Read a sample of Shield and Crocus by Michael R Underwood
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In a city built among the bones of a fallen giant, a small group of heroes looks to reclaim their home from the five criminal tyrants who control it. The city of Audec-Hal sits among the bones of a Titan. For decades it has suffered under the dominance of five tyrants, all with their own agendas. Their infighting is nothing, though, compared to the mysterious “Spark-storms” that alternate between razing the land and bestowing the citizens with wild, unpredictable abilities. It was one of these storms that gave First Sentinel, leader of the revolutionaries known as the Shields of Audec-Hal, power to control the emotional connections between people—a power that cost him the love of his life. Now, with nothing left to lose, First Sentinel and the Shields are the only resistance against the city’s overlords as they strive to free themselves from the clutches of evil. The only thing they have going for them is that the crime lords are fighting each other as well—that is, until the tyrants agree to a summit that will permanently divide the city and cement their rule of Audec-Hal. It’s one thing to take a stand against oppression, but with the odds stacked against the Shields, it’s another thing to actually triumph.
"A few authors in recent times have attempted to tell a superhero story with prose rather than graphics, with mixed levels of success. In my opinion, the story Underwood has crafted is by far the best and most balanced superhero novel I have read, but I couldn’t help but feel that this story would have so much more impact as a graphic novel or with a few graphic illustrations to punctuate key moments of chapters. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading comics, enjoys watching comic book movies, or enjoys the new weird type of fantasy written by the likes of Moorcock and Mieville." Ryan Lawler
Amy from United States
At first glance at the book cover, Shield and Crocus gave me more of an impression of a science fiction action movie poster than a book cover of a novel that I would want to sit and enjoy. However, after getting past the cover, I was so glad that I picked this book up. The narrative follows the storyline of the members of the Shield of Audec-Hal, specifically those of the First Sentinel, Aegis, and Sapphire. We do get a glimpse into a hand-full of other characters throughout the novel, but they only give us a small glimpse into the world outside the working of the Shields. The Shields of Audec-Hal are a group of rebels who have gathered together to fight the five tyrants and their horrifying rule over the city. These five tyrants have spent their careers making the lives of the citizens miserable, targeting each other and not caring what civilians are killed in the crossfire. On top of all this war, the citizens live in fear of “Spark-storms”; wild magical storms that have the power to turn a schoolhouse into a carnivorous beast to turning the cobblestone streets into rivers of molten lava. If somebody is struck by these “Spark-storms”, it bestows them with powerful and often terrifying new abilities, marking them as the outcast known as “sparked”. When a summit of the five tyrants is called, the Shields know that if they do not strike to end all of this soon, they could lose everything – including their lives. When I first started reading this book, I had a little bit of trouble following all of the different races and names. I suffer from dyslexia, and found myself pausing to figure out the actual names of the characters so that I could follow the story. These pauses pulled me way out of the world of the novel, and make it very difficult to really understand anything that is going on at all. I ended up purchasing the audiobook and used it to accompany my reading of the hard text that I had purchased. With the assistance of the audiobook I really fell in love with this original story. Underwood creates a narrative where the chapters switch from character to character, almost similar to that of George RR Martin’s in A Song of Ice and Fire. Many reviewers have referred to this book as “Watchmen meets Game of Thrones”, but I found it to be more along the lines of Game of Thrones meets X-Men. I say this because of the relationship society and the tyrants have with those who become “sparked”. Regardless, this novel takes a new look at the classic villains versus heroes story with his stunning new world. Science and magic seem to work hand in hand with one another, opening up a new world of devices and magical relics that make this story truly original. Underwood does a wonderful job keeping the reader on the edge of their seats with this action packed novel. I look forward to reading more works by him in the future.
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