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Amazing Book!! – King’s Crusade (Seventeen) by @ADStarrling – Review

Review of King’s Crusade and reprint of Soul Meaning review, the 1st in Seventeen, the series.

Kings Crusade ButtonSo… there I was, just minding my own business when a friend of mine says “Hey, are you going to be on King’s Crusade’s tour? (anyone who read the last review will see a parallel and how I do not pay attention) I of course write Roxanne at Bewitching Tours and said found out A.D. Starrling already had let her know! 

The perfect immortal warrior.
A set of stolen, priceless artifacts.
An ancient sect determined to bring about the downfall of human civilization.

Where the first one felt like I was reading and being dragged along in an episode of 24 (mind you for me this is a good thing) this one was like being part of a James Bond movie blended with Dan Brown (and I am saying this for your reference, mine would be James Rollins because I am not a Brown fan in the least.) This book is labeled a supernatural thriller and I would say that is as close as you can get to this. Ian Fleming world is in the realm of over the top spies with over the top bad guys. Seventeen involves a secret race of Immortals, and no they are not vampires.

To revisit my explanation from the first review,  the Immortals  happen to be more Immortal-ish as in is they can die seventeen times and they do have a final death which tends to be visited by crows, it is all very beautiful, well except for the dying part, unless of course it is a bad guy and then umm I admit to have a small moment of fist-pumping and woohooing when this happened.

Funny thing in the second book the bad guys instead of being all Immortals there were far less of them and more humans with a god complex and one big ugly that was compared to the Hulk (can you say ‘ROID RAGE ACTION.. oh ya, baby!). Yeppers, there is this esoteric society somewhat like the Freemasons (who also show up in the book) and they also happen to have a tattoo to match their name, The Rose Croix (Rose Cross). However they seem to have roots much older and also tend to attract psychotics and sociopaths! Of course they have a tattoo, they are after all baddies. Interestingly the book is written with tons of symbolism hidden in its pages and also with blatant “marks” and symbols of some sort are of great importance to this series. Lucas (lead protagonist of Soul Meaning) had his and Alexa has her birthmark. But let’s get more into why this is not just a great follow up to the first book but why it is another favorite for the year for me.

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I feel for the folks who decide to skip the prologue of a book because if you do, you will miss extremely powerful and fundamental prose which bear importance to the whole foundation of Alexa, our main protagonist and the Immortal’s roots this novel spends time exploring. Alexa is one of the most interesting alpha female warriors I have read in a while. In the last couple of years the market has been flooded, and I like these kinds of books but it was getting old. As it was with vampire books. Alexa is written with just enough of an edge of difference and in such a fast paced race to the finish line story you cannot help but become wrapped up in her story and fall a little in love.

Dimitri Reznak, her godfather; the man who raised her after finding her standing with a bloody dagger in one hand in a battle scarred field, and whom we meet in the first book is racing to find the key to save another devastating war between the two families of the Immortal Race. He is probably the most important man in her life, but she has little use for anyone. Our introduction to her is his as well…

“…it was not her startling appearance that stopped him in his tracks; it was the look on her face that sent a sharp chill through his bones and a shiver down his spine, immobilizing his legs.

There was only one word to describe the expression in her eyes: fearlessness.”

Alexa is happy to be alone, alone in her work, her life and everywhere else, then in walks Jackson, a tall drink of sumptin-sumptin! Basically smoking hot, again another thing to get this nerd girls panties in a twist. I cannot help it, this book maybe full of enough action to make any nerd-boy go “oooohhhhhhhhhh” and talk his girlfriend into getting a trishula henna’ed on the back of her neck, but it has the well written incredibly hot and steamy *insert some –bow-chicka-wow-wow– music* love makin’.

Oh Jackson, ohhhh Jackson, what can I say about Jackson *swoon* Again, nerd heaven! He works out, he has an eidetic memory (great for when you are writing reviews and need trivial things to insert..*coughing* got one of them), multiple degrees, a sense of adventure and I have no clue why I think this is so hot, but he is from Montana. *shaking my head* I … ummm… find that hot. Anyway… enter the Jackson-man…

He rose and walked past her. Alexa caught his scent as she turned to follow him out of the bedroom. It made her think of campfires and expensive bourbon. ~ location 656 King’s Crusade

Alexa is now screwed, ha ha hahaha and we my friends have the two most awesome people to follow along on this fast paced adventure. Oh btw, again if you have heart problems? Make sure you have your doctor read this and OK you for it, either that or go read it in the ER just in case!  Goodness gracious you think I am kidding? HAH the book even reads this fast! I could not put it down, but I am rambling a bit and need to wrap this up because I am not doing this book a service.

The characters are amazing, well rounded and so beautifully written. The cover is bomb-tastic, wow is all I can say. I bring this up because the story is as beautiful as the cover, it is as alluring, mysterious and as she stands you wonder is this a sunset or a sunrise? It is both for as the sunsets on her old solitary life we are there for the beginning of her new one. Alexa had my heart in her super strong Immortal hands the whole read, and I only have one soul and one life to lose.

The action is fast paced (as mentioend above) and you cannot turn the pages fast enough to get to the next scene. These books would make excellent movies. Action, adventure, mystery, romance, angst… it has it all! And Starrling has managed to put it all together even better. How can I rate it higher than the first one? Wait, do I like this one better? I am not sure, because honestly they are different. Third person point of view, she tightened up the writing more, though personally I felt the first one was just fine, and again if a book makes you forget to breath??? Yes go buy it!

Well researched, again. The tech was awesome, and she really does an amazing job doing that. It is believable because it is real. Hats off to authors who bother to do more than go beyond Wikipedia! I want a secret lab under the cabin where I can concoct my secret bacon recipes which will save the planet from itself!

Triggers? I really cannot think of any. The book has violence, but nothing more than you would find in a good Bond movie. There is the ancient mystery that could bring down one group and destroy centuries of piece within one race but it also is a threat to the human race, so again…

Remember to BREATH!

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This and it’s predecessor are in my top reads of 2013.

PROLOGUE

November 1700. Battle of Narva. Swedish territory.

 

The little girl stared into the dead man’s eyes, her expression steady and unflinching. All around her rose the cries of soldiers and the clash of swords, while cannons boomed on a distant hill, and the sharp reports of musket shots echoed across the banks of the nearby river.

The morning’s blizzard had turned the battlefield into a gray and bloody mire. The snow and rain that had been falling steadily during the night had grown heavy at dawn, and visibility was worsened by vicious gusts blowing in from the west. When the wind shifted to the south at midday, it provided an unprecedented advantage for the eight-thousand-strong army of Sweden’s King Karl the Twelfth. They had been able to advance virtually unseen on the significantly larger Russian contingent, which laid siege to the city of Narva in early November of that year.

Although tired and hungry after traveling across miles of treacherous back roads and countryside laid to waste by the invaders, the better-equipped and more experienced Swedes managed to get within fifty yards of the enemy’s front lines without being detected and led a swift attack on two fronts.

After overcoming Russian General Veyde’s and Prince Trubetskoy’s men, they now marched for the troops on the adversary’s left flank, which were under the charge of Duke de Cröy, the field marshal whom Tsar Peter I of Russia had left in charge of his army.

As he carefully made his way across the treacherous ground, Dimitri Reznak glanced at the bruised skies overhead. Though the worst of the storm had passed, heavy flakes still fell from the low clouds that covered the land in eerie twilight. Interspersed with rain and sleet, the snow melted rapidly in crimson puddles that dotted the plain, forming brief teardrops on the cooling skin of the hundreds of Russian and Swedish soldiers who had fallen since the start of the battle. Reznak frowned at the gruesome sight.

Given that he was an immortal who had witnessed countless wars and conflicts over the five centuries of his existence thus far, he knew he should have been immune to the spectacle of blood and gore that surrounded him. Yet, despite the fact that he and the two hundred Crovir immortals under his command were assisting the young Swedish King in his endeavor to keep the new territories his predecessors had acquired during Europe’s bloody Thirty Years’ War, Reznak could not help but feel overwhelmed by sadness at the needless loss of human life. Which was why he headed straight for the little girl when he saw her standing on the knoll in the middle of the battleground.

Although he hadn’t expected to see a child in the midst of the war zone, Reznak was not surprised. Some civilians had still been trying to reach the safety of the fortified city when they were caught between the advancing armies, and those who had not succumbed to the fierce blizzard perished in the subsequent crossfire. He could only presume that the child had become separated from her parents during the ensuing chaos. The chances of finding them alive, he knew, would be slim at best.

When he got within twenty feet of her, the little girl finally looked up. It was not the panicked, wild movement he had been anticipating. Instead, it was a slow and measured gesture. Reznak froze.

Her eyes were a clear gray, the irises wide and almost silvery in their sheen. Her skin, where it was visible beneath the dirty yet elegant ivory dress she wore, was an alabaster white. Thick, dark curls crowned her head and fell in waves to her shoulders, framing a surprisingly slim face and neck. She looked to be about eight years old and was without a doubt the most shockingly beautiful being he had ever seen.

Yet it was not her startling appearance that stopped him in his tracks; it was the look on her face that sent a sharp chill through his bones and a shiver down his spine, immobilizing his legs.

There was only one word to describe the expression in her eyes: fearlessness.

Pure and unadulterated, the feeling seemed to seep through her pores and emanate from the very core of her being, an almost palpable energy focused in a lance-like beam projected from her dark pupils.

That was when Reznak knew she was not human.

The little girl blinked. Reznak suddenly found that he could move again. His gaze drifted down to her right hand, where the handle of an ugly knife was clasped firmly between her slender fingers. Red droplets still gleamed wetly on the edge of the blade and dropped into an expanding pool by her bare feet. His eyes followed the crimson trail to the dead man lying inches from where she stood. There was a deep, linear wound on the left side of the soldier’s chest; by the looks of it, she had stabbed him in the heart.

It would have taken the man less than a minute to die.

Reznak’s gaze shifted to the girl.  ‘Hello,’ he said gently in German, conscious of the weight of the sword at his waist. ‘My name is Dimitri. What’s your name?’

The little girl remained silent. He hesitated. Certain he would not get a reply, he repeated the question in the local Estonian dialect. He was shocked when, in a clear and low voice that was oddly devoid of emotion, she said, ‘Alexandria.’

Reznak took a cautious step forward, his eyes never leaving hers. Her chin tilted as she stared up at him. ‘Where’s your mother, Alexandria?’ he continued quietly in the same vernacular.

A faint frown dawned on her face at his words. ‘I don’t know,’ she said.

Less than two hundred feet from where they stood, scores of soldiers fought to the death, their swords and daggers carving through the flesh and bones of their enemies. The harsh breaths of their nervous horses misted the cold air, while musket rounds peppered the ground around them.

Reznak took another step forward. ‘Can you tell me where you came from?’

The little girl’s frown deepened while she considered the question. ‘I don’t know,’ she repeated.

It was then that he noticed the fresh blood matted in her hair. She had suffered a blow to the side of her head. His gaze dropped to the red finger marks on her arm. His eyes narrowed.

‘Did that man hurt you?’ Reznak asked stiffly, indicating the dead soldier at her feet.

Her chin dipped in a brief nod.

He stared at her for a moment before slowly squatting down. With his face level with hers, he carefully extended a hand. ‘Would you like to come with me, Alexandria? It’s not safe here.’

The little girl gazed at him silently. Undaunted, Reznak stood up and waited. She turned on her heels and stared through the thin veil of snow at the river and the city beyond it. The wind picked up and ruffled her hair.

He peered at the back of her neck curiously. Imprinted a scant inch beneath her hairline, in the very middle of her delicate spine, was a triangular mark—a trishula. Although generically shaped like a trident, the more intricate details of the design reminded him strongly of the weapons he had seen wielded by fearsome Asian warriors in battles past. It was not a tattoo. It looked more like a birthmark.

The knife thudded softly in the deepening snowdrift when the little girl opened her fingers. Still gazing at the battlefield before them, she raised her bloodied hand toward him. Reznak clasped it in his own and was surprised at how warm her skin felt.

‘Are you my father now?’ she asked calmly.

‘No,’ he said with a weak smile. He glanced at the top of her head. The dark curls shivered slightly in the wind. Beneath them, the child’s body was as still as stone. ‘Can I call you Alexa? Alexandria is a bit of a mouthful.’

She gave this some thought. ‘Yes,’ she said finally with a curt nod.

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Soul Meaning has already been awarded some pretty amazing marks of excellence! I am sure King’s Crusade will follow in it’s footsteps!

 King’s Crusade (Seventeen)

When a team of scientists unearth scriptures older than the Dead Sea Scrolls in a cave in the Eastern Desert mountains in Egypt, a mystery lost to the tides of time is uncovered. Heading the expedition is Dimitri Reznak, the Head of the Crovir Immortal Culture & History Section. But the monumental discovery is spoiled by evidence of looting and half the priceless artifacts Reznak has been seeking for centuries have disappeared.

Alexa King is a covert agent for the Crovir First Council. When she is approached by her godfather for a mission that could help elucidate the enigma of her lost past, she finds herself delving into the dangerous and shadowy world of secret religious societies. Assigned by Reznak to assist her is Zachary Jackson, a gifted human and Harvard archaeology professor.

In their search for the missing artifacts, King and Jackson stumble upon the existence of a deadly sect whose origins are as mystifying as the relics they are searching for. From North Africa to the doors of Vatican City itself, they unveil a centuries-old plan that aims to shatter the very structure of civilized society.

With the help of Reznak and a group of unexpected allies, King and Jackson must stop the enemy and uncover the astonishing truth behind the missing artifacts and King’s own unearthly origins before all is lost.

Smashwords  | Amazon US ebook  | Amazon UK ebook | Book Depository

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About the Author

ADStarrling

AD Starrling was born on the small island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and came to the UK at the age of twenty to study medicine. After five years of hard graft earning her MD and another five years working all of God’s hours as a Paediatrician, she decided it was time for a change and returned to her first love, writing.

Soul Meaning is her debut novel and the first in a supernatural thriller series entitled Seventeen. She currently lives in Warwickshire in the West Midlands, where she is busy writing the second novel in the series while drinking gallons of tea

She still practises medicine. AD Starrling is her pen name.

WEBSITE FACEBOOK  TWITTER GOODREADS

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Soul Meaning (Seventeen) book #1

Soul Meaning by A.D. Starrling

Genre: Supernatural thriller
Number of pages: 420
Cover Artist: Streetlight Graphics

The Crovirs and the Bastians. Two races of immortals who have lived side by side with humans for millennia and been engaged in a bloody war since the very dawn of their existence. With the capacity to survive up to sixteen deaths, it was not until the late fourteenth century that they reached an uneasy truce, following a deadly plague that wiped out more than half of their numbers and made the majority of survivors infertile.

Soul is an outcast of both immortal societies. Born of a Bastian mother and a Crovir father, a half breed whose very existence is abhorred by the two races, he spends the first three hundred and fifty years of his life being chased and killed by the Hunters.

One fall night in Boston, the Hunt starts again, resulting in Soul’s fifteenth death and triggering a chain of events that sends him on the run with Reid Hasley, a former US Marine and his human business partner of ten years. When a lead takes them to Washington DC and a biotechnology company with affiliations to the Crovirs, they cross the Atlantic to Europe, on the trail of a French scientist whose research seems intrinsically linked to the reason why the Hunters are after Soul again.

From Paris to Prague, their search for answers will lead them deep into the immortal societies and bring them face to face with someone from Soul’s past. Shocking secrets are uncovered and fresh allies come to the fore as they attempt to put a stop to a new and terrifying threat to both immortals and humans.

Time is running out for Soul. Can he get to the truth before his seventeenth death, protect the ones he loves and prevent another immortal war?

Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Smashwords
iTunes | BN | Sony ebooks  | Blackwell |  Waterstones
Book Depository  |  Foyles |  Big Hay

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My review of Soul Meaning (Seventeen)

What? Died? Part immortal? Half Breed? Man-hunt, a threat to millions… wait a gosh darn minute! This reads like a bloody season of 24 but with a supernatural twist… no no no not Supernatural, well not really, these guys are not angels, vampires or zombies.. of course there is a character that reminds me of Cas and also one that reminds me of Crowley but only because of the snark and attitude.

But let’s get down to why everyone I know should seriously pick this puppy up and read it! Well, all of those without heart conditions that is. Why you ask?

INTENSE, NON-STOP ACTION You know the movie Speed? Reading this book is like being on the bus, and you know if the bus stops something bad is going to happen, as in BOOM. You do not know if the bus can be stopped safety so you don’t want the bus to stop, you want it to keep going while Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock can manage to keep the bus from slowing down, the stars from freaking out and everyone else in line till he can figure out what to do. Starrling is our Keanu here, she is not letting anything slow the bus story down. Not one step or breath in the wrong direction. (I seriously found myself gasping  because I had been holding my breath for oh…. the chapter I just finished.)

Our main protagonist, Lucas Soul, is sickeningly rich (duh, been around for centuries), incredibly well learned and smart (see former duh), and is about as perfect as can be, sort of… he still has a bit of a broken soul, a heart that needs mending, his second half found. And he finds her amidst the smoking guns, 15th & 16th deaths and beyond seventeen… (wicked grin). Who it ends up being may shock many but Starrling, again, pulls this off splendidly.

SMART & WELL RESEARCHED STORY-LINE –  The story is full of all sorts of procedural geeky science stuff that makes the nerd smart chick in me go ooohh! The Immortals are wealthy and have had years to research and work with the science of biology and genetics. They happen to be Immortal-ish. Well that is they can die seventeen times and still live to talk about it. You have to take a leap of faith into the realm of the supernatural and accept them for what they are. Don’t worry it is explained, enough to give you a basic understanding. To say more would be spoiling it.

This is where certain aspects of 24 comes in for me. How many times did you roll your eyes when Jack Bauer actually managed to get cell service in some dank underground sewage tunnel? Without giving Sprint kudos, it is actually possible for a signal to work far down underground. Starrling has the characters getting one and even goes into explaining how. I looked it up, and when you get to the point in the novel I think you will agree the way she does this small info dump is just right. Not to much to make you go COME ON, move along, I get it already! He can talk underground because … and … and…! My point is, there is a lot of technical things happening in the book but Miss Starrling brings it to a readability level which most should be able to grasp without dumbing it down to .. well dumb. It is a smart read, she treats her readers with respect and knows she is giving just the right enough information not to make their eyes glaze over and start craving a PBR while scratching their crotch.

Villains and Heroes to love– Two families who treat each other like two different races. Lucas is the son of a daughter of one and son of the other family and yet belongs to neither. To the point of possible genocide  this is part of the whole threat! The whole “cast” is lovable  even if it is a love hate relationship. I want to choke the shit out of many of the asshats which basically are reminiscent to Nazi Germany, but justly so. It is totally necessary to set up the back story. Am I making any sense? Well I am to me, go read the book, it is that complex yet not overwhelmingly so!

The characters are thick and real, I can see each of them in my minds-eye  The Hunters hunting, the hunted hunting back, its a swirling pot of awesomesauce. Lucas Soul is like a brooding Cas (yes now you can think Supernatural)  blended with the hardass Bauer and wrapped up in a smart-ass-humor bow. Not obnoxious, just right. He has the shrug the shoulders and move along kind of attitude. Reid, his partner in “crime” is a human who has absolutely the best freaking luck I have ever seen. There is more than meets the eye with this guy and he goes with the flow. Anna comes in a bit later and we do not get to know her as well, but we all feel for her and by the end know we will learn even more in the next book.

The list goes on seriously, but this review needs to wrap up! The one other character whom I have fallen in love with, as in I want him in my basement to be used at my disposal, is  Anatole. I like him so very much. What’s not to like about a guy who is able to move past the ingrained bigotry and support the cause and the people. Who is able to tell everyone to get out while they can and look back at the amassing enemies and face one of his deaths with a shout  “Hey assholes! We’re right here!

You won’t be be able to put this one down. You will need to write your self a note reminding yourself to breath, you will want to take blood pressure and anti-seizure medicine prior to starting because you are in for an amazing and exciting ride. This one is getting 5 out of 5 lives, and in the of the fifth star, is just not the final star! Because this story is one to hit the immortal and classic spot on the bookshelves. It is so promising there is no where but up to go!

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2 Comments

  1. Hihihi! 😀

    Thank you for having me on here again hon and, yes, I would DEFINITELY do, hmmm, nasty things with Jackson if I ever meet him in my dreams (Oh the POWER!!!!). Will be sending you that Fourth Wall Friday post soon (Jackson features in it, obviously).

    Love
    AD xx

  2. Congrats AD on the great review! This sounds fantastic and I’m definitely adding all of these books to my wishlist 🙂

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