Tag Archives: Eric K. Barnum

Fantasy Promo – Khalla’s Play by Eric K. Barnum

Hello everyone, and welcome to a glorious new year.  2018 is sure to be spectacular, as new books are coming your way, both within Tellest, and from other fantastic authors.  One such author, Eric K. Barnum, has been an inspiration and a wonderful ally of the Tellest brand for the past year.  Every chance we get to praise his accolades is an awesome opportunity for everyone.

That time is now, as Barnum has a new book out today.  Khalla’s Play takes what he’s done with priests and paladins and extends it to the thieves of the Forsaken Isles.  As always, the story is deep and rich with lore, and the author grows his world with ease.  You’ll swear you’re in the city streets, watching the thieves work their craft.

It’s been a long while since we had the opportunity to bring attention to another author’s work, but starting off the New Year by showing off Khalla’s Play was well worth the wait.  Read on to see just how interesting this new novel is.

When the Jade God of Necromancy dies, Taysor and Tania’s smugglers and thieves turn on each other to control the black market and powers to be gained by harvesting the god’s body parts. Set against this serpentine street war, the Tanian Thieves Guild ‘Perdition’ rallies behind Khalla as their new leader. The former leader, Ash, just wants to cash in on the map given him as payment by the Dread Lord of Ice. That map points him and the archmage mage Halgrim, to Merakor. The ancient civilization, destroyed by the dark elves nearly 3,000 years ago, has sat ripe and untouched until now.

The fighting stirs and ancient evil lying dormant below the templed streets of Tasor. The Dark Legion guild, specialized in human trafficking, abduction, and ransom, craves the blood of the Jade God. Instantly addictive to them, the turf battles mask their lust for more. Without a god controlling the dominion, necromancy runs amok and the Dark Legion realizes it may just have the power to take all that it craves. Syand, the vampire, is coming for more. Powerful heroes are already at play against her, like Ayden who now commands the Nineteenth Bloodstone Legion under King Malcor’s reign.

As allies turn on friends, orc armies march, and the gods themselves fight for control over necromancy, join Ash, Halgrim, and Khalla as they make ready to depart for Merakor. Their mission is simple: find the Tower of Aler Alerest in the ruins of the Arati Grasslands. They need a team of heroes, strong enough to fight the dark elves and their minions but wise enough to stay on course. Strength and wisdom… these do not describe Khalla. It’s okay, Khalla: your friends have your back.

Join the heroes of Tania and Sora as they sort out the aftermath of Orcus’ fall, and make ready to depart for the ancient civilization of Merakor.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Eric K. Barnum is an author to watch out for.  His writing gets better and better with every book that he writes, and he puts out books like a fiend.  His literary work ethic is incredible, and you can feel the passion with which he writes for the Forsaken Isles.  He’s already got so many books out, but Khalla’s Play is sure to be your new favorite.  Check it out on Amazon today!

Some other interesting news:

The ebook version of Khalla’s Play will be free from Tuesday, Jan 2nd through Friday, January 5th.  And also during this period, the ebook version of Dar Tania will be discounted to $0.99.

Want some more cool news?  Any folks who head over to the Forsaken Isles site and subscribe to the newsletter in January will receive the exclusive short story “Temple of the Golden Serpent” to be released mid-January.

Interview with Eric K. Barnum (Author of Dar Tania 2)

Hello folks.  We’ve got an interview with Eric K. Barnum, the writer of the Dar Tania books and the Forsaken Isles series.  He’s written a follow-up to Dar Tania—Set’s Dream—and we’ve been given the opportunity to talk to him about that today.  If you’ll recall, we also had an interview with him a few months back, so make sure to check that one out for even more of an insight into how he works and what his books are about.


Tellest: Hey there Eric.  Welcome back.  It’s only been about three months, but you’ve done a lot in that short time, and we’re glad to have you here again.  We’ll get right into things this time around, as I’m sure there’s plenty we’ll have to talk about!

First up: Set’s Dream follows an unlikely pair, Syliri and Bruce.  Bruce is a badass ranger, which is a cool enough character in its own right, but Syliri takes the cake.  She’s a medusa, which in your world is not a single, rare occurrence, but an entire race.  She’s got the whole head of snakes and everything.  But the most interesting thing about her is that she’s one of the primary protagonists in this tale.  Did you find it challenging at all to write about someone who is not only such an uncommon character, but one also predominantly shown as a villain?

Eric K Barnum: When I began outlining the Forsaken Isles, and what a dragon-led empire might look like, I realized we have all these tangled mythologies and monsters. Let’s be real. If a medusa existed in actual human history, she would have won. There’d be no humans left. So, yes, starting from that perspective, it’s difficult. In shaping the world though, I began to consider… “What if, in the monsters’ minds, they aren’t monsters? Humans are the monsters?” Good, evil, it all gets a bit subjective in my stories. It had to make sense though. The red dragon Alerius theorized that perhaps the medusa began as dragons with a petrification breath, and somehow got stuck in a non-dragon form. After all, they have a power every bit as devastating as a breath weapon. They have a kinship with serpents. From there, Syliri was easy. The real challenge with her was finding motivations for her to care, believably, about a mortal. Here’s Syliri. She’s intense and my illustrator Darko nailed my vision for her.

T: I love the interpretation of her here as well.  She’s not quite the Greek mythological take on a medusa.  You’ve certainly given her your own twists and tweaks.  Even her snakes have a personality of her own.  It must have been interesting to romanticize someone like Syliri—she’s certainly no small part of this story.

EB: The story follows her like a main character. She’s important to how Morbatten understands Set’s Dream while also offering a different-than-the-dragons view into the Eldar. The actual Greek mythology of Medusa is tragic, dark, and capricious. I wanted Syliri to acknowledge this while also providing a bridge away from the crazed medusa monster that pops up in movies and tv shows. Making her romantic, making her live, giving her reasons to love Bruce was 80% of the fun in telling this story. It’s also important to me that women have strong roles in my books. It’s fantasy after all. Morbatten serves a Goddess. The Temple, essentially their government, is headed by Dar Tania. Compelling, important, and powerful are the key words I put into my mind when writing characters like these.

T: With the traditional medusa mythology, you needed to make eye contact with the creature in order for her to enact her dreadful magic. Not so for Syliri, whose petrifying gaze can take hold even if you were blind. We talked about the mythology of the medusae once being dragons, but did you ever consider reining her immense power back a ways?

EB: The eldar had incredible power; what they thought became real. Their will gave it form and duration. Syliri though became part of Set’s Dream against her will. Like those drawing on the Dream, the paranoid corruption of it has an addictive component to its use. Syliri has to self-limit, and like a recovered addict understands that “not at all” is the safest way to go. The self-control rings gifted her by Alerius help too. But, yes, Syliri is every bit as powerful as an unascended goddess of the medusae should be.


T: Taking a step back to what you mentioned of the monsters not viewing themselves as monsters, we’re seeing a lot of this in fantasy right now, though perhaps not quite to the extent that it’s presented in your books.  Grey fantasy is kind of a popular trend, where you see everyone’s point of view, instead of just who we consider as the heroes of the stories.  Syliri is kind of in between, too.  She’s fighting her nature every step of the way.  Did you find it challenging to create a character who is almost like this ticking time bomb in a way?

EB: Syliri isn’t the only one. The hill giant, Fist of Graves, serves as another counterpoint to how Set’s Dream makes monsters monstrous. I know what you’re talking about and wanted something different. If you presume a world of magic and monsters, you have to be open to how and why they exist in the world. The trope of mage-experiments or magicked-genetics is <yawn> not really my thing. Monsters exist in the Forsaken Isles because they were eldar and fell into Time or because Set dreamed them. The paranoid strength of Set’s Dream puts them in a different experience than sentient/divinely-protected races. Set’s Dream is why your favorite pet cat occasionally claws the heck out of you, or a pet snake kills its owner; they don’t see the same world we do. If you can pull them free of Set’s Dream, they start to become sentient.

Here is a picture of the author, Eric K Barnum, deep in contemplation of Set’s Dream.

T: Another big surprise is the introduction of the Slaadi as your antagonists in this tale.  You can see them in a lot of pen and paper RPGs, but they’re usually shrugged off as fodder enemies.  They’re not presented that way in your books though—they’re a big deal.  They reshape reality.  How did you determine that these were your bad guy’s for Set’s Dream?

EB: It’s exactly what you said. No one has ever done the Slaadi. I wanted to do them justice and give them a reason to be more than fodder so that they would have their own mythology. In Dar Tania 1, I introduced this notion of Set’s Dream. That is, an abyssal god able to reshape reality. Because sentient creatures in my writing can worship and empower gods, I thought, “What type of sentient race would worship someone like Set?” The answer: the Slaadi, the Hags, the twisted and misshapen things that go bump in the night would bend knee and hail Set.

T: Their relationship to Set is a lot different than, say, Dar Tania’s relationship to Tiamat as well.  They may very well worship the Dreamer, but in a way, it’s almost like they’re trying to get one over on Set as well.  It’s certainly a different kind of worship than you’re used to seeing, and not one I think you’d ever see a human try to get away with.

EB: It is a trope throughout media that you have some crazy villain who wants to awaken some dire power and then, boom, they get what they deserve. “Oh, you literally want to kill everyone, even me.” Villain dies horribly. Tiamat nourishes Dar Tania because the god-faithful bond gives power to each. My blog explains this in more detail, but it’s essentially a Greek pantheon dynamic. Before Set was bound, he created the Slaadi and gave them power to tap into his power. Because Set is now trapped in slumber, the Slaadi need to stir him from sleep to gain more power. Unlike Dar Tania, there is no love, no trust, and no hope for afterlife. Set worshippers must make their own way and the Dream gives them the possibility to succeed… if they can intrude into Set’s mind.

T: You’ve also done some other really cool things with the dimensional travel.  The world you’re building is robust as anything.  For instance, the Slaadi are after gold because it retains its properties across the various dimensions.  How did you come up with that?

EB: My blog at darmalcor.weebly.com goes into this in a lot more detail. The easy answer is that I want to have extradimensional beings in my stories and so needed to build it out and show the rules by which travel happens. If you take concepts all of our world’s religions embrace, like divine omnipotence, and challenge it with “magic”… something has to give. In a polytheist religion, how would poly-omnipotent beings interact with each other, especially in conflict? Is there a strongest? My answer was that each such being is omni-everything in its own throneplane. As they move away from it, they weaken. Because magic is inherent in the Forsaken Isles, I chose gold – for all its many symbol-worthy attributes – as also being able to hold magic when moving from realm to realm. This map shows the high level of how it all works in the Forsaken Isles.

T: Of course, every awesome group of opposition needs a cool boss, and with that, we’ve got Ylgolth, the Grey Slaad.  He’s a pretty big deal, and it ties directly into Set’s Dream in a big way.  Without spoiling too much, what can you tell us about him, and how you determined he was going to be an important part of your story?

EB: The only way a race like the Slaadi could exist, without consuming an entire world, is if they self-regulate somehow. Their prime directives create an interesting way of “learning.” As they grow in power, they get to a point where it’s actually easier to eat the brain of the creature they need to learn from than to sit through instruction. Wouldn’t it have been nice if, in school, the teacher said, “You know what? Forget this… here’s some of my brain. Eat it and you’ll know what you need to know about Chemistry.” Ylgolth needed to suggest and embody the entire race in a way that did not bring Morbatten into conflict with the entire race. In Dar Tania 1, the Prophecy of the Spear and Shield points Morbatten directly at Set. Ylgolth, like all Slaads, needed to show an enemy for Alerius and differentiate the growing mortal might of Morbatten. In this way, Ylgolth took shape. He was really fun to write.


T: So, assuming the Slaadi take a back seat in Dar Tania 3, do you have any hints as to what might be the new face of the enemy that the Tanians are going to have to confront?

EB: The Tanians are driven by the Prophecy of the Spear and Shield told in Dar Tania 1. They seek out enemies and, while not “good” the way King Arthur or our world would define it, they define their goodness as a function of their opposition to evil. And, the inherit the enemies of the dragons ruling over them. The other books feature villains of the normal thief gang variety, liches, the entire scale of necromantic creatures, and more. In Dar Tania 2, the god emperor has the new paladins slay their life’s regrets. Only 5 years have passed but so much has changed. Not everyone has Tiamat helping them cope with this change. Not all the nations around Dar’s people are okay with what is happening.

T: Ideology is also a very important part of your writing process.  Dar Tania was the High Priestess of Tiamat, but we’re obviously looking at a different theological power this time in Set.  What makes Set and his followers different, and how much of a problem for the rest of the Forsaken Isles is that going to be in the future?

EB: Unlike every other god, Set wants to consume all that is. When Syliri asks Ylgolth’s disciple Hrax what he wants, Hrax says, “All that is mine, and more.” This is Set’s motto but he would say, “All that is, and more.” With Set, there is no negotiation, compromise, or even rational defense. What Set sees, he bends and warps. What Set touches, changes forever. What Set desires becomes reality. As such, the theology of Set, as shown by the Slaadi, is to consume life and throw it at one’s enemies. The disciples of Set, like the Slaadi, believe that the bigger the disaster, the more poignant the cataclysm, the more likely they are to be “seen” by Set in his cursed sleep… and achieve more power over Set’s Dream. Maybe, with enough destruction, they could awaken Set… and, in their theology, become gods after all is consumed into Set and the universe is Set.

Dar Tania 2 also explores some other ideas, such as the nature of what a monster is, love between worshippers of different gods, loyalty, and the corruptible yet addictive nature of power.

T: We had talked last time about how you had plenty of potential books to work on.  What’s next after Set’s Dream?

EB: By reader demand based on comments at my blog – darmalcor.weebly.com – and emails, I’m going to pick up the story of the Forsaken Isles following Bomoki’s Gate… some 1800 years after Set’s Dream, or what I would consider “modern” time in the Isles. With the fall of the God of Necromancy, the Abyss is in even more chaotic turmoil, and it’s time for the thieves to step up their game. While Morbatten’s Thieves Guild operates more like the CIA, the other societies around Morbatten have more gangster-type groups and the God of Necromancy is decomposing over yonder in the Valley of Bloodstone. The characters from that book, namely Marcello, Khalla, and Ayden proved quite popular and so this next book will tell the tale of Marcello assembling a team to go back to Merakor as the first Tanians to do so in nearly 3,000 years. Against this, the various Thieves Guilds will go to war and the nature of the Abyss will be rolled back to show what happens when a powerful dominion like Necromancy is suddenly vacated by its god’s death.


T: Sounds like a lot is going to happen in that book.  I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s going to pay off in some big ways!

EB: You bet, Michael. That book should be available early 2018. It’ll be a full book and I may also release a shorter 100 page story about Malcor in this timeframe. After all, he just became king and all his heroes fell. It’s lot to take in and none of his accelerated combat and paladin training could help with the responsibility of being what Malcor would consider a good king. Moreover, he does not want to be king at all, but it’s hard to say “no” to a dragon.

I have been toiling on the blog to have content and flesh out some of the character backgrounds. While it’ll be moving to the forsakenisles.com domain shortly, I hope your readers will check it out at darmalcor.weebly.com


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Barnum has been on an incredible run this year, and it doesn’t seem like he’s showing signs of stopping.  With a handful of great books already, with more on the way, he’s definitely an author who you should have on your watch list.  Once more, his blog at darmalcor.weebly.com currently highlights a lot of the interesting things he writes about.

Also, don’t forget to check out Dar Tania 2, Set’s Dream, now on Amazon.

Fantasy Promo – Dar Tania 2: Set’s Dream

Update: Dar Tania 2: Set’s Dream will be free on kindle tomorrow through Sunday!

Hey there folks.  This has been a tremendous year for fantasy, and we’re very proud of the other authors we’ve had the opportunity to write alongside.  With so many stories in front of us, I’m glad that Tellest has been able to highlight a few of the ones that rise to the top.

One of those stories that we were able to bring to your attention was Eric K. Barnum’s Dar Tania, a tale that had a deeper, more philosophical and religious bent than you’re used to seeing in modern fantasy, but that was explored without being overly preachy and build Morbatten and the Forsaken Isles in an awesome way.

Well, Barnum is back, and he’s ready to rumble.  Dar Tania 2: Set’s Dream is a different kind of tale.  It takes place five years following the events of Dar Tania, and the high priestess of Tiamat isn’t the central character in this piece.  While she still is present—as the title should indicate—the real focus is on the ranger, Bruce, and his peculiar companion, a medusa named Syliri.  It’s rare to see such a character get such high billing, and it makes the story that much more interesting to breeze through.  There are a few other characters that join the ranks as well, and they’re all as entertaining as the last.

An immortal medusa falls in love with a human ranger on the cusp of Morbatten becoming an actual empire. Part of Dar Tania’s dream is that a mighty empire of human races and their allies shall fill the valleys of Morbatten. Priestesses and the paladins serving them will rise up under war banners and march with the heavy tread of battle for Tiamat’s glory.

For five years, Syliri and Bruce have been exploring the area the dragons consider to be part of Morbatten. More interesting monsters are petrified and brought back for Dar Tania and her fighters to study. During another routine scouting mission, they find a death cult of hill giants and goblins extracting gold from the eastern mountains. The true nature of their enemy rears its demonic head. But, will the true nature of medusa or the true nature of humankind shine brightest in the trials that lie ahead? 

Join Syliri and the love of her life, Bruce, as they confront the power of this dark nightmare. With her petrifying gaze and his mastery of the bow and sword, they begin to unravel a creature of such dark purpose that even the god emperor himself gives pause.

Set’s Dream is a worthy successor to Dar Tania.  It isn’t quite the same as the book that preceded it, but it also doesn’t try to be.  What you’re left with is an entertaining, satisfying story that has more traditional twists and turns.  Barnum excels at breathing life into his world, and his characters, given more room to develop, will garner your attention, if not your affection.  If Dar Tania was the hook that was trying to get you into the boat, this tale is the boat you want to get into.

Barnum currently has four books out, with more on the way.  Be sure to check out Dar Tania, which sets the stage for the world of the Forsaken Isles, and do check out Dar Tania 2: Set’s Dream on Amazon today!

Fantasy Promo – Dar Tania

Hey folks!  We’re winding down what I’m calling the “month of Dar Tania,” but it’s not too late to pick up this awesome book!  Eric K. Barnum’s introductory novella into his Forsaken Isles series mixes incredible fantasy with dashes of religion and philosophy.  It all combines to make something truly magical and otherworldly.

Dar Tania, provides a solid foundation for Barnum’s other books in his series, but it stands strong even on its lonesome.  It does what it sets out to do, introducing you to not only the history of the Forsaken Isles, but also to Barnum’s strong writing and interesting characters—not to mention its divine dragons.  Woven together, each of these individual threads becomes something magical.

Thousands of years have passed with the dragon god Alerius watching over his many tribes of barbarians eastward on the Forsaken Isles. Waiting for just one of them to hear his mother’s divine voice, he has guided and driven his people to be worthy of their name – Morbat, children of dragons. Dar Tania, daughter of the Tribe of Horses is the first to face her Coming of Age test, pray to the Mother, and have that prayer answered. She becomes the first priestess of Tiamat and joins herself to Alerius’ dream of building an empire spearheaded by paladins and divine warriors.

I don’t have any shortage of great things to say about Dar Tania.  It’s a delightful read, and even though it’s around one hundred pages, the writing is clever and concise enough to give you a tremendous amount of details.  For Barnum’s entry into fantasy literature, this sure seems fleshed out and strong.

You’ll definitely enjoy Dar Tania, so why not pick it up on Amazon today?  It’s free if you have Kindle Unlimited!

We also had the privilege of interviewing the author.  Barnum is definitely an author who you like to get in the mind of.  Check out that interview now!

Interview with Eric K. Barnum

It’s been a while since our last interview feature, but I can promise you, it’s been well worth the wait.  Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Eric K. Barnum, a kindred spirit in some ways who has walked a very similar path with his fantasy series.

You’ve likely seen our big push for the first book in his Forsaken Isles collection, Dar Tania.  Today, you get to see what we talked about, what makes Barnum tick, and understand just what makes his series so ridiculously appealing.


Tellest: Welcome to the interview.  It’s great to have you here.  We’ll start you off with one of the questions that I ask all our interviewees, because I think it’s always such a fun discovery for fans and readers.  What inspired you to start writing?

Eric K Barnum: I have an analytic mind; it’s my professional career at the moment. When I found myself analyzing books, movies, comics, and games in light of this idea for a novel, world and universe, I realized it was time to start writing. I wanted to tell a story where magic and gods made balanced sense. The confusion between what is magic versus divine is something I address as a core theme in all my writing.



T: Surely you’ve had some works and authors that helped to inspire you along the way.  Do you have anyone you’d be able to specifically reference as an influence?

EB: About 10 years ago, I decided to find and read as many of the “old stories” as I could get my hands on. Gilgamesh, Beowulf, Grendel, Cantebury Tales, Diary of Genji, Art of War, Bhagavad Gita, Way of the Pilgrim, Apocrypha, both religious and enduring stories. A common theme, for me at least, was a story of balance between the divine and our world… that then gets thrown off somehow. Contrasting this to the high fantasy genre where the hero and main characters are either out of balance or trying to restore balance, I realized that if you interject “magic” – or in scifi “tech” – into those same stories, they kind of fall apart. Gilgamesh and Enkidu just aren’t the same story if, when they go to Upanishaptim/Noah (of Noah’s Ark), they get magic. That whole story wouldn’t exist with magic. So, how do you balance them? I started making notes and jotting thoughts down from the stories I had read. Not critique, but if from this lens of magic being out of balance, is the story still epic? The Forsaken Isles started taking shape.


T: The Forsaken Isles world that you’ve built has a huge focus on magic, religions, and of course dragons.  How did you manage to keep track of everything?  Do you have a Forsaken Isles bible you made for yourself?

EB: I do. It’s a collection of now-ratty notebooks with handwritten and printed notes, sketches, and spreadsheets. Tolkien’s Silmarillion really drove it home to me that organization of stories, characters, and places is key to a great tale. I also have pictures from various Dragon magazines cut out and taped into various parts of my notebooks for fun too.


T: The Silmarillion eventually found its way into the hands of the people.  Martin’s got the World of Ice and Fire.  Do you think as your world and the stories therein continue to grow, people might see a fleshed out version of those notebooks to help understand just how vast everything is?

EB: In the 1980s, Marvel Comics released this campy series around an evil book called the Darkhold. Characters would interact with it, get magic, and clash with the superheroes. It was goofy fun. What you’re asking, I think of as my Darkhold Project. Much the same way you have Tellest, I plan on eventually releasing “The Darkhold Project”, which will be a story of the multiverse incorporating notes, but told from the perspective of souls trapped in the Darkhold. Bomoki’s Gate introduces the Darkhold where it is used to try and determine why Bomoki wants a certain objective. In my next book, Syliri & Bruce, the Darkhold is introduced in more detail. It’s a book that is also the middle realm of the Abyss. Rather than being a demon lord, like Lolth or Orcus, it’s a sentient book that influences and participates in the world through the pages of itself. It knows things through soul capture. As it finds something new and different, it manipulates its readers to the soul it next wants by sharing fragmented bits and pieces of knowledge. It’ll have awesome artwork where my sketches, like this one, will be fantastic. I do sketches like this for all combat scenes in my writing.



T: Your books have some familiarity with the Forgotten Realms books that a lot of fantasy readers have grown up with.  At the same time though, Dar Tania and the subsequent stories invoke a breath of fresh air in the genre.  How did you toe the line between something that’s been established in writing before and a brand new, powerful story?

EB: To the extent that my stories are about clerics and paladins in a dragon-based religion, I can see that. The similarity ends there. The Dragonlance Chronicles and War of the Twins are some of my favorite books. How did Raistlin become so evil? Yet, even when reading these, the interaction of magic and the gods felt weird to me. Hickman and Weiss were probably too bound to 2nd Edition Dungeons and Dragons rules on the heels of TSR’s Deities and Demigods publication. It’s the story of a mortal mage, Raistlin, who opposes an evil god, from whom he seems to derive his magical powers. Magic is either presented as a limitation to being a god, or somehow not accessible to its worshippers. In a world with non-godly magic, what does anyone—god or mortal—get out of worship? Is it really just healing, as The Forgotten Realms suggest? Why wouldn’t everyone just worship and practice Magic?

I also explore the paladin archetype in depth and it is unique. The archetypal characters of mages, fighters, etc. are familiar to all high and dark fantasy. The inclusion of dragons as a key element and the way they interact with the world can be explored on my blog at darmalcor.weebly.com or through the stories themselves. Like angels serving a goodly god, dragons worship and serve their own gods and their own agendas. There are micro and macro-scale battles of peoples, ideas, and religions. The Isles are Forsaken not because they needed a name, but because they are populated by refugees from the ancient empire of Merakor, which fell to the dark elves during a nexal inversion. The refugees forsook Merakor for the isles.

A nexus is a concept different in my world. They serve as travel points between planes in the multiverse. The world of the Forsaken Isles is in the center of the nexuses of Creation/Good, Chaos/Abyss, and Warp/Evil. When thing happen, like the dark elves wiping out the good empire of Merakor, it actually moves the entire world closer to the nexus of Chaos. This creates a cascade of destruction, cataclysm, and change. Similar things can happen if the world moves closer to Creation or Warp with the results you’d expect. Time flows because of these nexuses interacting with the world.


T: Speaking of the flow of time, Dar Tania, Malcor’s Story and Bomoki’s Gate all came out within a short amount of time and the latter two are fairly expansive.  Can readers expect to continue seeing your books release at an accelerated pace like this?

EB: Yes. My fan reactions and reviews on Amazon have suggested that there might be more appetite for the 100 page books. I personally prefer large books in my own reading. I find them more satisfying and immersive. As such, my initial publication goal was to have Dar Tania and Malcor’s Story release within sight of Bomoki’s Gate. My next two books will be shorter ones, like Dar Tania. One will pick up 5 years after Dar Tania. The other will pick up after Bomoki’s Gate. Following that, I have 10 candidates for another larger (400 pages +) book, but want my writing to be more informed by reader feedback. So far, these characters in Dar Tania have been very popular: Dar Tania, Princess Alaura, the ranger Bruce, and the white dragon patriarch Ynt’taris.



T: Your character names are so exotic sounding.  How do you come up with them?

EB: The people of Dar Tania’s tribe began as barbarians. This book is about their transformation into a ‘modern’ magic-wielding empire. The nations around them came from Merakor. They have more traditional names. Part of this comes from having played a lot of RPGs where players could not come up with cool fantasy names. My concession to such players was, “Okay, fine. Name your warrior Stephen. Your character’s family came from Merakor.” I also try and come up with names suggestive of how a character is.


T: The Forsaken Isles books are a bit darker and focus on some heavy dramatic elements.  Do you think it’s also suitable for a younger audience?

EB: I first read The Hobbit when I was 8 years old. I imagine my writing as PG13 with R-Rated themes. As a movie, depending on how graphic some of the violent combat scenes became, I can see my writing being R-Rated. This is not my desired goal though. I want readers to appreciate brutality as the tactical expression of ideas at war. To that extent, I have had a few younger readers enjoy Dar Tania. They have all been prolific readers familiar with the fantasy genre. I certainly never attempted to write for a younger audience. But, when I started seeing a few reviews and emails from young readers and their parents, I decided to incorporate them by using easier names, like instead of “main gauche” for an off-hand blade, I would write “long dagger”.


T: What do you find challenging in writing fantasy?

EB: Interviews with my test readers have shown that the more I struggle with writing a character, the more they love it. As my readership expands, I’ll be curious to see if this remains a theme. In Dar Tania, one of the hardest characters to write was Prince Rowland. I thought for sure that readers would see him as a trope, a foil for other ‘good’ characters at best or a decadent noble staid in his inheritance. I was shocked when readers told me they saw him as a tragic character. I use my blog at darmalcor.weebly.com to explore some of these ideas in more detail.


T: Because your books take place in vastly different time periods in your world, you’re forced to leave some people behind.  Has that been difficult for you?

EB: Time is kind of relative when you have some races, like elves and dragons, living forever. It matters to shorter-lived races but, in all fantasy, it’s stretched out. Because gods are actively involved and exist in a different sense of Time, I actually have fun with it. When Time first started moving, the immortal Eldar reacted to it differently but universally considered it a lethal poison. As such, writing in the contemporary time frame of Malcor’s Story and Bomoki’s Gate, there are enough references to the foundation era of Dar Tania that I view Dar Tania, not as a time gapped story, but as a story-version glossary and history of Morbatten. Even though it’s set many centuries before “contemporary” time, for those with magically-lengthened lives like the priestesses, you’re only talking about four generations.


T: You’re a father of three.  Do your children ever influence your writing, in or outside of the Forsaken Isles?

EB: I have three daughters, who love different genres.  But, we bond over anime like Full Metal Alchemist, Studio Ghibli movies, and Bleach. I like to imagine that, one day, they’ll read my stories. Until then, they ask and I share the stories with them storyteller style around campfires. The other thing is that the fantasy genre struggles with women characters sometimes. I blame the 1990s for sexualizing everything. I want my stories to have strong female characters who approach things on the same—but different where being female makes it different—footing as male characters. The reviews by women appreciating strong female characters tells me I’m on the right track. Having more female participants in the fantasy genre would be a good thing.



T: Between having three children and a day job, how do you find the time to write such expansive stories?  What would you recommend to other writers who are trying to nail down a schedule?

EB: Even with a busy job, I get a lunch break. You’d be amazed at how many words you can pen to paper when you only write 15-30 minutes a day. That gets you through the hard parts of a first draft. Other times, the story writes you and suddenly you’ve written pages and pages. You don’t get to the epiphany moments if you don’t slog through the harder parts. Unless you’re a devil for outlining, you’ll also lose your story thread and character sense. It’s important to write every day. Everyone has 15 minutes. I don’t have very many vices except writing and hiking so it works out for me. There’s so much info about writing out there, from blogs to books to read about writing, but at some point, you need to start writing. Most people at my work show up at 9. I hit the gym at 6, and am at work by 730. That gives me 1.5 hours at my work to know if I’ll have time to write.


T: What are you working on, and when can we expect your next book to drop?

EB: In my world, there are two kinds of creatures: those that existed before Time flowed – the Eldar, and those that came after – the Fallen. The dragons worshipped by Dar Tania and her people are eldar dragons. The story introduces a gorgon named Syliri who acts as a zookeeper for the dragons. They collect monsters for Syliri to petrify so that Dar Tania’s fighters can get a sense for size, weaknesses, and strengths of various creatures. A ranger, named Bruce, falls in love with her. I plan to release Syliri & Bruce as two 100 page novels in late summer and am almost done with my first draft of each. Their story is one of unlikely love, their exploration of Morbatten’s borders, and their fight against Set’s Dream. In my world, Set is a demon god so powerful that the others bound Set in sleep forever deep in the Abyss. In his dreams, Set spawns monsters throughout the multiverse. Dar Tania introduces this concept – that monsters are terrible not because they’re necessarily evil but because they’re trapped in Set’s Dream and do not see the same world we do. Syliri & Bruce will be set 5 years after Dar Tania.



T: Are there any other sneak peeks you can give us at upcoming characters and creatures we might see?  With ten possible books hiding in the wake, you’re sure to have plenty of storytelling ammunition!

EB: Paladins will always be a focus for me. I love them. While each story might have a variety of ‘bad guys’ there will always be a main bad guy: Dar had Rowland, Malcor had Talai the Khasran Lich, and Bomoki’s Gate had Bomoki and Orcus. Syliri & Bruce will feature the Slaads. Slaads are extraplanar monsters who exist in the most twisted hierarchy imaginable. At their highest levels, they seek to awaken Set, the Mother of Nightmares. By intruding into Set’s Dream, they gain power and use it to consume life thereby increasing their own power even more. These are not the slaads you’ll find in old TSR reference guides.

There is also a civil war brewing around Dar with some of the tribes not understanding how and why their entire culture has changed. I already discussed the Darkhold Project. On a different project, while I haven’t had time for reader feedback yet, I have a big story to tell about a race whose god goes insane. So that they don’t die as a race because of their god’s insanity, they raise up a hero and send the hero to slay and replace their god. It pits magic against godly power and the will of the Tehran world against their own god. For readers of my books, you might appreciate who twisted this world from a dominion perspective.

Thank you for the interview, Mike. This has been great. I wish you all the best with Tellest. I’ve been enjoying your Mageborn story. I hope you and your readers enjoy Dar Tania. May these worlds of imagination inspire your own.

T: And thank you for the opportunity, Eric!  This has been a very entertaining look inside your head and the world of the Forsaken Isles.  We wish you the best, and can’t wait to see what you have in store for us.  Many happy returns!

Fantasy Promo – Dar Tania

Update: We have some great news about Dar Tania.  Next week, on May 8th through the 15th, Dar Tania will be just 99 cents on Amazon.  Don’t forget to pick it up!

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Hello folks.  It’s been a couple weeks since our last stop in the Otherworld, but we have a doozy for you today.  If you’re a fan of the Tellest books, you’ll likely get a kick out of the works of author Eric K. Barnum.  His influences are very similar to mine, and he’s got a very similar flavor.  I’d go as far as to say he’s better equipped than I was when I first started out—it won’t hurt my pride to say that I wish I had his talents all those years ago.

Today, we’re focused on Dar Tania, a book by Barnum which provides a stage for the longer books that follow.  Dar Tania is a short novel, but it has tremendous value.  It introduces you to not only the history of the Forsaken Isles, but also to Barnum’s strong writing, interesting characters and powerful plot elements.  More importantly, Barnum does an excellent job of weaving each of those individual threads into something magical.

Thousands of years have passed with the dragon god Alerius watching over his many tribes of barbarians eastward on the Forsaken Isles. Waiting for just one of them to hear his mother’s divine voice, he has guided and driven his people to be worthy of their name – Morbat, children of dragons. Dar Tania, daughter of the Tribe of Horses is the first to face her Coming of Age test, pray to the Mother, and have that prayer answered. She becomes the first priestess of Tiamat and joins herself to Alerius’ dream of building an empire spearheaded by paladins and divine warriors.

I don’t have any shortage of great things to say about Dar Tania.  It’s a delightful, robust read, and even though it’s around one hundred pages, the writing is clever and concise enough to give you a tremendous amount of details.  For Barnum’s entry into fantasy literature, this sure seems fleshed out and strong.

You’ll definitely enjoy Dar Tania, so why not pick it up on Amazon today?  It’s free if you have Kindle Unlimited!