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The adventure continues with “The Mad God’s Muse”, Book 2 of the Eye of the Lion Saga, available now on Amazon!

The arc finale “The War God’s Will” will be available in 2018!

 

Welcome to Nihlos, home of the Eye of the Lion Saga (#eotlsaga)! If you’re looking for info on this series, head to the Eye of the Lion Saga page. If you’re new here, you might also check out who I am, and what I’m doing.You can check out some of my other work here.

 

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Let me start by saying that as a former member of the US Navy, I have strong opinions on pirates. No, I have never actually dealt with any, but that is because those who served before me held the same views I do. The notable lack of pirates in our modern world (with a few exceptions) strongly influenced my adopting of said philosophy, which is: pirates have their proper place, and that place is hanging from the yard arms, working on a proper form of rigor mortis and having their dead eyes properly pecked by seagulls.

Yes, that’s right. Not only do pirate lives not matter, they are actually of negative value. The world is a better place for each filthy, scurvy, peg-legged, eye-patched miscreant sent to Davy Jones, preferably by way of a cat-o-nine and then being drug along the keel or processed through the bowels of sharks.

I know, I know, “Tell us how you really feel, Matt!”

That being said, fantasy pirates can be rip roaring fun, and Rob Hayes has achieved that in spades with “Where Loyalties Lie”. Since I started reading this book, Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off for 2017 has wrapped up, and Rob has managed to win the thing, and it’s a well-deserved victory. “Where Loyalties Lie” is well written, damned entertaining, and (as a former sailor, I really appreciate this part) won Esme’s coveted “Most F-bomb’s given”. How can you not go for that? As Hammerlock says in Borderlands 2, “Would you like to do battle with a midget riding piggyback on a bullymong? If the answer is yes, please proceed to the Southern Shelf and defeat Midge-Mong for me. If the answer is no, you are sad, and I’ve no desire to speak with you further.” Well, after you switch the midget and bullymong with F-Bombs and Pirates.

You know what I mean.

The Five Kingdoms are sending their navy to Kill All Pirates™, a perfectly understandable, reasonable goal, unless one happens to be a pirate. In that case, it’s a big problem.

Drake Morass is a conniving, back-stabbing, but happy-go-lucky fellow who wants to get drunk, laid, and become King of the Pirates. He plans to make lemons from lemonade, and use the attacks from the Five Kingdoms to rally the buccaneers and their folks under his banner, but he can’t do it alone. He knows he will need Keelin Stillwater.

Stillwater is something of a nice-guy pirate who rocks double cutlasses of ass-kicking, but only murders folk now and then. He also has a terrible problem choosing women, but that’s practically a requirement for the job.

Both of these guys have some big secrets, some big plans, and the common sense not to trust one another, but they are united in their fear and loathing of the Five Kindoms.

Well, and also Tanner Black. He’s a very UN-nice guy. In fact, he’s the poster child for my above stated position on pirates, yardarms, and rigor mortis.  I would note, for the record, that most people in this novel share my opinion on pirates as applied to Captain Black.

It’s a really fun tale, with lots of intrigue, and a surprising amount of humor considering it falls within the grimdark genre. One of my favorite, laugh out loud moments was Drake, in a very bad spot, screaming an incoherent, rambling stream-of-consciousness rant of curses, some of which he was making up on the spot. I literally had to call my wife in and read it to her because It Had to be Shared.

Five of five, would read again. I’d give bonus points for the creative cursing (I did mention I was a sailor in another life, right? I appreciate a fine curse as much as a fine whiskey) but this ain’t Spinal Tap, and five is the max.

Go buy it. You know you want to.

 

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Rapidly approaching second draft status on WGW. I am on target for a release this Summer, assuming all goes well.

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28
Mar

“Darkmage” by M.L. Spencer

   Posted by: amrath    in Reviews

I finally finished “Darkmage” by M.L. Spencer. As I may have mentioned, I am an epically slow reader due to way too many demands on my time, so as usual this took me much longer than it should have. I was supposed to take part in a discussion about the book, but ended up dodging the conversation because I was only halfway through the book and didn’t want to be spoiled!

“Darkmage” reminds me favorably of C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire series. I imagine I may have even seen a few tips of the hat in that direction, though it’s hard to say if that is merely wishful thinking on my part.

This is a story about a man who loses everything, which is the sort of tale that has always been dear to my heart. I enjoy exploring good and evil, and how pain and loss might tilt one’s choices in either direction. It’s one of the themes I explore in my own series, so it was of immediate interest to me, and Spencer delivers well on the concept. Darien Lauchlin, our protagonist, quite literally loses everything he loves, and at the same time finds himself possessed of tremendous power. That’s just the sort of crucible to refine a character.

Without getting spoilery, I can assure you, Darien is in for a world of pain. Some of it is admittedly of his own doing, but by and large he’s had a really bad hand dealt to him, and none of his choices in responding are very easy. We’re talking about the sort of choices like “Should I just lie here and bleed out, or jump off a cliff so I suffer less, and if I aim well, also land on my enemy and kill him too?” It gets even more difficult as he encounters companions, whose fates then become entwined with his, and become part of his calculus.

“Darkmage” hit on all cylinders for me. It was well written, well paced, and well told. Five of five stars, and I’m adding the rest of the series to my To Read list.

One comment

ML spencer
 1 

Thank you very much for the review! I’m glad you enjoyed the story!

March 28th, 2018 at 8:30 am

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First draft of “The War God’s Will” is finished. Now to make it pretty!

 

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Art of War: Anthology for Charity

Art of War: Anthology for Charity

I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of this anthology. It’s edited by Petros Triantafyllou of Booknest, and contains forty dark and bloody tales of war from an outstanding field of authors. The proceeds are to be donated to Doctors Without Borders, so you can get your grimdark war fix and actually contribute to some good in the world!

I don’t get a lot of time to read. Between five kids, a full time day job, trying to finish my novels, working on my adventure gfx game engine, and church, I barely have a spare moment. I seriously read just a few pages in the evenings before bed, and it takes me ages to finish anything. I had forgotten how much I liked short stories, because they fit into my schedule better. I can usually finish one in a single sitting. It’s a shame the art form isn’t more popular.

That’s how I slowly worked my way through Art of War, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As with any anthology, there were stories that really resonated with me, and a few that didn’t grab me. All of the stories were at least ‘ not bad’, but a few left deep impressions.

My favorite was “This War of Ours” by Timandra Whitecastle, a surreal tale of a desperate conflict between forest creatures that reminds one of children’s fables. Imagine the characters from Henny Penny or the Fox and the Grapes taking up weapons of war and destructive magic and going at one another in an organized manner, with all the fear, pain, and misery that entails. I highly recommend it.

I also especially liked “The Hero of Aral Pass” by Mark Lawrence; “The Best and Bravest” by M.L. Spencer, “The Two Faces of War” by Rob Hayes, “Warborn” by C.T. Phipps, “Valkyrie Rain” by Dyrk Ashton, and “The Cost of Power” by Ulff Lehmann.

Overall, 4/5, well worth the price, and you’re helping a worthy charity. And people say grimdark is all grim and dark….

 

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I am four chapters from being done. I know I am hella late on this, but I have just had a lot of real life delays. The good: I thought my day job would be part time, but it has been full time. The bad: a death in the family really took my focus away toward the end of the year. The unpredictable: I have 5 kids, so it’s always a case of controlled chaos.

I am back on the horse, now, and I think I can get this done, edited, and final by Spring. It’s coming, and it will be worth the wait, I promise.

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I have about five chapters left to write, and most of those are already scripted out. It’s just been really difficult to find the time between work, kids, etc. Hoping to knock out on of those chapters today.

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19
Sep

Still not there

   Posted by: amrath    in Current Projects, Eye of the Lion

As I am sure is obvious, I did not make my end of summer deadline, but I did accomplish a great deal, nevertheless. I’d say I am about 75% to a beta, and if I work really hard, I can finish that by end of October. It will take me another month to edit, get feedback, make fixes, edit, and get ready to publish in time for Christmas. I am looking to build a launch team to help with this and offer commentary, so by all means, if you’re interested, contact me.

 

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20
Mar

New Cover Sketches

   Posted by: amrath    in Current Projects, Eye of the Lion

As part of the release of book 3, I have had to face something I did not much like: I have been told that my previous covers were not ‘genre appropriate’, and would hurt sales. I like them, but sadly, I have come to accept that the people who know this business are probably right.

Fortunately, as a programmer, I know a lot of artists. Thanks to Darren Bartlett of Liquid Development for introducing me to Egil Thompson, who has just sent me roughs of his proposed new covers.

I will miss the old covers, but I am really stoked to see someone with great skill bringing these characters to life. The symbols for the gods, the Xanthian and Nihlosian styles, Nihlos and Torium in the backgrounds, it’s pretty amazing.

 

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Yup, still going, and still about 50%, maybe a little more. It’s tough to know precisely, but it’s going, and I am pretty proud of some of the stuff I have so far. I should have it mostly done in early June, and I’ll put up a pre-order while I finalize proofreading. Maybe I can release part of a chapter next month, something that will be cool to see but not spoil things.

 

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