his own. Though he despises needing help, he allows Six to nurture and restore him to full strength, and then accompany him. As they cross the planet together on foot, the immortal begins to wonder if he has found his first human friend, or if Six is loyal only because Pietas could keep the others from tearing him to shreds. This human will either be his closest living friend, or the one whose betrayal will trigger all-out vengeance by the most powerful immortal ever born.

Immortal. Warrior. Outcasts. Traitors took everything. Except their honor.

Read the first chapter
Amazon print


So, now that you’ve read all this, what are you waiting for? Go get Kayelle’s excellent novel right now. You will not regret it.

Just reviewed K.E. Kimbriel’s “Hidden Fires” at SBR

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Folks, I was very pleased to feel well enough to review Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s HIDDEN FIRES, the only book I’d not yet reviewed over at Shiny Book Review (SBR) in her excellent Chronicles of Nuala series.  HIDDEN FIRES continues the story of Sheel Atare and his wife, Darame the former free-trader (consummate con-artist) and introduces several new characters, including the naïve young would-be free-trader, Garth Kristinsson, his love interest, Lucy of Dielaan, and the next head of the powerful Dielaan family/clan, Rex.

Now, if you’ve already seen my review, you know I gave this book a slightly lesser grade than the two others, as I gave HIDDEN FIRES an A-minus.  (FIRES OF NUALA received an A-plus.  FIRE SANCTUARY received a solid A.)  I loved this book, thought the writing and world building and plot were great, loved most of the characters (and really, most is all you get in any book), but considering the other two were so exceptionally good . . . and even considering that in many ways I enjoyed this one the best of the three, particularly because of the romance involved (two good romances, even), I just didn’t feel right giving it a full A.

It’s weird, sometimes, how I grade books.  There are books I absolutely adore that aren’t worthy of A grades at all (not an A-plus, A, or A-minus) . . . for example, one of my favorite comfort books is P.C. Cast’s GODDESS OF SPRING, which has a great heroine in forty-three-year-old Carolina “Lina” Francesca Santoro, and a fine, sexy, brooding and misunderstood hero in Hades, Lord of the Underworld.  Lina is a baker from our world who’s in trouble; her newest bakery is failing despite her many talents, and she needs help.  She prays to Demeter, finding a prayer in an old cookbook, and ends up being exchanged for six months with Demeter’s daughter Persephone.  In that short span of time, she meets up with Hades, falls in love with him, but knows she cannot stay — and it doesn’t help when Demeter fails to realize that Hades truly is in love with Lina, either.

This is a book that I love, yes, but it gets a solid B from me (maybe a B-plus on a good day) for several reasons.  One, there are some really odd editing things going on in that book — stuff Ms. Cast probably couldn’t do anything about when the book first came out, but in the many reprintings since should’ve been addressed.  Two, I hate to say it, but I did not buy Persephone’s transformation at all.  While we do see some of Persephone in our world, she never once throws a hissy fit at being exchanged against her will by her mother Demeter — because, you see, Persephone did not consent to this whatsoever — and really, I would’ve expected at least one.  (Wouldn’t most people be upset if they were in their youth and first blush of beauty one minute, and in a forty-three-year-old body the next?)  But rather than being upset, Persephone insists on “upgrading” Lina’s body by exercising, dieting, and revamping Lina’s wardrobe.


Another book I’ve read again and again is by Linnea Sinclair, GABRIEL’S GHOST.  This, too, is a fine B-level effort by Ms. Sinclair rather than an A, mostly because there were elements of the plot that didn’t seem to fit as well as in other novels by Ms. Sinclair (such as the excellent AN ACCIDENTAL GODDESS or even THE DOWN-HOME ZOMBIE BLUES).  Here, I loved the main characters, hated the characters Ms. Sinclair wanted me to hate, and enjoyed the rousing action-adventure — yet there was something in this book that left me feeling unsettled.

This, my friends, is the difference between an A-level of any sort and a B-level of any sort.

So what you see in my review tonight of Ms. Kimbriel’s HIDDEN FIRES is that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, plan to read it many times in the future, and will never forget the characters nor the situations they’re in nor the world in which all this action takes place.  I thought the characters were great and did what they were supposed to, and felt that the returning “mains” — Sheel and Darame — were solid characters that felt real in every possible respect.  And I believed that the other two “new mains,” Lucy and Garth, were realistic, honestly written characters that were probably damned difficult to deal with due to Lucy’s rather odd self-abnegation (during most of HIDDEN FIRES, I kept wondering, “What does Lucy want?  Not what Rex Dielaan wants — not even what Quin, the good Dielaan wants — what does Lucy want?”  But Lucy, herself, never once asked that question of herself.) and Garth’s obvious naïveté while thinking he’s a big-time man of the worlds.

As a writer, these were Ms. Kimbriel’s characters.  They make perfect sense, in context.  And I believed them, in context.

But as people, they don’t completely make sense to me.  Even on Nuala, it seems to me that most of the women are very strong individuals whether they’re healers, Ragärees, or are farmers way out in the Ciedärlien, so why Lucy has so little sense of self — it’s not even a lack of self-esteem so much as seeing Lucy, herself, as important in the cosmic scheme of things (or at least in the microcosmic scheme of things) — is worrisome.

Granted, Ms. Kimbriel couldn’t go there in HIDDEN FIRES because it wasn’t Lucy’s story, exactly.  Lucy was a pawn, not a queen, and certainly not a Ragäree — she knew she’d been raised as a glorified “brood mare,” resented it, and wanted more for herself, but — spoiler alerts beyond this mark  — backed the wrong horse.

Big time.

And Lucy needed to back that wrong horse so we’d see her eventual redemption, an arc done particularly well by Ms. Kimbriel as Lucy, once again, is a character where very little of who she actually is comes out in anything she says.

While Garth needed to be exactly who he was — a naïve man, yet fundamentally honest enough in his own, twisty way to figure out how to keep Rex Dielaan from hurting everything (including Lucy), even if it meant joining forces with Darame Atarae in the process.

Anyway.  This book is exactly what it needs to be, but those two characters were difficult to root for in certain respects despite Ms. Kimbriel’s charming way of writing them.  (Not her fault Lucy wouldn’t talk with her, after all.  Characters are funny that way.)  That’s why even though I adored the book, and thought it’s in many ways the strongest of the three — particularly in the romance department — it received an A-minus.

One final thing about grades, though: Recently at SBR I’ve read a number of books that have been wonderful.  This is not always the case, as long-term readers of my book reviews already know.  For a trilogy to get no lower than an A-minus out of me for all three books is astonishingly good, and might even be a first.

And the series, as a whole, is a solid A.  Which rarely, if ever, happens.

So the upshot is this: Aside from Stephanie Osborn’s great Displaced Detective series (book four will be reviewed by me, here at my own blog, in the coming weeks), I haven’t read three books I’ve liked more in a very, very long time.

Really.  You owe it to yourself to read what Ms. Kimbriel has written, is writing and will write.

So do yourself a favor.  Go buy one of her excellent books.  Then settle down to read.

Elsewise, you’ll be missing something extraordinary.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 20, 2013 at 11:49 pm