The Beast of Maug Maurai: New Gritty Fantasy from Roberto Calas

If you thirst for well-written, Beowulfian fantasy with plenty of grit, scarred-up heroes and murderous beasts, then Roberto Calas is an author you should become acquainted with.
Feeding the Gods The second part of his The Beast of Maug Maurai series for Kindle, Feeding the Gods, has just released.  Part one, The Culling, is of course available.  And I LOVE these covers!
I’ll allow Roberto to introduce you to the Beast of Maug Maurai series:
Grae Barragns is no hero.
He knows there isn’t a man alive who can fulfill the promise of such a word. But when a caravan transporting a noble family is savaged in the haunted forest of Maug Maurai, Grae is ordered to be a hero. And a villain. It’s a handful for an officer whose last assignment was capturing runaway orchard pigs. Such is the fate of a commoner among the high-born officer corps of the King’s army.
Until now.
Grae is ordered to lead a small squad into the forest to kill the maurading Beast of Maug Maurai. It’s a suicide mission, but if he succeeds he will reap glory, a noble title, lands, and, most importantly, respect.
All he has to do is slay the most dangerous creature in the kingdom, with the help of a squad of misfits and criminals, and a philosophical female archer who chips away at his deepest convictions.
Before he sets out Grae receives one last ugly detail. A secret secondary assignment that makes it clear to him why he was chosen to lead the squad. It’s the first order Grae has ever considered disobeying, an order that will force him to choose between his loyalty and his morality. And he’s certain that the wrong choice will plunge the kingdom into civil war.
The Culling

It’s a great story.

Contact info for Roberto Calas:

Classic-style fantasy goes serial with the Ink Mage

Hey all, the fall is  a busy time for book releases and I’ve got another one for you: Ink Mage, by the über-talented Victor Gischler.  This is an epic fantasy serial and a lot of fun, so check it out if it tickles your genre-bone!
Ink_Mage_CoverParents slain by foreign invaders, young Rina Veraiin — now duchess — must flee her homeland, now overrun with a hostile army. She takes refuge with a banished wizard who gifts her with the tattoos of the Ink Mage. The first tattoo is called The Prime, the tattoo which lets her tap into the hidden strength within herself. Each subsequent tattoo gives her another extraordinary power. But will it be enough for Rina to reclaim her homeland and avenge herself upon those killed her parents? Read the epic fantasy novel Ink Mage to find out. Currently on sale in serial format from Amazon’s 47North.

Here is the link to the Ink Mage serial: http://www.amazon.com/Mage-Kindle-Serial-Victor-Gischler-ebook/dp/B00EOSI8JE/ref=pd_sim_kstore_3

Author J. Lincoln Fenn on POE and Mary Shelley as Genre-Bender

Author J. Lincoln Fenn has just released her riveting new novel, POE, from 47North today.  Her book won the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, and I think you’ll be thrilled to discover why.
poe_fullcover J. Lincoln Fenn has been kind enough to provide us with a little glimpse into the diabolical laboratory inside her mind and the genesis of POE.

1048615_131900953684531_1141512185_oMs. Fenn, please fire away:

MARY SHELLEY, GENRE-BENDER

It’s the summer of 1816, Switzerland, although it doesn’t feel like it­—the eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora has cast the world into a long volcanic winter. What’s a bored girl to do?

If you’re 19-year old Mary Shelley, you decide you’re going to win a bet about who can come up with the scariest tale, this although you’re up against Percy Shelley (you’re not married to him yet) and Lord Bryon.

And a classic novel that bent, blended, and invented genres, is born.

Although Frankenstein most obviously checks the horror genre box, it carries romantic and gothic elements and is considered by many to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction too.  That genre mix was popular with readers, not so much with critics. The Quarterly Review called Frankenstein, “a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity”.

Apparently they hadn’t read the Monsanto prospectus.

As if mixing horror, gothic, romance, and sci-fi wasn’t enough of a feat, Frankenstein also sprinkles in some Greek mythology. Five second quiz for all you horror aficionados this Halloween—what was Frankenstein’s alternate title?

A)    Not so Warm Bodies
B)    Dawn of the Newly Re-Assembled Dead
C)    The Modern Prometheus

You’re right, it’s C (can’t fool you none).

Prometheus was more than a bad prequel to Aliens. In the Western psyche, Prometheus serves as the epitome of bad things that happen when you pursue science without understanding its dangerous consequences, interesting because at the time Shelley wrote Frankenstein, experiments were being performed on dead flesh. These experiments included the electro-stimulation of executed prisoner George Forster’s limbs at Newgate in London. “On the first application of the process to the face, the jaws of the deceased criminal began to quiver, and the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened. In the subsequent part of the process the right hand was raised and clenched, and the legs and thighs were set in motion.”

Don’t even ask me about the frogs.

So now we have horror, gothic, romance, sci-fi, Greek mythology and the moral implications of contemporary issues.

Let’s add some personal experience, shall we?

Shelley did what any good writer of her, or any time, would do, which was to mix bits of her own life, her experienced horror, into the story. Frankenstein, (the scientist, not the monster who had no name), loses his mother to scarlet fever, then his brother and wife are murdered by the creature. Shelley’s own mother died eleven days after giving birth to her, leaving an epic void in her life. She lost one of her children shortly after giving birth, and lived through the suicide of her stepmother and stepsister. Not exactly a stranger to death’s sting.  And it’s quite probable that the emotional impact of her personal experience is what gives Frankenstein its longevity and contemporary relevance.

Do audiences still want that kind of genre blend?

When I first started to shop my novel POE, everyone loved the writing but no one knew where to sell it. And they told me that if, miraculously, they did find a publisher, where the heck would the bookstores shelve it?  All would be better if POE colored inside some genre lines.  It couldn’t be horror and new adult and dark urban fantasy and literary. It couldn’t span Russian occult practices in the early 20th century, the séance craze during America’s gilded age, a contemporary and economically depressed New England town, magic squares, ghosts, angels/demons, my own horrific hospital experience plus my parents’ deaths, and, for god’s sake, be irreverent too.

I tried, but I just couldn’t write it any other way. It wouldn’t let me.

Through sheer, dumb luck, I finally entered POE into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest where it placed first in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror category. Then, through an even bigger stroke of dumb luck, Amazon’s 47North was publishing the winner because they were looking for genre-bending work.

I’d finally found the island of misfit toys where I belonged, in a cadre of other authors who don’t fit into boxes neatly either (you can see them here – buy all their books, please). Maybe Shelley should be our patron saint.

Because if Frankenstein is any example, one should be careful about underestimating the market for books that defy easy categorization.

Here’s to new latitudes, odd genre blends, and virtual shelves you can call whatever the hell you want.

Get the Book!  As of Oct. 22nd, POE is now available for your virtual (or physical) shelf: http://www.amazon.com/Poe-ebook/dp/B00CQC9O5M.

The Obsidian Heart: New, Epic Fantasy Arises!

If you love high, epic fantasy, you must charge into the world of THE OBSIDIAN HEART by Mark T. Barnes. Released on 15 October, 2013, The Obsidian Heart is Part II of his The Echoes of Empire series which begins with The Gardens of Stone.

The Obsidian Heart“. . . As Kumeri rose from her smouldering bed—a petite figure of tattooed yellow bones socketed with gems and sheathed in bands of gold, and wrapped in the shredded rags of what had once been sinew and skin—there came distortions in the air around the sarcophagus. Kumeri’s skull, with its mangy fringe of coarse hair, turned diamond-filled eye sockets in Indris’s direction. Skeletal hands gesticulated. Kumeri’s emaciated form blurred. Ribbons of illusion clothed her in golden flesh, dotted with sapphires and tourmalines. Clothing spun about her like a whirlwind, fragments of light and dust mimicking a layered coat of leather with mewling faces that shrieked, and gibbered, and begged in awful discord. Her arms became spined, bloodied tips dripping venom. Finally her mop-haired head vanished behind the grim visage of a horned tiger, orange stripes burning bright, eyes like jagged pits.
      The air swelled like air bubbles rising from the bottom of a pond. They burst, and five S?q Knights strode the air, weapons drawn and blazing with disentropic fire. Their power turned their flesh to backlit canopies . . .”

The Obsidian Heart continues the story commenced in the positively reviewed The Garden of Stones. A plot to overthrow the Shranese Federation has been quashed, but the bloody rebellion is far from over, and the struggle to survive is just beginning.
Warrior-mage Indris grows weary in his failed attempts to thwart the political machinations of Corajidin, and faces the possibility of imprisonment upon his return to his homeland. Moreover, Indris’s desire for Corajidin’s daughter, Mari, is strong. Can he choose between his duty and his desire . . . and at what cost?

Alienated from her House, Mari is torn between the opposing forces of her family and her country—especially now that she’s been offered the position of Knight-Colonel of the Feyassin, the elite royal guards whose legacy reaches back to the days of the Awakened Empire. As the tensions rise, she must decide if her future is with Indris, with her family, or in a direction not yet foreseen.

As he awaits trial for his crimes, Corajidin confronts the good and evil within himself. Does he seek redemption for his cruel deeds, or does he indebt himself further to the enigmatic forces that have promised him success, and granted him a reprieve from death? What is more important: his ambition, regaining the love stolen from him, or his soul?

The second novel in the lyrical Echoes of Empire series, The Obsidian Heart is an epic, fantastic tale of family loyalty and political intrigue, fraught with shadowy visions, baroque magic, arcane science, bloody feuds, and ancient forces whose agendas are as yet unknown.

What did people have to say about The Garden of Stones?

“Barnes drops his readers into a complex world that makes for an immersive experience for lovers of epic fantasy. The political machinations and constant familial betrayals are reminiscent of Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel” series … the female characters on both sides are every bit as strong as the males, a refreshing change in epic fantasy. Highly recommended.” ~ Library Journal

“The Garden of Stones was an immersive fantasy. It felt like being in the eye of a storm … When I finished, I simply did not want to leave this world…” ~ Reading Reality

“You know that feeling when you a finish a really good book and you don’t want to leave the world it’s set in? That any book you pick up after just isn’t right because it’s not the book you were just reading? Well that just happened to me … I loved this world and the characters.” ~ Marktimmony.com

“If you’re looking for something different, something to strike that vein of Eastern Fantasy with a twinge of weird, this is what you need to go with. Barnes has crafted a great debut with plot twists galore, exactly what speculative fiction needs.” ~ acerbicwriting.com

“This is an incredible read … It is a rich and lyrical style [that] flows. Tantalising all the senses. The world is detailed and tactile, with an almost awe-inspiring depth to it … Mark T Barnes is going to be huge, once the world gets up to speed!” ~ Galaxy Bookshop

About the Author: Mark Barnes was born in Sydney, Australia, in September of 1966. A strong athlete, he was also drawn to the arts at a young age, penning his first short story as a seven-year-old. He worked in finance and advertising before establishing himself in IT services management. Currently he owns and operates a freelance organizational change consultancy. marktbarnes
In 2005, when Mark was selected to attend the Clarion South residential short story workshop, he began to write with the intention of making it more than a hobby. Since that time, Mark has published a number of short stories, worked as a freelance script editor, and has driven creative consultancy for a television series. Mark is the author of The Echoes of Empire series, published by 47 North. The series includes The Garden of Stones and The Obsidian Heart. The Pillars of Sand is book three of the series, scheduled for release in May 2014.

Visit http://marktbarnes.com/index.html, his Facebook page www.facebook.com/marktbarnes.author, or follow on Twitter @MarkTBarnes.