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Cover Reveal: An Inheritance of Ash and Blood

I’m so excited to reveal the cover for An Inheritance of Ash and Blood, Book One of Heirs of War. Check out the official reveal over on fanfiaddict.

I hired French artist Bastien Jez to do the cover for me. He really understood what I wanted and I think his style suits the story perfectly.

I have an official release date of 6 September for the eBook. There will also be a paperback version and, for the first time, I plan to have a hardback version too.

If you can’t wait that long, I currently have the first chapter of the book available to read on the new series page on my website. Enjoy!

 

New Release: The Weapon Takers Saga Complete Series Box Set

My first series, The Weapon Takers Saga, is now available as one eBook ‘box set’. This is a four book epic fantasy series, weighing in at over 400,000 words, with a brand new interquel short story, The Sacrifice, included as well.

The Sacrifice links into a new series that is coming soon. Book one is now in editing so keep them peeled for more news on this.

Meanwhile, you can grab the eBook collection, available on Amazon/KU. Special launch price is now available!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paperback of Omnibus Edition Out Now

Until now, my omnibus title, The Weapon Takers Saga Books 1-3, has only been available as an eBook or Audiobook.

I’m pleased to say it is now available in paperback, too! Featuring three maps and clean formatting I’m really pleased with the way it has come out. It IS a bit of a brick, so check you have space on your bookshelf first! Or, just keep it by your bed and it can double as a weapon to stop intruders.

It’s currently available at all Amazon stores.

I Shall Return With Winter by CF Welburn

I Shall Return with WinterI Shall Return with Winter by C.F. Welburn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An intriguing fable of revenge and of prophecy, this was like reading a metaphysical Dances with Wolves.

Like Welburn’s Ashen Levels, there is a sort of dreamlike quality to this tale, so that you are never quite sure what to expect next. It’s a book that defies categorisation, both its strength and weakness.

Our setting is a sort of fantasy version of the Viking North Sea (for me). Oben, the mc, a farmer from lush Edale (England?) travels to Skaligar (Scotland?), occupied by the Skalgs (Vikings) from Eisalhelm (Scandinavia?)

He is on a mission of revenge. Except it takes us a while to understand why. Even then, there’s something about it that doesn’t quite make sense. When the fearsome Skalgs take him, they become convinced he is an agent of destiny and prophecy. And, of course, the reader is never quite sure if they’re right about him or not.

Despite this mysterious aura around him, Oben is one of those ordinary characters doing extraordinary things. Set a series of tasks like a character from Greek legend, it becomes increasingly clear that, whatever his own thoughts on it, he will be at the centre of a clash between his old home and his new, adopted one.

Written as a standalone, the author is obviously tempted to return to this new world he created. Good news, because I enjoyed the mystery of it – this is almost Welburn’s trademark. But at other times I wanted the fog to clear and get to know these characters and their world a little bit more than I came to.

For those who’ve read Welburn before, it goes without saying how well written it is. Have a read yourself for some grimdark style moral greyness, gritty adventure, myth, mystery and madness.

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A Wind from the Wilderness by Suzannah Rowntree

A Wind from the Wilderness (Watchers of Outremer, #1)A Wind from the Wilderness by Suzannah Rowntree
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Among the many books that got some attention in the most recent SPFBO, this was one of those that got my ears to prick up. Set in the First Crusade? Hells, yeah! I’m the audience for that! Of course, should go without saying, that means it’s not right for other readers in the broad church of fantasy. If you prefer lots of magic with no connection to a historical period or place, this may not be your bag.

So, starting with the setting, we have the crusaders making their way from Constantinople to the Holy Land. Raymond of Toulouse is one of the 3 pov characters and you have Bohemond and all the gang as well. The characterisation and historical research is excellent. The political manoeuvring of those involved feels so real, as do the military engagements featured, and the desperate hardships of the endeavour. Top notch historical fiction.

Overlying this is the tale of Lukas Bessarion, a Greek noble teenager transported to these events from 7th century Byzantine Empire, where he meets Ayla, a Turkish girl. It’s this storyline that has the magical elements – sorcerers are interested in the outcome of the crusade. The magic is there in the background, but the dish is spiced just right, given the historical element. Initially, I was unsure if I was going to enjoy Lukas and Ayla’s story as much. It has a much more YA feel to it at times than the historical goings on. But I did, and it’s really a testament to the author’s skill and writing chops that she is able to blend so many elements into one novel and keep it as a cohesive whole. I tip my hat to the sheer work that must have gone into this book.

This is the first in a series which features other members of Lukas’ family – perhaps also transported out of time. It seems they are all related, but standalone, in nature.

Anyway, this is the kind of book where you probably know if a medieval historical fiction/ fantasy crossover is something you’ll like. If you’ve been unsure up to now, here’s hoping I’ve convinced you.

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A Ritual of Flesh by Lee Conley

A Ritual of Flesh (The Dead Sagas, #2)A Ritual of Flesh by Lee C. Conley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Been looking forward to getting back to the Dead Sagas because the first book set things up so enticingly, and man, I was not disappointed. I won’t say Conley turns it up to eleven, but…

I think because this series feels so huge, book one took a while to set things up, albeit with that air of menace. But if Ritual of Bone was the suspense laden, drum and bass led introduction, Ritual of Flesh brings in Iommi on lead guitar and Osbourne on vocals and releases all hell on the poor folk of Arnar.

The setting and worldbuilding makes these books, for me, unique and stand out above the crowd. Arnar feels like an authentic Anglo-Saxon/Norse land, a fully realised society and landscape that makes sense and feels real. Thus, when the dead arrive, you feel like it’s all happening to real people, not some cheap scares that you don’t really care about.

We spend more time with the main characters, get to know them more and their paths begin to cross with one another. Some poor bastards simply don’t get a break, but this is fantasy horror, so these characters are gonna get pushed to breaking point. There are some great twists, shocks and reveals as well, and by the end you are excited to find out what is going to happen next.

Plot wise, well. Arnar’s gonna have a hard time of it with threats from all angles. You kind of know what’s coming. But I admire the fact that Conley hasn’t rushed his storytelling, so that when it arrives, it’s much more effective.

There’s at least one more book coming. Feels like there could be quite a few more. Looking forward to the next!

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Ogre’s End Game: Final Audio Release of Me Three

The final book of the Me Three series, Ogre’s End Game, recently got its audiobook release. What a fun project it’s been, listening to Chuck Wagner bring the series to life!

Even if the writing’s gone a bit slowly this year, I can content myself with the release of four audiobooks! It’s been great to hear the positive feedback for Chuck’s performances – thoroughly deserved.

Remember, this series is WIDE, so there are several options to pick up the audio – check out the audiobooks page of my website for all the details.

 

 

 

 

 

Orconomics by J Zachary Pike

Orconomics (The Dark Profit Saga, #1)Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With both books satirising the D&D side of fantasy – from a place of love – it’s no surprise this one has a lot of similarities with my first Og-Grim-Dog book. Many fantasy authors of a certain age recall the freedom of delving into a dungeon with a group of adventurers, happily looting and killing whatever inhabitants they found. Now we’re older and wiser, we tend to complicate simple pleasures. What would that life really be like? Surely, it would only be a matter of time before adventurers unionised and some organisation and bureaucracy grew around the whole process. Hence Pike has the Heroes Guild and I have the Bureau of Dungeoneering. And what about those hapless dungeon dwellers? Shouldn’t we spare a thought for them?

I had feared the books would be too similar. But while mine focuses on one character and is content to be silly about the whole thing, Orconomics is a full fantasy novel, with multiple points of view, backstory and original worldbuilding. It leans into the economics of the subject and by the end has delivered some pretty blistering social commentary.

First things first though, if you’re going to dare to enter this territory, it had better be funny. And this book delivers on the laughs. They’re not try hard; they’re not “look, I’m being hilarious, aren’t I?”; they’re genuinely giggle inducing – the goblin got me, more than once.

The main character is Gorm Ingerson – the classic tough, cynical dwarf. I thought this was a great decision. Because we look at much of the story through his eyes, the madness of the world and the people who inhabit it are made all too clear. He is supported by a great cast, especially his fellow adventurers. Some of these get their own POV sections and all have their own storylines. They are all twists on the stereotypes to some degree and I think the author got the balance between characters and plot/humour just right – it’s not easy juggling so many balls.

There is one sequel at the moment. It doesn’t surprise me to see such a big gap between titles – a lot of thought and care and love has gone into this novel and I highly recommend.

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The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble's Braids (Amra Thetys, #1)The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Inaugural winner of the SPFBO competition and I can totally see why this will have picked up high scores across the board.

We get a first person narrative from professional thief Amra Thetys who is a fantastically engaging main character. She has a hard and cynical outer shell beneath which lies honour, bravery and loyalty.

The city of Lucernis is arguably the second most important character. Everything is set here and you get a great feel for its streets, which suits the noir detective style plot. There are some dark and horrible and some noble and some somewhere in the middle characters living there. The book has been edited so tightly that you KNOW there is a much wider world beyond the city, that no doubt gets explored later in the series, but there is no wasted worldbuilding. I found it quite amusing that the author dumps all this extraneous worldbuilding in an appendix at the end, like he had been holding his breath the whole time.

But this story is all about Lucernis and it makes it a focused, relatively low stakes tale of vengeance, treachery and criminality. Amra navigates her way through this. I suppose a bit like a hardboiled detective, she is often saved by others or by events rather than her own actions. She’s certainly not an all powerful character and that makes her more admirable in my eyes. While she does some spying etc I don’t recall her doing a lot of thievery or using her skill set to further the plot, which I often think is a shame when you have thieves as main characters.

It’s not a long book by any means which I found entirely appropriate given the type of story. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and makes you keen to read more.

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Audiobook Release

Og-Grim-Dog and The War of The Dead is now out on audio and is live in all stores.

I have updated my Audiobooks page: it’s now much cleaner and easier to see where you can buy the various titles.