Authors Showcase: From the imaginations of Brendan Carroll and Sean McGrady
July 20, 2013
The Book: The Red Cross of Gold
The Author Brendan Carroll
The Story: The immortal Knights of the Council of Twelve comprise the ruling body of the clandestine Order of the Red Cross of Gold, Poor Knights of Solomon’s Temple. Some of them have been around since the Crusades in the Holy Lands, secretly directing, aiding and abetting world events that they believe will eventually culminate in the ultimate confrontation of Good and Evil at Armageddon. As Knights of Christ, they live, fight and die safely as God’s executioners in the service of the Master of the Universe.
Book I: The Knight of Death
The Red Cross of Gold is an ancient order of clandestine Templar Knights left over from the middle ages. A well-worn theme by now, of course, but these Knights are also left over from the middle ages. In fact, many of them are left over from even earlier ages. The story begins when one of them, whose job is dual in nature, Alchemist/Assassin, takes a trip to America in order to retrieve a deserter. The Grand Master’s Apprentice has broken his vows and run off with a couple of young women from Texas. Unfortunately, there is more to his desertion than is first surmised and a high priestess from a rival order is ready and waiting for him. Using an ancient alchemical solution to subdue the Assassin leaves him with a muddled brain and an unfortunate loss of memory. As he falls in love with one of captors, his memory returns in fits and starts by way of dreams and visions while his other captor tries to pry the secret of immortality from his highly disturbed mind. Things get much worse when the Grand Master declares him a possible threat to the order and sends three of his brethren knights to bring him home with or without his head attached to his body.
The surface tension is obvious, forbidden love, conflicted hero, naïve shallow heroine, ruthless antagonists, but there is a hidden conflict within the Assassin that foreshadows things to come in the Epic Fantasy series: The Assassin Chronicles. The series spans an entire century, starting in 2000 and stretching into the future as the mission and origins of the Order of the Red Cross of Gold and its member knights are revealed. Their tale begins in the shadows of prehistory and culminates with the coming of the New Age.
Book II: The King of Terrors
Mark Ramsay returns to America bent on marrying the girl he left behind, but things are not well on the home front. Two members of his ancient Order set themselves on a dangerous course to stop him at all costs, believing that the marriage will cause the dissolution of the Order. However, his worst enemy lies much closer to his heart when his most beloved Brother weighs into the equation on the wrong side. The Knight of Death places everything on the line as he battles to save the life of his son and win back the woman he loves.
Review by Rebecca: Wow! If you are looking at this, just go ahead and buy it. Seriously, I’ve just finished reading #25 and each one is a definite 5 star rating… I never give 5 stars!
Now I find myself moping around, impatiently checking Amazon for the next installment and desperately hoping they’ll keep coming indefinitely. Go ahead my friend, you wont regret it… each book perfectly showcases the authors diverse knowledge and beautiful command of the English language, creating a story that is (honestly) almost impossible to put down.
Review by Xirene: I discovered this series last summer and it just swept me up and has carried me happily along with it. Getting the first two books together like this is a wonderful introduction to the story. Brendan Carroll is a gifted storyteller and has crafted complex, very real characters whom I’ve come to think of as old friends after all the adventures I’ve shared with them.
My only complaint with the series? I’ve lost too many hours of sleep and been tired the next day at work because I couldn’t put the next book down.
The Book: The Backslider
The Author: Sean McGrady
The Story: How can the love of a crime be a virtue? When it leads to a resurrection of, and an encounter with, the self. That the self is “in” the crime act., as its cause. In his over-powering and suffocating evangelical world, young Marius Moonston struggles daily with the idea of salvation. One minute he is ecstatically one of God’s elect, the next a sad, self-accused damned backslider. It is however with the latter status that he experiences a point of conversion unrecognised in the evangelical community.
It is a day in the life of Belfast, in the utterly crazy year of 1972, that young Marius acts to pilfer a fiver from his sister’s purse, but more importantly his “sinful” action is taking a stand. Marius cannot find a foothold in this utterly mad Ulster “evangelical” world, with his mad evangelical family and madder society at large smothering his questioning mind. His crime opens up a new way of looking at the world, and of acting in it, which proves ultimately to be one and the same thing.
What follows is a continuation of the act, and with his friend and unwitting accomplice Linus Lacey, a day ahead of significant encounters with a selection of “entities” (individuals) that render the crime itself as of little importance compared to the joy contained in the encounters that permits him to establish a dominance over himself and others.
Reviews: “Seàn McGrady has brought loquacious delight to the loss of innocence. Every sentence in The Backslider savors “the peculiar and sometimes painful world of decisions,” as that world orbits through the tumultuous spirit of the 16-year-old Marius. The boy has a stolen bill in his pocket and he’s on the verge of more serious trouble, perhaps even murder, and meanwhile the peregrinations of the kid’s meditations pop and maunder wondrously, often hilariously. Now he’s swept up in some anarchic urge, and now he’s carried away by the no-account types on a city corner. A troubled corner, that would be, in a dangerous city. Yes, now for McGrady’s greatest trick: he does it in early-`70s Belfast, church-riven and bullet-riddled. It’s as if Flann O’Brien took his blarney to Stalingrad — and there held the armies spellbound.” —John Domini, author of Earthquake I.D. and A Tomb on the Periphery
“With echoes of the distinctive humour and philosophical meditations inherited from a rich Irish literary legacy, The Backslider is an accomplished and deeply affecting novel, McGrady’s observations on the nature of adolescence are powerful and provocative.” —Ian Holding, author of Unfeeling: A Novel and Of Beasts and Beings
I read The Backslider in one fell swoop, with increasing admiration and delight. An absolute stunning coming of age novel, set in The Troubles and you can literally smell the cordite and the litany of The Evangelical Church. Beautifully wrought with a skill that seems to be more in line with an assured half dozen books under your belt. Moving and drenched in the appalling consequences of an apparently petty act. Catcher in the Northern Province, with a compassion that echoes long after the book is read, and an assurance that here is a novel to return to over and wonderfully over. –Ken Bruen, author of The Guards and The White Trilogy