by Terrance Mc Arthur
This week we have a review of The Imposters of Aventil by Marshall Ryan Maresca, along with a fun guest post by Marshall about the sports involved in this book. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of The Imposters of Aventil. We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL .
I’ve been waiting for this.
I’ve hoped it would happen for a long time.
First, I discovered Veranix Calbert, aka The Thorn, in Marshall Ryan Maresca’s The Thorn of Dentonhill, a magic student fighting drug dealers in a not-exactly-medieval fantasy world: a steampunk Spiderman.
Next, Maresca gave us Sabine Rainey and Minox Welling, police detectives in another part of Maradaine, the same city where The Thorn battles crime. Sabine is a woman who lied her way onto the force, but stayed because she’s that good. Minox has untutored magic, because mages aren’t supposed to join the constabulary.
A third Maresca series is the Holver Alley Crew, which puts a team of displaced people with dodgy backgrounds on a course of revenge against those who torched their neighborhood to redevelop it, instead of buying out the residents. Each story has depth and world-building, yet they inhabit the same city.
I’ve waited and hoped, and it finally happened: the first crossover.
In The Imposters of Aventil, Rainey and Welling are called in when The Thorn starts turning one street gang’s soldiers into arrowed-up pincushions, and then targets the police. The problem is: Veranix was somewhere else at the time. In fact, there are times he’s in three places simultaneously. On top of that, vials from the lethal drug that turned Veranix’s mother into a mindless hospital patient are showing up at an intercollegiate tournament on campus. The Thorn and his in-the-know friends combine magic and chemistry to track down the pushers. The female assassins that tried to take down The Thorn’s reputation, return for love and revenge.
The Thorn books are a mixture of Zorro and Harry Potter, blending youthful angst with do-good derring-do. They also toss in a dash of West Side Story with the street gangs of the city. Sabine and Minox have a steampunk-paranormal-noir feel, not really accepted by the rest of the constabulary, and are mixed up in cases that contain moral quagmires.
This installment in the saga gives more stage time to some of the subsidiary characters, possibly setting them up for more spin-offs. Veranix’s street-gang cousin finds himself going against the gang leadership to catch an imposter. Members of The Thorn’s Scooby Squad work on their own and together, to locate the drug source. There is even a section on how one college sport is played: a combination of cricket, baseball, hockey, and football, with a touch of Capture the Flag.
I’m fond of these glimpses into Maresca’s land of Maradaine, and look forward to more adventures and crossovers.
Writing What You Don’t Know
by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Here’s my big confession: I’m not even remotely a sports person. I mean, I understand how most sports work, and if there’s a game of some sort playing on the TV, I can follow what’s happening, but it doesn’t do anything for me. I mean, just the other day I was in the room while a friend watched the end of a legitimate nail-biter of a football game, in which in the last two minutes, Penn State (my actual alma mater, so you’d think I’d have investment) was only slightly ahead, and failed in their chance to cement their lead. The turnover gave their opponents a chance to score, taking the lead with less than a minute on the clock. Penn State players pushed through and scored the winning touchdown literally at the last second.
And I was pretty much, “Well, that’s all right.”
So it was quite a challenge for me to have the backdrop of The Imposters of Aventil be a huge multi-collegiate, multi-event athletic tournament. In order to write this book, I had to find my deeply hidden sports-fan within.
I had already established in the early Maradaine books that there’s a game called tetchball, but other than it being played with a ball and a bat of some sort, I never went into too many details on the game itself. Because: not a sports person. So, in order to depict the tetchball matches in a way that was dynamic and interesting, I first had to really understand what tetchball was.
I came up with a game that’s kind of the bastard child of cricket and rugby, in which, roughly, a pitcher (the “Arm”) pitches the ball at a batter, who tries to hit the ball as hard as they can into the field. The batter then runs past the three markers (“jack lines”) and back again, scoring points for each one they pass for a maximum of six total. Meanwhile, the fielders get control of the ball and return it to the batting area (“restoring the tetch”) while at the same time doing whatever they can to stop the runner until the tetch is restored. The further out the ball is, the more restrictions on the fielders of who is available to stop the runner. If the batter hits the ball beyond the bounds of the field (the third jack line, thus: a triple jack), they’ll be able to run all the way out and back unassailed.
I also decided to give my key characters connections to the game. Veranix, being a mage, is barred from playing, but he knows how to hit things hard with a stick, so he’s recruited as a batting coach for his school’s team. And Jiarna Kay, the magic-studying scientist who Veranix befriended in the last book, is revealed to be a raving tetchball fan. She just wants to watch the games.
There are other events as well. Some of them are just as they would be here: rowing, archery, long-distance running (called “the endurance”). Others are unique, such as the banned-but-played-secret game of crownball.
What’s crownball, and why is it banned?
All I’ll say is its origins involve my deeply competitive and sports-enthusiastic cousins (really, thank you, guys for the inspiration), and a midnight outing at an abandoned pool. For the rest of it, you’ll have to read Imposters of Aventil to find out.
To enter to win a copy of The Imposters of Aventil, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “imposters,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 11, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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