I'm back with another Fantasy Author Lounge, and this time in the lounge, we have fantasy author Timandra Whitecastle! Timandra is an indie author and the writer behind The Living Blade Trilogy. In this month's episode, we have a hearty chat about:
the classic author's self-doubt syndrome
how to approach writingwhy choose self-publishing?how to work with cover artistsand Dostoyevsky (yes, Dostoyevsky).
Get some fantastic advice from Timandra on all things publishing and writing, and enjoy this latest Fantasy Author Lounge! I'm now producing these Author Lounge interviews every month, so do check back in to find out more. Next month we'll be chatting to award-winning Australian author Sam Hawk.
If you want to know more about the Lounge or me, you can follow me on Youtube @BenGalley or on Facebook and Instagram @BenGalleyAuthor.
As promised, I'm very pleased to share the first ever sneak peek of THE FOREVER KING, Book 1 of the Scalussen Chronicles. This is the first look at a new Emaneska book in 6 long damn years, so I hope you enjoy this snippet. It's currently unedited so please forgive any errors.
Of Wolves & Daemons
The Spine of the World has Roots, and in those Roots burn the molten fires of the old giant. Burned forever, they have, and they will burn forever more.
From an old Scalussen scroll found in the wreckage of the Hjaussfen library
Snowflakes fell through the broken shafts of moonlight, fat and lazy, unhurried to join their brethren on the forest floor. The air moved not a breath that night. The pine trees uttered no whispers.
A lone pair of boots broke the pristine surface of the snow at a slow but determined pace. The creaking, tutting noise was loud against the silence. Plumes of hot breath spiralled behind the stranger, a man, hooded and cloaked, bundled up for the frigid night. A sword was slung across his back, poking between shoulders already heavy with snow.
The stranger halted abruptly, head twitching as if catching a sound. A moment of unease passed before his journey was resumed. He reached to roll up fur-lined sleeves, and the moonlight glimmered on polished metal; gauntlets and vambraces made of interwoven scales, crimson and gold.
A shadow passed between the pines before him, and once again the stranger stopped. No breath escaped his mouth, and in the silence even the snowflakes could be heard settling.
A timber wolf poked its snout from behind a black tree trunk, its golden eyes made silver by the moonlight. It stared at the stranger with all the focus of a starving animal. Sharp ribs poked from beneath its threadbare coat. The wolf’s lips curled back to show off its teeth, and a low growl rolled across the snow.
The stranger seemed unperturbed, and took a step towards the wolf. The beast matched him, snarling, but he took yet another step. He held out a hand to the wolf, flat-palmed, as if telling it to halt. The wolf bowed its head. Its arched, poised shoulders fell into a cower. The growling withered to a whine. Looking sorry for itself, it trotted through the snow towards the man’s outstretched hand, and without hesitation, began to lick the cold metal of the gauntlets. Clouds of breath emerged between its fangs.
‘Hello, old friend,’ the stranger whispered, his voice hoarse from disuse. He ruffled the wolf’s angular ears and felt the animal tense beneath him. He looked up just as a tree-branch of a crossbow bolt struck the wolf, sending it cartwheeling across the snow with a pained yelp.
‘Bugger it!’ came a muffled cry from the darkness.
Any sensible soul would have scrambled for cover, but the stranger stayed put. The man clenched his fists, making the metal of his gauntlets squeak.
A second bolt burst the snow-filled shadows. This missile was on target, aimed directly for the stranger’s head. Yet before its barbed point could pierce his skull, it was reduced to splinters, as if it had collided with an unseen wall.
A roaring ball of flame escaped the trees, painting the monochrome night a bright orange. The stranger held his hand out, fingers crooked like eagle claws, and the fireball exploded in midair. The spell surged around him. The shockwave brought the snow cascading from the shaking trees, sparking the resin in the pine-branches.
As the fire died, he saw them in the glow: half a dozen figures, maybe, hurtling towards him with blades raised or fire and lightning burning between their hands. No bandits, these. They were encased in heavy armour and far too fresh for road-weary marauders.
Even as the war-cries began to soar, the stranger stayed exactly where he was, content to watch his attackers approach. He raised his arms, as if welcoming them. There was even a smile showing beneath that hood.
The man waited until his attackers were mere strides away before he pounced. With a bell-toll of metal crashing against metal, he slammed his vambraces together. Tendrils of crimson lightning surged from his fingers, one for each attacker. The spell punched through the thick armour, leaving glowing holes in their breastplates before reducing the hearts beneath to cinders. Every one of them crumpled to the snow at his feet, dead before they tasted the cold on their faces.
The mage paused amongst the corpses, watching the snow, listening to the crackle of the smouldering branches above him. Gradually, before his eyes, he saw the snowflakes begin to darken and fade to ash. The frigid air began to lose its knife-edge, growing warmer. The faint light of the moon died. The flames shrank. The shadows seemed to darken, and reach out from between the trees.
Interlocking his fingers, the mage stretched out. A circular wall of green light appeared before him, and he hunkered down behind it in the nick of time. A stream of crimson fire enveloped his shield. Safe behind the magick, the mage grit his teeth and pushed back. Thunder split the air as he flexed his fingers, expanding his shield with concussive blasts until it was a spinning wheel as wide as a gateway. He took a step forward through the slush, and it was matched by the hulking daemon emerging from between the pines. Its eyes were craters of forge-fire. Flames poured from jaws lined with needle fangs. Wings of smoke and darkness and ash towered over the lone mage mage, like the fingers of a fist curling inwards. Standing tall, shield held firmly, fire flowing in all directions, the mage waited for the daemon to catch his breath.
With a whine, the monster reached the limit of his foul lungs. The stream of flame sputtered out. The mage lowered his shield spell.
The daemon inhaled, its maw a beaming furnace. Its fiery eyes narrowed. Sickle-claws were raised. An unholy screech began to swell in the daemon’s throat, now glowing white-hot. The mage simply crossed his arms. In the light of the blazing pines, the smile could be seen written on the mage’s face.
A dragon struck the daemon like plummeting anvil; fast and merciless, falling straight. The blur of sapphire crushed the foul beast into the loam in an explosion of pine needles and snow. The mage held up a single hand to shade himself.
When the dust and smoke cleared, the dragon was perched on the daemon’s back, her blue scales glittering in the light of the fire. Talons, each as long as a knife, impaled the daemon’s thick, charred hide. Its wings of smoke had withered away, and the glowing cracks of fire beneath its skin were fading.
‘Late, as usual,’ said the mage as he approached, chiding her.
The dragon shook her head, making her spines rattle. ‘I would call that perfect timing.’ She bared her fangs in a fearsome smile, and the mage chuckled. He sat upon a tree trunk that had so far escaped the flames now hopping from pine to pine. The dark, cold night had come alive with fire, and still the snow fell, uncaring.
‘Our ruse worked, then,’ she said.
The mage clapped his red-gold gauntlets together. ‘That it did. They fell for the bait like a fish for a worm.’ With a sigh, he removed his hood, revealing a shaved head interrupted by a stripe of silver hair, running forehead to nape. His scalp was crisscrossed with white and pink scars. ‘Another one of Malvus’ hunting parties wiped from the face of Emaneska.’
The dragon dragged the dead daemon aside and retracted her claws. She sat in the half-melted snow, cat-like, her forked tail swishing through the steaming mud. A harness and saddle were strapped to her back. Her eyes were like pools of molten silver, ever swirling. Even for a dragon, they held a heavy weariness.
‘And what next, Modren?’ she asked. ‘How many more of them must we lure and kill?’
‘As many as we must,’ replied the mage, staring at the smoking corpse of the daemon. ‘As many as we can.’
‘We can’t do this forever,’ the dragon replied. ‘This must be the hundredth hunting party we’ve slain in the last few years. We destroy one, two more appear. I don’t question why we do it, but it must end at some point. One way or another.’
Modren met the dragon’s gaze with tired eyes. ‘You don’t have to convince me, Kinsprite. I feel it coming, just as you do. Just as we all do.’
Kinsprite growled softly. ‘Our king most of all, it seems.’
‘He has enough on his mind recently, given the empire’s attempts to kill him.’ Modren tapped his vambraces. ‘At least with this little ruse, we can keep Malvus’ attention in the south while Farden continues his work in Froastsoar.’
‘I think you’re mistaken, mage.’ the dragon tutted mockingly, ‘last I heard, the Outlaw King was busy hunting daemons in the wilds. Continuing to be a dagger in the emperor’s side.’
Modren chuckled, and hoisted his hood up with a flourish. ‘On that note, the road calls us onwards.’ With a hop and a skip, Modren climbed the dragon’s side and lashed himself to the saddle. ‘West it is.’
‘Road, he says, as if we’re walking,’ Kinsprite grumbled as she crouched down, wings flared and poised. ‘I’m the one who has to do all the flying.’
With a great whoosh of air and pine needles, the dragon leapt into the air, disappearing into the air.
It's time for another BenCast vlog! In this instalment, I brave the vicious hordes of squirrels in the local park to tell you about the threee 99c / 99p book deals I'm running at the moment, and to give you an update on where I'm at with the new book in progress – The Forever King (Scalussen Book 1). Watch out for all the critters in the background.
In the meantime, you can find all the links to my book deals at my site on the Books page or on Amazon, Kobo and Google Play.
If you want to know more about me or my books, you can follow me on Twitter @BenGalley or on Facebook and Instagram @BenGalleyAuthor. Or, head to the Books page for a free book:
Now that good old Game of Thrones has come to an end (at least in TV form), no doubt there are many of you out there that are hungry for more epic fantasy. More dragons and battles. More rivalries and revenge. More sorcery and political manoeuvring. To help you out, I thought I would put together a list of fantasy books that feature similar elements to A Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice & Fire, books that are sure to scratch that itch for more fantastical adventure.
Below you’ll find a mix of books by brilliant authors I’ve read or know through the community and critical acclaim. All of the suggestions below are the first books in larger, epic series, or complete series box sets. There are also some excellent deals to snap up. Check them out and enjoy.
The Wings of War Series
Among the scattered fringe cities bordering the Cienbal Desert, the true name of the Monster of Karth is spoken only in whispers… Raz i'Syul Arro. A bestseller in epic fantasy, dark fantasy and fantasy adventure, to name but a few accolades, Bryce O’Connor has created a fascinating, detailed and brutal world within the Wings of War quadrilogy, perfect if you want more hefty fantasy action in your life. With a non-human protagonist and more action that you can shake a stick at, you can also get the whole series for $0.99 at the moment:
The Wolf of Oren-yaro (Annals of the Bitch Queen Book 1)
“A mass murderer's daughter, abandoned wife, and Queen of a divided land: the perfect catalyst for war. Now she must stop the ruin she helped create, but how do you fight what you are fated to fail?” If you’re looking for character-driven epic fantasy with huge doses of horror, angst, and frustratingly tangled character relationships, then look no more. K.S. Villoso’s Annals of the Bitch Queen series is a highly critically-acclaimed epic fantasy saga that is inspired by a variety of rich cultures.
“A warrior will become Queen, a Queen will become a monster, and a boy plays his bird-skull flute to keep the shadows of death at bay.” Book one of Deborah A. Wolf's Dragon’s Legacy series, this multi-POV fantasy epic is packed with war and political intrigue, and spans a large-scale world brimming with detail. There are also distinct non-European flavours, keeping things fresh and unique.
The night is dark and full of terrors, especially for the besieged inhabitants of the Valley of Embers. In this world, only a handful of scattered towns survive against the night, and the terrifying creatures it holds. With themes of the Nighwatch, plenty of action, battle and magic, the Landkist Saga by Steven Kelliher is a fantasy series to immediately add to your TBR.
If you want more dragon-based fantasy, with themes of political manoeuvrings, Michael R. Miller has got your back! Here’s the concept of his bestselling series: “Arrogant. Scornful. Full of pride. Darnuir, Prince of Dragons, cares nothing for the damage he's doing to the faltering alliance against the Shadow. He thinks himself invincible - right up till a mortal wound forces him to undergo a dangerous rebirthing spell, leaving him a helpless babe in human hands.”
Out of Exile by Derek Alan Siddoway is the first book in the Teutevar Saga, which is an epic, coming of age fantasy series with a slight wild west flavour. Derek has a unique and compelling voice and weaves an action-packed tale of revenge. If you like fantasy adventure mixed with a strong, evolving protagonist, multiple character POVs and plenty of political action, this is the read for you.
Pining for more dragons? Fear not, J.C. Kang has bundled up his bestselling epic series, the Dragons Songs Saga, into one amazing boxset. Aside from also being only $0.99 at the moment, the Saga is perfect for fans of epic fantasy, coming of age and sword & sorcery genres, and is set in a unique, Asian-inspired world. Kang has built “a beautifully balanced world with stirring characters and an unpredictable plot in this epic series that's finely crafted down to the last detail.”
For folks who want some moral ambiguity, a terrible war with real repercussions, a strong female protagonist, and expanding POVs as the series progresses, you should check out The Woven Ring and the Sol’s Harvest series by M.D. Presley. Instead of your usual medieval setting, Sol’s Harvest takes place in a pseudo-American Civil War era world, and the story is an adventurous ride with high stakes, set against expansive worldbuilding.
“Straddling the line between fantasy and folklore”, Benedict Patrick’s Yarnsworld series is perfect for fans of darker fairy tales, mythology, and mythical creatures. From the blurb: “The villagers of the forest seal themselves in their cellars at night, whispering folktales to each other about the monsters that prey on them in the dark. Only the Magpie King, their shadowy, unseen protector, can keep them safe.” But who is the Magpie King?
“The Well of Tears is open and the terror of the night has been unleashed. Now, the last Sentinel left alive with the power to defend his world against the minions of the Netherworld is a man destined to be corrupted into the image of what he hates.” A bestseller in Myths & Legends and Military Fantasy, you can get this M.L. Spencer's fantasy pentalogy on the cheap for $0.99. That’s five whole books!
And if I may be so bold, I’d like to include the first book of my nordic-infused Emaneska Series. It’s the tale of a Written mage Farden, sworn to protect an icy world and an uneasy ceasefire between the Arka and the dragon-riders that balances on a knife-edge. It’s a mix of epic and dark fantasy, full of war, mythical creatures, political intrigue and magic. The Written’s also currently $0.99 for the time being.
The latest BenCast is up! In this vlog, I explore some more of the wilds and wildlife of Vancouver Island in preparation for the British Columbia-inspired fantasy trilogy I'm writing after the Scalussen Chronicles. Bears? Check. Eagles? Check. Big ole trees? Check.
Find out more: If you want to know more, you can follow me on Twitter @BenGalley or on Facebook and Instagram @BenGalleyAuthor. Or, sign up to my VIP Club newsletter for a free copy of The Written.
I'm back with another episode of the Fantasy Author Lounge, and this month I'm joined by none other than Michael J. Sullivan – USA Today, New York Times, and Washington Post bestselling author.
He's the mind behind the Legends of the Final Empire, the Riyria Chronicles, the Riyria Revelations, Hollow World, and I'm thrilled to have him pop into the Lounge!
Michael and I chat about:
- what it's like being a hybrid author
- how to use kickstarter
- approaching writing like a road trip
- the misconceptions of publishing
- and birding versus birdwatching.
Soak up all the expert advice in this latest Fantasy Author Lounge! Next month, I'll be back with fantasy author Timandra Whitecastle. Stay tuned. Follow me on Twitter @BenGalley or on Facebook and Instagram @BenGalleyAuthor. Or, sign up to my VIP Club newsletter to claim a free copy of my bestselling novel The Written.
Here's more information on this Friday's release of my new Emaneska short story – No Fairytale.
Find out what this brand new short story is about, what I've got planned for the next Emaneska Series, and where you can get your copy.
If you want to know more, you can follow me on Twitter @BenGalley or on Facebook and Instagram @BenGalleyAuthor. Or, head to the Books page and sign up to the VIP Club for a free copy of Emaneska Book 1 - The Written.
We're back with another instalment of the Fantasy Author Lounge!
I've dragged another amazing fantasy author into the lounge and quizzed them on all things writing, fantasy and publishing. This month we talk to Phil Tucker, who is the author of the Chronicles of the Black Gate and Euphoria Online, and an expert self-publishing author.
In this episode of the Fantasy Author Lounge, we find out:
- what inspires the man known as Phil Tucker,
- how to nail self-publishing in the current industry,
- which ancient celebrity he would have over for sushi,
- and how he writes basically a million words a day.
In this vlog, I I head down to one of my favourite harbour spots to let you know all about the release of Breaking Chaos, book three of the Chasing Graves Trilogy. I also chat about how I feel having launched the entire series in 100 days, the challenges that were involved, what's coming next from the writing cave.
If you want to know more, you can follow me on Twitter @BenGalley or on Facebook and Instagram @BenGalleyAuthor. Or, sign up to the VIP Club for a free ebook copy of The Written.
In this latest vlog, I climb a little local mountain to tell you all about what's been happening in the past few weeks. Find out who's going to be narrating the Chasing Graves Trilogy audiobooks (hint – think Deathly Hallows), about cheap copies of Chasing Graves, signing to the John Jarrold Literary Agency, and of course, the launch of Breaking Chaos NEXT THURSDAY (March 14).
If you want to know more, follow me on Twitter @BenGalley or on Facebook and Instagram @BenGalleyAuthor for all the daily updates.