A Hero’s Journey Into the Heart of Reality
The Yoga of Strength is the story of Andrew Cardiff, a long-time squire on the cusp of elevation to Knighthood within the Yellow Order of the Kingdom of Thrairn. There is only one issue: he is an abject coward and slave to his baser instincts. Thrust into a world of magic and treachery, Andrew tumbles along a path that threatens devastation at every turn. This unlikely hero must plumb the depths of his soul in search of the courage and strength that have always eluded him. Around him, the world is crumbling. Will Andrew discover his answers at the center of the mystery before it is too late?
Andrew Marc Rowe lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, with his wife and daughter. A lawyer by day, Andrew dreamed of magic and dragons in his youth, and a greater sense of purpose in his later years. Visit his website at andrewmarcrowe.com for stories, including the Tales of Sight short story series set in the world of The Yoga Trilogy, essays, interviews, and more.
Soul medicine for anyone, yogi or not, with a soft spot for knights, wizards, and dragons.
Published by Atmosphere Press
"At its core, the book is an exploration into the true, underlying nature of strength - not raw talent or knowledge, but blood, toil, sweat and perseverance- the things that make heroes what they are not just in a fantasy world but even in real life...
...The plot is never predictable at any point. I know that phrase is overused, but there are several twists in the book are just impossible to foresee...
...The prose in the book is top tier and Andrew's (The author) command of vocabulary is pretty impressive...
...On the whole, this book is a definite "must read" from me."
-Nicholas Hale, author of Apprentice (Will of the Covenant #1) (5 star review)
"Andrew Marc Rowe does a fantastic job - really a brilliant job - of crafting this world that is part Game of Thrones, part Bhagavad Gita and takes you into a quest for enlightenment while also using yogic philosophy and dragons and Greek and Hindu and Roman and Celtic mythological symbols and deities to weave the plot together to expose its teachings and the moral compass that lies within our protagonist."
-Zach Leary, host of the It's All Happening and MAPS podcasts
"The title sounds somewhat like a self help meditation manual... and yet, I can't say it's not apt. There are many moments to make Andrew, and the reader, question the meaning of life and happiness, and of course Strength. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this."
-Author Anna K. Scott (contributor to Three Crows Magazine) (4 star review)
“Normally it takes me forever to finish a book as I normally only read a few pages each night before sleep takes me. Book one of ‘The Yoga Trilogy’ was entirely different. I finished the book in two sittings as I found myself unwilling to stop and go to sleep. Andrew Marc Rowe’s brand of writing held me captive from the opening scene.
For me the dark humour and grotesque was the hook but it was the protagonist, Cardiff, that kept me entranced. The flashes of anger in the beginning! The writing let us see exactly what was going on in Cardiff’s mind and I found it alarming how much it resonated with me and my own demons.
As I continued reading I was impressed at the level of character development in our ‘hero’. I was already invested in the story on a personal level I have never experienced in a novel before. It got to the point that I actually found the book therapeutic to read. As Cardiff was tested and grew, I learned a fair bit about myself.”
-Goodreads / Amazon.ca reviewer Zack Rousseau (5 star review)
“Andrew was a really interesting character to follow. He starts out as a really selfish person, but grows as a person over the course of the book; not only physically but also mentally as well. And he doesn’t grow as the result of just one event, he has to overcome multiple challenges and temptations to grow into the amazing person he becomes at the end of the book. The last time I ever came across such an amazing character growth was Malta Vestrit in Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders. The fact that Andrew is 25 years old when the books starts is another reason why I enjoyed reading the book so much, he makes significant improvements as a person even though he has been selfish for most of his life.”
-Goodreads / Reddit Fantasy reviewer Axel Rantila (5 star review)
The Yoga of Strength is the story of a coward who sheds his self-centredness and fear to become a champion guided by his highest purpose. Weaving together motifs from mythology, high fantasy, visionary / spiritual fiction, and lessons from the philosophy of yoga, the book follows an initially unlikable noble-born squire named Andrew Cardiff on the eve of his induction into the Yellow Order, a brotherhood of knights that serves King Janus of Thrairn (a fictional realm with real-world spiritual symbols interspersed throughout). Caught in a purely physical view of reality, things start to change when magic begins to seep into his world.
While we in the West usually associate ‘yoga’ quite simply with a series of physical poses, it is much more than that. It is an ancient system of philosophy and practice from India with the goal of spiritual awakening, and it can be applied to anything we do in life. The word ‘yoga’ means to ‘yoke’ or to ‘unify’: mind, body, and spirit. The word ‘yoke’ is more appropriate in this case, calling up imagery of oxen being lashed to a cart, because Andrew’s journey is no peaceful contemplation of the nature of reality. It is about a man who steps into the fire, a dangerous crucible that calls upon all of the courage that he did not know was present in the depths of his heart.
It is the first book in a planned trilogy. This book's exploration of the sacred masculine is followed up by the second book, The Yoga of Pain, which focuses on characters Simon and Kathryn's journeys and delves into the divine feminine. The final book in the series, The Yoga of Connection, finds the trio whole and united against the darkness that seeks to destroy their homeland.
Letter from Andrew
First of all - this is not an exercise manual. It's a fantasy novel suffused with mysticism and mythology. It is the book that started it all. Conceived in the weeks following my first-born child's entrance into this world, I wrote this novel over the course of five months. That is not to say that I went in cold - I spent five long years writing trash that will never see the light of day. But, as B.B. King says, we've all got to pay our dues.
This story is not autobiographical, but it is a metaphorical journey that features many commonalities with my own. At its heart, it is an exploration of strength and courage, as one of my early reviewers (Nicholas Hale) stated in his pre-release review. It is about overcoming the inertia of life and finally beginning to live the life you always knew was waiting for you.
I love fantasy novels, and you can read this simply as fantasy, perhaps something the along the lines of what might happen if George R.R. Martin and Irvine Welsh had a literary love child. But its conceit found its generation in the darker days of my twenties, when I was asking myself the big questions: Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Why am I so damned depressed? Why can I not make it through a week without having beer on the weekends?
Works like The Pilgrimage and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, together with even more overtly spiritual fare like the Bhagavad Gita, and the practice of yoga itself helped me to reach a level of contentment with life that I never dreamed possible. Simply put, I pulled myself out of my depression and addictions, eschewing my self-described persona of unhappy coward in the process.
This book is about what Jimmy Buffett dubbed the "melancholy bouillabaisse called letting go." It's an alchemical translation of my personal experiences into something that is less about speaking to your mind and more to your heart. Throw the spiritual stuff into the gumbo of Martin and Welsh and you are probably getting warm. Most of all, though, it is about truth: that undeniable truth that tears us down and builds us up, unrecognizable to what has gone before.
My heart and soul are in these pages. I hope that you like what you find.