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Cover Art for next fantasy book

The next Aegis of the Gods book is almost ready. There’s something to be said about good covers, and I have worked to try come up with covers that will draw my reader in. I hope my fans appreciate the effort. Covers have always been a drawing point for me, even now when I read primarily on my tablet. When browsing, I always go cover first before I read the blurb and a sample. I just feel the cover is important. Not as important as the contents of the book, as you truly can’t judge a book by it’s cover (sorry, I had to), but a good cover might tell you that the author or publisher cared about what his book looked like to his potential reader.

having said that, here’s some early work on my latest cover.

 

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Ashes and Blood: Book 2 Aegis of the Gods

Here is the prologue to Book 2, Ashes and Blood.

Prelude to Ascension

They arrived at the gathering within the featureless chamber as they always did. A portal slit the air from left to right, turned sideways, and opened into the shape of an eye. Wreathed in oily smoke, many-faceted eyes reflecting the torchlight, tentacles blacker than midnight, the creatures stepped through one after the other. Armor of chitin and ebon steel glistened, and their wriggling minions appeared as if from nothing.

There were nine of them in all, each at least twenty feet in height. Nine netherlings.

Despite the fact that dreams had no physical effect on reality, she still shied away from them. But being in a dream had no bearing on the miasma emanating from the netherlings. Death, decay, the perfume of fresh blooms, wet earth after new rain, the northern chill, the burning heat of the lava-filled chasms in the Broken Lands. The odors and sensations were all too real, each one overriding the other for scant moments.

Faces shrouded in light and shadow, their forms insubstantial, people by the thousands took a step back. Rulers, nobles, merchants, teachers, philosophers, historians, soldiers, even the poor were represented within the crowd. She could not discern their expressions, but the gasps and whimpers told their own story. Each person wore their sect’s colors.

White, Shadow, and Gray.

She almost spit on the blackness below her where there should have been a floor. Those in gray were supposedly spies among the Gray Council, but the thought and worse yet the sight of the color brought on a loathing she found difficult to contain. She calmed herself with the knowledge that nothing the Gray could do would stop the ascension.

“The first is almost to the boy.” The netherling’s voice was as blank as her surroundings.

“The era draws nigh.”

“The gods die, the world remade, new gods ascend.”

As often as she’d attended these gatherings, she still found the singularity of their voices disconcerting.

“You have all done well to guide the world as needed for this to come to fruition.”

A murmur rippled through the crowd. The netherlings’ heads turned toward the disturbance. Space cleared around a male, his clothing one of shadow. He stepped forward.

“You bring news, young one?”

She sucked in a breath. Only another netherling would dare approach as this man did. She frowned. They hid themselves even among the common people?

“Yes, masters. I have discovered a place between the worlds where Prima lives. It is beyond what we may have anticipated.”

“Nothing is outside our calculations, young one.”

For the first time, she noticed a definite scoffing tone to the answer.

“Those who oppose already know of its existence,” the man said, “One of their own has been within its borders.”

“Yes. We are aware. However, the one we chose unleashed Prima into the world. The guardians will be drawn to it as they are to him. Kill the first before he secures the boy. When the others reveal themselves to the boy’s calling or to Prima, do the same. He must not learn to use his gift.”

“Yes, masters.” The man bowed from the waist.

“The same goes for all of you. The young one has served his purpose. Kill him and his mentors.”

Licking her lips with anticipation, she awoke from her dream to the glowing walls within the Iluminus.

 

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Notes from the Founders

From the notes of Jenoah Amelie – First of the Exalted

Prelude to War

I must make these notes before the voices call to me again. Of late, I cannot tell which of the essences they are. Is it light or heat? Or gods forbid, the shade? Does the earth beneath my feet speak to me? Is the very air around me whispering in my head? Or the water I drink? Maybe, it is not the essences within the elements of Mater at all. Maybe, it is all my imagination.

What they promise is so overwhelming. Twice, I have almost given in to their call. Is this what the others experienced when the madness took them? I must defend our actions while I am still capable of coherent thought.

Some would argue that the formation of the Pathfinders was a desperate act, that the men and women who make up their ranks are nothing more than murderers. Some would say we think of ourselves as gods for doing as we did. What were we supposed to do? Sit back and watch the world burn? Again? Did not the war between the gods and the Eztezian Guardians destroy enough of the world?

We, all Matii, are appointed with protecting and saving the people of Denestia first. The same mandate the gods gave to the Eztezians when they created them. When we use Mater—the very essences and elements that drive our world—to destroy, we are betraying the sanctity of our forefathers, and blaspheming against Ilumni himself. We realized the fear of insanity and eventual death when wielding Mater is not enough to deter those who crave power. A more definitive action needed to be taken.

The formation of the Tribunal has worked well for a time. However, the volatile change in Mater has brought about a rift with our brother and sisters. We once held all the descendants of the Eztezians who form the Matii we know today: the Ashishin, the Alzari, the Namazzi, the Svenzar, the Skadwaz, the Desorin, the Rendorta, and the Toscali, under our roof. They each had a position and title of honor here from which they could govern.

But they have not agreed with the need for harmony. Thus, they have broken away and ventured off to form their own kingdoms, the majority of them across the sea in Ostania. We fear nothing good will come of this.

Already the separation and those dedicated to individual gods and religions are beginning to show. Wars have been declared. Crusades for one religion or another have sprouted. We, the Ashishin, must a find a way to sever ourselves from this strife.

 

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The Dragon’s Path : Epic Fantasy Review

The Dragon's Path (The Dagger and the Coin, #1)The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hmmm. Where to start. Well let’s say the rating system here on Goodreads won’t reflect this one correctly. I consider it a 3 and a half. But I’ll have to tag it with a three. Why not at least a 4?

Well, not that it wasn’t a good book, because a 3 says it was a good book. Let’s start with what I loved.

The world and most of the characters fascinated me. The plot was well-laid out and offered some nice surprises and fit together quite well throughout.

The many races, the histories behind them and the descriptions, foreshadowing and setting kept me going and made the world so believable. I could have used some more on the religions for me to better understand them since they ended up playing a big role at the finale.

Cithrin was a wonderful, amazing character. I was hooked on watching her maneuver, grow and change. The whole aspect of banking and dealing was phenomenal. She was so well done I felt for her and in ways, the book could have been just about her, Marcus and Geder and I would have been fine with it.

Geder had his good points but in the end he just seemed the same guy oblivious to the fact he’s being used. When will he learn did I keep asking myself? For a well-educated person, he came off more than a little … dumb, may be too harsh a word.

Marcus Wester, I enjoyed seeing him play the father figure and relive that old pain.

Dawson did little for me. He was basically “This is where status x person’s should lie in society.” Not once did he waver from that. He was simply too predictable.

Here’s my issue with The Dragon’s Path. I’m a magic and action man. When you have a book with such a vivid world, created by dragons and goddesses, I expect the magic to be more upfront. In this book, it was so downplayed as to be irrelevant although it wasn’t. It is what made the difference in the end.

Lack of action. I like my sword fights. There wasn’t a single one that stuck out for me in this book. In fact, my best memory is of Marcus practicing with some others and the very brief fight to hold the gates of Camnipol. The book just seemed slow at times because of this. All the nice plots and characters should eventually culminate in some nice action is how I feel. For the most part, this didn’t.

For a lover of action and magic, this just did not bring enough especially considering the incredible potential there to do so. However, most of the main characters provide enough and the scope of the world and what is to come has made me get book 2 and I will be reading it. I’m hoping he goes more into what I enjoy in the next one.

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Deathspeaker – New Fantasy novel

This is an excerpt from my newest WIP that I started today. A nice little tease if I do say so myself. It’s set in Denestia but several thousand years after the current events in Aegis of the Gods.

Deathspeaker

 

When the dead spoke to Marius, he listened. Not that he often had much choice. They were persistent that way. And annoying.

Today, they’d told him whom he needed to visit here in the city of Pante. They seemed to enjoy these trips and the ensuing results as much as trying to goad him to take the power they offered without the necessary protection. He always resisted no matter how enticing he found the proposition. After all, if he partook of their temptation, one like himself would be paying him a visit, maybe even his own brother. If that happened, someone would die.

He smiled. What a dilemma. Tricky bastards.

For a moment, he waited for their agitated whispers in rebuke of his thoughts. He cocked an eyebrow when none came. Unusual for them considering they were as pompous and overbearing as most monarchs. Still no response. Not even a muted rustling in his head. He frowned as he stored that tidbit of information.

His old mentor would have scolded him for considering the voices to be something as mundane as the dead. Master Dorn would have said they were the murmurs of the essences that made up the world. Marius found it easier to accept them as random lost spirits able to speak in his mind. Much simpler than to believe the rainbow bands and swirls of color he saw, which represented the essences, were somehow alive. Talking colors. Imagine that. He gave a derisive snort.

 

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Uprising – Excerpt

Here’s a bit from my newest WIP, tentatively titled Uprising. Remember, I’m giving a peek before my work even hits the editor.

Each step Ryne made became practiced agony, but he gritted his teeth against the pain. His breaths left his lips in wheezing gasps. Legs and arms on fire, he carried Ancel on his back. The young man weighed more than expected or maybe the heaviness was a reflection of how worn out his own body had become.

Charra loped in front, often tossing its head as if trying to dislodge something from its shoulders. Snow and ice flew as the netherling manipulated the elements to clear a path. With his Matersense, Ryne determined what Charra did was not a Forging. It appeared as if the beast and the elements were one—they, an extension of the netherling—and Charra had some ability to shift them as if they were physical entities. The action reminded Ryne of watching a puppy at play.

A serrated blade of staggered cliff-faces made up the ridges on either side of them. Pockmarked with overhanging rock, crags, and precipices along the canyon walls they spread before disappearing in the light flurries that fell. Under most overhangs were deep hollows leading to caves similar to the one they left several hours ago. The phenomenon occurred every few hundred feet up the sheer, ice-coated walls. At the peak was a massive plateau, its edge jutting over the cliffs and offering protection to the gully through which they traveled. Beyond the occasional snow cornice that tumbled into the passage, not much else was worth worrying over.

“The caves are from all the quarrying,” Mirza said from a few paces behind him. “The cliffs have been our livelihood for years.”

A rainbow of color reflected from the ice and the diamond glint of embedded minerals and metals. The sun shone at an angle well shy of noon, giving warmth to Ryne’s weary bones. He was unaccustomed to experiencing the cold, and he could no longer feel his toes. “Were you both miners?” he asked to keep his mind occupied.

“By the gods, no.” Mirza chuckled. “Ancel was too busy chasing the girls, and well, I had this habit of doing whatever my father didn’t want. I ended up following in his footsteps to become a Dagodin instead of the quarrying and mining that he loves so much.” A hint of regret seeped from his tone.

Ryne could only imagine what the youth was experiencing. To know the Exalted now held your last surviving parent after their followers had taken your mother must be tearing at Mirza’s insides. Ryne allowed silence to grow between them.

A quick glance over his shoulder showed that Galiana still followed, keeping an eye on their rear. The passage continued ahead, the footing treacherous, but not as bad as it would be without the series of ridges protecting the lower areas from the worst of the weather. The wind howled a mournful dirge, but did little more than ruffle his cloak. Whenever a cornice fell, a low rumble ensued as snow and ice showered that part of the passage.

As the noise droned to a halt, another reached Ryne. A cracked howl. He paused. “Wolves?”

“There aren’t wolves in this part of the Red Ridge, not that I know of at least,” Mirza said. The youth’s hand eased down to his bow as he glanced back the way they came.

 

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Among Thieves – Epic Fantasy Review

Among Thieves (Tales of the Kin, #1)Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Recently, I’ve been reading quite a bit of thieves and assassins and the like. All of them have been good. Among Thieves does not disappoint.

I would consider this book more of a medieval style spy fantasy with a generous helping of sword fights and some well used sorcery. The main character Drothe is well done and so is Degan. Loved them both.

The sense of danger and intrigue is littered throughout this book and the prose style made me feel like I was Drothe. I could relate, his voice was that distinct. There are a lot of books that I don’t find that and when I do, I’m quite pleased.

The plot is deep and at times runs along at a breakneck speed which I quite enjoyed. Unlike a lot of fantasy, our main character isn’t very good at much besides spying, therefore when he’s in a sword fight, you tend to wonder, how will he get out of this now. But he manages, which at times left me smiling.

All in all, a good book and I look forward to more.

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