Christopher Kellen has been working on weaving words for as long as he can remember. While in school he dreamed of being a published author, and spent lots of time reading and re-reading publisher submission guides, just wishing that he could finish something, certain that it would be better than most of the other stuff that was out there.
Of course, at the time, he had no idea just how difficult it actually is to get published by the big guys - and not only that, he'd never finished anything!
Fast-forward to today, when he can now finish work and it's good, but the publishing industry is no longer the way to connect with fans. Chris is a storyteller at heart, someone who wants to share his stories, not sit behind the wall of a massive publisher and be told what he can and cannot say.
Having decided to go independent with his first completed, revised and edited work, Chris is now pursuing his writing as an indie author... and he couldn't be more excited!
His current project is the sequel to his newly-released dark swords & sorcery novel, Elegy. For more information, visit his blog (below!)
Where to find Christopher Kellen online
When the dangerous and powerful sorcerer, Edar Moncrief, trips over a body and discovers a priceless artifact, he thinks that he's stumbled on the opportunity of a lifetime. Instead, it will bring him face-to-face with dark horrors and one of the most feared men in the world: an Arbiter.
From the author of Elegy comes this brand new novelette set in the dark fantasy world of Eisengoth!
The Corpse King
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
Sixty years before the events of ELEGY: Book One of the Arbiter Codex, a young Arbiter named D'Arden Tal and his mentor, Havox Khaine, venture into a strange kingdom on the edge of nowhere. Within the borders of this nameless land lie horrors beyond imagining, and a monarch named THE CORPSE KING.
For fans of Robert E. Howard, Karl Edward Wagner and Andrzej Sapkowski.
Elegy: Book 1 of the Arbiter Codex
(4.17 from 6 reviews)
When Arbiter D’Arden Tal is assigned to investigate the city of Calessa, he finds that it has been nearly overrun by the horrors of corrupted life-energy. Wielding his crystalline sword, D’Arden must find the root of the city’s deadly spiritual disease before it consumes more innocent life.
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Smashwords book reviews by Christopher Kellen
- The Traveler's Companion
on Aug. 16, 2011
This was a very interesting novel; an exploration of the themes of love and loss via string theory and quantum physics.
At its core, this is a story about loss. Ryan Iverson's wife died of sudden brain cancer, and he has spent the following decades believing that love makes people stupid, enough that he can actually 'weaponize' it (per the book's description) via his "daughter" - a hybrid clone/AI named Angela.
The book really explores what it means to lose someone via the main plot device - an alternate dimension called the Zone, where human creativity becomes the path to godlike power, via the 'magic' of quantum physics. It is realized and described well enough that it is easy to suspend one's disbelief and accept the existence of the Zone for the course of the story.
The characters are well-defined and individual - Dr. Iverson, Angela, Director Gibbons and C.C. Go all have distinct personalities which shine through very clearly.
It has a powerful story at its heart. There is a bit too much exposition at times, when characters trade long-winded scientific theories framed by "You already know all this" or "As we all know"; a few minor editing mistakes and one odd formatting error (in the ePub version) where a quote from the titular "Traveler's Companion" starts with "Chapter One", which turned into its own chapter, complete with page breaks, immediately following the regular Chapter 3, slightly mar what is otherwise an enjoyable read.
All in all, a very strong entry by Mr. Chater. I sincerely hope he has more stories to share.
- Symphony of Blood, A Hank Mondale Supernatural Case
on Aug. 24, 2011
Symphony of Blood is, without a doubt, a hard-boiled detective novel of a very high caliber. Hank Mondale is a private-eye with major issues that are actually consistent throughout the entire novel – props to Pepper on that. It’s easy to let those problems slide out of the way as the plot picks up, but they haunt Hank thoroughly and completely.
The plot picks up steam rapidly after a short introduction into Hank’s life that feels neither forced nor awkward. Something very weird is going on, and it quickly spirals out of his control. The first section of this book was like riding a freight train on a one-way trip to hell, and it was awesome. My favorite hard-boiled detective is actually Harry Dresden, so I’m totally down with the whole supernatural-unknown-forces-and-a-detective novel thing.
Hank Mondale is a great character and his voice is very strong. He’s got problems but he’s not sleazy, and he definitely fulfills the hard-boiled “never give up” mentality. The prose is spare but powerful; it packs a real punch when things get messy.
Just as Hank’s story builds to a stunning climax, everything comes to a screeching halt as we’re suddenly transferred to a different point of view (and just whose point of view that is, I’ll leave out so as to avoid spoilers). This is perhaps my one quibble with the structure; I might have alternated the points of view earlier, although it would have spoiled some of the surprise. I understand why Pepper chose to do it this way, but it was a quick turnaround from exciting plot to build-up again, and it took me a few pages to readjust.
When we again return to Hank’s POV for the conclusion, it picks up right where we left off, and drives us home to an ultimately satisfying but still-mysterious conclusion. In an attempt to not give anything away, I will say that the center of the supernatural mystery in this case is exceptional for its originality and stark creepiness.
Toward the end of the novel I did encounter a few minor typos/conversion errors that got missed, but they were not pervasive by any means. Overall, the copy editing was very good.
If you’re a fan of the hard-boiled detective, or of original supernatural fiction that doesn’t involve no stinkin’ vampires or werewolves or other standard tropes, I definitely recommend checking out Symphony of Blood.
Overall Score: 4 out of 5 stars. Recommended.
on Oct. 08, 2011
Scriber is, at its heart, a story about the value of history. The description of the book does it justice, so I will not repeat a basic summary in this review. The wrapping for the historical theme is an epic/heroic fantasy, filled with legends, monsters, betrayals, unexpected allies and true heroism.
The cast of characters, including the reluctant Dennon Lark, the stoic Bryndine Errynson, and her company of female warriors, is both charming and engaging. The fact that I can remember many of their names even though I finished reading it two days ago is a testament to just how strongly these characters come across.
The world itself reminds me of the history of Great Britain, with enough fantasy elements and well thought-out and intriguing world-building to truly pull you in. Being a fantasy world creator and fanatic myself, Mr. Dobson has truly created something wonderful here, and I hope he intends to visit it again. The history of his world is riveting, full of intrigue and danger, and is one of the more believable fantasy settings I have had the pleasure to come across.
The story has enough twists and turns to keep any lover of fantasy, problem-solving or discovery fascinated. It has almost a treasure-hunt vibe, and Dobson is not afraid to make the moments count and raise the stakes. Discoveries in the plot are well-timed, with nothing seeming rushed, and true surprises coming out of the shadows.
I really can’t describe in text how much I liked this book. The independent author community should welcome this new writer with open arms, because he will be lending credit to our movement for years to come.
Final Score: 5 out of 5. Buy and read this book – and do it now.
- Grave Situation
on Oct. 16, 2011
Grave Situation is not the kind of book I normally pick up off the shelf. Generally speaking, I tend to stick to the realm of urban fantasy when looking for a detective-style yarn, although I do enjoy procedural crime TV shows on occasion.
The story is gripping, dark (dark dark dark) and draws you in even as you find yourself both fascinated and disgusted. Clearly, Mr. MacLean knows his crime fiction, and based on his apparent knowledge of the processes and procedures regarding everything from following a lead to an autopsy, may have first-hand experience. Everything was very convincing, and the plot expertly constructed. It is disturbing at times, with a relentlessly grim vision of the world and its main character, and achieves an excellent level of verisimilitude.
On the technical side, this book feels like one which is just teetering on the knife-edge of that polished, professional level that we’re all unconsciously looking for in a book. The formatting of the ePub version has no hyper-linked chapters, meaning that when I was using my online reader (Bookworm by O’Reilly) I was not able to close the window, as I would lose my place – and the one time that Firefox crashed on me, I had to manually click through the chapters in order to return to where I was. Also, I noticed a few minor typos, and one word confusion in a prominent place at the beginning of the book (‘except’ instead of ‘accept’).
Grave Situation is an engaging, gripping, psychological mystery that questions the wisdom of giving your whole life to your profession, and what happens when that whole house of cards comes crumbling down.
- Dance of the Goblins (New expanded third edition)
on Oct. 17, 2012
Dance of the Goblins is a delightful, charming story set in a world which is simultaneously familiar and alien. It is an exploration of the society of the goblins, who live beneath the surface of the world in harmony, while humans live above. The core of the story is about Anton, a human; Haghuf, a goblin elder; and Talla, a young goblin woman who ends up trapped in the world above when the humans unwittingly discover an entrance to the goblins’ realm.
This story is not adventure fantasy. It reads more like a fairy tale, a light-hearted and optimistic fantasy tale showing us what life would be like if we lived alongside a race of creatures like the goblins. The world-building is wonderful, the prose fulfills its purpose with style and grace, and though the actual plot is a little slower than I usually like, the fairy-tale feeling makes that seem unimportant.
Overall, it was a very pleasant and satisfying read, with a few genuine surprises of world-building and character. Definitely recommended if you love fairy-tale fantasy.