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STEVEN POORE REVIEWS THE HEIR TO THE NORTH

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!

THE HEIR TO THE NORTH

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!

Buy HEIR TO THE NORTH ON Amazon.com.

Buy HEIR TO THE NORTH on Amazon UK.

Epic Fantasist — SFSF Socialist
@stevenjpoore — @SFSFSocial
http://stevenpoore.wordpress.com
http://sfsfsocial.wordpress.com

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

WordPress: https://richardwrithen.wordpress.com/

FB Author page: https://www.facebook.com/wrychardwrycthen/

Gothdark Speculative Fiction FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1787935258093459/
A Host Of Ills: https://www.amazon.com/Host-Ills-Shades-Cedron/dp/1520448376/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1488133880&sr=8-2&keywords=richard+writhen
A Kicked Cur: https://www.amazon.com/Kicked-Cur-Rotes-Rena/dp/1520413203/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1488133880&sr=8-3&keywords=richard+writhen
The Hiss Of The Blade: https://www.amazon.com/Hiss-Blade-Celestial-Ways-Saga/dp/1520461747/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488133880&sr=8-1&keywords=richard+writhen

Two other articles / features about Richard’s work:

https://mightythorjrs.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/guest-blog-the-planet-the-gods-and-the-magic-by-richard-writhen/

https://www.ragnarokpub.com/single-post/2016/05/12/3-Flavors-of-Fantasy-Grimdark-Gothdark-and-Mythdark

 

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, Techzwn.com, Grimdarkmagazine.com and Ragnarokpub.com 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.

 

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

To Find More Ben Galley…

http://www.bengalley.com/heart-of-stone

https://www.facebook.com/BenGalleyAuthor/

www.twitter.com/bengalley

Longoss’ review of: Black Cross – ‘First book from the tales of the Black Powder Wars’ by J P Ashman

Welcome to another episode of WRITERS REVIEWING THEIR OWN BOOKS!

I’m not sure if JP Ashman suffers some of my own delusions, but it does appear that one of his characters has escaped to write the review for him. Some might view this as cheating, but I say expecting reality from fantasy writers is madness!

Take it away, Longoss!

Longoss’ review of: Black Cross – ‘First book from the tales of the Black Powder Wars’ by J P Ashman

“Erm, what am I doing? A review?” Shrugging, Longoss stares at the tome before him, turning it over in his meaty fists whilst weighing it as if it would solve his stalled start.

You have read it, haven’t you, Longoss?”

A flash of gold as the former Black Guild assassin smiles. “Course I have, mate. Course I have. It’s just not what I’m usually asked to do now, is it?”

Just start from the beginning, Longoss.”

“No shit. I’m not gonna start from the end, am I? And ye don’t need to keep saying my name, either.” With a grunt and a scratch of his scar-riddled face, Longoss nods, before taking a deep breath and beginning his review.

“Once upon a time…”

Really?”

A dangerous glance halted any more protestations.

“Once upon a time, not so long ago, a powerful wizard with good intentions fucked up big time by pissin’ around with arcane magic.” Longoss glances up. “That’s dark magic to normal folk like us. Anyhow, this wizard released ghostly… things, that flew about the city of Wesson, infecting nasty buggers left right and centre. Well, mostly in the shit district that is Dockside, but folk all over the city started to die off, all the same. Buboes spread across ’em, puking their guts up and spreading more of the same across the slums. The City Guard burnt hundreds of bodies, thousands even, and, well, the city went to shit, and royally so! I got fucked over by Poi bastard Son, one of the three masters of the Black Guild, my guild. I lost… the first person I’d ever truly loved.” You could have sworn you saw a glint of a tear in the big man’s sunken eyes. “Someone so innocent ye wouldn’t believe it; I had to gut a man good and proper for her, but it was all for nought in the end, what with Poi Son and his bastard mark on my head.” A deep sigh before he continues. “Anyway, I digress. Sergeant Falchion, the Orismaran lad who actually released the plague – for that’s what they called it – cottoned on to what he’d unintentionally done and had the wizard, and his gnome companion, hauled in front of King Barrison and his high lords. I hear the twat Will Morton was there too, Lord High Constable of Wesson, Duke of Yewdale and whatever other titles the tit goes by these days. Well, they saw fit to punish the wizard, Severun, good and proper.” Longoss barks a laugh. “It’s not like their prissy hands are clean of death and destruction; no noble’s hands are, if ye ask me. But, that’s not what’s happening here, is it? I’m to tell ye what happens in this fat book, not give ye my opinion on Altoln and its politics – of which there is a lot. Course there is, what with noble houses and guilds and gangs at each other’s throats from one week to the next.”

Clears throat.

‘Oh aye, the book. Right, well then, another noble enters the shenanigans at one point, stepping in for the captain of the guard, who got fucked over by the plague. This guy, the Constable of Wesson, well he’s not so bad, ye see. He takes a shit load of men and horses and… wait for it… rides on the Samorlian Cathedral of all places! He has a good ol’ scrap with witchunters and inquisitors, all because two guardsmen discovered the Samorlians were torturing innocents in the heart of the city. Which is all linked, but I won’t go into that. Can ye believe that though? Torturing folk under the noses of the City Guard and the Constable of Wesson all that time. No wonder he was pissed.

“Anyhow, I get caught up with the City Guard, or elements of them, and one thing leads to another. I make some unlikely allies and in a bid to kick the fuck out of Poi Son and his bastard assassins, end up meeting a lass I kind of knew previously, to run around Dockside getting up to all sorts of mayhem and violence.” Longoss grunts a laugh. “The book does that bit well, if I do say so myself. It paints me in quite the heroic light… not sure I deserve it, but it made for good reading. Exciting. Nail-biting. That sort of thing. Oh, there’s terrible magic and beasts; goblins and kobolds and fire-breathing men, and The Three knows what else, but it’s the brutal, gritty, in-yer-face scraps that I like! Up close and sticking folk with whatever’s to hand. The hot gush of blood over said hand. The sickly-sweet taste of it over my gold teeth…” He drifts off for a while, clearly reminiscing.

“Where was I?” Longoss asks, eventually. “Ah yes, the plague and the fighting and whatnot. Well, our mages in the tower, Tyndurris, didn’t seem to be able to do anything about this spreading plague. King Barrison quarantined the city and it took Sergeant Falchion, his elf friend, and some others, to escape the city and head on out across the fields and dales to retrieve the elves from Broadleaf Forest. Elves! I ask ye? Oh, I’ve seen one or two in my time, but they wanted a convoy-load of ‘em to come and fix the wizard’s cock up.” Another deep sigh and a twitch of the mouth before Longoss goes on.

“They were some rough times, I can tell ye. Rough as Sir Samorl’s hairy balls they were. I nearly corked it many a time. As did a lot of people, and some that I now care about, believe it or not. Changed me, did those events. Changed a lot of us. Most for the better, I like to think, but some for the worse.” Grunting yet again, Longoss looks up and taps the tome with his index finger. “I lost a lot through this, this book ye would call a story. I lost a hell of a lot, but I reckon ye might gain from it. I did, in some ways. In some damned good ways. But I reckon ye’ll gain a whole world, engrained into yer head it’ll be. A world full of people like you and me. Hard done by, some. Others not so. Vicious, some. Others not so. There’s as varied a folk in these pages, in my world, as there is in any. And you, my friends, get to delve into their heads and histories and antics. You get to see them at their best and worst, their most vulnerable and their most savage. There’s no holds barred. There’s no skipping past the grim bits, I’m afraid, for we had to live those times, and so should you!

“Now go on and fuck off, the lot of ye. I’ve got some bastards to mess up, even if I can’t kill folk no longer.

“I’ve been Longoss, and ye’ve been intrigued! See ye, for now…”

 

 

Black Guild – Second book from the tales of the Black Powder Wars is out late Spring/early Summer.

Find JP Ashman o Godreads

Website: https://jpashman.com

Buy on Amazon UK

Buy on Amazon US

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JP_Ashman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jpashmanblackpowderseries/?ref=bookmarks

Michael R. Miller reviews Michael R. Miller’s THE DRAGON’S BLADE

And the AUTHORS REVIEWING THEIR OWN BOOKS series continues!

This week Michael R. Miller, author of The Dragon’s Blade books (The Reborn King, and Veiled Intentions), has popped in to review his first novel, The Dragon’s Blade: Reborn King.

Review of My Own Book for Michael R. Fletcher

The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King, reviewed by Michael R. Miller

Oh for fuck sake, not another dragon book. I’m serious, if these authors can’t think of anything better I may well give up on this genre. And yeah, I know the dragons are in humanoid form, and they’re fast and strong, and basically like a race of Captain Americas running around with swords, but big fucking deal. I see the word dragon and I smell the, well I don’t smell much because it’s bland generic, isn’t it?

Right, so now that’s out the way, you might be wondering what the whole ‘Reborn King’ thing is about. Darnuir is the titular king of the title, a dragon who is mortally wounded and only saved by being reborn. Literally. No nonsense here, a wizard literally reverses time on him. It heals him but reverts him back to being a new born baby. Handy that wizard was around I suppose. Well, the magic is quite well thought out. I’ll be fair. It’s called Cascade energy and comes from the world itself, a bit like lava, and seeps into the ground, the water and the air. Those who draw upon it gain great power but quickly become addicted. Cascade is poisonous and has to be drained away using a wizard’s staff like an external liver. Wizards who don’t attend their AA meetings regularly may find they overdose and ‘break’ – entering a state of totally psychological meltdown. Hmm, that’s a little bit grim… I’ll add a point on for that.

So, why the rebirth? What’s this author up to? IS DARNUIR ‘DRAGON JESUS’? Well, not really. He comes back and we see him grow up in a new environment and it’s interesting to see his attitudes change because of his new surroundings. Nurture vs nature and all that. Darnuir’s change is welcome because his attitude to humanity pre-rebirth was frankly appalling and just shy of suggesting they all get booted out of his big special golden city. Once he comes of age, the Dragon’s Blade returns to him and the mantle of kingship is forced upon our unsuspecting young man. Memories of his old life begin to awaken in him along with his old prejudices and personality. Two Darnuir’s begin to emerge, the old and the new, both within the one person. His struggle for identity becomes both external and internal as he struggles to bridge the links between the two races as a fledgling king, and within his own damned head. I began to find myself sympathising with the poor bloke… imagine having that happen to you? Pff, I thought, rolling my eyes. He does swing that big sword around quite a lot so he can’t be too upset.

There’s also something about a big dark demonic threat to the world but really Darnuir’s journey lies at the heart of this story. There are plenty of sub-plots, secondary characters, extra POVs and world-building to build the foundation for a solid trilogy. Yet another bloody trilogy…

I suppose if you like fast-paced epic fantasy novels which reinvent or twist many of the old beloved tropes and trappings of the genre then you could give The Dragon’s Blade a go. Word on the street is there is an audio version available so you wouldn’t have to put any real effort in. You could listen to it while doing the dishes, walking the dog or scrubbing the toilet.

Back Cover Copy:

Dragons once soared in the skies, but that was before the Transformation, before they took human form. Now, demonic forces stand to obliterate them. When left mortally wounded, Darnuir, the Prince of Dragons, can only be saved through a dangerous rebirthing spell. He is left as a babe in human hands.

Twenty years later, Darnuir is of age to wield the Dragon’s Blade. As the last member of his bloodline, he is the only one who can. He is plunged into a role he is not prepared for, to lead a people he does not know. Shadowy demons ravage his new home and the alliance between humans, dragons and fairies has fractured.

Time is short, for new threats and deadlier enemies are emerging…

Amazon UK

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dragons-Blade-Reborn-King/dp/1909122653/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1487505806&sr=8-2

Amazon US –

https://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Blade-Reborn-King/dp/1909122653/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Audible UK –

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Dragons-Blade-Audiobook/B01MZ98YRB

Audible US –

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Dragons-Blade-Audiobook/B01MS6VUZC

An Author’s Book Review – INISH CARRAIG by JO ZEBEDEE

I was at work totally working at not at all daydreaming when it occurred to me that it might be fun to host a series where author’s reviewed their own books. With my usual planning and foresight and deep contemplating of consequences I immediately began pestering several of my favourite novelists. Some agreed. Some wanted me out of their bathroom.

And so I bring you the first in a series of indeterminate length!

 

JO ZEBEDEE  Reviews INISH CARRAIG

This book confuses the hell out of me, on just about every level. It’s sci-fi, with not much sci-fi, it’s young adult, but it’s also adult. And half of it is written in a Northern Irish accent. This, I have to admit, intrigued me. I expected words like ‘eejit’ and ‘wee’, with the odd ‘ye boyo’ thrown in. Instead I got just about every swear word I’ve encountered before – 30 years of inventive language captured in around 150 pages. And this from an author of the fairer sex – she must have a serious potty-mouth.

Anyhow, to the plot. We have two sets of aliens with various unpronounceable names, and both want to take charge of Earth. One set are evil and invaded Earth – but might not be evil, really – and one set arrived later to help – but they might not be helping. In fact, because the author stays in her pesky characters’ thoughts the whole time, and because her characters know nothing useful, we end up as confused as they are. It has the unsettling effect of feeling like you’re the person in the sodding book. I read for escapism, not to end up glancing behind me in case the dog has turned into some sort of alien monster. (Hard to tell the difference on a bad day. All most unsettling.)

And then there’s the title of the damn book. Inish Carraig? What in the name of God does that mean? It’s not even syfy.

Turns out Inish Carraig is a bloody big alien prison (which was cool, I’ll give the author that) called the Irish for Rocky Island. How it escaped having a fucking in there for good measure I have no idea. From there, our hero has to escape and there are bots – at last, something scifi – and sisters on the run down spooky train lines and cops getting beat up by aliens. On top of that, it’s set in Belfast, but the city has been trashed (didn’t notice much difference, truth be told) and everyone’s fighting the aliens now instead of each other. (So, like, minus points for utter fiction there.)

Would I recommend this book? Only if you like alien shit and don’t mind dark scenes and dark humour. Oh and the most scarily creepy prison walls I’ve ever read (thanks for the nightmares, Zebedee.) Ignore it if you don’t like curse words and characters who remind you of real people you might actually meet. Cos, you know, fiction. If I wanted real life and real people, I’d get out more.

1 star. And that’s for the walls. They were pretty cool. Oh, and the babe who came into it near the end. More of her!

 

Back Cover Copy

Post-alien invasion Belfast. Earth has been defeated. Pity the locals aren’t listening. Teenager John Dray will do whatever he must to survive. When he’s offered desperately needed food in exchange for dispersing a mysterious compound over the city, he takes the job. The compound turns out to be lethal to the alien invaders and John is charged with xenocide. He’s sent to Inish Carraig, a forbidding prison, where he discovers a conspiracy that threatens Earth and everyone he loves. He has to unveil the plot. He just has to get out of prison first.

Buy INISH CARRAIG.

Ghosts of Tomorrow – The Evolution of the Art

When it came time to find an artist for Ghosts of Tomorrow, I immediately turned once again to John Anthony di Giovanni. He did an amazing job on The Mirror’s Truth and I’ve always loved the idea of my novels having a cohesive look.

I ‘d like to take this opportunity to share with you the kind of effort that goes into putting something like this together. It’s not quite as simple as “Hey artist-human art for me a cover that is awesome and captures the feel of my book.”

I’m going to walk you through each of the stages here. Keep in mind, I’m not sharing every single version Anthony sent me. These are just the changes major enough I figure they’re worth sharing.

The Roughs

We started by discussing the scene I wanted to show. As Anthony had already read the book he knew exactly what I was talking about and already had visuals in mind.

This is the first rough Anthony sent. I’m already at holy fuck this is awesome. But then we put on our business brains and discussed the merits of each.

A, B, and C have people dead and or dying. Word is Amazon isn’t cool with that. Also, I want parents to be willing to buy this for their teens. So, we decided with either the promise of violence, or maybe, you just missed mad violence. D, E, and F were all very cool, but I wanted more of the second set of arms. This dude ain’t human.


Next up we had two more roughs. H in particular had great potential, but neither pose quite grabbed us.


The third set of rough triggered the Oh shit, we’re close! moment. Smoking guns. Swords. Four arms. Duster coat snapping in the wind. Gritty as hell.

We knew we were close.


Next Anthony began playing with poses, moving the action around, experimenting with visual balance. There was neat stuff here, but the slight backward bend to the torso didn’t quite fit Archaeidae’s ninja perfection.



Yes! When I saw this, I was sold. Good pose. Promise of action. This had everything I wanted.


Next Anthony played with modifying the pose and the POV. The last one, including what Anthony informed me is a slight Dutch Tilt, was our baby. I wasn’t quite sold on the tilt thing, but the more I saw it the more it grew on me. It gave the feeling that he’d just shot you down and you were lying in the dirt staring up at him. After we decided on that, Anthony began working in details and colour.


Awesome! We wanted a little more grit and dust and a little bit of blood on the blades. Anthony also decided to play with the colour a bit and oh baby!


This is the final artwork. I’ve sent it off to Shawn King for typography and will share that when it’s ready.

 

Cool process, eh?

The Coolest Award Ever!

I want to take a moment and thank the awesome community at r/Fantasy for the amazing STABBY award. I have coveted this and glared daggers (muahaha!) at Mark Lawrence for years. To actually have one…it’s surreal.

I thought that when the dagger arrived in the mail, it would finally seem real. Well, I’m still not sure. Am I hallucinating? Are my delusions finally manifesting?

We know how dangerous it is to embrace one’s delusions.

I love my old Mac keyboard!

Thank you r/Fantasy!

And thank you to everyone who read and enjoyed my mad little novels.

Cheers!

–Mike

UPDATE on MADNESS

Where to begin? Well, my Doppels have managed to crack the wifi password and have created for themselves a facebook account so they can harass me. So far they don’t seem to have figured out reddit.

THE MIRROR’S TRUTH

The Mirror’s Truth is available through Amazon! I made sure there is no DRM (Digital Rights Management) on it so you are free to purchase it and convert it into whatever format you like. Calibre is awesome for this and totally free. And apparently the book is already available through various pirating sites so there’s that option too. You know, if you’re totally broke and can’t afford the $6 for the ebook, send me a message through the site and I’ll probably just send you one myself. At least then you won’t have to worry about accidentally downloading a virus.

In other news, the book has made several Best-of-2016 lists and won a STABBY from r/Fantasy for Best Independent/Self-Published novel of 2016.

Back Cover Copy:

Bedeckt defined himself by the list of crimes he was unwilling to commit. It was such a short list. How could straying from it have gone so wrong?

Bedeckt must undo the damage caused by wandering from his precious list. The Geborene god seeks to remake the world with his obsessive need for cleanliness and perfection, but Bedeckt is going to bring him down. Nothing can stop him. Not even death.

The two friends he abandoned in the Afterdeath chase after Bedeckt, bent on revenge. Psychotic assassins hunt him. Something cold and evil follows, lurking in the clouds above, shredding reality with its delusions. Madness and sanity war, stretching and tearing the very fabric of existence.

The dead shall rise.

 

SWARM AND STEEL

Swarm and Steel has a cover and I’m allowed to share it! Woo! And, like, there it is!

Here is a link if you’d like to pre-order the hardcover.

Back Cover Copy:

To escape the hell she created, a woman must team up with a novice warrior and return to her homeland in this gritty epic fantasy where delusions are literally made real.

Zerfall awakens in an alley, wounded and unable to remember her past. Chased by an assassin out into the endless wastes of the desert, she is caught, disfigured, and left for dead. Her scabbard is empty, but the need for answers—and the pull of her sword—will draw her back to the city-states.

When Jateko, a naïve youth, accidentally kills a member of his own tribe, he finds himself outcast and pursued across the desert for his crimes. Crazed from dehydration, dying of thirst and hunger, he stumbles across Zerfall.

Hunted by assassins and bound by mutual need, both Zerfall and Jateko will confront the Täuschung, an ancient and deranged religion ruled by a broken fragment of Zerfall’s mind. Swarm, the Täuschung hell, seethes with imprisoned souls, but where gods—real or imagined—meddle in the affairs of man, the cost is high.

In Swarm and Steel, the power of belief can manifest and shape reality, and for political and religious leaders, faith becomes a powerful tool. But the insane are capable of twisting reality with their delusions as well, turning increasingly dangerous as their sanity crumbles. It is here that a long prophesied evil will be born, an endless hunger. The All Consuming will rise.

 

THE MIRROR’S TRUTH Wins a Stabby!

Every year the good folks at r/Fantasy, the largest, most active fantasy community I am aware of, get together and vote for their favourite fantasy-related works. There are categories for best novel, best TV show, best debut novel, and many more. There is also a category for best independent/self-published novel. Which The Mirror’s Truth won!

Yeah. I’m stunned too!

The Stabby Awards also happen to be the coolest looking award. Ever.

Here is the one the amazing Courtney Schafer won in 2015 for Best Independent novel (The Labyrinth of Flame).

Image result for stabby award

I was aware my book had been nominated, but frankly wasn’t paying much attention. There were so many great books released this year I didn’t think it had a chance. And my mad little novel only came out in early December.

Well, last night, as I checked in to social media on my way to bed, I saw a swarm of congratulations, including a message from Steve Drew telling me to check my email. r/Fantasy are going to mail me a Stabby! I still can’t believe it!

Instead of going to bed I sat up drinking whiskey and feeling fine and chatting with folks. This morning? No regrets!

Basically this is a long-winded thank-you. To everyone who read and took the time to vote for The Mirror’s Truth, I can’t tell you how much this means to me. To say I am honoured is an understatement. You folks are awesome! You are why I keep writing. That, and I like to share what’s going on in my head with other crazy people.

Cheers!

And check out the complete list at r/Fantasy!