Content Guidelines

The Storm Cycle was not written specifically for a YA audience, but if the shoe fits…

O&E as a rule but specifically The Storm Cycle will generally not be a “graphic” work.  That is there will not be a significant prevalence of blood and certainly not gore, nor detailed prose about sex acts.  Even as such events are implied (sometimes clearly) by subtext and surrounding conversation.  There will be battles, their natural consequences, and a great deal of exploration around romantic themes as the characters themselves mature.  The Storm Cycle will cover over twenty years through childhood, and into adulthood.

This is far from an antiseptic tale, but I aim to make it a fairly safe one.  That said themes of coming to terms with sexuality will be prevalent through Book II.  Fidelity, jealousy, desire, rejection, betrayal, social prejudice (make of that what you will), and the vast array of emotions involved will at times take center stage.  Even as a great deal occurs off page to extents that will not always be clear.

I think of far greater concern should be the gradual escalation towards war.  That by the end of Book IV there will be blood on the hands of all central characters, however justified it may seem.  Dealing with the very aspect of if violence can be justified will also be a theme, as well as having killed someone who likely or certainly would have killed others.  That even justified force can be deadly force.

There will be little in the way of harsh language, and that which occurs will normally be for specific purpose, or social/linguistic commentary.  On the other side there may be big words, complex turns of phrase, metaphysical and existential quandaries, strange explorations of magical physics, and concepts of all things, tied to order & entropy.  It can be mature and challenging as such in a very intellectual sense that alone should rule out the particularly young.

Parental Guidance is recommended – and that means if you really care, read it yourself, and then decide.  That said, here are my rough guidelines.

Book I: Recommended 13+

Focal Characters: 4-14
Violence: Infrequent but moderate in intensity, several minor battles.
Sexuality: Primarily subtext, but descriptions of strong youthful desire near the end.

Death and Loss are notable themes.  Political and religious strife apparent.

Book II: Recommended 15+

Focal Characters: 15-18
Violence: Moderate in both frequency and intensity.
Trauma: Dealing with the consequences of ones actions in battle.
Sexuality: A central theme for one character, as are social rejection, heartbreak, and complex ideas about fidelity, and identity.  Multiple frank conversations occur.

Book II is very much about the line between responsibility to oneself and to others.  About doing what is necessary, even if one is rejected for who they are.

Book III: Recommended 16+

Focal Characters: 18-20s
Violence: Moderate in both frequency and intensity.
Sexuality: Prevalent as a background element, but generally off page, and unspecific.

Book III is a tale about leaving home, and finding a place in an uncertain world.  It was the first book started in the series, all the way back in 2004, but floundered without building the history that fell out of Book I & II.

Book IV: Recommended 16+

Focal Characters: Mid 20s
Violence: Notable.  There will be a war, and quite a lot of death.
Sexuality: Likely muted due to the urgency of events.

Book IV is a story about facing what one has been running from, and standing up in time of need, even knowing it could cost one everything.

As a closing thought, I will switch from the difficult case to make for why content may not be appropriate for a given audience, to the even more trecherous case to be made for why it might be.

The human experience, is the human experience.  Though it varies by circumstance, social pressures, and prejudices.  Being gay for instance can be much harder than being straight, and that can be hard enough.  Being cheated on, or for that matter cheating.  Even harder ideas like arrangements that aren’t cheated, but can still be painful.

The shadows of adult troubles are present throughout every child’s life.  They can be missed or noticed in the actions and words of adults, but eventually they become the troubles of a young adult, and at last an adult.  We can pretend they do not happen, but I think often such pretense exists only in the minds of adults, and to blatantly quote myself: “Seeing the stones before us, is not what makes us stumble.”

The value of YA fiction is often considered to be the chance to provide context for the experiences they face, and while I will proudly say I have not written a message work, it does contain a lot of incidental messages that I think are both positive, and measured.  Ideas about the nature of knowledge, questioning preconceived notions, and the dangers of unexamined beliefs.  Dealing with being rejected for being different, or being hated for things that are beyond ones control.


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