Book Review: Beyond Wizardwall

This Will Make You Want to Re-Read the Beyond Trilogy

Of all the “Beyond” books, I found this one to be the most instantly captivating. The book opens with Niko in the midst of an existential crisis. His mare is in the process of giving birth, and it looks very much as if both the horse and the foal are going to expire. But Niko is exhausted not just from assisting his horse through hours of labor—his previous adventures with Tempus Thales have left him a shattered husk of himself. In the midst of his broken depression, he quits his commission, and heads off—completely vulnerable, into the night.

Stealth, Niko, Nikodemos—is one of the most fascinating characters in all of fantasy. He has a calm and a capability that attracts the admiration of the gods, yet a vulnerability that makes him fragile and appealing. At the beginning of “Wizardwall,” Niko is in the midst of an emotional torment that is highly recognizable as a true physiological ailment. It would be accurate to say he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but that would also be a mere fraction of what Niko represents in this novel. His suffering is not a statement on an individual illness, instead it casts light on the anguish, weakness, and fundamental strength of human beings as a species.

To watch Niko navigate a path between the schemes of figures more powerful than himself is breathtaking. There is a parent/child relationship between Niko and the other characters, even the characters that do not have Niko’s best interests in mind. This relationship is perfectly realized. The majority of the time, Niko exists because the parent allows it, but every now and then Niko slips through the fingers of a closing hand...revealing he has achieved slightly more of what the parent had perceived in him only as potential.

As always, Janet Morris is a lyrical master. There is a beautiful rhythm to the language here and you might find yourself reading this book out loud just to hear the words echo against the walls. I would be hard pressed to name any fantasy novels that contain even a fraction of the nuance the “Beyond” series can boast. These books are just as worthy of formal study as they are purely entertaining. Having closed the cover on “Beyond Wizardwall,” I’m highly tempted to return to “Beyond Sanctuary” and begin again...hopefully more confident with the knowledge I’ve gained, but fairly certain the series will require a third reading...and a fourth...and a fifth...

For fans of fantasy, this book has few equals.  Grab your copy here.

Words with David Berger

Can you tell us a little bit about the Task Force: Gaea series

Eons ago, when I was a senior in high school, I wrote a short story called “The Olympus Corps.” which combined both my loves of Star Trek and Greek mythology. Outer space had its allure, and so did the monsters and gods, so I thought by combining them, I’d have something pretty special. Over the years, I moved away from that outer space setting but kept the rest, and it evolved into Task Force: Gaea—Finding Balance, the story of a group of mortals whose task it is to restore order to a chaotic world at the risk of their own existence. The sequel, Memory’s Curse, takes place immediately after the first book, exploring the dark horror of an ancient evil, The Nebulous One, who hunts the Olympeian gods. With a different history unfolding, the Task Force team needs to work with Apollo to stop the threat. The Liar’s Prophecy, book three (there will be five), takes the team on a different adventure, challenging all they've ever known to be true. 

What's your background in writing? 

I’ve been writing since I was a child, starting with “fanfiction” of the Smurfs with my sister. In my teenage years, I wrote myth-based stories, like the one that eventually because the seed for my novel series. I grew to love writing (and reading, of course), and became an English major, writing many short stories in college, and later, I became an English teacher. I adore poetry, and someday I hope to see my poems published, too. A few years ago, I had two short stories included in an anthology geared toward the LGBTQ audience, New Years to Christmas: 15 Queer Holiday Tales. 

Who are your inspirations/influences? 

My initial inspiration for writing came from reading mythology and comic books, namely Wonder Woman, a character whose origin ignited within me a never-ending fire. While I became an avid reader of fantasy stories, some of the authors whose works influenced me were J. R. R. Tolkien, Piers Anthony, Terry Goodkind, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Neil Gaiman. I also credit author friends of mine whose will to write speaks to my heart. 

What was it like working with CreateSpace?

I decided to go with CreateSpace because my first desire was to see my works in print, out in the world. I don’t have aspirations to be a “best seller” or a “renowned author.” I just want my stories out in the world. Using a printing-on-demand publisher gave me a great deal of freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted. Someday, I may pursue a publishing house, but right now, I’m content where I am. 

Who was responsible for the cover/book design? 

Michael Hamlett created the initial sketches and artwork for the covers. His work provided me with the first fires of inspiration for forging my work. Without his images, I don’t think I would have finished the novel. The design of the covers themselves was mine, using Michael’s art as the focus. 

What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity? 

I use social media, although probably not as well as I could be. I also go to multiple sci-fi/fantasy conventions a year to sell books, do signings, sit on panels, and even facilitate writing workshops. 

Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.? 

At MegaCon last year, a 13-year-old girl bought my books on the first day of the convention. The next day, her mother came back to my table to let me know that not only was her daughter midway through the first novel, but she also loved it more than she loved Percy Jackson (we both use Greek mythology in a modern context). At Bent-Con last year, I had many people come up excited to see me because I had brought a sequel. 

What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?

My author site is here and my blog is here. At my author page, I post conventions and other events, book trailers, and information about upcoming books. 

What projects do you have planned for the future? 

I’m so excited about finishing the third book in my series, The Liar’s Prophecy—it’s the core of the five-part epic—as well as an anthology of stories, Of Mortal Bonds, that explores what happens to the gods in Memory’s Curse. I also have an LGBT novel planned that uses the main characters from the two short stories published in that holiday anthology. 

Is there anything else about you we should know? 

My writing isn’t to make money or give me any length of fame. It’s to get my stories out there. I’m simply a storyteller who has a penchant for the ancient world of the gods.