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A Legacy of Light: A Review

This is a fantasy ebook by Daniel Arenson that I picked up as part of a seven book fantasy collection for only 77p. I know, a total bargain!

Legacy of LightFor starters, this book has dragons. Usually this is a sign of a good book, but this one goes a whole step better. It had people who can turn into dragons! I totally loved the premise for this book with a proper fantasy dictatorship kind of start where a couple of young dragons end up caught up in things bigger than both of them.

Did I also mention that these people could turn into dragons? Right yeah, I think I might have. The plot was pretty fast paced and had me reading along without wanting to put the book down and bounced between quite a few really interesting points of view.

The bad guys were a little on the two dimensional side but the book felt like it was aimed at a younger adult, mature teenager sort of age so this wouldn’t be too much of a problem for the target audience I don’t think.

It is part of a series and I felt like it was a bit of a cliff-hanger ending but not as bad as it could have been, and it tore my heart apart with what happened to the characters. Thankfully the rest of the series does seem to be out there so there’s no danger of getting to a point where you are desparate for more and can’t get it.

All in all I loved this book (people can turn into dragons!) and I will be reading the rest of this series, and probably everything else this author has ever written.

Ruler’s Desire: A Review

I was given an ebook copy of this story by the author, David Staniforth in return for my review. I reviewed the first book in the series here.

The book starts almost exactly where the previous one left off and doesn’t give you that much back story so really don’t read these out of order. With that warning done I can say these books are amazing. I think this one was even better than the first and I really liked the first.

The fantasy world is very rich and feels so believable and I love the contrasts between Davran’s home and Ronyn’s. I think I’d have liked this book expanded a little. It glossed over the change in Saurian’s mindset a little I think. Although we were told several days had passed, I think I’d have liked to see more of how he changed, but I still loved how it was done and I didn’t see the link from the backstory coming.

For any fantasy reader these really are great to read. They don’t take long (I read this in one evening without putting it down). I definitely have got to read the next one.

Character Spotlight: Cathal

For this character spotlight I thought I’d focus on my dragon, Cathal. He’s one of the two POV’s in the short story Wandering to Belong. As usual I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum but if you’ve not read the story you may wish to before reading this.

Because the story mostly focuses on Aneira and the goblin horde I didn’t get to provide very much of a background on this character and in truth I’m not sure I entirely know it all. Cathal has a very closed personality and knows his own mind well, but that’s pretty much to be expected from the fact that he is the last dragon alive that he’s aware of and he’s lived a very long time.

He’s the sort of person/creature to ask more questions than he answers and to keep a watchful eye on things around him, interfering when he deems it necessary but not before.

As detailed in the story with Aneira he has some magical abilities the standard human doesn’t. He can gift the dragon form ability on to anyone he desires, although this has a limited use (not stated in the story). While he uses it to give Aneira the home she’s always wanted and ensure neither of them are the last of their kinds, the gift was originally given to dragons so they could find mates among whichever race they wished. Although it doesn’t state it in this story, this was done by Tanayth, to try and ensure they didn’t die out.

Over the many years on this planet they’ve turned all sorts of races, including elves into dragons (yes I do plan to tell some of those stories at some point) which is why Cathal can also heal others and has some resistance to the poison the goblins use. Elves have been gifted certain powers by Tanayth as well.

Cathal is several hundred years old in this book and unless I change my mind really is the last of the dragons. I mostly want them to be in the past when it comes to the majority of fantasy stories set in this world so I’m limiting them somewhat. Otherwise I’m going to end up with one very all powerful creature.

Wandering to Belong

Now that Sherdan’s Prophecy has all been blogged I’ll be returning this slot to sharing something I’ve been working on in one of the many different creative fields I like messing around in, so here’s a sample from my most recent release, Wandering to Belong.

The flickering lanterns and torches of the small village caught Aneira’s eye. Her stomach rumbled as her mind associated the warmth and comfort of the place with good food. Over the last few weeks she had struggled to hunt enough to feed herself, and a village would have crops and potentially other necessities she could trade for.

Making her mind up on that thought alone, she changed direction and trudged over the rocky grass land. As the evening darkened she lowered her head. The lights from the village would taint what little she could see in the dark of night if they were in view. If she also concentrated on each step at a time it helped to keep her feet going when all they wanted to do was rest; something she had learnt long ago.

Sounds of the village soon greeted her ears and she allowed herself to look up at the hopeful sight. There were a few stone built houses, not many, but enough to show good masonry, and another handful of wooden houses along the edge nearest to her. She imagined there would be a similar number on the other side of the village.

She looked for the shields of a chieftain or warrior’s hut as a few people scurried here and there, eager to be indoors rather than out in the night. No one noticed her approach and she kept it that way, sticking to the shadows and hedges until she’d checked out the shield’s design, if one existed.

As she snuck up into the shadow beside one of the pale stone houses she noticed what she sought. A shield hung on the building opposite, just below a lit torch. The pattern wasn’t one she recognised which meant that this village didn’t submit to any Lords she knew of.

She slunk back the way she had come to double back and enter into the village along the dirt track. Coming into the centre of the village in full view would make her look less like a threat.

Previously, she’d walked straight into any civilisation but she’d soon learnt to be wary of certain Lords. When she crept in she found people were suspicious. And being driven off when she was this hungry didn’t appeal to her.

Once she was out in the open she lowered her hood from her smooth black hair. She kept it short to help keep it neat and tidy but strands still framed her thin face. Once she’d patted down her hair to neaten it, she stowed her bow on her back and rearranged her small pack of belongings, to make sure straying hands couldn’t get into it without alerting her.

With slow, deliberate steps she made her way into the village. The first woman who saw her didn’t even acknowledge she existed and this helped Aneira feel more at ease. The next nodded briefly, before continuing with her business.

So far they looked like a busy, but fairly poor, farming community with not much to worry about in terms of safety. There wasn’t even a small jail or military type building. Just the chief’s house, an inn and a few other slightly smaller stone houses for the richer of the people, probably the actual land owners. She’d not seen any cattle, and there didn’t appear to be any horses in the two berth stable.

Most people had shuttered up their houses already and light only leaked out around older windows in need of maintenance, but the tavern had a few windows open and the noise of laughter and conversation greeted her.

As she reached the door she sucked in her breath, tried to look as harmless as possible and pushed into the tavern. Immediately the room went quiet and all eyes turned her way. She did her best to appear calm as she walked up to the bar and the man who stood behind it, drying some metal tankards with a dirty looking cloth.

“Good evening,” she said, breaking the silence.

“Evenin’ stranger. What can I get you?”

“I’m afraid I’ve not got any money. I’ve been travelling a long while but I can work hard. Do you know of anyone here who might need some work doing in return for some food, and a bed for the night?”

The bar keep looked thoughtful while the whole inn around her remained silent. She knew everyone had heard her words but it seemed none of them were going to help. Just as she was about to tell him not to worry and that she’d move on, he put his tankard down and walked through to the back room.

“Darlin’ do yah want some ‘elp with the dishes? Got a whelp ‘ere who wants to do somethin’ fer a spot o’ food and a place to kip.”

Aneira couldn’t hear the reply as the door swung shut behind the bulk of the owner, but it seemed like they were going to take pity on her anyway. Still looking young had its benefits. While she stood waiting for the Landlord to come back, conversations around her started up again and people went back to their drinks. So far so good.

The door swung open again and the tavern owner stepped out. He held the door open and motioned with his head for her to go through. She smiled as she rushed around the bar to do as he asked.

As soon as she stepped through into the kitchen the smell of hot food assaulted her senses. The woman at the stove was almost as large as the tavern owner himself. They all obviously ate well and with any luck would treat her to a similarly sized meal. She nodded at the middle-aged woman as she was looked over.

“I’m Aneira. What would you like me to do?” she said after a moment’s wait.

“The dishes need doin’ fer starters, then we’ll see what else there is.”

She nodded and looked over at the sink. It was stacked full of pots, pans, dirty plates and tankards; eating would have to wait.

***

Aneira sank into the wooden chair, not sure if the creaking noises were the wood as she sat down or her knees, from standing so long. It had taken her several hours to battle through the mountain of washing up, especially as every little thing that Heulwen thought might need cleaning had been put into the sink at some point. Her fingers were wrinkled and her nails had never looked so clean, but she had finally finished and the couple had seemed impressed with her work.

While she waited for the food she’d been promised she had a proper look around the inn. Now that it was later many of the villagers had gone to their homes but some remained and continued to chatter. Most of them were considerably less sober than they had been when she’d arrived but a few were still steady on their feet.

The Landlord made her jump as he put a plate down in front of her.

“’Ere you go lass, tuck into that.”

She needed no second encouragement and bit straight into the hot pork pie, following it with several shovellings of creamy mashed potato and gravy. Within minutes the slice of pie and mash had gone and before the owner could return with a drink for her she’d started on the bread and butter beside.

“Thank you, Merrion,” she said around a mouth full of bread dipped in the gravy. She picked up the tankard and almost downed the sweet liquid. It wasn’t something she’d ever drunk before, but it didn’t have the bitter aftertaste alcohol did, so she figured it was safe to guzzle.

“Well that didn’t take long. Will you be wantin’ some more?” Merrion said as she wiped the plate clean with the last hunk of bread. Her eyes went wide and she stared at him for a moment. The plate had been a feast to her and here he was asking if she wanted more. She nodded her head vigorously in case he changed his mind. The man just chuckled and she found herself grinning at how much of his body wobbled up and down, even after he’d stopped.

Once he’d returned with a second plate filled with an equal portion as before, he left her to eat and went back to his bar and customers. She took her time with the seconds, noticing an unfamiliar feeling of fullness in her stomach. It didn’t stop her demolishing the food again, however.

The tavern soon closed and Merrion came and sat down with her, bringing her another drink at the same time.

We’ve got a spare bed, up in the loft. You can kip in it when you’re ready, then you’d best be on your way tomorrow and get as far from ‘ere as you can.” The tone of his voice peaked her curiosity. It had been a while since she’d heard fear in a grown man’s voice. Especially one who didn’t seem to have anything to fear.

“What if I want to stay a bit longer?”

“You’d be a fool. You’ve got sense, I can see it behind those eyes of yours. Get yourself up and gone first thing in the mornin’ and make sure you’re as far away as you can get by the followin’ day.”

“Why, what’s going to happen?”

Whatever it was, the inn keeper wouldn’t say any more about it, and before she could think of another way of asking to get him talking again, Heulwen came out of the kitchen and ushered them both upstairs to sleep.

If you liked this sample and want to buy the rest of the story it’s currently available as an ebook on amazon.com, and amazon.co.uk.

Knowing which ideas to write: How-to

I always get far more ideas than I will ever have time to write. In the last year alone I’ve had the ideas for an epic fantasy series (the Winter series I’ve already begun), the plots for the second and third book in the Sherdan series, two more sci-fi ideas, a modern romance/mystery idea, an idea for how I can work a true story in the Mountifield history into a novel, and three fantasy ideas on top of the series. That’s twelve books worth of ideas.

In the same time (a year), I’ve finished writing sherdan’s Prophecy, written two fantasy shorts, begun the Winter series, the trafficking novel idea I already had and the sequel to Sherdan’s Prophecy, Sherdan’s Legacy. So I’ve added eleven ideas and only actually fully crossed off two, although I’ve got another three in the stage of ‘in progress’. So in total, sitting in my notebook I have: Seven fantasy books, five historical, three modern romances, and four sci-fi waiting for me to consider them and three started. For a total of at least another twenty-two stories! That’s about ten years worth of writing at my current rate, if I don’t get any more ideas in that time!

The biggest problem I have when I reach the end of a book is figuring out which one of these many ideas I should start next. Admittedly some are better than others. Some of the historical ones will probably never get written, but the charge still falls to me to pick the right one. My husband says I get so many ideas because I get the privilege of choosing the ones to actually create. There are days when this can feel like more of a burden than a privilege, however.

I also know I’m not the only one. Other writers share this problem. So I thought I’d share some things I do and use to figure out what to write next.

Which one is easiest to write? Some ideas sound amazing until you actually think about the logistics of the plot or the motivations of the character or where you wish to begin and suddenly the idea’s not quite well formed enough to actually begin yet, and it might never be. I prefer to leave these ideas in the melting pot. Sometimes the best bits pop up again later in other ideas anyway. So I tend to look through and think over which ones I could start without too much effort. That eliminates some from the next pile.

Which ones are going to sell best? Let’s face it, some of our ideas are just right to jump on a bandwagon and this can be a good thing sometimes. I will admit. It’s rare for me to pick a book because of this factor, but it can play a part. I prioritise the sequels of a series already on the go over other ideas simply because it keeps the fans happy and does tend to sell better. It’s important to keep fans happy, especially the ones from early on in a career, who gobbel up the books and eagerly ask for more.

Which ones are the most original? Some ideas are pretty much a rehash of old ideas in a new setting and while these can be great easy books to write to bulk up the backlist they aren’t always rewarding and can feel a little like a cop out. Something that feels original and fresh can be very rewarding to both author and readers alike. While occasionally a risk they can suddenly take a career in a brand new unthought of direction.

Which ones are the most exciting? It can take a long time to write a novel and writing the ones that give us the maximum excitement can help get through the tougher moments in the process. If our heart is most passionate about a particular few ideas then they are likeliest to be well written and to be loved through the full journey from plotting to publishing.

Which ones feel right? After I’ve gone through the above set of questions I often find I still have two or three on my list of books to possibly write. At that point I let them circulate in my brain for a few days and try to ‘feel out’ which one would be right to write next. Usually I’m led to one over the rest.

But since I’m in a sharing mood. Here’s a few ideas that might get written in the next little while or might not.

Sci-Fi – A female is woken from a coma to find her business partner has used all her companies and wealth to get their business holdings and houses into the sky, as that’s what everyone left on earth is trying to do. Dwellings are built that are added to and eventually turned into spaceships. But her business partner stuffed things up and not long after getting into space he gets captured by a space pirate who turns him into a cat and keeps him as a pet. She wakes up to find her companies in a mess and has to sort them out, get on a spaceship’s crew and go rescue him. She quickly works her way up to captain of a trading vessel and uses it to go fetch him, making a deal with the pirate for him.

Modern Romance/Mystery – A widow is applying for a new job and is hired by a wealthy bureaucrat who is trying to gain his inheritance from his rich father. He needs to move the historical and grade listed family home. She is hired as an office junior to help get his companies and his house through the move but the current office employees take a dislike to her and blame her for all the mistakes they make. She manages to find all sorts out about the house and even finds forgotten secret passages. She ends up dating him and finds him a fortune and they take over the world, sorta!

Fantasy – Choose your own adventure Dragon Steampunk. Young man works as a servant in a large household. He feeds and looks after the two adolescent dragons in the cellar. Dragons power the steam powered technology of an otherwise Victorian era civilisation. A bit like how to train your own dragon but steampunk.

And yes I do really want the box on the right. So pretty!

Well there’s three of the nineteen ideas still waiting for me to decide to write them. Maybe one day I’ll write them. Of course I fully believe in keeping the fans happy so if anyone preferes one of them over the others, feel free to say and let me know what you’d like me to write.

A female is woken from a coma to find her business partner has used all her companies to get their patch of earth into the sky as that’s what everyone left on earth is trying to do. Dwellings are built that are added to and eventually turned into spaceships but her business partner stuffed things up and not long after getting into space he gets captured by a space pirate who turns him into a cat and keeps him as a pet. She wakes up to find her companies in a mess and has to sort them out, get on a crew and go rescue him. She quickly works her way up to captain of a trading vessel and uses it to go fetch him, making a deal with the pirate for him. She then quite literally tries to take over everything and help the people back on earth.

Game of Thrones (series 1): A Review

I didn’t get to watch this when it was first out as I don’t have sky TV but I picked up the blur-ray on an off chance it might be good. It was recommended to me so it wasn’t entirely pot luck and I do often like a good fantasy plot, on top of that I love dragons.

The first episode was like most first episodes of tv series, they had packed everything you were likely to find offensive about the series into the first episode so you’d know if you were likely to be interested or not before bothering with the rest. As such, there was a lot more nudity and gore than I would usually like in something I watch but as the series progressed it mellowed out a little. Don’t get me wrong, there were still quite a lot of sexual refrences, shots of naked women, and plenty of blood but much less than the first episode.

The plot was the shows biggest redeeming feature and if I hadn’t decided I liked the characters I’d have definitely given up after the first couple of episodes. I just, personally, don’t see the need for all the explicit stuff all the time. But as mentioned I really really liked the characters, Sean Bean was on top form and there were a few other actors who will now be on my to watch list.

Annoyingly there was not that much to do with dragons but the last episode made me hopeful there would be some more dragon stuff in the next series. All in all though I think I might try the books. I can more easily gloss over the bits I don’t like in a book so I don’t have to read about all the sex and gore.

Also at the time of writing this the ebook is only £3.99 and it’s over 280,000 words long so I’ve snapped it up and will get reading, hopefully I can review that too and say which people might prefer.

Mixing things up a bit

I always find new ideas a bit distracting but I got very very distracted by a blog post here about mixing genre’s and general book mash-ups. I noticed in the list of genres for insipartion my old favourite, steampunk, and remembered that a while ago I had told myself I should really see if I could come up with some kind of steampunk book. I also really like the concept of dragons. I always have, great big fire-breathing monsters with wings, who wouldn’t like them?

So I suddenly had an image in my head of a victorian style house all powered by steam, and who makes that steam, you guessed it, the posh victorian families pet dragon! Steampunk, dragon style! So far all my plot consists of is that thought and something to do with a young servant, either male or female. It’s not much to go on but it’s already got me totally distracted.

Of course I have no idea where or when to set this book (other than something vaguely victorian) but that leaves a lot to be decided. Shame I’ve got a few too many other projects to be looking at to write it just yet but we’ll see. I do want to write a choose your own adventure style book though so you never know, choose your own dragon steampunk adventure anyone?

 

You’re a young male servant to the lord Rushdale and live in the servants quarters there. Your main job is to feed the two young dragons that provide the fire needed to create steam for the houses many contraptions. As usual you head down to the cellar of the house and to the semi-tame pets that will already be waiting for their food. The sun is not yet up, just like the family you serve but the four deep gold eyes greet you in the deeps of the house.

The left one, coughs and lights a fire, chasing away many of the cellar’s shadows and showing you both animals. They are still just babies but almost completely trained. You chuck them the six lambs you’ve been lugging over your shoulder and watch as they chargrill them and wolf them down. The slightly larger of the sibling dragons turns it’s eyes back on you as if to beg for more, just as you notice their spiky tails have knocked a hole in the back wall.

While you’ve been waiting the sun has started to rise and you can see daylight through the opening. You walk past both animals, neither of them aggressive to you and rightly so, you’ve been training and feeding them since they arrives six months ago.

With a little extra force from a tail whip or two the opening could be made big enough for the dragons to get out. You pause, thoughtful as the male dragon nuzzles your hand, really hoping there will be more food.

What do you do?

Get some more lamb and ignore the hole?

Tell Lord Rushdale about the hole and see to it the dragons don’t escape.

Encourage the dragons to make a bigger hole?