Magic, Pick a Book, Any Book

Might Be Mad

Fantasy and magic are pretty much synonyms of one another. Whenever someone who hasn’t touched a fantasy novel ever says, “Oh you’re into fantasy are you? What with all the magic and fairies?” Usually said with a smirk. But Magic is perhaps one of the most integral parts of fantasy, what sets it apart from other genres. Where physics can go away and sit in the corner and logic can jump out of the window. This won’t be me talking about how I wistfully wish that I could hold the destructive powers I need for world domination. But my opinions on magic in fantasy. What makes some magic more interesting than other or more believable.

Magic 1Magic and it’s Limits

(Ooh I used underlining and purple there, first time for everything I guess.) 

Magic needs limits in the same way that ballistics do. If I stood up in front of a…

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Guest post by author Ulff Lehmann

I am not a number, I am a free… character
by Ulff Lehmann

or something like it. To be honest, it sounded wittier in my mind. The point the heading is supposed to make will become clear, I hope. Since I am writing this more stream of consciousness than I have everything figured out-lined I may hit some speed bumps, but as long as I get to a point I believe it’s cool.

Anyone with a bit of writing experience will surely have come across this particular issue: a friend asks you to review something and within the first few lines you stumble across a problem. A character is at a bar or some other place people usually only visit when they want to or already have performed a certain activity. The character’s mood is gloomy.

My first question is based upon a specific line of thought: why is the character at the bar? If they’ve been nursing a drink for a while, the author should have mentioned it. Were they supposed to meet someone? Has the person they were to meet already left? That sort of stuff, the proverbial egg or chicken question. To the newcomer writer this may not seem like a matter of importance, and maybe I am putting more emphasis on this sort of stuff than is necessary. But I don’t care — I don’t think so… you pick one.

The thing is this: as writer we don’t necessarily record every second of a character’s life, unless you write a Ulysses type story. In fact there are large portions we leave out, and while many of them are irrelevant to the story, to the character they are not. And if they are relevant to the character they are relevant to the writer. The newbie writers may now ask “If it’s not relevant for the story, why should I bother with it?” and that is a perfectly relevant question. Although I hope many of us have stumbled across the answer long ago, not necessarily in novels but in other forms, like audio dramas and movies.

Imagine you are following a group of people, they are talking about altering human behavior from birth on. The group enters a building, you follow, but you are too slow to catch them in the elevator. That door closes before you and you are forced to run upstairs to hear more of their nefarious plan.

Of course such a scenario is impossible in real life, but that is beside the point. The point is that the conversation will continue without you. It’s not the case of a tree crashing in the woods without anybody hearing it, yes it will make a sound, same as the occupants of the elevator will keep on talking. They won’t stop for your benefit.

Same goes for characters in novels. Since we writers don’t necessarily capture all of their actions on proverbial paper, it is only natural that we “miss” certain things for no other reason than dramaturgic effect. The reader benefits from such cuts as it elevates tension, but as writer we must know what has happened before in order to avoid gaps in character or logic.

So, our character Paul (I always name my random characters Paul nowadays, it used to be Ed, Ted, or Tom) sits in a bar nursing a drink. The reader doesn’t care why, he’s just meeting the fellow, but we as creators of Paul (don’t you feel all-powerful now? mwhahaha) know there is more going on. Or should know. If he’s just there waiting for a pal, him nursing a drink is nothing more than getting a pre-party buzz. If his date never showed up, that drink is about as much consolation as he will get. Why is he at the bar? The reader doesn’t care, the writer should always care. It’s not as if the characters stop acting as soon as we close a chapter. The scenes we describe are not like theater scenes where the actors remain motionless until the light comes on… Problem is, a lot of newbie writers don’t understand that. If Paul is at the bar distraught over his date not showing his mood will be different to the pre-buzz party mood.

The problem is that many newbies don’t see it that way, they see only what’s on the page, or try to avoid thinking about this stuff because they have never thought about it other than theater scenes. The light goes on, the scene begins… the chapter opens the scene begins. Mood is relevant to any scene and every character, and while we as writers do not have to explain why Paul is miserable, we writers need to know because it allows us to mold his behavior accordingly.

Some might disagree, and that is their right. To them I just say that the more you know about your characters, the better you can predict their actions. Always ask yourself “Why is that character doing this stuff?” even a psychopath has his reasons, they probably are so far beyond us that the answer will probably always be “He’s a fucking psychopath” but at the very least he is consistent in that.

A reader might not care about why a character is at a bar, and the majority might never care, but as author we should always care. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” doesn’t set much of a stage, but aside from the obvious question “wtf is a hobbit” we are immediately handed the answer to our second question: it ain’t no mud hole but a hobbit hole and we get all the explanation as to what that hole is, and quite frankly, it sounds nice, I wouldn’t mind living there. And since it is a home, we do not need anymore explanation why the hobbit lives there.

Another example: Paul sits at his table, brooding. Why does he sit at his table? Is the first question out of my mouth, and until I get an answer that makes sense, I will keep asking. Because he does makes as little sense as because it’s comfortable. Why do people sit at a table when there is an armchair or a sofa around? Supper, work, hobby would be answers, although while I don’t care what he had for supper, his work and/or hobby might be relevant as to why he is brooding. Maybe he likes to build world war models; maybe he was assembling a tank and is reminded of the misery the world is in, fuck knows that’s enough to get me brooding. Maybe he works as an accountant and has taken home some work he was unable to finish at his firm. Maybe this particular account belongs to a gang of human traffickers, a fact that he has just found out and he does not know what to do with that bit of info, once more reason enough for him to brood. Maybe the reason he is brooding has nothing to do with why he’s sitting at the table; a situation anyone familiar with mental illness will disagree with. Sure we might wake up cranky, or in a fouler mood even, but we do need a trigger to begin brooding. If depression is triggered in bed, we’ll stay there. And if we make it to the table only to start brooding there, there best be a damn good reason as to why.

Cause and effect, even on a book’s pages a necessity. If the warrior drives a blunt sword through someone else’s eye, they have to have a reason for using a blunt weapon and killing that person. The situation is more dramatic than Paul at a table, brooding, sure, but it requires the same questions: why do they hold a blunt sword? Why do they kill that person? In this case we better get an explanation in the previous pages, but the same logic applies. Be it brooding or stabbing, we need a reason for both… unless the character is a psychopath, in which case all reason is kind of useless.

With Blood Upon the Sand

So this being my first official review ever it might come across as amateurish. Sure I’ve “reviewed” some books on other websites but never on the blog.

Beaulieu’s epic saga about Çeyda started with Twelve Kings in Sharakhai in september of 2015. I don’t remember how I found about this book but I do remember how long it to get it, it took 3,5 months which was a pretty long wait, but boy was it worth the wait!

In a time where we’re learned to hate everything middle-eastern Bradley’s writing reminds you of why you loved everything about it. It’s safe to say every one of us grew up with the rich Arabian nights tales often filled with mythical creatures and strong characters. As a small child I devoured books about myths and legends and I always wanted to be a strong warrior, sadly most warriors are men and it proved difficult to find a strong female warrior. Luckily over the years more and more strong women appeared in the many books I read but non of them are so intriguing as Çeyda

I’ll not go into too much detail as I don’t want to ruin it for those of you who haven’t read it.

In Twelve Kings we get to know Çeyda, she’s a pitfighter in Sharakhai the great city in the Shanghazi desert. Sharakhai is controlled by 12 ancient kings who came to power by betraying one of their own. We also learn some about the mythical creatures the Asirim and Erekh and a beautiful flower called the Achidara, this flower holds great power and Çeyda’s mom secretly harvested the petals on the holy night of Beth Zha’ir.

Bradley’s worldbuilding is superior and he really does take you into the dessert to fight along Çeyda. Normally I’m a sucker for maps and I can’t really imagine what the world looks like without one but the way he builds his world I didn’t need one. His characters are well-developed and there’s no excessive infodumping going on, to be honest I hope he will write more books set in this world I simply can’t get enough of it


While the first book mainly focussed on Çeyda and her friends and family the second one also shows you the world from the kings points of view which is really refreshing, often all you read is about the good guys and small bits about the evil ones and how they came to be evil. We also get to read more of my favorite characters Ramahd and Meryam who come from a neighbouring kingdom and were captured by an evil force at the end of book 1. We also get to read more about Emre who has been Çeyda’s best friend ever since they were kids unfortunately he seems to be on a different from her, their choices put them in a difficult situation early on in the story. I have to say I was quite surprised when I learned of the secrets kept by some of the kings, there’s twists I never expected to happen.

Another thing i love about these books is that there are no damsels in distress every woman is strong yet vulnerable in their own way. Meryam for instance is a powerful blood sorceress however her grief makes her a very relatable person. The blade maidens are all admirable in their beliefs and strengths and i would love to be as strong and agile as they are.

The fight scenes are glorious in every wich way, the weapons described come to life and you can totally envision them. I’ve always had a very vivid imagination but the way Beaulieu describes the fights I didn’t need to imagine things.



There’s so much more to say but I’d rather have you throw your money at him so he can keep on writing. I’ve almost read all of his books and I love all of them dearly. Sharakhai couldn’t have come at a better time last year was a real struggle for me and Beaulieu’s books helped me get through that in many ways. He gave me the honor of being a beta reader for With Blood Upon the Sand which meant i got to read it when it was unfinished in his eyes, for me it was perfect from the get go. another thing I love are the covers of his books, the US covers are absolutely stunning. I shall now show you some of the covers and to get you in the mood for this epic tale here’s some amazing belly dancing

With Blood Upon the Sand hits the shelves on february 7th but if you’re Canadian you can order it already




2016 David Gemmell Legend Awards – Public nominations open!

Go vote now!

Michael Everest

The David Gemmell Legend Awards celebrate the finest fantasy that traditional publishing has to offer. Established in memory of the late, great, big-daddy of heroic fantasy, David Gemmell, the awards showcase authors and their works from all across the globe, and across the sub genres of heroic fantasy, traditional, sword & sorcery, high and low – and most importantly, those in the spirit of Gemmell’s work.

The DGLA’s are broken down into the following categories, each named after one of Gemmell’s books:
• The Legend Award – Best Fantasy Novel.
• Morningstar Award – Best Debut.
• Ravenheart Award – Best Fantasy Cover Art.

Starting today, 13th January, and closing on the 31st January, any and all readers are welcome to nominate their fantasy book(s) of choice for an award. These nominations will be included with those put forward by the publishers themselves. The titles must be traditionally published by…

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An introduction to the writers of the Grimdark group part 3

Back at it again because well its sunday and the Patriots are playing the Broncos tonight and we all know how that will end lol. But this isn’t a blog about American football it’s about books and storytellers. So today I’ll be introducing to some of the short story/ self published authors


I’m starting with the lovely Lila Lestrange!

Lila Lestrange was born in Australia as the child of an Irish
soldier in the British Army, grew up in Germany, and likes Japanese
Okonomiyaki and Turkish coffee. Her national identity is “oddball”. Lila
graduated from Regensburg University in Germany with a master’s degree
in Early Modern and Medieval History, although her German school-leaving
certificate did not state that she was actually fluent in German. (Don’t
ask. It’s the little things that make life interesting.) Apart from
getting covered inch-thick in black library dust and upsetting hordes of
book scorpions, during her university years Lila discovered the
wonderful world of fantasy and role-playing-games. (And that the
pharmacy library has more books on alchemy than the history library).
After graduation, Lila has worked as a web designer, journalist and
translator and started writing ‘seriously’ after having a family.

Lila writes fantasy with a bit of a twist she self published her novel Black Silk and she even made a trailer for it which you can watch at


The city of Naressina is a prosperous crossroads of the world,
trading spices, salt, silks and every other commodity under the twin
suns.  Merchant princes rule the republic  alongside the powerful guilds
and the old nobility.  But not everyone belongs to a guild.  Most of
Naressina’s non-human inhabitants don’t. Nor do the denizens of the
city’s infamous  Lowtown that sprawls around the harbour.
For the Wharf Rats, taking what they need – and running very fast from
the city watch – is a way of life.  But when they break into the
warehouse of a wealthy cloth merchant, their latest caper goes terribly
wrong.  Soon, the Rats are fighting a bloody war on the streets.
At the scene of the crime, the city watch have found a small golden
figure, wrapped in black silk.  Who lost it there?  The merchant Zîf
Kaliari is determined to find out. But their questions are more
dangerous than Zîf and his wife Kiana realise. What if the legends of
Naressina’s dark past are real?


Next we have Sam Plunkett or Plunky as I call him, a  long time fantasy reader and short time writer, lover of dark and gritty fantasy and cute dogs. His work is not published (yet) so here is the first bit of his writings together with some artwork.


Snow fell gently in the forest. Specks of white forming together to create a curtain several feet from the figure on his horse. The world to the man and his horse was a white canvas with no paint, empty and cold.

The horse stood with its head down, its nostrils flaring with each breath that brought cold air into its chest. It shook its legs one by one to warm them slightly. The man atop the horse did much the same. Shifting his weight to stop his thick woollen leggings from sticking to the saddle. He patted and rubbed the horse’s neck as he waited.

He wore a dark green cloak that he had spread backwards to cover his mounts rear. His gloved hands rested on the saddle before him holding a well-used dirk. Only an idiot would touch steel in this cold.

The man and his mount had stood in the white canvas world for half an hour. By this point both were sure they would be soon dead if their accomplice didn’t arrive soon.

From the white curtain a shape dislodged itself. Another figure atop an unfamiliar mount. It looked as if the Gods had taken a dog and made it the size of a horse. Its snout was short with two teeth that stuck from the top jaw like a walruses. Its coat was white with dark blue, nearly black, patches on its throat and face.

The man was dressed in the same fashion as the horse rider. But for a quiver and bow that were slung from his saddle. A thick leather bracer clung to his wrist.

“Jerrik!” said the man atop the horse “what the fuck is that?”

Jerrik swung his head to face his accomplice. “This Dwarg. Big dog. Bigger than your people’s dogs. Very nice puppies” he spat out the words with obvious force. Having to bend his voice to perform to a language he didn’t completely know. “Come. I walk you to border. Before you’re… “He pointed to the horse “die of cold.”

He led the way and the horse followed. Its rider could feel the horse tense as it caught a scent on the snow. The Dwarg showed no interest in the horse, its head swinging from side to side as it snorted at the ground it walked over.

“Have you got what I asked for? I need it now.”

“Ned. You no worry. I always have thing you need” Jerrik pulled gently on his mounts reigns to guide it round a tree. “Dwarg clever. But bad eyes. Tree kill more than age” he chuckled at this, Ned smiled well naturedly.

They rode in silence for a minute as they negotiated their way over a frozen stream, the ice was solid but disconcerted Neds horse whose hooves slipped slightly. The Dwarg padded across silently.“Why do you need the potion so bad?” Jerrik asked rearranging an arrow in his quiver.“Your healers know more about the… Illness that hurt my tribe leader” he simplified for Jerrik’s sake. He knew that the tribesman was a clever man among his people and that he’d understand what he was saying.

“I’m no healer. But I’ve used this before. Lots will kill man. Small cure man” he pulled his cloak closer to his shoulders.

“I must help my friend, he’d do the same for me.”

“I know. I do same for Kolmar.” The Kolmar were Jerrik’s tribe. Native to the mountains and forests that covered half the continent. Few from the Civilised Half were allowed to enter the forests on the border. Ned was one of the few not to be found crucified on the border.

They reached a point where the trees began to grow closer together signalling the border to be close. They both rode in silence as they guided their mounts through the trees.

“Where can I get a Dwarg?” Ned asked looking approvingly at the lumbering hound. Among his friends he was the one considered to be the crazy dog man.

“In spring. Come visit tribe. We find you puppy. Show you how to train it, spend summer with us again. My sister miss you” Jerrik winked at his last remark.

Ned smiled as a flood of memories came to him. Mostly of a blond woman bathing in a river. Jerrik handing him the long bow that had been a gift of great significance. The Wise woman of the Kolmar singing their ancestral song.They had reached the edge of the forest when Ned woke himself from his daydream. They came to a halt as the last of the trees thinned out.Jerrik stood in his stirrups and yanked an arrow from the tree. It’s black fletching and the star like rune etched into the wood marked it as Al-Mur, another tribe that lived near the border.

“I didn’t know the Al-Mur came this far south” Ned said.

“Not all the time. I go talk to their chief later. Make sure he know you return in spring. Give you help when you come and find us” Jerrik said scratching his chin with the arrow head. This certain gesture showed that he would return the arrow as a gift. Among the tribes arrows were all blessed by the wise men and woman. Losing too many in a hunt was a bad omen, Ned knew this from the time he wasted half a quiver practising with his bow.

“I hope this helps your friend” Jerrik said handing over a glass tube. “When I see you in spring. Bring Tribe more glass” Jerrik grinned at the thought.

“I’ll find you some coloured glass if you like, I have a friend in Reener who blows glass.”

“I happy to think of coloured glass. Also bring me beer. Maybe I make new weapon for you for it.”Ned smiled “Sounds like a trade. Now I must go. I’ll be back in spring.”Jerrik held up a hand signalling him not to go. He leant down to his quiver and pulled an arrow out. Dyed green fletching and a rune in the semblance of a fish decorated the arrow.Ned took it and bowed his head. Without another word he spurred his horse into a trot. A glance over his shoulder showed only the Dwarg’s blue markings visible in the snow.

Two weeks ride to save his friend’s life, Ned was desperate to be home.

Another great short story comes from Alexander Wallis it’s called The Sea Between The Stars and serves as prequel to the novel The Way Knight. It’s inspired  by the plight of daughters of narcissistic mothers and their attempts to get love from a withholding parent. It was a winner in the Write Across Sussex short story competition, awarded by novelist Kate Mosse. Alexander’s work is inspired by his working with troubled, damaged and sometimes dangerous teenagers.

Art by Ellrano


The Sea between the Stars
Alexander Wallis
The girl haunted the old tower, after her mother’s departure. Neither the girl nor her mother was dead but, like a ghost, the child mourned their separation. Each night she drifted from shadow to shadow, pale feet on stone, hair black as the sea between the stars. When the skies were benign, she was the storm that racked the steeple, torrential in her cries. When all the villagers were asleep, she was their nightmare unravelling in the dark.
Her mother Catherine had not been warm or loving but the girl had learned to survive on meagre pickings, crumbs of unkindness wrapped in concern. She could live for weeks on a scowl or a shrug, almost a month on a single kiss. She found inventive ways to summon her mother’s hand to her face, her cheek hot and red from the violent touch.
One night, the girl had watched her mother saddle a horse and depart. ‘I hope, one day, you have your own child,’ Catherine told her weeping daughter. ‘A girl as thankless and difficult as you. Then you’ll know.’
The girl already knew. She was unlovable.
Now she chilled the halls of the grotesque tower her family called home, singing to the ravens from the shadows. She damaged tapestries – scratching the faces of kings until stitches became scars. She poured wine over the cats and buried her doll, alive, beneath the earth.
The girl’s grandfather –and now parent- would rise from his chair whenever the girl came into the windy hall he drank in. He was a formidable man, once an infamous knight, but hackles rose along his skin as the girl crept into the firelight.
‘I’m watching you,’ she waved a finger in the old man’s face, ‘to see if you’ve been good enough.’ She sounded like her mother, but strangely older, callous and crone-like.
The old man’s eyes were grey-blue stones, cupped by craggy wrinkles. Those eyes had seen a dozen battles, yet never closed in prayer. They had not blinked when he had dislodged gold from the teeth of dead warriors. They had not wept when his wife was upon the funeral pyre. But they became wide and watery at the girl’s strangeness, his black eyebrows rising as he shuddered.

‘What’s to be done?’ Grandfather Jhonan asked the holy men, one white winter morning. He paced the airy hall, rubbing his muscled arms. ‘Some evil wears the child.’
‘Not evil,’ Adjurator Ivan replied. ‘Grief wracks her spirit.’ His voice became a whisper, forcing the eavesdropping girl to listen intently. ‘Many lose their mothers but is it true that Daimonia drove hers away?’
The girl broke from her hiding place, ran past the men and threw open the tower doors.
‘Dai, wait!’ Jhonan cried, raising a three-fingered hand towards the girl.
She cast a look back at their faces, each was as flush as her own. ‘I am death!’ she shrieked and ran out into the snow.

The running was heavy, feet sinking into white to reveal lurid green. Daimonia fell against a snow-crowned tree and leaned against it panting. Her nose streamed and fists tightened, the creak of skin rubbing against skin. The day was colder than a reluctant kiss.
Crunching announced her brother Niklos, trudging up behind her. Both their tracks punctured the hill, like wounds on the frosty surface.
Niklos frowned as he approached, his wet hair stuck to his face and neck. ‘Mother will come back,’ he told his sister.
‘Not this time,’ Daimonia sniffed. ‘I saw something I shouldn’t have.’
‘Like what?
Daimonia’s eyes became small and spiteful. ‘Like your girlish face,’ she said. Inside her closed mouth, her tongue teased her sharpest teeth. The capacity to hurt was intriguing. To give back a little cruelty for the many cruelties received – it satisfied something growing within.
Niklos sulked then. He had a special face for displaying his pain, one he wore all too frequently.
‘What’s wrong with you?’ he complained.
An ugliness hung in the air. But Daimonia had never seen her mother apologise and it was hard for her to find the way of it. Instead she simply laughed.
Ravens circled above, their caws echoing the girl’s cruel mirth.

She found the stone on a summer morning on a day busy with bees and the leafy smell of the forest. It already looked human, sticking out of the brook like the head and shoulders of a drowning man. Daimonia dragged the stone onto the muddy bank, making little heaving noises. She patted the thing’s forehead with her palm.
‘Wake up,’ she told it.

In her room the stone sat by the window, where Daimonia had hefted it. She cupped its head in her hands, taking comfort in its mundane constancy.
By nightfall she was labouring beneath the glaring stars, the tink-tink-tink of her grandfather’s dagger chipping away at the stone.
Hammering the blade she cut away all that was inessential, hungry to find the secret within.

A face began to emerge, nose first, then mouth – lips twisted in a sneer of superiority. Daimonia continued stripping the face, releasing it from the primitive rock. Day and night she laboured, keeping the tower awake.
Until she found the face of her mother.
The visage had emerged so gradually that Daimonia trembled to realise what she had created. She fell back upon her bed, looking at the features as if for the first time, so like her own face but with a tip of the neck, a lowering of the brow that implied profound condemnation. So many times she had seen it but only now, in flawless repose, could she wonder at what events might have shaped such sad contempt for the world.

Daimonia curled around the stone, her slender arm reaching across its shoulder, and lay her head upon its head. It was cold, but no colder than the stiff figure she had often tried to squeeze. The godlike face would not leave her, nor offer any reproof. It could not shriek or bare its teeth, nor rip its own hair out in anger. The girl clung to it, as if to a tree in a storm, allowing her heart to enjoy its silent permanence.


We move on to Æsc Adams and James Downe. Æsc and James are the creators of The Legacy of Ash world,  think of them as the next Erikson and Esslemont ( you know those guys from the epic Malazan world).  While James has already finished his first novel Æsc is busy working on his shared world novel.

Æsc is employed in the security field for more than a decade, Æsc has had the privilege of training under and alongside some of the world’s most skilled warriors, including members of the Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, British Special Boat Service and the Israeli Special Forces.

Writing gritty fantasy is the natural outgrowth of his love for fantasy fiction and RPGs.  His passions include archaeology, anthropology, ancient religions, dead languages, and Oxford commas.

Æsc lives near Kingston, Ontario with his wife, two children, and pack of nearly-feral house dogs.”

Welcome to the Legacy of Ash, a dark & gritty fantasy cycle in the tradition of Steven Erikson, George R.R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie and Glen Cook.

Calus Rukan is a world twisted by war, sorcery, and hell itself.

Broken coasts and shattered continents mark a land divided. The old empire of Aul Rukara was cast into darkness and devastation, though its legacy remains. The people of Calus Rukan – scholars and adepts, warriors and thieves, beggars and princes – strive to build new civilizations upon the ruins of the old.

But three thousand years after the sundering of the world, although light has returned to the darkness, ash still veils the sky.

Soldier, Kraken, Bard is the first book in the Legacy of Ash world


In a city suspended over the shores of a great ocean, a storm has come.

Soften has seen storms before, but those were nothing when compared to the winds which now rage along its high stone walls. The city’s harbours have weathered many rising tides, and the people of Soften are accustomed to pulling tight the shutters, stacking their fires high, and enduring the driving rain. But this storm is different, and for all their preparations, something primal dwells at the centre of this tempest, madness with no regard for people within its dark fury, a terror which quickly begins clawing at Soften’s soul.

For a city guard named Versas, Soften is home. For Ormenir Stills, a travelling bard who has seen much of the world, the city marks the end of his career. And for a girl named Ember, despite all the madness the storm has brought, this city is only the beginning.

Last but not least Ashley Melanson her short story was featured in Gems of Strength and is called Fox. She’s hoping to be accepted into the Hath No Fury anthology, an anthology in which women take the lead.


The weaker sex? There’s no such thing! Enter Anna, who fights against evil for what she knows is right. Enter Chessie, who must battle prejudice and overcome the torment she holds inside. Read Delia’s story, a struggle against domestic violence. Follow the tale of Apple as she struggles with her demons. And be inside the story with nameless women who must deal with the loss of a child, the inner struggle of uncertain sexuality, the escape from domestic violence, the healing of assault, and the finding of love.

These characters embody the strength of women, strip away the illusion of weakness, and bring hope of things to come. The authors of The Sisterhood bring you these poignant short stories and demonstrate there is nothing weak about women!

Here’s the link to Hath No Fury anthology

That’s it for today’s blog I hope you enjoyed reading it. It is sunday so I’m heading back to NFL land and as always here’s the unicorn for Rob and a little motivation for all storytellers featuring the great James A. Moore author of Seven Forges


Image result for horror unicorn

Everyday is a time for Change

Might Be Mad

This is a subject that hits close to home for me. My cousin whose perhaps one of the sweetest eleven year old boys out there is deaf and because of this needs help with his education.

Thankfully at the age of five he received life changing surgery to allow him to hear via implants that are magnetically attached to his skull. Four years ago at the age of seven it became apparent that although the implants allowed him to hear the environment he was in at school was significantly detrimental. I don’t want to degrade his teachers or those that tried to help him, they were just out of their depth.

Once again fate smiled on the little man and Cambridgeshire County Council got in touch and offered him a place in a special deaf school. At the time he could only speak a handful of words and only my…

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An introduction to the writers of the Grimdark group part 2

Next part of the introduction! Not everyone writes grimdark and not everyone is a man. In fact there are quite a few female authors out there, women I admire greatly. There are quite a lot of complaints when it comes to the lack of publicity for female authors and I do sometimes feel it’s a male dominated world. So it’s definitely time for a change!

People often think every female author writes crap like Twilight or Fifty Shades of blergh, this is not true in fact all the authors introduced today write beautiful horror and fantasy, some a little darker than most of the readers are used to.

So without further ado here are the powerful women of the Grimdark group!


I’ll start with Teresa Frohock the author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale and Los Nefilim, Miserere is a dark fantasy novel and Los Nefilim is speculative fiction. I love this woman she’s smart, talented, strong and gives her unfiltered opinion on many subjects on her blog as well as on Facebook.


Three brilliant novellas. One fantastic story.

Collected together for the first time, T. Frohock’s three novellas—In Midnight’s Silence, Without Light or Guide, and The Second Death—brings to life the world of Los Nefilim, Spanish Nephilim that possess the power to harness music and light in the supernatural war between the angels and daimons. In 1931, Los Nefilim’s existence is shaken by the preternatural forces commanding them … and a half-breed caught in-between.

Diago Alvarez, a singular being of daimonic and angelic descent, is pulled into the ranks of Los Nefilim in order to protect his newly-found son. As an angelic war brews in the numinous realms, and Spain marches closer to civil war, the destiny of two worlds hangs on Diago’s actions. Yet it is the combined fates of his lover, Miquel, and his young son, Rafael, that weighs most heavily on his soul.

Lyrical and magical, Los Nefilim explores whether moving towards the light is necessarily the right move, and what it means to live amongst the shadows.


Next up the lovely Chantal Noordeloos! Finally a Dutch author worth blogging about sure, sure we have plenty of others but not a single I personally like. She graduated from the Norwich School of Art and Design in 1999 and now lives with her family in The Hague. She loves boardgames and spends her free time drawing, writing and gaming. Chantal writes horror and paranormal fiction. Coyote is her first big project and 2 books in the series haven been published so far.


No one knows where or when the mysterious rips will appear, but from them, Outlanders walk the earth, leaving chaos in their wake.
Coyote, a charismatic bounty hunter, travels the land with her enigmatic partner, Caesar. Together –with the help of magic and technology—the unlikely duo tracks down these dangerous criminals from different worlds. Along the way, Coyote discovers a secret that threatens to shatter everything she believes about herself, her father, and her sworn enemy, James Westwood.

Whether Outlander or inner demons, some things can’t be solved with a six shooter


We move on to Sarah Cushaway she’s currently working on a  dark scifi/fantasy western series called A Lesser Dark. Her first book Salt in the Water is out now and she’s working hard on the sequel called Ghosts in the Glass.


There are a thousand ways to die in the desert– desperate outlaws, deadly predators, murderous elements, and betrayal. . .

Kaitar Besh, a veteran scout as legendary for his cynicism as his skills, is ordered to brave the deadly Shy’war-Anquai desert one last time. Escorting Leigh Enderi– a greenhorn Enforcer with a reputation as shady as his own– he soon realizes the ghosts of his past have come to haunt more than his nightmares.

When the mission breaks down in the wake of bitter hatred and mistrust, even Kaitar’s fabled skills may not be enough to bring them home again. Stranded in the red wasteland without contact, food, or water, they uncover a betrayal that could bring all they hold dear crumbling to the dust. . . and tear down the wall of lies surrounding them.


Well hello debut novelist Anna Smith-Spark! Her debut will be published in 2017 by Harper-Voyager and the hype is real! We call her the queen of grimdark. Anna loves epic fantasy, grimdark and historical military fiction (and freakishly high heels). Her debut is called the Court of Broken Knives which is book 1 in her series Empires of Dust.

sword one

Perfect for fans of Mark Lawrence and R Scott Bakker, The Court of Broken Knives is the explosive debut by one of grimdark fantasy’s most exciting new voices.

They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we piss gold and jewels into the dust.

In the richest empire the world has ever known, the city of Sorlost has always stood, eternal and unconquered. But in a city of dreams governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has become the true ruler, and has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The empire is on the verge of invasion – and only one man can see it.

Haunted by dreams of the empire’s demise, Orhan Emmereth has decided to act. On his orders, a company of soldiers cross the desert to reach the city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Marching on Sorlost, Marith thinks he is running away from the past which haunts him. But in the Golden City, his destiny awaits him – beautiful, bloody, and more terrible than anyone could have foreseen.


Also working on her debut is Alicia Wanstall-Burke. Alicia Wanstall-Burke began her storytelling journey at 15, writing in her spare time while she worked in coal mining and completed a teaching degree. Over the course of a decade, she developed a manuscript which caught the eye of a UK publisher in 2014. Since then she has worked with the publisher to develop a new story, Blood of Heirs. Alicia is currently studying a Diploma of History/Ancient History, and wrangles a cat, two dogs and a four-year-old red head in her spare time. As there’s no cover for her book yet I’ll randomly insert some random art

Image result for sibling rivalry fantasy art

Blood of Heirs is a fast paced, dark epic fantasy which follows the stories of two young people who are the heirs to their father’s lands. When their lives are changed forever by forces beyond their control, they must fight for their lives and their futures against enemies that are both human and the stuff of nightmares. It is the first in a planned trilogy, and will be followed by Legacy of Ghosts and Empire of Shadows.


Last up for today is Deborah A. Wolf born in Alaska and having worked for the U.S. Army she’s no stranger to barbaric life. In her own words she says, she’s the barbarian feminist bitch author your father warned you about, and she writes books that double as melee weapons. THE DRAGON’S LEGACY (Titan Books) debuts April 2017. She also has a short story in our very own Evil is a Matter of Perspective a collection of art and stories by the people behind Grimdark Magazine.


The last Aturan King is dying, and as his strength fades so does his hold on sa and ka. Control of this power is a deadly lure; the Emperor stirs in his Forbidden City to the East, while deep in the Seared Lands, the whispering voices of Eth bring secret death. Eight men and women take their first steps along the paths to war, barely realizing that their world will soon face a much greater threat; at the heart of the world, the Dragon stirs in her sleep. A warrior would become Queen, a Queen would become a monster, and a young boy plays his bird-skull flute to keep the shadows of death at bay


That’s a wrap for today many many more posts will follow. I will always feature 5 people in the upcoming posts last thing I want is the TLDR comments.  I hope you’ll enjoy every post as we move a long and add many books to that ever growing TBR pile

And here’s a picture of a not so scary unicorn for Rob Matheny

Image result for scary unicorn




My 2017 most anticipated releases

An introduction to the writers of the Grimdark group part 1


This will be a pretty lengthy post so I’ll split it up in two or more parts. Long story short in this post I will introduce you all to the lovely writers of our Facebook group Grimdark Fiction Readers & Writers. Many of whom have been published but I’ll also be introducing the aspiring and unpublished writers because everyone deserves a little grimdark love.

Grimdark was use by emos and goths through the years, it has also been used in the Warhammer 40k world. In the last years it’s mainly used to describe the darker fantasy book genre. When you see the term grimdark used to describe a book or graphic novel don’t expect happy endings and squishy pink unicorns.

So what can you expect when grimdark is used to describe a book? Well, expect main characters to be evil not every faerie loves children some just enjoy eating them. You can also expect a lot of violence ranging from simple killings, gruesome torture,rape (yep even child rape), a lot of foul-mouthed characters and likeable yet despicable protagonists. The most famous writers of the genre are Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie and Richard K. Morgan.

Now not everyone in the group writes grimdark, many write sword&sorcery, Sci-Fi, horror, urban fantasy, dystopian fiction, epic fantasy, historical fiction etc.

I’m writing this post on a rainy sunday to introduce the world to the wonderful writings and people behind the books of this group that unlike it’s name actually isn’t so grimdark at all. We’re all wonderful people with a dark sense of humor


I’ll start off with Dyrk Ashton writer of Paternus. A former actor, producer and college professor, Dyrk now teaches online so he has more time for his writing and reading books. Dyrk has a strange obsession with the cuteness of baby sloths.Paternus is a contemporary, mythic fantasy novel which is often compared to the writings of Rick Riordan but for grown ups.


Gods, monsters, angels, devils. Call them what you like. They exist. The epic battles between titans, giants, and gods, heaven and hell, the forces of light and darkness. They happened. And the war isn’t over.

17-year-old Fi Patterson lives with her stuffy English uncle and has an internship at a local hospital for the aged. She doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life, misses her dead mother, wonders about the father she never knew. One bright spot is caring for Peter, a dementia-ridden old man whose faraway smile can make her whole day. And there’s her conflicted attraction to Zeke — awkward, brilliant, talented — who plays guitar for the old folks.

Then a group of very strange and frightening men show up for a “visit”…

Fi and Zeke’s worlds are shattered as their typical everyday concerns are suddenly replaced by the immediate need to stay alive — and they try to come to grips with the unimaginable reality of the Firstborn.

“Keep an open mind. And forget everything you know…”

Paternus has been called “American Gods meets The Lord of the Rings,” and claimed to be reminiscent of Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light as well as Clive Barker’s Weaveworld.



Next up Dominick Murray! His epic fantasy debut novel Red Season Rising was published in september of this year.


A feud between Gods.
A nation besieged by armies of man, and demon.
A man seeking redemption, and peace
Kalfinar is a grieving addict. Once a decorated and respected soldier, he has been demoted and disgraced.
The relative peace of his half-life is shattered by the onset of chaos and war.
Tormented by visions, he is marked for possession, and hunted by demons.

Amidst the all-consuming ruin of a war between Gods, Kalfinar must lead the fight to defend a faith he has abandoned, and a nation that has disowned him.


Timothy C. Ward has self published a few novels in Hugh Howey’s Sand universe. His latest novel is Godsknife: Revolt, an apocalyptic battle for godhood in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss.


An apocalyptic battle for godhood in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss…

A fleet of enlarged praying mantises have invaded Des Moines, Iowa. Swarms of cicadas are turning survivors into winged soldiers. Orchestrating the war zone is a priestess of Order, who’s pursuing godhood, and the nation of followers who’ll get her there.

Caroline’s new friendship parts the veil between reality and myth, as a recruiter of Order needs her to hide him from capture. In their escape, the boss she’s loved like a father reveals his elevator into the Abyss.

In this new world, Caroline finds a usurped god and an angry ghost eager to make her their gateway back to power. What if the person her friends will need is heartbeats away from becoming the real threat?


Douglas Newell is the author of the upcoming sword & sorcery,epic fantasy Omens of War will be republished by Crimson House Publishing on december 17th 2016. Douglas is a huge Supernatural fan.


The world of Terramor always held a wide variety of dangers for its inhabitants. None as dangerous as the taboo land known as “The Forgotten Lands”. It had long been deemed cursed and forsaken by the people of Terramor, but noble houses in their greed and ambition strove once more to try and claim it for themselves. In an effort to please his adoptive family Mogrand DeLeon took up the call to venture into the cursed lands and forge a great city in the name of House DeLeon. He was not the only one brave enough to heed the call and it soon became a race to see who could claim the most land in their name, though something far more sinister than their ambition already thrived in the land best left forgotten


Tim Marquitz a legend for his numerous writings and injuries ( if it’s not his back it’s finger festering away). Tim is the author of the Demon Squad series, Dead West series and several other books. He’s also the editor in chief at Ragnarok Publications.


Half-devil and miles from anything resembling heroic, perpetual underdog Frank Triggaltheron Trigg is the last man standing against Armageddon. As the favorite nephew of the Devil, Frank has led a troubled life, but he’d always had his uncle’s influence to fall back on. Now, with God and Lucifer coming to terms and leaving existence to fend for itself, his once exalted status of Anti-Christ-to-be does little to endear him to the hordes of angels and demons running amok in the Godless world. With help from the members of DRAC, an organization of wizards, psychics, telepaths, and low-end supernatural beings, Frank must thwart the pro-Armageddon forces and rescue an angel in whose life rests the fate of humanity. Better luck next time, humanity.

This concludes part 1 of this ginormous post, the other parts will be posted in the upcoming week as I gather more information about the other authors that will be featured.

P.S  Join us on Facebook

P.P.S Here’s a picture of a scary unicorn especially for you Rob


Not another shelfie part 1

I can hear you thinking a shelfie post ah man not again! This is not just a post in which I will show you my awesome shelves, I will also be talking about why books are in the place they are and do a tiny (probably not so tiny) review of some of my favorite books. As I have many books i will make a new post on the other shelves later this month. You’ll notice I have a somewhat weird taste in books and writers

I’ll start of with this particular shelf this one has a few of my favorite autobiographies on it. I’m a huge Green Bay Packers fan so obviously I own a copy of That First Season. That First Season is about the year 959 in which Vince Lombardi became the head coach of the GBP, obviously I wasn’t born back than hell even my mom was barely out of diapers. My love for football started when I saw my first Super Bowl back in 1991 it was an epic game for the New York Giants only beat the Buffalo Bills by 1 point. A few years later when the Packers had Brett Favre as a quarterback, I saw them beat the Patriots on live TV which had a huge impact on me and ever since then the Packers got another Dutch fan.Only recently I have become more interested for the history that is behind the NFL so That First Game is the most interesting read for me on the subject. Lombardi simply is one of the most interesting coaches to ever exist.

As you can see I also own a book about Ted Bundy why you ask? I’m Dutch we have few serial killers and Bundy was in the news all the time when I was growing up. I think i was 5 or 6 when i first heard about him and i always wanted to know what made him tick or kill. I own many more books about Bundy but this one is my favorite as it delves into his last years on death row and you get a real idea of what he was thinking.

On Bundy’s right side you can see Monster by Sanyika Shakur he is an ex-gang member. He was around when gangs were in the early stages of development in the 70’s and 80’s in Los Angeles. I got this book somewhere in the 90’s and i have read it so many times it’s almost falling apart. I’ve always been curious how a gang is formed and why it is formed as far as i know we don’t have a Dutch equivalent. Sanyika was part of the Eight Tray Gangster Crips ( i sure hope he is really out as he claims). In LA you have the Crips and the Bloods, Crips wear blue and Bloods red, they started a war somewhere in the 60’s and they are still going at it. This autobiography describes what it was (is) like to grow up in a poor black neighbourhood and why young boys become gang members . Though i do not condone the violence in any way it makes you see the human side to these kids all of us makes bad choices but not many of us will actually experience what it’s like to be poor, black and living in a dangerous hood. One can argue that joining a gang is not the answer but what other options did he really have? I quite like the guy even though he went on to make poor decisions further on in his life but that’s what most felons do as jobs are scarce. This book gives you all you want and more.

Next up is Preussler ( yes I know his name is spelled differently but i can’t find the German letter). This is one of the books that got me started when it comes to my love of fantasy books. The English title is Krabat & the Sorceror’s Mill. The story is set in the 17th century and it tells you the story of Krabat a poor beggar’s boy who after having the same dream about a watermill for three nights in a row pays a visit to this particular mill.  He takes up an apprenticeship at the watermill only to find out it’s owner dabbles in black magic. Every new year’s eve one of the boys he lives with dies and Krabat starts his own investigation as to why these boys die. I won’t tell much more as I’m afraid i might spill too many beans. It’s pretty much a YA book but i still thoroughly enjoy it every re-read.

Next up Elmore Leonard! This man was one helluva writer gifted like no other. Sadly i don’t own a copy of Rum Punch a book most won’t know but, they will surely know the movie Jackie Brown! It was written in 1992 and Tarantino made the movie in 1997 i think most people don’t even know the movie is based on this book. I love Leonard for many reasons, the main reason are the way he wrote his dialogues nothing can compare to that really. Y’all probably did watch Justified which was a TV series based on his novella Fire in the Hole. It features US Marshall Raylan Givens and my all-time favorite bad guy Boyd Crowder, we’ve seen Raylan before in Riding the Rap and Pronto, in the books he is much older than in the TV series and Boyd well i can’t say without spoiling it for you.

“Boyd, you use the Bible to get what you want, same as you use all this white supremacy bullshit to rob banks and raise hell, blow up a church in Cincinnati for the fun of it. See, I’m giving you the benefit you aren’t mental. I know you aren’t stupid enough to believe that mud people story”

Here’s a link to an excerpt of Fire in the Hole

Lastly there is my love of art mainly my love for Hieronymus Bosch or Jeroen Bosch. This was an artist way ahead of his time with all his dark themes, his work during his lifetime was mainly collected in Spain, Austria and the Netherlands ( and copied a lot in the early modern period they had pirates as well just not the digital ones we’re all used to) . They say he had a real insight to our darkest fear and deepest desires. His most famous work is The Gardens of Earthly Delights it is a triptych which basically is a painting on 3 panels often made of wood and the middle panel usually being the largest.  There are so many things happening on this particular painting it’s hard to describe, when you close the panels there is yet another painting, this one is about the early days of creation, it probably pictures the 3rd day of creation as it features no humans or animals only plants. If you love art you should really get this book!

Enough babbling for 1 day! The other books on this shelf are special in their own way and also worth a read, the shiny black book is a copy of Melanie Tem’s Prodigal the dust cover kind of ruins the shot. I hope I didn’t bore you to death, have fun reading


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