The Moreva of Astoreth – by Roxanne Bland

The Moreva of Astoreth – by Roxanne Bland

In the world-building tradition of Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and Ursula K. LeGuin, The Moreva of Astoreth is a blend of science fiction, romance, and adventure in a unique, richly imagined imperialistic society in which gods and science are indelibly intertwined.

It is the story of the priestess, scientist, and healer Moreva Tehi, the spoiled, headstrong granddaughter of a powerful deity who is banished for a year to a volatile far corner of the planet for neglecting to perform her sacred duty, only to venture into dangerous realms of banned experimentation, spiritual rebirth, and fervent, forbidden love.

Some Reviews

“Cover art usually isn’t mentioned in the course of a book review because (let’s face it) most are fairly unremarkable. But the blue-faced, red-clad, white-haired, face-tattooed alien figure on the cover of The Moreva of Astoreth provides an unusually compelling visual that invites potential readers to dive in just to find out more about her world.

Obviously, this is a fantasy piece. Just as obviously, it revolves around a powerful female protagonist. Readers enter a dark world where priestess/scientist Moreva, banished from her goddess grandmother’s temple for a year for neglecting her sacred tasks, embarks on a path that does anything but support the demands of a priestess position.

The first thing to note about this particular journey is that it creates a full-faceted, complex world. No light hand on creating its setting means that no depth is sacrificed in the interests of presenting swift action (though a quick pace is also one of the strong points of The Moreva of Astoreth). Such depth necessarily requires length; so those seeking a quick leisure read will want to look elsewhere. Time is taken to build setting, culture, and characters; but the pay-off is a vivid saga powered by the character of Moreva and her struggles with social issues familiar to modern Earth, as the mixed-race heroine struggles to find a place in her world.

While those who eschew smaller details (such as a protagonist’s daily routine) may wish for a faster pace, the joy and strength of The Moreva of Astoreth lies in its ability to take these carefully-laid foundations and build them into a sweeping saga that fantasy and sci-fi fans will find absorbing.

Think Andre Norton to gain a feel for how the setting of this alien world works to support the creation of a protagonist who vividly interacts with it, testing the limits of her personal, spiritual and scientific boundaries with encounters that include romance, political intrigue, and social issues. All these facets are wound into a scientific pursuit that could threaten everything.

The Moreva of Astoreth is especially recommended for genre readers who want their characters, settings, and plots carefully and firmly cemented with a sense of place to support the greater goal of a powerful story that becomes hard to put down.” – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“This is a gripping story with well-polished prose, imaginative use of symbolism, and extraordinary characters; a hard-to-put down fiction. A powerful concept for a powerful story.” – Romauld Dzemo, Readers’ Favorite

“I absolutely feel confident in recommending this book to readers who enjoy a good work of science fiction with a great dash of romance thrown in.” Chris Fischer, Readers’ Favorite

“Author Roxanne Bland has done a good job of creating characters, especially Moreva Tehi, that her readers will connect with, relate to and truly come to care about. If that isn’t a hallmark of a great author, I’m not sure what is.” Tracy Slowiak, Readers’ Favorite

From The Author: I’ve been asked where I came up with the idea for The Moreva of Astoreth. It has its roots in a game a friend and I played in college. We collaborated on a story, taking turns. I don’t recall the details–it was more years ago than I care to remember–but it went something like this. A woman, the daughter of a king, is exiled from her homeland in the desert because she refused to marry a man the king had picked out for her. She travels north. After many adventures, she arrives at a village willing to take her in. The village chieftain is enamored of her, but does not want his people to know since she’s a stranger. The woman genuinely dislikes him. After being at each other’s throats for a period of time, the woman falls in love with him. The chieftain confesses his feelings. They marry.

Meanwhile, the woman’s father, feeling remorseful for exiling his daughter, gathers his army to go look for her. They wander from village to village, searching, but they do not find her. Concluding that his daughter must have headed north, turns in that direction. Still, they do not find her. Frustrated now, the king begins laying waste to every village he and his army come across. Finally, they arrive at the village where the woman is living. The king demands his daughter return with him. She refuses, telling him she is now married and happy. Her father threatens war. The chieftain accepts his challenge, and the war begins. The story concludes with both the woman and the chieftain being killed in the fighting.

Not a very happy ending, is it?

Years later, I read Zecharia Sitchin’s Earth Chronicles series. He posits that ancient astronauts–the Anunnaki–from the planet Nibiru in our solar system came to Earth looking for gold. While here, they created humans to use as workers, and founded the Sumerian civilization. Sitchin has his loyal adherents, and his scholarly detractors. But whether one believes it or not, it’s quite a tale.

More years pass. One day, I was sitting in my office, stuck in a novel I was writing. I couldn’t figure out what to do next. Trying to get going again, I started playing the “what if” game. “What if he does this? What if she does that?” The sort of game authors–at least this author–plays. It wasn’t working. Annoyed, I leaned back in my chair and let my mind wander. It wasn’t long before I started reminiscing about my college days, specifically my friend, and the story we’d written. My mind wandered some more. I started thinking about Sitchin’s works. While ruminating over it, an idea came to me. What if I melded the two stories in some way? What if, what if, what if…?

And then, like Athena from Zeus’s head, the story’s outline came to me, fully formed. Which is a curious development, since I’m a pantser–I write by the “seat of my pants,” that is, the plot takes form while I write–and not a plotter. Filing the outline away for future use, I took up my work-in-progress again. But I couldn’t get on with it. The outline I’d created kept knocking at my brain, until it was interfering with my work-in-progress.So I put it aside and started writing The Moreva of Astoreth.

Now here’s the funny part. I’d planned the story to take place in the spring of the planetary year. But the characters took over (they do that sometimes). And then I was a pantser again. I was working the way I usually work–I saw the “movie” in my head, and I just wrote down the events. So wrote the book, plotting by the seat of my pants. Anyway, I ended up with a story that takes place over the course of a year, which makes for a pretty big book. Still, the tale is a good one–I like to think so, anyway–and I had a lot of fun writing it.

Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy

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