Top positive review
Different Illustrations in other Worlds
on July 30, 2017
Roxanne Bland was born in Akron, Ohio, but grew up in Washington, D.C. She attended the Duke Ellington High School of the Performing Arts. After graduating from high school, she attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she majored in Government. From Smith, she headed to New York City, where she took a series of jobs as a paralegal. She lived in New York for over two years, then moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane Law School. After law school, she returned to Washington, D.C. where she worked for trade and government organizations. She now works for a trade magazine, where she is a regular columnist.
Roxanne Bland has been a fugitive from reality since forever. She discovered horror, a little science fiction and fantasy and really got into high fantasy, like Lord of the Rings. She was making up stories, but not writing them down. They were private. Besides, her family maintained she should be concentrating on her musical studies, and later, her college studies - she went to law school and after she graduated and entered the workforce, she finally started writing down her stories. Then she started writing a piece of fan fiction, though she didn't know that's what it was at the time. Then came a manuscript that would eventually become her first book, The Underground. Slipping into that alternate reality for hours on end, there was a time in her life when it was called daydreaming and she got into trouble.
Now Bland announced her latest fiction novel, 'The Underground: Second Edition', a spellbinding paranormal urban fantasy fiction novel set in Seattle. The characters in in the new novel include vampires, shapeshifters, elves, witches, demons and aliens. In her writing Roxanne is a builder of worlds. She takes readers on fantastic journeys that are extraordinarily different, yet somehow completely familiar. She blends topics such as forbidden love, political intrigue and bigotry into compelling storylines that allow readers to view their own culture and customs through the eyes of alien and paranormal races and alien territories specifically Syren Perritory and the Mjor village. The author creates new places, different time-lines and measuring units sending the reader to new worlds with unfamiliar protocol. Tehi was to be exiled to the Syren Perritory. Tehi felt dirty already and not allowing her to work on her red fever project was already punishment. She is sent to the Syren Perritory to steward Astoreth-69 because she missed the last Ohra and now Astoreth is punishing her. She is lucky Astoreth didn’t have her head. The Syren Perritory and the Mjor village with blue-uniformed hakoi, is a new landscape on the story's canvas with some strange scenes: Rituals, spells, meditative trances, strange powers bending wills, air vehicles elemental forces with entities changing form assuming supernatural power.
• A beautiful landscape:
There’s a gorgeous fountain in the pool. They’ll turn it on later in the spring.” Eresh turned and motioned for Tehi to follow. “Come on. I’ll show you where you’ll be staying for the next year.” He headed for the tower on the right. On this side, it was painted bright red with even brighter green diagonal stripes. “You’ll understand the reason for all these colors come winter.”
TehiI followed. “So what’s the set up here? How is the village organized?”
“Well, you’ve already met Laerd Teger. There’s a Council of eight people, and between them they govern the village Mjor.
The reader picks up knowledge of ancient times relating to gods, goddesses and mythology and partakes in rituals, protocols, inter-galactic travel, stealing of intellectual property relating to finding a cure for the virus red fever, spying, memory experiments, betrayal and punishment. We hear about an acient form of hypnosis with the aid of a pendulum. "It was beautiful. Shaped like a teardrop, it was made of white thalin, the same kind the miners had given to last spring. Its faceted surface caught the light, making the pendulum seem to shoot."
Hyme was a healer in the new territory and she helped him mix up some medications in his lab She thought about their hypnosis experiment. "Would there be enough time before my tour was over for Hyme to regain his skills as a hypnotist? There had to be—or else I was a dead woman." Tehi had a bad case of homesickness. She missed her lab and Temple life, with its rituals, music, and dancing. And despite what Eresh had said, the Mjorans didn’t always ignore her. Like the boy who’d thrown the rock her first day there, some were openly hostile.
There develops a relationship:
She thought about the massage she had given Teger, remembering the feel of his thick neck and back muscles beneath her fingers. He’d be a great subject for the massage classes at the Temple. Maybe for the more advanced students. They have stronger hands. Then she frowned, remembering the electric static-like sensation in my hands while massaging.
• Super power:
Tehi had Devi-enhanced senses. Two sets of vibrations belonging to two people who were not there now flowed through her. She opened her third inner eye. The first person she saw was Teger. But she knew he wasn’t the vandal who destroyed the lab.Then another person came into view. Her mental picture, though, was indistinct. In the near-darkness, she thought about Teger holding her in the woods, stroking her hair and back.
"How ironic—me, taking refuge and comfort in a hakoi’s arms. It would have been laughable if it hadn’t happened. Falling asleep, I wondered about the ground shift I’d felt. Do they have periquakes up here? I wonder if he felt it— Then I knew nothing." Characters shifting from place to place ......and darkness to awake in another form or scene.
A few of Laerd's people seem to have come down with something. Can Tehi take a look at them? "Laerd, I’m a healer. That’s what I do. I cannot just sit by while hakoi are dying around me left and right. Tehi thought about the way Syrenese healers shared knowledge with one another. In Uruk, finding new cures was treated like a competition between and even within the Temples, and healers worked on their projects in secret. How many more cures could we find if we pooled what we knew? By now we might have even found the cure for red fever. But she knew sharing knowledge would never catch on among Temple healers. The habit of secrecy was too deeply ingrained.
Tehi had to be the first to find the cure for red fever. And it’s also the reason for her memory experiments. She developed a drug that erases memories from the conscious mind—and only the conscious mind, at least she hopes. As for the hypnosis, well, that’s where Hyme comes in.
"While I’m under, you’ll shoot me with my drug and tell me what and what not to remember. You’ll also tell me I’m still a devotee of Astoreth. With Her psi powers, the last thing I need is for Her to learn that I know what She really is."
• Moving between dimensions, shifting bodies:
Tehi writhed on the stone floor, helpless while the violent seizure possessed her. Then she was booted into another reality.
"I lie on the green grass, my wings flapping in spasms. The black bird stands over me, kicking me with its taloned feet." A fight takes place. Tehi wants to fight in her new form, but she has no control over herself. "I could tear you apart right now, the black bird says." He want the pleasure of fighting her to your death. It laughs and launches itself into the air. "
As suddenly as it came on, the seizure stopped and Tehi was back in her body. Her brain spun. She lay on the floor, gasping. But that battle is not over yet. It was hate persuing her.
Her affection for Teger helped. When she was with him, all of those negative feelings disappeared, replaced by one of deep, abiding love. She tried to keep the feeling inside so to infuse that love to all aspects of her life. Sometimes she was successful—even for a few minutes or hours—but more often, not. Her worries and hatred that clouded her mind. She recalled the love she felt during Ohra and let the feeling spread through her. It pushed the negativity aside, leaving her bathed in a pure light that brought joy to my soul.
Then Tehi as a bird again she had a battle with a brown bird:
"It points a wing at my foot. Keep that. I look down. To my surprise, I still hold the black bird’s jewel in my talons.Why? I was going to drop it in the river.
"The river does not want it. And the jewel will forever remind you of what you were, and what you could be again if you let it. You mean the black bird isn’t dead? Oh, no. It waits and watches. And if you allow your hate to grow, you will be back here, fighting the same battle for your soul. The brown bird spreads its wings and lifts into the sky. Then I too launch myself into the air. I have no idea where I’m going. I just fly on and on, the jewel clutched in my foot. Then all goes black. I woke on the Temple floor, sprawled before the altar."
• Does Tehi complete her mission at the end?
Each of us need to account to a higher power. Tehi says: “Most Holy One. I broke my vows. And I know not even being Your granddaughter will save me. But before You pronounce sentence, I would bargain with You......My bargain is this. My life in exchange for the cure for red fever.”
“You defied Me and took your research to Mjor, anyway? I demand you give me the formula. Now. Then we will see about sparing your life.” ....“I don’t remember it, Most Holy One.”
• The formula as a bargaining chip
Did she write it down? Did she hide it somewhere?
A wave of psi power hit Tehi with pain ripping through her head and hearts, her body felt like it was on fire. Did she make a drug that erased her memory? But did she also make an antidote? Most Holy One wants the formula. Will Tehi go back to Mjor to take her drug and get the formula for Her?
• The Second Mission
Astoreth assured Tehi a quick and painless death.
“You would torture me then, Most Holy One. You may execute me, but can You really find it in Your heart to torture me?”
What is to stop Astoreth from executing her now, and then go to Mjor to look for the formula? "It is Mine. I am perfectly within My rights.”
“The Laerd would never give his permission for You or Your troops to enter the village. If You did, the Protocol would be broken."
"If I do break it?”
“You would start a war, Most Holy One. And I doubt the other Gods in the Great Pantheon would help You.” “Not if I told Them about the formula....Do You really want war with the Syrenese? And I would think You would want to keep the formula for Yourself. Imagine how many talents You could make selling it to the other Temples.”
It pains Astoreth that Tehi chose the Laerd over Her and then , there’s the question of her punishment. Violating the Protocol is a very serious offense. So is disobeying Her, not to mention breaking her vows enough to permanently exile her to Mjor?
“But you know what this means, do you not? You can never return to Kherah."
Will Grandmother visit her?
Space ships, bodies floated in and out of the magick being worked, getting lost in the sensations, smells, and sights of the ritual and the power of Astoreth and strange colonies, demons and interstellar travel, alien life, strange entities......, and the reader is welcomed to another dimension:
In the author's own words:
"Writing is a like a drug. Stumbling across whole new worlds lying dormant in my head and bringing them to life is an incredible high. I'm definitely an addict. I can't imagine not writing."'The Underground: Second Edition' is Bland's third novel. Her second novel, 'The Moreva Astoreth' was praised by readers and reviewers alike. Very few authors have the special gift of creating strangeness. A challenge to read but no challenge to write, as all comes so natural to her.
27 July 2017