Tag Archives: Otherworld

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 – The Spectra Unearthed (The Spectra: Keita’s Wings Book 1)

Howdy folks.  I hope you’ve been enjoying the latter half of the Summer while we have it.  I feel like this season is perfect for reading—maybe they ingrained it in my mind from back in my school days when they had us reading tons of books over our Summer vacation.

We’re here with our second promo of the week, today, and it’s a charming, well-written tale by an author who is growing into her craft, and developing a world that you can’t help but want to visit.

The Spectra Unearthed is the first book in Christie Valentine Powell’s series, The Spectra: Keita’s Wings, and it’s a doozy of a story.  With a plucky lead, locales you’ll love to explore, and of course, beautiful prose, Powell is definitely a storyteller to watch out for.  The Spectra Unearthed begins with a nice burst of action, and the pace is steady from there out.  The author is also a master of dialog—every time a new character is introduced, you’ll be happy to see a new conversation unfold.

Keita thought that being a princess was nothing but trouble even before the power-hungry Stygians took over the Spectra kingdoms. Now she’s on the run, hunted at every turn, and able to trust only a few other royal exiles. Of course she’d like to make her life safe again, but standing up to the Stygians means confronting Jasper Smelt. A former friend, Jasper insists he wants nothing more to keep her safe, but his pitch-black dungeon and fiery threats suggest otherwise.

With help from her friends, Keita escapes, but there is no safe place for former princesses. Banding together despite their different cultures, the girls head into Jasper’s desert kingdom. They soon find themselves in the middle of a conflict between the Stygians and a small rebel group. Hanging in the balance is a colony of children abandoned for having abilities different than their families. Keita wants to help, and she hates feeling helpless. But how can she face Jasper, someone with abilities she couldn’t begin to fight, someone constantly seeking her out, someone who fears everything…except her?

What’s not to like about The Spectra Unearthed?  Powell’s debut story is vast, clever, and most of all, entertaining.  You’ll love Keita the second you start following her, and the other characters are real treats as well.  Powell has two stories that follow this, and each of them get even better as they go.  This is a great place to start though, and you’ll be happy to read about Keita and the royal family, the Nomelands, and the Stygians.  Pick up The Spectra Unearthed on Amazon today!

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 – Sirenhawk Book 1 : Misborn of the Snowy Reaches

Hello there all you fans of fantasy.  We have been on a roll these past few weeks, bringing you non-stop action across a lot of different sub-genres.  July is a huge month for us, and we’re so excited to have some other fantastic authors along for the ride with us.

L.E.Parr is arguably the most prolific author that we ever have on our site, and it seems she’s not content to just raise the bar.  As it turns out, she wants to send it into orbit.

While you might be familiar with Parr’s Fariidinus series—we’ve shown it off a lot here on Tellest, and we’re always excited for more—there’s a new urban fantasy in town, and it’s already well underway.  The Sirenhawk series does for shapeshifters what Fariidinus did for fairies.  The lead character, Ice, takes shelter from the world of man in a hidden place in Sierra Nevada, but she also can’t ignore the pull of the big city.  Whereas Parr’s fairy series was brutal beyond the veil of the beautiful creatures, Sirenhawk leans more on whimsy.  The author definitely flexes her humor muscles here, to great effect.

Iceria, Ice, is a hawk-human shapeshiifter. It’s Ice’s job to protect the Northern Corridor from the hereditary enemy of the sirenhawks, the deadly she’ravens. Iceria’s sisters consider her a little odd. She is a literal thinker, she loves shiny baubles and jewelry and her favorite book is an old English dictionary. In human form, Ice and all her kind are sirens of myth and legend. As the battle against the deadly she’ravens escalates, Ice discovers two things about herself. The first, she has a warrior’s heart and the second, she’s capable of falling in love in a very human way.

Parr has already established herself with one stellar series.  With Sirenhawk, though, the author proves that she can let two storylines breathe and grow independent of each other.  Ice is an adorable new lead, and she is the perfect way to be introduced to the sirenhawks. Best of all, Sirenhawk‘s second book will be out in September!

While I eagerly wait for the follow-up, I submit to you this stellar debut in the series.  Sirenhawk is fun fantasy at its very best, and you’re sure to love it.  Check it out on Amazon to join Ice on her first big adventure!

Fantasy Promo – Sapphire Ambition

Howdy folks!  We are on a roll here at Tellest, and it’s great to say that we’ve got old friends who are doing just as well!  It’s always nice to revisit someone’s world, and even better when they have a new book out!

We promoted Jeff Kish’s Diamond Bonds a ways back, but he’s back to show off his talents with the sequel, Sapphire Ambition. Everything that made the first book entertaining is cranked up a notch here, and the stakes are ever higher.  The world he’s built continues to grow, and new characters are introduced while the established ones get a chance to shine even brighter.

Following the failed barracks raid that cost him his arm, Era once more finds himself running from the military who imprisoned and enslaved the friend he swore to protect. Though intent on saving Di, he knows he can do nothing to save her until he unravels the mystery behind her bondage and the truth of his own identity, especially as his falsified memories and steadily-growing earth shaping capabilities only serve to instill doubt that the creeds Era once held dear are truly part of who he is.

I am so happy to get another book in the Runics Series.  I was always a firm believer that Diamond Bonds should have been picked up by Kindle Scout, and it was a crime that it was overlooked.  In the meantime though, Kish took everything in stride, and delivered his book to everyone, and put together a substantial sequel.  It is everything you like to see in a follow-up, and it’s sure to leave you eager for the third book!  Check out Sapphire Ambition on Amazon today!

We have some great news for you to coincide with Sapphire Ambition‘s release.  For the next three days, Diamond Bonds is free on Amazon.  There’s never a better time to get started with this series than right now!

Fantasy Promo – Timecrack

Hey folks!  We’re using some of the momentum from our latest venture into the Otherworld to turn right back around and visit more works of great fiction.  And there’s no better tale than today’s to go with the theme.

One of my favorite Michael Crichton properties was Timeline.  And yes, I even loved the movie with Paul Walker and Gerard Butler.  If you’re a fan of the concept of finding ways through time and space, today’s promo is going to be right up your alley.

William Long’s Timecrack is one of those entertaining books that pulls you out of the monotony of day to day life, and thrusts you upon a whole new world.  In this first book in his series, we join the Kinross family in a beautiful, humorous, thrilling adventure when a portal opens and pulls them through to a fantastic, new world.

Timecracks act as portals to other dimensions. They have existed since the creation of time, and when one arrives during a storm at the newly discovered pyramid site in the Yucatan jungle, it’s the beginning of a nightmare journey into another world for archaeologist, Malcolm Kinross and his wife, Lucy.

And when another timecrack strikes the secretive energy facility in New Mexico, their sons, Archie and Richard, along with their tutor, Marjorie, and their uncle, Professor John Strawbridge, all find themselves thrust into the same world of New Arrivals, ancient warring tribes and deadly enemies.

Richard is endowed with the ability to ‘see’ beyond his own world. Can he help Archie to find their parents, and help the scientists at Mount Tengi to find a way for all of them to return home, and can he escape the clutches of the mad high priest, Prince Lotane?

Timecrack is a lovely endeavor by Long, and one that you’ll be happy to know already has a sequel, with a third coming along soon.  It has characters that are endearing and easy to relate to, and a world that is fully realized with secrets left to be discovered.  If you’re interested in this fun fantasy romp, check out Timecrack on Amazon today!

As a bonus, the author gives away free chapters of the book on his website for people who subscribe.  Check it out:

https://williamlongbooks.co.uk/

Fantasy Promo – Fariidinus Book 5: Wings of the Sea

Hey there folks.  We’re happy to be back with a new promo for an old friend today.  It feels like we’ve been gone from the Heartland for way too long, and I for one have need to see some beautiful, lethal fairies again.

L.E.Parr is back once again to show us the work she excels at. Fariidinus Book 5: Wings of the Sea is another bout of worldbuilding at its finest, and this time she brings us to a whole new realm.  The Heartland seas become an intriguing place to visit, thanks to newcomer Melody, who holds sway over that domain.  The story fits in with the previous book as well, as some focus is left on Kirin, who became this second set’s big hero.  It’s Melody who gets to shine here, though, and you’ll quickly fall in love with her.

MELODY, Dee, was the youngest child to fall under Letal’s knife. It was her culling that finally goaded Kirin into the war. Even though her xylin node was left intact, Dee’s wings never recovered and she cannot fly. But, Dee, has an extraordinary gift, never seen before in the species. She can control the sea and communicate with the little mermaids, the merikin. When one of the Houses conspires to destroy Kirin with poison, they experiment on the merikin with great loss of life. In a desperate attempt to save the merikin and the Heartland seas, Dee races against time and miles to lead her friends to safety.

We’ve had the awesome privilege of working with Parr several times before, and her books are always great fun.  The first trilogy was tremendous entertainment, and these newer books are set to keep up to that same pace while also carving out the world she’s built even further.  Melody is an awesome character to add to her already impressive roster.  If you want to read her story, check out Fariidinus Book 5: Wings of the Sea on Amazon today.

Fantasy Promo – Reynard the Fox

Hey there folks!  I am so happy to be back here after a lovely time at the Philadelphia Comic Convention.  Not only because it was exhausting, but because I managed to meet several great people, and I’m just so excited to share about them.

First up is David R Witanowski.  David is a down to earth guy who was there at the con showing off his series of books revolving around Reynard the Fox.  If you’re familiar with the allegorical tales about the anthropomorphic fox, this book becomes all the more delightful.  It steps away from the old stories in some ways, but a lot of the meat is still there.  Above all, it becomes darker and more complex, which I really enjoy.  Still, it retains a fair bit of humor. Witanowski treats his characters with respect that you won’t soon forget.

In a city full of thieves, there are none better than the wily Reynard: a skilled cat burglar, con artist, and master of disguise who preys on the wealthy and powerful. But even a man of Reynard’s talents can make a mistake, especially when there’s a beautiful woman involved…

Now Reynard must embark upon a perilous expedition to steal a fabled gem, accompanied by a motley crew of mercenaries, pirates, and hired killers, each of whom could prove to be deadlier than the voyage itself- and none more so than the mysterious Isengrim, a cold-hearted warrior whose swordsmanship is second to none.

A gritty adventure that playfully blends suspense with humor, Reynard the Fox is the first in a forthcoming series of books by debut author David R. Witanowski.

If you’re a fan of fantasy with grit and grime but a dash of humor, Reynard’s journey’s are right up your alley.  This first book is such a fun adventure, and with two more books already released, it could be a great series to dive into.  If you’re looking for one of your new favorite reads, look no further than Reynard the Fox.  Check it out on Amazon today!

Historical Fantasy Promo – Swordless Warriors

Hello folks, and welcome back to our scouring of the Otherworld for stories from beyond our time and place.  This is our last promotion before our big Comic Con stop in Philadelphia, where we’re hoping to meet some new fans.  We figured we’d move along with a fervent battle cry.

With that in mind, there’s no better story to leave you with than Olaf Tormund’s Swordless Warriors.  Rough and bloody, it tells the tale of ravagers from the north, and their invasion.  More importantly, it goes into darker territory when it introduces the mythical berserkers, with their superhuman strength.  Introduced as villains, these vikings become interesting and relatable as the story progresses.

“Swordless Warriors” tells us the history of the legendary Berserker warriors – the most fearsome and bloodthirsty faction among the Viking soldiers – incorporating some fantastic elements into the narrative by spicing factual historical research with a good chunk of mythology, folklore from the far North and a few controversial modern hypotheses.

What causes the “berserkergang”, the outbreak of madness that makes those men fight as if the devil himself commanded them; red-eyed and foaming at the mouth like rabid dogs, angrily chewing their tongues in the heat of battle and, lacking enemies to attack, even charging trees or their own reflection in mirrors? Could it be an unknown plague? Hallucinogenic substances? Religious fanaticism? Genetic disorders? Or perhaps even lycanthropy?

Do no expect the romanticism of books such as “Beowulf” or Michael Crichton’s “Eaters of the Dead”, where the sons of Odin are depicted as white knights fighting to save innocent maidens. In the manner of films like “Dances with Wolves” and “The Last Samurai”, “Swordless Warriors” initially presents the readers with mere savage, mindless barbarians and then takes them on an unexpected epic journey that will ultimately end in respect and understanding (perhaps even admiration) for the motives and ways of the strange indomitable fighters.

The unbeatable Hellenistic phalanxes fought for riches. Genghis Khan’s mighty riders warred for lands. But this book is not about those. It is about an army that despised conquest, wanted no glory, did not seek freedom or revenge. They battled for the combat itself, for their wrath and their fury – and did it completely unshielded and unarmed.

SYNOPSIS

It is rare that we see a historical epic that doesn’t rely heavily on enormous battle sequences as its main draw. It is even rarer that we get to see a historical epic where the reader ends up rooting for the “villains”. But “Swordless Warriors” goes beyond the regulations of the genre – often into harsh, uncharted territories that are pretty much outside the box most fantasy writers think in altogether. It is written in a Spartan manner that befits the theme of the piece but still works as a thoughtful study of human nature which asks the readers how much a person can bare to take physically, mentally and emotionally.

The book begins by introducing the central character, Paolo DiMontese. He is an incredibly talented Roman sculptor who is haunted by a traumatic event in his history, so much so that his work means zilch to him. Attending a party in Norfolk, in honour of the Saxon king, Paolo is immediately struck by the beauty of a Danish duchess named Astrid, who rekindles a sort of fire that Paolo has not experienced in a long time.

However, soon after the party gets underway, the castle is assaulted by Viking forces and, while the king’s men are able to repel these warriors for the most part, they are then assaulted by Berserkers – another Viking faction possessing almost-superhuman strength. Paolo, Astrid and a few others are captured and taken back by the Vikings to their homeland as slaves, while the rest of the guests and even the king himself are brutally slaughtered. During the several months of captivity, Paolo and Astrid grow closer together as their companions die off around them and the two become each other’s sole human links. But, as things progress, Paolo gradually comes to an understanding with the Berserker leader as well.

Despite the extent of time it covers, “Swordless Warriors” moves incredibly fast, weighing in at a slim 37,000 words. In this period, it seeks to never lag, even when portraying long moments out at sea; the book places the readers in the characters’ shoes, as they unwind the secrets of the strange Northerners together. First with fear, trepidation and disgust, but then progressively coming to a recognition and, possibly, reverence of the Norse ways.

RATING COMPONENTS: depictions of violence, sexual content

With a unique style, Swordless Warriors delivers you into a world that makes you feel as though you’ve traveled somewhere else.  It’s historical fiction that’ll get your blood pumping, and before you know it, you’ll have raced through its pages.  If you know anyone who likes viking or norse tales, this is right up their alley.  Check the book out 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!