Get Fantasy The Best Weapon Free This Weekend

Epic Fantasy The Best Weapon

Free fantasy on kindle this weekend

 

Ladies and gentlemen, stop what you’re doing, cancel your plans, lock the doors and don’t even answer the phone. For this weekend only, epic fantasy The Best Weapon: A World Apparent Tale is free on kindle.

Two young men, born on the same day on opposite ends of the world and into two vastly different cultures, are inexorably drawn together by forces outside their control or understanding.

As they come of age and face their own personal trials, they begin to become aware of their true identities. Driven by dark forces, their shared fate draws them on a journey to the centre of The World Apparent, where their enemies gather in wait.

As their world slides into war and chaos, they discover there is much more to The World Apparent than meets the eye, and glimpse the other worlds that lie beyond the physical plane. Created and manipulated by demonic forces, they must seize control of their destiny, conquer their fears, vanquish their enemies and prevent the very disaster they are supposed to bring about. But first they must learn that the power to do so lies within…

The Best Weapon is the first book in the Tales of The World Apparent, a fantasy world created by David Pilling and Martin Bolton.

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Usher – a 900 Club Short story + The Best Weapon on kindle for 99p

Epic Fantasy The Best Weapon

Get The Best Weapon on kindle for just 99p.

 

As I fell out of the habit of posting my 900 Club short stories on here as I write them each month, I have now started picking and choosing which ones to post and when. As my epic fantasy novel The Best Weapon has just been released, the below story seems an appropriate one to post.

You can now pick up The Best Weapon on kindle for just 99p.

Usher

by Martin Bolton

Corleb gazed into the fire and chewed a mouthful of boar. The meat was carved fresh from the spit and the boy wiped hot grease from his chin with his sleeve. His fingers throbbed as the heat from the fire seeped into them.

His father regarded him across the flames with stern eyes, black beard absorbing the light of the fire, making the man’s eyes shine all the more brightly.

“What have you been doing today, boy?”

“Playing swords in the forest.”

“With whom?”

“Chukka and Breem.”

“The twins,” said his father, raising one scarred eyebrow, “they are two winters older than you, twice your size, and already students of Feurn. Do you not wish to play with children your own age?”

“The children my age are weak, they say I play too rough.”

“But you are small, even for your age.”

“Yes, but I am quick. They try to take advantage and it makes me angry,” said Corleb.

“If you wish to be a warrior, you must learn to control your anger. You must not show emotion, you must be a closed door.”

“But it is anger that gives me strength.”

“I did not say you don’t need your anger, just that you must control it. Sooner or later you will meet an opponent who will use it against you.”

Corleb was silent for a moment. “When can I be taught by Feurn?”

“You know you must see twelve winters before the swords-master will consider you.”

“I have seen nine, and I am strong.”

“It is tradition, Corleb, you must wait. Patience is a warrior’s virtue.”

“So is timing, and I am ready.”

“Only one warrior was ever schooled by the swords-master before his twelfth winter,” his father smiled, “and that man has passed into legend.”

“What happened?”

“You know the story well, boy.”

“Tell me the story again,” demanded Corleb.

“Long ago,” his father began, “so long that the memory has all but faded in the mists of time, our people, the Rowaceni, lived to the east, across the mountains. The summers were warm, and the winters mild. The land was a sprawl of forests and valleys, verdant dales and clear rivers filled with fish.

“There we prospered throughout the ages. Until the tyrant, Khalic, formed his empire. Your ancestors were given a choice: bow to Khalic or die. The Rowaceni cannot be ruled. Khalic sent an emissary to the Rowaceni chief, Seldat, offering to spare the lives of his people if he would bend the knee. Seldat sent the emissary back to Khalic with a message of his own – that Khalic would have to come and fight.

“Khalic sent a force to subdue the Rowaceni, but he underestimated our skill in battle and the ferocity of our berserker warriors. Khalic’s force was shattered. The slaughter was terrible, but Seldat allowed one man to escape alive, minus an eye, an arm, and his manhood. He sent the soldier back to Khalic so the tyrant would hear and see first hand what it meant to threaten the Rowaceni.

“One man became a legend in that battle. He was the greatest swordsman who ever lived, and he slew countless men. Without him, the Rowaceni would be slaves.”

“What was his name?” asked Corleb.

“You know very well. His name was Usher.”

Corleb whispered the name into the fire, his eyes wide, as though Usher’s spirit would appear before him in smoke.

“Khalic was furious,” continued Corleb’s father. “He immediately made plans to lead a vast army west and exterminate the Rowaceni. He vowed never to rest until every last one of us was destroyed. Seldat, knowing his people could not stand against Khalic’s entire army, made plans to lead the women and children, together with a few men, through the mountains. As the story goes, there was just one safe pass through the peaks, known only to Seldat.

“But the risk of Khalic catching up and following the Rowaceni through the pass was too great. Khalic would have to be held up. Usher volunteered to stay behind with a horde of Seldat’s finest warriors.

“As Khalic’s army marched into our lands, he found them deserted. He burned and laid waste the land as he went. Usher, knowing he could not prevail in the battle that followed, needed only to hold out long enough for his people to escape to freedom. And so the courageous Usher gave his life so that we might live. Legend has it that one day he will rise again, pass on his martial knowledge, and show us the way back through the ancient high pass in the mountains, to reclaim the fertile land of our origins.”

Corleb finished his boar in silence and walked back into the twilight. The sun still peered over the horizon, the sky was a deep purple, and the forest was darkening. His father would expect him back before nightfall.

As he wandered into the deepening gloom, the pungent scent of pine trees in his nostrils and snow crunching under foot, a voice greeted him warmly.

“Did you eat all your supper, Corleb?”

“Yes, just as you bade me.”

“Good, you must grow strong,” said the voice, “you have many more lessons to learn, many more trials to pass.”

“I know who you are.”

“Of course you do,” laughed the voice.

“How old are you?”

“Older than you can possibly imagine, boy.”

An Interview with me on the Guild of Dreams blog

Epic Fantasy The Best Weapon

In case you’re interested in hearing me talk about my new fantasy novel, The Best Weapon, and what I think about writing in general, you can read an interview with me on the Guild of Dreams blog. Head over and have a read, and if you have any questions of your own, I’d be happy to answer them.

Interview: David Pilling – co-author of Epic Fantasy The Best Weapon

Epic Fantasy The Best Weapon

Today we release our epic fantasy novel, The Best Weapon, on paperback and kindle. To mark the occasion I interviewed my co-author David Pilling.

I asked him about his character, Archpriest Flambard, The Best Weapon and The World Apparent (the fantasy world in which the story takes place) in general.

Below the interview is a link to my answers to his questions on his blog.

1) What was your inspiration for the character of Archpriest Flambard?

He’s a mixture of Cardinal Wolsey, Jabba the Hutt and Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, as well as various bits and pieces dropped straight from my imagination. I wanted to portray a sly, Machiavellian, physically grotesque man who made the world around him dance like a puppet on a string.

At the same time I didn’t want him to be entirely unsympathetic. He is, at bottom, a human being who believes he is doing the best for the realm he is sworn to protect, including the sacrifice of his own desires. By the end of the story – if I’ve done my job properly – the reader should feel at least a sliver of sympathy for him.

Archpriest Flambard by Zennor Matthews

Archpriest Flambard by Zennor Matthews

2) What would you think of him if you knew him?

I would probably think ‘My God, what an appalling bastard’ and take pains to get away from him as fast as possible! Flambard is a dangerous man to be around. He tends to see other people as tools, to be used and disposed of as he sees fit. It’s impossible to be his friend, though occasionally someone makes the mistake of trying.

3) Do you think it is important that a writer always empathises with their characters, even the villains?

Yes. Otherwise they are just cardboard cut-outs, and of no interest (unless you make them funny). The reason a character like Darth Vader lodges in the public imagination is because of his striking physical appearance and enigmatic character – he was good once, now he’s black as sin, but can he be turned back again? The same with Long John Silver, a murderous pirate who readers are initially supposed to hate, but nevertheless charming and not completely devoid of scruples. A character with no chance of redemption, however slight, instantly becomes less interesting because it’s almost impossible to empathise.

4) What are your thoughts on good and evil characters? Can anyone ever be all good or all bad? Can they change from one to the other?

I’m not sure if a character can be plausibly depicted as entirely good – everyone has a dark side, whether or not they care to admit it. It’s possible for someone to be entirely bad, especially if they have convinced themselves that they do bad things for the benefit of others. The obvious example is Hitler, who committed all kinds of evils in the belief that it was all for the greater good of his country. Flambard is similar in that respect: he is entirely ruthless and there is nothing, literally nothing, he won’t do in defence of the state. At the same time he’s no coward or hypocrite, and demands the same levels of absolute loyalty and self-sacrifice from himself that he demands of others.

5) Archpriest Flambard lives in a society similar to real life medieval Europe. How important is it to consider real life history when creating a fantasy culture?

Speaking for myself, I found it important because my first love is history, and it was only natural that I should draw much of my inspiration from the same source. I usually write historical fiction, and it was fun not to have to check my facts all the time, and to cherry-pick what I liked from different historical periods. In general I don’t think its terribly important to consider or draw from history when creating a work of fantasy: the most important thing is the creation, whether you have managed to depict a living, breathing universe, rather than where you get your ideas from.

6) In The Best Weapon, we only see a small part of The World Apparent. Will later books explore the world further, and what can we expect to discover?

They will indeed. The sequel, The Path of Sorrow, explores a land to the west named Temeria, which has a bit of an Ancient Assyrian/Byzantine feel to it. Future installments will ‘fill in’ other spaces on the map. There is the potential for setting entirely separate tales inside the same world – much like Robin Hobb does in her Realm of the Elderlings series.

The World Apparent

The World Apparent

 

7) What do you hope to achieve in terms of your own development as a writer when you write a novel?

To write something that is an improvement or progression from the last book. I’m not sure I always manage it, but it’s the effort that counts…(probably)…

8) What are your writing plans for the immediate future?

Busy busy busy. I plan to release new editions of Book Two and Three of my series The White Hawk (set during The Wars of the Roses), a new edition of the sequel to Folville’s Law (the first book I ever had published back in 2012), and the sequel to The Best Weapon. I’m also working on Book Four of my Leader of Battles series (an Arthurian saga set during the Dark Ages) and am toying with ideas for a belated sequel to The Half-Hanged Man (a novel about medieval mercenaries set during the 14th century). As well as various other projects. So there’s plenty to keep me going!

* * * *

You can keep up with David’s work by following his blog: Pilling’s Writing Corner. You can also check us out at the Bolton and Pilling Fantasy Fiction Facebook page.

Click here to read my interview on David’s blog

Fantasy Inspired Artwork

Fantasy Inspired Artwork

From winter’s decay bloom the flowers of spring.

 

Above is a piece of artwork I just finished. It is inspired by a book I haven’t yet written, probably called the Flowers of Spring. It is a World Apparent Tale which follows the sequel to The Best Weapon, called The Path of Sorrow.

The Best Weapon is due to be released on 19 February on paperback and kindle. The Path of Sorrow will be released later this year.

Sorrow Part 15: The Last King of Ghor – penultimate in the epic fantasy series

“Fear makes a foe, courage makes a king.” Fantasy Sorrow Part 15: The Last King of Ghor

Sorrow Part 15: The Last of Ghor is the penultimate part of the epic fantasy series and is now available from Musa Publishing. The final part – Sorrow Part 16: Son of the Stars – will be published 18 April 2014. Below is a brief synopsis and an excerpt from The Last King of Ghor .

An uneasy peace has descended over the World Apparent. The Winter Realm and the Old Kingdom are recovering from the cataclysmic events of the Twelfth Reconquest, while in the south, the Djanki and the Sharib retreat to lick their wounds from the battle at Temple Rock. To the east, the divided Empire of Temeria is nearing the end of a long civil war, in which rival Generals have fought like mad dogs to seize the long-vacant Imperial Throne.

Hoshea’s army is spotted by a High Blood lookout as it approaches the High Places. The High Bloods mount aFantasy Sorrow Part 16: Son of the Stars vicious ambush, but Hoshea unleashes a secret weapon, one that no living man could stand against. The mountain tribes retreat to their ancient fortress and look to their new leader, Bail, to make a stand. But can the newly crowned King of Ghor find the courage?

Excerpt

Hoshea sensed rather than heard the unspeakable pleasure of the thing he had unleashed. Sick with horror, he became aware of a pressure on his arm and looked down to see Shalita’s slim white fingers.

“I feel him too,” she breathed, leaning towards him, her eyes half-closed in ecstasy. “The hot rush of blood flowing down his throat, the screams, the snapping bones, the sucking of marrow… Gods, it feels good.”

Hoshea snatched away his arm and recoiled. What kind of monster had he created in her? She would have to be dealt with later, either killed or bundled away to some secure, remote prison where she could do no harm.

He turned his attention back to the matter in hand. The High Bloods were nowhere to be seen across the river, though he knew they were fleeing in rout, in blind terror from the invisible, stinking death that he had inflicted on them. The near bank was now crowded with soldiers, hundreds of horsemen and foot soldiers mingling, shifting uncertainly as they waited for the next move. Their perspiring sergeants rode to and fro, shouting men into ranks and plying vine rods on the stragglers, but they too looked for guidance. They looked for it from the gaggle of richly-dressed nobles and officers beneath the white banner; they in turn looked at Hoshea.

All things wait on me, he thought. For a moment he felt crushed by the overwhelming sense of responsibility, a terrible weight to carry even after his lifetime’s experience of service. With a great effort, he pushed it aside.

“Unleash the horse,” he barked at his waiting subordinates. “Lancers, heavies, bowmen, everything we have. Pursue the savages through the woods, allow them no respite. Scatter them, harry them. Spare those who surrender, wipe out the rest.”

Wipe out the rest. How easy it was to command death. Hoshea was surprised and not a little frightened to discover that his sense of guilt had vanished.

One of the nobles cleared his throat. “Lord, how do we know they are retreating?” he asked. “They could have fallen back a little way into the woods and be waiting in ambush.”

Hoshea almost smiled a bitter smile. “They are running,” he replied, and in his mind he heard distant screams. “They are running for their lives. Trust me on this.

Sorrow Part 14: The Eagle’s Slumber

Fantasy Sorrow Part 14: The Eagle's Slumber

Coming Friday 21 February 2014

Threads of a patchwork king, unpicked by the eyrie’s wind.

Sorrow Part 14: The Eagle’s Slumber, the latest in the epic fantasy series is now available for pre-order from Musa Publishing and due for release on Friday 21 March 2014. Here is the blurb and an excerpt.

An uneasy peace has descended over the World Apparent. The Winter Realm and the Old Kingdom are recovering from the cataclysmic events of the Twelfth Reconquest, while in the south, the Djanki and the Sharib retreat to lick their wounds from the battle at Temple Rock. To the east, the divided Empire of Temeria is nearing the end of a long civil war, in which rival Generals have fought like mad dogs to seize the long-vacant Imperial Throne.

Colken’s mercenaries sign up to Hoshea’s army as it marches on the High Bloods to attack their ruined fortress, The Eagle’s Slumber. Meanwhile, the High Bloods are distracted by the fulfilment of a prophecy. Bail, with Sorrow’s help, has found their sacred relic, The Heartstones, and so must be crowned as their new king. But not everybody is convinced, and while his coronation descends into squabbling amongst the clans, war looms.

Fantasy Sorrow Part 15: The Last King of Ghor

The penultimate episode, coming Friday 21 March 2014

Excerpt:

Bail endured a scratchy uncomfortable night, haunted by bad dreams that felt like prophecies. All through the long hours of darkness he kept the Heartstones clasped tight to his chest, knowing his life depended on it. And on Sorrow, but the boy was nowhere to be seen. He had vanished when the clan stopped to bed down for the night, and Bail’s unsettled mind imagined him drifting through the pitch-black woods like a wraith, silently communing with all manner of ghouls and dark spirits.

He was jerked awake at the crack of dawn by the torturous bellowing of the bull horns and opened his eyes to see Sadaf standing over him. For a moment he thought the man meant to murder him, but then saw he held Bail’s cloak and crown. The hard lines of Sadaf’s lugubrious face split into a simpering grin, and he went down on one knee to offer the makeshift regalia at arm’s length.

“I liked you better when you despised me,” said Bail, wincing as his stiff joints cracked and complained. After taking a few gulps of fresh morning air, he took the crown and steeled himself to play the king.

The clan moved a little quicker this time, for all could sense they were close to the half-legendary Eagle’s Slumber and were eager to see the sacred place. The sun was high in the sky before Sorrow reappeared, trotting out of the woods with his cloak wrapped tight around him. He ran to Bail’s shield-bearers, cupping his hands over his mouth to be heard above the din of horns and chanting.

“The woods are full of High Bloods, warriors, and their families!” he shouted. “I tracked them all night. The nearest are less than two miles away, to the south-east.”

Amkur Beg heard him and limped forward with surprising speed to grab the boy’s arm. “How did they look?” he demanded, briefly dropping his mask of deference. “Did any of their warriors have paint on their faces? Did they carry their knives naked, or sheathed?”

“They did not look dressed for war,” replied Sorrow, gently disengaging his arm. “But they are moving fast and will catch up with us very soon.”

Amkur’s face creased into a hideous grimace, and he turned to shout orders at his kin. Almost immediately, the bull-horns and the chanting died away, and the clan sprang from a stately walk into a gallop. The unwieldy clan banner dropped into the dust, as did the horns, and for a moment, Bail thought he too might be dumped onto the ground. Instead, his shield-bearers picked up their pace without any apparent effort, and he found himself clinging to the rim of his shield with one hand and holding his crown in place with the other.

It was in this undignified position he first saw the Slumber, a mighty spur of rock surging up from the eastern flank of the nearest mountain. Much of the crest of the spur was taken up by a wide plateau, nestling in the shadow of a taller peak with layers of snow and ice crystals glistening at its summit. The remains of early morning mist clung to the spur, hiding much of the crest, but Bail could glimpse a number of decaying walls and stone buildings. These were perched on artificial mounds of soil and rock, much like baronial keeps back in the Winter Realm, but here the mounds were arranged into neat squares piled on top of each other, like the steps of a ladder.

The frantic pace of the clan slowed for a moment as each member broke stride to gaze in awe at the Slumber. Then the sound of bull-horns sounded faintly behind them, and Amkur’s cracked, harsh voice jolted them back into a run.

“Quickly! Quickly, now!” he shouted. “They are almost upon us!”