DWED Reviews-The Chronicles of Covent Kingsblood, Tale two of The Shade Chronicles
Review Rating- ***** 5 stars
I was very intrigued by Kingsblood. It was almost as if I was stepping into a 3D realm of vast open marshes, blood and gore, Assassins and culturally depraved characters, which in our day would be thought of as menial and poor. J. L Ficks has a very vast imagination.
I wish this was a video game! I am a girly nerd, not that that is a bad thing. I love anything creative, from books to art, from painting to playing a video game on my Xbox 360. I could totally see myself glued to the TV mastering the arts of being an assassin. In Kingsblood I would be playing the title character Shade, who is not your ordinary assassin. He has a conscience. He has a soul. He fights with himself constantly because he was trained to be a killer and nothing else. Not a family man, not a robin-hood save the world from degradation. He was trained to serve his king and I loved the fact that not only was he a kick ass soldier, but he was also in sync with his inner compassion. Though he fought it, it could not be taken from him. He was still a lost boy searching for a reason to live.
But the book is not just about Shade and his missions. It’s about unique characters with different races that can be easily related to. They have in-depth personalities, even their surroundings is visually stimulating. There were times when I became confused, I had to put the book down and go online to the website and read about all the races, characters, view the map to get a good vision of what I was reading. And that’s what hooked me most. There is an interactive site! I don’t have to rely on just my own imagination. The Author has given us an expansive tool to really enjoy the book. To get a feel for what he wants the reader to visualize as they follow Shade on his journey.
I don’t want to spoil this experience for anyone, so I will not go into much detail. You have to read this book. You have to visit the site. You will be amazed at how much heart, time and effort J. L. Ficks has put into this series. Its original, it’s fascinating and it will leave you wanting more.
I would not recommend this book if you don’t want to put in the time to read it. To understand the world J. L. Ficks has created I really suggest you go to the site; learn about the world, character and races before diving right in. But if you are a fantasy and action lover, this is definitely the book for you.
Great Job J. L, you put your soul into this and I can honestly say it was an amazing journey reading this novel.
DWED:I was intrigued by the storyline as well as highly developed cast of Chronicles of Covent’s Kingsblood. How was this world created?
Covent was first dreamed up by J. E. and I many years ago in high school. We started with just three characters and then we just kept adding from there. New characters led to new races and nations, then we quickly got to mapping and a world was born. Unbeknown to many, J. E. is a pretty decent artist in his own right. He got out an art pad and some color pencils and drew this, the very first map ever map of Sylvane (the continent where all the stories take place).
DWED:Shade is a unique assassin who seems to have developed a conscience, was that something his training could not destroy inside of him?
Good observation. After Shade stream-rolled through so his mark and dozens of minions in Shade I: Waiting Game, I wanted to poke at his cold and seemingly invincible persona. I wouldn’t say he developed a conscience, but his training buried it down so deep he nearly had forgot it was there. I thought it logical that Shade would lock away his softer feelings in his struggle to survive as an orphan and which helped him to embrace the cold hard mantle of an Unseen Assassin.
I also liked the conflict this formed in Shade throughout Kingsblood. Most of his decisions, including those he protects in Jile are self-surviving, but part of him is starting to care. These are dangerous feelings for an assassin. The nature of his mission and the unwanted tagalong in Jago forces him to repeatedly confront such feelings. I picture Shade’s heart being as hard and callous as stone, but life is scrapping away breaking through to the softer tissue. And beneath this decade old callous lurks the pale flicker of a conscience.
DWED:Tell us more about your website? I found it a very useful tool when trying to get a picture in my mind of the different races and persona’s involved with the characters.
The website is a major part of our vision. There are far too many fantasy series out there where you read the general sales description, but you still have no idea what the book is about or sometimes who even the main character is. Being long time video gamers we noticed how games did a much better job promoting characters, races and places in their upcoming books, so we thought why not do the same for fiction?
Many of the popular fantasy books are downright intimidating these days with authors not pausing to explain new ideas and you feel lost in the vision. That said we understand how essential it is for description not to slow down the flow of the story, so we thought why not update our website with new characters, races, factions, creatures and place with the release of every new book? This way the world keeps growing and readers can reference the website without us forcing us to redescribe everything every time. In addition we’ve had tremendous influx of concept art generously donated to us from a variety of talent artists, so stop by and check it all out at the ChroniclesofCovent.com! Don’t miss our highly interactive map or timeline that will grow more and more useful in the future…
DWED:Is there anything about Shade that’s not in the book? Or will we learn about it later on in another installment?
YES! There’s a ton more to learn about Shade! We have several more Shade Series specific books planned, many ego-shattering moments and a major life-altering event that will set him up for the Triloriad™ itself. I see the Shade Series as being one big story about the bearing out of Shade’s soul and when the dust clears you’ll be shocked with what we do with this cold-hearted assassin. Shade III: The Weeping Grounds has so much in store for him already. Stay tuned!
DWED:Besides the Chronicles of Covent’s Kingsblood, is there anything else you are working on?
Another resounding yes! If I told you of the sheer number of books we are working on you’d fall out of your chair and lock us up as madmen! I am plucking away at Shade III: The Weeping Grounds which puts Shade in the oppressed position of posing as a slave to get to his mark in the Slave Trade and it is SOOO different than any Shade book that had come before it. It will also make you question the good in traditionally good races as you see their darker side and whether the evil races are really fully evil. If you want a foretaste of what we have in store there’s a rocking free sample chapter at the end of Shade II: Kingsblood.
We will also be releasing the first installments of our other projects, for those who might want to read alternative characters to our dark, cold-hearted assassin. The Last Field of Honor is nearly complete and is part of a trilogy about the bloody and brutal climax of the Elf Wars. We also have Paths of the Magi from our Adventure Series soon to be released that follows the exploits of a band of heroes and deals a lot with the High Mage Order. Many major heroes and villains encountered in those books will be a part in our master epic saga we call the Triloriad™.
Don’t forget that every tale you read now is designed to lead into the Triloriad™. The Triloriad™ is like our Lord of the Rings trilogy. You can think of these other tales like Hobbit tales of various adventures and struggles building into the great threat of the age. We hope by writing books this way will build support, funds and anticipation for the release of the Triloriad™ itself and hopefully put it on shelves across the world.
DWED:In Kingsblood we are given a peak into Shade’s past, how his mother died and his anguish with his father, was that always a part of his drive to do better than his parentage?
I think Shade developed his drive through pain and necessity. His mother was arguably one of the few people he cared for until Jile. The horrible way she died, the uncaring and cruel heart of Shade’s father created a monster inside Shade that he used to survive as an orphan on the streets. Shade’s old master, Lord Sadora, recognized the strength in Shade’s drive over any of his other candidates, who were sons of rich estates.
Sadora become kind of a warped father-figure in Shade’s life, using him to carry out brutal murders in his secret circle of Unseen. Shade reached a point in his life where he realized he had gained the world, but forfeited his soul, so he fled Jui-Sae. He avenged his mother before he left and has been living as a contract assassin out west when the books start. The problem is that he has achieved his dreams, but his profession has cost him everything. The inner struggle you see inside him in Shade II: Kingsblood will only increase in future installments. I think that’s what makes his story so interesting in the long run.
DWED:What was the inspiration behind creating the world of Jui-Sae?
We wanted to do something different than dark elves in Norse Mythology or modern fantasy, which both have them living underground. While we’re big fans of the original drow, we wanted to attempt something equally memorable, but different. We are very pleased with Jui-Sae. The idea was basically to make a flip-side of your traditional sun-blessed Elvish forest kingdom, so Jui-Sae became a majestic night kingdom with some pretty scary borders.
Jui-Sae, also called the Forest of Darkness, is Shade’s home kingdom. The dark elves of our world are surface-dwellers who live in majestic moonstone cities that glow in the night. The trees and foliage of Jui-Sae are black, even the leaves, which deters trespassers, but deep Jui-Sae is quite beautiful. Midnight meadows of glowing flowers light up the night. Our dark elves strive to keep outsiders out, but are not wholly evil like in other modern fantasy worlds.
The decision to make them surface-dwellers also increases conflict, which only enhances story-telling potential. The dark elves have been locked in the Elf Wars with the light elves of Jui-Rae. We felt the rivalry between elves and dark elves should be larger and putting them both on the surface forced them to clash. You can read more about Jui-Sae and the Golden Forests of Jui-Rae in The Last Field of Honor, which is our first installment of the Elf Wars.
DWED:Would you ever consider making this storyline into an interactive game that can be played on a console?
Interesting you ask. I can’t make any promises, but we do have a volunteer group of programmers, concept artists and 3D artists trying to put together a Waiting Game video game right now. That said it feels more like a fan project so we’ll have to see how far they take it, but I’ve been very excited about the level of interest shown by other talented people already. Here’s a rough in progress 3D model of Kishrub, that I think rocks even incomplete.
DWED:Is there anything you would like your readers to know about Chronicles of Covent’s Kingsblood?
In terms of plot, characters and climax Kingsblood really felt like a book that just fell together in all the right places. I like Kingsblood so much better than the original that I nearly threw out the first book Waiting Game. That said, Waiting Game laid a good foundation of establishing Shade at the apex of his career and drawing readers into the highly detailed world of Covent. I see the quality of books as the difference between the X-men 1 and X-men 2 movies. X-men 1 was good, but X-men 2 was great. That’s how I’d sum up Kingsblood.
In addition Shade’s rival, Raithe, in Kingsblood felt like the missing ingredient in Waiting Game. Raithe is such a strong villain and his five plus chapter across-city duel with Shade at the end blew away the climax of the original. Also, I was really happy with Doljinaar, City of Kings, which is large enough to make Minas Tirith look like a shoebox. I was really happy with the epic feel of the city and the forgotten depths of the Doljinaar Catacombs that lurked beneath. Also, I really enjoyed fleshing out the Shaltearan Brotherhood, revisiting some old favorites from Waiting Game and how Shade struggled to accept his uninvited tag-along, Jago.
DWED:Has there been an author in particular who inspired you to write?
Tolkien would be the most obvious answer, but my favorite fantasy novels are the original Dragonlance chronicles trilogy. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are two of the most talented writers I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. I can still picture that story in mind and remember its awesome characters. I also have a high respect for their ability to name characters, which I’m convinced has become a lost art in the present day. I also enjoy the historical fiction of Francine Rivers, who I think is hands down one of the best authors alive today.
DWED:What are you reading now?
I’m currently reading Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings and trying to read book two of Dragonlance’s The War of Souls trilogy. Sanderson’s scenes and dialogue have been sharpening me. I get a bit lost in the Shard Magic, but he’s definitely an excellent writer who challenges me to grow. I’m trying to enjoy The War of Souls trilogy from Weis and Hickman, but other than Mina, I’m having a hard time really caring about most of the characters since most of my favorites have died. Still, I’m trying to give it a chance.
DWED:What can we expect from you in the coming year? Tour dates? Releases?
That will be contingent on our new baby. The baby is due in a month and I promised my wife I wouldn’t let the project get in the way. That said we have two books we are finalizing, so I hope to release either The Last Field of Honor or Paths of the Magi by next January latest. One of them may show up earlier than that for 90 days on Kindle to build our customer base. Also, I’m going to be updating the website with FAR more new character, races, factions, creatures and places to build anticipation for our upcoming releases. New artwork will continue to be posted as received. Stay tuned to chroniclesofcovent.com!
DWED:What is something you would like to share to aspiring authors?
I think the best thing you can do is just get your book out on paper. Just spit it out and clean it up later. I’ve known a number of really talented writers who haven’t crystallized their writing dreams because they keep obsessing over chapter one. I’ve got one under my wing right now who has a series with true potential, but he just needs to vomit it out. I’d probably apply that logic to any dream. Keep working at it, ignore the naysayers and one day you very well might pluck those dreams right out of the clouds.
For more on J. L Ficks and The Chronicles of Covent visit the website!