The Woven Ring by M.D. Presley
Hello Book Nerds
Here were are again at Fantasy Book Nerd Central again, and this time I am talking about The Woven Ring by M.D. Presley. I have to say that this was my first foray into flintlock fantasy and I have to say that I was impressed by this branch of fantasy.
A fantasy reimagining
of the American Civil War, The Woven Ring pits muskets against magic,
massive war machines against mind readers, and glass sabers against
soldiers in psychic exoskeletons.
In exile since the civil war
that tore the nation of Newfield apart, former spy and turncoat Marta
Childress wants nothing more than to quietly live out her remaining days
in the West. But then her manipulative brother arrives with one final
mission: Transport the daughter of a hated inventor deep into the East.
Forced to decide between safely delivering the girl and assassinating
the inventor, Marta is torn between ensuring the fragile peace and
sparking a second civil war.
Aided by an untrustworthy Dobra
and his mysterious mute companion, Marta soon discovers that dark
forces, human and perhaps the devil herself, seek to end her quest into
The Woven Ring by MD Presley is a revamp of his original debut with a stunning new cover, and it is a fantastic introduction to his wild west, post civil war fantasy world, Soltera.
The book itself is based around Marta, spy, outcast and veteran. With the story centring around Marta’s plight to deliver the daughter of a tech genius, Orthoel Hendrix, who is currently residing in a local Sanitarium, to him on the orders of her father.
Throughout the story we follow Marta, both as she is now, and in a separate storyline, of how she got to be where she is now, starting as a six year old girl.
I have to say that I was mightily impressed with this first book in MD Presley’s trilogy Sol’s Harvest. On some levels, it had a familiar feel to it, however, underlying this there is something that I have not read before. For one, I have not read a story that is set in a post civil war era before and I found that this setting worked well for the story. Not only that, MD Presley builds a world that is based on the wild west and all the best westerns that I have loved in the past. However, it is not a stylised version of the West, it is more like Sam Peckinpah’ s grittily realistic, violent world, where the dismal living conditions and general hardship of the environment worms its way through.
There are so many levels that this book works on for me. For one, MD Presley creates a fabulously nuanced western environment that is mixed with a steampunk world edge. It is gloriously elegant in its construction, with steam trains running on Ley lines in the air. Airships that are used to bomb the opposing side into submission.
With The Woven Ring, MD Presley has created a wonderfully rich world where not one thing is out of place. There is religion, different cultures, money. Everything is nuanced and defined to give it that tangible sense of believability. In some ways, it resembles our own history which gives you that ability to picture it in your head, and on the other hand give it a sense of uniqueness that is utterly captivating.
Similarly with the magic system, which is based on a system called Breath. Again, MD Presley initially creates something that seems rather simplistic but then intricately builds upon its foundation to create something that is unique.
In terms of characters, Marta is a fantastic character. As there are two timelines in the book we get to see two iterations of her. Firstly, as an idealistic child that believes in the cruelty of the world that she inhabits, and then as a jaded, broken veteran who has problems connecting with anybody. Whilst Marta in the future is not particularly likeable, it is easy to see why, as we follow her trajectory in the second POV, and realise that besides being utterly broken by the horrors that she has endured, she is a product of her family upbringing, which shapes her into a cold, unfeeling individual that thinks of nothing but herself.
On top of that we have a supporting cast of characters, Marta’s odiously sociopathic brother, Carmichael, Caddie Hendrix, who spends most of the book in a catatonic stupor who has withdrawn into herself as a result of some unknown trauma. Then there is Luca and Isabelle, who have been hired by Carmicheal to maintain his sisters safety.
On the whole, I enjoyed MD Presley’s ‘The Woven Ring’ with its rich world building and intricate magic system. I personally think that with the second and third books, this will become a favourite of mine and I am intrigued to see where the story goes.