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War Makes Everyone Hungry



Massachusetts author V.S. Holmes earned herdegree Biology for Keene State College and works as a contract archaeologist doing Cultural Resource Management, supplementing her interest in prehistoric people and stone tools. As a disabled and queer human, Holmes is an advocate and sponsor for those writing with disabilities, and is a significant advocate for the LGBTQ community. Her writing is in the SFF genre (Science Fiction Fantasy) and to date she has contributed short stories to four anthologies, as well as her own books – the STARSEDGE: NEL BENTLEY series, and her acclaimed REFORGED series, of which SMOKE AND RAIN was the initial volume, having won the 2015 New Apple Literary Excellence in Independent Publishing Award. The other installments are LIGHTNING AND FLAMES, MADNESS AND GODS, and now BLOOD AND MERCY.

As the fantasy expands, so does the author’s finesse. Again, the atmosphere surrounding Holmes’ saga is mesmerizing, enhancing the credibility of this fantasy tale. And that quality – related in eloquent and imaginative prose – suffuses every aspect of this installment. Holmes’s players grow in stature here, a cast of characters who have become credible even in their fantasy-imposed origins.

Continuing her polished style of composition, Holmes opens with a calendar image from this ‘other place and time’ and maps of the fantasy worlds, as she beckons us to enter this volume with her rich prose: ‘The fourth night on the trail, wolves circled the tens. At the camp’s edge, where cookfire burned, they crept even closer. Rih leaned over, peering past the licking flames at the bright eyes blinking at the edge of the firelight. Already the weather was colder, the air carrying teeth as sharp as those glinting several paces away. “You’d think they’d be frightened, with this many people,” she signed to the woman beside her…’

The saga continues and this episode is well summarized as follows: ‘Keplan reels in the wake of grief and guilt at the blood on his hands. Outside the city walls, however, winter grows fiercer and droughts longer. Alea reforged the fractured world twenty years before --so why is it withering before his eyes? Then, just as he masters being a monarch, a prophet arrives spouting scripture about a One True God. Keplan’s own mother killed the last gods, yet this one matches his description perfectly--and its wrath is about to fall upon Athrolan. Isolated within the same cold, marble walls as Athrolan’s murderous king, Rih struggles to plot her rebellion leagues away from everything she has ever known. With an unexpected ally, she may have finally found a way to the Mirikin Hetmir--until tragedy strikes. With religious fanatics at their walls, blight in their fields, and a king floundering from addiction, Athrolan spirals out of control. Now Rih must choose between a mad king’s life and her own revolution.’

Following this fantasy experience is addictive and thoroughly satisfying. The thunder grows more loud and the passion more rich with each novel. Very highly recommended.

~Grady Harp