Sunday, 27 April 2014

Writers To Watch – A Writer's Choice #1 Brood of Bones

The General Idea of Writers to Watch

To begin with, I am only selecting what I myself believe to be the best of what I myself have read. Seems clear enough to me. If you are an indie writer and don't appear here there is every chance that it is because I have not read any of your work. It happens. It may also be that I have and for one reason or another, have decided not to include it, or have you on my list to include as I go along. I only plan to do this every now and again, after all. I'll number them in the title.

What I am primarily aiming at doing there is bringing to the attention of readers work I myself think readers will enjoy. The criteria are exactly what you would expect: a good story written with skill. These are books that I think publishers would be wise – or perhaps would have been wise – to pick up if and when they were available. These are writers to watch. Writers who can do the gig, have the skills, have stories to tell that are – in my own opinion – original and fun. I will only recommend books that I have absolutely no reservations about.

If the books I list here are free then it is a fair bet that other books by the same author are not free, and I would encourage you to buy at least one book from the same author if you enjoy the book I recommend here. Encouraging good work is always a worthwhile thing to do. The gratitude of the author may never be expressed directly to you but will be real and sincere. Writers do need paying if they are to continue to write. The better paid they are, the more they will write, which sounds like a win/win to me. So, with all that in mind, here's the first offering.

Brood of Bones - A E Marling, A Writer to Watch, Chris Northern's Choice # 1

Originality is the most significant problem any writer faces. AE Marling's ideas are new, fresh and original. We are far away from the usual 'roughly Europe and roughly medieval' fare of most fantasy. It is clear from the start that this is a world with it's own rules and society, somewhat reminiscent of Northern India, perhaps.

The opening scene is crisp and clear. Though the first few paragraphs there is a very slight stutter in my attention and - quite terrifyingly - here is where I nearly put the book down. I am very glad I did not do so. I have read this book several times since and will doubtless pick it up again some time in the future.

As soon as I have a feel for the protagonist, Hiresha, I am sold on her. I love the originality displayed here. An enchantress who can barely stay awake; an enchantress who can only work her enchantments when dreaming. What a superb duel image, and what a delightful hook for the plot. This, from a writers point of view, is a joy. The desired structure for the story is actually required by the duel nature of the character and so becomes almost effortless, and a real pleasure to read.

Hiresha arrives in Morimound from the Mindvault Acadamy in the opening scene, having been summoned to aid a friend without being told why. She is at once confronted by the friend who she finds in a deplorable condition, slowly becoming aware that this condition is prevalent and the main source of the conflict which must be resolved.

Quote: I never learned the knack for waking. Consciousness hung over me like a sodden rag, weighing on my eyelids and muffling my ears, yet even my stifled senses did not spare me the indignity of hearing my name screamed across a public place. “Hiresha!” The reckless shout could not refer to me, I decided. Another lady of the same name must peruse the Bazaar, someone who would consider replying to the immodesty of a raised voice. Why, I was not even in view but safe behind curtains.

Marling, A.E. (2011-09-28). Brood of Bones (p. 1). . Kindle Edition.

Brood of Bones is primarily a detective story, with our heroine as a sleepy Holmes and her ally-to-be as a fiendish Moriarty with motives of his own. Their alliance and entanglement is a delight in itself.

Every step of the story is logical. It all hangs together. The development is a joy to watch. Previous entanglements are woven neatly into the main story. The villain, when revealed, is suddenly and amazingly no surprise at all, which is a neat trick. It is all very well done and the writing better than merely fair.

Quote: Whether or not the Soultrapper had understood what I had done, he would likely sense the loss of one of his unchildren. He must realize he had erred in infecting me, as not only had I developed an enchantment to annul a Bone Orb, but I also knew that the Soultrapper had touched me. Now, he could not escape. Only ten people had touched me in Morimound, and the Soultrapper was one of them.

Marling, A.E. (2011-09-28). Brood of Bones (p. 246). . Kindle Edition.

I love this book. I am glad I read it. It is my belief that you will also be glad to have read it. I recommend it.

I would have wanted to include a brief interview here but sadly my plea for such went unheeded for long enough for me to abandon the idea.

From the Cover

One unexpected pregnancy is a drama; fifty thousand is citywide hysteria.

Cursed with endless drowsiness, Enchantress Hiresha sleeps more than she lives. Since she never has had a chance to raise a family, she sometimes feels like every woman is pregnant except for her.  This time, she is right. From virgin to grandmother, all the women in her city have conceived.

A lurking sorcerer drains power from the unnatural pregnancies, and Hiresha must track him by his magic.  Unfortunately, her cultured education in enchantment ill equips her to understand his spellcraft, which is decidedly less than proper.  The only person uncivilized enough to help is the Lord of the Feast, a dangerous yet charming illusionist.  Associating with him may imperil Hiresha's city, yet refusing his help will allow the sorcerer to leech godlike power from the mass births.


Thank you for reading Brood of Bones, a tale told of the Lands of Loam.
Become a patron of independent storytelling by recommending the book to a friend and reviewing it online.
Enchantress Hiresha would love to share her jewels with you on twitter: @LadyofGems
Whatever you do, do not follow @Tethiel.
Meet the humble scribe: or on Twitter: @AEMarling

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The King's Ward - Covers


The king's Ward has been in edit for a while and is now ready to go. Covers have also taken a while, but I'm getting some nice results now from Keith Draws, who I am very happy ot have as artist for the cover art. We've been throwing ideas back and forth and I thought you might like to see a couple of versions. I think we are pretty much there.

I love this one; the central figures are exactly what I had in mind. Keith is a genius. But I thought the image in the mirror might be a bit too SF for an Urban Fantasy novel.

This is the scene the reflected image is based on, so you can see it isn't really quite there...

# Calista #

The furious scream made me jump and gasp as I lifted my hands to cover my ears.
“What?” Matholwch looked up, “Now? Dammit,” he glanced at me, appraising. “Well it has to be some time, I suppose. There's no escaping it. Go look, then,” he said, “while I deal with this challenge. I'll find you when I'm done, never fear,” he smiled and winked, then rose powerfully into the air, Gáe Bulg appearing in his hand.
I watched him only for a moment, catching a glimpse of a dark cloud bearing two figures as it rapidly descended, then I stepped through the open doorway of the Keep. I knew I had to find the King's Ward for him, and I knew I could not resist. But I knew it was not here, and commanded to find it, I could also flee from him, pass through the gate back into the outside world.
If I could find the gate.
The room within the tower lay bare before me. There was only one feature. Broad steps that lead straight down, so down them I went.
But slowly. My mind and body were bruised and battered and pained me. The steps seemed endless and steep and if I fell I would roll and bounce forever on the hard stone steps. I touched one palm to the cold, rough wall and took one step at a time, my knees threatening to give way and my legs shaky and weak.
I kept my eyes down at my feet and concentrated on each step. One at a time, each with care. Slowly the light changed but it was not until I was at the very bottom, the intricate mosaic floor of a corridor stretched out before me and the pale green light surrounding me, that I looked up. And gasped.
The Keep under the Lake, Abarta had called it, but he could have called it the Castle of Glass and would have conveyed the truth better. In fact, it was both. The walls and ceilings were glass. The clear waters of the lake surrounded me, the lake bottom just beyond the walls, sand and rock, kelp and fish, clearly visible. Not so far away, a room with tables and chairs just visible through clear glass walls. I turned this way and that in wonder. Many rooms hung above and around me at varying depths and distance. Stairs and corridors and rooms were all picked out by their opaque floors, and sometimes walls, of colored glass. Wall hangings obscured some, and many were translucent, like the nearest room, furniture seeming suspended in water.
Magic lights, like I had seen in the hall of Gwalchmi's keep, brightened every room so that even where the room was distant and particles suspended in the water would have made them invisible, I could still see the suspended room as a brightly colored gem suspended in the murk of distant water.
It was breathtaking and I stood for several seconds, alone in the corridor, simply gazing about me, picking out detail after detail, following schools of fish, watching kelp shift with unseen currents, gazing at a bright blue hall as big as Gwalchmi's hall where shields and weapons hung on the walls about a great table and a hundred chairs.
High above, at the surface, light flashed here and there and I was reminded that Matholwch was nor far away and that above me in the land intelligent horses fought for their lives against monsters from other lands. And I was not here as a tourist, but a deeply involved though unwilling participant.

This is where we are now. I have to say, I like it fine, but the harsh highlights on the face of the girl reflected just bother me. The window, of course, has to be there. It's Urban Fantasy and takes place partly in another world.
Release is literally any day soon - could be tomorrow.