SPFBO 7 – Meet the Batch “Leaving Home”
The seventh Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) is underway!
Check out our introduction here | meet this year’s judges here | read all about the contest’s origins here | and keep track of phase one here
We have divided the 30 books into 6 batches of five books each, with each batch loosely grouped around a common theme or motif. For the next six weeks our SPFBO posting pattern will be:
Monday introduce a new batch of five
Wednesday eliminate three of them and identify two quarter finalists
Friday post the decision as to which quarter finalists which is our pick for semi-finalist and why
The chosen semi-finalists will then each get a full read from all our judges and a Hive review to be posted in the last week of October as we build up to announcing our Hive SPFBO7 Finalist
All the entrants in the competition deserve credit not just for completing a novel length book – but for being prepared to subject themselves to the very public and potentially bruising scrutiny of the SPFBO competition. In each posting we’ll list the books alphabetically by title rather than by ranking. We hope to explain what made us want to read on, or what put us off. You may find the things that discouraged some of us actually pique your interest. After all, reading is subjective and the meaning and value of any book is fashioned anew with every fresh reader/book combination.
But now let’s MEET OUR THIRD BATCH …
This week’s theme is “Leaving Home.”
“Leaving Home” is as popular a starting point for many a fantasy novel as “A stranger comes to town.” Indeed, the latter often precipitates the former, and has done since a certain wizard scratched an ugly mark on a pristine green door in the Shire. Journeys of one kind or another are rich with narrative promise because, in addition to the strangeness of a secondary world, our protagonists are thrown out of their own comfort zone with a host of new experiences. Readers and characters get to discover the uncanny together as travel broadens the mind for both of them.
In the midst of Covid times we are all perhaps a little less well travelled than we would like to be, but in this week’s batch we can enjoy a bit of vicarious journeying. However, I am certain that our own excursions abroad were surely not as fraught with danger, fear or even simple embarrassment as you will find in our “Leaving Home” batch.
In a world of religion and religious wars the fit and the faithful are summoned from their quiet parochial lives on a foreign crusade. The women and children are left behind to glean what they can from fragments of news, but it’s not only the men who will travel afar.
A call to arms against a heathen threat in a hallowed place. A promise made that cannot be broken. An epic journey through unfamiliar kingdoms to lands ravaged by war.
Even those hundreds of miles away cannot escape the call for soldiers to fight for the holy cause in a hallowed land. Those summons reach the small farm of Gwil and Eira, and a husband and father marches away, joining others from his town and across the kingdoms in the fight.
For two years, Eira keeps the farm going, working with her children to tend the crops, all while awaiting news about her husband. When news finally comes, it is in the form of a half-dead townsman, ridden much of the way from the front only to deliver news of an ambush, the men of the town slaughtered, left unburied, their rites unspoken, their souls forever lost in the place between worlds.
While the rest mourn, Eira can only think of the promise she made before Gwil left, the promise to see him properly buried. Leaving the farm in the hands of her children, she ventures from her home for the first time in her life to fulfill that promise. With the help of a drunken priest, an adventurous bard, and dreams of her husband that may or may not be real, she travels across lands she’d never known and into a place where a terrible war still rages on, where she only hopes she can make it alive to see her husband given his rites.
Jason A Holt
A shy monk is plucked from his secluded scriptorium to assist in a mission by the She Wolf – a towering warrior woman, whose occasional visits to his abbey have often left him distracted in mind and spirit. Thrust into close proximity they will learn much of themselves and each other
A Sheltered Monk
By day, Lucían brews potions and illuminates manuscripts in service to the monastery that took him in as a child, wielding magic based in his faith and his purity. By night, he dreams of the world outside the cloister–a world he knows only in books and scrolls…
A Mysterious Warrior
A mercenary known as the She-Wolf hunts for a shipment of stolen manuscripts. When she needs a mage to track them down, she chooses Lucían for both his adorable blushes and his magic. She purchases his contract, hurling him headfirst into an adventure that will test both his skills and his self-control…
A Sacred Vow
Inexorably drawn to the She-Wolf’s strength, surprising kindness, and heated touches, Lucían fights temptation at every turn. His holy magic is both vital to their mission and dependent upon his purity. How can he serve both her and the Lord if he gives in to his desire? As intrigue and danger forces them closer, how can he possibly resist?
A rare planetary alignment proves doubly unfortunate for a young girl as it coincides with one tragic earthbound journey followed by transportation into a secondary world where it seems many hopes rest on her shoulders with only a slim and distant chance to return home.
A plane crash. A cave. A magical journey begins.
It’s June 8, 2004. The first Transit of Venus in more than a century. Lexi Guinel and her family are flying high above the Alps when a storm sweeps in, knocking their plane from the sky. While seeking help, Lexi stumbles through a mysterious veil into a world of magic and evil.
Crown Prince Aeric of Gower obeys his father’s every command, no matter how dark or cruel. When elves and dwarves seize the city Aeric commands, he is grateful for his critical wounds. He’d rather face death than the king’s wrath. Unfortunately, the witches and elves have other plans.
Lexi has more to learn than magic. Life in Gowerland is dangerous, especially after her fate becomes entwined with that of Prince Aeric. They both have important roles to play…provided they don’t kill each other first.
Step through a crack, you can’t go back.
A young girl is called to leave the orphanage where she has been brought up, to train in a world that mixes warfare and magic so that she may serve her country in its long standing war with a ruthless enemy. But every home seems filled with danger.
Cuest is a world at war where men are conscripted when they come of age and women are sent to nurtures to birth more soldiers to replace those they bury.
At the orphanage of Sector Six, Zecaar, a hopeful pessimist, is saved from her numbing fate and taken to Talcom Academy because she has something the others do not—she has the talent. As she cultivates her telepathic and telekinetic abilities amid sanctioned fights, discrimination, hidden agendas, and desperate acts, events spin out of control until Zecaar begins to ask herself—is this where I truly belong?
The Hunt is the first installment in The Ninth Scripture trilogy and is a fast-paced adventure of one teenager’s journey to find meaning in a world gone mad, where choice challenges fate, perception eclipses truth, and the twisting path is haunted by the ghosts it creates.
A young amnesiac woman in a richly bejewelled dress washes up beneath a pier in Bournemouth. She knows this is not her home, but returning to her own world only forces her to leave home all over again as love and politics collide.
When Alexandra’s betrothal to the King of Saphyre is announced she is less than overjoyed. Desperate to escape her marriage to the tyrannical king, she flees. But, after a spell goes awry, Alexandra finds herself lost in a strange world with no memory of who she is.
Alexandra begins to adapt to a life she knows isn’t hers. When the mysterious Carlyle arrives, claiming to be her jilted fiancé, she begins to doubt whether her reality is what she truly wants. After Carlyle refuses to take no for an answer, Alexandra finds herself transported to a realm of magic and corruption.
Unable to escape her destiny of becoming queen, Alexandra is determined to end Carlyle’s tyrannical reign over Saphyre. Thrust into the heart of a five-hundred-year-old rebellion, led by Caleb, who claims to be Saphyre’s rightful King, Alexandra is faced with a difficult choice – who is Saphyre’s true ruler?
Check back on Wednesday to discover what our judges thought of these books.