Post 5: Thoughts on maps

Post 5: Thoughts on maps

My cunning plan to reread all nine of the published Brightmoon books got bogged down in the pesky business of releasing a new Regency romance, so I’m a little behind schedule with the reading, but in the meantime, I’ve been thinking a little bit about maps. Every self-respecting fantasy has maps, right? Well, mine didn’t, partly because the early books were fairly localised, so there wasn’t really much need for one, so it was quite a long time before I started doodling on bits of paper to try to pull together the various places. But largely, I confess, it was because I didn’t know anyone who would make one for me and I didn’t have the skills to do it. Not an insuperable problem, probably, but somehow I never got round to making a full map of the Brightmoon world, beyond those doodles. But then along came The Second God, […]


Post 4: Brightmoon origins

Post 4: Brightmoon origins

‘The hour bells sounded, reverberating through the tower, then faded to silence. Mia and both her husbands were on time. Tella, her co-wife and sister, was late. ‘Hands folded in her lap, Mia sat perfectly still. ‘Across the table, Hurst tapped his fingers on the polished wood. Jonnor rose, paced twice round the room, pausing to look through the tower window at the everyday life of the Karning below, then took his seat again. Although they were cousins, the two men were not alike. Hurst’s rough features and plain brown jacket made him look like an ordinary Skirmisher, rather than a Karningholder. Beside him, Jonnor looked like a prince from the old stories, his blue woollen coat enhancing his figure. Mia forced herself to take her eyes off him. She smoothed away a crease in her russet tunic, then stilled her hands.’ So begins the first chapter of the first […]


Post 3: reread of The Mages of Bennamore

Post 3: reread of The Mages of Bennamore

Well, hello Tella. My most enduring character, who dies in chapter 1 of book 1 and then pops up repeatedly throughout the series. She has a relatively small part in this book, but henchman Kestimar has a more significant role. Another book I tore through in a couple of days, and with one of my favourite heroes, Mal, the flirtatious Bennamorian mage guard who lightens up my tightly-wound heroine, Fen. I’m a sucker for warrior types (see also Garrett of The Dragon’s Egg, and Arran of The Fire Mages’ Daughter). I’d forgotten that this book follows on more or less directly from The Fire Mages. In that book, the over-powered mage Drei used his magic to subdue Bennamore’s peaceful allies, the coastal Port Holdings, before getting himself killed. Now the Bennamorians don’t quite know what to do with their new dominion, but they’re following through on the promise to send […]


Post 2: Reread of The Fire Mages

Post 2: Reread of The Fire Mages

Part of the job of compiling my series bible is to reread all the existing books, to get all the multitude of details straight in my mind and documented, and to avoid conflicts with the new book. The Plains of Kallanash, the first book, is a mammoth tome of 220K words (which any half-sensible person would have turned into a trilogy), inspired by the idea of multi-couple marriages. That led me into some very strange places, and things got extremely complicated. I decided to start my reread with something simpler, The Fire Mages, a more traditional fantasy trope of the humble no-account person who turns out to have amazing powers. Not quite the farmboy turned heir to the kingdom, but something along those lines. As with all my books, I had no clue initially where the story would end up. All I had was the first line (‘I was fourteen […]


Post 1: Getting started

So here’s my first report on progress, a little earlier than scheduled. In future, I’m going to try to post something every Sunday, so we’ll see how that works out. First task was to go public with my intentions, as part of the accountability thing. That meant an explanatory post on this website, followed by an email to those on my mailing list. Well… if you leave these things to languish untouched for years, there are bound to be a few cobwebs in dusty corners and technological weirdness. It’s almost three years since I last posted here, or even looked at the site. Everything was out of date, so I set out to update a few plugins. Three mouseclicks later, the site vanished. Poof. Gone. No error message, just a blank screen. Oh boy. It took me about an hour to find a way to get it back (by renaming […]


So whatever happened to The Return of the Mages?

So whatever happened to The Return of the Mages?

Good question! The 9th book in the Brightmoon series, The Dragon Caller, was published on 13th December 2017. And the 10th book, The Return of the Mages, is… still in my head. I always intended to write it. I even had the cover made for it, as you can see. Pretty, isn’t it? Yes, that is a volcano erupting. So now you know what chapter 1 is about. But books 7, 8 and 9 in the series didn’t sell very well, and in the meantime, I’d got distracted by a shiny new genre – Regency romance – which DID sell, and so gradually the impetus died away. Book 10 was always going to be the difficult, pulling-everything-together book, and it meant rereading all the previous 9 and somehow, I never quite worked up the energy. So here we are, several years later and still no book 10. But every once […]


Review: Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

Review: Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

A fascinating book, on a number of different levels. Usually my book group reads fail to impress me in one of three ways: the story itself is dull or depressing or plain boring; the characters are unbelievable, or uninteresting, or simply fall flat; or the prose is uninspiring. A rare one or two have managed to fail on all three counts. This book succeeds in every way. My book group spent forty minutes discussing (and psychoanalysing!) Kate, and more than one person commented that we treated her exactly as if she were a real person. Which, of course, she was. The author dreamt her up and described her on the page so vividly that we were all able to create a living, breathing image of her in our heads. That is the epitome of good writing. The other characters were just as well done in their different ways, and even […]

Posted March 4, 2019 by PaulineMRoss in Review / 4 Comments

Review: Wake Me After The Apocalypse by Jordan Rivet

Review: Wake Me After The Apocalypse by Jordan Rivet

So let’s get one thing straight right from the start – I don’t read post-apocalypse books. Got that? Good. So… erm, what happened here? I made the mistake of reading the blurb, that’s what happened, and instantly I was hooked. That’s one powerful opening scene. Here’s the premise: there’s a massive comet hurtling towards the earth which is going to devastate the whole planetary surface, destroying not just civilisation but pretty much all life forms. There’ll then be a long perma-winter before plants start growing again. Humans are doomed, basically. But luckily, cryo-sleep technology has been invented, and there’s enough time (just!) to build some underground storage facilities, train up some carefully chosen representatives of humanity and shut them away in cryo-tanks for two hundred years. Joanna wakes up, right on cue, and finds that she’s the only survivor after a massive cave-in. So far, so intriguing, and this is […]

Posted November 19, 2018 by PaulineMRoss in Review / 0 Comments

Urban fantasy review: ‘Hidden Goddess’ and ‘Caged Lightning’ by Marina Finlayson

Urban fantasy review: ‘Hidden Goddess’ and ‘Caged Lightning’ by Marina Finlayson

The fourth and penultimate part of this fine urban fantasy series, and finally we’re getting some answers. I didn’t enjoy the third book, Rivers of Hell, quite as much as the previous two, partly because it dropped a lot of interesting plot threads and went haring off down a very big rabbit hole – to Hell, in fact – and partly because, in the underworld, heroine Lexi’s most interesting attribute, that of control over all sorts of animals and birds, just doesn’t work in a place where everything is dead. Not to mention that one of the most interesting side characters, Lexi’s cat-shifter friend Syl, was miserably stuck in human form, and love interest Jake was captured by the evil Styx. But now Lexi’s out of Hell, Syl’s free again and has an interesting new boyfriend and we’re finally getting close to working out how to defeat those pesky shadow […]

Posted April 25, 2018 by PaulineMRoss in Review / 0 Comments

Review: ‘The Crysalids’ by John Wyndham

Review: ‘The Crysalids’ by John Wyndham

This was a book group read and it was my suggestion, yet when one of the other members asked why I’d chosen it, the only reason I could come up with was that I couldn’t remember anything about it. I’ve read many of Wyndham’s books, like The Day of the Triffids, The Midwich Cuckoos, The Trouble With Lichen and Chocky, and I have vivid memories of them, but The Crysalids? Not so much. Turns out there’s a reason for that – I’ve never read it before. Several others in the group were in the same position, avid Wyndham fans but hadn’t read this one. We’re all of a certain age, so it made me wonder whether it was regarded as subversive in its day, and not sold as widely as some of the others. The premise is that there’s been a nuclear holocaust at some time in the past. Large […]

Posted April 12, 2018 by PaulineMRoss in Review / 0 Comments