Friday, August 10, 2012

Review and Author Interview - The Stone of Darkness by Resa Nelson

I am very excited to be part of the blog tour for the third instalment in the Dragonslayer series. Following is my review of this awesome book plus an interview with the wonderful Resa Nelson.

The Stone of Darkness by Resa Nelson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
236 pages
Published May 29th 2012 by Mundania Press

'In Book 3 of the Dragonslayer series, Astrid accepts her duty and follows the winter route--until she's bitten by a dragon. Everyone knows dragon bites are poisonous and deadly, so she reluctantly accepts her impending death. In a twist of fate, she survives. Desperate for an explanation, Astrid believes she has somehow been protected by the black stone she keeps with her at all times, a stone that emerged from the sole of her foot a year ago. Determined to find out what the stone is and what kind of powers it possesses, Astrid begins a journey that leads her to alchemists and an army of men under the rule of the powerful warrior, Mandulane, the acting lord of the Krystr army. Mandulane's mission is to spread the word of the new god Krystr, which preaches the evil intent of women and the danger they pose to all men, who are entitled to dominate the world. Rumors about this new god and army have spread, but Astrid is the first Northlander to encounter them. Soon, she stumbles upon a secret of a far-reaching and mind-numbing plot that will impact the entire world. Astrid must find a way to spread the news of this threat and protect her people and everyone else at risk. She's convinced the answer lies inside the Stone of Darkness, and she must find a way to understand the stone and the powers she's convinced it must hold before it's too late.'

My Thoughts:
The Stone of Darkness continues the epic tale of Astrid and her journey as the Dragonslayer.
In this instalment, Astrid is on a mission to find out as much as she can about the black stone she removed from her foot the previous year. Astrid is of the opinion that this stone saved her life after she was bitten by a dragon but didn't die from the poison in it's saliva as she should have.

Throughout this book Astrid has to learn who she can trust to help her on her journey and finds protection and company in the form of the Iron Maidens along the way.

As with the other books in this series, it is refreshing to watch how Astrid grows as a person and to see her develop into a more mature and open minded woman.

This series is full of adventure and The Stone of Darkness has a plot that flows smoothly and keeps you interested until the very end. It was great to see some new characters introduced in this instalment as well as follow on with the lives of some of the original characters.

There is a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of this book and I can't wait to see what happens next and how the author finishes off this series in the fourth book.

Author Interview:
I was fortunate enough to get Resa to answer some interview questions:

What was your inspiration behind ‘The Dragonslayer’ series?

Like a lot of writers, I use writing as therapy!  Many years ago, I'd been propositioned by a co-worker (a married man with two young children), which horrified me and hurt my feelings.  So I wrote a short story about it, except my story took place in a medieval type of fantasy world.  The story was published in a magazine, and response from readers was so strong that it made me realize they saw something more in the story that I couldn't see.  I decided that I'd expand the story into a novel only if I came up with an idea that I loved with my whole heart – otherwise, I'd be wasting everybody's time.  It took me about 8 years to come up with that idea.  Then once I started writing Book 1 (The Dragonslayer's Sword), I realized the world I'd created could support more than one book, and I began to understand the big picture.  And it all started with a bad experience and one little short story!  I also wrote a second story (which was also published) in my Dragonslayer world, and everyone is welcome to download a free PDF ebook of those original short stories to get an idea of what my Dragonslayer series is like at
Would you like to share one piece of advice you would give to other aspiring authors?

If writing is truly what you want to do (notice I didn't say “be famous” or “get rich” -- I'm talking about actually writing), then do not give up under any circumstances.  I've seen writers whose work was far better than mine never get published because they gave up too easily and too soon. 
If you weren't a writer, what else do you think you would you be doing instead?

My answer to this changes all the time.  I love sports and have a degree in sport management (which ironically is extremely helpful in my writing life).  Because the Olympics are going on right now, I think back to how much I've always loved the Olympics.  In ancient times, the Greeks told all countries that they had to stop fighting any wars during the Olympics.  The idea was to stop whatever you were doing and send your country’s best athletes to Greece to compete in sports.  I think that's one of the most civilized ideas ever.  So at one time I did think about pursuing a career working with the Olympics.
Do you have one particular special ‘writing place’ or are you fortunate enough to be able to write anywhere?

I've always been able to block out the world around me and focus on reading or writing.  So I can write anywhere.  The “real” world literally disappears – I can't hear anything when I’m focused and all I can see is my computer screen or sheet of paper (if I'm writing in longhand).  I've written short stories in waiting rooms, in airports, on trains, and on planes.  In fact, this year I finally figured out that I can write short stories during any down time when I'm selling and signing books at an event.  So far I've written four new short stories this year, and none of them have been in the comfort of my own home!
Are there any authors that have inspired you along the way?

Oh, yes, tons!  When I was young, my favorite authors were Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Agatha Christie.  I was also a big fan of Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, and Louisa May Alcott.  Later, I fell in love with the work of Jane Austen.  As an adult, I became a big fan of Connie Willis.  In fact, that's how I rate the science fiction and fantasy section of any bookstore.  If they don't carry at least one book by Connie Willis, my opinion of that store goes down.  These I days I typically don't read in my genre unless it's something really remarkable, for example, the Harry Potter series or The Hunger Games.  Mostly I read mysteries and thrillers.  Currently, my favorite mystery writer is Harlan Coben because the heroic characters he creates are people I'd like to hang out with.  And his villains are really, seriously scary!
Do you have a favourite scene in the book ‘The Stone of Darkness’ (without giving the story away too much)?

Actually, my favorite scene is the beginning because it came from a conversation I had with a teenage boy after I'd given a presentation about The Dragonslayer’s Sword (Book 1 in my Dragonslayer series) at a library.  He wanted to talk about dragons and how to fight them.  He felt very strongly that a good strategy might be to lie in wait with plenty of people armed with bows and arrows.  My feeling is that dragons have tough scales that overlap, which provide dragons with a type of natural armor.  But I thought this teenager's opinion was really interesting and valid.  I thought about what he had to say and kept looking for a way to write about it.  When I started writing The Stone of Darkness, it dawned on me that it would make a perfect opening.  So the action and characters at the beginning of this book are greatly inspired by that conversation, and I think often about the young man I met.  I feel like he's part of that book, which really makes me happy.  Every so often I ask people I meet in person if I can use their name for a character or use something we've talked about in a future novel.
Do you have any pets?

No, but I love nature and animals.  I have a balcony, and every year finches nest in a hanging plant of flowers that I buy just for them.  The planter hangs just a foot away from my window, so I get a great view of the baby birds, especially when they're old enough to exercise their flight muscles.  They're so cute!  I felt like an aunt to every batch of birds that has hatched on my balcony.  I even have a clip of some of the babies on YouTube at this link:
What’s your favourite way to spend your spare time?

It depends.  If I'm exhausted, I love either reading or watching movies or TV.  If I have energy, I'm a big fan of going to museums, Broadway musicals, or ballet.  Or going to the beach.  Or traveling to other countries, because I want to learn about other people and their culture and customs.
What’s one thing that most people wouldn’t know about you?

I have a science degree in physical education, which required me to take a course in human dissection.  I dreaded it and put it off until my senior year, hoping it would go away.  But it turned out to be one of my favorite classes ... especially after a hulky male classmate fainted, and I didn't!  It was fascinating.  We’re as different on the inside as we are on the outside.  One of the most challenging things about dissection was locating parts of the body that we knew were there – we just couldn’t always find them where we thought they’d be!
What’s one of the most surprising things you’ve learnt about yourself since writing?

My novels often change me in ways I don't expect.  For example, writing the villanous characters in my Dragonslayer series has led me to feeling a lot of compassion for misogynists.  I used to despise them, but now I just pity them.  I never saw that coming.

Wow, I'm so excited that Resa's favourite author at the moment is Harlan Coben. He's been one of my favourite author's for years!

Author Biography:
Resa Nelson has been selling fiction professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop.
Resa was also the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years and was a contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Her first novel, The Dragonslayer’s Sword, was nominated for the Nebula Award and was also a Finalist for the EPPIE Award. This medieval fantasy novel is based on a short story first published in the premiere issue of Science Fiction Age magazine and ranked 2nd in that magazine's first Readers Top Ten Poll. The Dragonslayer's Sword is Book 1 in her 4-book Dragonslayer series. Book 2, The Iron Maiden, was published last December, Book 3 was published in May, and the final book in the series is scheduled for publication in November.
Resa's standalone novel, Our Lady of the Absolute, is a fantasy/mystery/thriller about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt. Midwest Book Review gave this book a 5-star review, calling it "a riveting fantasy, very highly recommended."
Resa lives in Massachusetts.

Resa’s website:
Free “mini” ebook of Dragonslayer short stories:
Facebook page:!/pages/Resa-Nelson-The-Dragonslayers-Sword/122200661871
Ebooks ($4.99 each) are available directly from Mundania Press at: (get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10)
Paperbacks are available from Mundania Press, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble: (get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10)

The Stone Of Darkness on Amazon

My reviews of The Dragonslayer's Sword (Book 1) and The Iron Maiden (Book 2)

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