About J. A. Merkel

Author | World-Builder | Creator

I grew up on a farm with eight brothers and sisters running around barefoot and playing on dangerous farm equipment (usually not at the same time). I’ve always felt attuned to nature and animals, and was lucky enough to grow up around both, which fueled my love for adventure even more. 

And yet, I soon discovered that my true love was for reading and writing.

I love the world-building depth of Sanderson, Herbert, and Le Guin. Collins and Riordan bring the heat when it comes to immersive commercial fiction. I love Simmons’ complexity; his mind-bending stories leave me on the edge of my seat and change the way I look at the world.

If books like this could change my life, why couldn’t I do the same for other people?

That’s why I write. To give people hope and a second chance at something. Second chances about what, you may ask? Well, I can’t reveal all my secrets here. It’s certainly a big part of why I wrote The Fall Gauntlet series.

Oppressive regimes are not a reflection of my own beliefs and are written purely for entertainment purposes. Either way, you’ll have to decide for yourself who the “bad ones” are. Are you ready to embark on your own adventure? Click the button below.

I appreciate your interest in my work.

The Fall Gauntlet has begun …

What The Mortals Are Saying About
The Fall Gauntlet

Hits all the marks for a successful YA series
A well-rounded take on Battle Royale that makes the most of each page and gives a fresh SciFi spin that is not derivative of what’s come before. It’s a brotherly love story at its heart, but the author manages to give it colors of romance, take on the fight against oppression, and the meaning of family. The world is fully fleshed out, an accomplishment, given that we never leave the fighting arena. The tech used by the gladiators is fun, seamless to the world, visually appealing, and enhances each moment in battle. But what brings it all together is the lead’s internal monologue; motivations, reactions, and backstory flow organically and bring the character to a fully relatable place. It’s endearing, thoughtful, and fun where it needs to be—looking forward to book 2.

Wow. This was an intriguing read.
Bear has the flavor of a dystopian world like that of Hunger Games but with a palette all its own. I love that this is essentially a story of brothers and their bond. In this place the Crown calls all the shots, and if they want to take your parents and break apart your family, they will. And if the Crown wants you to do their dirty work for them and eliminate your own blood, they'll put you both in the games with promises that are equally worthy and will inevitably pit you against your own brother in a precarious battle to the death. I mean, woah. The question is, will they do it? Do they each even know who they're fighting? The world of Bear vs Lynx is both archaic and advanced in technology which gives it a really interesting setting. I'd recommend Bear to anyone who enjoys edgy dystopian tales with strong familial bonds, interesting futuristic tech, action, and peril. I received an arc copy of the book from its publisher, but this review is all my own because I wanted to share my thoughts on the book. Happy reading!

READY FOR THE NEXT ONE!
The Fall Gauntlet: BEAR is an absolute masterpiece that exemplifies the heights that science fiction literature can reach. From the very first page, I was plunged headfirst into a mesmerizing world that is as vivid as it is captivating, and the journey only intensifies from there. Merkel's writing style is nothing short of a revelation. It strikes the perfect balance between rich, descriptive prose and a propulsive narrative, pulling the reader along on an unforgettable adventure. The way the author crafts each scene, every twist and turn, is a testament to his mastery of storytelling. The pacing is impeccable, keeping the tension taut and the excitement palpable throughout. The characters are complex and relatable. They leap off the page with a vibrancy that makes them feel like old friends. Their growth and development over the course of the story is both moving and believable, adding an extra layer of emotional depth to an already engrossing tale. The universe in which The Fall Gauntlet: BEAR unfolds is breathtakingly expansive, brimming with intricate cultures, technologies, and histories that immerse readers completely. The attention to detail is awe-inspiring, painting a picture that is as realistic as it is fantastical. What truly sets The Fall Gauntlet: BEAR apart is its ability to provoke thought and introspection. Beyond its gripping plot and well-drawn characters, the novel delves into profound themes that will leave readers contemplating the nature of humanity, the consequences of our choices, and the power of resilience in the face of adversity. In a literary landscape crowded with stories vying for attention, The Fall Gauntlet: BEAR stands tall as a shining example of what speculative fiction can achieve. J. A. Merkel's magnum opus is a triumph of imagination, storytelling, and philosophical exploration that will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on all who are fortunate enough to experience its pages. This is not just a book; it's an experience, a journey, and a work of art that will be celebrated for years to come.

Explore Your Favorites Series By J. A. Merkel

The Fall Gauntlet

Benji Calyx is so close to saving his mother from her off-world prison when he steps onto the Fall Gauntlet arena for the finals. Victory means his wish—to save his mother—will be granted, but not all is as it seems. The Dei are angry, the Crown is scheming, and Benji’s final opponent, the bear, is Benji’s estranged younger brother, Soren.

Things just got a lot more complicated.

BEAR paperback ebook
the fall gauntlet book 2 RAT

Much to his horror, Benji has created a living nightmare in which the Fall Gauntlet does not end. When a strange man and his “rat” followers offer to help the brothers leave the capital by sewer, the brother’s escape plan takes a dark turn. 

If they can’t rise above their own past hurts, and the lies that continue to haunt their family, Soren and Benji may indeed die at each other’s hands.

The Fall Gauntlet continues …

In the mountains beyond the desert, a harrowing secret about the totem animals is revealed, one that exposes the very foundations of the gauntlet itself. If Benji doesn’t figure out how to stop a mysterious and ancient force before it strikes, he’ll forfeit any chance he has of saving his mother, once and for all.

The Fall Gauntlet continues . . .

Benji and Soren will do anything to save their family, but the Crown isn’t going to make it easy …

Get Books 1, 2, and 3 in this special edition omnibus collection, which includes BEAR, RAT, and CHRYSIX.

The Fall Gauntlet continues . . .

TFG Omnibus paperback ebook

Explore Your Favorites Series By J. A. Merkel​

The Fall Gauntlet

Benji Calyx is so close to saving his mother from her off-world prison when he steps onto the Fall Gauntlet arena for the finals. Victory means his wish—to save his mother—will be granted, but not all is as it seems. The Deus are angry, the Crown is scheming, and Benji’s final opponent, the bear, is Benji’s estranged younger brother, Soren.

Things just got a lot more complicated.

Much to his horror, Benji has created a living nightmare in which the Fall Gauntlet does not end. When a strange man and his “rat” followers offer to help the brothers leave the capital by sewer, the brother’s escape plan takes a dark turn. 

If they can’t rise above their own past hurts, and the lies that continue to haunt their family, Soren and Benji may indeed die at each other’s hands.

The Fall Gauntlet continues …

In the mountains beyond the desert, a harrowing secret about the totem animals is revealed, one that exposes the very foundations of the gauntlet itself. If Benji doesn’t figure out how to stop a mysterious and ancient force before it strikes, he’ll forfeit any chance he has of saving his mother, once and for all.

The Fall Gauntlet continues . . .

Benji and Soren will do anything to save their family, but the Crown isn’t going to make it easy …

Get Books 1, 2, and 3 in this special edition omnibus collection, which includes BEAR, RAT, and CHRYSIX.

The Fall Gauntlet continues . . .

Your Next Adventure Is Waiting

The Fall Gauntlet has begun …

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