Featured New Book: Islands of Loar Sundered by Ernie Laurence Jr.


In my quest to see what happens when books and music collide, I decided to expand the Featured New Book spot here at West of Mars. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m having a ball with it. We have yet to have a repeat song, and the choices all these various authors are making are endlessly fascinating.

Like this one. Ernie Laurence Jr. is our guest today, and man, he blew me away with the song that makes him think of his book, Islands of Loar Sundered.

What song makes me think of my book/series? There is an old spiritual entitled “Wayfaring Stranger” that fits this book (and the Islands of Loar series). The song is set in a minor key. It is my favorite song, ever. [Note from Susan: here’s another version, one that Ernie likes.]

vs 1- I am a poor, wayfaring stranger while traveling through this world of woe.
vs 2 – I know dark clouds will gather round me. I know my way is rough and steep.
vs 3 – I’ll soon be free of every trial. My body sleep in the graveyard.

These are the first lines of all three verses. Each verse opens with loneliness, weariness, and a desire for rest. That is the perfect image of what I want Loar to look and feel like to the reader: the remnants of a shattered planet orbiting its star. Its inhabitants have been abandoned by their deities and know nothing of any life beyond their world. This makes them feel alone, vulnerable, and causes most to despair. Now, numerous enemies outside of Loar seek to finish off all life in the Islands. The populace is trodden under by the tyranny of the elite Aeromancers and there is rebellion fomenting that threatens to tear the civilization apart from within. The rest are wearied with merely surviving. Even the plant life has weakened and looks like it is giving up.

vs 1 – Yet there’s no sickness, toil, nor danger in that bright world to which I go.
vs 2 – But golden fields lie out before me where God’s redeemed shall ever be.
vs 3 – I’ll drop the cross of self denial and enter on my great reward.

The second phrase of each verse speaks of rest, of an end to labor, and coming to a place where all those who have achieved this rest come together in peace and comfort. These phrases represent the heroes of the tale. Doogan, whose unwavering goodness is matched only by his desire to see the people of Loar lifted out of their misery and do more than just survive. In him is the potential to heal the civil strife. Spenciel, who puts others first and denies himself in all instances to bring justice and peace to the Islands. He is set on a path to understand the power of the departed gods. Thean, who has great faith, endurance, and love for all the people of Loar and comes to desire to bear their burdens on his own shoulders. His path seems to be to stand between the monsters and the people as one of the true Chosen of the Prophecy. There are a lot of them, but they all seek to overcome not just the enemies without: monsters, demons, and so forth, but the most powerful enemy of all: the despair and despondency within.

The song ends with an affirmation of success in all three verses:

vs 1- I’m going there to see my Father. I’m going there no more to roam.

vs 2 – I’m going there to see the Spirit. He said He’d meet me when I come.

vs 3 – I’m going there to see my Savior, to sing His praise for evermore.

all – I’m only going over Jordan. I’m only going over home.

There is another character in the story that we only see twice. Though he only has a small part in the story, in a way, he plays the largest role. I won’t reveal too much here, but I will say that he epitomizes the song as no other character I have written or ever will write again. This character introduces Loar in a very subtle way to a much grander perspective, including the concept of what “God” really means.

There are certainly some faint religious undertones to the story and some not quite as subtle political ones. For those who do not share my own very strong conservative religious or political views, this might cause a twinge of controversy, but hey…that sells too, eh? However, overwhelmingly this is an epic fantasy and those who enjoy the genre will hopefully enjoy the story regardless.

Whew, huh? Like… wow. Ernie definitely wins for the most detailed explanation.

Bring it, folks. I am eating this stuff up!

Need more?

Synopsis (from my wiki):

Surviving fragments of civilization left over from a sundered planet eke out a life in an environment sustained entirely by elemental magic. A few disparate groups of teens and young adults from different species and backgrounds attempt to find adventure and meaning to their bleak existence, or hopelessly search for a remedy to their decaying situation.

An increasingly oppressive government and the growing threat of a veiled enemy will throw some of these groups together while viciously tearing others apart. There are hints of the return of one of the missing gods, but it is one that may finish the Islands of Loar for good unless these young heroes can stop him in time.

So. How do you hook up with Ernie and Islands of Loar Sundered? Well, via these links of course!



Website (My online appendix for all my novels essentially)


Blog/Author Page


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