Ian Pamphlett, Death Assessor


Published on my First Chapter blog…

First Chapters

Standing beneath an arch, the keystone directly above his gelled hair, Ian Pamphlett, regarded the Hall of the Dead. It was fair to say it was the biggest room in the known or unknown universes, and that went for all the sub-dimensions too. Nowhere was there such a great square-footage with a roof. For a mile in each compass direction it spread, the vaulted roof and hanging chandeliers – of which there were close to twelve-thousand, constituting nearly a quarter of a million individual candles – faded into the distance like a lesson in perspective in a technical drawing class.

More impressive even than this were the rows of dead. They sat on long benches, rows upon rows of them, waiting patiently to be called. It was not Ian Pamphlett’s task to call them however, that was Helen’s job. Ian’s job was the assessment. Beneath his arm was his clipboard upon…

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Half a King, by Joe Abercrombie


Fantasy reviews

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The book’s blurb… from Goodreads

“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”

Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand. The deceived will become the deceiver.

Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge. The betrayed will become the betrayer.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of…

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Emperor of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence


Fantasy reviews

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The book’s blurb… from Goodreads

The path to the throne is broken – only the broken may walk it.

To reach the throne requires that a man journey. Even a path paved with good intentions can lead to hell, and my intentions were never good.

The Hundred converge for Congression to politic upon the corpse of Empire, and while they talk the Dead King makes his move, and I make mine. The world is cracked, time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days, the future so bright that those who see it are the first to burn. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne whoever seeks to thwart me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will…

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The Broken Eye, by Brent Weeks


From the Alagaunt sister-site, fantasyfictionreviews.wordpress.com. Enjoy!

Fantasy reviews

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The book’s blurb… from Goodreads

As the old gods awaken and satrapies splinter, the Chromeria races to find its lost Prism, the only man who may be able to stop catastrophe. But Gavin Guile is enslaved on a pirate galley. Worse, Gavin no longer has the one thing that defined him — the ability to draft.

Without the protection of his father, Kip Guile will have to face a master of shadows alone as his grandfather moves to choose a new Prism and put himself in power. With Teia and Karris, Kip will have to use all his wits to survive a secret war between noble houses, religious factions, rebels, and an ascendant order of hidden assassins, The Broken Eye.

What I liked…

I suppose I had better state that this review is more for the series –Lightbringer – than just The Broken Eye, as I read all three…

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5000 limericks…


statistics2Presuming there are about thirty words in a standard limerick, I have so far written the equivalent of five-thousand – that’s 5000 – limericks in my latest attempt at writing.
I’m not bragging, it’s just the only thing I can think of to post about, which does not bode well for my blog in the long run, in all honesty.
Still, five-thousand limericks is not to be sniffed at. That’s a lot of rhymes. Makes you think.
So I guess this is a progress report.
With so many words done you’d have thought the story would be well under way. It would be a reasonable man that expected you to be in the meat of the tale by now. You’d be wrong. My lead character (indeed, the POV) has been problematic. It feels very much like I’m trying too hard to demonstrate the character’s growth, and as such am losing the pace. Not that pace was ever an imperative, but it’s never good to drag the story’s arse through the mud. The incidental (ie non-POV) chars are worryingly unremarkable and I have the awful feeling that, if I ever get to the end, I will need to re-write whole bundles of chapters (bundles being the collective noun for chapters, as all know).
But, Zen-like, I forge ahead, still enjoying the progress. A friend of mine said this week that they could never try to write as they’d just not know what to write, which struck me as quite shameful. If you don’t trust your imagination enough to make stuff up, then what the hell is going on? You have probably finally lost your inner child, and you are fully justified in mourning.
Well, post done, I’m off to do other stuff.
J

The Crimson Campaign, by Brian McClellan


Fantasy reviews

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The book’s blurb… from Goodreads

The hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions’ Tamas’s invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies, and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy’s best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god. In Adro, Inspector Adamat only wants to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the answers might come too quickly. With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself alongside the god-chef Mihali as the last line of defence against Kresimir’s advancing…

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It’s not like me not to post for months, but there you go…


It’s nearly two years since I set out to bloody well write something, and I did. A quarter of a million words of a story that was not very good. Still, at least I did it. The plan was to carry on and try to write something better. That’s the part I’m struggling with. The header of this blog stated my intentions to post about how hard it is to write a book. The answer to this is two-fold. First, it’s not very hard. Just keep typing and eventually you’ll have something. Second, it’s f****ing unbelievably hard, so long as you realise how far you have to go and just how talented these published bastards are. It’s galling. Yet I am nothing if not persistent, and so I have not let it go. I write every day. Just not a lot of it is any good.

But that’s the point. Every day I think I get a little bit better. By the time I’m, say, a hundred years old, I will have written something I can finally be proud of. Hopefully.

Aaaanyway, the last few months have been pretty damned awful, but I’m attempting to put all that behind me because I suddenly feel the urge to blog again. Not that I was ever very productive.

 

Here you go. Simple post. Fin.

Gilbert Egg-Hound’s bendy tale – Part One


Brisbane-city-by-night-mt-coot-tha

‘…orrow morning, you scum-sucking, vilely useless piece of infected, foul-smelling discharge!’

Gilbert Egg-Hound was not a patient man.  Having slammed the phone down with the sort of force normally employed by officers of the West Yorkshire Police Force during ‘extended questioning of coloured gentlemen’ during the 1970s, he less-than-calmly walked to his chair.  On reclining and gazing out of the window, Gilbert’s mood began to lift.  From his office by the canal, Gilbert had one of the best views in the city – to the right rose the Corn Exchange (which couldn’t help but to remind him of a majestic single breast nestled amongst the largely phallic skyline) while the building sites, shops and alehouses of Briggate and beyond disappeared straight ahead.  Over to the left, in the distance was the Town Hall, mercifully obscured by the offices and suits of Park Row.

The Town Hall occupied a very particular place in Gilbert’s heart.  Fully to understand this, first requires you to accept the fact that, despite appearances, hearsay and reams of evidence to the contrary, Gilbert Egg-Hound is a man of heart.  A well-hidden heart, yes.  A dysfunctional heart, almost certainly, but a heart nonetheless.  Alongside the hate for his former wife, an obsession with pastry products and the unlikely, unrequited love for She Who Must Never Be Named, sat in Gilbert’s heart a fear and distaste for the Town Hall and its staff, rivalled only by the fear and distaste displayed by the citizens of Lincolnshire when presented with evidence of electricity.

As you may have surmised (correctly, I might add) by this point, Gilbert Egg-Hound is not the sort of man to fear anyone; he was much more the sort of man to be feared.

The Town Hall however, put the shits up Gilbert like nothing else.

It was 1986 and the World Cup was being hosted by Mexico. England was in the grip of its usual deluded, fervent hope that they were going to win, just like twenty years before.  While he wouldn’t call himself a football fan – and while he’d never willingly admit to getting carried away with the ecstasy of an assembled partisan throng – Gilbert was as susceptible as anyone to World Cup fever.  Having followed the matches at arm’s length so as not to appear interested, Gilbert’s reserve finally broke during the Argentina game.

He locked up his office and headed to the pub. The landlord had managed to appropriate, from somewhere, a television the size of a fridge, and had, with faith alone,  hoisted it high up the wall with a length of rope. Literally dozens of people sat and stood beneath it, peering at the action.  No-one had seen a television of this size before, nor have they done so since, a fact that is merely a matter of background.

Gilbert arrived in time to see a slo-mo Peter Reid being thoroughly embarrassed by a dwarf with a perm, so set to drinking.  Heavily.  Unable to get comfortable and watching England get, for want of a better phrase, done over by the Argies, Gilbert began to feel unbalanced.  After a few more tetchy minutes, it happened: The Hand of God.

At this point, nobody was one hundred percent sure what had happened.  That is to say, nobody was prepared to say what exactly had happened – a key distinction.  What is known for certain is that on the evening of 22 June 1986, four men were admitted to Leeds General Infirmary with wounds that seemed consistent with ‘being beaten by a large, blunt instrument wielded by someone with the strength of a bear’, according to melodramatic neurosurgeon Dr Noray Parmalat.  The other definite in this murky expanse of half-truths and fabrications was that on the morning of 23 June 1986, Gilbert Egg-Hound was released from the Central Police Station without charge, without his possessions, and with a hangover that would wake the dead then immediately kill them again.

An uncharacteristically chastened Egg-Hound shuffled towards his home, under the non-existent cover of dawn, the streets pulsating with the rhythm of his pounding head.  Luckily for Gilbert, the streets were as good as empty at this time of the morning, so he was able to theatrically vomit into a drain with relative anonymity.  Having walked what seemed like the the thousand miles to his house, Gilbert entered, locked the door and went to bed to sleep the sleep of traitors, whores and criminals.

The Ballad of Star-Streets Tony – A Cautionary Tale


street-lightsWell, enough of the bleating on about word counts and other guff, it’s time to embrace the whimsy.

Bob F, my compadre of creative gubbins (on occasion), had an awesome idea about an alien called Star-Streets Tony who shat stars. I know. Awesome. This, friends, is the start of his tale. In rhyme. Not very good rhyme, either. And remember, THIS COULD HAPPEN. Enjoy!

The Ballad of Star-Streets Tony

Oh, the world it was breaking, no more fuel for to take
The future uncertain, for everyone’s sake
As the lights slowly flickered, and started to die
The people of Earth sat, and started to cry

The future was bleak, but that was until,
Simply Red started playing, on a charity bill
Somehow this music called from on high
An alien being, who fell from the sky.

Yes, Star-Streets Tony – he fell to the earth
As Mick Hucknall sang for all he was worth
This mystical being, as welsh as can be,
Shat stars of power to light up the streets

The council of Rhyl, they harnessed these stars
To run all their street lights, and even their cars
They powered all the tv’s and radios too,
It could even run Rhyl’s famous portable loo.

Slowly did Tony give to the planet
The gift of his star poo – his electrical winnet
Nations had to swallow that bitterest pill
As they were suddenly ruled by the Council of Rhyl.

For many a year Star-Streets Tony did good
Shatting stars as only an alien could
But the council was shrewd and it kept his leash short
And they exploited him without so much as a thought.

But Tony became such an unhappy creature,
All needs were fulfilled, though his own didn’t feature
He grew tired and depressed at the futility
Of being used for his star-shatting ability.

He was old now, and wished for it simply to end,
This existence as a being, heavenly sent
But there was no way this immortal could just up and die
Except the council knew better, but kept up the lie

They refused to let Tony have his final hour,
The refused to let Tony take back all that power,
So angry as only a mystical being can be
Star-Streets Tony set about making himself free.

I know. Brilliant. Well, thanks for allowing me to put that in your brains.

Pip-pip, for now.

Fudgemella and the delusion-teaching Knight


“Once upon a time there was a dusky maiden named Fudgemella. Her super-power was astro-physics, which in medieval Poland was not much use. The gods had dealt a joker there.”

What? Where am I? Did you say Fudgemella?

il_fullxfull.238657111“Caught in a downward fiscal spiral, she began to toy with the idea of branching out, maybe learning a new skill, like Badger-baiting, or popery, which was all the rage.”

Hello? What are you talking about? What’s going on?

“As she traipsed through the streets of the generic proto-germanic settlement, she swung her hips seductively, perhaps hoping for some kind of monetary reward. Her gods had done something right with those hips, so the scales appeared balanced. She considered going to Denmark where her super-power might be more useful”

Oh God, am I trapped in the consciousness of a bad writer? Wait, was that a Tycho Brahe reference?

“As she passed a group of travelling diplomats (whose employer was in no way related to the events that surrounded Fudgemella’s eventual disappearance, rescue and vindication), she arched her brow, or her eyebrow – it is quite difficult to see from here.”

I am trapped in the mind of a bad writer. Hang on, did you just give away the ending?  And you’re referencing the writer’s perspective? Are you mad?

“Quite by chance, a knightly knight by the name of Sir Deus arrived. ‘Madam,” he said unto her, forcing the words ‘twixt cup and manly lip, ‘I am Sir Deus. Deus X Machina. The X stands for, er, Ex. I am here to teach you the art of delusion.'”

Oh, come on! You’re saying that you actually have a character named –

“Fudgemella, startled by the knight’s abrupt/surprising appearance, laughed with gentle admonishment. ‘Sir knight, I have no such need for your teaching, for I have already mastered that particular skill.’ She flicked a bead of sweat from her brow with the last two centimetres of a stiffened digit.

If I promise not to criticise will you let me leave? Please…no more…

“The knight, pushed to a rage beyond compare – like that other fellow that got just as angry when someone broke his pencil – charged his mighty steed into the watching diplomats, piercing, quite by happenstance, their hearts with his lance, like a diplomatic kebab. Although that probably shouldn’t be a reference in a period piece. Unless kebabs existed in medieval Poland. Make it a – what do they have in Poland? Sausages? Yes, pierced their hearts like a mighty polish sausage.”

Not sure about the imagery in this – very suspect… 

“Thus the dusky maiden’s refusal to bow down to masculine domination caused the world to explode into war that lasted eight years, with a hiatus in the middle when one of the knight’s friends got lost in a copse. The End.”

So…a sexist morality nonsense tale? Didn’t know what to write for a blog post, eh?

“Can you tell?”