Monday, February 3, 2020

Book Review: 'Sapphire of Souls' by M.R. Mathias

Author M.R. Mathias is an award-winning self-published Fantasy Writer. He is noted for his epic fantasy novels and his prolific social network marketing activity. `Reading fantasy takes us away from reality to a place where impossible things are possible and the righteous somehow find a way to win the day.' And nothing could be more true than stepping into the world of The Legend of Vanx Malic or The Wardstone Trilogy. Mathias freely states his past: `I was in and out of jail since I was a teenager. I used to have a serious drug habit. I stole stuff, I lied, and I abused every known drug on the streets. My charges were for drug possession, that is what I did time for. I also did time when I was younger for burglary. Writing was my salvation. I was in maximum security for a while, over a few fights. I was in a dungeon cell 23 hours a day, everyday.' All the novels were written in longhand, without the luxury of spell check, or word processors, or even a dictionary. Now he is noted for his epic fantasy novels and his prolific social network marketing activity. His 2011 book `The First Ten Steps' shares shared his considerable knowledge of self-promotion. Searching for further information about this author reveals a man less concerned about resume status than about storytelling and his book are directed at the Young Adult sector. And as one interviewer remarked, `Kudos to Mathias for having the audacity to be openly reveal his darkest secrets. It made him the person he is today, an extremely talented fantasy author. He dared to step outside the line and risk just how far he could go.' Mathias has been clean and free since his release, and he has every intention of staying that way.

And now he magically continues his new series FANTASTICA of which SAPPHIRE OF SOULS is Book 2. The writing is ever more polished and sophisticated. As the author states, ‘Fantastica was written a long time ago. So long ago, in fact, that I had forgotten about it for almost two decades. While going through my mother's house, after her death in early 2017, I came across a box containing this manuscript in longhand. It was written after The Wardstone Trilogy, but before I started writing The Legend of Vanx Malic. I estimate it will be at least four books, maybe five in all.‘ A fine promise for us!

Briefly the complex plot is as follows – ‘Ragged and weary from their previous ordeals, Braxton and his motley crew of elves, dwarves, and humans, set off into the Wilderkind Forest in search of the Sapphire of Souls. The problem is, the last time anyone saw the powerful gem was over a hundred years ago when a wood dragon ate the elf who was carrying it. With the necromancer Reaton-Stav forcing his animated corpses to wreak havoc at every turn, and the demon Pharark using the giant gothicans and trolls to invade Narvoza, the future of the realm hangs in the balance. Can our heroes find and destroy the sapphire before Pharark can use its power to bring the kingdom to its knees? Will the necromancer who covets Braxton's medallion find a way to stop them? Does the love Nixy and Braxton share for each other even stand a chance in the brutal world they've found themselves in? There is only one way to find out.’

You must read MR Mathias to appreciate the manner in which he holds together characters through long novels and brings solutions to all the adventures he creates. Some have difficulty with the names at first, but remember this is fantasy and no easy common name would be suitable. Mathias knows exactly how to weave a spell that entraps us from book to book. Grady Harp, September 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.