An exhilarating tale for fans of sword and sorcery, fantasy, and rich worldbuilding.


From the Spellgiver series

Ostracized for his uncontrollable, three-word outbursts, a boy comes of age in a realm filled with magic, evil, and warring gods in this debut novel.

A boy named Larin spends most of his time in a four-block area of a slum known as the Wormpile, a patch kept safe by his uncle, Akul, a formidable ex-warrior with a drug problem. Whenever Larin ventures out of this zone, he is harassed by gangs of bullies sanctioned by Oarl, who rules the Wormpile streets beyond Akul’s bailiwick. Larin loves to read and eventually learns that the mysterious words he speaks mean “The Lord Escapes His Prison.” Eventually, Akul employs Laniette, a wizardress, who suppresses Larin’s verbal eruptions. But during an attack at his uncle’s tavern/temple, the boy’s emotions cause him to speak the words in front of a priest and he is banished from the sanctuary. Later, Larin finds love in Onie, a girl he once thought unattainable, as Laniette teaches him how to wield the power his words bring and find his place in an upcoming struggle to save all of humanity. Meanwhile, war brews on many fronts of Larin’s city. The Lidathi threaten the northern border; to the south, the once-conquered Seridor ominously assemble. Inside the borders, the Morphasti use Nazi-like tactics to set people against one another. In this first installment of a fantasy duology, Rodgers creates an intricate world of fabulous creatures, diverse deities, colorful locales, and spectacular battles. His characters, whether human or Lidathi, are empathetic, realistic individuals. The author’s writing style is spot-on for this fantastic tale, never straying into the type of heroic language that can often turn into a parody of itself. Rather, the prose is crisp and image-filled: “The day Larin first exploded was one of flint skies and a fog that mercifully shrouded the Wormpile’s trash-filled alleys.” Additionally, relationships are well-developed; perhaps the most intriguing is the bond between Lidathi leader Kemharak and his captive Theralle, Lainette’s husband—which leads to an exciting cliffhanger conclusion.

 An exhilarating tale for fans of sword and sorcery, fantasy, and rich worldbuilding.

Pub Date: March 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9983616-1-1

Page Count: 264

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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