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text 2018-11-10 10:55
Book Tour with Excerpt, Guest Post and Giveaway! The Black Trillium by Simon McNeil!

 

 

The Black Trillium
by Simon McNeil
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy

 


Confederation rules in Trana—so says the king.

 

But Fredericton is a long way from the shores of Lake Ontario, and schemes for power will bring together three extraordinary young warriors.

 

Savannah


A desert girl who came to Trana looking for refuge but has never found a home

 

Kieran


A privileged city boy dreaming of rebellion and hardened by cruelty

 

Kyle


The disgraced heir to the throne desperate to win back his place in his father's heart

 

Sworn enemies or reluctant allies, they all have one thing in common: an incomplete half of the legendary fighting skill known as the Triumvirate sword art. They fight for glory, for power, for the monsters lurking beneath the streets, and for the mysterious society moving in the shadows of Trana—the Black Trillium.

 

 


Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25334228-the-black-trillium

 

 

 


AVAILABLE in print or ebook


Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Black-Trillium-Simon-McNeil-ebook/dp/B00W27J4L0

 

iBooks - https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/the-black-trillium/id984246146?mt=11

 

B&N - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-black-trillium-simon-mcneil/1121718689?ean=2940151863292

 

Kobo - https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-black-trillium

 

 

 


EXCERPT 3

 

My bodyguard, the mute giant Brutus Cloven, fell in behind me as I left the chamber from where he’d been waiting in the anteroom. He was milk-pale, entirely hairless and his eyes were pink. The giant looked freakish but he was a comforting presence too. He’d been with my family as long as I could remember, stolid and silent, a worn marble statue of loyalty.


Brutus never spoke a word but his pink eyes never missed a threat, and he’d saved my life on many occasions.


“We ride out tomorrow at dawn,” I said to Brutus. “Round up your best guards to accompany us. We’ll have enough trouble in Trana, if the rumours of the Black Trillium prove true.”


Brutus saluted and left to follow my orders. He looked more nervous than usual, as if marching on Trana was somehow particularly unsettling to him. Or perhaps he simply didn’t like travel.


There was one other person I needed to speak to before sending for Marc and planning the campaign. It gave me shivers just to think it. At long last I would be planning a campaign.


I walked to her suite, one of the most lavish set of rooms in the entire iron palace. They had been mine once. Even a disgraced son of the king could expect good lodgings.


I opened the door and she was there, brushing her long black hair. Her huge green eyes fixed on mine from her mirror, a real glass one, not bronze. That mirror alone cost as much as the arms and horses for a dozen knights, but it was just the least of the marvels in her room.


And if I could I would have given her more.


“Sophie,” I said. “We leave in the morning, for Trana.”


“But I haven’t finished searching Fredericton for it.”


Ah yes, the manual, the book of sublime martial skill that she hunted.
“If there were any swordsman with the skill you say the manual contains in Fredericton, we’d have found him by now,” I said.


Sophie frowned, her big red lips beautiful even in a scowl. “I suppose you are right.”


“Trana is the largest city in Confederation, there are fifty-thousand people there. Perhaps somebody will have heard tidings of the manual.” I knew how much the manual meant to her. It was seeking it that led her to Fredericton to begin with. All she knew is that it was somewhere in Confederation. Or at least that is all she would tell me.


There were many things about her past that Sophie kept even from me.


She smiled. “Yes, perhaps Trana would be a good place to seek the manual.”
“And when you find it?”


“I will be eternally grateful,” Sophie said and she turned, looking at me in the flesh rather than the glass of her mirror.


“When we return,” I said. “I will make you my queen.”


“Yes,” Sophie said, “when we have the manual, I think I would enjoy being queen.”


“I have much to do,” I said. “Be ready to ride at dawn.”

 

 

Do your characters hijack your book? Is there anything you would change about the book?

 

When I write a novel the only constant throughout the process is characterization. The entire plot may shift, settings change, timelines fluctuate, but the thread of character remains the lodestar of the story.

 

Kieran was always callow and passionate.

 

Savannah was always withdrawn but compassionate, more cynical than Kieran but still hopeful for a gentler world.

 

Kyle was always a selfish prick with daddy issues and far too much entitlement. How these characters bounced off each other and their secondaries was always what shaped the book.

 

So yes, they hijacked the story, but I couldn't have written it any other way. But there is a weakness in this, and that's one thing I would have changed if I had to do it over.

 

When I was finished the book I wasn't entirely satisfied with Sophie's characterization. There's an interesting character there but the characters who served as my POV couldn't see her.

 

Kyle was too fixed on the image of Sophie he had in his head and never bothered to really learn who she was within herself. Savannah only saw a monster to fight, and never tried to get to know her and Kieran had very little to do with her. I felt the absence of her internality was ultimately a flaw in the story, and I think, if I could ever do it over again, I'd make her a POV character in her own right.

 

 

Simon McNeil is the author of The Black Trillium, a story of revolution and martial arts set in the ruins of Toronto. This novel is published by Brain Lag Publishing.
He is an online marketing communications specialist with a major educational institution when not wandering the world looking for trouble. He is a life-long martial artist, has published several articles in Kung Fu Magazine and he’s probably a little bit too fond of kung fu movies.


He lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife who has happily laid out rules to prevent the sword-through-glass-lampshade incident from ever happening again. The Black Trillium is his first novel.

 

 

 

Website - https://simonmcneil.com/

 

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/simon.b.mcneil

 

Twitter - https://twitter.com/simonm223

 

InstaGram - https://www.instagram.com/simonm223

 

Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Simon-McNeil/e/B010M9JE8W

 

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5031089.Simon_McNeil

 

Brain Lag Publishing - http://www.brain-lag.com/books/the-black-trillium.php

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.silverdaggertours.com/

 

 

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review 2018-10-30 17:55
Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Hell Divers (Hell Divers Trilogy Book 1) - Nicholas Sansbury Smith

I’ve listened to this book twice and it was great both times through. The first go drew me in with this airship and the hell divers and the destroyed land beneath them. The second pass let me appreciate the characters more. Xavier (X to most) and his sorta adopted kid Tin are both great characters. Both have a lot on their shoulders and both save their little society in their own ways.

The setting really captured my imagination. Yes, this is post-apocalyptic fiction, but in this world, the apocalypse came a bit further along the human timeline. Even the remnants of the technology that was once available is just beyond what we have now. The Hell Divers jump to gather much needed supplies for their airship, keeping it in the air, away from the worst of the radiation for generations now. But stuff is breaking down, supplies are limited, and the situation becomes more and more desperate.

I did get a little chuckle over Hades being what once was Chicago. All those deadly lightning storms! And the monsters dubbed the Sirens! I’m a huge Dresden Files fan and I can just see Harry Dresden rolling over in his grave that Chicago has fallen to lightning and monsters!

Even with everything being in a desperate state, politics still plays a role in the management of the ship. So true. I can see why the rebels demand more meds and more food but their efforts end in a body count and could have easily ended them all! The captain was put in a very tough situation. She couldn’t let this minor rebellion grow but any body count earns her a bit more hatred from part of the population. Captain Ash earned my respect with her actions during this crisis.

I loved that the ladies were part of every aspect of this story. They were in the military management of the airship. They were Hell Divers. They were teachers, cooks, kids, drug addicted desperate people, etc. For a military post-apocalyptic scifi, this was a very important aspect for me and Smith met the challenge! Yay! It’s only practical to have women be on an equal footing at the end of the world.

The action never stops with this book. There were so many moments where I thought for sure this character or that was toast! I was on the edge of my seat the first time I read it. On the second pass, you could still catch me nibbling my fingernails as I relived this scene or that. This was a very enjoyable book! 5/5 stars.

The Narration: R. C. Bray is a delight to listen to. His deep voice for X is perfect. His female voices sounded feminine and his little kid voices were realistic. He makes a great Tin as well as a great Captain Ash. The pacing is perfect and he performs those emotional scenes perfectly. 5/5 stars

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review 2018-10-30 17:51
Ghosts by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Ghosts - Nicholas Sansbury Smith

With the way Book 1 ended, I had to jump right into Book 2. Set 10 years later, the book keeps us in suspense as to what ultimately happened to X from Book 1. While that question was in the back of my mind, I got caught up with Tin, who’s real name is Michael Everhart. He’s now a young man, considered a full experienced adult in this post-apocalyptic society. The Hive airship is still flying. Yet things haven’t been all rosy these past years. It’s been one emergency after another. Captain Leon Jordan handles some of these emergencies well and others not so much. As the pressure builds, he makes more and more mistakes.

Once again, the action keeps this book moving along at a swift clip. I worried over this character or that one and was on the edge of my seat for the entire book. Michael is a great character to follow. He’s become a Hell Diver (like his dad and like X).  I was glad to see that Layla was still a significant part of Michael’s life. I love that they work as a team and there’s no ridiculous chauvinistic chivalry from Michael and no fainting flower silliness from Layla. These two are a great hero duo.

There’s a canine companion, Miles, in this book which makes life bearable for a certain character. Yay! Of course, there were several times where I worried about the dog’s safety. No fears! The dog makes it through this book.

Captain Jordan is not a good person. I think he once was, but the constant pressure since he assumed control (after Cpt. Ash succumbed to cancer) has brought out the worst traits in the man. I think Katrina, who was once X’s lover, has tried her best to keep Jordan level-headed. I knew Jordan had gone to the dark side when he removed the ship’s historical artwork from the hallways. Bad move!

Hell Diver Magnolia is back in this book but early on I worried if she would make it through this book alive! Her accident acts as a catalyst for Michael and his Hell Divers to break some rules. She’s got some of the best lines in the book.

All told, this is a worthy sequel to Book 1. I found it just as enthralling. 5/5 stars.

The Narration: R. C. Bray continues to do this series justice. I liked his grown up voices for Tin (Michael) and Layla, who were kids in Book 1. He had the perfect voice for jerk captain Jordan as well. His female characters sounded feminine and each character had a unique voice. The pacing was perfect as well. 5/5 stars.

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review 2018-10-30 17:45
Deliverance (Hell Divers 2) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Deliverance - Nicholas Sansbury Smith

X is my hero! Well, perhaps Miles (his bioengineered dog) is my first hero and X is a close second. I have totally binged read this series. I already have Book 4 on pre-order too. The pace is swift, the setting gripping, and the characters engaging. This series has been one of my favorite stories I’ve listened to this year and one of my favorite post-apocalyptic stories of all time. Book 1 was great and Smith has managed to carry that awesomeness throughout the series.

Team Raptor, lead by Hell Diver Michael Everhart, spends some quality time on Earth rather than up in The Hive airship. Captain Jordan has rocked off his hinges and Team Raptor was in danger of being exterminated. Now Michael knows that X survived the ending of Book 1, even left a recorded radio message that Jordan was aware of, and now Michael needs  to find out if X is still alive. Plus, things in the air aren’t going well. The inhabitants of The Hive will need an earthly home sooner rather than later.

Through X, we get to learn more about the remnants of humans and their tech. One of the things I have really enjoyed about this series is that the apocalypse happened further down the timeline so the tech is more advanced than what we have now, but considered remnants by X and the other airship humans. There’s bioengineered animals, and cryogenics, and some AI. This really gives it a near-future scifi feeling as well as being post-apocalyptic.

Katrina has done her best to smooth things out with Captain Jordan but he’s gone too far on too many things. She can no longer keep him stable and reasonable. He’s dead set on keeping The Hive in the air no matter the costs; he’s willing to ignore any facts to the contrary. Katrina has to make some hard decisions in this book and I admired her for that.

Team Raptor (Michael, Layla, Magnolia, and Roger) come across more dangers than just the Sirens and radiation. As they explore the surface, they discover aggressive plants and evidence that the humans in the sky aren’t the only ones that have survived this long. Once again, Magnolia and her smart mouth was one of my favorite characters.

The action propels the story forward and before I knew it, I was done. Now I had to wait for Book 4. The sweet torture! Good thing I can go back and re-read the series before Book 4 comes out. 5/5 stars.

The Narration: R. C. Bray is excellent to listen to in this series. He’s aged and rasped up X’s voice so it’s perfect. I love his smart mouth for Magnolia and his angry, frustrated voice for Captain Jordan. There’s some emotional moments in this tale and Bray captures those perfectly. 5/5 stars.

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review 2018-10-30 17:36
Trackers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Trackers - Nicholas Sansbury Smith

My addiction to Smith’s works continues. I tore through his Hell Divers series (which I totally loved) and then jumped into this series. Finally, I’m writing reviews.

This post-apocalyptic series is set in modern times, mostly set in Estes Park, Colorado (which is an easy day’s drive north of me). In this scenario, EMPs are set off in key points of the USA, shutting down our electric grid and wreaking havoc. The North Koreans have nearly paralyzed the US government! Even as people start to grasp what has happened, the hits keep coming for Washington DC.

I became attached the Estes Park characters much quicker than I did with the Washington DC characters. I did like the alternating view points. Sam ‘Raven’ Spears (retired Marine) and his dog Creek are my favorite characters hands down. Sam has been a bit of a loaf in Estes Park but now with this nationwide emergency he has a chance to really make a difference. Also, this is a murder mystery story and Raven gets caught up in that too since he and Creek are excellent trackers. Raven’s sister Sandra, who works as a nurse at the hospital, and her daughter (Allie) become caught up in this mystery too.

The reaction of the average citizen was very realistic. Sure, a lot of stuff has stopped working, there looks to have been a bomb off on the horizon (maybe a nuclear bomb), but some things still work and surely the government will be by any time to set things right, right? Some people were more skeptical, some caught on quicker, some didn’t wait to find out one way or another, etc. It was a great mix of believable responses.

I was a little surprised by the ladies. I’m coming to this series from Hell Divers where the ladies do everything the men do; gender equality is a given not a ‘check the box’ thing. So here we have several well made female characters that are competent in their given jobs and yet none of them are in the thick of it. They generally don’t handle weapons and they certainly don’t go out on missions to scout, track, or rescue. I was left wanting more from the ladies.

While Raven works with police chief Colton on tracking down a killer, Nathan Sardetti goes on a rescue mission near Estes Park. His handicapped nephew, Ty, was at a special camp when all hell broke lose. Nathan’s sister, Senator Charlize Montgomery (who’s a retired fighter pilot), was in DC when things headed south. She’s recovering from serious injuries and can’t join in the search herself. Her body guard, Big Al Randall, do their best to rejoin the remnants of the US government.

Unfortunately, there’s a group of white supremacists (Sons of Liberty) in the area near Estes Park and they would be quite happy to have some important captives. I loved hating on their leader, Fenix. He was so hate worthy but also calm, collected, smart. He makes a worthy foe for both Nathan and Raven.

The murder mystery, the believability of the EMP attack and response, and the bits of Sioux & Cherokee believes all worked well for me. The tame ladies left me wanting a bit more. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Bronson Pinchot gave a pretty good performance. There was this side character that was written as very loud and a bit rude and Pinchot did that voice well but sometimes I had to turn the volume down a little. I liked his voice for Raven and he also made a great Colton. His voice for Charlize Montgomery was feminine and carried her strength as well. His voice for President Diego was a little too much Texas politician for me, but that also made it distinct. 4.5/5 stars.

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