The novel tells the story of three brothers: the thoughtful and conscientious Syah; the wilder and impulsive Fasime; and the arrogant and conservative Oman. The three are princes of Arnith, a kingdom surrounded by wilder and more barbaric lands in which the nation is engaged in perpetual battles with. The three elect to take a covert excursion around Arnith, to scope out the lands that they’ll rule one day.
The trip inevitably runs into trouble and to elaborate further would be to spoil the book. Suffice to say that the events create a tension between the brothers which erupts on their eventual return.
The strength of the book, and indeed in any good book, is in the characters. Fantasy isn’t excluded from that core principle of literature- indeed fantasy and SF allow far greater examination of characters by pitting them into situations beyond our ‘real world’ experience. The dynamic between the three is wonderfully played out and is mercurial as the brothers grow and change throughout the book in a very believable (and tragic) fashion. We get a sense from the outset that Syah is the key character, not least as we have sections of his journal allowing us his point of view to resonate more than his siblings.
The conclusion of the book is moving and sets the scene very nicely for the sequels, which I am desperate to read. I was left with a sense of classic epic fantasy, reminiscent of Robin Hobb and Ursula le Guin. Danielle doesn’t overdo the fantasy element, in fact in places it feels more like historical fantasy. Having said that there’s some great dwarves featuring in it (with a very alternate realisation) and towards the end we get a dragon popping up.
I interviewed Danielle about the book and about her writing:
Me: What is it that attracts you to write fantasy as a genre?
Dani: I attempted to write realistic fiction a few times and I was just too bored by it. I enjoy writing fantasy because I get to escape into the world of my characters. It's not as mundane as everyday life.
Me: Ok, so were there any authors who have particularly influenced your work?
Dani: Would it be crazy to say that I'm in love with Charles Dickens? The raw realness of his characters is fantastic. Cut out the whaling consortium from Moby Dick and that's another of my favorites. I also love the poetic style of Patricia McKillip and Tolkien.
Me: I found the dwarves in your book very fresh and fascinating. Where did you draw inspiration for them?
Dani: Well, thank you. I did not want my elves or dwarves to be clichéd (yes, there's elves in the next book). The elves and dwarves are known as the "magical races" because they, unlike the humans, are still able to manipulate their world in magical ways. I think the dwarves in Brother Betrayed were moulded around the healer dwarf, who had to be mystical, powerful, and interesting.
Me: When you write would you describe yourself as very structured or do you write in a more free-form manner?
Dani: In the beginning it was very free-form. Many characters would sprout out of chapters, with me not having planned them. I have to limit myself strictly on allowing new characters into my books now. I also plan out a bit more, just so I know where the story will go. The meat of my writing, however, drives itself. If I'm stuck on a scene I will picture it in my head, live in that moment, and let the story unfold.
Me: Many indie and small-press writers also have jobs and occupations. How do you balance the demands of being an author against the 'day job?'
Dani: Excellent question. I write as a hobby, and I don't spend a lot of time watching TV. I do have a very busy "day life", and it takes me years to finish a novel. Even if I earned enough to support myself through writing, I couldn't stop working at a real job. Interacting with people gives me inspiration for my writing.
Thank you for featuring me on your blog. I'm glad you enjoyed Brother Betrayed!
My Amazon review of Brother Betrayed is here.
Brother Betrayed is available on Amazon Kindle as an e-book and also in print edition from Amazon or the Fantasy Island Book web-site.
If you want to find out more about Danielle Raver, these are the links for her author page :