The Court of Broken Knives

First, a disclaimer: I know the author. That said, if I didn’t like the book I would quietly say nothing rather than lie about it in a review. It’s amazing how quietly I can say nothing.

A second disclaimer: I am absolutely rubbish at writing reviews.

Anyway, onwards and sideways!

I drop books fast. I don’t have much reading time and I’m not going to waste it reading something that isn’t awesome. This means my GoodReads profile kinda looks like I gush over everything I read, but that’s because there’s zero chance of me finishing a three star book and even a four star book has a pretty good chance of getting dropped unless it hooks me early. I never review anything I don’t finish.


Junkies and princes and religion and backstabbing and betrayal and oh-so-much-blood and violence and several times I stopped reading and said, “Holy fuck!”

Yeah, it was good.

But the writing blew me away. It infected me. I actually had to set aside my own work in progress because Anna’s voice kept sneaking in there. Suddenly I was trying to write an Anna Smith Spark book. At first I wasn’t sure why. Her prose is sometimes abrupt, sometimes long and languid. The story jumps between past and present tense, something I’ve experimented with and failed horribly at. The majority of the characters are despicable, even if they hide it well.

And then it hit me: It’s music. Hear the words in your head, pay attention to the meter, the beats, the way the words flow into each other, the sounds and syllables. Anna paints in words, sings in prose. She’s an artist, not just a writer. I understand how this might not work for some folks. If you want simple workmanlike prose that won’t challenge you, this might not be the book for you. If you want to be reminded how effective, beautiful, and brutal language can be, you definitely want to read this.

This is a fantastic book and I loved it! Can’t wait for the next one!



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Karaoke Giveaway Contest!

A box full of SWARM AND STEEL has arrived!

Time for a contest!

How to Enter
To enter, you must post a video of yourself doing some karaoke. You don’t have to post an entire song, 20-30 seconds will do. Unless you want to. You can post your video pretty much anywhere. On my facebook wall or twitter feed, in the comments of this post. All I ask is that you tag me so I can find it.
My definition of karaoke is pretty damned loose. You can record yourself singing in the car, screaming along to the stereo like I do every morning on my way to work. Just don’t get busted for mucking about with your phone while driving.
If you want to write and record and entirely original piece of music, go for it!
If you think of something different, go for it! Surprise me!
Here is how entries shall be judged:
– Entertainment
– Originality
– Did you somehow manage to work the concept of Manifest Delusions into your lyrics? Bonus points!
– Did you manage to sneak a copy of one of my books into the video? Bonus Points!
– Did you put it on youtube? Bonus points!
– Insanity!
The Prizes
First Prize: A Manifest Delusions Box* Set including signed copies of Beyond Redemption, The Mirror’s Truth, and Swarm and Steel.
Second Prize: A signed copy of Swarm and Steel.
Third Prize: I dunno! What do you want? Hugs?
Contest Closes Tuesday, November 21st.
Winner will be announced some time on November 22nd. Or soon after.
*Not a Real Box Set. More like a box with some books in it. Maybe.
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An Update ‘Cuz All the Things I Actually Wanna Say Require too Much Thought Right Now


Why, hello there, website. I kinda forgot about you. I’ve been busy for the last er… five months.


Quick Overview of What I’ve Been Up to for the Last Five(ish) Months

I wrote and edited City of Sacrifice. It’s the first book in a new series. Heavily influenced by a mad mix of Aztec and African flavours, and the writings of Carlos Castaneda, I’d call it Dark Epic Fantasy. You’ll probably call it Grimdark. Potato, tomato, whatever. On a dead planet, the last city of man is under siege. Demons and gods war for the blood and souls of humanity. The MS is currently with my agent. She will no doubt gut it and send it back dripping gore and whimpering. I’ll sob gently in a corner for a while and then get to work fixing it cuz that’s what you do. My currently plan is for the series to be somewhere between three and five books.

I wrote Obsidian Heart, a truly messed up YA fantasy about a long dead Demon Emperor returning as a teenager and wandering the world in search of the shards of his shattered stone heart. The tagline, were this a movie, would probably be: That Which Kills You Makes You Stronger. The book is currently in editing. I’m hoping I can send it out to an elite squad of beta-readers in the next month or two. I’m kinda scared to send it to my agent. She’s gonna need to find her inner fourteen year old boy to really appreciate this foray into juvenile wish fulfilment. The plan is for it to be a trilogy. The book is loosely based on the two stories I wrote for Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Death at the Pass, and Death and Dignity.

I am about one-third into writing The Corporate Terrorist. A group of university student use terror-tactics to bend greedy corporations to their will. I’ve never written anything that wasn’t SF/F, so this one is a little different.

Wow. Boring.

Yep. Soooooo. I’m not dead.

Uh… how about some awesome character art of Bedeckt, Stehlen, and Wichtig by the awesome Quint VonCanon?





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Tim Marquitz Reviews his novel WAR GOD RISING

Gleetings and salubriations!

We return today with the latest in the WRITERS REVIEWING THEIR OWN BOOKS series. Tim Marquitz is here to review his novel WAR GOD RISING. And in a strange turn of events he appears to actually be doing it himself!



So, I opened War God Rising, and the first thing I noticed were the words. They were awful, and I’m pretty sure they were in the wrong order.

But like any train wreck, I had rubberneck or I’d miss out on the opportunity to piss off the folks behind me who have better things to do. And after reading this trash, I could sympathize. I mean, seriously, who the hell writes a book about a guy who buggers sheep? Allegedly, or so the author insists. Yeah, buddy, tell it to the judge.

Anyway, flagrant sheep love aside, I’m fairly certain the author of War God Rising thought he was creating a puzzle rather than writing a novel. The book’s one big jumble, all the pieces scattered everywhere, and I’m almost positive there are a handful missing. I won’t even mention the fact that the image is drawn in crayon, which is, admittedly, still a few notches better than the cover art. This is the 21st century, Marquitz. Nudity doesn’t sell books anymore.

Oh, did I mention this is supposed to be a comedy? I think someone mislabeled it. The only laugh involved was the awkward chuckle of the clerk when I paid for it. I’m certain I saw Amy Schumer walking by, shaking her head as I bought the thing.

Still, the book has some redeeming qualities. The pages were nice and soft and hardly left any paper cuts, which I learned when my mom forgot to pick up toilet paper last week. And the pages burn nicely, the ink giving off a pleasant, carcinogenic scent that mostly covered the smell from the aforementioned restroom adventure.

So, yeah, if you’re desperate for a book that holds up to a good wiping and might be useful if you’re having trouble outing yourself as one of those fantasy readers, War God Rising is likely the 11th or 12th book in the list that you’d want to pick up. Maybe 13th.

If ever there was a pity purchase, this is it.


Web Site:

Book Link:

War God Rising Cover Copy:

Monty Python meets Gladiator!

Sand is destined for greatness. Or so a pair of two-bit criminals would have him believe.

After rescuing him from certain doom, Bess and Kaede embark on a scheme to game the War God Tournament. It’d be easier if Sand wasn’t an alcohol-soaked twit with a disturbing interest in mutton.

Pitted against monsters, magic swords, and murderers galore, they soon realize winning the tourney is the least of their worries.

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It’s better to burn out than fade away.

I burned out.

After Beyond Redemption sold to Harper Voyager I threw myself at writing. I wrote Swarm and Steel first. I needed a break from the characters of BR but still wanted to play in that world. With the first draft of that finished, I figured I should probably write the sequel to Beyond Redemption because, duh, look at all those amazing reviews! Of course Harper Voyager will want more! And so, with S&S still is pretty rough shape, I wrote The Mirror’s Truth.

As Y’all know by now HV passed on TMT, saying that sales didn’t warrant investing in a sequel. Cameron, my agent, shopped it around. Unfortunately publishers aren’t much interested in buying the sequel to a book held by another publisher. I was faced with a choice: Shelf the book in the hopes that someday BR would sell enough someone would want the sequel (it still hasn’t) or publish it myself. Seeing as it’s out there and all self-published and stuff, I figure you know what I chose. Patience was never my strength.

Rather than focus on what might well have been the catastrophic failure of my dreams, I focused on editing The Mirror’s Truth.

There are authors who write great first drafts. Mark Lawrence is one of those. We won’t hate him for being talented, though he does offer another explanation here, which I found interesting. I read that and had a moment of Why couldn’t I have been born dyslexic! Then I smacked myself for being a twit. Anyway, the point of that aside is that I am not one of those authors. My first drafts are puke-inducing. I do a lot of editing, and a lot of rewriting. By the time a perspective publisher sees a novel, there’s not usually much to do…except fix a billion typos, correct mangled grammar, add comas where I ignored them, delete comas where I went nuts, and cull about 98% of my semicolons.

I can write a book in three or four months, if given enough alone time. That book will need at least as much editing before it’s ready for beta-readers. Oh Lordy pity my alpha-reader. That dude sees first drafts of everything and somehow hasn’t plucked his eyes from his skull. The point is, I spend a lot of time editing my stuff. Really a lot.

I was somewhere in the middle of editing TMT when the folks at Skyhorse/Nightshade Books/Talos bought Swarm and Steel. As I recall, they purchased it based on my synopsis (insane rambling), blurb (excited insane rambling), and the first chapter which I’d edited before we sent it out. The rest of the book was a disaster. I promptly changed gears and dove into editing that beast instead. It went through many iterations. Each time I thought it was ready I sent it to Cameron. She picked it apart, asked difficult questions (the best was “what does this character really want? which triggered massive changes once I understood that character’s motivation), and sent it back.

The day we submitted the finished manuscript to Talos, I returned to editing The Mirror’s Truth. Somewhere in there the rights to my first novel, 88, were reverted to me by the awesome folks at Five Rivers Publishing. The day I uploaded the final manuscript for TMT to Amazon and Createspace, I began work on editing and rewriting 88. I recently released the reworked 88 as Ghosts of Tomorrow.

Here ends what amounts to damned near a year of editing. I wrote no new original fiction in that time with the exception of a single short story, The Broken Dead, for the Evil is a Matter of Perspective anthology.

Did I take a breather?


I uploaded the final Ghosts of Tomorrow files on February 24th, 2017. The next day I began work on a new book. We’ll call this CoS:LBiS for now because I’m not ready to share the name. I finished the first draft of that novel in early April. It took about two and a half months to write. I hand wrote this one–something new for me. I’m still in the process of transcribing it onto the computer. It, like all my first drafts, is a vomitous stain.

The day after I finished CoS:LBiS I tried to write a short story for Grimdark Magazine. After a week and three attempts, I gave up. Then I decided to start work on the sequel to Ghosts of Tomorrow. I have now written the first chapter three times. They all stink.

Ah. And here is where we came in.

I’m burned out.

I need to stop for a while.

The other day someone on facebook mentioned that Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, reads big door-stopper genre fiction. I had this moment of anger. How the hell can the goddamn Prime Minister have time to read but I can’t?

I realized I was the problem.

I am two or three books behind on all my favourite authors. I haven’t even read Wheel of Osheim yet! Just let that sink in.

A couple of days ago I picked up the ARC of Brian Staveley’s Skullsworn. I only had a few minutes of reading time. It’s so good. So very, very good. Reading made me happy again, took me away. Yesterday I stole a few more minutes of reading. More happy.

I know what I have to do.

I’m going to read a book. Maybe two. During that time I shall make no attempt at writing.

Once I feel like a reader again, I shall return to writing. I need this.

Burn out is no fun and I’d rather not fade away.

This post is likely rife with errors as I can not be bothered to edit it.

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Derek Alan Siddoway reviews INTO EXILE

Welcome to the latest post in the AUTHORS REVIEWING THEIR OWN BOOKS series!

Today we have Derek Alan Siddoway, the mastermind behind the Undaunted Author and Everyday Author sites (links below) reviewing…wait. Nope! It seems some of his characters have snuck in. Apparently, instead of reviewing the book, they’ve called some kind of press-release.

Best read on…


Herald: Introducing his majesty, High King Arund, the White Knight, the Scourge of the Highlanders, the Sword of Skaldain!

People gather in a crowd below the platform within the ransacked city of Athelon. There are bloodstains on the stone and smoke still rises from some of the upper terraces, where, judging by the raucous sounds of yelling and screaming, looting is still well underway. Arund the White Knight, of late, the self-styled High King of all Peldrin takes the stand.

Arund: Thank you, everyone, for coming. What a great day. What a momentous day in the history of our country. I never doubted it. I crushed the rebellion and united all of Peldrin. Where are the naysayers now? So, who’s got questions? I’ve got answers, great answers.

Skald: General Arund —

Arund: High King now, actually. In case you hadn’t heard — I won!

Skald: *Clears throat* Umm, yes. High King Arund. While your “March across Peldrin” was a success on parchment, you’ve left a bloody swathe in your wake. Thousands are dead — mostly the common folk who supported your cause. Tens of thousands more are homeless, injured or starving. And now, you’ve conquered Athelon, the last bastion of resistance, but only after weeks of siege that drained untold amounts of gold from the Republic’s coffers. What is your message to the peasantry?

Arund: My message is the same as it’s always been. I’ve never changed. I said I was going to make Peldrin great again. Now it’s great. Just like I said. When people get in the way of progress that’s what happens. But now we can rebuild. We’ll be bigger and better than ever. We’ve already brought thousands of jobs back to honest, hardworking swordsmiths, armorers and siege engineers everywhere.

Second Skald: Wasn’t Peldrin already pretty great? I mean we had a Republic that built roads, fostered trade and —

Arund: Sure, that’s what they want you to believe. Trust me, it wasn’t great. I was on the inside. I saw things. I know things about the former Republic that would make your skin crawl. Peldrin was a disaster.

Second Skald: Wasn’t the goal of your campaign to unite Peldrin? It seems like a death march across half the land, culminating in a dreadful siege that was only ended by killing one of your oldest and closest friends is pretty…dividing.

Arund: Look, nobody wanted to kill Mathyew less than me. Trust me. Nobody liked Mathyew more than me. The Lord of Athel was like a brother to me. We were so close you can’t even imagine. But there’s one thing you can’t do. You can’t stand between the White Knight and victory. You just can’t. It’s not going to end well for you if you do. I’ve never been defeated.

Second Skald: But what about that battle against the Highland Confederation back in —

Arund: Next question, please.

Third Skald: We’ve heard reports that your troops were massacring refugees and survivors who fled Athelon to the surrounding beaches. The reports also indicated that Lady Guinevere, her young son Revan and her handmaiden, Reginleif were on the beaches.

Arund: Look, I’m in the business of peace, not killing women and children.

First Skald: *Points across the courtyard* Isn’t that a dead woman over there?

Arund: I’ve said it all along, we’re going to be so tough on rebels. Trust me, no one has ever been tougher on rebels than me and no one will continue to be tougher on rebels than me. If any man, woman or child raises a sword against me, we’re going to have to take action. It’s the only way to keep our borders safe.

Third Skald: Yes, but where are Lady Guinevere, Revan and her handmaiden now?

Arund: I’ve got trained professionals out looking for the Lady of Athel right now. Our number one priority is finding her and ensuring she’s safe. Nobody is more worried about Guinevere and little Revan than me, trust me. I consider them family.

Second Skald: This seems to conflict an account we’ve received that your “trained professionals” pursued Lady Guinevere into the wilderness of Athel. They were led by Captain Theron Fitch, a man known for his brutality. According to the report, Fitch then conspired with local Sylvad hunters — sworn enemies of the Athelings, I might add — to aid in the capture of Lady Guinevere.

Arund: That’s completely ridiculous. False information. Never happened.

First Skald: It’s all right here in a book: Into Exile by one Derek Alan Siddoway.

Arund: Look, I don’t know where this book came from, but it’s clearly biased against my campaign to unite all Peldrin under my banner. Someone is just jealous that my victory was so complete and absolute that they’re spreading these lies. Don’t be fooled, people. The Council War was the most definitive victory in the history of all Peldrin. If Lady Guinevere doesn’t want to bow to me, she’s on her own.

Third Skald: But you just said that finding Lady Guinevere and her son and ensuring their safety was your number one —

Arund: *Waves hand* Look, this public address is over. I don’t need to deal with this right now. I’ve got a country to make great again! Anything in that book by that Siddoway man is completely untrue. Not a single fact in there. I’ve read the whole thing. Bunch of fabricated lies, trust me. Anyone who reads that is a stars-damned imbecile and is guilty of treason. The first

thing I’m coming to do when I get back to the capital is decree every copy of this “Into Exile” is burned.

Second Skald: *sighs*


Into Exile – Official Synopsis:

Widowed. Hunted. Exiled. From the ashes of destruction, a saga begins.

When her country is conquered and her lord husband slain by his best friend, Guinevere, Lady of Athel, has only one thing left to live for: her young son Revan. Forsaking vengeance to honor her husband’s last wish, Guinevere flees with Revan — the last heir of the Teutevar line. Exile, however, will not come easy. Pursued by ruthless invaders and a wilderness full of bloodthirsty savages, Guinevere’s only allies are a loyal spearmaiden and a deranged mountain man. The Lady of Athel may not fear death, but should she fail, Athel’s last hope falls with her.

Into Exile is a introductory prequel that takes place before the events of Out of Exile in the world of Teutevar Saga. Fans of Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country and Miles Cameron’s Traitor Son Cycle will enjoy the Teutevar Saga and its unique blend of traditional medieval fantasy in a gritty, American Western landscape.

For a limited time, get Into Exile FREE at all major ebook sellers:

For more shenanigans check out Derek in the following places:

@D_Sidd (Twitter)

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Timandra Whitecastle reviews TOUCH OF IRON


This week Timandra Whitecastle stops by to review her novel, TOUCH OF IRON. Wait. Is it actually her, or did she send one of her characters or even a book cover to do the review for her? I think we have a real person! Woooo!


I picked up Touch of Iron only because I’d seen the cover on Instagram and Pinterest a few times, and wow, it’s beautiful. But how does the adage go? Don’t a judge a book by its cover.

The blurb made me think that it’d be my standard heroic fantasy fare – legendary sword, questing, multiple points of view, and I was looking forward to it.

But it’s terrible.

The female main character is an awful person. She’s very un-christian, unwomanly, headstrong, curses a lot – the amount of expletives in this book is obscene. Obscene, I tell you! – and nowhere in the book is she described as being beautiful or meek. I don’t get it – it’s as if Whitecastle doesn’t think women have to be sexy in order to have worth, lololol. The way the author wrote her, I’d say that Whitecastle person is pushing her own feminist agenda with Nora.

Whitecastle also shies away from any opportunity of true character development. Nora starts out as a total failure, running away from home with her twin bother because, frankly, she’s very ungrateful, and prone to violent tempers. Mood swings! Lololol. Pretty quickly she gets swept up in the quest for the Living Blade, meeting the male leads, Prince Bashan and Master Diaz. Sadly, Whitecastle lacks the talent to write real male characters as she’s a woman, but she tris valiantly with Prince Bashan. I was not impressed with Master Diaz, by the way – although his back story is like: he has sex outside of marriage and is punished for that for the rest of his life. I liked that part. It was realistic. But Nora? No. No punishment for her. So sad. She never snaps out of her disobedient ways to finally become the paladin I was expecting.

Also the book is really gory. When the violence happens it’s very graphic and painfully drawn out. Why is that, Ms Whitecastle? Why can’t you write aesthetic violence like every other good fantasy author? Give us battles with dragons, nekkid babes in chainmail bikinis, and magical talking blades, not actual hurt and emotional turmoil!

There’s some sexual violence and rape, but alas! never as much as in Game of Thrones, and the fear of rape is never used as a motivation for the female characters – it’s weird. It’s like Whitecastle sees the opportunity to write the strong female lead we can all recognize, but then actively chooses not to.

I honestly don’t see any appeal to this book, other than the cover which is really nice.

And OMG there’s a sequel now?!?


Touch of Iron on

On the Wheel on (releases March 16th)
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Hey folks!

We are back with the latest in the AUTHORS REVIEWING THEIR OWN BOOKS series. Today, Steven Poore pops in to review…wait…no. Like many authors he has foisted the duty on another. This time he sent the book cover in to review if for him.

Well, let’s see what the cover has to say!


Oh hai, sweet readers, please allow me to introduce myself – I’m a book cover illustration of wealth and taste… no, really. Don’t run away…

Pheh. Some folks, you just can’t help. But you, you look reasonable. You look intelligent. You can see there’s more to me than meets the eye, right? Or, like in the front credits of Quincy, will this be an autopsy without an audience?

I know what you want. Grim reapers, bloody swords, hooded men, mountains of corpses. Maybe even a fella with four hands and a stetson, yeah? I see you, with your bloodstained maps, your Viking raiders, and your Anasurimbor Kellhus runes. And who let that damned goat in here? Shoo, get away, gimme some space… sorry about that. Where was I? Yeah, runes. Got none of those here, sorry. Just an alpha male prince with a very big sword, and a young lass. All in bright colours, just like those books you used to read before you grew up and thought that Garion was a bit wet, actually.

Look at those muscles. All that beef. Here’s a guy who lifts. He’s a proper hero. None of those hoods or half-profile silhouettes here. Just a bloody great sword. This chap’s name is Meredith, and he owns it. The book’s called The Heir to the North, and that’s him, that is. He shot a man in CostCo, just to watch him die (OK, so that bit’s a lie, but I’m being creative here, roll with it). He goes through his forms bare-chested, but you can tell that already. It’s making you totes jeal. It certainly makes Cassia’s knees tremble, I tell thee.

Cassia? Yeah, she’s the support act, right? Look how Meredith protects her, holds her back against danger, how good they look together, how bright and innocent… oi, you at the back, I’ll have none of that muck in this column. Go wash yer mouth out. Anyway, just look at them. It’s like a first-level D&D group, before the slaughter begins – it’s so 1987 it hurts. That sound, that’s you walking away that is, gone to find something grimmer, something darker, with more pillage and less hope, more cynicism, and less bright-eyed naivete, because this is the modern world and hey now, hey now now, sing something doomy to me.

Can’t say I blame you. Just go, walk out the door, don’t turn around now – actually, wait, see, there’s a secret. I’m not what I seem. A picture tells a thousand words, yeah sure, but what if those words ain’t the truth? What if – bear with me here – what if the picture you’re seeing is a fantasy? What if it lives only in Cassia’s head?

That’s not so 1987, is it? That’s practically post-modern. See me strut. I ain’t grim, but I’m sure twisted. I’m like a tribute to all the best fantasy novels of the late 80s and early 90s, an echo of the excitement and wonder, let’s do the quest right here! I’m a cover that dares you to see beyond it.

You want me to talk about the book itself? Hey, I’m just a picture. I just represent. But I say look at the author. He’s all bright-eyed and naive too, starting out on his own quest. He might get a couple of things wrong, play a few bum notes, forget to put any real female characters except Cassia in there at all, y’know, minor stuff. But you know what comes after the bright fairy-tale beginnings, right?

Yeah, that’s right…

The Heir to the North – cover copy

Caenthell will stay buried, and the North will not rise again until I freely offer my sword to a true descendant of the High Kings—or until one takes it from my dying hands!” 
With this curse, the Warlock Malessar destroyed Caenthell. The bloodline of the High Kings disappeared and the kingdom faded into dark legend until even stories of the deed lost their power. But now there is an Heir to the North.
Cassia hopes to make her reputation as a storyteller by witnessing a hardened soldier and a heroic princeling defeat Malessar and his foul curse. But neither of her companions are exactly as they appear, and the truth lies deep within stories that have been buried for centuries.
As Cassia learns secrets both soldier and warlock have kept hidden since the fall of Caenthell, she discovers she can no longer merely bear witness. Cassia must become part of the story; she must choose a side and join the battle.
The North will rise again.

Heir To The North – Out Now!



Epic Fantasist — SFSF Socialist
@stevenjpoore — @SFSFSocial

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Author Reviewing Their Own Books: Richard Writhen reviews A KICKED CUR.

This week the mysterious Richard Writhen drops by to review–Oh, wait, no! He’s gone and dumped the review on one of his characters! The sod!


A Kicked Cur: A Waste Of My Time And Yours

by Michael Sirus Meyer, the star of A Host Of Ills

Please give me allowance to preface this essay. I am neither a reviewer by trade nor a writer, and only a sporadic reader; as I rarely find the time. I am an amanuensis by trade, and in the employ of one of the greatest precious metal industrialists that the great realm of Khlarion has ever seen. I am but a layman, if you will understand; so, when I was “asked” to review A Kicked Cur by some raggedy individual that introduced himself to me only by the moniker of “Richard Writhen,” of course I politely declined. However, the persistent bugger hounded my very steps down the badly cobbled streets, and I could not safely sleep in my bungalow on Milbury Street without hearing his wolf-like howls outside my window at all hours of first clock. So, here’s the final review, all ready to be safely sealed and delivered over to the Pylon Press Building. Perhaps you, my dear reader, will find some small modicum of enjoyment in it; which is quite a bit more than I can say for the work being reviewed itself … unfortunately.

To begin with, if you will be so kind as to bear with me, I will relate a little bit about myself. My name is Michael Sirus Meyer, I am indeed a clerk for a great mine-lord, and have been for many years. One Jalas Nadur, originally from the nation far to Khlarion’s southwest, which is named Khunatan, owns practically every active metal mine in the north of the realm, they being interspersed with the Unknown Forest and just south of the mysterious set of island summits known to the citizenry as the Tide Witches. I divide my time between the private sector of Hayderstade, just to the west of Deskordin’s downtown area, which is where I myself am from, as well as the hive-like network of northern caves that yield those materials of great worth and net my boss a good deal of profit; which he might not be able to effectively do, if I may humbly add, without my invaluable services in book-keeping.

So, enough idle chatter, as my father used to say; and on to the document that I have been asked to review. Again, I am by no means a writer, and have never been able to write creative fiction prose with any real ability. But surely, a narrative can be constructed in a more coherent manner than this. A Kicked Cur attempts to tell the story of three average teenagers who live in the downtown Deskordin area; which I know well, being as I attended college near where the story takes place. They encounter a spot of trouble when they see something that they are not meant to, and are set aflight and run home in order to regroup; bold warriors these are not. I won’t give away much more of the “tale,” if you would choose to call it that, but suffice it to say, they are hard-pressed to come up with a strategem to deal with the problem they encounter, as it involves a blood witch and her three vampire lackeys. The result is so anti-climactic that a scene involving the male teen having breakfast with his father one morning is one of the most suspenseful in the entire piece. And said father mentions Drackhon, another nation that lies dead west of Khlarion, asserting that it is in fact infested with more blood magicians and vampires; this cannot be true, as everyone knows that Drackhon is merely a wide, flat land which is composed mostly of swamps save for a few historical ruins, just some old castles and the like.

Mr. Writhen certainly has quite the imagination, unless he purports to predict the future, something which no human being can do … with any accuracy. Frankly, that’s part of the work’s overall inconsistency. I’m not sure when A Kicked Cur is supposed to be set, it being such a disorganized mess; but his flippant flair and supposition of the day-to-day reality that actually exists in The Great City of Deskordin is, in a word … simply monstrous. Again, I am struggling to not give too much away. But these children wind up in their basement telling ghost stories or the like by lantern light. And there’s this gods awful sub-plot regarding some lawmen … er, sheriffs … hill sheriffs, is it? … that hold their headquarters far to the northeast of the city proper in the lowly sector of Heavenward. And believe you me, this is where this novella is stretched to its thinnest; everyone with any sense whatsoever knows that the area is a mere disreputable hell that no lawman would even set one booted foot in, let alone call home.

A grotesque blot on our reality, it is no more than tens upon tens of square miles of rundown buildings, broken alleyways, burned-out coaches and broken glass … covered by packs of roving vagrants so debauched that they take to eating each other due to the scarcity of food. A horrific place; and that is why the text of this work rings so false. It’s so unrealistic that I can barely write about it with a straight face, let alone relate that to someone in person. Well, nevermind. Suffice it to say, A Kicked Cur belongs on the bookshelf of no sane individual, or on that of anyone with any taste in literature. Frankly, I immediately burned the infernal manuscript that the psychopath had given me when I had finished reading it, damn him and his incessant howling to hell. When I rise to my window, I swear I can see him there, subtly backlit by the sporadic streetlamps. And all of that would be all well and good … but gods, now how do I get this review over to the press …?

Links and Sundry


FB Author page:

Gothdark Speculative Fiction FB Group:
A Host Of Ills:
A Kicked Cur:
The Hiss Of The Blade:

Two other articles / features about Richard’s work:


Richard Writhen’s Bio:

Originally from Rhode Island, Richard Writhen also lived in NYC for about ten years. He has been e-published on several notable sites such as the MightyThorJRS Blog,, and and is the author of three novellas on Amazon KDP; A Kicked Cur, A Host of Ills and The Hiss Of The Blade. Richard also writes short form in the styles of Gothdark, Grimdark, GDSF and Psychological Horror, and will eventually be exploring the weird west.


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Ben Galley Reviews His Novel, HEART OF STONE

And the madness continues!

Today we are back with the latest  in the AUTHORS REVIEWING THEIR OWN BOOKS SERIES! The ever dangerous Ben Galley joins us to share his thoughts on his novel The Heart of Stone.

Review of The Heart of Stone

Firstly, allow me to say that I did not like golems before reading The Heart of Stone. After finishing this “book”, I can now safely say I hate them.

I suppose I should do the decent thing and give you an overview of plot before I get into the bedrock of my review.

After a few cryptic preludes, we are introduced to some sort of stone beast as he steps off a boat into a war-torn country called Hartlund, which is painted to be as bleak as a medieval industrial estate in winter. The blurb hints at the beast being a kind of war machine, and after some brief and even bleaker world-building, we see what he’s capable of as he’s thrown straight into glorious battle against an enemy called the Last Fading. The story unfolds from there, the golem struggling to adjust to this new war, despite living through a hundred of them already. He’s been given the task of winning the civil war for the humans, and yet all he wants to do is be left alone.

What “author” Ben Galley has tried to create here, in an attempt to be boulder than his last series, is an emotional story of discovery and humanity, told through the glowing eyes of a cynical yet enrapturing, distinctly non-human character.

Unfortunately, what Galley has written instead is a 400-page treatise on how much a golem can moan about its lot in life. When Task, the golem, is not grumbling his way through battle, or complaining about his living conditions, or the noise level of a war-camp, he’s questioning his betters – us humans. The cheek of it. Instead of being poignant and revealing of human nature, it’s like the plaintiff’s script from a 17th century Judge Judy episode.

Let’s look at the characters. Task is already at rock bottom when he arrives in Hartlund. He’s a statue of cynicism, and not very fond of us lovely humans. He’s almost too good to be true. He’s immortal (ugh), and practically indestructible unless you pull out his witty tongue (ugh again). Who knew stone could be so verbose? Above all, he’s just rude. He’s been bought fair and square by the Truehards – the royal side of the civil war – and he’s been made to fight wars all his life, so what’s his problem? What has he got to complain about? This is the issue with magical creatures, IMO, they are too full of themselves. I’d rather take a dragon that knows its place any day of the week.

He’s sullen, he’s ungrateful (even though they give him a pen to sleep in… a whole pen to himself!) and he even complains when he has to crush a skull or two. He’s a real sourpuss, and most of the time I wanted to slap him across his granite face, and say, “Cheer up! It’s only been four hundred years of brutal servitude!”. He’s a truly igneous sod, taking everything for granite.

There’s a lode of far more interesting characters in the book, and each have their own sections in the story between the golem’s complaining. These are some classic fantasy characters right here. Completely original. There’s a stable girl. A mercenary knight. A crotchety old lord. A wonderful gem of a general. A scheming politician. They’re all trying to get along with the dignified business of battle, and this golem keeps ruining their days by refusing to get on being the war-slave he is, thinking he deserves “better”.

The world is described in rich “detail” through Task’s eyes, which I thought was boring. I found myself substituting my own, frankly better, world in place of his laboured descriptions. We see a glimpse of some far flung places, but most of the book is set in the rainy, wintry monochrome of Hartlund. The way that Task describes it, you would have thought a civil war had been raging here. I imagined a glowing country, rich, friendly and bucolic, but through the golem’s eyes we see endless rolling hills, tumbledown villages, wastelands, skeletal trees and fields of bones. It really eroded my enjoyment. You might enjoy that sort of thing, but if you want dose of depressing landscape, I’d recommend watching a drone fly around Chernobyl instead.

Now, some people might like this raw and grim kind of POV, where you “feel” like you’re fighting alongside Task through every blood-drenched fracas, or taking each tuff step across his bleak Hartlund with him, but I for one found it far too… realish. Where are the fairies, the unicorns? The wizards and simple struggles of good and evil? This is supposed to be fantasy, damn it, not Fifty Shades. That also reminds me of another gripe: there are no sex scenes in this book. None whatsoever. (Minus another star for that. If I had one hope halfway through this book of a saving moment, it would have been exploring non-human coitus.)

So, in summary, if you like the sound of a whining, nine-foot golem searching for retribution and justice, whinging his way through a perfectly good war, making profound yet unfounded philosophical comments on human nature, and stubbornly flinching away from his duties like a child, then The Heart of Stone is the right book for you. I hear it’s out for pre-order, or whatever. Enjoy.

The Heart of Stone is available on Amazon

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