I discuss novels that writers in the mixed genre realm, especially Science Fiction Romance and Paranormal Romance -- well, yes, any version or subdivision of fantasy-romance -- should pay attention to.
Today I want to point you, once again, to the novels of Marshall Ryan Maresca.
I encountered him on Twitter, and friended him on Facebook
So far, I think I've read all the novels under his byline, Marshall Ryan Maresca.
We have discussed his work previously:
The Thorn of Denton Hill
The Alchemy of Chaos
The Imposters of Aventil
A Murder of Mages
An Import of Intrigue
3) Streets of Maradaine
The Holver Alley Crew
Lady Henterman's Wardrobe
And many more coming. See here:
The setting is plausible, and he gives dates on their calendar of 1100 or so -- but the technology and sociology is not our European-Earth's 1100's.
Like Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series, he uses the idea that Magic is real, and well known, with only certain people able to do it at commercial levels. He sets a University of both Magic and Mundane Science in the midst of the urban construct.
All of that is fairly standard, including the Urban Gang social structure -- some of them decent people, some real rejects.
The outstanding signature of this body of work is not the background, the magic or the lurking technology of Magic (objects that store magical power), but the Characters and their complex Relationships.
It is a human society with a wild variety of different looking people from far away -- you can easily imagine some of them aren't actually totally human. The social and political structures are widely variant -- but commerce, trade, economics, create "strange bedfellows" and opportunities for the "rejects" of society to make a mark.
There are gangs, gang bosses, and a command structure hierarchy. And there's a government (with police) who consider themselves the legitimate rulers. The rulers hold wars, pretty much as usual with wars. The Gangs seem more interested in just surviving or in organizing for profit.
The main plot spanning most of the novels is about Characters outside the social power structures who have been wronged by those in power, and who seek justice, one way or another.
The focus on the Characters' drive and ambition is not revenge, but justice -- what they deep justice to be.
The Imposters of Aventil is full of magic, the toll doing magic takes on Characters, and the street-fight against drug-runners.
But it is also full of Relationship driven decision making - and there is a good bit of Romance among those Relationships. It is not pure sexuality or lust but the grand intrigue of learning to know the real person behind the facade of body, and the bonding of souls via treasuring the other's unique qualities.
These are Strong Characters -- a topic we will have to revisit after you've had a chance to catch up with this 3-series-in-one-world work of art.
The themes are about Power - and the use and abuse of Power. The Characters are well drawn, complex, and driven by their own agendas. The reader is invited to take sides, to root for the Couples to cement their Relationships, and for the town (or neighborhood) to solidify into a safe place to raise children.
The world Maresca has built is ripe for transformation, for being conquered by Love and morphed into a family friendly place.
I keep reading these series, in spite of the shifting point of view that I do not like, because this fantasy world has verisimilitude. The people create themselves the same problems we have created, and a few set about solving those problems pretty much as we would tackle ours.
Maradaine is real.
If you want to write novels that convince the reader (however temporarily ) that the Happily Ever After ending is possible in real life, study what Maresca has done here and watch what he does next.