Lucky Jack Virtual Book Tour Round-up

Hello folks! I wanted to do a little round-up of the book tour for my book Lucky Jack (1894-2000), which took place last week from 17th – 21st of January.

The tour was run by R n R Book Tours and the following fantastic posts were made by people who signed up as hosts:

January 17th

Liliyana Shadowlyn posted a Spotlight with a lovely graphic she made: https://lshadowlynauthor.com/2022/01/17/tour-lucky-jack

January 18th

Dan Fitzgerald wrote an amazingly complimentary review: 
https://www.danfitzwrites.com/blog/book-review-lucy-jack-by-sue-bavey

“You may have read about the 20th century, and you have most likely lived through some of it, but I promise you, Lucky Jack will open your eyes to history in a way they never have been before.”

Reads and Reels book tours posted a Spotlight
https://rrbooktours.com/2022/01/17/mini-tour-lucky-jack/

January 19th

2manybooks2littletime posted a Spotlight accompanied by a great photo: 
https://www.instagram.com/p/CY9gQQXrgGQ/?utm_medium=copy_link

Carrie from the I_can_has_books blog wrote a lovely review:  http://icanhasbooks.blogspot.com/2022/01/lucky-jack-memoirs-of-world-war-1-pow.html

“… it seems that Jack was quite the hilarious fellow, oh how I laughed aloud multiple times whilst reading. And Jack I agree with you Queen Elizabeth had a crush on you, I mean she did write you 3 times.”

20th January

Fantasybooknerd stepped outside his usual genre and wrote a fabulous review: https://www.fantasybooknerd.com/2022/01/lucky-jack-by-sue-bavey-r-book-tours.html?m=1

“Lucky Jack was a wonderful little read that you cannot help but love. When you read it, you can feel Jack and his wonderfully optimistic view on life shine through the pages, even through the darkest of times. I think the other thing that made this such a good read was the fact that when you read it , you feel that Jack is telling these stories to you personally and you are the one laughing and smiling along with him at some of the things that happened throughout his life.”

21st January

Stine Writing posted a lovely Spotlight:  https://christinebialczak.com/2022/01/21/new-book-lucky-jack-wwi-biographies-history/

B for Book review also posted a very nice Spotlight:  https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com/2022/01/21/lucky-jack-by-s-bavey-spotlightpost-booktour-rrbooktours1/

During the week there were also some other lovely posts published, which highlighted Lucky Jack

Smorgasbord Bookshelf posted a Spotlight: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2022/01/17/smorgasbord-bookshelf-new-book-on-the-shelves-biography-wwi-queen-victoria-adventureslucky-jack-by-s-bavey/

Terry Tyler wrote a review: https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.com/2022/01/lucky-jack-by-s-bavey-suebavey.html?m=1

“It’s a charming book, starting with London life in the late Victorian times – Jack was one of those rare people who have actually lived in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.  At one time he was officially Britain’s oldest man, and at the age of 103 co-wrote a column for the Lincolnshire Echo for a while.”

Following Terry Tyler’s review of the book an amazing coincidence came to light. Terry’s mother had lived in the area where Jack’s cobblers shop was located when she was a child. Terry spoke to her sister and her sister remembered their late mother, Barbara Gibbs, mentioning a cobbler’s shop in some memoir notes she wrote in the 1980s. When Terry went looking for the notes she discovered that not only did her mother know Jack, but she used to get her shoes fixed by him and had written about him in the notes! She wrote a post on her website about it here:
https://terrytyler59.blogspot.com/2022/01/an-amazing-coincidence.html?

I am still amazed by the coincidence that someone in England whose book I read and reviewed a year ago in the USA managed to figure out that their grandfather used to go for a drink with my grandfather over a century ago!! The world can sometimes feel like a very small place!

“One of the perils of being a sniper during the First World War was the likelihood of a grenade going off right next to you and burying you alive”.

Meet Jack Rogers. Born in 1894, he once locked eyes with Queen Victoria and was one of the first travellers on London’s ‘Tube’. An early car owner, he had many escapades on his days out to Brighton, including a time when his brakes failed and he had to drive through central London without them!

His skills as an entertainer earned him popularity throughout his life, and kept him out of the deadly mines while a prisoner during the First World War. At the tender age of 103 Jack earned the title of ‘The World’s Oldest Columnist’ as he began dictating his life’s exploits to a reporter from the local newspaper.

Indie Spotlight – Kathleen Jowitt

Today I am welcoming Kathleen Jowitt into the Indie Spotlight.

Kathleen Jowitt writes contemporary literary fiction exploring themes of identity, redemption, integrity, and politics. Her work has been shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize and the Selfies Award, and her debut novel, Speak Its Name, was the first ever self-published book to receive a Betty Trask Award. She lives in Ely, works in London, and writes on the train. Find her at www.kathleenjowitt.com and @KathleenJowitt


Thank you for joining me here on my blog today, Kathleen.

What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?

I found it so difficult getting anybody interested in my first novel (too gay for the Christian market; too Christian for anything else) that eventually I gave up and published it myself. That one ended up being shortlisted for quite a prestigious prize, which in turn attracted some interest from agents, and I followed up with one of them. By the time she decided that she couldn’t do anything with it after all, I’d decided that actually I liked having the freedom to do what I like.

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?

I started out writing contemporary litfic because it cut down on the amount of research. The first book happened because I had a particular story to tell about a particular place and time. Even so, I tend to wander between genres. This year, for the first time, I’m attempting a historical novel. At this point the only thing that’s true of all of them is ‘they’re about twenty-somethings trying to figure out the right thing to do in a difficult situation.’

Do you only read the genre that you write? 

No, I read all sorts of things! I have my favourites (thrillers, golden age detective fiction, travel writing…) but I’m struggling to think of a genre that I wouldn’t at least try.

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

I’m rereading a beloved children’s book series – Swallows and Amazons, and all the sequels, by Arthur Ransome. I’ve just started watching Star Trek: Lower Decks alongside the original series, and it’s a lot of fun. I used to love Futurama and this hits the same kind of spot. I’m quite fussy about the type of music I listen to while I’m writing. It needs either to be instrumental or to be in a language I don’t understand, or I get distracted by the lyrics. Classical or acoustic guitar works well for me.  

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Loads! Whether it will work for anybody except me, though, that’s another question. One thing that I would want to say is that you’re likely to come to a point where you think your work is absolutely awful and you don’t think you can do your own idea justice. Don’t panic, don’t give up; keep on writing and you’ll find your way through to the other side. Really, I think it all boils down to ‘Just give it a go, and keep on trying’. 

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

I have two books on the go at the moment. One is a thriller in a modern day Ruritania. The other takes the story of Romeo and Juliet and considers what might have happened had they survived the events of the play. As to which of those will appear first… your guess is as good as mine! But I’m having fun with both of them, even if it’s slow going sometimes. One thing that’s really working for me at the moment is just opening up all the documents I’m working on and adding a sentence to each of them, every day.

I wish you the best of luck with your new projects and with sales of your published books, Kathleen. Thank you so much for taking part in Indie Spotlight!


Speak Its Name

A new year at the University of Stancester, and Lydia Hawkins is trying to balance the demands of her studies with her responsibilities as an officer for the Christian Fellowship. Her mission: to make sure all the Christians in her hall stay on the straight and narrow, and to convert the remaining residents if possible. To pass her second year. And to ensure a certain secret stays very secret indeed.

When she encounters the eccentric, ecumenical student household at 27 Alma Road, Lydia is forced to expand her assumptions about who’s a Christian to include radical Quaker activist Becky, bells-and-smells bus-spotter Peter, and out (bisexual) and proud (Methodist) Colette. As the year unfolds, Lydia discovers that there are more ways to be Christian – and more ways to be herself – than she had ever imagined.

Then a disgruntled member of the Catholic Society starts asking whether the Christian Fellowship is really as Christian as it claims to be, and Lydia finds herself at the centre of a row that will reach far beyond the campus. Speak Its Name explores what happens when faith, love and politics mix and explode. 

Goodreads | Buy links | Paperback


 A Spoke In The Wheel

The first thing I saw was the wheelchair.

The first thing she saw was the doper.

Ben Goddard is an embarrassment – as a cyclist, as an athlete, as a human being. And he knows it.

Now that he’s been exposed by a positive drugs test, his race wins and his work with disabled children mean nothing. He quits professional cycling in a hurry, sticks a pin in a map, and sets out to build a new life in a town where nobody knows who he is or what he’s done.

But when the first person he meets turns out to be a cycling fan, he finds out that it’s not going to be quite as easy as that.

Besides, Polly’s not just a cycling fan, she’s a former medical student with a chronic illness and strong opinions. Particularly when it comes to Ben Goddard…

Goodreads | Buy links | Paperback


The Real World

Colette is trying to finish her PhD and trying not to think about what happens next. Her girlfriend wants to get married – but she also wants to become a vicar, and she can’t do both. Her ex-girlfriend never wanted to get married, but apparently she does now. Her supervisor is more interested in his TV career than in what she’s up to, and, of the two people she could talk to about any of this, one’s two hundred miles away, and the other one’s dead.

Welcome to…

The Real World.

Goodreads | Buy links  | Paperback 


 Who is next in the Indie Spotlight?

P.L. Stuart

Hi everyone! I’m P.L. Stuart! Nice to meet you! I’m a Canadian high fantasy author, of Ghanaian and Barbadian descent. I live in Chatham, Ontario, with my wife Debbie. “A Drowned Kingdom” is the first novel in “The Drowned Kingdom Saga.” 

I’m an experienced writer, in that I’ve been writing stories all my life, yet never thought to publish them. I’ve written informally – short stories – to entertain friends and family, for community newspapers, volunteer organization magazines, and of course formal papers for University. Now, later in life, I’ve published what I believe is a great fantasy novel, and definitely worth reading, called “A Drowned Kingdom”. 


 

 

Cover Reveal! Blue Shadow Legacy by Anca Antoci

Today I am excited to share with you the cover for the latest book in the Chimera trilogy by Anca Antoci: Blue Shadow Legacy.

First let’s meet the author:

Anca’s overactive imagination pours into her stories bringing otherworldly creatures to life. She writes about mystical creatures, mystery, and adventure with a hint of Romance.

Her debut novel, Forget Me Not, is the first part of a trilogy published in 2020.

Before starting her writing journey, Anca was active in the blogging community as a fantasy book reviewer. The fanfiction stories she wrote long before she dreamed of being a writer are still popular and available on her blog. Although not as often, she still posts book reviews and book recommendations on her blog www.summonfantasy.com.

Living in Romania, Anca speaks English as a second language and is quite self-conscious about her accent, which is why she never speaks in her videos on TikTok. She loves taking long walks through the parks to recharge her batteries before a writing sprint. She loves cooking and can often be found in the kitchen trying out a new recipe while an audiobook keeps her entertained.

AMAZON WEBSITE | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM FACEBOOK | FACEBOOK GROUP | TIKTOK | GOODREADS


And now here are the first two books in the Chimera Series, Forget Me Not and The Blue Shadow Prophecy:

My review of Forget Me Not can be read here.

And finally the moment you have been waiting for…..Book 3 The Blue Shadow Legacy:

Title: Blue Shadow Legacy (Chimera, book 3)

Publication date: January 31st

Pre-order date: January 25th

On the brink of war, the freedom of chimera outcasts and vampires hangs in the balance.

All seems lost when the Council runs coordinated attacks and destroys the Resistance’s secret camps. It’s time for shifters, vampires, and creatures of the Underworld to set their differences aside and make a united front. They expect the Huntress to lead them to victory, but they don’t know the truth about the prophecy that gives them hope. For Rae to save them all, she will be consumed.

After becoming a shadow and training her magic, Rae is ready for a new challenge. Unfortunately, the only constant in her life is that nothing ever goes as planned. When an army of witches gets ready to obliterate what’s left of the Resistance, Rae strikes a deal with a hellhound to save her friends.

An unexpected visit into the Underworld gives Rae a new perspective, an unlikely ally, and a fighting chance, but at what cost?

Add to Goodreads

The Winds of Morning by Gifford MacShane

1848: the third year the potato crop failed in Ireland. The Protestant landlords have absconded back to Britain, leaving the Catholic peasants to fend for themselves, while the English government allowed the export of tens of thousands of tons of Irish food daily.

With two younger brothers to feed, Molly O’Brien took her father’s place on the road gang, building a road that runs from her tiny village to the river and no farther. Yet sixteen hours of labor a day would not garner enough wages to buy food for her family.

She was beyond despair. Beyond prayer. And so far beyond the tenets of her childhood, she’d decided to offer her body to the first man with the price of a loaf of bread. At that moment, a voice behind her spoke…

Amazon US | Amazon UK | goodreads


My Review

I was sent a digital copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am reading this book on behalf of Rosie Amber’s book review team. #RBRT. Thank you very much to the author, Gifford MacShane and to Rosie.

Set during the tragedy that was the Great Potato Famine in early nineteenth century Ireland, this short novella is gripping and difficult to put down and I read it over the course of one day. It follows the fortunes of Molly, a young woman who has lost her Da and her Ma to starvation and a broken heart respectively. Her two brothers are both very sick when we meet her and she has come to the conclusion that in order to feed them she will have to turn to prostitution since her job breaking rocks for a road to be built is not earning enough money for the three of them.

Luckily for her and her youngest brother, Johnny, she is spotted by the hero of the tale, John Patrick Donovan. A well-off businessman with a kindly heart he decides there and then to marry her and save both her and Johnny’s lives in the process. Unfortunately it is too late for her other brother, William.

Johnny was my favourite character in the story with his wit and charming smile. John Patrick is certain his nieces will have their heads turned by Johnny when they all return to Wexford together.

The plight of Ireland during this time is well described by the author and easily imagined, as is the fate of Molly and her brother, had John Patrick not chanced upon her:

“The old men had died first, and only a half-dozen of the fathers were still alive. The boys who could were working on the road gang. The women were weak—so weak they were unable to bear more children. The younger among them were confined to the workhouse. The old women were gone, too, except for Mother O’Fagan, a white witch said to live on the air she breathed. The chickens and pigs had been eaten these past two years or more. Even the benches were gone, except for the one that ringed the tree in the square. Father Boylan had arranged for them to be sold this past spring, and had spent the proceeds on corn meal and salt cod to feed the most needy of his flock. The food had not gone far, and most of those who had partaken were gone now, too.”

The Winds of Morning was a most enjoyable read full of historical detail and engaging storytelling. I highly recommend it.


About the Author

Gifford MacShane is the author of historical fiction that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. 

Her novels feature a family of Irish immigrants who settle in the Arizona TerritoryWith an accessible literary style, MacShane draws out her characters’ hidden flaws and strengths as they grapple with both physical and emotional conflicts. 

Singing almost before she could talk, MacShane has always loved folk music, whether it be Irish, Appalachian, or the songs of the cowboys. Her love of the Old West goes back to childhood, when her father introduced her to the works of Zane Grey. Later she became interested in the Irish diaspora, realizing her ancestors must have lived through An Gorta Mor, the Great Irish Potato Famine of the mid-1800s. Writing allows her to combine her three great interests into a series of family stories, each with a central romance, traditional song lyrics, and a dash of Celtic mysticism. 

Website | Twitter | Amazon Author page | goodreads Author page

The Part About The Dragon Was Mostly True by Sean Gibson

Sure, you think you know the story of the fearsome red dragon, Dragonia. How it terrorized the village of Skendrick until a brave band of heroes answered the noble villagers’ call for aid. How nothing could stop those courageous souls from facing down the dragon. How they emerged victorious and laden with treasure.

But, even in a world filled with epic adventures and tales of derring-do, where dragons, goblins, and unlicensed prestidigitators run amok, legendary heroes don’t always know what they’re doing. Sometimes they’re clueless. Sometimes beleaguered townsfolk are more hapless than helpless. And orcs? They’re not always assholes, and sometimes they don’t actually want to eat your children. Heloise the Bard, Erithea’s most renowned storyteller (at least, to hear her tell it), is here to set the record straight.

See, it turns out adventuring isn’t easy, and true heroism is as rare as an articulate villager. Having spent decades propagating this particular myth (which, incidentally, she wrote), she’s finally able to tell the real story-for which she just so happened to have a front-row seat.

Welcome to Erithea. I hope you brought a change of undergarments-things are going to get messy.


My Review

Rumscrabble Tooltinker, (half dwarf half halfling), Nadinta Ghettinwood (an elven woman), Borgunder Gunderbor (rock giant) and Whiska Tailiesin, (a Ratarian wizard) are the unusual group of companions who take centre stage in this novel when they decide to take on the task of ridding Skendrick of its red dragon nuisance. This occurs after they are persuaded to take on the dangerous quest by Heloise the Bard, who they meet in a pub. The tale is narrated by the self-obsessed, half-elven Heloise who spares no opportunity to emphasize her own beauty, assets and talents.

The tale is highly entertaining and caused me to laugh out loud on many occasions. Gibson has a wonderful way with humour and his digressions about shish kabobs and the Emperor’s ‘Newt’ Clothes are hilarious, as are the frequent throwaway comments:

They say that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but I find that “they” say a lot of things, and I kind of think “they” are smug, know-it-all assholes.

The tale is told in two ways simultaneously – first Heloise recounts her “official” polished, bardic version of events and then we learn from her the more realistic, haphazard and often hilarious version of what actually transpired complete with all its colourful language:

“What in the name of flaming cockroach anuses was that?!” yelled Whiska, leaping to her feet. “Flaming cockroach anuses?” I silently mouthed to Rummy, who shrugged.

The motley band of brave adventurers take on a multitude of creatures including orcs, bog men and a Minotaur on their way to the mountain on which the dragon lives. They answer riddles, display careless stupidity and occasional cleverness but never lose sight of their quest. Borg the stone giant was my favourite character. His slow wit and talent for dressmaking were incomparable. Heloise became a little too much for me after a while with her incessant insistence on how wonderful she was. Nadi and Rummy were both likeable heroes, and Whiska was gross in a rattish kind of way.

If you like Dad jokes, poop jokes, riddles, snarky creatures and a whole boat load of irreverence then this light-hearted tale of mismatched adventurers might just be what you are looking for!

Equally if you are a fan of DnD type adventures you will love this book. The popular tropes are all here – found family, unlikely heroes, a quest to kill a dragon – add to those a self-obsessed unreliable narrator who is also a talented spin doctor and you have the basis for this story’s plot in a nutshell.

This book was just what I needed to help combat the January blues.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | goodreads


About the Author

Sean Gibson, “author” and slackonteur, is not a professional mini biography writer (if he were, this would be much more compelling). Instead, he’s a business professional by day, hangs out with his amazing wife, son, and daughter by night, and writes somewhere in between. He holds a BA in English Literature from Ohio Wesleyan University and an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, though rumors persist that he also attended mime school (he is silent on the subject). Sean is a fan of sports teams from Detroit, a distressingly large number of bands that rose to prominence in the 1980s, and writing in the third person. He currently resides in Northern Virginia, and, given how much he hates moving, and given that his house has an awesome library, is likely to remain there for some time.

Sean is the author of several stories starring Heloise the Bard, including The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True (which Publishers Weekly drunkenly gave a starred review), “You Just Can’t Hide from Chriskahzaa,” and The Chronicle of Heloise & Grimple. He also wrote the Victorian-set fantasy thriller The Camelot Shadow and its prequel short, “The Strange Task Before Me.” He has written extensively for Kirkus Reviews, and his book reviews have also appeared in Esquire.

You can follow him on Twitter at @Gibknight, but is that really how you want to spend your precious years of life?


First Lines Friday – 14th January 2022

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while but thought I would do one today.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by @Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? If you want to make your own post, just follow the rules below:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

This book is my current read, which I am thoroughly enjoying. If you are looking for some light-hearted humour to go with your fantasy, I would highly recommend it. The following lines are from the official version of the story, as told by the narrator, Heloise the Bard, but if you read on further you soon come to realize that the official stories as told by bards are far from the truth of what actually happened in many cases…

A CLASSIC BEGINNING… Few indeed know the paralyzing terror of a mighty dragon’s roar or the skin-blistering heat of its fiery breath. Few, I say, for most who do experience such things know them for but the briefest instant before they are consumed by flame, burned beyond all hope of recognition, their hopes and dreams turned to smoke and ash. Such was the horrible fate of many who called the village of Skendrick home on the fateful day when the great red dragon Dragonia first painted the evening sky red and orange with searing gouts of fire, raining death upon men, women, and children without distinction or hesitation, the tallest and smallest alike unable to withstand the dragon’s terrible fury.


And the book is…

|

|

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The Part About the Dragon Was Mostly True by Sean Gibson

Sure, you think you know the story of the fearsome red dragon, Dragonia. How it terrorized the village of Skendrick until a brave band of heroes answered the noble villagers’ call for aid. How nothing could stop those courageous souls from facing down the dragon. How they emerged victorious and laden with treasure.

But, even in a world filled with epic adventures and tales of derring-do, where dragons, goblins, and unlicensed prestidigitators run amok, legendary heroes don’t always know what they’re doing. Sometimes they’re clueless. Sometimes beleaguered townsfolk are more hapless than helpless. And orcs? They’re not always assholes, and sometimes they don’t actually want to eat your children.

Heloise the Bard, Erithea’s most renowned storyteller (at least, to hear her tell it), is here to set the record straight. See, it turns out adventuring isn’t easy, and true heroism is as rare as an articulate villager.

Having spent decades propagating this particular myth (which, incidentally, she wrote), she’s finally able |to tell the real story—for which she just so happened to have a front-row seat.

Welcome to Erithea. I hope you brought a change of undergarments—things are going to get messy.

Amazon UK | Amazon US | goodreads


About the Author

Sean Gibson, “author” and slackonteur, is not a professional mini biography writer (if he were, this would be much more compelling). Instead, he’s a business professional by day, hangs out with his amazing wife, son, and daughter by night, and writes somewhere in between. He holds a BA in English Literature from Ohio Wesleyan University and an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, though rumors persist that he also attended mime school (he is silent on the subject). Sean is a fan of sports teams from Detroit, a distressingly large number of bands that rose to prominence in the 1980s, and writing in the third person. He currently resides in Northern Virginia, and, given how much he hates moving, and given that his house has an awesome library, is likely to remain there for some time.

Sean is the author of several stories starring Heloise the Bard, including The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True (which Publishers Weekly drunkenly gave a starred review), “You Just Can’t Hide from Chriskahzaa,” and The Chronicle of Heloise & Grimple. He also wrote the Victorian-set fantasy thriller The Camelot Shadow and its prequel short, “The Strange Task Before Me.” He has written extensively for Kirkus Reviews, and his book reviews have also appeared in Esquire.

You can follow him on Twitter at @Gibknight, but is that really how you want to spend your precious years of life?

The Coffee Book Tag

First of all I would like to thank Tabitha at Behindthepages blog who tagged me to take part in this Book Tag. And I’d like to give a shout out to BangadyBangz who created the book tag as well. If you would like to join in please do, but be sure to tag the person who created the book tag initially.

I don’t drink as much coffee as a lot of bookish people and what I do drink tends to be decaff. I am more of a tea-head.

1. Black: Name a series that’s tough to get into but has hardcore fans:

Malazan Book of the Fallen

Well I think everyone would agree that Malazan has hardcore fans. It is a series I have no desire to read thanks to all of its lovely fans and their constant hyping!

First meme. We've all been there : r/Malazan

2. Peppermint mocha: Name a book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year:

Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series

The Dark Is Rising

I haven’t read this book this winter but I do enjoy revisiting the series at this time of year.


3. Hot chocolate: What is your favourite children’s book?

Ooh so many…

I think The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was probably my gateway (wardrobe) into reading fantasy so I’m going to go with that!

by C.S. Lewis – even better, this version is illustrated – I would have loved it as a kid!

I was also a big fan of Rupert the Bear annuals. I still love them today – I kept them from my childhood.


4. Double shot of espresso: Name a book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish:

We Break Immortals by Thomas Howard Riley. This epic fantasy is a big chonk of a book but so tense and action-packed it definitely had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through! Here’s my review.

A drug addict who hunts sorcerers down by tracking their magick, the most renowned swordsman no one has ever heard of, and a thieving magick-wielding woman hellbent on revenge collide during a last ditch effort to stop an insane superhuman serial killer from making himself a god.

The wise run from them.
Swords are useless against them.
Only the fearless dare pursue them.
Rogue magick users are the most dangerous people in the world.
When one of them finds a way to become luminous and break into the source of all magick, even their own kind will join the pursuit.

The Render Tracers always say magick users deserve to burn. Aren couldn’t agree more, Keluwen would beg to differ, and Corrin couldn’t care less either way.

In a world where most people use swords for protection, Aren uses tools that let him see what no one else can see, and he takes advantage of loopholes that can undo magick in order to stop the deadliest people in the world. He is a Render Tracer, relentlessly pursuing rogue sorcerers who bend the laws of physics to steal, assault, and kill. But his next hunt will lead him to question his entire life, plunging him into a world where he can’t trust anyone, not even his own eyes.

When Keluwen finally escaped her fourthparents’ home and set out on her own to become a thief, she never thought she would one day be killing her own kind. She honed her magick on the streets, haunted by her past, hunted by Render Tracers, and feared by a society that hates what she is. Now she joins a crew of outcast magicians on a path of vengeance as they race to stop an insane sorcerer who has unlocked the source of all magick and is trying to use it to make himself a god.

Corrin is a sword fighter first, a drinker second, and a…well, there must be something else he is good at. He’ll think of it if you give him enough time. He is a rogue for hire, and he has no special powers of any kind. The most magick he has ever done is piss into the wind without getting any on himself. He is terrible at staying out of trouble, and someone always seems to be chasing him. When he gets caught up in a multi-kingdom manhunt, he finds himself having to care about other people for a change, and he’s not happy about it.

They are about to collide on the trail of a man who is impossible to catch, who is on the verge of plunging the world into ruin, and who can turn loyal people into traitors in a single conversation. They must struggle against their own obsessions, their fears, ancient prophecies, and each other. They will each have to balance the people they love against their missions, and struggle to avoid becoming the very thing they are trying to stop.

All they have to do is stop the unstoppable. Simple.

Buy here


5. Starbucks: Name a book you see everywhere:

OK, well I’m going to be a little cheeky with this one and say my own book because there are copies in at least three rooms in my house so I tend to see it everywhere I go throughout the day!

“One of the perils of being a sniper during the First World War was the likelihood of a grenade going off right next to you and burying you alive”.

Meet Jack Rogers. Born in 1894, he once locked eyes with Queen Victoria and was one of the first travellers on London’s ‘Tube’. An early car owner, he had many escapades on his days out to Brighton, including a time when his brakes failed and he had to drive through central London without them!

His skills as an entertainer earned him popularity throughout his life, and kept him out of the deadly mines while a prisoner during the First World War. At the tender age of 103 Jack earned the title of ‘The World’s Oldest Columnist’ as he began dictating his life’s exploits to a reporter from the local newspaper.

Buy here


6. That hipster coffee shop: Give a book by an indie author a shoutout:

I always like to give Lyra Wolf’s series a shoutout at every opportunity and since the third book in the series is coming out on March 9th this would seem like a good opportunity to mention that!! THere are going to be cocktails to accompany the launch – join Lyra on Instagram.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

It was supposed to be Loki the trickster god’s happily ever after with Sigyn. They had gone full Midgardian, settling down in California, with Loki doing what he does best—mischief.

When Sigyn collapses, Loki senses a grave darkness growing within her, and he knows only one god who may be able to stop Surtr before this sinister force possesses her completely.

Once again he finds himself forced to ask Odin for his help…which always carries with it some kind of price. However, Odin is the least of Loki’s problems, especially when buried secrets start surfacing because of brothers, both dead and alive. Blackmail is a nasty business.

Loki worries that his happily ever after with Sigyn could have an unhappy end.

Lies are unraveling, the truth is spinning, and consequences are flying faster than Loki can run and he may lose Sigyn forever—either to the darkness, or to his own lies.

Pre-order link


7. Oops! I accidentally got decaf: Name a book you were expecting more from:

Well this is a difficult one to answer….

I think the last book I was disappointed by was a book I DNFd due to graphic domestic violence observed by a child.

Death Perception by Lee Allen Howard

Death Perception by Lee Allen Howard | Blog Tour

8. The perfect blend: Name a book or series that was both bitter and sweet but ultimately satisfying:

series-ereader-mockup-30pct.png

The Coming of Áed trilogy by E.G. Radcliff. There were definitely both bitter and sweet moments in there but the final book was amazing and I highly recommend it. Here are my reviews:

The Hidden King

The Last Price

The Wild Court

Buy here


Be sure to comment below if you think of any books which would fit these categories – or make your own post!

Indie Spotlight – Shaun Paul Stevens

Today I am welcoming Shaun Paul Stevens into the Indie Spotlight as part of the blog tour for his latest book, Servant of the Lesser Good, a book I recently read and reviewed. I thoroughly enjoyed Servant of the Lesser Good and have added the next Feyrlands book to my TBR list.

Shaun Paul Stevens was born in October 1972 in London. He spent his formative years in the shadows of the dreaming spires of Oxford, before moving to Nottingham, where he graduated university with a degree in English and Media.

Navigating a path through music, art and the internet, writing came calling and he found himself ensconced in alternate realities and gritty fantasy worlds. He has written several books to date.

Shaun now lives in Brighton, on the south coast of England, with his patient family and ungrateful cat, generally being a nerd.

Website | Email | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


Hello, Shaun and welcome to my blog!

What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?

I’m too impatient to go through the traditional publishing route, and I love learning new skills and being master of my own destiny. I originally went wide, now I’m focussed on the Amazon ecosystem for the time-being. The first book I released was a novella – which enabled me to get something out there quickly, and involved fewer editing costs.

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?

I write Epic Fantasy, as I have always predominantly read Fantasy. I plan to delve into other genres such a sci-fi and thrillers in the near future however.

Do you only read the genre that you write? 

No, I read widely in all genres. I especially like thick classics like Tolstoy, Austen, Dickens, but read anything from Dan Brown to Shakespeare.

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

I’m currently reading The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (sci-fi). I recently finished watching the Korean TV show, Squid Game, and I enjoy a lot of alternative comedy shows (People Just Do Nothing, What We Do in The Shadows). For musical inspiration, I mainly listen to ’indie’ music, but anything with a lot of bass and guitars works for me. I sometimes listen to classical when I’m writing, it depends on the scene.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Yes, just write. Too often people say ‘I’ve no ideas, so I can’t start writing’, but if you start writing, ideas will come.

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

I’m currently working on books 2 and 3 in my Rankers series – also set in my Feyrlands universe. After that, I have a sci-fi thriller planned, looking at weaponised AI gone crazy.

That sounds very interesting – I will keep a lookout for it! Thank you for joining me on my blog today, Shaun and good luck with all of your projects!


Servant of the Lesser Good

A cursed symphony and magic which tells stories in your mind.


High Mistress Talia is a hellraising socialite with a murky past. But she has a bright future. Beautiful, rich, and a virtuoso harpist, she’s betrothed to the Count of Brecht. In short, she has it all. Or so it would seem.

Marla Holst is the new lady’s maid, but never has the ‘help’ been so unhelpful. Marla, real name Mist, has only one mission: to stop the high mistress’s marriage. By any means necessary.

But complications abound. Talia’s disturbed daughter, a girl who can see into the future, is cursed with the stigma of a devil-worshipping father. The count’s father, the Duke of Rizak, is a recluse, too afraid of assassins to show his face. And all the nobility want to do is duel.

Meanwhile, the highlight of the season—a recital of the famous ‘Cursed Symphony,’ draws ever closer.

Buy link | Goodreads | My Review


Nether Light

Journey through a world punished by a dark, imprisoned magic.  A world where children are given poison.  A world where reality is breaking down.


When refugee Guyen washes up in the land of his enemy, he knows he will fight, but soon falls down a well of wonder and improbability as a mysterious power invades him. And when his brother falls ill to the same deadly force, only its mastery can save him.

But this is a system designed to beat down their kind.

Sometimes, however, you must swallow your pride and tame your anger to unleash your potential. Only then might you see your enemy for what they truly might be —your friends.

A gritty, heart-wrenching tale of high magic and adventure, loves lost and friendships gained, and above all hope.

Buy link | Goodreads


Deliverance at Van Demon’s Deep

How far does camaraderie stretch, when it’s life and death?


Demon’s Deep mine is out of action. The miners are missing, and psychotic savages—The Unbound—have taken it over. Unfortunately, where the Unbound go, bad magic follows. Magic which mutates living things, and liquefies rock.

Kiprik, long suffering leader of his elite snatch squad, must rescue the miners before army commanders run out of patience and start pumping poison gas. With his meat-headed corporal and loyal friend Stack at his side, he’ll face up to any threat, and stick an axe in its face, so long as the sneering Padre Brax doesn’t get in the way.

But this is a task which will see Kiprik and his crew going to the very bottom of the mine, where the deepest magic and the darkest truths lurk.

Will honour and camaraderie be enough?

Buy link | Goodreads


Who is next on Indie Spotlight?

Kathleen Jowitt writes contemporary literary fiction exploring themes of identity, redemption, integrity, and politics. Her work has been shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize and the Selfies Award, and her debut novel, Speak Its Name, was the first ever self-published book to receive a Betty Trask Award. She lives in Ely, works in London, and writes on the train. Find her at www.kathleenjowitt.com and on Twitter @KathleenJowitt

Faring Forth Again on the Shoe: More tales of barging through Belgium to France by Valerie Poore

This travelogue is a sequel to Faring to France on a Shoe and is an account of Val Poore’s further cruising adventures with her partner, Koos, on their Dutch Barge, Hennie Ha, aka the Shoe. Once again, Val and Koos set off for a summer of ‘faring’, the word they use to describe travelling by barge as distinguished from cruising and sailing. It is, after all, a very different experience to meander along the canals at a snail’s pace and enjoy the waterside scenery, towns and encounters with local people. These are adventures of a gentle kind that take them along the lovely waterways of Belgium, through numerous locks of various shapes and sizes, and into France through a very beautiful back door.

Amazon | goodreads


My Review

I was lucky enough to win a digital copy of this book in a competition run by the Facebook group We Love Memoirs. Thank you very much to the author, Val and the group administrators! My review is honest and the opinions are my own.

Faring Forth Again on the Shoe is the story of a trip along the canals of Belgium made by the author, Valerie Poore and her partner, Koos in their Dutch house barge, the Hennie Ha, which is shaped like a clog and affectionately known by them as the ‘Shoe’.

The trip follows a route on these waterways:
The Scheldt
The Dender – The Flemish Section
The Dender – The Walloon Section
The Canal du Centre
The Brussels-Charleroi Canal
The Sambre Thuin France
Return to Belgium
Ronquières, Brussels and beyond

I have never been on a barge but have often gazed wistfully at them when in Amsterdam and Bruges – there is something very romantic about the idea of living aboard one of these floating homes! However, in reality I do not think I would be able to live with the insecurity and vulnerability involved with life on a barge. At one point, when moored by a run down part of a city, and almost boarded by a local at night, Val tells us:

“It’s not unheard of for local youths to untie a boat leaving the sleeping occupants drifting in midstream, especially in these urban moorings.”

The down-to-earth descriptions of (lack of) showering facilities and the sheer physical labour involved with maintaining the barge would also put me off this lifestyle! Val herself had never been on a barge until her forties but has embraced the hard work and physical challenges involved and her love for this unconventional lifestyle shines through her warm descriptions of events which take place on their journey.

The book is peppered with historical information and local tall tales – I particularly enjoyed the amusing origin story for how the locals of Ninove became known as wortels, or carrots when they forgot to lock their city gates properly and used a carrot instead!

Val’s goal is to make it to the historic landmark of the ‘Great Lift’ at Strépy and travel up it – an impressive 73 metre rise for the barge:

We’re sitting in a huge bath suspended in mid-air, and the only thing between us and eternity is a collection of steel cables.

The added maps and accompanying photo website help to bring alive the journey and there is even a recipe for a one pot meal included in the book, which sounds delicious.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/29479087@N04/albums/72157718931401560

I thoroughly enjoyed my time traveling through Belgium on the Shoe, even if it was only a virtual trip, brought to life by the vivid travelogue-style descriptions of passing countryside and local towns!

The Hennie Ha

About the Author

Val Poore was born in London, grew up in Dorset and then moved to South Africa in 1981 where she lived for nearly twenty years. However, she decided to move back to Europe permanently in 2001. Her intention was to live in France, but love and life had other plans and she ended up buying a traditional barge and staying in the Netherlands. She is now a Dutch citizen as well.

Val has written eight memoirs and two novels. She writes under her full name, Valerie, and these days shares her time between her barge in Rotterdam and a cottage in the country. She teaches for a living, has two very grown up daughters (both in the Netherlands) and lives with her Dutch partner. One day, she hopes she and her partner can take her barge and exchange teaching for a life of gentle cruising along the canals in northern France, or Poland, or Germany or wherever the waterways take them.

We Break Immortals by Thomas Howard Riley

Today I am excited to be taking part in the blog tour for debut epic fantasy We Break Immortals by indie author Thomas Howard Riley with a guest post! I would like to thank Thomas for the beautifully wrapped paperback copy of his book and to Escapist Book Tours for having me along on this tour! Please take time to check out the posts from the other bloggers/bookstagrammers/podcasters on the tour:

I was lucky enough to be sent an arc of this book back in the summer and you can read my review here!

What If Gandalf Was A Serial Killer?

The origin spark of my writing and worldbuilding

by Thomas Howard Riley

What if Gandalf was a serial killer?

A weird thought for a ten year old to have after reading Lord Of The Rings. But anyone who knows me knows that I have never claimed to be normal. 

So, what if Gandalf was a serial killer?

By that I do not mean: what if Gandalf turned evil and went after the One Ring and tried his hand at world domination. We know what would happen there. Another wizard already did that. In that case Gandalf would just be Saruman. 

But what if he didn’t want world domination? What if he offered rides on his cart to unsuspecting hobbits and then found a quiet glen to stare deep into their eyes while he strangled them? What if he kidnapped hobbits and left little riddles for the mayor of Hobbiton to try to solve in time to save a victim? What if he just wanted a young man or woman here and there to bind, torture, and kill in between pipeweed fixes?

What if he was Gandalf the Ripper? The Bree Strangler? The Rivendell Killer?

What if Gandalf dropped by Hobbiton every few months, and hobbits started to go missing? Would they put two and two together? What if they did? What if they caught him in the act? Torturing and slaughtering a pretty young hobbit? 

What if he didn’t even try to hide it? What could they do? He has magick. (that’s not a typo; it’s how I spell magick) What can they do against that? Ride until they find Cirdan? Good luck getting him to leave those grey havens. Ask Elrond for help? He has been putting up with this middle earth bullshit for six thousand years. He is not going to ride out for some small time, non-third-age-ending crime. He is going to be staying in Rivendell, feet up, relaxing, scrolling through his feed.

I started to think of what the authorities (hobbit or men) would do—call for help, form a hobbit task force, try to track his movements, find out how to stop him from using his powerful magick, and neutralize him in some way. 

These are the thoughts that accompanied my extravagant Raisin Bran breakfasts before running to catch the school bus.

I kept having those thoughts as the years went by. Every fantasy book had magick users of one sort or another, and all of them touched on this problem to one degree or another. 

But there was one common denominator that only a few every fully embraced—people with magick in every imagined society, from Hogwarts to King’s Landing, from Tar Valon to Luthadel, on Krynn or Faerun, are one thing and one thing only—dangerous.

What happens if Dumbledore comes down with a fever and becomes disoriented? What happens if Fizban the Fabulous or Elminster the Mage have one too many at the local pub and lose self control? What happens when Quick Ben develops dementia? What if instead of channeling his grief into fighting for change, Kelsier fell into despair and went mad and began using allomancy to serial murder prostitutes in the midnight streets of Luthadel?

What is there to prevent them from delighting in whatever terrible abuses they wished? What prevents them from killing a king or queen and usurping their power? 

What could you do if they have magick and you have nothing? A knife in the dark? What if you miss? Poison? What if they notice? Ambush? What if they hear you? What if they escape? What if they want revenge? Could you hire your own sorcerers to protect you from the other sorcerers? What if your protectors opted not to defend you? What if they turned on you? 

But without some way to stop magick from being used, no one could stop a wizard from doing whatever they wanted to whoever they wanted. There is no sorcerer-with-no-name riding a pale horse to save your village from the bad wizards. 

Would a society, any society, even be able to survive, let alone flourish under the constant threat of magick? They couldn’t possibly. Not without some way to keep magick in check. Society itself would unravel. 

How could you ever feel safe living next to a wizard? Even if they were fine and good for ten thousand days, what if on the ten thousand and first day they had a bad day, their partner left them and took the kids and they had a meltdown? How could you ever know for sure that it couldn’t happen someday? 

It is one thing for your neighbor to go mad while waving a sword. Swords have limits to the damage they can do. But what if instead of a sword they had the equivalent of a ten-ton bomb with flame throwers on it strapped to themselves at all times? Would you really be willing to let them walk around because most of the time they were nice? 

Societies would realistically be pushed to the breaking point with sorcerers roaming about free.

This started me thinking. 

How would societies combat this problem? How would they insulate themselves against the terror they must have felt day in and day out over what horrible things magick could do to them in the hands of the wrong person? Especially knowing that with the right circumstances, the right amount of alcohol, the right amount of provocation, the right amount of trauma, anyone could become the wrong person. 

You could not rely on just one or two kindly sorcerers to protect you. What if they call in sick? What if they play hooky from responsibility like Elrond and his high-school-student-in-the-final-months-of-senior-year level of apathy in Lord of the Rings. (I will grant you that he did, at the very last minute, finish his shop class final project. But putting a sword together? Seriously? That’s it, friend? I thought you and Gandalf were pals. Anyway…)  

The only way to attack the problem is to have proper systems in place, with redundancies, and the buy-in of the majority of society. 

This could be achievable, but the only way a society could tolerate magick is through one of three methods, or some combination of them. (Many fantasy worlds incorporate versions of these to some degree, but MANY of them conspicuously do not)

1) society polices the sorcerers – They find a way to stop magick, to hunt those who use it. They create a system that not only protects the wealthy, but everyone (though probably not remotely equally). It would be the only way to prevent outright revolt, chaos, panicked masses, riots. This would require incredible levels of cooperation  and ingenuity for weak ordinary people to be able to pool enough together to overcome someone with godlike power.

2) sorcerers police themselves – Magick users come together and organize to put a system in place whereby they ensure the peace, punish wrongdoers and incentivize good behavior among those of their kind, and in exchange, they are spared uncomfortable pogroms and lynchings. They found groups, guilds, and other organizations to ruthlessly ensure that the rest of the world does not turn against their kind entirely by ensuring they will stand as a buffer between sorcerers and society, and will swing down like a hammer on any who step out of line.

3) society purges the sorcerers – You can’t have a wizard problem if you haven’t got any wizards. In this variant, anyone and everyone who is found with that particular talent—men, women, and children—are put to death the moment they are found. In this case society is especially incentivized to catch them while they are young, weak, untrained, inexperienced. It makes it less dangerous to catch them, is less costly on local budgets and lazy staff, and prevents ten-fold trouble down the road. It is the only real way to be certain. (This one of course leads almost inevitably to a constant level of state-sanctioned baby-murder)

So there we are. These questions and answers all swirled in my mind, until they coalesced into the magick system for the world that my stories will inhabit. 

The central themes of every saga I am writing, or plan to write, have become the human failings of people who use magick, how societies react to them, how that reaction is affected by the human failings of people without magick, and how those counterbalance each other, or create negative feedback loops on each other.

Then I began to understand how these societal systems could be abused, overused, corrupted. I saw how the different degrees of this policing could lead to persecution, execution, genocide, and how different types of societies would succeed or fail at achieving an equilibrium. How would good magick users be treated vs. the bad? Who would the good magick users fear more—the bad magick users or the society set against them both? How would people from different groups react to one another? How would hunters treat the sorcerers? How would they treat the good magick users? How would different varieties of magick users treat each other?

These thoughts led to incredible new possibilities for character conflicts and societal conflicts. It was well worth it to delve deeper into these concepts.

I wanted to explore them all. So I created different nations, each with different methods of dealing with the problem, some more effective than others. Different systems, different organizations, different individuals, all move and bounce off one another in this world of mine.

But back to the question at the beginning: what about magick itself? 

Where would our terrified hobbits go? 

They would have to find some way to know where Gandalf was, some way to counter his magic, and some way to imprison him, or kill him if need be. Could magick tools be forged to use against them? Could mundane weapons be used? Would it be left to poisons or arrows or a knife in the ribs? Does he have an achilles heel? A kryptonite? 

What if the sorcerer fled from an ambush, only to return later? Did magick leave a trail of evidence? Could it be followed? Could it be stopped? Perhaps it could. Perhaps not. (reading my books you will see my approach to this concept in great detail)

But I came to understand one truth running through every magick system in every world from every book ever written. There was one through-line connecting them all to each other and to us. 

No matter what specific limitations are set by the world built around them, there is, at a fundamental level, one thing that is the same in every fantasy world, regardless of creator or magick system. 

I realized the sorcerer’s mind was the key. If you can’t think about magick, you can’t make magic. Everything we do depends upon concentration. Without our mental ability to focus thought to a specific task, that task will never be accomplished. A distracted mind cannot make magick. 

So what distracts a wizard? The same things as you and I—worries, anxieties, joys, fears, emotions, memories, sensations—all lines of thought that can be encouraged. Loud noises, bright lights, pleasure, pain—all these are distractions. 

This was the truth I opted to embrace.

Thus the core of my magick system is the way it can be stopped, and the way people who use it can be hunted. It became the way magick could be tracked and blocked, and how a sorcerer’s focus could be sharpened or dulled by distraction, so that the superhuman could be made vulnerable, so they could be brought under control. The magick in my world leaves traces behind, things that can be tracked. The magick can be calculated, documented, undone. I made a society where people who used magick were just as afraid of the society around them as the society was afraid of them.

These are the ideas that intrigue me, and drive me to write stories where magick is both creative and destructive, wonderful and devastating, beautiful and terrifying. All depending on who is using it, and which day of their lives it is.

This was the beginning of my world—the one I created for you. 

Welcome to Luminaworld

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US | My Review


About the Author

Thomas Howard Riley currently resides in a secluded grotto in the wasteland metropolis, where he reads ancient books, plays ancient games, watches ancient movies, jams on ancient guitars, and writes furiously day and night. He sometimes appears on clear nights when the moon is gibbous, and he has often been seen in the presence of cats.
He can be found digitally at THOMASHOWARDRILEY.COM
On Twitter he is @ornithopteryx, where he is sometimes funny, always clever, and never mean.
On Instagram he is ThomasHowardRiley, where you will see books, and cats, and mayhem.

Website | Twitter | Instagram


Excerpt from We Break Immortals

Prologue – Seb

IT ONLY TOOK SEB one look through the crack of a half-open parlor door at midnight to know that his friend had gone insane.
This young hero, this beautiful sweet boy he had helped raise from barely half past swaddling, grown to a man full and in truth, who held so much promise, had fallen. They had been filling Paladan’s head with who knew what for who knew how long. Never make promises like that to a boy. Never promise them they will be important. They may grow up to believe it. And now here it was, the fruit of their work. Paladan Algan had surrendered to the sweet seduction of prophecy they had whispered in his ear.
It is high time someone put an end to this charade, Seb thought. He shoved his way past Syman and Laester. The lads tried to bar the door, but Seb’s arms were each as thick as any two of theirs, and he brushed them aside as if the door was a broom.
The air struck Seb like a tidal wave of stale sweat and old forgotten exhales stranded in time.
The candles and half-dead oil lamps lit the room barely at all. To think he has been living in this place.
“Let him in, let him in,” Paladan said carelessly over his shoulder, hovering over the far table.
He shuffled and reshuffled a half dozen unruly, piss-yellow scrolls stranded atop a haphazard hill of opened books. “He should be here with us.”
Seb shook each of his legs and then stood firm. His feet already burned. He had walked a day and a half to come here. He tapped his heel twice on the floor. Two times for the two halves of the twin god. Give me good luck coming and going.

“Be here for what, Paladan?” Seb asked carefully. He could feel water begin to bead on his skin. Moist as the belly of a frog, he thought. He stopped halfway across the room. He looked at the walls. Pyramids of green jars lived beside towers of ancient leather-bound tomes stacked halfway to the ceiling, and all layered with the melt of scores of candles, one upon another, until the wax was thick enough that it would have piqued the interest of an archeologist. The twin windows on the left and right walls were nearly bricked over with towers of stone tablets unearthed in the distant buried temples of Holy Sephalon.
Seb peered at the books Paladan hovered over, trying to see if he could tell what they were. He only recognized the binding of one. Of course it is that one. Those fools should never have given him that. “The ancient story of Caldannon,” he whispered. “The god who fell to earth in the wars of a thousand centuries, and somehow saved it with his meaningless, unknowable power to walk in the light.”
Paladan ignored him. “I am nearly ready.” He stood over it, peering at the words as if they were distant birds he wished to identify. He shuffled more scrolls.
Is he even looking at them? Does he even see them in front of his eyes? “Be here for what, Paladan?”
“I am going to stop him,” Paladan said. “I am going to stop the Sanadi. I am going to kill the invincible man.”
“Sanadi? That is a word out of a book so old our ancestors ten centuries ago could have looked back another ten and still not have seen when it was written.”
“It is what he is.”
“There is no such thing.”
“You should know better than that, Seb. You of all people know what he has done.”

“I never said he wasn’t dangerous. I never said I wanted him walking free.”
“You taught me to be a man of action, Seb.” He turned to face him for the first time.
Seb looked into his eyes, pupils as wide as olives. His sculpted face, which had always made him look the part of the great hero, was now sunken in, pale like sour milk, eyes ringed in violet, and those rings ringed further still in yellow. His black and umber shortcoat and trousers could not hide the fact that his flesh had caved in against his bones, like the juice sucked out of a calpas fruit without peeling the skin.
“You look terrible. Have you been eating enough?” He turned to glare at Syman and Laester.
“You need to be sure he eats, you worthless shitsacks. What do you do around here? What are you worth? Less and less.”
They both looked at the ground in brief shame, but they quickly glanced up at Paladan and regained their smiles, confident they could ignore even the most obvious of Seb’s criticisms.
“We are going to prevail, Seb. I am going to prevail. This is my destiny.” Paladan held up a stack of papers within a thin leather folio. “Do you know what this is? It is a composite, the Glasseyes call it. This includes detailed copies of the patterns he uses in his magick.”
“Where did you get that?”
“One of those Amagon-men stole them for me and brought them here.”
“And?”
“And Bann Dester and Zigor are outside in the brush. They are Stoppers, Seb. They will prevent his magick from working when he comes here.”
“Two men. Two. Men. You know what he did to all those Glasseyes in Amagon a few years back. And they had more than two. They had more than twenty.”
“I have something they do not.”

“What? Tell me. Tell me so that we can end this farce and I can carry you a hundred miles away from this folly.
“I can see through it, Seb. Like the legends say. You know I can. I am a special talent among a forest of special talents. I am the man of sorrow, Seb. From the prophecy.”
“No, you are not.”
“You scoff, but it still fits. I can see what users do without needing the lens to look through. I can see it with my own eyes. Read the pages. Every line of it matches me.”
“I can look across a field at an army for hours,” Seb said. “Does that make me a general? Just because I can see it? Seeing doesn’t guarantee much of anything. Come with me. Let us get out of this place and find air fresh, unencumbered by these heavy thoughts. You are not Caldannon.
Because no one is Caldannon. There is no Caldannon. There never was. He is just a story.”
“I have the book, Seb.”
“What book? The Caldannon book? Why should I care?”
“No, Seb. Not that one.”
“What other one?” But he knew the answer before he finished asking the question. He felt the blood abandon his face. He nearly dropped to his knees. He looked down at Paladan’s far table and saw the binding. Just beneath the book about Caldannon’s journey. “No. Where? Why do you have that? How? What are you doing with it?”
“I do not need even Stoppers at all anymore, because the book taught me that I can walk in the light. If I am in the light, I can break his magick. I can do anything.”
“If, Palad. If you can walk in the light. You cannot do it. Just stop all of this. Stop it. You have read too much, heard too much. You are confused.” He reached out a hand.

Paladan allowed the hand to sway right past him, hanging in the air, untouched. “This is the Advent, Seb. The Days of Light are no longer on the horizon. They are here, now. I am going to stop him. In the light.”
“I am ending this,” Seb said. “Call everything off. All of you. I am taking you from here before you get yourself killed.”
Paladan’s face tightened. “You do not understand, Seb. I have already called for him to come here.”
Seb felt his digestive organs take a sudden drop. He thought they must have hit the floor and left a crater in it. “You. Called. Him.”
“I sent the message by runner this morning.”
“Why?”
“Because I am not afraid. I am true. I am the one. I have been chosen for this. Me, Seb. Me. I was born to go into the light.”
“You do not know how to get into the light. You do not even know if you can get into it. None of us has ever seen it. We have only heard the stories.”
Paladan smiled. “I am true. I am the one. I know I can do all of this. That book right over there, the Codex Lumina, has mantras to open up the real world to the world of light, where all magick comes from. It teaches many tricks of the light. I have seen it. It is real. It is outside of space, Seb.
Outside of time. The light is so very bright, but it does not blind.”
Seb pounded his fist so hard on a stack of books his bones were ringing. “I cannot believe you just told him where we can be found.” This is madness. I must get you out of here before it is too late.

But then he heard footsteps outside, on the cobbled path. They approached halfway to the front door and then ceased.
“Could it be someone else?” Syman asked.
“Bann and Zigor must have his streams by now,” Paladan said.
“And if they do not?” Seb asked.
“You think he would have let them live if he could?”
As if in answer, Seb heard a heavy boom, deep. It rattled the glass jar pyramids.
Seb froze. Everyone froze. Then something began slamming into the walls and the door. Every other second it boomed against the wall.
Paladan leapt into motion. He began reciting text from one lone page in the Codex. He read it over and over, as the walls shook. He had a smile on his face.
Then Seb heard a deeper, denser thud, like the sound of a heavy object slamming against the door.
Paladan jumped back to attention. He flipped the book open to another predetermined page and
began reading frantically.
All the while the heavy weight slammed into the door again and again and again.
“Paladan,” Seb said. “What have you done?”
“I can fix this,” Paladan said. “I can fix it. I can fix it.”
Boom. Boom. Boom.
Seb glanced at Syman and Laester. Their faces drained of color to a shade well past ghost. Their
hands jittered. Laester wet himself. Neither of them had bothered to draw their swords.
Boom. Boom. Boom.

Paladan read from the book. His voice changed. He no longer had the wide vowels of confidence.
He began to furiously glance back and forth among the pages.
“Paladan!” Seb called out.
“I know. I know.”
Boom. Boom. Boom.
The door burst inward, snapping free of its hinges.
The bloody broken body of Zigor collapsed atop its splinters, his face and limbs unrecognizable
beneath mountains of swollen tissue.
Syman gasped. Dropped his sword. Picked it up again.
Zigor’s lifeless body had been the battering ram.
“By the gods,” Laester somehow said on his exhale.
“Paladan!” Seb shouted.
“I can do it!” Paladan said. “I swear I can do it!”
The man who Paladan was so sure had to be a Sanadi stepped through the doorway. He surveyed
the room and smiled. His eyes were black. If he had any color to them, Seb could not see it. He was dressed in a black cape to match, covering robes of blue and violet, as if the poison flowers of a nightmurder weed had come to life.
Seb looked through the gaping maw of the doorway. He saw Bann’s body twisted and broken on the cobblestones outside, soiled and torn beneath the midnight lanterns. “He is not bound!” He can touch as much of his magick as he wishes. Seb drew his sword. “Hold, boys!” he cried out.
“Hold!”
Syman and Laester raised their swords.
Laester charged first.

An invisible projectile punctured his ribs and blasted out the other side. His arms went limp, sword dropped. His legs tried to keep charging for a step or two after he died, but the ankles went wobbly, the knees buckled, and finally he pitched face forward onto the floor.
“Paladan!” Seb cried.
“Almost there!” Paladan spat through gritted teeth, his face clenched with focus and determination.
But nothing happened.
Syman at least managed to swing his sword.
But he missed.
By a wide margin.
The man with black eyes created another projectile, invisible, unstoppable, lightning-fast.
It struck Syman in the skull, punching a hole the diameter of a fat olive in his head. He spun around in a circle, his body yet unsure if it was dead or not. But then it dropped in turn.
“Paladan!” Seb screamed. His throat shredded itself on the name and he tasted blood.
Paladan flipped to the last of his pages. He desperately read the passage in a chanting half-whisper, trying to open his mind with it.
He read it. He finished it. Nothing happened.
Seb looked over to Paladan with tears in his eyes. He thought of his wife, who had told him not to bother coming over here, and to just let Paladan be, and come home to the children. The last thing he told her was that he had to. And she understood. Seb thought about that and he wept.
“Paladan,” he whispered.

The man with black eyes created another projectile. It was no different than the first. Or the second. He had not even required a variety of his magick to end them all. He did all this without really even trying.
It was hopeless.
Seb raised his sword to swing anyway.
The projectile moved so fast he could not have seen it even if it was visible. It plinked against the blade of his sword, snapping it in half, before boring a hole through his lungs and ripping out the other side, shattering a pyramid of glass bottles behind him.
He fell to the floor facing Paladan. He saw the pain on his face, bending his expression so bitterly into one of sadness.
“No,” he heard Paladan say. “It can’t be for nothing. It can’t. I won’t let it. I won’t.”
Seb tried to breathe but there was no organ left to him that could collect the air. His face felt heavy, so heavy. The room became so dark.
“This can’t be for nothing!” Paladan screamed.
Shhhh, Seb thought. Do not yell, Palad. You are a good boy. You always were. A smile suits you better than a frown.
Paladan looked into Seb’s eyes. “Seb. I’m so sorry, Seb. I thought I was, Seb. I did. I was supposed to be the one. I was supposed to end it.”
Shhhh, Seb thought. No need to worry. Smile, lad. You are a good boy. You always were.
Paladan shook. His mouth opened to scream but he made no sound. He was trapped within an invisible bubble. But something was happening to him within it. His nose began to bleed, and then his ears, and then his eyes. His skin flattened against his bones. Foam bubbled out his lips. He was being crushed by something Seb could not even see.

Paladan lay down beside Seb. His eyes were frozen open in wonder and terror. Blood leaked from the corner of his mouth, pooling on the floor.
You were a good boy. You always were.

*****

Chapter 1 – Capture

One of them was going to die.
Aren could feel it.
This was a capture.
Down one of these dark corridors, behind a silent door at midnight, waited a madman who could kill with a thought. Any moment now the signal would be given, and in they would go, all together, to get him.
One of us is going to die.
He saw it so clearly, as if this day had already happened, and he was only living the memory of it. He was surrounded by dead men. They moved, they looked around, they drew breath. They did all the things that a man would do, but he could not deny it.
And no matter how hard he tried to stop it, there was a part of him that kept guessing which one it would be. Twig, with his wide eyes, always talking about his mother. Bear, with those strong arms that could wrestle a lion. Bones, with wrinkles around his eyes, but hands steadier with a spear than any he had ever seen. Young man or old, tall or short, strong or weak. It could be anyone.

They were all former soldiers, hardy, tough as steel. Two or three had seen real fighting in the Warhost, survived skirmishes with Kolkothan raiders. That was good. Fighting men do not scare easy. But armor and swords would be of little use here.
Glasseye, he heard them whisper when they thought he could not hear. It means I have seen
the horrors that the magick can wreck upon wood and stone, flesh and blood. They know I have seen it, and they are afraid. I remind them of the terrors that hide in dark rooms, things they would rather pretend don’t exist.
His presence meant only one thing—a rogue user did something unspeakable with the magick. That was all he was to them. A Glasseye.
He had learned none of their names either, of course. Never learn the names, Sarker had told
him. Then it is too difficult to forget them. He knew them only by whatever their most visible attribute happened to be. There was Nose, and Chin, and the Twins, and Bear and Twig and Swan and Roundtop and Neck.
Even the youngest of them is older than I am. But I am all they have. I am the Glasseye. No one else can do this.
None of the men were ever the same from one capture to the next. Who would have ever agreed to a second try? Every time a different location with a new group of faces, a new set of dangers, and a new toss of the dice to see if they would all survive. Aren once heard it said that at least one man died for every seven captures. He didn’t doubt it, but he and Sarker had not lost a man for the past twelve.
That means we are overdue.
“Stay focused,” he warned them, as he had heard Sarker always say. “You all know the jobs you have to do. Do exactly as I told you and this will all be over in moments.” He spoke Sarker’s words in Sarker’s tone of voice, trying to make himself as convincing as his mentor had been. He had to be. Sarker wouldn’t be here to complete this trace with him. He was gone.
These men answer to my commands now. I am all they have to get them through this.
And I will. I will bring this trace to capture. Tonight.

He ran a hand over his forehead, wiping away beading sweat. He had soaked halfway thorough his tunic already. He scratched at the stubble on his cheeks and chin, unshaven now for days. He looked down at his feet and realized he had worn a hole in the toe of one of his boots. When did that happen? He carried nothing but his leather tracer satchel and an unused sword. No plate, no mail. Armor of any kind would be useless in this capture.
He did his best to keep his back straight. His stomach burned, but he would not eat. His mouth screamed for water, but he dared not drink. He tried to wear a mask of calm. He smiled as much as he could without his teeth rattling. He had to keep the others from panic if he could. Control your breathing. Stand firm. Speak with measured rhythm and tone, as if we are simply masons here to build a wall. That’s all it is. Just a wall.
Already the men were getting jumpy as the reality of what they were about to do was starting to set in.
“That man in there is a monster,” Bones said. “The worst of the worst.”
“Rapist, I heard,” Bear said.
“Murderer,” Roundtop said. “Madman.”
“He deserves to go to the fires for what he did,” Aren told them. “Deserves it a hundred times over. And we are the ones who are going to put him there.”


Book Blurb

A drug addict who hunts sorcerers down by tracking their magick, the most renowned swordsman no one has ever heard of, and a thieving magick-wielding woman hellbent on revenge collide during a last ditch effort to stop an insane superhuman serial killer from making himself a god.

The Render Tracers always say magick users deserve to burn. Aren couldn’t agree more, Keluwen would beg to differ, and Corrin couldn’t care less either way.

In a world where most people use swords for protection, Aren uses tools that let him see what no one else can see, and he takes advantage of loopholes that can undo magick in order to stop the deadliest people in the world. He is a Render Tracer, relentlessly pursuing rogue sorcerers who bend the laws of physics to steal, assault, and kill. But his next hunt will lead him to question his entire life, plunging him into a world where he can’t trust anyone, not even his own eyes.

When Keluwen finally escaped her fourthparents’ home and set out on her own to become a thief, she never thought she would one day be killing her own kind. She honed her magick on the streets, haunted by her past, hunted by Render Tracers, and feared by a society that hates what she is. Now she joins a crew of outcast magicians on a path of vengeance as they race to stop an insane sorcerer who has unlocked the source of all magick and is trying to use it to make himself a god.

Corrin is a sword fighter first, a drinker second, and a…well, there must be something else he is good at. He’ll think of it if you give him enough time. He is a rogue for hire, and he has no special powers of any kind. The most magick he has ever done is piss into the wind without getting any on himself. He is terrible at staying out of trouble, and someone always seems to be chasing him. When he gets caught up in a multi-kingdom manhunt, he finds himself having to care about other people for a change, and he’s not happy about it.

They are about to collide on the trail of a man who is impossible to catch, who is on the verge of plunging the world into ruin, and who can turn loyal people into traitors in a single conversation. They must struggle against their own obsessions, their fears, ancient prophecies, and each other. They will each have to balance the people they love against their missions, and struggle to avoid becoming the very thing they are trying to stop.

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US | My Review


Book Information

We Break Immortals by Thomas Howard Riley
Series: The Advent Lumina Cycle #1
Genre: Dark Epic Fantasy (Rated-R fantasy)
Intended Age Group: 18+
Pages: 751
Published: December 7th, 2021
Publisher: Self-Published

Content/Trigger Warnings Shown on Page:
Graphic Violence
Graphic Sex
Fantasy drug use

Alluded To:
One instance of non-skin-contact magick sexual assault


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