Thursday, March 26, 2020

Book Review: 'Madness and Gods (Blood of Titans: Reforged, #3)' by V.S. Holmes

Madness and Gods by V.S. Holmes

‘I left looking for wisdom. Instead, I went mad’

Massachusetts author V.S. Holmes earned her degree 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, followed by LIGHTNING AND FLAMES, and now MADNESS AND GODS is Volume 3. 

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 central heroine Alea grows in stature here, and she is accompanied by the 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 room was deserted. Arman felt the absence before he opened the door. His gaze roved from the made bed to the hook by the door that no longer held breeches. It’s all wrong. They kept the truth of their bloodlines from their son, hoping he would live the life they could not. One of peace. Of anonymity. Perhaps it was a mistake. Pain gnawed at Arman’s gut. He thought Alea would panic, and he would comfort her. Instead, it was his body thrumming with fear and guilt…The part of him that heard too many legends expected a note on his son’s pillow, explaining he left for some adventure. There was none…’

In many new directions this installment explores the path the saga will take – ‘No one was prepared for the chaos mending the world unleashed. With Alea and Arman gone and the queen dead, Athrolan faces civil war. The kingdom fractures between two heirs—the disinherited and senile Daymir Blackhouse, and the Dhoah’ Laen’s rumored child. Except Alea’s mad son does not know about the power in his veins. Imprisoned in Ban, which teeters on the edge of its own war, his fragile mind may not survive the week, let alone a battle for the crown. The soldier who found him, however, sees more than an enemy in Athrolan, and uses her inability to speak to burgeon her growing rebellion. Whoever runs from the crown faster—and survives their bloodline’s curse—will determine the Athrolani heir.’

Following this fantasy experience is addictive and thoroughly satisfying. Volume 4 awaits. Very highly recommended.

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.