The Bonehunters by Steven Erikson

Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 6, The Bonehunters

Steven Erikson’s sixth installment in the Malazan book of the Fallen, The Bonehunters brings us yet more heart rending, yet addictive suffering and tragedy.

And more new characters, always more characters. I was hoping that, more than halfway through the series he’d be focusing more on established characters, but what was I thinking? With roughly a thousand pages per volume there is plenty of room for new perspectives, new abilities and someone else’s insight.

What is interesting here is that we are in a known location in the world. We are just given new eyes with which to view it. Multiple books have taken place in these settings. The introduction of new characters is the spice of life for readers of the Malazan books.

We see some old friends again too. But they are not the same. No one is the same anymore. While I always like seeing character growth, I know most of theirs is due to trauma and loss from the prior five books.

Having gone through fierce battles, confronted the worst of humanity (and the gods), and all of the trappings that go along with them, the still-surviving characters have aged, changed their opinions and have started slipping, or conversely hardening—they are showing their wear and tear. Despite this, the humor still gleams through the darkness.

These old friends may have gone through a lot, even before we met them. But now we’ve followed them through some adventures and get some of their jokes and references as well. Erikson does not fail to shed light on old stories for the reader with the good memory. Not only does this provide word count for him, but it serves to connect the character arcs across books and time itself.

As the sixth volume of a ten part series, I’m satisfied with where we are. The plot is arcing along strongly, with several sub plots spent and newly started, leaving the characters wounded in all senses of the word, and scrabbling toward the hell that we can see is coming.

Midnight Tides by Steven Erikson

Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 5, Midnight Tides

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted one of these. Yes, I’m still trundling along with this series.

It took me a while to get into this one, okay, I slogged through the first half. Midnight Tides is like starting an entirely new series, and had a lot of background story that did not seem to tie in to that we know of the series so far.

I questioned my taste for epic fantasy. Could it be? Was this too epic for me? Was it, in fact, too broadly reaching to hold my interest in the middle section of a series? I missed the old characters I haven’t seen, heard or even wandered around the same region as for half a book. And then the enemy showed up (to save the day?). A few characters revealed some quirks that, knowing Erikson, promised to be interesting. And I was hooked.

In short, hang in there, it ramps up, a lot. I think I picked away at the first part for 3 months and then finished the rest in about a week, which is fast for me.

Midnight Tides adds yet another facet to the story as a whole. This series is the most epic story I’ve ever read, for sure. This really reminds me how much can be going on in a world at one time. Instead of one character hearing about the occurrences in a distant place, Erikson puts a set of point of view characters in the middle of it. Throwing in but a dash of the familiar to connect the signature dots of this story, and you have to know what to look for, which adds to the fun of it.

Structurally, Erikson is managing the scope of the series by adjusting how he introduces new things this many pages in. In book 4, House of Chains, the first half was all about one character without getting other points of view, as if catching up the character to the time line. It seems as though Erikson did the same here, but with a new corner of the world, not just one person; with a new plot element, not just a new character.

With book 5 still riding the story development arc up, and only five books remaining, I’m hoping the next installment will start to bring everything together for some more of the merry plot mashing goodness that Erikson has shown a unique aptitude for so far. And yes, I read the Dramatis Personae in the front of each book to see who is in it.

Jamie Marchant Shares the Lay of the Land in Soul Stone

Help me welcome Jamie Marchant. She is guest posting with me about her new book The Soul Stone (The Kronicles of Korthlundia Volume 2). In this Sword & Sorcery novel two royals strive to save their kingdom, and Jamie shows us around the land at stake.

The Soul Stone

The Crown Princess Samantha and Sir Robrek struggle to solidify their rule in the aftermath of the king’s murder and Duke Argblutal’s attempt to usurp the throne. They are thwarted at every turn by those who seek power for themselves and desire to prevent their marriage. Just when they think their problems are solved, a deadly curse begins to spread throughout Korthlundia and Samantha becomes pregnant.

Samantha must fight off priests, enemies, and her closest advisors while Robrek discovers the reason the goddess chose him as king, to defeat the Soul Stone, a stone capable of sucking the soul out of its victims, which threatens to obliterate all life in the joined kingdoms. Their archenemy, the Bard Alvabane, awakens the Soul Stone and plans to use its power to reclaim Korthlundia for her people (a people driven out over a thousand years ago by the hero Armunn). Armunn had to sacrifice his life and soul to contain the Soul Stone. Will Robrek have to do the same? Will the young couple have only a few short months to love each other?

Find The Soul Stone Online:

Black Rose Writing


Barnes and Noble


Lay of the Land

Korthlundia is often called the joined kingdoms because throughout most of its history the northern kingdom of Korth was separated from the southern kingdom of Lundia. Divided by a mountain range that is impassable for most of the winter, the two kingdoms have a long history of animosity. In attempt to end centuries of warfare between Korth and Lundia, the heirs of the two kingdoms—Queen Samantha’s grandparents, Maeve of Korth and Lir of Lundia—married. However, it took an additional fifteen years and the reign of their son Solar to end the hostilities and meld the two kingdoms into one. Thanks to Solar’s brilliant rule and long life, peace has reigned in the land for the past fifty years, but the murder of Solar and the ascension of his young heir—Samantha is only nineteen when she takes the throne—has made such peace precarious.

However, civil war is the only military threat to the joined kingdoms, which are isolated and mostly inaccessible to the rest of the world. Korthlundia is bordered on the north by the frozen wastelands of Fruscarettr and on the south and west are the deserts of Sehra. Both regions are inhabited only by a few isolated nomads. The east of Korthlundia faces the sea, but the waters off the coast are littered with rocks and reefs, making approach by sea extremely dangerous. There is only one semi-safe harbor, that of the capital city of Murtaghan. Even this harbor can only be navigated at high tide and requires the guidance of a local vessel with knowledge of all obstacles that scattered throughout the harbor. Because of it isolated nature, Korthlundia does not even have an army, just a small Royal Guard. Long years of peace have led to great prosperity for the people of the joined kingdoms.

Korthlundia is a beautiful country. Just inland from the capital city of Murtaghan, which is in Lundia, lies the Setanta forest. There the trees tower over the forest floor and are as wide around as a house. The forest gives way to the Reidhlean Plains, a flat land of endless grasses that are inhabited by the Horsetads, a race of horses that possess magical properties and cannot be tamed. Korth is more mountainous with sheer cliffs, steep drop offs, and magnificent waterfalls.

In The Soul Stone this peaceful, beautiful land is threatened by the Bard Alvabane. In order to reclaim Lundia for her people who were driven out a thousand years ago by the hero Armunn, Alvabane claims the power of the Soul Stone, an ancient weapon that drains the life out of the land—killing people, animals, and even plants. Alvabane’s use of the Stone creates the Dead Lands, in which nothing, not even the cockroaches, can survive. Robrek and Samantha must find a way to stop her before it is too late.



JamiesoulFrom early childhood, Jamie Marchant has been immersed in books. Her mother, an avid reader, read to her, and her older sister filled her head with fairy tales. Taking into consideration her love for literature and the challenges of supporting herself as a writer, she pursued a Ph.D. in American literature, which she received in 1998. She started teaching writing and literature at Auburn University. But in doing so, she put her true passion on the backburner and neglected her muse. Then one day, in the midst of writing a piece of literary criticism, she realized that what she wanted to be doing was writing fantasy novels. Her muse thus revived, she began the book that was to become The Goddess’s Choice, which was published in April 2012. The second volume in the series, The Soul Stone, was released June 2015.

She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband, son, and four cats, which (or so she’s been told) officially makes her a cat lady. She still teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. Her short fiction has been published on Short-Story.Me, and her story was chosen for inclusion in their annual anthology. It has also appeared in the anthologies—Urban Fantasy (KY Story, 2013) and Of Dragon and Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds (Witty Bard Publishing, 2014)—The World of Myth, A Writer’s Haven, and Bards & Sages.

Goddesses Choice

The Goddesses Choice, (The Kronicles of Korthlundia Volume 1) is also available on Amazon.

Find Jamie online at her website and her blog.


Scribings Vol. 1 Featured at Her Ladyship’s Quest Big List of deals at Google Play Books

In case you missed it last weekend, Scribings Vol. 1 was one of several books featured at Her Ladyship’s Quest Big List of deals at Google Play Books!

Scribings Vol. 1


Scribings Vol. 1 was the first Greater Portland Scribists publication, published by Lost Luggage Studios in 2011. I have three short stories in this volume, and it is near and dear to my heart.

“The Last Mate”
What will the last mate do to gain control of a ship who chooses her own crew?

“The Making”
The young gods thought it was they who ruled the world.

“In the Business of Rotting”
Forced to find a new passion after a revolution, a jeweler-turned-distiller is determined to forgive and forget. But a new discovery changes the nature of her business.

Scribings is a fabulous compilation of speculative tales by four Maine authors. The collection starts with one piece of flash fiction from each author. The rest contains longer pieces of fiction for a total of eleven pieces representing a range of styles and genres from fantasy to science fiction and beyond. Watch young gods learn their place, see what the afterlife is like, meet Dappil, taste the sweetness of revenge, feel the fires of judgment and more.


“A well-written, eclectic collection. Worth the time, and I hope to see more from these authors in the future!” -David Day on Smashwords

“This collection contains several short fantasy stories of varying length. Each writer made sure to include a ‘suprise’ feature keeping it fresh . Most stories left me hoping to see more about these characters and themes. Probably the best use of two dollars I’ ve made in a while.” -Amazon Customer

Her Ladyship’s Quest Big List of deals at Google Play Books also features 13 other books by 13 different authors. Go check it out. You may find your next summer read!

Her Ladyship’s Quest: Big List of Free through $2.99 deals at Google Play Books

House of Chains by Steven Erikson

Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 4, House of Chains

Book 4 complete! I’m almost halfway there.

For me as a reader, House of Chains was not a page-turner. I actually had some trouble getting through it. This was not what I was expecting after the first three books. So I took a step back and looked at where I was from a writerly standpoint.

First off, this series is not a trilogy; it is an epic fantasy series of ten doorstoppers. It is loaded with characters and plot lines. This is a fourth book. We’ve been through several characters worth of agonies of loss and harsh successes. Many of the original subplots have (mostly) wrapped up by now, and the just desserts have been doled out, for better or worse.

For surviving characters to have growth, they need to have some room to recover from their ordeals, which many of them did. This is important to each character’s believablity. These characters are accomplishing astounding feats. They are human, mostly, and many of them died in trying or achieving what they were after. Some stories, such as single volumes or shorter series (trilogy) only cover a few events. However, this is a decidedly epic tale. I can give credit to some character downtime in such a far-reaching, plot-dense story. I know they are not limitless, superhuman heroes.

Don’t get me wrong, there were a few intense page-turning moments in this 1000 pager, and a 260 page dedicated section on introducing a point of view character for the series, Karsa Orlong. All this aside, House of Chains felt like it had proportionately fewer new and exciting plot elements begun. What we got instead were a lot of hints.

However, this falls in line with Erikson’s style of sprinkling in important information for later, with no explanation of what it means or indication of how it will impact anyone. I am trusting Erikson to give me the payoff on this later. What I’m thinking is that if this book is technically the wrap up of book 2 in the series, as book 3 was the wrap up of book 1, then book 5 should begin something new in order to keep the next five books chock full of plot.

House of Chains also continued the trend of informing readers, without being heavy handed, of actions taken by characters not in the book, but are significant to one of the main plot lines.

After considering these points, I am much more satisfied with the book, and the series up to this point. I am eager to get into the next one. After re-thinking the series and trends, I am expecting to meet some new characters and be introduced some new long and short term plot lines.

I must admit I am a tad worried because Erikson wasn’t dropping any hints about what the next “big bad threat” would be, as he had in the prior books. So either the Empress doesn’t know yet, which is a bad sign, or we’re going back to check in on the main plot line, or something else that the main characters will have to deal with before they can address the main plot. Or something else entirely. Which will it be? Surprise me Steven Erikson!

Lingering in the Woods is Back

I can finally announce that Lingering in the Woods is back on the virtual book shelves at Amazon, this time as an ebook. Lingering in the Woods is a fantasy novelette and is available for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers and in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. All of you should leave reviews!

Lingering in the Woods is the first installment of a serial epic fantasy collection, A Shaman’s Rune. A sequel will be coming out later this year.

Check back here for updates, or sign up for my mailing list in the sidebar. (Your information will be safe, and no, I won’t spam you, unless I become outright prolific.)

Lingering in the Woods

An untested shaman. A demanding chieftain. If Chrigle can’t protect his tribal hunting party and their bounty, exile is certain.

When his Spirit Guide cries a fierce warning, he halts their homeward ride. The hunters are not alone. Chrigle must wield his runes to protect the hunters for dark magic fills the wood and a vengeful spirit is desperate to find its next victim.

The night fills with uncertainty and fear as his struggle to win a place in his tribe becomes a test of
will and sacrifice. If he survives
the price of success may be too high.


For more information about Lingering in the Woods, visit the book page.



Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson

Three Malazan books down, seven to go. I am trying to read all these books this year, and so far am on course. I am, however, finding it hard to write a separate review for each book because the stories have so many intertwining strings. My journal series may just become a reflection of all the books I’ve read to date.

Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 3, Memories of Ice

Memories of Ice, the third book in Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series occurs simultaneously to the second book, Deadhouse Gates. This is a fact that seems trivial at first, but with a moment of thought, I realized that the body count in that timeframe was astronomical. Cities on one continent overrun, and more on another continent devoured. A lot is happening in this world.

But one thing seems a little different in book three than I’ve seen before. In this book we get a lot of history. As an epic fantasy, this story not only spans vast geographic regions, but also vast periods of time. We learn more about the cast of characters and what is bringing them all together, or in fact not. There are characters who are thousands of years old. There are undead characters who are hundreds of thousands of years old. And all their history is rife with war, catastrophe and enough twists to come back to haunt not only themselves but nations. Erikson doesn’t stop there. He goes as far as to bring forth the tribulations of the gods, making them characters as well.

Erikson uses these ancient characters to connect thousands of years of history, interlacing their crises through the lenses of our dear cast of mortal human characters, whose problem it is to survive it all with their meager abilities.

In book three, we are finally introduced to the overarching series antagonist. What he wants will change the world forever, and if he doesn’t get it, what he threatens may destroy the world altogether (still looking at seven books here). Whether distractions from the antagonist or simply coincidences, our characters are occupied fighting intense battles against impossible enemies without sufficient numbers while we are finding out about all of the treachery and deceit of the antagonist.

Now that we know what “the good guys” are up against, Erikson begins the hard blows. The losses are harsh, staggering. Our main characters are left incapable of doing anything but pick up the pieces. And we are left with little hope, but that is better than none.

Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson

Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 2, Deadhouse Gates

Erikson sets a grueling path for his characters once again in Deadhouse Gates, the second book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen Series. This story takes us to a new part of the Empire, with some new and some familiar characters. All these characters live through a lot within the span of this story. They struggle endlessly for but a hint of hope, they transform into something new, unknown joys slip through their hands, and when there is release it is infrequently happy.

There is much death in this book, armies, civilians, children, animals, and thus it reflects the violence of the world, no holds barred. However, with death himself one of the players and magic rampant death is not in all cases permanent.

Rebirth is just as strong a theme as death, literally and figuratively. This much suffering will change anyone. Portraying these changes recognizes humanity–and good three dimensional characters. But it is more a question of scale in this epic fantasy story.

There were multiple characters who were literally reborn with the knowledge and wisdom of their past lives. This lends a cheapness to death, and some may say is cheating. Yet it is also one thing that strips away the limits of human capability. We can see what the next steps are, when already powerful people have the knowledge and experience of lives prior lived. This is one reason I am frequently drawn to the epic fantasy genre.

As for the characters who continue to outwit death, I wonder how much longer that will last. Erikson is not as bad as Martin. Erikson tends to draw out the suffering instead of outright killing characters so far as I’ve seen. As long as this book was, we only witnessed the beginning of a rebellion. Some characters we know will be faced with living through the rest of it, and others will be moving on somewhere else. I can only wonder when Erikson will be visiting each again. I also enjoyed the nods to those not in this volume but whom I got to know in the prior one. Their contribution to this story hints more to the scope of their abilities, and I look forward to running across them again. And I am assuming I will, with several volumes of this series to go.

That being said, I’m sure it will run across many of the characters from book two again as well. And I’m hoping that more characters whom have only been hinted at will be introduced in the story. This is another thing I’m particularly enjoying in this series. While there is indeed a large cast of characters, they span the world, the millennia and several of their own lifetimes. They are hinted at, referenced and on occasion walk by in the background. If you are sharp, you will see the stories within the stories. Right now, I only wonder at the significance of their timelines.

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

I reread Gardens of the Moon. The initial was 4 years ago. I thought I should go back to the beginning if I aim to complete the Malazan series this year, and have a cohesive grasp on it because…all the characters… I recommend reading the dramatis personae section, it helps.

One thing that seems to make epic fantasy EPIC is the large cast of characters. Erikson pushed the envelope on this one, thus achieving an incredibly epic story. (disclaimer, I’ve read the first two books and the intro to the third so I have an inkling of the scope of this ten book tale.) I’ve read other reviews where readers were pulled out of the story because there were too many characters. I have high expectations for all of the characters by the end of the story. More to the point I’m hoping that Erikson won’t kill them all off like George R. R. Martin does in the A Song of Ice and Fire books.

The Malzan story is dense. Erikson crams and wedges endless plot points and connections into each chapter. With all the characters running around, many with their own agendas, it’s easy for him to do this. In one scene, if you read carefully, you watch one character’s disaster play out, and to another character it is an ancient prophecy coming true. I wonder if Erikson wound up telescoping some characters from early drafts…

Dense story aside, it is fast paced and quick reading, with only a few forgivable lulls as he sets up either new characters or new locations.

One aspect Erikson contrasts nicely in this one is characters away from home versus characters who are at home. The motivations that drive these two categories of characters offer wonderful three dimensional tensions. The story has likable point of view characters from both sides, so readers can watch the fallout with carefully crafted suspense.

As far as the locations go, the story I’ve read so far covers multiple continents, and hints at other continents with characters who plan to stir up trouble in future books.

I’m going to keep Garden’s of the Moon handy as I read the rest of the series. It dropped too many names that I know will pop up later, and I’m going to want to remember what happened.

Artist, Hard at Work, Disturb at Own Risk

I was going to write out a post, my first of the year, my first in months, about how while I thought I’d be starting out the year with a good bit of writing (what a great resolution, eh?) but instead realized that I needed to begin this year with marketing–a very different kind of work, but then this picture flowed through the Facebook feed (no, I wasn’t procrastinating that much) and it really says it all…

I’ll be away from my computer writing some pitch copy now, thanks.