Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Tour: Michael A. Rothman's Heirs of Prophecy

The blurb:
Through a fluke of nature, the Riverton family is transported to the strange, new world of Trimoria, where two young brothers gain unusual powers.

An ancient prophecy foretells that they must lead armies of men, dwarves, and elves against a demon horde.

One thing stands in their way: the evil wizard Azazel, whose brutal warriors are sworn to seek and destroy them.
I'm happy to announce that wo have the author, Michael A. Rothman, join us for a brief Q & A.  Welcome, Michael and congratulations!

Gaby: What books or ideas inspired you to write "Heirs of Prophecy"?

Michael:  I'd always had bouncing around an idea about writing an Epic Fantasy tale for my boys when they were old enough to appreciate it. In my mind, I'd always liked the "Fish out of water" type of story, similar to Alice in Wonderland - but I wanted a modern setting that illustrated what it would be like to have an entire family suddenly find themselves in a new world, and try to make it as "realistic" as possible regarding their reactions, how they adapted, and eventually triumphed in a world that was "out to get them".

Being that I buck the trends of novels highlighting dystopian family environments, orphans, or otherwise troubled main characters - I wanted to maintain a strong family dynamic within the story, and promote that without smothering the main characters, which are the kids. 

As to the books that truly influenced me as I grew up, the one classic that stands head and shoulders above them all was J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the rings series. 
  • The Hobbit – my first Fantasy book, and by far the one that set me on the road I’ve walked in this genre.  It established a variety of archetypes that I believe many authors since have followed whether purposefully or accidentally.  The concepts and behaviors introduced with the character races as stereotypes are certainly things that have influenced my view on writing. For instance a reader might find my elves somewhat stoic and serious and the dwarves a touch boisterous and hard-working. As it was the first book in the genre I read, it was the measuring stick by which all future books were compared against.
There also were two other books that I would highlight as formative in some of my approaches or sensitivities.
  • The Sum of All Men – This is a book that I read soon after it was released, and it made me think about “how” magic works. For those who haven’t read this first book of the RuneLords series, it introduces a somewhat unique system of magic that I won’t belabor explaining here, but suffice it to say that it allowed me to start thinking about magic in a different way. Unlike Tolkien, where there were many elements of deus ex machina (it happens just miraculously), Dave Farland introduced me to the concept that magic has a “cost”. It got me thinking about how one constructs a system that shows the limits and the effects that the use of magic has.
  • Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson’s fine book really hits a homerun on the establishment of a complex but cohesive lexicon of magic rules and limitations. I think Brandon’s novel was one that made me really start to think about applying rules to my novels, and when it came right down to it, a reader of HEIRS OF PROPHECY might see something that others have coined, “Rothman’s Law of Magic” – which is derived from what folks in our world might call Ohm’s law.
Gaby:  I particularly liked how the different threads came together in the novel.  For instance, the father's hobby of metalwork serves him well when he must earn his living as a blacksmith.  You wove in considerable detail on the history and development of swords.  Did you have a longstanding interest in swords and their development?

Michael:  Even though I might say I relate most intimately with the character Jared, the aforementioned blacksmith, I personally don't have a smithy in my garage. Though I did lots of metalwork in high school, and have always been fascinated with metallurgy and the physics of nature. I am science guy, and formally trained in such - so it stands to reason that over the years, I'd learned quite a bit about smelting and refining of ore. I am pleased that others might enjoy some of the fruits of that knowledge. Oddly enough, when my wife read the scene where Aubrey stated that she was bored with the whole "smithing thing", she laughed out loud because as she put it, "I struggled through that part of the chapter thinking, 'this smithing thing is boring to me'".  As an author, you sometimes risk turning off an audience when you go too "deep" into a subject, but I felt that from a creative viewpoint, the data was necessary for Jared's character.

Gaby: What can we look forward to in the next in the novel in the series?
Michael: The next novel, TOOLS OF PROPHECY is being released this summer. It will certainly pick up where the first story left off. 

I believe that the readers of the first book would be delighted to learn that we dive much deeper into the evolution of the primary characters (they are now a couple years older), and a myriad of new members are added to the cast. I believe the action/adventure aspect of the story will certainly be raised to a much higher level, yet there will be elements that will have readers rooting for their favorite characters as a school is created for those who are found with magical talents.  (Yes, a school of magic. And there will be some very unexpected students in that school of various ages and demographics.)

I would also say that the emotional aspects of the story are increased. I won't give it away, but I recall when my youngest son was reading that chapter and I asked him a question, he waved me away and told me to wait… (I had to overlook that and remain amused to this day about that)

I sincerely hope the readers enjoy the second book, but if they enjoyed Book 1, I have little doubt they will enjoy the second book.

Gaby:  Do you have any advice for young readers?

Michael: Yes, read everything you can get your hands on. I am a huge believer that young readers benefit from stretching their exposure to words and turns of phrase that they might not otherwise encounter in our colloquialism-filled world. Phrases that highlight vocabulary like, "Dude, that rad game totally rocked" doesn't help the typical youngster in life.

I will in-fact be talking to a collection of sixth grade classes at a local school today and one of my opening questions to them will be, "What is the difference between the words 'push' and 'shove'?"  As you read more, the words chosen by the author are usually intended to place the seed of emotion or visual queues in your mind. It is the difference between describing a location as a 'swamp' or describing a location as 'a sweltering expanse of mangroves, with buzzing flies and stagnant pools that reeked of rotting vegetation'. Reading is supposed to put the author's view of a scene in your head, and if you can appreciate the written word, your world will be richer for it.

Keep Reading.  :-)

Gaby: Thank you, Michael! Very much appreciate you taking the time to chat with us.  If you'd like to learn more about Michael Rothman, you head over to www.michaelarothman.com or follow him on twitter at @michaelarothman or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MichaelARothman

My Review:
Heirs of Prophecy is a  well developed quest novel for middle grade and young adult readers.  Rothman introduces us to the Riverton family with sons Ryan and Aaron.  Their father Jared has a love for the simple (rough!) outdoor life.  He takes the family to the wilderness of southern Arizona to camp, canoe, fish, and forage.  The two boys share their father's fondness for survival skills, which proves useful when through some freak accident the Rivertons suddenly find themselves in a strange and different world.

As the family makes sense of their surroundings, the boys discover that they have new abilities.   Ryan discovers that he can channel magic while his younger brother Aaron has incredible physical strength.  While thrilled with these developments,  the Rivertons are careful not to show their new abilities.  The new world is less technologically advanced and their survival skills serve them in good stead. 

The family chances upon a powerful stranger named Throll who serves as a ranger and mayor of sorts for the district.  Somehow Throll senses their difference but is willing to help the Rivertons adapt to the new world, find their bearings, and hide their "otherness".  We learn that despite living in very different worlds,  Throll's family and the Rivertons share much in common - such as a sense of fairness, a desire for individual freedom, and a willingness to risk everything for the chance of a better place.

Ryan and Aaron seem to have a special place in Trimoria - their arrival and future are foretold in prophecies and in dreams.  It's with humor, excitement, and grace that they accept their unique strengths, the allies that they make, and the responsibilities that fall to them. 

Michael Rothman is careful to explore the points of view of the two brothers as they learn about their new powers and explore the strange world of Trimoria.   Reading Heirs of Prophecy, I was acutely aware of the wholesomeness of the story and the language.  This didn't detract from the power of the story or likability of the characters.  I would recommend Heirs of Prophecy to younger readers that are developing a taste for fantasy novels and stories of quests and knights.

ISBN-10: 0985169702 - Paperback $9.99
Publisher: M & S Publishing, L.L.C. (April 3, 2012), 380 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours.

About the Author, in his own words:
"I am an Army brat and the first person in my family to be born in the United States.  This heavily influenced my youth by installing a love of reading and a burning curiosity about the world and all of the things within it.  As an adult, my love of travel allowed me to explore many unimaginable locations.  I participated in many adventures and documented them in what will be a series of books, the first of which you have just read.

Some might put these books in the Fantasy genre, and I never had issues with this label.  After all, the adventures were, without any doubt in my mind, fantastic.  I simply quibble with the label of "Fiction" that some might put on these tales. These tales should be viewed as historical records, more along the lines of a documentary.

I've learned one thing over the years. Magic is real.  Keep exploring, and you too wil find your magic."

Learn more about Michael Rothman at www.michaelarothman.com or follow him on twitter at @michaelarothman or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MichaelARothman


  1. Thank you for the kind words, they are appreciated. Am glad you enjoyed the tale and know there are more where that came from. ;-)

  2. Thanks for taking the time to read and review this book for the tour, and for asking such good questions of Michael!

    Thanks for being on the tour.