This is an unusual book. Yes, yes, I know I specialise in unusual books; not for me the dull old treadmill of mainstream popular works. I read stuff you’ve never heard of. But this book is special: I came across it on a forum where the author lamented that she’d only sold… no, let’s not put a number on it. Let’s just say: not very many. So this is a book that nobody has ever heard of. So what’s it about? Well, let me tell you first what it’s not about. It’s not about saving the world. It’s not about finding the lost heir to the kingdom. There’s no quest, no named sword, no moustache-twirling villain, no prophecy. There are no orcs, dwarves, elves or goblins. No dragons, either, sadly (every fantasy book should have dragons, in my opinion, but there you go). There are no witches, werewolves, vampires. OK, […]
Once upon a time, Christmas was easy. I didn’t even think about it until mid-December, and then I went out and bought three presents: one for my mother, one for my father and one for my older sister. Price wasn’t an issue, I bought whatever my pocket money could cover (yes, this is pre-history, folks). Wind forward a few years, and there were husbands and children and in-laws and their children, and things got more complicated. The number of presents and Christmas cards multiplied geometrically, the list of Things To Be Done got longer and longer, and it all became rather fraught. There was one memorable year when I bought and wrapped and (mostly) parcelled up and shipped halfway round the world 56 separate presents. I hated Christmas. I learned to cope. I started early, in October, making the Christmas cake, and making lists (lots of lists). I discovered mail […]
With ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ nearing the end of its first 90-day run in Amazon’s KDP Select, I had three more free days to use up. I chose Wed to Fri 3rd/4th/5th December for no good reason, other than I’d picked a weekend last time, and it seemed a good idea to try something different. The first 2 free days, back in October, were a modest success, with almost 800 downloads with only one paid promotion site (Bknights, $20), although resulting in no additional sales or reviews. This time, I thought I would experiment by paying a little more to promotion sites, and see if the combined effect helps. Each promotion site features the book on a combination of bulk emails to subscribers, websites and Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and so on. My expectations weren’t high; I hoped for 2,000 downloads overall. Here’s what I booked: Day 1: BKnights ($20), […]
1: Refusal I was fourteen when the Kellon’s Steward first came for me. Well, blow that. I had my life all planned out, and the Kellon had no part in it, I was sure of that. Still, the Steward was waiting for me, and the question had to be asked before it could be refused. Head high, I crossed the tiny hallway of the cottage, my boots clumping on the wooden floor, and strode into the parlour.
‘The Fire Mages’ is all set for publication on January 9th. I now have ARCs available, so if anyone out there would like a copy to read for review, please email me. I have both mobi, epub and pdf formats available (sorry, no print copies yet). Reviews can be posted immediately on Goodreads or your blog, and on Amazon after publication. ‘The Fire Mages’ is an epic fantasy coming of age adventure with (naturally!) a bit of a romance. Here’s the blurb: Kyra has always been drawn to the magic of spellpages. She is determined to leave her small village far behind and become a scribe, wielding the power of magic through her pen. Halfway through her training, she has a mage as patron and her ambitions are within her grasp. But a simple favour for her sister goes disastrously awry, destroying Kyra’s dreams in an instant. Devastated, she accepts […]
Kyra Halland is one of those rare authors capable of creating a deeply realistic fantasy world, with an equally realistic romance embedded within it. Too many fantasy authors tack the romance on as an afterthought, or else the romance is all-important and the fantasy elements are hurled randomly into the mix, as if it doesn’t matter whether the obstacles keeping our pair of lovers apart are meaningful or not. Here everything is carefully thought out. Rashali is a simple village woman, struggling to survive in an Urdaisunia now conquered by neighbouring Sazars. Eruz is a Sazar prince, treading a careful path between his father the king, his vicious, squabbling brothers and his own conscience. When chance throws Rashali into his path, he is forced to face up to the consequences of his father’s rule. And then, delightfully, the gods take an interest in matters and start poking around in the […]
The first book in the Darest sequence, ‘The Champion of the Rose’, is one of my favourite fantasies of all time. Who, after all, could fail to love a book which stars a malign rose bush at its heart? With an intriguing setting, some great characters and a difficult but brilliantly realised romance, it ticked all the boxes for me. This one – not so much. On the positive side, we have another array of awesome characters, albeit with a couple of disappointments. Aristide, a stunningly ambiguous fellow in book 1, is here a little more ordinary. No matter how many times we’re told about his glittering coldness and incisive intellect, he’s too straightforward a character here to raise the goosebumps. Gentian is too much a plot device to shine properly. The real star of the show this time is Aspen, a wonderfully over-the-top character, always focused on the next […]
So having read (and loved) the very weird ‘Among Others’, I went straight on to read another of Jo Walton’s books, which is, if that’s possible, even weirder. Imagine a Victorian melodrama, complete with disgraced virgins, wives who die in childbirth, a rigidly structured class system with hints of radical reform, and a focus on proper behaviour and keeping up appearances. And now imagine it populated with dragons, and there you have ‘Tooth and Claw’. This is one of those off-the-wall ideas that must have looked brilliant in outline. Make some general points about civilisation and gender roles and class and race, while covering everything with a fantasy veneer. And to some extent it worked. I galloped through the book to find out how it all turned out, anyway. But somehow it never quite felt right. No matter how many times the author wrote ‘claw’ for hands, and had the […]
Yes, folks, epic fantasy adventure ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ is now free at all Amazons from Wednesday 3rd December 2014 until Friday 5th December 2014. Pick up a copy from your local Amazon by clicking the link on the right – it takes you to your own Amazon. If you’ve already bought Kallanash – thanks! Why not tell your friends about it, too? Enjoy!
I have no idea what to make of this. Anyone who’s read it will understand when I say that I’ve never read anything like it. It’s so far out to left field that it probably meets itself coming the other way. And yet I loved it. Here’s the premise: Morwenna is a fifteen-year-old girl with eccentric family life, who is, after a dramatic family implosion, under the care of her long-absent father, and starting at a girls’ boarding school. Retreating into a shell of leave-me-alone-ness, she finds consolation in reading – inhaling, almost – every sci-fi and fantasy book she can get her hands on. That’s a fairly bald summary of a story that involves a witchy mother, fairies and magic (possibly), a family for whom the word weird just doesn’t come close, as well as the banal details of school life and an array of glorious asides on the […]