Storytellers On Tour is a Blog/Instagram Tour organising service. It was born out of Justine’s (Whispers & Wonder) and my love and dedication toward SFF indie books and authors. Our goal is to give as much exposure to our clients as we can, while we also build a community among our Roadies. Find out more about us on www.storytellersontour.online!
This past week we gave the spotlight to Divinity’s Twilight: Rebirth, the first book in an Epic Fantasy series by Christopher Russell in celebration of its release! Our Roadies brought a wide selection of content to this show with reviews and other posts. Now it’s time to bring the show to an end and it’s my pleasure to present you with the encore, including some extra content. Come and learn a bit more about the world of Rebirth through Christopher’s inspirational board, playlist and a Q&A!
Christopher Russell (native of Williamsburg, VA) is a 27-year-old mechanical and aerospace engineer (graduate of the University of Virginia) who has loved reading since the day he picked up a book and writing since he could scrawl his first letters. After voraciously consuming titles from every genre—ranging from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings—he decided to combine the expertise from his professional education, passions, and Christian faith into a fantasy epic bridging the gap between magic and science. He currently resides in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his loyal dog, Vallen, named after the protagonist of his first work. For behind-the-scenes information on all of Christopher Russell’s works, visit christopherrussellauthor.com.
A world consumed by war . . .
An ancient evil resurrected . . .
A millennia old bargain comes due . . .
When two blades clash, the third will fall, and the fate of all will be jeopardized. To save Lozaria, the failures of the past must be atoned for by a new generation of heroes. The time has come for mortals to cast off sight and, in doing so, truly come to see . . .
Victory is never absolute.
Seven centuries ago, the forces of order won the Illyriite War on the plains of Har’muth. Darmatus and Rabban Aurelian slew their elder brother, Sarcon, the despotic architect of the conflict, then sacrificed themselves to banish the cataclysmic vortex opened with his dying breath. The first advent of the Oblivion Well was thwarted. Even without their vanished gods, the seven races of Lozaria proved themselves capable of safeguarding their world.
Or so the story goes.
The year is now 697 A.B.H (After the Battle of Har’muth). Though war itself remains much the same, the weapons with which it is waged have evolved. Airships bearing powerful cannons ply the skies, reducing the influence of mages and their spells. Long range communication has brought far flung regions of Lozaria closer than ever before. At the center of this technological revolution are the three Terran states of Darmatia, Rabban, and Sarconia, who have fought a near ceaseless campaign of 700 years in an attempt to best each other. The roots of their enmity lie buried beneath the wasteland of Har’muth, a place all three nations consider best forgotten.
However, an ancient power sealed within Har’muth has not forgotten them, and the descendants of those who fought on that field must now take a stand to rectify the mistakes of the past.
Click on the blog name to read their full review or other content!
SEPTEMBER 20TH–THE WELCOMING
Gwendalyn’s Books – review
“This captivating novel, with stunning atmospheric imagery and clever innovative world building with technology, magic systems, religion. The authors writing takes you on a journey of unforeseen twists and turns. The book checks all my boxes, and delivers a compelling adventurous quest for an enjoyable reading experience.”
@bibliomum – IG spotlight
Beneath A Thousand Skies – review
“Where Russell’s writing really shines through is when he is writing about the history of the world and the conflicts, as well as in the backstory of the characters, shown through the unusually skilful use of flashbacks – including that prologue, and I found myself looking forward to those parts the most and hope to see more of this in future books.”
I Can Has Books? – review
“With that being said, it was well written and you can tell that the author put a lot of time and heart into this story, which is a great story with the potential to be an even greater series. Which is precisely why I kept on picking it back up. For me, and I’m just speaking about me, this is a book that needs to be savored, like a fine wine not sucked back like shot of whiskey.
If I was to compare Rebirth to another author, it would be Mr. Brandon Sanderson. I also savor his books to. So Christopher Russel you’re in good company.”
@the.b00kreader – IG spotlight
jea reads – IG spotlight
The Writer’s Alley – review
“As a debut, Christopher Russell did a great job. His story had a good prologue, solid plot, dynamic characters, and a smooth magic systems. I would recommend this story to anyone who likes Adult SFF stories.”
@myrelationshipwith – IG spotlight
dinipandareads – spotlight
natrosette – review
“I’m not one to focus too heavily on prose, but I do think Russell has hit the perfect balance for an epic fantasy. Sentences are long on average (which, as someone who refuses to write short sentences, I approve of) and a number of big descriptive words are thrown around. But at the same time, there’s plenty of clarity and I never felt like we were too hung up on description (again, as someone with a rather poor visual imagination, I appreciate this).”
FanFiAddict – spotlight
The Bookwyrm’s Guide to the Galaxy – review
“You quickly realize this story is a work of dedication and care, and feel a kinship growing.
During my initial reading of it, I couldn’t help but be transported to thoughts of World of Warcraft (unpopular opinion but I enjoyed the movie as well, and while reading this I thought it had the same feel to it, especially the prologue!).”
The Grimdragon – review
“Revenge, murder, airships, THE PLAGUE, magic gems & crystals, sorrow, loyalty, a doomed mission, MUTATED KNIGHTS. I tend to be a fan of books that weave fantasy & science fiction together, and Divinity’s Twilight carries out this combination well. With a healthy sprinkling of steampunk! I was instantly reminded of Brandon Sanderson’s style of writing. They even have the same cover artist in Chris McGrath!”
Christopher has two mood boards for your pleasures: one for the story of Rebirth and one for its characters!
Welcome to the Asylum, Christopher! Take a seat by the fire, have a glass of beverage of your choice and tell me something about yourself!
Thank you! No alcohol for me; I’ll just take a glass of your finest diet water. Don’t want to lose my wits while there’s still a small chance of escaping my tragic fate.
Few people know that I’m a third degree black belt in Taekwondo, which I pray will come in handy here at the Asylum. Binding my arms and tossing me in a padded cell won’t be so different than a day at the dojo. Except for the eternity of staring at monochrome walls, complete lack of social interaction, and losing access to all those other things about my regular life I’ve come to cherish . . .
What inspires your writing? Do you listen to music, stare into the fire, listen to the whispering of the wind, make deals with the Devil?
Most fantasy writers are voracious readers, and therefore their influences can be counted in the number of books they have read. But even more than that, a tiny bit of everything I’ve read, seen, learned, or experienced has found its way into my writing—either consciously or unconsciously.
This answer is, of course, a pithy cop-out. My apologies to the interviewer; I shan’t derail the conversation again. Brian Jacques is the earliest fantasy author whose work I consumed. His anthropomorphic heroes and villains were delightful, his medieval world deep and storied, and his feasts a source of much salivation. I think my love of detailed prose grew from rereading his Redwall series over and over again.
Tolkien, practically required reading for any aspiring fantasy author, was my next stop. His brush strokes represent a manifesto on world-building, and I was more than happy to take notes.
I’ve also read almost every Star Wars book in existence. Grand Admiral Thrawn is my favorite character, Palpatine was working for the good of the galaxy, and the Jedi deserved to be cast down for their hubris. Okay. Only one of those is true, maybe one and a half. I’ll let you sort out which.
However, the series that convinced me to write my own epic was Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It’s not that his storytelling, formulated around humans who bore the traits of insect ancestors, did anything that hadn’t been seen before. Rather, its execution of mundane concepts like espionage, technology, politics, military maneuvering, and other hallmarks of a fantasy war was outstanding. I won’t spoil any specifics, but Tchaikovsky examines the consequences of innovations and extrapolates them out to every other aspect of society and culture—which is, in my opinion, the crux of fantastic world-building. Start small, change one thing, and figure out how it dominoes into every adjoining thread.
On a more micro-level, music is my go-to primer for writing. Two Steps From Hell, Final Fantasy OSTs, and countless other epic orchestral scores put me in the right emotional mindset for whatever scene I’m about to construct. I’m a firm believer in mood-writing—what we feel directly influences what we write.
Your MC(s) is/are locked in an asylum. What did he/she/they do to end up there?
With Cadet Vallen Metellus, the list of possibilities is nearly as massive as his ego. He may have trashed the Academy Commandant’s air skimmer, failed to show up to class for a straight week, or performed an illegal maneuver in his most recent Flagbrawl match. Underground betting—including rigging fights he takes part in—is another excellent option. If not for the constant intervention of his adoptive father, Steward Rowan Metellus, Vallen would have ended up in the darkest, dankest, deepest cell in the Kingdom of Darmatia long before now.
In fact, now that you have him sealed away, could you possibly lose the key? Flush it down the toilet on accident? I’m sure the rest of my protagonists would fare far better in their travels without perpetually saving Vallen from himself. And, against all odds, perhaps he can begin to redeem himself while under your tutelage . . .
Describe an asylum set in the world of your book, Rebirth!
I actually have one of these, although it’s more of an eternal prison than a reformatory.
“Before Vahn was a giant cavern, pitch black except for a massive piece of Elysium, twice as large as the one in the previous vision. It hung suspended in the center of the room, hovering in midair between two stabilizers glowing faintly with the yellow tint of illyrium. Around it patrolled beautiful and luminescent Eliade soldiers, their backs to the crystal lest its charms affect them. And when Vahn gazed briefly upon the gem itself, he stifled a gasp at what he saw. There, resting in fetal position, was the same dilapidated shell of ****** that stood behind him. Black liquid embraced the carcass, containing his frame but not drowning it. His eyes were shut, his hair a dingy silver instead of gold, his muscles long atrophied from lack of use. Gone was the gorgeous, conquering, mortal ****** of old. Here was the immortal husk long held captive by his foes.
****** is the bleeped out name of a character from Divinity’s Twilight: Rebirth. Revealing it wouldn’t be a major spoiler, but it’s still better for the reader to have a chance to puzzle it out on their own before this point (approximately 1/5 through the novel). Imagine being frozen in a crystal for eons, unable to think or so much as twitch until the seal began to wane. Not a pleasant experience, even before the sadistic tests of the jailors are taken into consideration.
Which fictional character (it can be one of yours) and/or author would you like to live with in an asylum and why?
My apologies to his massive fandom, but I’ll be taking Brandon Sanderson into isolation with me. Their threats and insults won’t be able to reach me without a forwarding address!
From writing style, to personality, to upbringing, Sanderson and I share a plethora of similarities. I know this from watching his lectures and live-streams, not from stalking. As a result, I believe we could entertain each other through the long years without becoming bored. New stories scrawled in ketchup would soon adorn our walls, floor, and ceiling. We’d stay up for days on end delving into the mysteries of our universes, then pester the guards to guess what our vague foreshadowing was hinting at. And at last, when the itch of being unable to publish a new book overwhelms him, Sanderson will transform into Hoid and take me with him to the Cognitive realm, from whence I can reach Roshar, Scadriel, and all his other mesmerizing worlds.
No, I’m not crazy. Yes, I just thought of this entire scenario on the spot. Please don’t share it with a licensed therapist.
While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you one book – what would you choose?
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. In my opinion, it is as close to perfect as a novel can be. The pacing is superb, the twists are mind-blowing, and the story wraps up in a tidy bow that allows it to serve as either a standalone or springboard for future adventures. Vin, Sazed, and Elend also have my heart. I dearly want to hug them and tell them that everything will be alright . . . eventually.
Plus the lower class in Mistborn was effectively trapped in an Asylum without walls for a thousand years. Their resilience might give me the will to stay strong through my own incarceration.
Well then, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? *locks door*
AT LEAST LET ME HAVE MY COMPUTER!!!!
Thank you so much for featuring Divinity’s Twilight: Rebirth on your fabulous tour. I’ve had a blast, both with this week and while completing these interviews. Keep making the fantasy community a welcoming place, and enjoy the read!
To Glory (Two Steps from Hell)
Epic, heart-pounding music for up-tempo scenes where the underdogs rally against the odds and surge to victory.
Halo 3 – The Complete Warthog Run (Bungie)
For chases, pursuits, or assaults. Preferably with Michael Bay levels of explosions in the background.
A Sacrifice to Save You (Efisio Cross)
Played when a character reaches their nadir – their lowest pit of despair and sorrow – or when they’re at their most noble and prepared to give their life for another.
Final Fantasy XV OST Ravus Aeterna (Square Enix)
Ushers in scenes of soul-crushing horror. The characters should be beset by a force that erases rational thought, chills them to their core, and causes every fiber of their being to shriek, “RUN!”
Final Fantasy XV OST Magna Insomnia (Square Enix)
Theme of Divinity’s Twilight’s chief antagonist. Sets up their appearances.
Beautiful Orchestral Music: Octavia (Marcus Warner)
For parties, balls, and campfire fun. Primes scenes away from the central conflict, when the characters can relax, let their guard down, and be themselves. Paradoxically, this is also my theme for Sylette.
Final Fantasy XV OST Valse di Fantastica (Square Enix)
Hearkens to the majesty of the sweeping world of Lozaria. Lofty, mist shrouded peaks descend to fertile plains, which in turn abut barren desserts and shadowy seas. Eddies of magic course throughout the land, constant reminders of an environment that lives and breathes as much as any sentient creature.
FAUN – Federkleid (Universal Music Deutschland)
Jaunty and quick-paced, this German ballad carries the joy of adventure in every note. Nothing prepares you for the next journey like this invigorating piece.a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you are interested in Divinity’s Twilight: Rebirth and would like to get in contact with Christopher Russell, you can find him on social media:
Find out more about Storytellers On Tour or join our team:
Grab a copy of Divinity’s Twilight: Rebirth at your local Amazon!