The Momentum Blog

Exclusive excerpt: The Bloody Quarrel episode 5

Posted January 4, 2016 by Michelle Cameron

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“This is an outrage and if this is the way you intend to run the city, you can forget about the support of the Guilds,” the new head of the Bankers Guild declared.

Fallon glowered at him but a sheaf of requests for money had arrived just that morning from the nobles of the neighboring counties. With money he could purchase, through them, food and goods from counties further away. The food situation was better but it seemed there were many other things the city needed for winter, from firewood to wool for clothing, while the animals stabled within the city to be slaughtered and eaten later needed fodder for the next moon or two. He might get enough gold if he raided the Bankers Guildhouse or he might not. And he could not take the risk.

“What are you talking about?” he asked innocently.

“Duchess Dina. Arrested in the square outside this castle! The Guilds are all happy to deal with her but if she is imprisoned or executed then we shall have to rethink our support,” the Banker said loftily.

“And what if I decided to come calling and look into your affairs, see whether you are secretly worshipping Zorva?” Fallon challenged.

The Banker sat up straighter. “We have all sworn loyalty to Aroaril,” he said. “And if you destroy the Guilds you will throw this city into chaos. No merchant will deal with you and none of the nobles sending food and goods in from the counties will trust you. Duchess Dina was someone we could all deal with. You, on the other hand, are the man who gutted the King in front of a cheering crowd. They are too afraid to work with you.”

Fallon leaned back in his chair, his mind racing. Was this part of Dina’s plans? Had she made the Guilds secret promises in exchange for their support if anything should happen to her? Do we even need the Guilds? Why not just march into every Guildhouse, arrest their leaders and take their money, share it out among the people? It was tempting but they were clever men. They would have planned for this possibility, while he had not. By the time he had men mustered and marching, the Guildsmen would be scattering like rats in torchlight. Unless he got their leaders and their money then he was creating more trouble. He had to get ready for a fight with the Kottermanis and make sure Bridgit got back safely. Fighting his own people in Berry, even if they were Guildsmen, was foolish.

“Well, I am afraid you are mistaken,” he said. “Duchess Dina was not arrested. She is merely resting in her townhouse. We have had a strenuous few days of fast marches and hard camps. Not something she was really used to. She will be available for meetings tomorrow, where she can tell you herself.”

He smiled at the Banker, thinking that he could take a page from Aidan’s schemes.

The Banker looked uncertainly at him. “She was not arrested? Not taken screaming and crying into the castle?”

Fallon made himself laugh lightly. “A foolish jest between friends. She will tell you herself when you see her tomorrow. Shall we say noon, so she does not have to rise early? Bring as many Guild leaders as you feel necessary.”

He could see the confusion on the Banker’s face and enjoyed it. If nothing else, this would buy him enough time to be ready to search every Guildhouse at a moment’s notice.

“We understand the Duchess might be tired after the success of your march through the counties. We shall make it brief.”

“Excellent,” Fallon said. “Well, if there is nothing else that concerns you?”

“No, that was my reason for visiting.”

“Good. Well, I am glad I could clear that up. And after you have met with the Duchess, we can perhaps discuss terms for a short-term loan to keep the city operating?”

He saw the man out to the door, where Gallagher was ready to take him back out of the castle.

“What are we going to do? That traitorous bitch is not going to help us,” Devlin said. “What in Aroaril’s name were you thinking of when you said that?”

“She will help us. She has spent a night in the cells. We offer her the chance to live in her townhouse and, if she behaves, the chance to go and live quietly in the country somewhere after all this is over.”

“Why not keep her here, right under our thumb, in her rooms?” Gallagher asked.

“Partly because we need to use them but mainly because I don’t want her hearing or knowing what is going on around here. Who knows what servants she has in her pay?”

Brendan thumped the table. “I will not see her get away with it!” he growled.

“And nor will she. We will lie to her, pure and simple. And at all times she will have two dozen guards around her. Men we trust. If she tries anything then she will suffer a tragic accident. And we shall be ready to raid the Guildhouses at a moment’s notice, if they kick up a fuss.”

Brendan grimaced. “I don’t trust her any further than I can throw her.”

“Well, that could be quite a way,” Padraig said with a wink. “She’s pretty small, you know.”

“This is not a laughing matter,” Devlin said.

“No, it’s not. But we need to use everything we can to get this city ready for the Kottermanis. If that means tricking and lying to Dina, then so be it. We have just forced the nobles around here to help us. If they smell weakness then they will all stop the food coming and then we will have even more trouble,” Fallon said forcefully. “And what about the Guild of Magic? With their help, we have blinded Swane. If they turn against us then we would have more problems than a lack of flour. I would not like Swane to see how weak we really are here.”

He looked around the table and they all nodded, even Brendan.

“We had better keep a close eye on her though,” he added. “We’ll pick at least a score of our best recruits and put Casey in charge.”

“Not one of us?” Brendan suggested.

Fallon shook his head. “We’re too well known. The Guilds will smell a rat if we are there. They don’t know Casey.”

“Aroaril, I hope you are right about this,” Devlin said. “It might be safer to keep her here.”

“Would you invite a snake into your house? I fear she will be up to mischief here. In her townhouse she will be all alone, watched by a score of our best men at all times and only those we allow can enter. I don’t like keeping her around any more than you do but you heard that bloody Guildsman. People are talking and we don’t have the time or the energy to waste on fighting inside Berry. We have to get ready for the Kottermanis. Besides, there is a kind of justice to it. She used us to help her plans. So we use her now.”

 

The Bloody Quarrel: episode 5 is released on the 7th of January.

Pre-order your copy now!

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Exclusive excerpt: The Bloody Quarrel: Episode 2

Posted December 9, 2015 by Michelle Cameron

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Prince Kemal looked out over the water and sighed. Then he turned to look at his family, his wife Feray and sons Asil and Orhan, and smiled.

“What is it, my Lord?” his wife asked, her voice gentle and musical.

Kemal did not need to glance around to see if anyone was listening. His people knew better than to disturb his privacy. They were alone on the high stern deck, looking out over the endless ocean that divided Kotterman from Gaelland.

“I wonder whether we will like it there,” he said. Many men, in fact most men, would not confide in their wives, let alone discuss matters of great import with them. But Feray was not an ordinary woman. He had married her because it solidified his father’s grip on a vital part of the Empire, but he had swiftly fallen in love with her anyway. Their sons were eight and six summers of age and another source of joy to him, although they were less interested in what he was saying and more curious about a pair of dolphins that were swimming alongside the ship.

“How can we not? We will be representing your father and the great Empire of Kotterman, bringing a new province into its boundaries for the first time in one hundred years,” she said.

He chuckled. “I know what we are supposed to do. I question why.”

She cocked her head on one side. “Tell me, my Lord.”

Kemal smiled and enfolded her in his arms. “Do you know why I have taken no other woman?” he asked. “Although my brothers believe an oath to Aroaril is no oath at all?”

“Because you know I would remove your manhood with a rusty knife?” she suggested with a grin.

“Well, that also. But the real reason is I could never find anyone with half as much sense as you. This business with Gaelland concerns me deeply. When my forefathers began to expand our Empire, they could not stop once they had started, because there were always enemies across the border who wanted our riches, as well as allies who wanted our trade. But we have no border with Gaelland and it is a huge distance from my father. And their King is a strange man. We talk to him because we must but he reminds me of a shark. It looks like he is smiling all the time, he even appears foolish on occasion, but then you catch sight of his eyes and you realize there is something evil there.”

Feray shuddered a little. “But surely we have nothing to fear from him? There are too few of them and they are too poor to cause us concern.”

“That is what my father thinks. But all he has done is read the reports on this King Aidan. He has never met the man. Although that is one thing about Gaelland coming under the Kotterman Empire. If we remove Aidan from the throne, it will actually help the people.”

“Do you believe that?”

He smiled. “More than that, I know it to be true. Our agents have been meeting with people from the King’s eldest son, Prince Cavan. Many of the nobles would like to see the end of Aidan’s rule and the Crown Prince assures our agents they would welcome Kottermani rule if their positions are preserved and the lives of their people improved. Obviously I will need to meet with this Cavan myself, as well as the nobles he claims support him. It will influence my talks with King Aidan, although it is up to me to make my father’s dream come true.”

“What are you going to do, my love?”

Kemal kissed her on the head. “What I must. I can never forget that I have three brothers, all of whom would love to sit on the Elephant Throne one day. As you say, Gaelland is the first new province to be brought into the Empire since my great-great-grandfather’s time. My father lusts more for it than he has for any woman. He feels the touch of Aroaril on his shoulder and wants to leave his mark on the history scrolls. If I do not do this, then he will find another who will.”

Her arms tightened around him. “I do not care if you are the Emperor or just a man. I would still be with you,” she said against his chest.

He chuckled. “Let us never put that to the test!”

He might have said more, but his sons came running over then, the dolphins forgotten, wanting to show him how they had been learning the sword, brandishing their wooden practice blades.

“Come then, let us see how good you are!” Kemal challenged them, winking at his wife’s indulgent smile as he defended himself against the children.

Asil, the older of the two, was slim and fast, while Orhan was younger but already stocky and solid through the chest and shoulders, and his blows had the same power as his older brother’s, albeit without the speed.

Kemal fended the two of them off easily, his footing sure and quick, making them bump into each other and occasionally using his wooden sword to tap one of them, all the while telling them what to do better.

“Enough!” he cried finally, as Orhan abandoned his sword and grabbed him around the leg. “I am defeated by you!”

“Really, Baba?” Orhan asked, looking up at his father in delight.

“No!” Kemal laughed, grabbing them both in his arms.

Their laughter echoed across the ship as Feray called down to servants for refreshments to be brought up.

 

Grab your copy here!

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Cover reveal – The Bloody Quarrel: Complete Edition by Duncan Lay

Posted November 11, 2015 by Michelle Cameron

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The prince is dead.

Fooled by the treacherous King Aidan, Fallon has shot down the one man he trusted to save his beloved nation of Gaelland. And yet, when the King could grind Fallon underfoot, he draws the simple farmer and fighter closer, making a hero of him.

Embroiled in plots beyond his comprehension and weighted with the guilt of the prince’s murder, Fallon must tread carefully if he is to accomplish the task that first brought him to the cursed capital: rescue his wife, Bridgit, and the rest of his village from Kottermani slavery. If he and his hopelessly ensnared men can survive, they may yet find redemption.

Meanwhile, across the ocean, Bridgit is rallying those around her to spring an escape. But who can be trusted? The ever-present danger of traitors and liars among the slaves, and even among her fellow Gaelish, is poison to her plans.

With an ocean between them and fouler nightmares looming, Fallon and Bridgit will be driven to their very limits to escape their prisons, find each other, and bring justice to Gaelland.

This epic fantasy is perfect for fans of Robin Hobb and Joe Abercrombie.

The Bloody Quarrel: Complete Edition is released on the 11th of February. Pre-order your copy now!

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The Last Quarrel – book tour!

Posted September 18, 2015 by Michelle Cameron

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To celebrate the release of The Last Quarrel in print, Duncan Lay will be touring around NSW, the ACT and Victoria in October, hitting up some book conventions as well as book stores.

If you come along to one of those days then you could take part in a fun Twitter/Facebook giveaway that could see you win a book pack or maybe enjoy a discount for the eBook to go with your print edition …

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(This is Duncan, he’ll be the man near the table with the sharpie.)

Here’s where you can catch Duncan:

Thurs Oct 1:

Dymocks Canberra: 11am

Dymocks Tuggeranong: 2pm

Friday Oct 2:

Dymocks Belconnen 10am

Hooked On Books Batemans Bay 2.30pm

Saturday Oct 3:

Shoalhaven Superheroes convention (booksales for DeanSwift ABC Books Nowra)

Tuesday Oct 6

Galaxy Books 11am

Wed Oct 7

Dymocks George Street store: 12pm

Thurs Oct 8:

11am: Dymocks Penrith

5pm: Dymocks Macquarie Centre

Friday Oct 9:

11am: Dymocks Burwood

2.30pm: Dymocks Chatswood

Sat Oct 10:

Dymocks Tuggerah 1pm

Sun Oct 11:

Dymocks Rouse Hill 11am

Wed Oct 14:

Dymocks Collins St Melbourne: 11am

Dymocks Victoria Gardens: 2pm

Thurs Oct 15:

Dymocks Knox: 10am

Dymocks Glen Waverley 1pm

Dymocks Southland: 5pm

Fri Oct 16:

Dymocks Eastland 10am

Dymocks Doncaster 1pm

Sat Oct 17:

Dymocks Parramatta

Sun Oct 18:

Sydney Book Expo at Olympic Park

Thursday October 22:

Event night at Berkelouw Hornsby: 6pm

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Cover Reveal: Equilibrium Complete Edition

Posted May 29, 2015 by Momentum

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Generations after the Spirits abandoned the world, two mortal empires stand on the brink of a final battle to end a centuries-old conflict. Ayons in the north, Ronnesians in the south.

Washed up on the shore of a foreign land, Angora is thrust into a war not her own. Proclaimed one of twelve legendary mages – representatives of the Spirits – she is charged with protecting the innocent with magic beyond her imagination. However, when her allies mercilessly misuse their own powers, she begins to wonder which side of the conflict is the more righteous.

  After the abduction of their ruler, the Ayons launch an invasion capable of destroying the Ronnesians once and for all. As the war rages on, Angora’s friends fight bravely as strongholds fall before the mighty crimson wave of the Ayon army.

But when all seems lost for the Ronnesians, a spark of hope is found in an infamous assassin and a fragile rebellion rising from the dust.

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Epic Rules for Epic Fantasy

Posted May 7, 2015 by Achala Upendran

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Egwene al'VereThere are many reasons why I love epic fantasy. First of all, there’s the larger than life aspect of it, of someone going out to save the world from a terrible threat. Second, you get to explore a whole new universe, one where, often, magic is a real thing and people are capable of working wonders. There are downsides of course, such as the prevalence of dark lords and monsters, but those seem negotiable when you have magic and sword fighting to hand.

But writing epic fantasy—that’s not an easy task. Not only do you have to bear the weight of giants who have gone before you (as in any other literary genre), but you have to create a world riveting and believable enough in itself that your readers want to spend time there. Better—they must want to stay there for the duration of three, five, seven, THIRTEEN books, however it long it takes for your heroes to get their game together and face down the imminent darkness.

I confess, I want to be an epic fantasy writer myself. To that end, I’ve put down a few rules that I’ve gathered from my experiences as a reader and editor thus far, and I try to abide by them as much as I can. Feel free to use them or abuse them, as you see fit!

1) Give your hero(ine) an uncomplicated name Katniss-Everdeen

This is very important. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost patience with writers because their leading character’s name was long and trippy, sometimes consisting of three separate words. Some writers seem to think that spicing a name up with extra vowels (lots of ae’s and ei’s) will give their leading (wo)men a boost in the reader rating. When it looks pretentious, it’s going to put your readers off. Nothing does the job so well as simple names, like Harry, Rand, or Asvin from Samit Basu’s Gameworld Trilogy.

2) You don’t need a prologue

There are very few fantasy authors who do the prologue well, among them George R. R. Martin and Robert Jordan (he sort of lost the plot in the later books though—those prologues got way too long). The prologue essentially sets the scene for the action, but it’s not always necessary. Sometimes it works to hurl your readers headfirst into the world and let them find their bearings on their own. Also, this way it makes the central conflict more suspenseful—with no idea of what to expect, anything you conjure for them is sure to surprise your readers.

3) An entire race can’t be evil

This is very, very important to me. As someone from a non-Western, non-white country, I might be especially sensitive to sweeping portrayals of an entire people as stupid, or ignorant, or downright evil. Not only is this extremely hurtful to a community, but it’s Haradrimtotally unrealistic. There’s no way thousands and thousands (if not millions) of people can all be branded one particular thing, based purely on their skin colour or cultural affiliation. Thankfully, writers are making good progress on this front, and refraining from painting entire nations with one brush. However, this just makes those who fall back on such simplistic representation all the more open to criticism. For instance, I just finished Anthony Ryan’s ‘Tower Lord’, the second in his Raven’s Shadow series. The book was great, except for one glaring fact: one nation, or rather empire, was painted with just one terrible, sickening brush.

4) Where does the water come from?

And an added question, how do the people in your book function? What do they use to cook their food? Do they have pots and pans? what are they made of? Where do they sleep? What material are their houses built of? Is the environment they live in capable of sustaining these lifestyles? If they live in cities, do they have electricity, or something like it, or do they rely on oil lamps? What is the oil made of? It’s almost staggering, the things samthat you have to consider when you build your own world. You’ll start to think that people who write ‘realer’ fiction have it so much easier, at least they don’t have to wonder how their character goes to the bathroom at night.

5) It’s not Okay

This might just be me being nitpicky, but if you’re crafting an entirely new universe, with its own history and geography and social customs and religions (and magic! monsters! mayhem!) are you really, really going to make all of that come crashing down by having a character say ‘okay’? Words like ‘okay’ and other forms of slang evolve in a very particular context; they’re born from specific historical events and circumstances that, odds are, would not have happened in your magical world. Besides, if you’re going to create everything else, why chicken out and not make up your own slang? It’s arguably a lot easier than figuring out plumbing systems. Or maybe not.

In either case, why pass up the chance to make a world that’s completely yours?

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Cover Reveal: Equilibrium episode 5 and 6

Posted May 6, 2015 by Momentum

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The Ayons lose their king, making way for a deadly new leader.

King Samian is dead. In the aftermath of the fateful battle in the castle, Lord General Archis Varren launches a full-scale invasion of the south, determined to deal the Ronnesians a blow they will never forget.

Stationed at Kilsney, Captain Rasmus Auran is the first to witness the fury of the Ayon attack. Forced to retreat, and hounded by their northern enemy every step of the way, Ronnesian hearts begin to despair.

Yet Te’Roek provides only a temporary sanctuary, for Varren is determined to see it fall and will not stop until he rules the city from the castle itself.

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When all seems lost for Ronnesia, a small but fearless band of rebels arises.

The Ayons have been victorious. Queen Sorcha has fled Te’Roek, leaving the city under the occupation of the Ayons, led by the new consul Lord General Archis Varren.

But not all the citizens have bent the knee. A fragile resistance—led by Angora, Tiderius, and Rasmus—tirelessly tries to keep the citizens loyal to Queen Sorcha. However, even their combined power cannot stand up to the might of the new consul. Forced to look elsewhere for allies, their gaze falls upon infamous assassin Zoran Sable and his deadly arts. Even so, will it be enough to liberate the city?

At the end of an age, the ancient equilibrium threatens to fracture and break forever.

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Cover Reveal: Equilibrium episodes 3 and 4

Posted May 4, 2015 by Momentum

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The Ronnesians are forced to answer for their deception, which comes at a deadly price.

Lord General Archis Varren, intent on avenging the murder of his predecessor, has traced the assassination contract to the Ronnesian Mayor Challan, one of Queen Sorcha’s most valued supporters.

Meanwhile, Vrór viciously attacks the Ronnesian capital of Te’Roek, luring Angora back from her self-appointed mission in the north. The two Leikas finally come face to face and their ensuing battle takes them far from the city. But is this fight one Angora can possibly win?

In the aftermath of the attack, Varren hatches his plan to cripple Queen Sorcha’s power at its very source and the equilibrium begins to tip.

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A mage and newly-made queen is killed, devastating both sides of the war.

Unable to persuade her former companions to give up their quest to reclaim her allegiance, Angora has been forced to turn against them and fight for her freedom. However, the fight has proven to be a costly one and Angora has fallen to her death in a deep ravine.

In the wake of her demise, both empires are momentarily subdued, mourning the loss of a friend and queen.

However, driven by the belief that Angora may have survived, the Ronnesians launch an attack on the Ayon capital of Delseroy in an attempt to free her from the Ayons’ clutches. But their attack does not go according to plan, setting in motion a series of events that could spell their doom.

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Book Therapy

Posted April 9, 2015 by Achala Upendran

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neil gaimanNeil Gaiman is one of my favourite writers, not only for his ability to create creepy, chilling, utterly convincing mini worlds in his stories, but also because he talks so beautifully about the importance of his art and how he set about making it happen. In fact, he’s one of my favourite writers on writing, and makes the process sound both very accessible and magical at the same time. Curious paradox, but he pulls it off.

Anyway, in a now famous speech, Gaiman exhorted his audience to ‘make good art’. When life gets tough, he says, channel your energies towards creating something that will stand the test of time and make you forget about things. ‘Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor? Make good art….Make it on the good days too.’

This is brilliant advice for two reasons: 1) Anything that tells aspiring artists to buckle down to their work is welcome and 2) some day, someone else facing a bad day will be grateful to you for having created that ‘good art’.

I’m sure this has happened to many readers. When the bad things happen, or terrible moods and times come around, sometimes the only thing that gets you through them is someone else’s ‘good art’. This happened to me a couple of years ago. I hit a really rough patch, emotionally speaking, in my postgrad years, and despite all the love and support of friends and family, the only thing that really pulled me through was a re-read and reconnection with the Harry Potter books, specifically, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

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I don’t know what exactly it was about the book that spoke to me at that time, whether it was that I found a reflection of myself in the increasingly moody and troubled Harry, the crazed, trapped Sirius Black, or just the fact that it took me back to the time when I had first read it: my high school years when things seemed, from this distance, so much simpler. Whatever it was, it worked, and the connection that I reforged with the book, always my favourite in the series, became even stronger. Now there are new emotional overtones that I associate with it, and it’s become dearer than ever before.

I do have other favourites, a large number of them, (un)surprisingly, fantasy books. There’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, a childhood favourite that sticks with me through thick and thin; there’s ‘The Gathering Storm’, one of the last novels in the epic aliceWheel of Time series; there’s always, of course, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and last but not at all least, ‘The Book of Lost Things’ by John Connolly. I find that fantasy books, more than any other genre (for me), are able to communicate that sense of hope, of convincing me that things will get better simply because so much of their storyline and moral grounding is driven by the idea that if you believe enough, you can do anything. Even save the world.

Making good art is not, therefore, just a way for you yourself to get over the tough times; it’s a way to help someone out there in the wide world have a better day. And that’s why among the ton of things I’m grateful for, my favourite writers are up there on that list. If they hadn’t believed in themselves enough to sit down and create these worlds, getting through the tough times might have been a lot harder. And so, I will take Neil Gaiman’s advice, hoping that some day I can return the favour, and always, always thankful that when he was down and out, he took the trouble to make that good art, too.

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Cover reveal: Equilibrium episode 1

Posted April 7, 2015 by Momentum

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The Spirits’ ancient equilibrium is brought into being when the twelfth mage is finally found. But Angora is unlike those who have come before her and she refuses to blindly accept her fate.

The Ayons have mysteriously retreated from a far-reaching southern offensive, ordered back by their newly crowned king.

In the aftermath of this battle, Angora is washed up on the shore of a foreign land, bruised and battered, determined to keep her past a secret from all. Rescued from slavers, yet immediately falling prey to others, she is thrust into a war not her own.

Proclaimed one of twelve legendary mages, Angora is charged with protecting the innocent with magic beyond her imagination.

But a dark future awaits her and her friends as the Ayon threat begins to swell once more in the north.

Equilibrium: Episode 1 goes on sale April 9th, followed by episode 2 on April 23rd!

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Love is in the Air – the best love stories in literature

Posted February 16, 2015 by Achala Upendran

Valentine’s Day approacheth, and with it the looming spectre of that movie’s release. You know the one I’m talking about—the one that started out as a piece of heavily reviewed Twilight fan fiction and then snowballed into a three book deal. The one with the protagonists creatively named Steele and Grey. Yup, that’s the one.

I haven’t read the Fifty Shades series, so I can’t really comment on it, but the fact that it’s releasing on a day hailed as ‘the’ day to celebrate romantic love is quite amusing. If nothing else, it attests to the fact that love comes in all sorts of strange forms, and with a bunch of strange fetishes. To get into the spirit of things, I’ve compiled a short list of the most stirring, strange and downright scintillating love stories in fantasy lit that I have read in my (thus far) brief life. 

The Moste Tragic Affair : In my opinion, Aeneas (of Virgil’s Aeneid) pulled the original Loving Hero Paradox. When he and his crew were shipwrecked in Carthage (in North Africa), they were taken in and sheltered by the Queen, Dido. Being a handsome, brave, smart and driven man, Aeneas took little time to win her heart, and dido and aeneassoon the two were inseparable, to such an extent that she was neglecting her kingdom and he had thrown his quest to found Rome on the backburner. Finally, Aeneas realised that he had to get a move on, and possibly starred in the first great break-up scene in Western literature, where he gave Dido all the lines that would soon become classics like, it’s not you, it’s me, I am doomed to do this great deed and cannot get sidetracked by the pleasures of love, if I had my way, I would never leave you, etc. Being a rather emotional being, Dido built herself a funeral pyre and threw herself onto it, just when Aeneas was pulling away from shore. Later, when they crossed paths in the underworld, she refused to give him the time of day.

If Aeneas was the original Loving Hero, Dido was the first Taylor Swift. She knew that boy was trouble when he walked in.

Part Time Lovers and Full Time Friends: I know this is a bit of an odd choice, but I’ve always been a Hermione/Ron shipper, regardless of what JKR might say about him being the wrong guy for her. For one thing, this is the one couple who Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Princenever have any ‘I cannot be with you because I must save the world/you from myself’ drama and they’ve seen each other at their absolute worst and learned to put up with it. Plus, I think it’s super sweet how the whole ‘opposites attract’ thing plays out between them: where Ron is laid-back, Hermione is over-zealous with her planning; where Ron is an improviser who operates (like Harry) on gut instinct, Hermione is a rational, theoretically-minded kind of girl. In many ways, this is a fantasy romance for any high-strung type A girl—to find a man as accepting and unthreatened (well, he eventually gets there) as Ron.

Love the Way You Lie: So the Wheel of Time series, like the Harry Potter books, is all about how (spoiler) love will save the world. Rand, the hero, is saved by his ability to love, to care for his fellow men. Rand is also saved by his immense love for and attachment to three very important women, but the most steadfast of those is, arguably, Min. Unlike most of the other characters in this series, Min has no special defensive powers, is not royalty and stays by Rand’s side through the darkest of times, literally almost dying for her dedication. I do find her need to be around him, regardless of his temper tantrums, a little disturbing, so as much as I like her, that’s why I’ve slotted this in this particular category.

rand and min

The Love that Dare not Speak its Name: But most everyone knows about anyway. This title obviously goes to my favourite incestuous couple—Jaime and Cersei Lannister from G.R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s a true testament to jaime and cerseiMartin’s genius that he manages to get his readers emotionally invested in these incestuous psychopaths. I don’t know about you, but I sort of do find myself rooting from J and C to win through and (knowing the ways of Westeros) die together. What can I say—if you write it well, obviously even incest isn’t a barrier to ‘true love’. 

Never Let Me Go: There are so many, many stories about death inserting itself rather rudely between lovers, right from Romeo and Juliet to Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in the movie Ghost. But then, there are those lovers who refuse to let TN-Luthiens_Lament_Before_Mandosthat be a concern, and march bravely into the face of it in order to yank back their better halves. My favourite in that line? Definitely Luthien the Super Elf and Beren from Tolkien’s Silmarillion. No character, regardless of gender or race, accomplishes as much as Luthien in Tolkien’s universe. Literally going to the halls of death to plead with the (for all intents and purposes) resident god to send her lover back? All in a day’s work for Luthien. I’m waiting for the Peter Jackson to make a movie about her.

Of course there are tons more, but to go on forever would no doubt be exhausting. And besides, who wants to sit around reading lists when they can write their own epic romance narratives, literally or figuratively? Or, best of all, both?

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The Science of Magic

Posted January 30, 2015 by Achala Upendran

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For someone who knows nothing about this kind of stuff, technology seems a lot like magic. I still can’t wrap my head around how dialling a number on a phone lets you connect to someone half a world away, and despite the efforts of a friend to explain it, the mechanics remain shrouded in a half mystical veil. I’ve started trying to figure out how websites work and are hosted (as an internet junkie, I feel I owe it to myself), but becoming an expert is going to be an incredibly long journey. 

The fact that I just referred to it as ‘stuff’ should be some indication of just how ill-informed I am.

This is me, whenever someone tries to talk tech.

This is me, whenever someone tries to talk tech.

The point of this curious monologue/confession is: technology presents, like magic, a curious paradox. It works because of set rules: laws laid down by nature (or, if you subscribe to the theory, a Higher Power) which a man-made device manipulates or utilises in order to achieve certain results. If you break any of these devices down to figure out how exactly they operate, the rules will remain constant, as do the results of their operations. A computer cannot randomly begin to talk to you unless it is programmed to, and even that programming has certain limitations, though those limits seem to expand with every passing day, if not hour.

Now, magic, which should technically (pun not intended) be seen as the very opposite of science, has evolved in fantasy books to become one. The better crafted an author’s world, the more rigid her system of ‘magic’, or whatever constitutes the unknowable, immaterial power that various characters might use. For instance, Jonathan Stroud’s ‘magic’, worked by the ruling class in his slightly altered England, is dependent on the services of djinn, afrits, and other denizens of the ‘Other Place’. There are rules for summoning these powers, and limitations on what they themselves can do. And they are definitely not possessed of unending reserves of energy—as Nathaniel, the protagonist of the series, learns the hard way.

A really good fantasy writer creates a system governed by rules—what those rules are is completely up to the author, but once set in place, they do not bend or break. In a strange way, the thing that is supposedly most uncontainable, most difficult to explain, is the one that should, ideally, be best governed and codified, at least in its creator’s mind. Magic that works whenever it wishes to doesn’t help anyone—either the characters using it, or the readers trying to understand and learn to live in your world. For instance, a huge reason why many people (me included) had a problem with the  conclusion of the Harry Potter series was that it appeared to hinge on an important magical fact that had not been included, or even hinted at, in the six books leading up to Deathly Hallows. It just seemed like Rowling, usually such a careful writer, had pulled a rabbit out of her hat, and the surprise was not entirely a good one. It seemed convenient, rather than well thought out.

voldemort

Not how I expected this to go down.

One writer who really, really creates and plays by his own rules to superb effect is Patrick Rothfuss. His Kingkiller Chronicles are amazing for many reasons, but his ‘magic’ system is surely one of them. Kvothe, the protagonist, struggles to learn the different skills that would make him an adept, and like any student, he makes mistakes and overstretches himself, brings too much confidence to the table when he should have brought humility instead. He is brilliant, yes, but he also learns that there are things he cannot do, except, sometimes, as a sheer fluke. The road to naming and using those names (the way ‘magic’ works in this universe) is a long one, and even after two books, Kvothe still struggles at University to figure out how it all works.

kvothe

The key to keeping your codified magic as mysterious and mystical as technology is (to the ignorant ones) is to restrict complete knowledge of it to a few characters, none of whom spend too much time talking about the theory behind all of it. For instance, in Harry Potter, we don’t spend any time in Dumbledore, or Snape or McGonagall’s head—and these are characters who are masters of their particular subjects and hence know a lot of the theory behind how various spells and potions work. Rowling gives us just enough hints through books and students—I’m thinking specifically of Hermione Granger here, who provides us, at various points in the books, the logic behind magical occurrences—to tell us that there is a larger system in place, that magic is a science that requires specific factors to produce an intended result. To be fair, there’s no ‘foolish wand waving’ in most of the magical arts, whatever Snape may sneer.

Severus_in_his_classroom

To sum up: a fantasy writer is many things. A linguist, a sociologist, a historian, a technician, a zoologist (or a demonologist) and, above all, a scientist. She builds her world from the ground up, and sets its rules in order, and then has to subscribe to her own absolute power by playing according to those rules. It doesn’t matter how intricate or beautiful your system is if you don’t allow yourself to work with it, or bend it in ways that are probable. ‘Magic’ can become all too easily a convenient tool that is used when nothing else seems workable, but the best authors don’t allow that to happen. 

And just because you play by the rules doesn’t decrease your wow factor. After all, I still think the internet, and all that it makes possible, are pretty amazing, magical things. 

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One Tolkien to Rule Them All

Posted January 6, 2015 by Achala Upendran

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Unless you really hate fantasy, the movies, or just don’t get onto the Internet much (which makes the fact that you’re reading this all the more special), you would have heard that the final instalment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy hit theatres last week. The sort of fervent debate and celebration that greeted the last in the Rings trilogy has been largely absent (or maybe I just haven’t been looking for anything…), but with it, Jackson signs off on his extended tour and recreation of Middle Earth.

But can anyone bid farewell to Tolkien’s universe completely? Chances are, if you read much mainstream fantasy, you will come across him and his creations, in one form or the other. Here are some of the ways in which he’s made it almost impossible for contemporary writers to get away from under his shadow.

The Hero

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I don’t think I’ve met a fantasy hero as humdrum and everyday as Frodo Baggins, or his gardner friend, Sam Gamgee. Even Harry Potter grew up hot, and was a Quidditch star. But Frodo? His greatest quality is his mercy, something that finally saves him, and the world, when push comes to shove. Every other fantasy hero tries to be your average Joe, but I think only Frodo got it right.

The Failures

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The thing about Tolkien was, he wasn’t afraid to completely rip up his characters, show their weaknesses and (at times) let these get the better of them. Frodo trudges all the way to Mount Doom only to (spoiler) claim the Ring for himself; Boromir lets greed and fear get the better of him and betrays his promise to protect Frodo. Even the seemingly simple and utopic Hobbit community of the Shire gets shaken up by mercantile greed and enterprise at the close. Everyone has a weakness, Tolkien says, but all we can decide is how to deal with it after the shit has gone down.

The View of Death

Both Rowling and Tolkien give death a rather mystical flavour in their universes: while Rowling’s characters, the good ones at least, view it as ‘the next great adventure’, ‘as easy as falling asleep’, Tolkien posits it as the ‘gift of Eru [God, in his universe] to Man’. While death is a common feature in many fantasy books (G. R. R. Martin, I’m looking at you), I haven’t yet met an author who’s imbued it with this sense of mystery and, dare I say it, privilege. Tolkien highlights this aspects of it even better because he’s got a race of immortal beings, the Elves, who will never know it or understand it themselves.

And this leads us to…

The Love Story

arwen adn aragorn

Arwen and Aragorn. Beren and Luthien. Both great, tragic romances, that ask so much of their (sadly) women participants. I don’t think I’ve come across a love affair that demanded that one person give up something as irretrievable as immortality. I don’t think I’ve come across one that seemed to justify it. But somehow, these particular stories don’t leave you thinking that the Elves got such a raw deal out of it—maybe it is possible to find one person who makes you utter these words with complete conviction: ‘I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the Ages of this world alone.’ 

We can dream.

The History

there and back

Now we have ‘The World of Ice and Fire’ and the Companion to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, but Tolkien was the first to build a detailed history of his world. The coolest thing is how he peppered his books, both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with allusions to this grand narrative that was just taking shape in his head, and then went ahead and put that narrative together later, for his own consumption. We’re still not sure he ever intended for The Silmarillion to be published—and that alone shows how much he must have really loved what he was building. Think about it—all that effort and detailing for a text he wasn’t even sure would see the light of day, and all done just to whet his own interest in Middle Earth! That’s either complete self absorption or the burning fires of creativity. 

But isn’t genius supposed to be something like a combination of both?

The Languages

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Following from that—can we ignore the fact that this man, this professor of Philology (which is, incidentally, the study of languages), built entire grammar systems and vocabulary sets for the languages of his world? He crafted writing systems for them as well, even made room for the sort of changes that creep into languages with increasing interaction between sets of peoples and historical change. Building a language from scratch isn’t so unheard of now (Dothraki from HBO’s adaptation of Martin’s books being a great example), but Tolkien was one of the first to do it.

The Villains

sauroI was super impressed by Robert Jordan’s Shai’tan, the ‘Dark One’ from his Wheel of Time books, because he seemed such a huge, cosmic force that couldn’t possibly be contained by humanity. Then I realised that he had a predecessor in Tolkien, whose Morgoth is literarlly that—a cosmic force that, try as they might, the Elves and Men just couldn’t defeat on their own. Compared to Morgoth, Sauron is child’s play. 

Tolkien’s decision to not bring Sauron on screen in the course of LOTR shrouds him in mystery, maybe even heightens his evil allure. How can you contain the fear of something that, technically, you have never seen? It’s the same with the Nazgul — their black cloaks merely give some physical definition on one plane, but take them off, and they’re much more fearsome in their vague formlessness.

The Maps

middle earth mapNow most high fantasy books have detailed maps, but Tolkien drew his own and laboured over them and paved the way for all of us to follow. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who still sees echoes of those maps in some contemporary fantasy books. Is it just me or is the font used to label nations and seas vaguely similar as well?

The Humility of It All

Rotk2438And now we come full circle. Tolkien’s histories of Middle Earth are nothing less than epic, and yet they began in the humblest of ways: ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.’

The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and even The Hobbit host characters who are obviously powerful, wise and generally have a lot going on for them. But still, the story runs on the deeds of those ‘less mighty’—the hobbits. For all the weaponry and swordplay of Aragorn and his fellows on the Fields of Pelennor, it’s evident that what they’re really doing is buying time for Frodo and Sam (a move made much clearer by the movie). And Frodo, after all, is the first to volunteer as Ringbearer and set the whole thing in motion. 

Tolkien forged his epics in the quiet lanes of Oxford, but they spread their ripples worldwide, and continue to influence and linger on in the minds of those who came after him. ‘All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us,’ Gandalf once told Frodo—Tolkien seems to have made very wise decisions with his own time. 

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Wolves and Oliphaunts – diversity in fantasy worlds

Posted November 14, 2014 by Achala Upendran

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Earlier this year, a friend and I were discussing the possibility of going to Comic Con in Delhi, India. I wanted to go in costume, of course, so I told him he would have to play the Drogo to my Danerys Targaryen. He seemed amused, but then asked me, quite seriously, where I was going to find the blonde wing to pull off Dany.

For some reason, this irritated me. It irritated me further when I tried to think of characters from the SFF Hall of Fame, and realised that, if we were being super faithful to things like hair and skin colour, the only one from Martin’s saga I could convincingly portray would be someone who wasn’t even in the books: Talisa Maegyr. And really, even that was a stretch.

talisa

Diversity in SFF has become a hot topic. Readers all over the world have begun to come to the conclusion that heroes and heroines of fantasy and science fiction books need not always look, sound or act a certain way. As a result, characters (and not only the ‘bad’ ones) are getting darker, shorter, maybe even turning female. But the prevailing tone of pseudo medieval Europe, kings and Elves and deep dark wolf infested forests, remains dominant.

Up till ten years ago, I didn’t think it could be changed. And then, at the very impressionable age of 15, I picked up a book that changed my life and taught me a wholly new way in which fantasy could be written and how I, as a non-Western, non-‘mainstream’ reader, could consume it.

Simoqin_Prophecies_Samit_Basu

That book was Samit Basu’s The Simoqin Prophecies. Set in the ‘Gameworld’, this is the first of a (wait for it) trilogy that follows the adventures of three principal characters: Maya, a spellbinder, Asvin, a handsome prince, and Kirin, a seeming wildcard. The premise of the book is that of your typical fantasy novel: weird things are happening all over the known world, a dark lord is seemingly rising and a prophesied hero has been found to stop him. A motley group assembles to ‘train’ said hero, and it looks like everything is going according to plan, until, of course, it all falls apart. Things do have a way of unraveling quickly in fantasy universes.

Yes, the recipe is fairly standard. But Basu, rather than setting his story in a pseudo historical-with-a-magic-twist version of Europe (Ye Olde Manor with Dragons, as it were), creates an East-centric world. Think of that: a fantasy world where countries that sound a whole lot like India, Arabia and China are at the centre of events, where England is a far-off, once great power and where all the main actors are, incredibly, not Caucasian

As you might imagine, this was a big deal for me, who’d grown up reading books mostly about plucky white children (or young adults) having adventures in faraway lands or secret magical universes where only the villains were remotely dark. Don’t get me wrong. I love Harry Potter, and wouldn’t change anything about it, but actually finding a universe where it was a given that the characters looked and spoke like me was refreshing.

Tuon

After that of course, I discovered a few more ‘diverse’ books. There was Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, which, despite all its flaws, I loved for the simple fact that there were whole nations of people of varying ethnicities, and none of them could be automatically classified as ‘evil’. One of the rulers and most powerful political figures in the whole world, in fact, is described as a ‘dark porcelain doll’, and no one thought anything of it. Ursula le Guin crafted a markedly non Europe centric world in her Earthsea Quartet, with characters hailing from all corners and cultures of a island world. Strangely enough, the most ‘backward’ country in this world was ruled by fair skinned, blonde haired people—the total opposite of what Tolkien, in his extremely segregated world, had built.

When I read a book, I’m not automatically looking for characters I can physically identify with, and the lack of the same only strikes me on rare occasions, like the Comic con scene. I don’t believe the writers who don’t have coloured leads are any ‘worse’ than those who do, or that their literary merit depends to any extent on this sort of criterion. But finding those characters, or people who speak in a register not automatically associated with knights and Camelot, is certainly a perk. It makes me feel included, stresses that people who look like me, or who don’t exclusively look a certain way, are also rightful denizens of these other-worlds.

Like I said, I’d never consciously thought of this until I read Basu’s book, and for that reason, it’ll always hold a special place in my literary life. The Simoqin Prophecies was my springboard to other, non-Tolkien-derivative kinds of fantasy, and showed me that writers could use other stories and cultures to craft their universes. It’s certainly showed me that fantasy, something I suppose I’d unconsciously slotted as a very ‘West’ genre, could be written in a myriad of ways, that the world has hundreds of myths and legends waiting to be harnessed and played out anew in the covers of a book. Thanks for all the lessons and conventions, Tolkien, but I think it’s time some of us moved out of medieval Europe, and into the unexplored, wolf and oliphant-infested wilds.

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Dragon spotting: 101

Posted September 23, 2014 by Stephen Jones

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Hey, check out that thing in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a bird disguised as a plane?

birdplane1The wisest of all animals.

Nope. That, my friend, is a dragon.

charizard_by_xxlunabellxx-d5iwnro

Hope you’ve got a Master Ball with you.

Congratulations! You are reading the only definitive guide to telling good dragons from bad, at least within the tight moral guidelines we as a species has established to keep humanity’s baser instincts in check.

Blind-justice-I bet she can hear like Daredevil

Here we go…

FIVE EASY STEPS TO TELLING GOOD DRAGONS FROM BAD

(At least within the tight moral guidelines we as a species has established to keep humanity’s baser instincts in check)

Shape

hobbitxstitch9

This may seem like a pretty big judgement call to start with but it’s probably the first thing you’ll notice from far away. As every person who’s met a dragon knows, the further you can distinguish between the Murder Beasts from the Wish Granters the better off you, and your rustic village, will be.

 

goblet_dragon_273x400

 Pro Tip: The above shape is unfriendly.

Firstly, do they conform to the Disney standard?

 

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 Is it, for example, infuriatingly cute?

This means a generally ovular shape to their proportions. Do they seem to be able to frolic through the clouds or are they lithe and streamlined, like an arrow or missile?

cmhdragon3

 

 Or something even more phallic?!

If your dragon looks like it would make a pleasant bouncy-castle for children in a classical English summer, congratulations – it’s probably friendly!

petesdragon

 Would make a fine addition to any children’s playground.

If it looks like a streak of Death tearing the sky – congratulations! You’ve identified what will make you a corpse from far enough away you can start to regret you never said “I love you” to that person you love.

FireDragon

 

 Probably not the best addition to a children’s playground.

Colour

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Not in a racist way…although…

Another quick identifier for the long distance dragon spotter is colour. Is it a warmer colour, perhaps a lime green, sky blue or even lavender? Does the colouring remind you of hugs, freshly baked bread or wriggling puppies all in a pile of freshly mown grass?

puff-the-magic-dragon

 

Remember that time your mum made you pie?

It’s probably friendly so go and say hi!

But maybe your dragon is a darker colour. Perhaps an ash-grey, rusty-blood red or hole-in-reality black?

hp-dragon

 

 Remember that time your dreams turned to dust in your mouth?

Does the colouring remind you of waking up from a nightmare in an unfamiliar room, that moment you start to trip down the stairs or the whispers of the Old One’s madness being unleashed on an unsuspecting world?

It’s probably not friendly, you should have run when you had the chance! Too late now, it’s all…too late.

Language

You approach the sky-blue dragon with lavender spots cautiously – it’s still a wild animal you fool – When it speaks to you! (In English probably). Either through evolution of similar vocal cords so as to be able to help human children achieve their dreams or telepathy, your dragon is probably a new best friend and will be able to help with your maths homework, herd sheep or destroy the rule of the evil Count that killed your family and left you an orphan.

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 Hey kid, wanna murder some bullies?

Or, as you’re fleeing the coming Death, does your dragon howl and scream as though to stop your heart and warn the peoples of the earth that what they thought to be myth is not only real, but angry that while it slept the Plague that is Man spread to all corners of the globe it once controlled – and will again?

Dragonslayervermithraxp

 

Well, the good news is your orphan days are over.

Smell

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Thee who smelt it, dealt it!

Does your dragon smell of sun-baked hair and hay? Perhaps like the pony you always wanted? Go on, get on that dragon and ride it!

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My hair is bubble-gum scented, to attract children.

Does your dragon smell of Europe in the 16th Century, when the Four Horsemen rode out of the heavens and across the land, bring only sadness and lonely death? Perhaps it smells like the lair of a predator, as if a shark and a bear had a child which knows only pain? Or a thousand, billion snakes all tied together and thrown at your back, their hissing breath on your neck confirming that there is no God? If so, your inevitable end is here.

Smaug-The-Dragon-image-smaug-the-dragon-36751234-884-718

 I smell of withered hopes. To attract children.

Riding Your Dragon

Do you ride on your dragons back?

Petes-Dragon-PS

Maybe his sweet little tummykins?

Or for a short, too short, time with its claws clutched around your now dying body and with a last glimpse you see your little sister’s doll wedged between its knife-like teeth knowing that everyone you know and love are either dead, or will be joining you in the afterlife so very, very soon?

SmaugDestroyingLakeTown

 Blah, blah, fire, blah, blah, death.

Congratulations! You have reached the end of this guide. You are either the hero of this story or dead.

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New Releases: The Foundation, Aurora: Meridian and Shatterwing!

Posted September 11, 2014 by Momentum

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We’ve got three fantastic new releases out today, and we’re so excited about them. First up:

9781760081911_Foundation_cover

 

High pace political thriller: Read a sample here.

 

He who holds the pen holds the power.

“Great fun. A two-fisted thriller, escaped from five minutes into the future.”

—John Birmingham, author of the Axis of Time and Disappearance trilogies.

When a corrupt think tank, The Foundation for a New America, enlists a Taiwanese terrorist to bomb a World Trade Organization conference, the US and China are put on the path to war.

Star journalist Jack Emery is pulled into a story far more dangerous than he could have imagined. Because the Foundation’s deputy director, the ruthless Michelle Dominique, recognizes that whoever controls the message controls the world. And she will take control, no matter the price.

Enter Jack’s boss, Ernest McDowell, owner and chairman of the largest media empire on the planet. In the midst of political upheaval, EMCorp is about to become the final play in the Foundation’s plan. When Dominique traps the EMCorp owner in her web, Jack’s the only one left to expose the conspiracy before it’s too late.

As the world powers smash each other against the anvil of Taiwan, Jack will risk everything to battle the Foundation and prevent them from taking control amid the devastation of a global war.

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9781760081348_Meridian_cover

The third in our fantastic Aurora series, read an excerpt here.

Their hardest battle will be fighting the enemy within …

Captain Saul Harris has found himself at a crossroads. Haunted by dreams of the dead, he fights to keep his soldiers safe as events spiral out of his control. But has his search for the truth led him to discover there is more to this mission of chasing Sharley than meets the eye?

 Meanwhile, Corporal Carrie Welles seeks revenge. Consumed with demons from her past two missions, she goes rogue in the hope that her actions will end all the pain and suffering the Aurora team has endured. But will facing the enemy free them all from Sharley’s cruel grasp, or has she condemned herself to a suicide mission?

 As the mystery of Sharley and UNFASP unfolds and lives hang in the balance, Harris and Carrie are forced to search deep inside themselves, and what they find will shock them.

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Epic contemporary fantasy: read a sample here.

Dragon wine could save them. Or bring about their destruction.

Since the moon shattered, the once peaceful and plentiful world has become a desolate wasteland. Factions fight for ownership of the remaining resources as pieces of the broken moon rain down, bringing chaos, destruction and death.

 The most precious of these resources is dragon wine – a life-giving drink made from the essence of dragons. But the making of the wine is perilous and so is undertaken by prisoners. Perhaps even more dangerous than the wine production is the Inspector, the sadistic ruler of the prison vineyard who plans to use the precious drink to rule the world.

 There are only two people that stand in his way. Brill, a young royal rebel who seeks to bring about revolution, and Salinda, the prison’s best vintner and possessor of a powerful and ancient gift that she is only beginning to understand. To stop the Inspector, Salinda must learn to harness her power so that she and Brill can escape, and stop the dragon wine from falling into the wrong hands.

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Cover Reveal: Skywatcher (Dragon Wine #2) by Donna Maree Hanson

Posted September 4, 2014 by Momentum

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There is more to fear from the sky than dragons.

Violence and devastation spreads through Magra as the Inspector’s influence grows throughout the once peaceful lands. But Salinda, one of the Inspector’s most important weapons, has escaped. After being rescued by Nils, the last of his race, she is brought to the wondrous subterranean city of Barrahiem. With Nils’ vast store of knowledge and access to pre-Shatterwing technology, Salinda sees a way to defeat the Inspector, but only if she can convince him that humankind is worth saving.

Above ground, Brill and rebel leader, Danton, march for the observatory of Trithorn Peak, the only city yet to fall to the Inspector’s forces. With them are one of Trithorn’s Skywatchers, and a mysterious young woman whose eyes reflect a power not unlike Salinda’s. This misfit crew must work with Trithorn’s remaining Skywatchers to prepare for a desperate battle, not only for the observatory but for the future of Margra. For it is not only the Inspector that threatens their precious lands, and the Skywatchers are the only ones that can save them from the final moonfall.

The second in our epic fantasy DRAGON WINE series, Skywatcher is now up for preorder. Shatterwing: Dragon Wine #1 goes on sale on the 11th of September 2014.

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Cover Reveal: Shatterwing (Dragon Wine 1) by Donna Maree Hanson

Posted August 22, 2014 by Momentum

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Dragon wine could save them. Or bring about their destruction.

Since the moon shattered, the once peaceful and plentiful world has become a desolate wasteland. Factions fight for ownership of the remaining resources as pieces of the broken moon rain down, bringing chaos, destruction and death.

 The most precious of these resources is dragon wine – a life-giving drink made from the essence of dragons. But the making of the wine is perilous and so is undertaken by prisoners. Perhaps even more dangerous than the wine production is the Inspector, the sadistic ruler of the prison vineyard who plans to use the precious drink to rule the world.

 There are only two people that stand in his way. Brill, a young royal rebel who seeks to bring about revolution, and Salinda, the prison’s best vintner and possessor of a powerful and ancient gift that she is only beginning to understand. To stop the Inspector, Salinda must learn to harness her power so that she and Brill can escape, and stop the dragon wine from falling into the wrong hands.’

A thrilling epic fantasy, Shatterwing goes on sale September 11 2014, or is available for preorder now!

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