Bliss

“Life and Death in Balance”

Review by Joey Madia

As a fantasy writer, I know quite well the challenges (and rewards) of writing in a genre with abundant tropes and forebears with names like Tolkien, Lewis, and Martin. There is much to live up to and every opportunity to make anew, with a fresh perspective or unique element, must be seized.

Daniel Lawley has succeeded in honoring the fantasy genre, while emphasizing adventure and religious–philosophical elements that allow his novel to stand on its own amidst excellent company.

Each chapter of Bliss begins with an excerpt from an ancient book, rhyme, song, or proverb. This is a crucial device in Fantasy to give the world depth, history, and substance. These epigraphs also cue the reader to the philosophical themes being explored in each chapter, working, in quatrains, like a Greek chorus.

The world of Bliss has two suns, which is interesting because the story is rich with dichotomies… life and death, light and dark, powerful and powerless, good and evil… all the things we expect in a Fantasy–Adventure novel. As the two suns shine down upon the characters, they are constantly reminded of these dualities, which operate in dynamic tension throughout, yielding notable effects. Continue reading