Kenneth’s fantasy novel:
After the death of Larret Hamlet’s Reeve, the mage Tripper turns in the report bonds for Laret fief’s census to Lord Ramson. Then following several harrowing events, the Black Swans form to deal with local threats. Beginning the investigations into Tearmain. With no stone unturned, G, Tripper, Winey, Mi, Jess and Eren turn to seek out Lord Ramson reporting on grizzly incidents discovered around Larret Hamlet. But they receive his suggestion to travel west overland to the river, to reach the royal city of Mount Oryn. On their journey, the Black Swans discover an enemy Tearmain army.
Receiving redemption leads G to become known and praised for her abilities and efforts as a strong leader and reliable person, yet she finds discomfort. In a desperate protracted confrontation with an army, a Black Swan is captured and is sacrificed. Later in dealing with a Tearmain’s, General Isela, who is a leader of one of two enemy armies, lead to a darker being. Leading to the Black Swans have to make choices: remain loyal to the Dominnion of Kannoral, convert to this upstart new god, Tearmain, or switch loyalty to General Selanad – or worse. The conclusion of the one adventure may lead to the next adventure, but they need to survive this one.
“Laret: Darkness of Souls” is a multi-layered novel from Kenneth Shumaker, that is reminiscent of Terry Brooks, the Dragonlance series, Tad Williams, and other such classics in the fantasy genre.
However, it could be wrongly assumed that this is “just another fantasy novel”. It isn’t. Far from it, in fact: it is a deeper than usual, often genre-defying in its approach to story, character, and mood.
The world of Laret is a firm reality. It is where the terrain, magic, and physical properties all have a reason and are substantive. Shumaker does a great balancing act of introducing us as a reader to a familiar/yet different world, while still delivering a fast-paced, ripping yarn.
Shumaker comes from Alberta and you can feel his Canadian command of the elements.
But Laret is more than just scenery. There are several characters he introduces, juggling about three to four stories that all come to a dramatic conclusion at the end.
This is a good read that I would highly recommend, especially those fantasy lovers who are a bit tired of the newer offerings of darkness, nihilism, and can be ultimately really shallow. Laret will do your soul well!”
Review by: Eric J Kregel
From Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Dragoman Bloodgrue, Volume: series
The Dragoman Bloodgrue volumes are collections of episodes of the continuing serial short stories, a type of medieval soap opera style series, with multiple individual plot lines. The stories have multiple recurring characters who wind through the life of the main character, our apprentice dragoman, Bloodgrue.
Bloodgrue is a young sixteen-year-old Jalmal apprentice dragoman, living and working in the North Docks, District 5 wards of the royal city of Mount Oryn.
These dragomen are guides and couriers of the bustling cities residents; taking confused or lost people, items, and messages from place to place for fees. The dragomen are considered to be part of the middle-middle-class of society, as they have an important role keeping people and items moving to where they need to go.
The royal seat, the city of Mount Oryn is the second largest of the only two cities in the kingdom of the Dominnion on Kannoral which is located on one of the five continents, the continent of North Amara, situated on the world of Quantos. Our world of Quantos is in a binary star system with two stars: a yellow star, Stonewire, and a smaller orange/red star, Imvor. The two of which the inhabitants of the world refer to as gods.
Mount Oryn is more of a state then it is a city, being spread out thinly divided into thirteen districts. North Docks is district 5, with fifty-one wards in the northernmost reaches of the city. The district’s northernmost dock wards are situated on the south bank of a large river that runs westward through the centre of the kingdom.
Our sixteen-year-old apprentice is trying to eke out a life here, with an unreasonable Master Dragoman overseeing him.
The five published volumes containing the collections of the first twenty-two episodes of Dragoman Bloodgrue series cover a season or two of Bloodgrue’s gruelling life. And he’s just starting out on his journey.
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Exhaust from the Tin Woods
“I was delighted to discover that I enjoyed Eric Kregel’s steampunk novel, set in an alternate reality in the northern woods of Alberta in 1895, more than befits a grandmother.
Exhaust from the Tin Woods is written for a young adult audience and deals with seven teenaged “prattlers” (steam scientists) who bond together although they come from different walks of life. Using their ability to invent ingenious machines, they hasten to overcome sinister events percolating from an unknown source in the surrounding wilderness. Fantastical creatures and machines, an isolated landscape, young love, and late nineteenth-century Victorian ideals pepper the chapters with suspense, humour, charm, and of course, a battle of good versus evil.”
By retired school teacher, Gayleen Hamilton from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Review of “Exhaust from the Tin Woods”
“‘Exhaust from the Tin Woods’ is an imaginative romp into a world creatively assembled out of what feels like spare historical, geographical and literary parts. Kregel’s steampunk tale centres around Brambley Williams, an orphan that joins a cadre of other young students under the tutelage of an industrial and scientific mastermind, Dr Pieter Van Allbrung, in a hidden steam-powered mansion deep in the Canadian wilderness. This Dickens-esque ensemble story is filled with eccentric characters, quirky scenarios and quick, witty dialogue. Amidst the unique assembly of extravagance and fantasy, Exhaust is held in balance by surprisingly rich commentaries on matters of humanity, heart and faith which are skillfully woven throughout the fast-moving story. All-in-all, this novel is sure to provide a pleasant ride to all who climb aboard and hang on!”
by Nathan Carroll,
“Exhaust from the Tin Woods is a quirky, compelling read. Eric Kregel brilliantly suspends reality, leaving the reader wondering who really wrote it and why? It left me oddly off balance and insatiably curious as to the rest of this truncated story set in an almost familiar world. It was like reading a fragment of an ancient scroll that leaves one hanging on a roller coaster that almost made it to the top, the mad race down the rickety track teasingly out of reach. It is a frustratingly well-played ploy to leave the reader craving for more of the tale. This is however, more than just a simple story, there is an intriguing social commentary underlying Eric Kregel’s steampunk world. Sorry, no spoilers. Even if steampunk isn’t your go-to genre – it isn’t mine – read it.”
review by Bill Erlenbach,
By Amazon Customer on June 17, 2017
“Eric Kregel has succeeded in writing a riveting book that combines historical fiction with science fiction. The characters are well developed. The story is set in a rural part of Canada in the late 1800’s near a small town that is expected to become a major city. The story centres on a big house in the woods which houses an inventor and his school of inventors, working on projects that are futuristic even for the 21st century. The principal characters have come to study under the inventor, most of them orphans from Europe. They are all fascinated by inventions made out of steam. The school itself if fascinating; however, it is soon discovered that the woods around the school are not a safe place and the inhabitants will have to defend themselves from the lurking evil of another inventor. I enjoyed the book and the development of the main character, who comes as a student and struggles with the contemporary religion in Europe compared to the world he has come to be a part of. The book has a good combination of philosophy, history, mystery, romance, morality and religious thought. One recommendation I have is to read the definitions of vocabulary before reading the book; I did not and some of the vocabulary was much clearer to me after reading the definitions. I am looking forward to reading more titles by Eric.”