Watch Where You Sit! The Murder Seat Is FREE!

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At last, my short story is free on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks, Overdrive, Barnes & Noble, and other stores.

Dr. Herbert Marriott has a problem that only murder can solve. Luckily for him, the perfect weapon is locked away in his rundown museum, one too incredible for any court to accept. The cursed chair kills all who rest upon it. But will Herbert’s victim be so easily drawn to her fate?

To celebrate, A Bright Power Rising is also available on Amazon for a limited time at 99 cents.

Madouc By Jack Vance

Madouc

 

In many ways, the Lyonesse Trilogy consists of three threads which connect sometimes very tangentially. There is the competition between the various kingdoms, the conflict between the mages, and the quests into ‘fairyland’. Each of these stories is dispersed through the novels in varying doses.

In the final volume, it felt at times like Vance had left himself with too much to do. Every now and then, he hit the fast forward button and events whiz by almost in summary. At other times, tangential and inconsequential matters were lingered over. A great deal of writing was spent establishing characters only to rid them from the book in a sentence.

Maduoc eclipses to a greater or lesser extent the main characters from the previous novels. I felt Glyneth in particular got short shrift. Where, for instance, were these swords she brought back from Tanjecterly? The concentration on Maduoc compresses the ultimate conclusion of the struggle between Aillas and Casimir, making it feel a little rushed.

And yet, the novel makes up for these dashed expectations. Shimrod’s adventures in the previous novels, at times made disjointed and abrupt by the opaque central mystery now click into place. More importantly, Maduoc is an engaging character and her adventures kept my interest throughout. I was particularly moved by the ultimate fate of one of the minor characters. It was very well done.

The Green Pearl By Jack Vance

greenpearl

 

Though this book is called The Green Pearl, the pearl itself bookends the story, the vast bulk of which is devoted to Aillas’s efforts to defeat the Ska and Casimir’s political machinations. Aillas proves to be every bit as crafty as his enemies though his subjects appear remarkably calm when their king disappears without warning. Shimrod also pops up here and there to fathom the mysterious Melancthe.

The book is filled with adventure, colourful characters, and clever scenes. Dhrun fades into the background, taking a backseat to Aillas and Glyneth. The trip to the delightfully named Tanjecterly was particularly entertaining if nearly a separate story.

The fact that it’s a sequel works very much to its favor in that we’re clear from the start which characters we’re supposed to root for. The only fly in the ointment was Father Umphred. His interminable campaign to build a cathedral really got on my nerves. I suppose he isn’t meant to be a sympathetic character, but I could have done with less of him. All in all, it is a very satisfying read and a worthy successor to Suldrun’s Garden.

 

September Update

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I really must write these updates more often.

When I wrote the last one in June, I was working on the first part of a LitRPG trilogy, codenamed Spaghetti 1, 2, & 3. I now have first drafts of the first two completed and am currently half-way through the third.

The first book is kind of typical for LitRPG with some twists. The main character, starting off at the lowest skill level, must defeat a local (player) boss to win his freedom. The world is kind of like a typical fantasy MMORPG (for me). The focus is on the player interactions. The length of the first draft is about 49k words. It needs a lot of work, but hopefully, there’s enough in there to keep the reader interested.

Spaghetti 2 is a much different beast. It has a much more epic scope and the typical tropes kind of fall away a bit. Wait till you see the setting! Dante’s Inferno was a big influence on the story but I really let my imagination run riot. The action takes place in a locale we briefly visit in the first book. The main character is more advanced in this one but so are his surroundings. He’s up against much more powerful players with godlike powers. The first draft came in at 40k but it is absolutely packed with action. I don’t see any problem expanding it into full novel length.

Spaghetti 3 is an apocalyptic story. The end is nigh for the game world. At this stage, the main character is very advanced, the head of a powerful clan. A lot of seeds sown in the first and second books will reach fruition. This book will take a lot of work because given Book 2 is so epic, I have work out how to dial the third up to eleven.

I decided to write the three books to first draft so that I can see how all the various elements fit together. Although the three books have very different plots, I want to give them a cohesive tone.

Once the first draft of the third book is complete, I’ll be splitting my time between redrafting the books and writing new stuff. At times having so many ideas for projects is frustrating. If only I could get them all written and released. But I never publish anything without it being as good as I can make it.

On the short story front, I made The Fate Healer wide and free. I am in the process of doing the same with a new horror short story called The Murder Seat. I wrote it originally about three years ago. It’s set in recessionary Dublin in the 1980s. Hopefully, people will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.🙂

 

And The Winner Is…

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The winning cover was designed by Venanzio. It is awesome, but I must say it won against some stiff opposition. The facility to carry out polls is a really great feature on 99designs, because it allows you to test immediate reactions of people unfamiliar with the covers.

My intention is to make this story free out like The Fate Healer, so publication will be a little drawn out. I hope it will be free on all the usual stores by mid next week. Here’s the blurb to wet your appetite.

Dr. Herbert Marriott has a problem that only murder can solve. Luckily for him, the perfect weapon is locked away in his rundown museum, one too incredible for any court to accept. The cursed chair kills all who rest upon it. But will Herbert’s victim be so easily drawn to her fate?

 

 

Help me judge a book by its cover: The Murder Seat

A new short story is on its way. This one is a horror story. However, first I need to pick a cover. Follow the link below and vote based on your initial impression of which is most likely to make you buy.

https://99designs.ie/contests/poll/xy0mk9?urlcategory=illustrations

UPDATE:  The poll is now closed and the winner will be revealed shortly!  Thanks to everyone who participated.

 

Suldrun’s Garden By Jack Vance

Garden

 

This book is the first of trilogy set in that magical time of medieval anachronistic romance when knights charged about in the Dark Ages in a manner more befitting several centuries later. Vance has plonked several legendary realms (for example Ys, Avalon, and Lyonesse) on an archipelago in the Atlantic, the Elder Isles, which sinks without trace (or record) centuries later.

The book has a low key start  in the palace of Casimir the King of Lyonesse. However, it quickly becomes clear that the garden is merely the starting point of the story and it quickly expands to include other warring kingdoms, mages, and magical creatures.

Vance’s world is a brutal one. People die a lot and sometimes randomly. Bad things happen. There is one brutal twist which really shakes up the story. However, the omnipresent narration distances the reader from events to some degree so it never tips into the realm of grimdark. The mood is often more akin to that of a classical fairy tale.

The world building is detailed but in some ways random to create kind of a ‘springy’ effect.

There are a couple distinct threads in this story most of which branch out from Suldrun. The mages’ subplot on the other hand starts out separate but eventually intersects with the others.  However, perhaps thanks to an embargo on mages on intervening in political matters, it feels as their struggle and the kings’ rivalry often just glance off each other. The book is full of digressions and tangents, but the imaginative scope of the book cannot be denied.

There are loose threads at the end but you would expect that given it was obviously envisaged as part of a trilogy. One thing I did have a problem with was the epilogue which I suppose was meant to wet the reader’s appetite for the next volume but, to me, felt very much like somebody just hit the fast forward button, speeding events by without context.