Friday, June 16, 2017

Review and Interview by Soleri by Michael Johnston

Title: Soleri
Author: Michael Johnston
Copyright: 2017
Genre: Fantasy

Reason for Reading: I was offered an ARC for a honest review by Jean at Booknerds


Michael Johnston brings you the first in a new epic fantasy series inspired by ancient Egyptian history and King Lear.

The ruling family of the Soleri Empire has been in power longer than even the calendars that stretch back 2,826 years. Those records tell a history of conquest and domination by a people descended from gods, older than anything in the known world. No living person has seen them for centuries, yet their grip on their four subjugate kingdoms remains tighter than ever.

On the day of the annual eclipse, the Harkan king, Arko-Hark Wadi, sets off on a hunt and shirks his duty rather than bow to the emperor. Ren, his son and heir, is a prisoner in the capital, while his daughters struggle against their own chains. Merit, the eldest, has found a way to stand against imperial law and marry the man she desires, but needs her sister’s help, and Kepi has her own ideas.

Meanwhile, Sarra Amunet, Mother Priestess of the sun god’s cult, holds the keys to the end of an empire and a past betrayal that could shatter her family.

Detailed and historical, vast in scope and intricate in conception, Soleri bristles with primal magic and unexpected violence. It is a world of ancient and elaborate rites, of unseen power and kingdoms ravaged by war, where victory comes with a price, and every truth conceals a deeper secret.

I have no idea why but this book so reminds me of Game of Thrones. If you want ruthless politics and ambition with a family that is twisted this is the book for you. Add in some twists and turns and action and poof you have the perfect start to this epic fantasy novel by Michael Johnston. There are flawed characters, betrayals, and cruelties. Yet some unbelievable loyalties come forth and characters you can't help but love.
This book focuses on the 5 members of the ruling family which can be tricky at first or just thinking about wrapping your head around trying to keep track of it. However, it was easy to get into and lost in this story. It is something that I enjoyed reading and am looking forward to see where this epic fantasy is going to head.

Grade: 3 out of 5 stars
Would I recommend:yes

Praise for SOLERI

"Soleri is bloody and utterly epic. A huge saga in a rich and deeply original world.” ―Lev GrossmanNew York Times bestselling author

“Prepare to be ensnared in a web of ruthless politics and unbridled ambition, where even the authority of the emperor may be based on an ancient deception. Johnston builds an immersive world with elements of Egyptian and Roman history, myth, and religion. This story seethes with twists and turns, betrayals and secrets, and will keep you guessing until the very last page.” ―Cinda Williams ChimaNew York Times bestselling author


Michael Johnston was born in 1973 in Cleveland, Ohio. As a child and a teen he was an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy. He studied architecture and ancient history at Lehigh University and during a lecture on the history of ancient Egypt, the seed of an idea was born. He earned a master’s degree in architecture from Columbia University, graduating at the top of his class. Michael worked as an architect in New York City before moving to Los Angeles. Sparked by the change of locale, a visit to the desert, and his growing dissatisfaction with the architectural industry, he sought a way to merge his interests in architecture and history with his love of fantasy. By day he worked as an architect, but by night he wrote and researched an epic fantasy novel inspired by the history of ancient Egypt and the tragic story of King Lear. After working this way for several years, he shut down his successful architecture practice and resolved to write full time. He now lives and writes in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.

You can find Michael on twitter @mjohnstonauthor

Photo Credit: Cathryn Farnsworth

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Hello, Michael,

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions! I can’t wait to read Soleri!

I am a huge reader and I love music I would consider them passions of a sort. I was wondering besides writing do you have any other passions?
Writing is one of my passions, but it wasn’t my first. I’m trained as an architect and I still follow the industry. And I don’t think the two are entirely dissimilar. This might sound like a bit of a stretch, but I think avant-garde architecture, the practice of drawing and conceiving purely speculative buildings, is a lot like the process of creating epic fantasy novels. In each we are building and imagining theoretical environments. So I draw a lot of inspiration from architecture. And I also read a lot of history and I follow the art world. I’ve always had a great passion for art and whenever I have the money I buy whatever I can afford. My other passions? I’m obviously an avid reader and I read a lot more than just epic fantasy. I love graphic novels. There is a lot of creativity in the industry. And I love almost everything Image comics produces.

Do you sometimes find that those other passions can turn into your kryptonite when you’re on a deadline or needing to write?
The web is my kryptonite as is my email inbox. In the digital age, it’s difficult to find the solitude required to write a long and complex novel. In my experience, the only way to overcome this obstacle is to throw myself into the work. When I am writing a first draft or editing, I put every bit of myself into the work. I fill my head with the book and suddenly I don’t want to check my email or surf web. It all disappears and the work takes control.

As a writer how do you pick what to read while writing? Do you find that your reading choices change after you have finished a book?
I tend to read in the same genre that I write. I find it distracting to read works that are vastly different from what I am writing. Between drafts I intentionally read works that are outside of my genre. I try to challenge myself by reading books that are more often more literally. I like to expose myself to new ideas and new voices.

Sometimes as a blogger I can get into a reading slump (AKA reader’s block) has that ever happened to you? If so how do you push through it?
I have yet to encounter any sort of reader’s block. I read fiction, graphic novels, architecture, ancient history, art and architectural theory, photography, and art.  The stacks I create are embarrassingly tall. I honestly have to hide all of the books that I buy, otherwise they would take over every surface in my house and office.

What’s your favorite underappreciated novel that you’ve read?
Even though it does get some mention, I think that Foundation by Isaac Asimov is incredibly important to the history of science fiction and fantasy as well. It was the first real space opera that I read and was actually a huge inspiration for Soleri. It’s a book about the fall of an empire (not unlike the one in Soleri). When I read Foundation, I fell in love with imperial politics and monumental characters whose actions decided the fate of whole empires. It’s a short book, filled with more ideas than some authors pack into a ten or twelve volume series.

Lastly, I wanted to see if you have ever googled yourself?
I have, several times actually. It used to be quite depressing endeavor. I think there is a basketball player and a congressman named Michael Johnston. It’s a fairly common name so there are always a lot of random hits. I think that may have changed recently. I’ll check!

Thank you again for taking the time to answer these questions! I am looking forward to starting your book and reviewing it.

Have a great day!

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