Update on ‘The Fleet of Sinsai’

FOS alternate cover

It has been a while since I’ve posted on my blog. Rest assured this is only good news for those awaiting the conclusion to the Valerious Chronicles. The last few months have been hectic, but progress has been better than I thought. I am writing the final act of book 3, with five chapters to go.

My initial editing has already begun and Beta reading will commence in Jan/Feb. At this stage I plan to have the final book released In May 2015. The champagne is already in the fridge!

So far I am excited with how The Fleet of Sinsai is shaping up. The last novel in a trilogy is the most difficult, as I need to bring everything together whilst keeping an exciting pace and good narrative flow.

With Christmas rapidly approaching I am looking forward to catching up on my reading. I’m halfway through Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb at the moment and looking to pick up some Brandon Sanderson soon.

Wish everyone a fantastic holiday period full of good food, company and above all good books.

My Top Picks – Part Three

What are my biggest influences? There are too many to cover in one post. This is part three of my series of posts to show the key books, movies, music and shows that have influenced me, not only as a writer, but as a person.

 

Star Trek:

We are at a point in time where the amount of Star Trek available for consumption is mind blowing. Not only are there five shows and twelve movies, there are comics, video games, board games, card games and books. I began watching Star Trek because of my mum, who was a big fan. It was almost routine for us to sit down and watch the latest episode of Next-Gen or Deep Space Nine and Voyager in later years. As I child I can recall watching Star Trek IV; The Voyage Home, on a monthly basis.

What is it about Star Trek that captivated me so? Firstly it was the individual characters who became a second family. Every new voyage was like going on an adventure with a band of best friends. But the truth of it is that Star Trek appeals to something in human nature. The desire for discovery, and for betterment. The federation is an almost utopian idea. A world where we have shed all of the prejudices and vices of the past. We have rid the world of poverty, of greed, of war. All that is left is a unified civilisation which strives to spread peace throughout the galaxy and learn all that can be learnt.

Despite this we see the crew of the enterprise go through all of the very same drama’s which are present in the world today. However, they are presented to us in conflicts with alien species or new space oddities. Even though the Earth has managed to find lasting peace, we still find war and avarice in the far reaches of space. Star Trek showed me that no matter what, peace is not eternal.

 

Magician by Raymond E. Feist:

Arguably this is the single most influential piece of art in my life. When coming up with a list of things for this series of posts, the first thing to spring to mind was Magician. It is the one book that changed my life. It was one of the first epic fantasy novels I read front to back and I still recall the feelings I felt when turning those pages.

The story of Pug and his journey to become a magician captivated me like no other story ever has. When reading it I recall the sensation that this was what had been missing from my life. It had everything you could ever want. There were battles, an invading alien army, magic, dragons, dwarves and elves, but most of all it had amazing world building and characters.

There is no doubt that my writing in most influenced by the many books set in Midkemia. There is no doubt my characters are influenced by the characters I grew to love from Magician. I have not recommended a book more than this one. I would never hesitate to recommend it. It is, in my opinion, a perfect example of the emotion, excitement and enjoyment that the fantasy genre is capable of. If I were deserted on an island, it is the one book I would want to have with me.

 

To see my other posts in this series click below.

My Top Picks – Part One

My Top Picks – Part Two

Review: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

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Fitz! What a character … What a story! I don’t know why it took me so long to start reading Robin Hobb, but I don’t regret it. I don’t regret it because now I have so many of her other books to explore. Assassin’s Apprentice was hands down one of the best fantasy books I have ever read. There we go, review over. No need for any more praise than that. Ok, you aren’t here to read a ten second review. Here are a few more thoughts.

This was a refreshing example of a coming of age story for me. The first person narrative worked extremely well in making you feel like you were watching the story unfold from Fitz’s mind. It kept other characters mysterious and at a distance. It also kept up a good level of suspense. A good page turner for me is a book which constantly leaves you hanging, needing to know more, to unravel more clues. Hobb did this splendidly with Assassin’s apprentice.

The thing I reflect on the most is how much I liked the different characters. Fitz has many mentor figures as well as a few adversaries who are all unique, flawed and well developed. In addition to this his affinity with animals was something which added a real flavour to the book. I always like it when a character has great companions. To have great animal companions, well, it doesn’t get much better than that. Drizzt anyone?

Something I found refreshing was the fact that this was an opening book of a trilogy and did not focus on world changing events. Don’t get me wrong, I am a massive fan of the ‘save the world’ stories. But it was nice to see a first book focus more on the main character’s growth, with some world changing events only hinted at in the background.

Hobb also has a great magic system in place. One which makes it a powerful thing in the world but also dangerous to use. I felt it added that real fantastical element to the tale, but did not overtake the narrative. There were times when I really wanted to hear a little bit more about ‘The Skill’ but I am sure that will come in later novels.  

Now let me come to my favourite part of the book. The Fool. Most fantasy stories have some element of prophecy or destiny in them. The Fool is a character who is mysterious and hints at prophecy, but not in a blatant way. I did not at once feel like he was contrived or merely used to drive the story. I felt like he was a living breathing part of the world. And I can’t wait to find out more about him.

Overall I cannot more highly recommend this book to anyone who has not read it. In fact don’t read any more of this, go out and by Assassin’s Apprentice and start reading!

Rating 5/5  

It’s Launch Day!

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What are you wasting your time reading this for? Today is release day for The Tyrant’s Onslaught. Get your eReader or pick up a hard copy and get reading. And if you haven’t read book one of the Valerious Chronicles, well frankly I don’t know what in the world you’ve been doing!

I hope to see you all celebrating with me!

Amazon

iTunes

Paperback

 

 

Review: Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen Donaldson

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I have seen multiple lists of iconic fantasy novels to read. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant have almost always made an appearance. Because of that I finally managed to find the time to read the first entry. I will be upfront, I did not really enjoy Lord Foul’s Bane. I knew little about it prior to picking it up, other than the fact that the main character was an anti-hero.

Having read the book, I now feel that much of this book’s success can be attributed to it being one of the few Fantasy novels of its time to push certain boundaries. Therefore I need to give it credit where credit is due and say that Thomas Covenant is a terrific anti-hero. By the end of the book I actually disliked him more than at the beginning. I do not want to spoil anything for would be readers but there is a particular event at the start of the book which really surprised me. And not in a good way. In a way that instantly made me want to read something else because I detested the character so much.

What saddens me is that Donaldson is a great writer. At times I really loved his descriptions, names and characters. But as a whole I just found it tiresome to finish the story. I didn’t care whether Thomas Covenant achieved anything. The basic premise of the story reminded me heavily of the Lord of the Rings. Yet it was different enough not to feel like it was borrowing too heavily.

What I particularly liked was the different cultures which Donaldson developed, such as his giants and the people of the plains. They were a unique take and I found that refreshing. Saltheart Foamfollower was a character I instantly liked and, to be honest, kept me reading when I considered giving up. After finishing the book I hopped online to see what others had thought. Normally I do not do this but as I really didn’t enjoy the book that much, I felt that perhaps I had missed something.

Never have I come across such polarizing reviews. It seemed that people either loved it or hated it. One star or five. I found few reviews that sat in the middle. Many of the negative reviews centered on that certain event at the beginning, and I can understand how that could turn someone away from reading any more of the book quite quickly. However, I found that when I read why people loved the book I started to see their points.

Lord Foul’s Bane is best looked at through a lens. It may not be the best story, but it set out to create a unique world, with an anti-hero main character whose actions and behaviour go against what we expect in a novel. I think you need to consider when it was written whilst judging it. Fantasy writing has changed significantly since then. Modern novels trend towards faster pacing, more dialogue and less exposition. Donaldson covers some great themes in his book and I think it is true to say that reading the Chronicles is hard work. You almost feel as though you are studying an ancient roman text. That being said it is an exceptionally well written story.

So now I ask myself would I recommend this book to my friends. The short answer is no. I do not feel that I would be looked upon favourably in doing so. But credit must be given. I understand why some people would love this book. And Donaldson is a great writer. I have simply decided it is just not to my taste.

Rating: 2/5

The Tyrant’s Onslaught Pre-Orders available

I am excited to announce that The Tyrant’s Onslaught, Book Two in the Valerious Chronicles is available for pre-order prior to its release on the 31st of August.

TO Alternate cover 4

Imprisoned. Christill now faces the wrath of his King and Council. They will demand his blood, but his destiny is yet to be fulfilled. He must uncover the terrible source of the Tyrant King’s power if the world is to be saved. The guardian gods have given him strength, however, he will be forced to travel to the most dangerous part of Kovi, hunted by those he is fighting to save.

Thibalt always believed in his Scorpions, but it is a dark path the Maloreichar have set them on. He will question his actions at every turn. The war will paint his hands red. As their enemies close in around them, he will be forced to make the hardest choice of his life.

Throughout their journey they will face familiar enemies, treachery and above all the malevolence of Zephra. The truth will be revealed and sacrifices made, for the Tyrant King’s onslaught is unwavering. Hope is all that remains. Hope and two brothers.

 

The Tyrant’s Onslaught is now available to Pre-Order at the following retailers:

iTunes

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

And for those who are very eager to secure a copy the paperback version is already available for sale early on Amazon and my own store.

 

Hard at work

I am in the final stages of proofreading for The Tyrant’s Onslaught. Once that is finished I will begin the arduous task of formatting for Smashwords, Kindle and Paperback.

I am expecting Pre-orders to be available in the next fortnight and will keep you posted once they are up.

Until then, keep your fingers crossed, and send me some good vibes so that I can keep my eyes open and get the next installment of the Valerious Chronicles out to you.

 

Tyrant’s Onslaught set for release August 31st

TO Alternate cover 2

To all those eagerly awaiting the release of book two in the Valerious Chronicles, I have finally set the official release date.

The Tyrant’s Onslaught is set to be released across all formats on the 31st of August 2014. I am hoping to have preorders available at the end of July.

Hang in there. Not too long left.