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Shield and Crocus [Kindle Edition]

Michael R. Underwood
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In a city built among the bones of a fallen giant, a small group of heroes looks to reclaim their home from the five criminal tyrants who control it.

The city of Audec-Hal sits among the bones of a Titan. For decades it has suffered under the dominance of five tyrants, all with their own agendas. Their infighting is nothing, though, compared to the mysterious “Spark-storms” that alternate between razing the land and bestowing the citizens with wild, unpredictable abilities. It was one of these storms that gave First Sentinel, leader of the revolutionaries known as the Shields of Audec-Hal, power to control the emotional connections between people—a power that cost him the love of his life.

Now, with nothing left to lose, First Sentinel and the Shields are the only resistance against the city’s overlords as they strive to free themselves from the clutches of evil. The only thing they have going for them is that the crime lords are fighting each other as well—that is, until the tyrants agree to a summit that will permanently divide the city and cement their rule of Audec-Hal.

It’s one thing to take a stand against oppression, but with the odds stacked against the Shields, it’s another thing to actually triumph.

In this stunning, original tale of magic and revolution, Michael R. Underwood creates a cityscape that rivals Ambergris and New Crobuzon in its depth and populates it with heroes and villains that will stay with you forever.

Editorial Reviews


"Blindingly creative, Shield and Crocus delivers action-packed, four-color fantasy with a lot of heart." —Michael J. Martinez, author of The Daedalus Incident

“Audec-Hal is a city where dispassionate robots co-exist with mad sorcerers and unpredictable storms that warp the fabric of reality itself. Fans of China Mieville's Perdido Street Station or David Edison's The Waking Engine will surely enjoy the mad inventiveness on display here.” —Marie Brennan, author of A Natural History of Dragons

"The book is fast-paced, especially impressive considering the amount of world-building. The fight is desperate. The tyrants are villains in the truest sense. Superheroes + Epic Fantasy = Awesomeness." —Beth Cato, author of Clockwork Dagger

"I can't say enough about the mythology and the world building. Underwood put a lot of thought into constructing the world of Audec-Hal, and it shows." —Beauty in Ruins

“Underwood switches up from Urban Fantasy to New Weird secondary-world fantasy while maintaining excellent action-adventure beats…Audec-Hal is a wondrous place, with many strange corners and facets, and excellently rendered.” —SF Signal

“Underwood has written another fast, fun, and engaging book…Get your popcorn ready and grab a copy of Shield and Crocus. Summer is here, and summer reads don’t come much more enjoyable than this.” —Fantasy Faction

“The level of detail in this world is astounding; it reads like it could be the fourth installment or so in a long-running series—the world building is just fantastic. I don’t know for a fact that Underwood has the history of Audec-Hal, of these races all mapped out for centuries before, and these characters lives detailed going back to birth—but it reads that way. He seems to know them all that well—but best of all, he doesn’t share all the homework he’s done with you, but you can tell he’s done it. The care, the detail, the intricacy, the strangeness of all of this—I mean strange in a good way, that somehow makes total sense in context—is so impressive. I don’t think I can adequately express my appreciation of the imagination and craft here.” —The Irresponsible Reader

"Shield and Crocus is a high concept idea that is executed brilliantly and completely satisfying. A high fantasy team of super powered rebels fights for good in a strange city ruled by evil tyrants." —The Thousand Lives of John Zelznik

"I had a lot of fun with this book. I’m a long-time comic book reader/fan and love the sword and sorcery genre so it was in my DNA to enjoy Shield and Crocus." —SFFWorld

"A few authors in recent times have attempted to tell a superhero story with prose rather than graphics, with mixed levels of success. In my opinion, the story Underwood has crafted is by far the best and most balanced superhero novel I have read." —Fantasy Book Review

"For fans of weird fiction in the mood for something with more of a superhero leaning, and vice versa, I think this will deliver. The pacing is fast enough to appease superhero fans but with enough detail in the prose to keep you orientated throughout the strange world Underwood’s created." —Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing

About the Author

While Michael Underwood was born in Bloomington, Indiana, he’s made his home everywhere from New York to Oregon and Texas to Brooklyn. Currently residing in Baltimore, Maryland, Michael considers himself a lifelong gamer and geek and also a huge sci-fi fan. He attributes this to working in a game store while in his teens. Michael graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Indiana University in 2005, where he received a bachelor of arts in creative mythology. He holds a master of arts in folklore studies from the University of Oregon, where he wrote his thesis on tabletop role-playing games.

Michael’s passion has always been in teaching, and he has taken any opportunity he can to share his skills with others. He’s so far held classes for everything from web design to the tango and, of course, writing. He attributes his passion for public speaking and theatricality to his parents, who met while performing musical theater together. Michael combines his love of teaching and passion for performance across disciplines, from historical fencing to headlining an Argentine tango band.

He is the author of Geekomancy, Celebromancy, and Shield and Crocus.

Product Details

  • File Size: 4019 KB
  • Print Length: 418 pages
  • Publisher: 47North (June 10, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,826 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lot's of Action in an interesting world June 12, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Fantasies always have a learning curve. They are set in new worlds, with new rules and it takes time to learn those. The challenge I had with this novel is that it is fantasy with superheroes. So not only are the names complicated for the characters every super hero has an alter ego and on top of that a different species. I’m horrible with names so I spent 40% of the novel trying to remember who was who. My suggestion is to read a couple chapters and then read the glossary in the back and make a sheet so as not to be confused or you can just use the list I made.

Name / Superhero Name / Species
Wonlar / First Sentinel /Ikanollo
Selweh / Aegis / Ikanollo
Rova / Saphire / Freithin
Wenlizerachi / Blurred Fists / Pronai
Sarii / Salreslate / Jalvai
Bira / Ghost Hands / Qava

The good thing about this book is that the world is really imaginative. All the different species and the back story of the First Sentinel took a great deal of imagination to come up with. The lore of the giant falling and cities being built in his bones I found really captivating with descriptions of the forehead to the nose being twenty miles long. There are storms that are localized in sections of the city and when they hit inanimate objects come to life and beings who are struck can have special powers activated, but only if they survive the process. In the last thirty years tyrants have split up sections of the city to be controlled, but now they are going to meet and find a way to consolidate their power. If that happens the Shields that protect the city will be defeated for sure so now is the time to strike or die trying.

This falls into the Action, fight fight fight….go go go category for me. That isn’t really my preferred sort of fantasy.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Blend of Genres & Characters June 10, 2014
After reading the first chapter of this book, I knew that I was hooked. The book starts with a character somewhat reminiscent of Batman starting off towards a spark storm which we later learn is a (somewhat) natural occurrence that warps the threads of reality itself yet. He and his band of Shields protect the citizens of this city to the best of their ability while fighting the Tyrants whom had taken it over decades before.

The premise of the story itself is compelling but the depth that each race and character are given create a world unlike any other. I love the fresh take on "superhumans" as well; each race of people in this world have their own unique abilities (be it gigantism & super-strength or super-speed w/super-metabolism) but with these abilities come very realistic and well-thought out drawbacks. This makes for a very balanced and nuanced mix of people in this world and on top of that, the spark storms have the abilities to create spark-touched being who have been warped beyond their natural capabilities which could just as easily make you a super powered being or a grotesquely misshapen monster. Even with this ever-present risk, the Shields continue to protect people who would just as soon turn them in for an additional ration of food.

Additionally, each character is given their own voice over the course of the book and they are explored with such depth that you cannot help but begin to care for each and every one. I know that by the end of the book, I was cheering at every victory and scared to read through the defeats lest I lose one of these admirable heroes.

I highly recommend this book and hope that there will be more tales from this world in the future.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very impressed. June 10, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was quite impressed by what I found in this book.

The setting of this story is the city of Audec-Hal, the home of several races of people. Each race has a unique "birthright", abilities granted by virtue of their heritage (e.g. telekinesis, seeing the emotional connections between people, extreme speed, etc.). For the last fifty years, Audec-Hal and its citizens have suffered under the oppression of five tyrants who have divided the city among themselves and share an uneasy peace. These oligarchs employ both magic and technology to maintain their power base, and the combinations of the two are quite interesting.

Hope is not lost however; it struggles on in the form of the Shields of Audec-Hal, a small band of insurgents who fight against the tyrants by means of what is essentially guerrilla warfare: mostly small strikes, but a few larger ones against the tyrants' strongholds as well. The Shields are a small but versatile group who use their birthrights effectively to gain advantages in combat. Their leader is the First Sentinel, an old alchemist who remembers the time before the rise of the tyrants, when Audec-Hal was ruled by a democratically-elected Senate. As the story opens, the tyrants have agreed to a summit to formally divide the city and consolidate their power, something the Shields have to do whatever it takes to stop.

I'll let you read the rest of the story yourself, but I hope I've piqued your curiosity. The story is told from the points of view of the various Shields, with interludes giving the perspective of some of the tyrants. The shifting viewpoint serves to give an impressively full picture of the world and the situation as it develops, yet it leaves enough mystery to keep the reader interested.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Shield and Crocus is a strong action driven fantasy that ...
Shield and Crocus is a strong action driven fantasy that has plenty of interesting details to Underwood's world. Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. Hamby
4.0 out of 5 stars Super hero type of book
If you like sci-fi and super heroes with lots of action and adventure you will probably like this book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Shrakett
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it. I could definitely imagine action parallel to ...
I loved it. I could definitely imagine action parallel to sucker punch (the movie). I had no issue with confusing names (I've read others have). Read more
Published 4 months ago by brooke kimsey
4.0 out of 5 stars Reading this at first felt like I was reading a strange Marvel & DC...
Reading this at first felt like I was reading a strange Marvel & DC Comics cross-over in an old Thieves World collection. Read more
Published 6 months ago by @anothershoe
4.0 out of 5 stars Future Great
Keep an eye on this kid if you enjoy radical fantasy.
Published 7 months ago by Edward I.
3.0 out of 5 stars The setting was wonderfully creative and original
The setting was wonderfully creative and original. The opening sequence seemed like it was written for a video game (the whole setting would make a great cRPG). Read more
Published 7 months ago by Shane J.
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich World, Fascinating Villains
I love the rich world-building of Shield and Crocus and the way Underwood subtly guides the reader through history of Audec-Hal and the Shields. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amelia Aldred
4.0 out of 5 stars I loved it - How about a sequel?
I really enjoyed reading Shield & Crocus. Very imaginative! I loved the setting, the races, the main characters and the situation. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Violet
4.0 out of 5 stars Good one...
Great read, hard to put down.
Published 8 months ago by Texrealt
3.0 out of 5 stars I wish I could be more helpful but I can only say that I never felt...
I pushed my self through this...character and plot both suffer at what seems an inexpert hand. The premise is interesting but it just doesn't pan out. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Kindle Customer
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More About the Author

Mike has circumnavigated the globe, danced the tango with legends, and knows why Tybalt cancels out Capo Ferro. He also rolls a mean d20.

He is the author the several series: the comedic fantasy Ree Reyes series (GEEKOMANCY, CELEBROMANCY, ATTACK THE GEEK), fantasy superhero novel SHIELD AND CROCUS, and supernatural thriller THE YOUNGER GODS. By day, he's the North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books.

Mike lives in Baltimore with his fiance and an ever-growing library. In his rapidly-vanishing free time, he studies historical martial arts and makes pizzas from scratch. He is a co-host on the Hugo-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show.

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