Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt, 280 pages, March 17th 2017, Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary Fiction. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

This book is the first in a planned trilogy. The Earth Mother Gaia is sentient, alive, and moving in mysterious ways to influence the life that resides in her surface. Although Gaia elevated mankind to the top of the food chain, she kept another species in reserve should they prove unworthy. This hidden species, the Tethyans, appears human when moving among humans. They’re intuitive and sensitive to the will of Gaia.

We follow Avery as she goes through life with a plan. The plan largely involves following the path laid out for her by her deceased parents. Since her parents died, she feels adrift without a compass. Avery meets Beck and they grow ever fonder of each other. Their romance is set against the backdrop of a hidden fantasy world with its own agenda. Avery searches for answers about her parents and her past. She discovers she is part of the hidden world. Avery worries about how this will affect her relationship with Beck, whom she has fallen hard for. Beck is supportive and self-sacrificing where Avery is concerned. At several points, as Avery learns more about her identity and origins, she rejects the world of the Tethyans. Yet she comes back every time, despite the uneasiness she feels, sensing she must continue on this path. Avery believes in destiny, has intuition, and follows her hunches. Avery and Beck are encouraged by the Tethyans to be together and her fear of what the path may do to their relationship fades. As we learn about Avery, we learn about the Tethyans and their culture alongside her. It’s a lot of information to impart to the reader and Burt does a great job of weaving it into Avery’s journey.

I loved the concept that the hidden species are the basis for many of our seafaring myths, such as sirens and mermaids. The world of humans is based on the traits that Western culture considers masculine: competition, physical strength, male dominance, and violent behavior. The world of Tethyans is based on what Western culture deems are traditionally feminine traits: cooperation, intuition, emotional strength, and pacifism (the exception is Andromeda, their defense forces). The book accepts this divide without question and makes the two cultures the opposite image of the other. Women are therefore in power in the Tethyan culture. There are also different groups with different missions within the culture, such as the Primals, Progenitors, and Andromeda. Chapters switch between the story of Avery, Beck, and their romance and journey of discovery, and the story of the women of Andromeda, elite female forces keeping the world and environment safe from powerful, wicked male corporate elitists. Each fighter of Andromeda is unique and has her own special powers which are often used against their enemies. I found both storylines interesting.

One of the things I found surprising was how easily Avery and Beck accepted the Tethyan world in the end after discovering the Tethyans never seem to question what they consider Gaia’s commands. They had reservations earlier, but not at this point, which struck me as odd. Tethyans will give up anything and anyone they must in order to fulfill their mission on behalf of Gaia. Gaia is presented as a goddess-force that imparts intuitions and is the source of the Tethyan mission. This zealotry was a disturbing part of their culture. There were times when I wasn’t sure if what I was reading was primarily a romance or a fantasy novel. It took a while for the two stories to connect and intertwine. By the end, I decided this is a Fantasy novel about two people who happen to fall in love while finding out they’re part of the Tethyan world and its mission.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Gaia’s Majesty. The concept was intriguing. I wish there had been more description and exploration of the underwater cities. I would’ve liked to have seen more interaction between the undersea folk and Avery and Beck. Hopefully, this will be explored further in the next novel in the series.

You can find this book at Gaia’s Majesty: Mission Called.

Book Description

From the Back Cover

Gaia’s Majesty : Mission Called – Women in Power

The first book of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

 Our earth mother, Gaia, was intrigued by clever creatures developing on her Earth. She believed they held promise but also danger for themselves and her planet.

Wisely Gaia reserved a gifted population of women dedicated to safeguarding the future of humankind and Earth. The women called Progenitors lived in the sea and could transform to live on the land if they chose. Their families on land were called Primals. Among them were a defense force of women called the Andromeda. Collectively these people were called Tethyans.

She foresaw a definitive epoch which is now upon us. Our planet is enveloped in environmental and social crises. Unless humankind serves as stewards for Earth and ourselves we may live on a despoiled planet as people held in bondage by a wealthy class of plutocrats. The empowerment of women holds the key to our future.

Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy explores if Gaia’s preparations will succeed. Is this story a myth, or like so many myths, does it reside on the cusp of reality?

Gaia Speaks

You used to adore me. You took my bounty gratefully and before my loving sight developed your skills as will a child in the sight of mother. You worshipped me and my fruitfulness. I tested you with adversity which made you strong. But in time you selfishly saw Earth’s bounty as your due. You now have a choice between stewardship or devastation.

From the Author

Women are coming to power. It is happening just as we enter a world environmental crisis of biblical proportions. We may disagree over the origins of our environmental crisis but its reality is demanding our attention. What will it mean that women are coming to power at this moment? One glorious benefit of the empowerment of women is that it opens us to a true and wonderful partnership between men and women

The Majesty Trilogy, of which this book is the first, falls on the cusp of reality. Environmental crisis and the empowerment of women are real but can be illuminated in fiction which has a mythological cast to it. In these books we embark on a fantasy journey where women take the lead in a planet which is being transformed. Whether that transformation is for the benefit of humankind or is a tragedy is yet to be decided.

Our earth mother, Gaia, knew this day would come as her most clever animals matured. She knew it might be necessary to start over if her experiment with humans failed. She created cities in the sea occupied predominately by women who could live in the water or on the land. We may have sighted them and know them as mermaids. But we have not known their import. They are at the forefront of empowerment and are opposed by powerful and immensely wealthy plutocratic men known as the Overlords.

Join us in this story as we venture to cleanse our planet and to empower women so together we may have a glorious partnership for men and women and possibly a transformative future.

Author Biography

When Duke University granted me a Ph.D. in clinical psychology it was time to go out beyond academia. I chose to work in the inner city of Baltimore in a community mental health program. My experience there was a wholly new form of learning. Daily I was confronted with the dire effects of deep poverty. It changed my life and view of the world.

Over time other elements in my education crept forward. The teachings of Leslie White about culture took on a new meaning and the depth of the studies of Carl Jung arose. Over decades I found myself assessing the meaning of cultural flow and the importance of myth in our lives. I took on a commitment to stewardship and came to see that the empowerment of women was essential to the future of humankind.

Later in life they all flowed together in the creation of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. Myth was not some abstraction but living elements of human existence. Psychology taught me there were elemental forces deep inside of us which ruled our lives but were largely unrecognized or at least not given their due. I wondered about such things as stories of mermaids which showed up across so many cultures. And I found issues of culture and myth showing up in my clinical work. My thoughts went deep into how they might relate to current human and ecological crises.

Much of my reaction seemed to be developing unconsciously until the day when the story of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy began to flow onto my computer. I have become convinced that deep unrecognized forces within us direct our lives and our cultures. I also became convinced that we do, indeed, live on the cusp of reality. My reality is different from your reality and we struggle to reach a workable common ground. And at this time we face unparalleled ecological crises. It seems that the rise of women and their empowerment are a crucial part of what has come to be a denouement in the story of humankind. The empowerment of women should at last lead to true partnership between men and women. Is it possible we may be moving toward a remarkable transformation? What it might be can only be the subject of a “what if”.

In these books I try to create an engagement for consideration of what may be happening to us. While the trilogy is fiction, its mythological cloak gives it a special relief and begs us to consider what may be happening to us and where we might be going. Is humankind to be led into terrible poverty and bondage where an economic elite will rule and will we also despoil the very planet on which we live and depend?

Come to the adventure in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy and join in considering what it might say about our future.

And please join us for the commentary and discussion on the website www.cuspofreality.com.

Other Works

Other works (non-fiction) can be found at:

Stepfamilies: The Step By Step Model of Brief Therapy by Mala S. Burt and Roger B. Burt

Creating Characters and Plot: Secrets of a Jungian Toolbox to Guide Inspiration by Roger B. Burt PhD

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples In Partnership by Mala S. Burt and Roger B. Burt

Whatever Happened To Community Mental Health?

 

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Killjoy by LeVar Ravel

Witty, cautionary

Killjoy by LeVar Ravel, 188 pages, January 14th, 2014, Genre: Fantasy/Mystery/Suspense. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland

A ‘killjoy’ is a person who takes the fun out of any event they attend. The title is most fitting for the theme of this story. The moral of this tale is to live life to the fullest, with hope, honesty, exuberant feeling, and joy. It’s a lesson mankind always seems in need of as we, throughout our generations, conform and adhere to the ‘correct and proper’ lifestyle du jour.

The assassin, whose true name is never told, is delightful with his many accents, costume changes, and faux personalities. He clearly enjoys satirizing people as well as trying to better understand them and their emotions. He’s the perfect assassin, never leaving a trace, always affecting the appearance of suicide to his victims. Everyone wonders, “How does he do it?” His clients, mostly mobsters, are appreciative and consider him to be the best in his field. He’s made a niche for himself dealing with difficult victims, such as musicians, comedians, politicians- the famous, for whom there can be no hint of foul play.

My favorite character was Elizabeth “Gwen” Orangegrave, the wife of the pseudo-religious mobster Charles Edward Orangegrave. As a young girl, she knew joy and love. Due to hardship, she lost this desire for joy and traded it in for wealth, security, practicality, and success: the things society tells us we should want. The assassin takes a peculiar liking to her also. In the end, she sees what she chose against the backdrop of what she left behind and makes a different choice, a better choice.

I felt the politician Corbin Locke represented what I imagine most of them are really like behind their smiles and speeches. Charles was a bit two-dimensional, but of course, that was sort of the point- that he would contrast the life his wife once knew and represent her choices. Written in third person narrative, the writing was enjoyable and engaging. A novella, the book can be read in about three hours. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense with a hint of darkness.

This book is presently available at Amazon at Killjoy .

A Merchant in Oria by David Wiley

Humorous Fantasy!

A Merchant in Oria by David Wiley, 42 pages, OWS Ink, LLC, April 27th, 2017, Genre: Fantasy/Short Reads/Epic. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland
A Merchant in Oria is a novella set in a fantasy world populated by humans, dwarves, and lizard-men. It has the feel of a familiar, traditional fantasy setting, as found in Tolkein’s work. However, this story is more humorous and light-hearted.
Firion dreams of getting his first big contract as a merchant. Although his family warns him not to head to Oria, he is certain this is where he will find his fortune and establish himself as a great merchant. He travels there alone with his goods, satchel full of samples, and his horse and wagon. Upon his arrival, things seem out of sorts. Something is rotten in the state of Oria. Firion just can’t seem to put his finger on what it is. Meeting up with the lizard-man Salazar, the ‘new’ leader of the Dwarven merchant guild, Firion makes the contract of a lifetime and hauls home gobs of gold marks. However, Firion discovers what’s so wrong in Oria, and is pressed to return and meet an epic destiny.
My favorite character was Firion. He was naïve, good-natured, hilarious, sympathetic, and charmingly simple. Melody, the female dwarf, was a cute, well-shaved Dwarven female love interest for Firion. The themes were good versus evil and freedom from oppression. The plot was well-constructed and pacing steady.
I enjoyed reading this book. It is a short read; I read it over lunch. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy stories looking for a quick read.
You can find it at A Merchant In Oria.

Demons and Destiny by Catherine Milos

Adventure of Lifetimes!

Demons and Destiny (Angels and Avalon Volume 2) by Catherine Milos, 276 pages, October 26th, 2016, Genre: Paranormal and Urban/Dark Fantasy. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

Demons and Destiny is a story about gods manipulating men who were formerly angels across multiple lifetimes. The second in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone novel, however I highly recommend reading them in order as I feel the experience would be more enjoyable by having more knowledge of the first book. Currently, the set is available at Amazon on Kindle for $3.98.

In his lifetime as a Viking translator and warrior, Tyr joins him mortal brethren on Celtic shores, conquering villages and taking thralls. Rarely one to ask for such spoils, Tyr sees Madigan, a beautiful blue-painted Celtic warrior woman. Realizing that the others may harm her should she be taken by one of them, he asks for her as his thrall. He promises to one day free her when it is appropriate if in return she answers his questions to assist him in negotiating trade with her people. Not only does he successfully do so with her help, but she ingratiates herself among the men with her herbal and cooking skills. Nuada, Madigan’s god, instructs Tyr to make her his wife. Tyr convinces her and they find wedded bliss for a time. Nuada has other tricks up his sleeve, resulting in her tragic death. Nuada strikes a deal with Tyr. Once Tyr removes all demons from Earth, Nuada will reunite him with Madigan.

The tale zips forward to modern day. Tyr is reborn as Tyrel, a security expert and P.I. Other characters from the first book, former angels reincarnated by choice as mortals with magical powers, join him in his feverish quest to dispose of all demons and regain his lady love. Tyr’s wife has been reborn without her memories as Madison, a biologist with no belief in demons or magic. Nuada continues to manipulate characters, especially Tyr, to further his own selfish ends. Most of these schemes lead to conflict and violence, providing obstacles for the characters to overcome. While some of the characters find happiness and resolution, others are left with their fates uncertain.

Demons and Destiny has many varying conflicts, such as man versus the supernatural, man versus man, man against himself, and man versus nature. Its themes include fate versus free will, the strength and nature of true love, the responsibilities and shackles of having power, and the bitterness of envy. The pace moved quickly through most of the book. The plot, world, and characters were interesting but I felt I would have enjoyed them more had I read the first book beforehand. My favorite character was Elizabeth. Although she lost a great deal, she didn’t allow it to swallow her whole. Instead, she moved forward, trying to use her knowledge to help her friends. I was also fond of Alan, Gabriel’s manservant. Alan was a font of loyalty and gentlemanly courage, even in the face of grave danger.

I enjoyed reading Demons and Destiny. I’d recommend this book to lovers of paranormal urban fiction. You can find it at Amazon at Demons and Destiny.

The Birr Elixir by Jo Sparkes

The Birr Elixir by Jo Sparkes, 196 pages, Oscar Press, May 31st, 2013, Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Adventure/Sword and Sorcery. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

The Birr Elixir is a Young Adult Fantasy novella that has wider appeal. Jo Sparkes masterfully draws together elements of action, adventure, sports, fantasy, and sorcery in a likeable, exotic world. The Birr Elixir is the first installment in “The Legend of the Gamesmen” series. It is the winner of the Silver Ippy award and the BRAG Medallion.

Marra’s mentor recently passed away, leaving her a book containing potion recipes. When the sportsman Drail spies the recipe for the Birr Elixir in the book, he must have it. Marra makes a batch for Drail and his team. They win the Comet game against the Skullan team, a feat which has never been accomplished.  The team takes Marra with them and they head to the main tournament at the port city. Marra awakens a stranger, Tryst, from an enchanted slumber. He, too, is anxious to get to the port city. As a master of the sport Comet, Tryst mentors the team. It will take more than magical elixirs to win the tournament: they’ll need skill, too. However, evil men offer Marra a rare herb she needs to make the Birr Elixir. In exchange, she must give another sleeping potion to Tryst and allow the men to recapture him. If she fails, they promise to harm her. What will Marra choose?

Jo Sparkes weaves timeless themes into this magical tale, such as good versus evil, the importance of loyalty, and refusing temptation for the greater good. My favorite character was Marra. She is quiet, keeping her thoughts and opinions to herself. Marra has lived a rough life, yet secretly dreams of being so much more. Marra feels affection for Drail; she regards him as the man who redeemed her from a life of near-slavery under a cruel shopkeeper. She is a genuinely good person at heart.

I enjoyed reading The Birr Elixir. I was whisked away to a land that was at once both imaginative and believable. The characters were interesting and unique.  The plot is well designed and unfolds quickly while creating an atmosphere of suspense. The fictional sport Comet is dynamic, fun, and energetic, much like a Quidditch match. The Gamesmen storyline creates a mood much like the Heath Ledger film “A Knight’s Tale”. I’d recommend The Birr Elixir to readers who enjoy Fantasy and Action Adventure genres.

This book can be found at The Birr Elixir.

View the amazing book trailer at Jo Sparkes’ site.

Dragonsoul by Kayl Karadjian

A Struggle for the Soul of Dragon and Man Alike

Dragonsoul by Kayl Karadjian, 265 pages, October 18th, 2016, Genre: Young Adult/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Coming of Age. Warning: May contain spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

Dragonsoul is a tale of two worlds: Evenar, the land of color and vibrancy; and Hainabal, city of gray shades and gloom. The world each character is born into shapes their worldview, informing their actions. However, each is much more than the world that shaped them. Each of them must deal with their internal struggle and rise above for the sake of all.

After running away from his abusive father, a masked child known only as Zero is rescued from the streets by the king. Zero works hard to become a seasoned knight, serving his king. He and his men destroy all things within the gloom-covered landscape with any hint of color, such as books and dragons. Believing his king honorable, Zero never questions whether or not his orders are truly in the best interest of the kingdom.

Outside the city yet within the Gloom, a fourteen-year-old farm boy named Denyth discovers an egg. Taking it home, he is shocked when a baby dragon emerges. Raising the colorful Littlehorn becomes the most wonderful experience of Denyth’s previously colorless young life. Their bond is genuine and eternal. As Zero and his men are in pursuit to slay the last dragon, Denyth and Littlehorn flee with the aid of the Evenarian shapeshifter Nelai and enter Evenar seeking the help of the Wind Queen. By the end of the tale, these characters must come together to save the realms.

Two major themes throughout the book are good versus evil and the struggle within. “Color” represents the positive forces, including inspiration, wisdom, compassion, hope, and paying kindness forward. “Gloom” represents the negative forces within and around us, such as hopelessness, despair, anger, vengeance, and acceptance of these forces without struggle. Even so, the Gloom is comprised of shades of gray, not absolute darkness, therefore anyone can redeem himself. Another theme is that leaders and their choices affect the destiny of their people.

The story is told through shifting perspectives in a narrative style. The characters are well developed and the plot well-constructed. Descriptive devices conjured interesting settings without lengthy exposition. The writing style is reminiscent of beloved young adult fantasy books from my childhood such as “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle and “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys young adult fantasy fiction.

Dragonsoul can be found at Dragonsoul.

Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection by Jamie Le Fay

Epic, romantic fantasy!

Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection by Jamie Le Fay, 696 pages, March 8th, 2017, ISBN: 978-1370765775, Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Social Issues, Girls and Women. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

This is a story about true love between a star-crossed pair: Morgan Lua, a human champion for female rights, and Gabriel, a supernatural prince from a hidden, mystical realm. The scenes switch perspective between familiar Earth and the ethereal land of the Ahe’ey; the distant past and modern day; and between major characters. Le Fay weaves a magical tale with complex characters, hidden histories, political intrigue, and desperate desires yearning for fulfillment.

But this is no traditional fairy tale. We human beings vacillate between hope and despair, living in a world where simple deeds of loving kindness can move mountains, while simultaneously the worst acts of evil we can imagine are committed. We worry about which worldview and values will triumph and resonate throughout human history. In each generation, we stand at a crossroads, and we support those with power and influence whom we think can steer us in the best direction. Morgan Lua is not content to stand on the sidelines. As the leader of the Hope Foundation, she works to improve human rights for women and minorities around the globe. Morgan is opposed by the white supremacist, far-right wing politician Zanus, who is responsible for attempts on Morgan’s life. Enter Gabriel Warren, leader of the Ahe’ey Foundation, determined to stay by her side and ensure Zanus and his hateful agenda fails. Experiencing a natural chemistry and attraction they’ve never felt before; Gabriel and Morgan fall in love.

As the story progresses, Morgan learns that there’s more than meets the eye where Gabriel is concerned. After an attempt on her life that leaves them both at death’s door, Gabriel’s mother, Viviane Queen of Ange’el, brings them back to their hidden home realm to recuperate. At first, the land of the Ahe’ey seems like a blend of fairy and angelic realms, a celestial delight. Its people are beautiful, strong, swift, and magical, none more so than the pure blood royal family. The royals believe the power within their genes will one day save humankind. As a result, they intermarry to preserve their genetic purity. A matriarchal society, women appear to be in control, but lower ranking women are controlled by higher ranking women. The caste system limits the freedoms of both royals and non-royals, men and women, alike. Although the Ahe’ey traditionally guide humanity, we find they are every bit as much in need of saving.

          Ahe’ey presents many important themes and thought provoking ideas, such as nature versus nurture, the battle of the sexes, the meaning of sacrifice, the ethics of evil for the greater good, the loss of privacy in the modern age, and forging identity in a multi-cultural world. An epic, romantic, fantasy adventure, it nevertheless provokes deeper thinking on many issues facing us today.

           Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection was originally released in twelve separate episodes. Although the collection is formatted as a single novel, its episodic nature provides it with a slightly different structure and rhythm than a traditional novel. Currently, readers can find the first three episodes free at Amazon, with each subsequent episode at .99 cents. The entire collection can be found at Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection.I’d recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys romantic fantasy adventure with a social conscience.