Writing

Ragnarok Dreaming: A First Draft!


It’s been over 12 months of writing but the first draft of Ragnarok Dreaming is finally finished. Inspired by Norse mythology, I read and studied the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda, many retellings and interpretations of the Norse myths and sagas, studied the archaeological record of prehistoric Scandinavia and history of the Viking Age. In September 2019, I was lucky enough to travel to Sweden and Iceland for some research and to see the landscapes that influenced Norse mythology and Viking cultures. I intend to take a break from Norse mythology before the editing on this first draft (a huge manuscript of 132,000 words!) can begin. You can always keep updated on my writing and research by following this blog!

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Gideon the Ninth


I read Gideon the Ninth by New Zealand author Tamsyn Muir after hearing many great reviews for this magic-induced, science-fiction adventure.
Gideon the Ninth focuses on the central character of Gideon from the Ninth House, an orphan raised alongside the ruling heir, the extraordinary necromancer, Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House. Harrowhark is a powerful necromancer but like all those in the ruling Houses, the talent wield such magic has a physical cost. The necromancers are protected by their swordweilding cavaliers.
The Ninth House is the last of the great ruling Houses and when the Emperor Undying calls the representatives forth, Harrowhark Nonagesimus seizes the oppurtunjty to rescue her crumbling House, it’s future bleaker than the skeletons that keep the illusion of a prosperous House alive. But Harrowhark finds herself with a problem. The Ninth have no cavalier and the only swordsman capable of defending Harrowhark is the military trained Gideon. For her own part, Gideon has tried to escape the Ninth House countless times and being indebted to serve Harrowhark and protect her is less than appealing. In the end, to survive, both Harrowhark and Gideon must unite forces and mascquerade before the challenge the Emperor sets forth. The necromancer among the Nine Houses who succeeds and defeats the challenges put before them and their cavalier, becomes an immortal necromancer, capable of wielding the combined powers of necromancer and cavalier, able to stand alongside the Emperor in battle.
It is not unsurprising that Harrowhark and Gideon discover many secrets best left buried and learn the darkest truth about the Empire, each other and themselves. To succeed, both must work together and the uneasy alliance soon becomes a firmer friendship built on the decades in each other’s vicinity. The truth of Harrowhark’s true power remains unknown and the true parentage of Gideon is another mystery which will aid them both in the dangerous battles of wits and lies to outmanoeuvre the necromancers and cavaliers of the other Houses.
I throughly enjoyed the fast-pace of Gideon the Ninth and the witty, refreshing characters. The world-building is solid and intriguing. I can’t wait for the next instalment. A highly recommended read!

Short Stories, stories, Writing

Forthcoming: Taurus Zodiac Anthology


I am excited to have a work in the upcoming Taurus Anthology in the Zodiac Series by Aussie Speculative Fiction. There are a great collection of Australian and New Zealand speculative fiction authors who have contributed works to the fifth instalment in this 12 Zodiac themed Anthologies.

My story “The Bull of Heaven” is modern dystopian tale inspired by my own interest in ancient history and the Mesopotamian mythology featuring the Bull of Heaven in the Epic of Gilgamesh which was originally written on cuneiform tablets. You can read more about the archeology of what cuneiform tablets are here.


Taurus will be released in ebook format on April 18 but you can pre-order a copy now from leading ebook retailers. Use this link to your preferred ebook store!

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City of Lies

I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me . . .”

City of Lies, Sam Hawke

One of my belated book reviews is the debut Fantasy novel City of Lies by Australian author Sam Hawke.
The opening line is the best hook for a novel of political intrigue, murder, mystery and the social disquiet that fill the once peaceful city of Silasta. The story revolves around three unusual protagonists, the irresponsible and unprepared heir to the Chancellory, his quiet best friend Jovan, also the master of Poisons whose family duty has been protecting the life of Chancellor by consuming all food and drink intended for the ruler. The last of the group is Jovan’s intelligent but physically frail sister Kalina, damaged by the poisons training her brother withstood, Kalina relies on her education and intellect.
The three friends represent the next generation of Silasta and are not yet initiated into the secrets, policies or threats that are directed at the mighty trade city. When the Chancellor and Jovan’s uncle die prematurely, Silasta is immediately besieged by an unknown military force and rumours of a secret sect within the populous emerge, rebel groups intent on overthrowing the ruling classes. Jovan and Kalina must now uncover the truth behind the murder of their uncle and the Chancellor before the city falls to the outside forces and try to get word to the commander of the army when all routes from the city are closed.
City of Lies is a story of intrigue within the ruling classes, the need to uncover the truth of a history kept hidden and the struggle for Jovan and Kalina to keep their friend, the new and unprepared Chancellor alive long enough for the city to be rescued by their returning army. The siblings uncover many truths that had been deliberately hidden from them and the principles of equality they believed the city stood for seems false and the uprising awakens the angered ancient forces of the land, Silasta must be genuinely united if it is to survive.

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A Darker Shade of Magic

I had read many reviews of A Darker Shade of Magic by US author Victoria Schwab and in October 2019, I decided to delve into this popular series. I thoroughly enjoyed the world-building and unique characters of the first book in this trilogy.

A Darker Shade of Magic follows Kell, one of two last magicians capable of stepping between three alternate realities. These parallel realities are connected by a city called London and, while magic exists in varying strengths throughout all worlds, it is the fourth world which was the strongest. This fourth reality, known as Black London was consumed by a dangerous magic that overwhelmed the inhabitants and the magicians. When this magic began to leak into the closest Londons, White then Red London, Black London was sealed off to prevent the spread. Now only White and Red London possess any forms of magic while Grey London has virtually none.

Kell, is a magician bound to serve the royal family of Red London but adopted and raised almost like a son but his power as a magician requires his service as a messenger between the ruling monarchs of Red, White and Grey London alongside Holland, his counterpart in White London. During an unscheduled and illegal trading escapade to Grey London, Kell is tricked into smuggling a relic from Black London into Grey London. Events soon spiral out of control, the dangerous and possessive magic from Black London begins to carve swathes through the inhabitants of Grey London. Kell inadvertently becomes entangled with Delilah Bard, a young woman, thief and vagabond, who steals the relic but possessing surprising resistance to its effects. Soon, Kell and Delilah are embroiled in a dangerous game to clear Kell’s good name in Red London and stop the spread of the corruptive magic from Black London by returning the relic and resealing Black London. Throughout this ordeal, Kell and Delilah try to outmanoeuvre Holland, the magician from White London.

A Darker Shade of Magic was an intriguing first instalment of a trilogy rich in world-building and detail. I enjoyed it immensely. A great read!

Writing

Salvador Dali Illustrated Alice in Wonderland

I just discovered the 150th Anniversary edition of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol published by Princeton University Press is an illustrated version by artist Salvador Dali. Absolutely stunning illustrations that are pure magic!

You can buy hardback and paperback copies of this gorgeous edition through most bookstores and online stores at affordable prices.

Recent Reads, Writing

Zodiac Themed Anthology Series

I’m currently reading the second volume in a 12 part series, a Zodiac themed anthology produced by Aussie Speculative Fiction. Each month, a new anthology featuring that month’s zodiac sign will be released. This January-February, I’m reading Aquarius and because it’s also my own star sign. The Aquarius anthology features many unique interpretations of the water-carrier star sign by Australian and New Zealand speculative fiction writers. You can read more about the Aquarius volume here.

I have also contributed a short story to the Taurus Anthology which will be released in a few months. I also wrote a brief post on my inspiration and research behind the short story.

If you’re interested in reading the Aussie Speculative Fiction Zodiac Anthologies, you can find copies the Aquarius and Capricorn Anthologies through Books2Read with direct links to your preferred bookstore.

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Muse of Nightmares

One of the best recent reads was the Muse of Nightmares by US author Laini Taylor. Following the events that brought the prequel Strange the Dreamer (read review here) to a dramatic conclusion, Lazlo Strange has transformed into one of the godspawn, awakening his dormant power to mould the magical blue metal Mesarthim. In a final desperate challenge against the vengeful Minya, Sarai was lost to the living, tethered to the world only by Minya’s power over the souls of the dead. Now Lazlo is caught between his need to save Weep and Sarai from Minya’s dark plans of a vengeful reckoning of those who slaughtered the gods and left Minya to care for the only children she could save.
Lazlo must negotiate the new tension of a strained hostage situation, Minya keeping Sarai’s ghost tethered as a bargaining piece to use against Lazlo and the godslayer, a tool to manipulate them both. But even as a ghost Sarai finds she is not entirely powerless and with Lazlo and her siblings help, she tries to understand the damage done to Minya through her dreams, discovering the girl has been caught in a traumatic loop of the day the Citadel fell to the godslayer and the handful of children she could save amid in the carnage as the citizens of Weep took vengeance against their oppressors. In uncovering the dark past that holds Minya fixed in place, her mind fractured into moments of that fateful day, Sarai and Lazlo begin to learn what the gods who visited Weep truly were, the history of metalsmiths wielding Mesarthim and the truth of the elusive white bird and an overlapping echo of another pair of siblings, moulded and wrought anew by Mesarthim, two sisters who would refused to be parted.
Muse of Nightmares is a complex narrative of many dark and disturbing tales where the characters are as vibrant as the magical city of Weep. Although the story is a much darker theme than the prequel, there is a constant sense of hope that infiltrated the story, offering a glimpse of what might be if Lazlo and Sarai are allowed to succeed in their dreams. I look forward to the next instalment!

Recent Reads

A Wizard of EarthSea

I have read many reviews about the late US author Ursula K. Le Guin but I had never read her works. After listening to fellow authors and the reading community discuss the impact of her work, I decided I must read A Wizard of Earthsea for myself. Despite my high expectations, I was not disappointed. Originally published in 1968, A Wizard of Earthsea follows Ged, the greatest sorcerer in the realm of Earthsea. Beginning when Ged was a young child and known as Sparrowhawk, a child from a poor and rural background but gifted with rare and powerful magic. After performing powerful feats of magic, Sparrowhawk is is apprenticed to the travelling wizard Ogion. But Sparrowhawk is ambitious and not content with the humble existence Ogion offers. Instead, Sparrowhawk gains entrance to the greatest school for wizards on the Island of Roke. Once there, ambition governs Sparrowhawk and his personality clashes with both the wealthy and less-talented students. Resentment grows and soon Sparrowhawk has only one student to call his friend. In a effort to prove himself the better of the others, Sparrowhawk conducts a magic that breaches the boundary of life and death, accidentally summoning a Shadow that haunts Sparrowhawk and pursues him relentlessly across Earthsea. Throughout his battles with the Shadow, Sparrowhawk loses any chance of gaining social standing and begins to learn his powerful talent with magic has destroyed much he hoped to gain in becoming a wizard at Roke. Cast adrift from the school and the Island of Roke, Sparrowhawk begins to master his talent and learn humility as Master Ogion had tried to teach him before he went to Roke. In summoning the Shadow and breaking the fundamental laws of magic, Sparrowhawk proved that despite possessing great power, he lacked the maturity to make decisions worthy of such power. While I might be late discovering A Wizard of Earthsea, it was was unlike any young adult book I had read. Most uniquely, the themes were subtly done and told in a narrative quality that reminds with great power, comes a greater responsibility which made this a wonderful read for any age group.

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The Copper Promise

I recently read The Copper Promise, the first novel in The Copper Cat Trilogy by UK author Jen Williams. The Copper Promise follows the unlikely group of adventurers, the female mercenary Wydrin of Crosshaven (the infamous Copper Cat), Sir Sebastian Carverson (an exiled knight) and Lord Frith (a crippled nobleman, dispossessed of his lands). Lord Frith survived near-fatal torture for a secret he did not know and now intent reclaiming his lands, he hires Wydrin and Sebastian to help him break into the ancient Citadel, a monument where the former mages secured treasures and imprisoned gods.Wydrin and Sebastian succeed in gaining access to the impenetrable Citadel, escorting Lord Frith into the centre of the labyrinthine structure. Once there, both Wydrin and Sebastian realise Lord Frith is more than he appears and so are his intentions. The three come under immediate attack from the only surviving god imprisoned by the mages. In a single moment that changes the outcome of all their lives, Sebastian is inevitably linked to the god and a deeper darkness while Frith absorbs the magic of the mages. Unwittingly, the three adventurers become responsible for releasing an ancient darkness on the land and awakening powers no one alive fully remembers.
The Copper Promise is an exciting first instalment in a trilogy that holds much potential. Although it is affected by many flaws common in debut novels and first volumes with uncertainty surrounding plot and motivation, the characters are unique and well-drawn and the world-building is promising. I enjoyed The Copper Promise and look forward to more.