What would you do if you discovered you were leading two lives? In Embattled, Darlene Jones makes this offhand question the plot of a beautifully compelling tale.
The science-fantasy novel opens with Em, a young female principal, who discovers traces of blood on her hands. Shocked and confused, she holds back from opening up just yet. She, instead, taps her memory in the hope for an answer, a clue, only to bring back the knowledge that she’d recently taken sides with the oppressed in a war. This is not the only instance. There are similar daring adventures tucked away in her memory, showing she’s been active in another way. Most amazingly, in this other life of hers, she’s a popular face around the world. Not only is she able to speak different languages, she’s popularly as known Miracle Madame; a superhuman who stops wars and brings about justice and equality for all. Even though it has been her wish since childhood to bring about positive changes in the world, her dual existence is more than just a coincidence. The reason transcends the physical. Her duality, ability to effect changes in the world, experience what it means to love and be loved, is a delicate task for Yves, a supernatural being answerable to higher powers. As a Drone—a rookie on a test to become a Power—Yves can’t afford to botch up this monitoring task. But when he lets his feelings for his subject challenge his objective, not only is the task thrown into questioning, he risks a sanction even a god dreads.
Written in the first and third person (limited) points of view, Embattled seems like a confusing read at first, but the reader will probably realize that this approach uniquely presents the supernatural and physical dimensions of the story. Jones excels in creating action scenes and character building. With Yves, his sister, Elspeth, and the Powers, bringing a supernatural feel to the story, a reader who isn’t much into sci-fi or fantasy, could be bored after the first few chapters. But Jones handles this well—despite the fact that these beings are supernatural, their involvement in Earth matters is minimal. Purposeful. I was very keen to see how our main character, Em, would fare in such a tricky plot—if her superhuman side would play out as yet another cliché as seen certain movies and book that fall into science-fiction and fantasy genres, if her superhuman side would interrupt the flow of her normal life. But neither of these happened; as I read, I was rather hooked on the intrigue surrounding her. It was satisfying to see she could also be romantic; she eventually fell in love with Ron (a supporting character) and this was of his volition as well. Their romance went on to knit the tale in style. The novel, Embattled, has a direct relevance to world matters. Jones uses the book as effective tool to question man’s role or decision to make wars instead of peace. Here is an excerpt, one of the several conversations that challenge the reader to reason likewise: “Em stared at him [Ron]. ‘Oh God, Ron, you may be on to something about foreign policy, international relations, and the balance of power. I know nothing. If all experts can’t agree, how can I possibly know?’ Thousands of years from now, will war prove, in some horribly twisted way, to have been a boon to mankind? Maybe war is part of the natural selection process, a warped version of the survival of the fittest.”
I’m curious to learn what becomes of Yves, if indeed there will more on Em. So I will be reading the rest of the series (a four-book series). Even though I’m not much into sci-fiction and fantasy, I enjoyed reading the book and will highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.
Product details on Amazon:
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 31, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 146646805X
- ISBN-13: 978-1466468054
Author’s Blog: www.emandyves.wordpress.com
Author’s Website: www.emandyves.com
Recently I had an interview with Darlene Jones for which she was answered the following questions:
Me: The book Embattled is a tale which alternates between two realms. Do you believe there forces beyond human control, forces that are able to compel an individual?
DJ: Yes, I do, but what those forces are is a question I don’t have an answer for. I’m not religious and don’t believe in God, so why I have gods in my series is a mystery to me. I do believe in other beings. Vast as the universe is, we simply cannot be the only existing life forms.
As for those forces you talk about, how else do we explain our compulsions to do certain things? And I believe we must have lived other lives for how else do we explain déjà vu?
Me: What stimulated you to write Embattled?
DJ: Two things inspired Embattled. The first was my experience living in Mali. My bio explains that. The second came from a sense of romance. I wanted a love story that went beyond the norm. I thought I would write one book to get to the “happy ever after,” but the story took over and worked its way to four books.
Me: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
DJ: It’s been a lifelong dream. I tried writing when I was very young, but didn’t go anywhere with it. For me, it seemed that I needed more life experience. Whatever the reason, I didn’t start writing until later in life.
Me: What early experiences influenced you?
DJ: Growing up on a farm with no other kids around, without electricity or radio or television meant that books were the most important thing in my life and thank goodness for that.
Me: As a writer, once you have the idea of a story, do you wait on inspiration or do you set a timeline for the writing?
DJ: I never set a timeline. Sometimes I work furiously for several days, other times I don’t write at all for days or even weeks. My work in progress started with one sentence that popped into my head. I wrote it down and ignored it. Then, looking at my list of possible novel ideas the sentence popped out at me and a story line appeared as if by magic. I wrote 30,000 words in a matter of days to get the plot line on paper. Now, I’m doing the re-write—fleshing out the story, building on the characters, adding details important to the plot. A lot of fun!