First, let me thank the blogs for having me on this Ink and Shadows tour! Thank you so so much! Secondly, this next part will be the same across all of the blogs but I wanted to give a bit of a soundbite about the whys of this book.
In the Beginning, there was urban fantasy. Okay to be fair, the urban fantasy genre didn’t exist when I began to read. Back then, it was pretty much either sci-fi or high fantasy. There were murmurs of urban fantasy—Mercedes Lackey’s elves / bard series, Gael Baudino’s Gossamer Axe, to name a few—but it caught and began gaining traction, a bastard stepchild of magic and an alternative universe.
Urban fantasy was always a playground for experimentation and I wanted to go off the rails a bit with Ink and Shadows. There had to be a solid footing in the contemporary world and the underbelly of humanity. Or rather, the expression of humanity. When I wrote this book, it was to explore the possibilities of personalities and okay, play around with the world.
I chose to write about the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Kismet, the human who changes their world, because I wanted to delve into their being a necessary part of humanity’s existence. Over the course of the tour, I’ll touch on the main characters and components of the Horsemen’s world.
I hope you all like Ink and Shadows, my foray past the shadows.
Oh! And as a giveaway! Enter to win Pestilence’s Horse! That’s right! A black pony of your very own!
Guest Post: Rhys talks about the Character, Death
Death was an interesting character to write. He’s a tall man, dark haired with a sinewy musculature and lanky frame. He also is silent, steady and the Horsemen’s leader. Unlike War, who has a more active part in manipulating humanity’s existence, Death simply exists and by existing, people die.
He does have a calling. And that is to cull the dead’s presence and send souls off to their next path.
Death usually is needed in times of great disasters or battlefields. The dead leave echoes, ghosts of ideas and personalities that cling to the area they died in. Most don’t know they’re dead and until Death gives them a little nudge, they’ll remain trapped in that space and moment.
So Death follows the other three, usually War since he generates the most dead but often Pestilence and Famine strike en masse, leaving countless remains behind. One or two spectres aren’t a threat but a mass of phantasms leads to a weakening of the Veil…not something one wants when the Veil is the only thing keeping the monsters from turning the Earth into an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Death is also responsible for the Horsemen as a whole. He is their father, brother, counselor and mentor. He is the one who will listen without judging then hold up a mirror so they can judge themselves. He’s seen other Horsemen come and go but War remains.
He’s pretty sure for as long as he wants to be Death, War will remain.
Their new Pestilence is a surprise, one Death can mold into a new type of Horseman. War and Min are adaptable and despite all their grumblings, the world is changing and they will change with it. Neither are ready to put down their mantles and walk off into the light. Change is constant. And expected.
But no one expected Kismet.
This is a complex, emotional story from cover to cover. I mean, look at that cover. It’s magic. Then you open the book and it flows. I am a total fan girl when it comes to Rhys Ford, so I didn’t even read the blurb when I was told this book was available for review. I just said gimmie. To my absolute delight, this series is about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. One of my absolute favorite subjects. Don’t judge me. It is what it is, I’ve learned to accept my weird. Back to the book. Holy mackerel, this book rocks!
As I read, I realized how different this book really is. First of all, this is not a romance. In fact, there is no sex. Ink and Shadows is true omniscient POV. We know what everyone is thinking. Yes, the Four, Kismet, the antagonists and the various other immortals. It was weird at first, but I get it now. No one has to “explain” other characters motivations. I might get it, but it’s not really my preference. Anyway, being inside the heads of the Four Horsemen expands the story. This isn’t just Kismet and Mal’s story. Mal is Pestilence, by the way. Death (Shi) and War (Ari) are circling each other. Well, based on their history, they’ve been circling for centuries, but now War is taking no prisoners. Death will be his, probably. Maybe? It doesn’t happen in this installment, and it will take so much work for those two to get together. Oh, and Min, who is Famine, is the only female. We’re still calling them the horsemen, though. You would think that so many main characters (five really) would make it difficult to have growth or even any kind of development. That is not a problem. The Four are like siblings. Their evolution follows that pattern throughout. Adding Kismet changes the dynamic, but they are still family. Some days they just get on each other’s nerves. It’s so much fun!
There is so much I want to mention about this book. My fingers just aren’t keeping up with my brain. My poor brain. I learned four new words in the first 10%. A couple were even used again and I still remembered them. The plot. Fascinating. Obviously the author has an overall plot for the series, and we can understand where it wants to go through reading the first sub plot story. We really get to know the characters in addition to several action scenes that left my heart pounding. I was actually worried a little bit.
Learning the ins and outs of the Four Horsemen makes this book. Rhys Ford makes the world so detailed it feels real. It’s complex and fascinating. I got lost in it and absolutely love this creation. Some is based on popular culture to an extent with the Veil and immortals, but so much seems original to me. (It’s remotely possible I’m just not that well-read). Even considering the Four as main characters, there are still many secondary supporting characters. They’re all well developed and thoroughly real. Are there too many? No, they are there for a reason. Keep in mind, this is just the first book. Oh, dear, I better throw this out there now. This doesn’t end with an HEA. It’s not really even an HFN. It’s just a natural stopping point for the most recent crisis. Don’t panic, it does end on an upswing. It also holds me in thrall anticipating the next book. I. Can. Not. Wait.
I’m serious that the ending just has me wanting more. I highly recommend this for fantasy and myth fans. This will feed your geek for days!
For the young tattoo artist, the shadows hold more than darkness. He is certain of his insanity because the dark holds creatures and crawling things only he can see—monsters who hunt out the weak to eat their minds and souls, leaving behind only empty husks and despair.
And if there’s one thing Kismet fears more than being hunted—it’s the madness left in its wake.
The shadowy Veil is Mal’s home. As Pestilence, he is the youngest—and most inexperienced—of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, immortal manifestations resurrected to serve—and cull—mankind. Invisible to all but the dead and insane, the Four exist between the Veil and the mortal world, bound to their nearly eternal fate. Feared by other immortals, the Horsemen live in near solitude but Mal longs to know more than Death, War and Famine.
Mal longs to be… more human. To interact with someone other than lunatics or the deceased.
When Kismet rescues Mal from a shadowy attack, Pestilence is suddenly thrust into a vicious war—where mankind is the prize, and the only one who has faith in Mal is the human the other Horsemen believe is destined to die.
The Social Links:
Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain. Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats of varying degrees of black fur and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and an overworked red coffee maker.
And at the Starbucks down the street. No really, they’re 24/7. And a drive-thru. It’s like heaven.
My books can be purchased, folded and first chapters read at Dreamspinner Press.
Rhys Ford is giving a lucky reader the chance to win a stuffed Mal’s Iconic Horse, all you need to do to enter is leave a comment below.
Comments must be time/date stamped by Midnight Pacific time on Friday, July 17, 2015, to be eligible. One winner will be selected at random on Saturday, the 18th, and notified via email for prize delivery. (Void where prohibited) Best of Luck!