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Bol-tan Self Portrait

If Bol-tan had a moral compass, he would probably use it to poke you in the eye

A friend of mine suggested I stop trying to blog about writing fantasy fiction all the time and just blog about how I feel in general. He said it would make my blog a lot more interesting and give me more to talk about. Well, he has a point, but there is one significant factor which he is missing. I am a complete bastard.

Fair enough, I’ve never kicked a puppy or driven a lorry through my ex-girlfriend’s house, but the list of disgraceful acts of treachery and destruction perpetrated by yours truly is longer than the queue that would form if they suddenly made it legal to punch Justin Beiber in the throat. Suffice to say fear of prison is the only thing that has stopped me from hunting down anyone who has ever looked at me cock-eyed and kicking the piss out of them.

But I digress. My point is, since I started writing serious fantasy fiction, I have been a bit wary of letting the real Bol-tan off the leash in case he does or says something hilarious but despicable. Well, thanks to David Pilling‘s ill-judged advice, that is all about to end. Because Bol-tan is back, and he’s got a spot of making up to do, a few scores to settle, and he’s bringing intrepid reporter, Scrumptious Fandango with him.

So lock your doors and call the police, because the biggest drop of acrid-smelling acid rain from the world’s most repugnant shower of bastards is back. You can still expect the usual blogs about my fantasy writing – about Sorrow and The Best Weapon and more – but it will be sandwiched between incendiary nuggets of raw lunacy and downright I-don’t-give-a-fuck-wrongness.

This should shake things up a bit.

Sorrow Part 2: The Burned Earth – second in the epic fantasy series

Sorrow Part 2: The Burned Earth is now available from Musa Publishing. This is the second in the epic fantasy series about the mysterious child, known as Sorrow, who is the last survivor of a little known nomadic tribe in the heart of Temeria.

Sorrow’s tribe was wiped out by unidentified raiders. The reason for this is not immediately clear, but it may have something to do with the fact that they are reputed to be the most ancient people in the World Apparent, and so descended from the very first people to crawl from its primeval ooze.

As the world slides into chaos, rumour quickly spreads about the child, and those seeking to cease power will stop at nothing to be the first to take possession of him. The real significance of the boy, however, is yet to be discovered. The race to find Sorrow has begun.

The future of the realm is at stake, but the stars are about to align…

Excerpt:

“Old instincts came to the fore, forged by his years on the streets, and he managed to spit in Asu’s eyes. Asu squealed in disgust and his grip slackened a little, allowing Bail enough leverage to butt him on the bridge of the nose. It was a feeble enough hit, but angered Asu enough to raise himself, knees straddling Bail’s chest, and rain punches down on his face.

One of the geldings stumbled as his left foreleg vanished into a pothole and snapped like a twig. He screamed and collapsed, dragging down his traces and causing the animal behind to lurch and tumble onto his flank. The remaining pair, doomed by the weight of their fallen team-mates, also went down in a tangle of thrashing limbs and writhing bodies.

Asu and Bail were thrown clear as the chariot bounced on its side and slewed into the wriggling mass of horseflesh. Bail rolled expertly when he hit the ground and escaped with cuts and bruises, but Asu was not so skilled or lucky.

General Harsu’s former concubine had come to rest on his front, and gave no sign of life when Bail struggled to his feet and limped over to inspect the body. Breathing hard, Bail drew his knife and kicked Asu in the ribs. No reaction.

Bail didn’t care to check if the boy was still breathing or not. He reached down, grasped a handful of Asu’s dust-sodden hair, yanked his head up and drew the knife across his throat. There was a brief exhalation of air, a torrent of hot blood, and Bail let the head fall forward. One more for the worms to eat, and the second he had killed that day.

“Busy morning,” he muttered, wiping his knife on Asu’s hair before slotting it back in its sheath.

Bail took stock of his injuries. His face was swelling up with bruises from the beating Asu had given him. One cheek and the side of his neck were dripping with blood from the whip, and there was a sharp growing pain under his right knee where Asu had kicked him. He was not in a good way, and to make things worse, he hadn’t been paid for his betrayal of Harsu.

He looked around. The chariot must have carried them at least a couple of miles, because there was no sign of the treaty tent or the battle they had left behind. There was no sign of anything much at all.

Bail swore, and cursed his luck. The chariot had deposited him in the Burned Earth. The dreadful wasteland stretched in all directions, grey and rocky and featureless, with only the distant mountains of the Jabal Kish to break up the monotony.

The horses were goners, their backs and limbs broken and crushed beneath the shattered bulk of the chariot. Meat for vultures, and Bail would be also unless he found some shelter, food, and water. All things the Burned Earth was famous for not possessing.

Sighing, he knelt next to Asu’s body and began to search it for anything useful.”

Sorrow: A Brand New Take on Fantasy

Fantasy Fiction Sorrow Part 1: The Ring of Steel

Fantasy Fiction Sorrow Part 1: The Ring of Steel
– available now from Musa Publishing

So, Sorrow is finally in full swing! This was the first idea I had when my esteemed colleague and good friend, David Pilling demanded that I write.

David had been writing fantasy shorts for some time and sending them to me to read. They were excellent, especially the stories he wrote about a character called Hasan al-Asim, a mysterious assassin who was apparently based on me (small, thin and aggressive). One of my favourites was a story called Shunned (click the title to read it for free).

My idea was merely a seed: a child who was the last of his people, special in some way as yet undecided, and sought after by many powerful people. I wrote a short prologue and showed David. Thankfully, he liked what I wrote, if he had said it was crap things since then may have gone a bit differently. Writing is thirsty work so, without further ado, we headed to the nearest pub. Over a few decent ales we got talking about writing something together and our fantasy novel The Best Weapon was born (see Co-Writing an Epic Fantasy Novel to find out how we did this), which turned out to be the prequel to Sorrow.

Of course, I may have come up with the name “Sorrow” but the rest of it, like The Best Weapon, was an equal collaboration between the two of us. I think that our fantasy writing benefits from the natural, organic way we work. We talk about it. We get drunk. We get excited. We get animated. We get asked to leave. It is in our nature to come up with a very simple concept and elaborate on it, bouncing ideas off one another until it is unrecognisable and ridiculous.

The child Sorrow fitted perfectly into the world we had created for The Best Weapon, and continues the World Apparent saga. Sorrow Part 1: The Ring of Steel is now available from Musa Publishing. Each part of the serialised story will be released monthly. Sorrow Part 2: The Burned Earth is due for release on 19 October.

Meanwhile, The Best Weapon has received another great review, this time on Dianna’s Writing Den, a great literary blog written by writer Dianna L. Gunn, whose work I eagerly anticipate. David’s historical fiction series, The Chronicles of John Swale continues to rumble on with Part 11: Dupplin Moor now available from Musa Publishing. You can read a recent review of Folville’s Law, the novel which started this series on historical fiction author Darlene Elizabeth Williams’ blog.

Time for me to finally get some work done on another fantasy short, The Moment of Silence, which at this rate will be finished sometime before Armageddon, but I’m not promising anything.