Posts Tagged With: League of Elder

The League Through Stenibelle’s Eyes

It wouldn’t be Christmas without…The League of Elder.

Say again?

Well, it seems that for the past couple years, I usually have a new volume of Ren Garcia’s sci-fi series in my hands around this time. This year is no exception with book 9 of his unique universe, Stenibelle, but one must back up a bit for those not familiar with the books.

The series has a couple self-contained stories (the first two books, then a trilogy, then another dualogy, etc.), and I always recommend starting at the beginning, but here we will go back to book 6, Sands of the Solar Empire.

This is where we are introduced to Paymaster Stenstrom who has had one dream: Becoming a captain in the Fleet. He gets his chance, but his life is never the same (if it was, it wouldn’t be very interesting). Set in Garcia’s unique sci-fi/fantasy/steampunk universe of the far future, Stenstrom faces evils, bizarre beings and death around every corner — only to learn there are many more versions of himself in alternate dimensions.

That’s where Stenibelle falls into place. In this dimension Stenstrom has lost his ship, ended up in jail and lost pretty much everything. And he isn’t a he — Stenstrom is Stenibelle, a woman. No, this isn’t what is sounds like, but it isn’t the typical parallel universe story either. In what is the author’s shortest book, it is almost like an alternate version of the previous volumes. Not word for word, but a tiny glimpse of what the Stenstrom books would have been like had the character been a woman. Steinbelle, though, is different enough (beyond the obvious) from her parallel self that fans may want to see her own adventures in the League. By the end of this book, she has become a strong, fierce hero of sorts — and still very much a woman.

The League is a big place and readers looking to disappear in a universe that doesn’t look like a hundred others, need to look no further.

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Promoting Your Book, Off-line

Writers dream of big newspaper ads, displays in bookstores and maybe a radio spot or two. Truth is, most books are not marketed like a movie release campaign. Authors also quickly realize that they hold much of the responsibility for getting their book noticed. Often this requires willingness to do some old-fashioned networking.

Ren Garcia, the mind behind the League of Elder series, writes that nothing is off the table:

“A key component of spreading the plague that is my brand is showing my smiling face: craft shows, bake shows, car shows, any place I can set up a table is fair game.” And then there is the convention scene where it is easy to be overlooked, but as Ren writes, “For me, the greatest value of attending a convention is the contacts and genuine friendships I make. I walk around and talk to the authors and show genuine interest in their work. I listen to them.”

Robert Bidinotto, author of the Dylan Hunter novels, details that something as apparently mundane (in our electronic world anyway) as business cards can effectively spread the word about your book. He explains:

“…by far the best way to use them is person-to-person. Every time you meet someone new, they want to know what you do. ‘I’m an author,’ you say, and hand them your card. If you have a spiffy-looking book cover, your card will impress them and very likely generate questions.” In other words, be proud that you are writer and let people know. He adds: “But you don’t have to wait around to encounter strangers. You are constantly running into strangers: store clerks, waiters and waitresses, barbers and hair stylists, people sitting next to you in coffee shops, the clerk at the post office window. You can initiate a conversation, quite naturally…” Read the rest of his post for an amusing little lesson in bringing your book up to complete strangers.

So instead of waiting for the big movie trailer for your book, explore every and any opportunity to make your epic story known.

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A Paymaster, Marine and Another Guy Steal a Starship…

Sounds like the start of a bad joke, but it’s essentially the beginning (more or less) of Ren Garcia‘s latest League of Elder saga, Sands of the Solar Empire.

This is book six of League of Elder series, but first of a new trilogy. Long-time fans will notice that Garcia is launching a new batch of characters in his universe that seems both far, far away and yet nearby (and all over the place in time). It’s a galaxy where ships battle, people live in castle-like estates, and magic of sorts is not uncommon. Throw in a bit of horror in from demons and other creatures, while you’re at it.

At the onset of Sands of the Solar Empire, Paymaster Stenstrom achieves his dream of becoming the captain of a warbird. His mission, not to glamorous to begin with, is doomed to fail from the powers that be. Nor does he have a crew and his ship is a wreck. But there is much more to Stenstrom than meets the eye.

That’s were the story jumps back a bit and starts from the real beginning: How Stenstrom got here to begin with and his past adventures and encounters with sinister beings. Unusual for a book to be mostly a flashback of sorts, but well-executed. Once it comes full circle to the start, and Stenstrom and his rag-tag crew he has assembled (of three, counting himself), they find themselves part of something far more dangerous than they ever imagined.

There at the end, you realize you just read a really long (and very good) prologue of what is most likely going to be another totally original, and completely immersive, series from Garcia.

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Have you Joined the League Yet?

I reviewed awhile back the first three books of the League of Elder series. It’s an impressive sci-fi epic from the mind of Ren Garcia. Keep in mind, once upon a time, sci-fi was my main genre of choice. Then I got bored. It was hard finding anything to keep my interest. The League of Elder changed that.

An original mythos set somewhere else in the universe where space battles are not unusual, castles are not uncommon homes, people like to bowl, and of course, evil beings are trying to throw everything into disarray. In all the details in between, Garcia has managed to create a universe with a little bit of everything. By themselves they — the strange creatures, mix of advanced and esoteric technology, and that seal — would all seem a bit odd. But here it all works and becomes expected. This all set against a measured dose of action and romance.

I have just finished book four, The Machine — which is actually two in a trilogy — in about two days. Like any good series, it keeps getting better and draws the reader in further. Last time, Kabyl, son of the famous Captain Davage, falls in love with the tormented Sammidoran. These Monama people aren’t usually the type that the upper-crust mingle with in the League. Evil must be conquered if they are truly to be together. And now Kay and his friends set out across the galaxy to find what Sam needs, to save her and the League. It’s not the old Black Hats that are much of a threat anymore, but the far worse evil of the Horned God and his demon and zombie-like minions.

It’s quite a ride, trust me. Like always, I recommend starting at the beginning of the series. Only then will the full scope of Garcia’s world be grasped, and the characters from the first two books have returned to a primary place in this part two of the trilogy. Now, on to part three.

Get ready for one amazing ride.

P.S. I like how Garcia has had artists sprinkle illustrations throughout his books. It’s like a throwback to the old days of Burroughs and Tolkien.

P.P.S. Finished part three, The Temple of the Exploding Head. Don’t be disturbed by the, well, stuff, on the cover. This is a spectacular conclusion to this trilogy. One hopes Garcia will revisit these characters someday, but it’s also good that he isn’t dragging them on endlessly like some book series do. Closure is needed at some point. It’s also a mark of a great series when you can look back to the beginning and think of the adventure you have been on and say, “I’m sorry to see it all end.”

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