Tag Archive | Legends of Light

The Stealthmaster’s Shadow by Hope Ann

The Stealthmaster’s Shadow is finally here!

Yep, it’s release day and I’m excited to share my review with you! 😀

It’s been ten confounded years since the war ended.

Verus, a retired soldier, determines to enforce the peace the victory ought to have brought. His wanderings bring him to the city of Nerva, a sprawling riverside chaos no other Stealthmaster will touch.

Commandeering the task of a former comrade, Verus presents himself to the governor and promises to search out hidden Subverters. The true reason for his actions he keeps to himself. After all, the tyrannical governor will hardly approve of lending aid to those pitted against him, but the Subverters need information. Maybe even weapons.

The wishes of the Subverters themselves are immaterial. They weren’t there during the war. They didn’t see the horrors Tauscher spread.

Verus has.

So has the new ambassador from Zahavia who strides through the great doors of the feasting hall, bringing Verus face to face with nightmares from his past.

As the simple mission dissolves into confusion, Verus struggles to help those he’s plunged into danger, from a serving lad to the infuriating woman he’s taken to calling “Princess.” Fleeing will only make the enemy stronger. But staying…

Staying could doom them all.

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Title: The Stealthmaster’s Shadow

Author: Hope Ann

  • Date read: May 27, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Retelling / Christian Fantasy / Twelve Dancing Princesses / Novella
  • Age: New Adult
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 129 (Kindle)
  • Series: Legends of Light, #4
  • Fave character: Verus
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author (thanks!) and these opinions are entirely my own.

Well, that was great!

Meet Verus. Verus is without a doubt my favorite thing about this novella. 😀 He is SO epic! A retired soldier (at… like… in his twenties; what can we say—the war’s over), he’s a Stealthmaster (something which is never fully explained but we basically get the idea) and totally lives up to such a name. He’s constantly sneaking around, lurking in shadows and picking locks and jumping off balconies and being snarky to everybody, and… he’s just epic and so, so much fun! I don’t know how he manages to be kind of grumpy AND all dramatic and sassy, but he is. Everyone’s kind of afraid of Stealthmasters with their mysterious ways (and his awesome cloak! Want.) but Verus at least has a heart of gold, and I loved reading about him, even as he wrestles with his past and learns through mistakes. Anyway, he’s my favorite and so much fun to read. 😀 WHAT a character. ❤

Essentially, reading this is worth it just for Verus. 😉 But it’s an intriguing tale, too, AND (wait for it) it’s a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses! Kinda. There aren’t twelve, and it’s not so much a retelling as an “inspired by,” but the hints and nods to the original were so fun and some were brilliant. It was like picking up clues! And they all made total sense, too. I loved how it was totally different and yet you could recognize bits and pieces of the fairytale, which also mixed well with the Christian allegory parts, largely involved with parallels of the early persecuted Church.

I’m pretty sure there’s a law somewhere that says all Twelve Dancing Princesses retellings must be dark. XD There wasn’t a bunch of scary magic or anything for this one, but some of it was kinda brutal… so be aware of that, if that sort of thing bothers you. Despite the snark and humor, a lot of it’s very intense and deals with some tough themes. It was also interesting how some of the story was told in flashbacks about Verus in the war.

The story is set about a decade after the other three Legends of Light novellas. I think one could read this one and enjoy it without having read those, but I did enjoy it extra since I had. There was a cameo appearance from one of my favorites! 😀 (Hi, Evrard! *waves enthusiastically*) So that was awesome. Most of the characters (like the “princess” character, who’s pretty stealthy in her own right, and a cute little boy, etc.) are new, and even if you haven’t read the first three, this one pretty much stands alone. 🙂

A few times I felt like things could have been explained better than they were and I kind of tripped up and didn’t have a clue what was going on (possibly due to the short length; it is a novella, after all), but I figured things out eventually and I just wish it could have been longer! I’d love to explore this neat palace setting and hang out with Verus and Adreana longer, but I was just relieved things turned out better than it looked like it would for a bit. XD Whew! Quite intense and exciting! With all kinds of mysteries and sneaking about.

Overall, aside from a couple minor things, it’s a fantastic read. And really, with a snarky hero who is incredibly epic (like, how often are people TRULY epic, I ask you?), a lot of witty dialog (I love funny things, okay?), and a Twelve Dancing Princesses theme (my favorite!), what is not to love? You’re definitely going to want to check this one out—I know I’m glad I did! 🙂 (But Verus though. This guy!) A great tale! ^_^

Some Favorite Quotes

Verus flung himself over the banister in one easy motion and landed in a crouch in the gloom of the stairs. The shadows flickered rapid greetings, but no soldier appeared to challenge him.

***

“If you can’t read the meaning of a locked door—”

“It wasn’t locked,” Verus said. “There was merely an obstruction to opening it. A fault I fixed. Without charge, I might add.”

***

“He does have a chimney.” Her eyes twinkled. “Of course, it might smudge your cloak—the latest fashion from Zahavia, I believe? I’d have mentioned it before now, but—”

“Oh, shut up.” Verus stalked back onto the balcony. “Which way?”

“Left. The balcony there.” Adreana pointed to a wide slab of rock several dozen paces away. “I assume you can do it?”

Verus tucked his cloak into his belt. “I hope that’s not an honest question.”

She smirked. “I’ll be waiting.” She paused at the door. “And thanks.”

Verus smiled faintly, then shook his head and forced his face back into grim lines. Botheration take the girl and all the rest. They were more trouble than they were worth. Most people were, in the end.

***

“Did you have to kill the armor?”

“Do you have to make such a racket?” Verus shut the door hastily and glanced to where the helmet hung askew on the frame. “Besides, it’s just a concussion.” He strode over and spun it back in place. “See? He’s looking better already.”

“Still a nasty dent.” Adreana turned up the lamps. “How hard did you hit the poor thing?”

***

“Escape plan?”

“You /did/ have one in place in case the rebellion of yours failed?”

“Why would I ever,” Verus spluttered. “That is what you are counting on?”

“Well, do you have one or don’t you?”

Verus scowled, then hesitated. “Of course I have an escape plan.” Of a sort.

***

“Let’s find your lady.”

“We can probably slip around by—she’s not my lady.” Verus cut himself off.

Diomed smirked.

Verus scowled. “I can maim you and leave you behind.”


About the author of the Legends of Light Series

Hope Ann uses chocolate to bribe a wide ring of spies, from the realm leapers of Aslaria to the double agents of Elkbend, for their stories. Based in Indiana, she is the self-published author of the Legends of Light series, personal writing coach, and the Communications Coordinator for Story Embers. You can find out more about her at authorhopeann.com


Check out my review for the previous novellas in the Legends of Light series, collected in the single volume Burning Rose:


Well? Are you intrigued? Doesn’t it sound funnn? 😉 Let me know what you think in the comments!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

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The Stealthmaster’s Shadow: Cover Reveal! (A Twelve Dancing Princesses Retelling by Hope Ann)

Hey everyone! I’m delighted today to be helping to share the exciting COVER REVEAL for the next book in the Legends of Light series by Hope Ann!

You may remember me reviewing Burning Rose, which was a collection of the first three novellas in this fairytale retelling series with a dash of Christian allegory.

Well, now the 4th one is coming out soon, and I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED, because it’s a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling! And… I mean… hello, this is me we’re talking about, and in case you didn’t know, this is my FAVORITE fairytale and I’m obsessed with retellings of it. XD

SO YEAH.

This novella is titled The Stealthmaster’s Shadow (*cue shrieking because I love this title*) and now it’s time to reveal the gorgeous cover designed by Kate Flournoy!

Oh, whoops, just another snarky quote.

NOT SORRY.

Ahem.

Okay, okay, you’re here to see the cover, so I will finally share it. 😉

Now for the actual cover.

*drumroll*

.

.

.

.

.

It’s ten confounded years since the war ended.

Ten years since the Prince won the war and pardoned the rebels.

And left.

The Prince left, but lasting peace never had a chance to begin.

As a Stealthmaster, Verus is determined to complete the task the Prince left, whatever the cost. Traitors, needlessly vague governors, and threatening rumors are all part of a standard mission. Verus will bring peace to what is left of the world, one city and village at a time. According to the governor’s daughter, the war was never about a physical peace in the first place, but what does she or any of the other Followers know? They weren’t there during the war.

They didn’t see the horrors Tauscher spread over the land or the scars that will never fade.

Commandeering the task of a former soldier, Verus presents himself to the governor of Nerva. Eventually he’ll need to undermine the man, but even Stealthmasters need money, and a mission to discover the owner of a misshapen slipper shouldn’t be difficult.

Until the ambassador from Zahavia appears.

Suddenly face to face with nightmares from the past, Verus struggles to help those plunged into danger, from the governor’s newest prisoner to a serving lad to an infuriating woman he’s taken to calling princess. Fleeing will only make the enemy stronger. But staying…

Staying could doom them all.

Coming June 1, 2018

Click here to preorder now!

Add to Goodreads!

EEP. I LOVE THE COVER. I’m really, really excited for this book. 😀

In the words of Hope Ann herself: “Seriously. Go preorder it before you forget. Unless you have doubts about sarcasm, danger, and a cover that cool. Or if you don’t have money. That might make preordering it a little difficult too.”

Hope Ann uses chocolate to bribe a wide ring of spies, from the realm leapers of Aslaria to the double agents of Elkbend, for their stories. Based in Indiana, she is the self-published author of the Legends of Light series, personal writing coach, and the Communications Coordinator for Story Embers. You can find out more about her at authorhopeann.com

So, what do you think? Thoughts on the cover, the TITLE, the blurb? The fact that it’s coming out sooon (*grabby hands*)? …The fact that it’s a TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES RETELLING?? HALP I’M SO EXCITED.

Talk to me in the comments! 😀

Thanks for reading! ^_^

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

Burning Rose Review + 3 Steps To Rewriting Fairytales Guest Post

Hi everyone! I’m excited to be a part of the release of Hope Ann’s paperback collection, Burning Rose!

In this post, I’ve got a review for the book, below, and an awesome guest post from Hope Ann about writing fairytales! 🙂 Thanks for coming over to my blog today, Hope! ^_^

Enjoy!


Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated author. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, playing with inspirational photos, blogging, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She is the author of Legends of Light is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about her at authorhopeann.com


Guest Post from Author Hope Ann

Burning Rose and My Three Steps to Rewriting Fairy Tales

There are three steps I follow when I settle down to rewrite a fairy tale.

Research the basics

I go back and read the original fairy tale before I do anything else. The popular version of some stories, like Beauty and the Beast, are much different from the fairy tales themselves. This isn’t to say you can’t use aspects of popular retellings, such as having a Gaston character in a Beauty and the Beast story, but brush up on the original story first and write out the basics you want to keep. For Beauty and the Beast, this would include a beast who is overly protective of a rose, a girl who gives herself for her father and lives at the beast’s place for a number of months, and ends with a week where she leaves and comes back late. Many fairy tales are very basic with a simple plot that can be treated almost like an outline

Ask why

Why does the beast care about the rose so much? Why does the father let his daughter give herself up, or does he allow it at all? Why is Beauty late in returning home? Many fairy tales abound with many questions that are never explained. Answering these can create fascinating backstories and subplots.

Twist familiar aspects of the story

Maybe the beast doesn’t want Beauty in his castle anymore than she wants to be there. Maybe the witch in Rapunzel is actually saving the child from her parents. Maybe a brother eats the apple in Snow White to protect his sister and ends up asleep. Have fun. Switch good or bad characters. Switch the roles of a character or combine them. Most readers know how a given fairy tale ends. Twist the story enough so they don’t know if the characters will get their happy ending, or twist it again to completely turn the fairy tale on its head. The important thing to remember is to treat the original fairy tale like an outline and move out from there.

I’ve enjoyed changing fairy tales, even ones I don’t care for, into exciting stories. And now, for the first time, you can read my first three retellings in one paperback book!

A war, founded in ancient legends, changes the lives of those it touches forever.

Elissa, a villager from the northern mountains, attempts to save her brother and ends up trapped in a hidden valley with a strange host and a treacherous enemy.

Evrard, the Wingmaster of the Prince’s army, races against his own weakening powers to discover the location of his twin and save her from deadly mistbenders.

Haydn, a pardoned rebel from Tauscher’s army, confronts shadows of myth and former comrades in his struggle to keep his sister safe and find the stolen Stormestone.

BONUS

Before the war, before the legends, before the Separation, there was a man who started it all. There was a curse, a promise, and a sacrifice. There was the Oathkeeper.

Fairy tales retold as you have never heard them before.

ROSE OF THE OATH: Beauty and the Beast
SONG OF THE SWORD: Rapunzel
SHADOWS OF THE HERSWEALD: Hansel and Gretel
and
ROSE OF THE NIGHT: a Rose of the Oath prequel

Order Burning Rose now!


Title: Burning Rose
Author: Hope Ann

  • Date read: September 30, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale Retelling (Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 452 pages (paperback; though I read an ebook version)
  • Series: Legends of Light, 1-3
  • Fave character: Haydn, Evrard, Adrian
  • Source: The author (thank you!)
  • Notes: This is a collection of 3 novellas and a novelette prequel.
  • Links: Add on GoodreadsPurchase

I very much enjoyed this collection! 🙂 Here are some individual thoughts about each story, and then some thoughts at the end about all of them in general.

Rose of the Night

3 stars

This is a prequel novelette set before the three novellas. It’s not a fairytale retelling, but is an allegory of the Fall of Man and has a few other Christian elements. It was actually super depressing and dark—as might be expected from that kind of thing. XD But wow. O_O So I didn’t care for it as much, BUT I liked it better once I had read the next story and could just view it as the backstory of the Beast character from the Beauty and the Beast story. XD Overall, a little depressing for me (others might enjoy it more!) but definitely gripping, interesting, vivid, and very atmospheric! 🙂

Rose of the Oath

4 stars

A Beauty and the Beast retelling! I enjoy those, and this was original and intriguing! It has some unique things like the heroine’s brother, instead of dad, picking the rose, and the rose itself is VERY connected to things… 😉 It was so fascinating seeing the “Beauty” character (Elissa) communicate with the “Beast” character (Oathkeeper Adrian) because he couldn’t really speak because of a curse. I didn’t love Elissa but she was all right, and Adrian was pretty awesome, so. 😀 I liked Eldric (her brother) too! I’m trying to think what else I can say without spoiling things! It’s classic and new all at once. I kind of want to live in that castle. The writing was vivid, and there’s a lot of scary wolves and gorgeous roses. What’s not to like? 🙂 It’s not quite a top-favorite for some reason, but overall it was intriguing and exciting, and I really enjoyed it! A good B&B retelling, and a good story in its own right, too. 🙂 *hugs story*

Song of the Sword

4 stars

This one was so unique and fascinating! The two different planes of existence, the “Tangible” and the “Melody” or spiritual realm. It was so cool reading about Evrard, who has the ability to slip back and forth between the two. (Think, like… Inception, or Jill Williamson’s the Veil, but different.) I really liked Evrard. Andrinion the falcon was kind of a know-it-all, but fun too. XD Roinette is the heroine, who is the Rapunzel character, and I liked her too. (Though, in a fun twist, she has a “pet”/friend, a white cat with wings, who is named Punzel. :P) It’s kind of a VERY loose Rapunzel retelling… there’s a tower and Roinette has long hair, but that’s mostly it… But it was still fun. 🙂 There were a few times when the stuff about which “Realm” the characters were in got confusing or didn’t quite line up, but I still liked the idea a lot! I was a little sad that there wasn’t any romance, because I kind of suspected there would be (because… um… Rapunzel?), but I might be a minority. XD There were a couple of twists—both of which I partially guessed—and I really liked one and the other really disappointed me because sometimes you WANT to like a character but then they’re evil and yeah. >.> Ahem. But the other character twist was awesome. XD Anyway, I’m a little mixed about a couple of things, but on the whole it was just so original and neat. Exciting and fun! 🙂

Shadows of the Hersweald

4 stars

The first half of this one drove me rather batty with only hinting at things with NO explanation, even though the hero would have known; a classic example of hiding information from the reader, which is a personal annoyance of mine. Ahem. Could just be me, though. XD (And I fully admit I had a headache when I read this one, so it’s possible my brain functions didn’t pick up on things I should have, but still.) That frustrated me, especially when a few things just didn’t make sense. BUT by the end, once everything came together and I finally figured out what was going on, it turned out to be one of my favorites in the collection! 🙂 So that was impressive. ^_^ I keep thinking about it and I almost want to go back and re-read it now that I know what was going on. XD It’s a loose but original retelling of Hansel and Gretel—I liked how a few elements from the original made it into this one in unexpected ways. 🙂 I really, really liked Haydn. The story was vivid when it wasn’t being vague, and the setting was neat, and the other characters were cool too. Sometimes I wasn’t sure who I should like because I kept being afraid all of them would turn out evil. XD So that kept me on my toes. 😛 Overall, although the first part annoyed me, I ended up loving it muchly! 🙂

Overall Thoughts About the Burning Rose Collection

The three novellas had strong sibling themes going on, which was nice. You don’t always see a lot of that. ^_^

There is one particular plot-twist that ALL four stories had, which started to get tedious… I won’t say what it was, because spoilers, but things do kind of stop being plot twists and start being repeating plots eventually… But I might not have noticed if I’d read them all separately? And I kept predicting them… whoops. (#curseofbeingawriter)

However, one good thing about having them all in one collection: I did love how, even though the stories all follow totally different characters (except Adrian in the prequel and Rose of the Oath), there was still an overarching thread to follow through. It was kind of like it might be if episodes of a TV show followed different storylines but had an overall plot in the background?

I sometimes felt like since I was expected to already know the allegorical elements from Christianity, they weren’t explained IN the stories very well? Which was a little odd. And it also often happened off-screen. But what there was I did like. 🙂 (Other than the prequel being depressing. XD)

The writing was distinctive, and, while sometimes (due to the short nature of the stories) I was a little confused about what was going on, mostly these novellas were vivid, gripping, thrilling, and unique, while spinning threads of familiar stories into a tapestry of new, colorful tales. On the whole, I quite enjoyed them, and recommend them to anyone who likes a good fairytale! ^_^

(I also noticed that the next one that’s supposed to come out in this Legends of Light series is a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling! Excuse me while I search for a time-machine so I can go read it. 😀 *bouncing in excitement*)

(I received a free e-ARC of this collection from the author—many thanks! These opinions are entirely my own.)


Have you read any of Hope Ann’s novellas? (You can find Rose of the Oath for free, by the way!) And have you ever read any retellings of Hansel and Gretel? Or do you have some favorite retellings of B&B or Rapunzel? Let’s talk about aaall things retellings! Let me know in the comments! ^_^

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Burning Rose Cover Reveal! (by Hope Ann)

Hey everyone!

I’m joining in to help Hope Ann reveal the cover of her paperback collection version of the first three novellas in the Legends of Light series! 🙂

I’ll be reviewing it in a few weeks, so stay tuned…

Meanwhile, here’s the info and cover! ^_^

Burning Rose by Hope Ann

A war, founded in ancient legends, changes the lives of those it touches forever.

Elissa, a villager from the northern mountains, attempts to save her brother and ends up trapped in a hidden valley with a strange host and a treacherous enemy.

Evrard, the Wingmaster of the Prince’s army, races against his own weakening powers to discover the location of his twin and save her from deadly mistbenders.

Haydn, a pardoned rebel from Tauscher’s army, confronts shadows of myth and former comrades in his struggle to keep his sister safe and find the stolen Stormestone.

BONUS

Before the war, before the legends, before the Separation, there was a man who started it all. There was a curse, a promise, and a sacrifice. There was the Oathkeeper.

Fairy tales retold as you have never heard them before.

ROSE OF THE OATH: Beauty and the Beast
SONG OF THE SWORD: Rapunzel
SHADOWS OF THE HERSWEALD: Hansel and Gretel 
and
ROSE OF THE NIGHT: a Rose of the Oath prequel

You can check out each ebook individually here or the Burning Rose page here. The Kindle version is available for preorder, but the paperback won’t be up to buy until the launch on October 3rd. (I’ll hopefully be reviewing it then, so you’re sure to hear about it. ;)) In the meantime, you can add Burning Rose on your Goodreads!

So, wanna see the cover? 😉

Designed by Kate Flournoy

ISN’T IT GORGEOUS?? 😀 *flailing around* I love it!

Burning Rose will be coming to paperback in less than a month, and for anyone who’s on Facebook, if you’d like to keep up on tidbits and behind-the-scenes looks at the launch, you can join Readers of Aslaria launch group. 🙂

Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated author. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, playing with inspirational photos, blogging, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She is the author of Legends of Light is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about her at https://authorhopeann.com/

What do you think, readers? ISN’T IT SO PRETTY? 😀

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll