Voyage of the Pale Ship LAUNCHED!

The land of Tirlane has fallen to the evil Lamia, but Willow Grey and Henu the Wealdsman escape her clutches aboard the legendary Pale Ship. To free Tirlane, they embark on a voyage that will take them to islands where cats rule over men, ruined cities are inhabited by living statues, and stranger places where spirits can make the wildest and darkest of dreams come true. But it is beyond these isles that the real challenges lie; can Willow Grey survive the perilous trials of the Skeleton Tower? Will Henu face his fears, or be consumed by the darkness growing within him? And what awaits them in the Giants’ Graveyard at the edge of the world – the chance for redemption, or the end of all things true?

Available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

All Other Distributors

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27th Jan – Voyage of The Pale Ship sets sail!

The land of Tirlane has fallen to the evil Lamia, but Willow Grey and Henu the Wealdsman escape her clutches aboard the legendary Pale Ship. To free Tirlane, they embark on a voyage that will take them to islands where cats rule over men, ruined cities that are inhabited by living statues, and stranger places where spirits can make the wildest and darkest of dreams come true. But it is beyond these isles that the real challenges lie – can Willow Grey survive the perilous trials of the Skeleton Tree? Will Henu face his fears, or be consumed by the darkness growing within him? And what awaits them in the Giants’ Graveyard at the edge of the world – the chance for redemption or the end of all things true?

Join the launch party on Facebook to win copies of the book, Amazon giftcards, and a Kindle Fire Tablet!

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Plans for 2017 – In Brief

So what’s the shape of things to come for 2017?

Firstly, the year-long wait is finally over and Voyage of the Pale Ship will be launching on Friday 27th Jan.

After that, I will be working on my first Crime series for the rest of the year with the first three books to hopefully be published in Summer, Autumn, and Winter.

More details to come soon.

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2016 – A Brief Review

I’ll be going dark soon and taking a break from the online world until the new year. 2016 has been exhausting in so many ways but art and creativity (and caffeine) have just about kept me going despite that so, to round things off, I’d like to give you my favourites from this year.

 

Book of the Year

The House of Fox by SJ Smith – One of the most bizarre novels I’ve ever read. A lot of books are described as defying categorisation but this one actually does. It’s an erotic-horror-comedy-fantasy that will make you laugh, cry, and say ‘oh, hello matron’ – sometimes on the same page. Check it out.

 

Film of the Year

Florence Foster Jenkins – It might be because 2015 and 2016 have been rough for me artistically that this film struck a chord. It’s broadly a biopic though it’s often too funny to become sentimental and one of Meryl Streep’s closing lines will resonate with any artist who has struggled in some way: “People may say I couldn’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.”

 

Album of the Year

Antifuture by Erang – the first synthwave album from an artist who has previously focused on medieval dungeonsynth. For those of us who love the 80s soundtracks conjured up by the likes of John Carpenter, Goblin, and Fabio Frizzi, this is essential listening.

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Thank you to Free Kindle Books and Tips!

The Eyes of the Dead was featured today on Free Kindle Books and Tips – do stop by and give them a Like on Facebook or a Follow on Twitter.

Thank you to FKBT for supporting indie authors once again!

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The critically-acclaimed debut by the author of the Vetala Cycle and the Age of the Flame!

Vampires are loose in the trenches of the First World War.

Passchendaele, 1917. Private Reg Wilson is a man with a name but no memories. A soldier who remembers nothing of life before the fighting began. Until he comes to Black Wood, a tainted place that knows him intimately. There, he will discover a darkness buried long ago by time and dust. An appetite that has been awoken by war. A hunger that will feed upon his blood, his regrets and his worst fears. It will show him what he has forgotten. It will show him nightmare made flesh. And, before he dies, it will make him look deep into the eyes of the dead.

 

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THE SELF-PUBLISHED FANTASY BLOG-OFF BUNDLE

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Curated by Blair MacGregor

“Ten fine bloggers and blog-sites spent a year considering almost three hundred self-published fantasy books to bring you their ten favorites. It’s hard to imagine you won’t find some gems among them.” — Mark Lawrence

This is a unique bundle, its books chosen not by me, but by reviewers who took part in the first Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off organized by Mark Lawrence. Each reviewer received over twenty-five books and a mission: Choose one. This bundle contains the books those reviewers put at the very top of their list.

The SPFBO Bundle includes some of the coolest indie fantasy around. Crista McHugh’s A Soul for Troublegives you a witch named Trouble, possessed by the god of chaos. William Saraband’s Shattered Sands follows a slave girl suddenly empowered by forces older than the desert itself. You’ll delve into the more-than-murder mystery of Matthew Colville’s Priest, and follow another priest trying to save the world after the gods disappear in Barbara Webb’s City of Burning Shadows. And The Weight of A Crown from Tavish Kaeden serves up the deep epic of a recently-united realm on the verge of fracturing.

There is the sharp warrior who knows the value of leaving heroism behind in Under A Colder Sun by Greg James, and the ruined hero who chances into a way to surmount the past in David Benem’s What Remains of Heroes. Plague Jack delves deep into a brutal world of conspiracies, consequences, and backlash against a conqueror in Sins of the Sovereignty. Ben Galley smacks a young man into a frontier Wyoming filled with blood magick and secrets in Blood Rush. And Michael McClung’s The Thief Who Pulled On Trouble’s Braids—the novel scoring highest in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off—races along with a sassy, smart thief who must find an artifact everyone thinks she already has before she’s killed for it.

StoryBundle lets you choose your own price, so you decide how much you’d like to support the writers. For $5—or more, if you’d like—you’ll receive the basic bundle of five novels in DRM-free ebook format. For the bonus price of at least $15, you’ll receive all ten novels. If you choose, a portion of your payment will go toward supporting different charities such as Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now. Over the years, StoryBundle and its participating writers have donated thousands to support awesome charities doing great work.

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Bundle is available for only three weeks, so now is the time to pick up this unique collection of reviewer-beloved fantasy novels, and discover new independent writers who want to take you on thrilling adventures through worlds you’ve never seen with characters you want to know (even if a few of them are rather terrifying). – Blair MacGregor

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you feel generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format worldwide:

  • Shattered Sands by W. G. Saraband

  • The Weight of a Crown by Tavish Kaeden

  • Priest by Matthew Colville

  • What Remains of Heroes by David Benem

  • A Soul for Trouble by Crista McHugh

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus five more:

  • Sins of a Sovereignty by Plague Jack

  • The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung

  • Under a Colder Sun by Greg James

  • Bloodrush by Ben Galley

  • City of Burning Shadows by Barbara J. Webb

The bundle is available for a very limited time only, via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

  • Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.

  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth to you. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.

  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.

  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to charity.

  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook.

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Kane and Wagner: Where Darkness Weaves

Part of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Bundle!

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I shouldn’t know who Kane is.

I was born in 1980 after the initial run of Kane titles had been and gone. My awareness of the character came about through a rather chequered path. I first read the horror short story, Sticks, by Karl Edward Wagner in 1998. It was visceral and cosmic, and it stuck in my mind for years though I didn’t read more of his work until comparatively recently owing to much of it having gone out of print in the mainstream press by the time I was of the age to be accruing my initial influences.

However, I did have a book of Frank Frazetta artwork that featured the cover for Dark Crusade in all its glory. The background information to the painting also stuck in my mind. Kane sounded like the kind of character that I would like; amoral, villainous and a contrast for the more black-and-white heroes common to mainstream Fantasy fiction. It was an image I would come back to again and again over the years, and wonder whether I would get to read the books about this character.

A few years ago, I was finally able to acquire copies of the original Kane paperbacks and they were everything I hoped they would be. They were also the penultimate piece of the puzzle in the conception of my own character Khale the Wanderer. At that time, his name was Kale Fellhorn which has since been changed for fairly obvious reasons – not just the fact that without the ‘h’, he would be named after a cabbage.

What attracted me to the character of Kane was Karl Wagner’s use of the antediluvian setting popularised by Robert E. Howard and his successors and turning it on its head by doing away with the traditional struggle between Good and Evil. As much as I love Moorcock’s Elric, he was still an agent of Law fighting against Chaos. Khale was a character with shades of grey as was the world he lived in. Long before A Song of Ice and Fire came along, Karl Wagner was drawing a world where kings fought for their own reasons rather than the common good, the gods were of the dark, not the light, and the hero was a villain. George R.R. Martin and the current crop of grimdark authors have certainly developed the template to levels of greater depth, scope and complexity, but I would argue that Karl Wagner was there first and he made the initial template. His lack of recognition being very likely down to much of his work having become obscure outside of select genre circles, which I think is a great shame – hopefully this will change.

Though I never knew the man, I have dedicated Under a Colder Sun to him and his creation as, without them, Khale would be a very different Wanderer.

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Conan and Howard: Those Damn Barbarians

Part of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Bundle!

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Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.

With a month to go until the launch of Under a Colder Sun, I will be posting a series short blogs on some of the inspirations behind Khale the Wanderer and his world.

Now, there are more critically-approved authors and creations I could start this with but I am going to give the first honour to Robert E. Howard and his most famous creation, Conan the Cimmerian.

Like many of my generation, my initial exposure to Conan came through John Milius’Conan the Barbarian starring Arnold Schwarzengger. It may not be a perfect reflection of the original stories but its antediluvian atmosphere, powerful score composed by Basil Poledouris, the casting of James Earl Jones as Thulsa Doom, and Milius’ decision to shoot it as a visual tone poem raise it above the imitators that would follow in its wake, including the lacklustre sequel, Conan the Destroyer.

But after the film, there came the stories and they belie many of the criticisms often levelled at Howard and the Sword and Sorcery sub-genre of Fantasy that he inadvertently created. The Phoenix on the SwordBeyond the Black River and Red Nails create a sense of another world that is as couched in historical knowledge and research as much as Howard’s rich imagination for the demonic and supernatural. Even his weaker stories have passages to recommend them, a favourite of mine being Iron Shadows in the Moon. The story itself is somewhat derivative but the descriptions of the iron statues of the title and their dilapidated temple are great examples of haunting prose.

I’m verbose. I’ve got plenty of words.”

The Conan stories, as much as the rest of Howard’s output, show a writer of talent and skill – the latter being a quality he has rarely been credited with. His literacy is evident throughout with a broad vocabulary that is frequently put to deft use, but because he was writing stories to sell rather than for literary glory this is why, in my opinion, he is often overlooked or dismissed. His contemporary, H.P. Lovecraft, has fared much better with critics in this regard because his attitude was the opposite and he cared little for the whims of the marketplace.

It may sound fantastic to link the term “realism” with Conan; but as a matter of fact – his supernatural adventures aside – he is the most realistic character I ever evolved.”

So, how are Howard and his barbarian an inspiration for me?

The quote that opens this brief appreciation comes from Howard’s story, Beyond the Black River, and reflects how the barbarian was not an adolescent wish-fulfillment fantasy as he is often portrayed, but a reflection of Howard the man and how he saw the world around him. Conan may not be a creation of mundane reality but he is an expression of individual and personal truth for the author and that is what makes him inspirational.

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Hordes of Chaos – coming soon!

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NB: This text is from a working draft.
 
The King sat in silence upon his throne. The air of the chamber was close and haunted. His tainted eyes searched it for signs of movement. There were none. He was alone, as a King so rarely is. He had thought long on the night in Castle Barneth when the ravening creatures of the Thoughtless Dark rampaged through its halls. Something that should not have been took place that night. The memory was as terrible as the weight of the knowledge it had given him.
Khale, a wanderer no more, thought the world had dealt him every pain possible until that night of mounting horror. With increasing bitterness, he had learned there was no end to the suffering of existence and the many forms it might take. He held his fingers up to the bronze-hued light of a nearby lantern, watching the colours shimmer across the rings clasping his thick fingers and the ornately decorated circlets that bound his wrists and forearms. Here were riches, here was wealth. Here were the spoils of war.
The long walk south had ended in victory. Tumenfell was his by conquest. It stood on the borders of the south overlooking the great forest-sea known as the Gorenwald. It had fallen to him easily enough yet the weight of past days was ever on his shoulders. The pain of loss was ever there, gnawing away in his broad breast. Even the most exquisite and perverse ministrations of his odalisques could not banish the shadows from his thoughts for long. War had come and gone, come and gone, as ever it did over the passing years. Khale knew it would come again for he could always taste the foetor of its harbingers on the air – blood, fire and death. To him, they came like the bouquet of a fine wine.
Melancholy, the King arose from his throne and walked around the court chamber, admiring treasures won from those who thought they could wrest the city from him – a man with his centuries of experience was not so easily usurped. This city and its lands belonged to him.
There came a rapping at his chamber door.
Khale turned and spoke, “Enter.”
The door opened. It was Promeneus, one of the Seminae; a chinless, servile creature with thinning hair, protruding eyes and a broad, wrinkled forehead. The old man bowed before Khale, “My liege, it is time for you to sit in judgement and show the King’s justice to the people.”
“ Aye, I know. Approach, Promeneus. Will you share a cup of wine with me? It is a fine vintage.”
“Thank you, my King, but I must decline. My stomach is delicate these days and does not bear wine as well as it once did.”
Khale’s lips scarred his rugged face with a smile, “First, you drink with me then we may go.”
Promeneus’ wan eyes flickered, and he inclined his head briefly, “Aye, my King, and I thank you for your generosity.”
“Piss on my generosity, elderling. I am your King and I give you a command. Drink.”
Promeneus drank from the proffered goblet, swallowed the wine quickly and hard before licking his lips clean, “Fine. Very fine, as you said, my liege. Now, may I escort your Highness?”
“You may.”
“There is something also you must see, sire. I would not have believed it with my own eyes if it had not been shown to me in the flesh. A most strange … visitant from the Gorenwald.”
“Hm,” said Khale, “and I thought the bouquet in the air was the wine’s own for once.”
“My King?”
“Nothing, Promeneus, just a thought. A memory of blood and fire. Lead on.”
 

(c) Copyright Greg James 2016

 

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