Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Blood of the Spear - WiP Report 4

or The Long and Winding Road



More time has passed then I care to think about since my last update.

Work of this time has been intermittent, the Black Dog is a heartless master but you do what you can. I am currently working through the FINAL rewrites of The Blood of the Spear. The goal is to have these complete by the end of summer (that's summer in Australia, for any of you who happen to be in the Northern Hemisphere that's the end of winter).

I am cautiously optimistic that I will reach this goal although the progress bar in the top right corner of the site has not updated because it's kinda hard to gage just where I am at.

When we last spoke I was lamenting the need to change the name of my series, well presently I am calling it 'The Eye of the Eternity'. That is perhaps not a hugely original title given it has been the title of at least one novel and is a place in the universe of the World of Warcraft, but it is also a place in my universe and I first heard the phrase/name in the mid 80's when reading Sorcerer's Legacy by Janny Wurts. So there.

There is another title I am mulling over. We will see.

In the meantime, the actual back story of the novel has... shifted. So while the actual tale itself has not changed some shifting in the narrative and world building needs to be done to bring it into line. That will happen once I have completed the final re-writes of the middle section (which have been driving me crazy!).

Moving forward with this book, and the rest of the series, I am working from this document as placeholder/mission statement/keystone. It's not a synopsis or a blurb, but the underpinning of everything to follow:

The Legacy of the Sahrin

For three millennia the Sahrin, men and women marked by the Eye of Eternity and gifted with the ability to summon beings of elemental power, led humanity to heights undreamed of by their star-faring forefathers. But in their pursuit of power and immortality, ten of the Sahrin opened a gateway to the Void and fell to the possession of daemons. The war that followed destroyed the civilization that the Sahrin had built and the cataclysm, known as the Sundering, changed the face of the world.

At the war’s end a High Seer of the Shaluay foresaw that with the tear in the veil between worlds, daemons would forever more hunt those branded with the Mark of the Summoner. Since that time, though records held in the shrines of the elder gods venerate the Sahrin as saviours, the people have feared them as destroyers. Any child born with the Mark of the Sahrin, or any man or woman upon whom it appears, is now executed without exception before they might fall to possession and unleash forces that cannot be controlled.  

But in the chaotic years after the Sundering, other Seers who survived the collapse of civilisation were plagued with conflicting visions and prophecies. They saw that the Sahrin would return and that the daemons hordes would come again. And that the Phoenix Lord – warlord and leader of the Sahrin – would be reborn, and in his hands would he hold the world’s salvation, or its destruction.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

Twelve Kings
The Song of the Shattered Sands Book One
By Bradley P. Beaulieu

In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, eda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she's never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha'ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It's the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops eda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. eda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother. 

As Ceda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools-they've ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Ceda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Ceda must decide if she's ready to face them once and for all. 
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I enjoyed this book immensely. I am always on the lookout for new epic fantasy sagas and Beaulieu's 'The Song of the Shattered Sands' looks like it is going to slide in a favoured place on my bookshelf nicely.

Twelve Kings is set in a beautifully realised world with a history as deep and wide as the sands that surround the amber city of Sharakhai. Filled with political intrigue, gladiatorial battles and supported by a half remembered history of blood and genocide, and compelling characters led by a kickass heroine determined to find the secret that led to her mother’s death.

I am very much looking forward to learning more of the new magic system(s) that Beaulieu has been hinting at and of the inter-kingdom politics that swirl around the story like shifting sands. Luckily I've begun reading this series when book two is already out and book three has just been handed in to the editors!

If you are a lover of epic fantasy, inventive magic systems, political intrigue and stunning world building then go buy Twelve Kings now!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Blackwing

Blackwing
The Raven's Mark Book One
By Ed McDonald

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer's legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard's paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall's 'Engine', a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery - a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic's defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic's bluff.
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The stage is (what feels like) a grimy city of dust, pollution and decay. It is a place where humanity has been reduced in stature to such a degree (by war and the Misery that lays outside the walls of their home, and whose taints permeates everything) that base traits and are buried only by a thin veneer of skin. The people eke out a meagre living while trying to avoid becoming casualties in what is essentially a war between gods. Or beings of godlike powers. The Nameless and the Deep Kings are never overtly named deities in the sense that they are believed by the populace to have created the universe/life/everything but the powers the wield place them so far above mortals the difference becomes moot. It is the type of dark and war-torn landscape that would be familiar to readers of Joe Abercrombie and Daniel Polansky and other grimdark authors.

Unlike many heroes of epic fantasy, our main - Ryhalt Galharrow, through whose eyes the story is told - is a 40 year old war vet and agent of Crowfoot, one of the great powers in the land. He is charged by Crowfoot to protect a noblewoman and discovers a secret that could see his city and those he cares destroyed. This begins a rip-roaring tale of conspiracy, treachery and murder that will keep you on the edge of your seat and guessing until the end.

Blackwing - Ed Mcdonald's debut - is a finely wrought novel of grimdark fantasy lightened by sparkling rays of rainbow hued magic and has a weighty sense of history of which only a fragment is revealed in this volume. He is also particularly talented at creating monsters!

Given Blackwing is a 'book one', yet resolves nicely and without any over cliffhangers I am very keen to see where McDonald will take us next.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Lotus Blue

Lotus Blue

Seventeen-year-old Star and her sister Nene are orphans, part of a thirteen-wagon caravan of nomadic traders living hard lives travelling the Sand Road. Their route cuts through a particularly dangerous and unforgiving section of the Dead Red Heart, a war-ravaged desert landscape plagued by rogue semi-sentient machinery and other monsters from a bygone age.

But when the caravan witnesses a relic-Angel satellite unexpectedly crash to Earth, a chain of events begins that sends Star on a journey far away from the life she once knew. Shanghaied upon the sandship Dogwatch, she is forced to cross the Obsidian Sea by Quarrel, an ancient Templar supersoldier. Eventually shipwrecked, Star will have no choice but to place her trust in both thieves and priestesses while coming to terms with the grim reality of her past and the horror of her unfolding destiny as the terrible secret her sister had been desperate to protect her from begins to unravel.

Meanwhile, something old and powerful has woken in the desert. A Lotus Blue, deadliest of all the ancient war machines. A warrior with plans of its own, far more significant than a fallen Angel. Plans that do not include the survival of humanity. 
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Easy reading with a very cool take on the post-apocalyptic story. Sparks is an accomplished writer with an imagination that is a treasure-trove of ideas and the chomps to mark her as an Aussie writer to watch. 

The melding of superstition, religion and left over technology as magic was brilliant and evocative, I wanted to dive right into that world and learn everything I possibly could about it. But Sparks knows quite well how to dole such wonders out and tease the reader along as the story progresses. I felt the ending was a little rushed but that has less to do with the author and more to do with me. There IS an ending but some threads are still left hanging. Which is good.

I want more. 

When is the next book due, Cat? Is there a title yet? :D

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Last Mortal Bond

The Last Mortal Bond
The Unhewn Throne
By Brian Staveley

Death is near, armies are gathered, and the future rests on a knife-edge.

The Annurian Empire is losing a war on two fronts - and it's unclear who is in command. Adare is stationed in the thick of battle and now calls herself Emperor. However, she can't hold back the nomadic Urgul forces for much longer. She needs her brilliant general, Ran il Tornja, but will he betray her again?

Her brother Kaden is the true heir, yet he'll accept a Republic to save his divided people. And he faces something even more terrible than war. He's unmasked Ran il Tornja as a remnant of an ancient race who attempted to destroy mankind. The general plans to finish what they started, and is amassing all the power he needs.

The empire calls on the Kettral, its toughest soldiers, but their order has been decimated. Its last fighters are in disarray, but could they still turn the tide of war? Most disturbingly of all, capricious gods walk the earth in human guise. And their desires could seal the fate of a world.


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Loved it! After a somewhat rough start (mainly because I was unsure that the book was heading in a direction that I would like) Staveley changed my mind about EVERYTHING and I couldn't put it down.

An awesome conclusion to a gripping debut trilogy. The Unhewn Throne is an epic tale full of politics and machinations, ambition and servitude and with a new and interesting mythology and magic system.

Dark and bloody, The Last Mortal Bond is a masterfully told story by an author whose future works I am very much looking forward to reading.