The “Indie Highlight” is a series of posts in which I shine the lights on Indie/Self-Published books that I believe are worthy of your attention. I’ll be writing reviews and recommending them, along with providing links on where to get the books.
The Wings of War series by Bryce O’Connor
The Wings of War series box set was one that got me with great ads. The artwork featured on the covers were fantastic, and we can’t help but judge books by their covers, so I was interested. I was sold when I saw the first four books lumped together for $.99 with more than 500 reviews averaging over 4 stars.
But all of that doesn’t matter if the content isn’t good. Bryce O’Connor has created a fascinating character in Raz i’Syul, a dragon person (the name for his species escapes me) whose life is compelling and tragic. Some aspects of prophecy get woven throughout the fantasy setting of the four books in this series. There are many fantasy tropes packed in here, but none of them feel particularly overdone or boring. O’Connor grabbed me with his characters right from the start and that’s the major selling point of this series. The world-building for the series is compact, generally focused directly around the actions of Raz and his companions. It will be interesting to see if the sequel (the promised 5th book is coming soon!) opens the world up more for exploration or maintains the narrow focus.
The series is sold, in part, as ‘dark fantasy’ and there are certainly some pretty dark parts in the books, though it is rare that the darker/violent moments felt like window dressing as opposed to intrinsic to the plot. There are times where it does dip into the unbelievable with some aspects of how the violence plays out, but it never drove me off the more powerful urge to read just one more chapter. The series is definitely a page-turner that had me looking forward to reading more while I was doing other things throughout the day.
The whole series weighs in at around 1700 pages so far, with at least one more book on the way. It’s a series worth checking out, especially if you like narrowly focused action-filled fantasy. Get the first four books for $0.99!
The Ixan Prophecies Trilogy begins with Supercarrier, a book I got through Prime Reading and decided to give a chance because I like big spaceships shooting at each other. I didn’t anticipate a truly fascinating piece of world-building accompanied by shades of religion, prophecy, questions of the dangers of unfettered capitalism, and more.
The crew of a supercarrier that some believe is obsolete get thrust into a major conflict that may endanger the whole human race. Does that sound familiar? Maybe a little bit like Battlestar Galactica? I thought that too, but I didn’t anticipate the way that Bartlett would throw much bigger questions as well as a group of fascinating alien species at me to accompany what initially felt like a tried-and-true plot formula. The series continued to evolve throughout the second book, Juggernaut, and came to a satisfying conclusion with the third book, Reckoning. The possibility for more works was left open, and I was pleased to see Bartlett has put out more books.
At times, the actions of the crew were a little bit strange to me, particularly on a vessel that is run with military efficiency. The amount of questioning orders and second-guessing command decisions was a bit more than I tend to think necessary in fiction (admittedly, I have absolutely no idea how things go in the real military other than secondhand reports, so maybe I’m in the wrong here). The battle sequences are a delight. The aliens are interesting, often in ways that were unexpected. I love running into ideas for aliens that feel genuinely original, and Bartlett offered more than one in this series.
The Ixan Prophecies trilogy is definitely worth your time if you are into military sci-fi or like science fiction with interesting aliens. My complaints are minor enough to recommend the series for your reading. Additionally, Bartlett is super engaged through social media and his fantastic newsletter. I love when authors engage with readers, and Bartlett definitely meets that desire. Check out the first book, Supercarrier, for a low price (varying).
J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!
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