Sunday, May 16, 2021

BJ Swann reviews Lords of Dyscrasia

 

Book Review: Lords of Dyscrasia by S.E. Lindberg (originally posted on Aeon of Chaos)

LORDS OF DYSCRASIA is a starkly original fantasy epic steeped in horror and weirdness.

The thing I love most about the fantasy genre is its limitless potential. The thing I hate most about the fantasy genre is how little this potential is actually used. Let’s face it, most fantasy authors are simply copyists, slavishly aping either Howard, Tolkein, or more recently Martin. Most fantasy worlds are generic and uninspired, and seem merely to have been cobbled together from the refuse of someone’s high school D&D campaign. Sorting through this dross in search of something truly original often feels exhausting, depressing, even infuriating. Nonetheless, the search pays off when you find something like LORDS OF DYSCRASIA.

LORDS OF DYSCRASIA is truly unique and deeply, deeply weird. Reading it means being immersed in a different reality, one with all the exquisite newness and strange deja vu you might find in a dream. The narrator does little to handhold you through the weirdness either, and parts of the story are beautifully elliptical. The imagery is baroque, eldritch, and horrifying. Here we find the magic wombs of divine and undying insectoid matriarchs used as forges infernal; sentient fogs from which mutilated bodies dangle like gems on a crystal chandelier; crowds of worshippers whose pierced bodies are linked by bloody strands of musically vibrating thread. The rich imagery is everywhere present, as is an atmosphere of deep and uncompromising horror. There is a coldness to the tale, a menacing inhumanity that denies the reader even the most fleeting sense of comfort in its depths. To add to this effect, many of the protagonists are inhuman, and even the mortal ones move through strange states of undeath and deific possession. Nevertheless, their motives are always deeply human, even archetypal – the need for knowledge, the desire for revenge, the urge to be united with a loved one. These classic motives make even the weirdest characters relatable, and link them into an intricate tale of mythical dimensions, filled with treachery, irony, and ominous coincidence. Dread gods manipulate mortal fates, creating a family saga to rival that of the Volsungs or the Atreidae.

If I have any criticisms of LORDS OF DYSCRASIA, it is that the narrative can be so esoteric, so weird, so relentlessly rich in its otherworldly visuals, that it can at times feel alienating. Then again, this is perhaps part of the book’s unique charm and personality. One more definite criticism: there are too many adverbs for my liking, though that is of course a matter of style. Overall I loved the book, and I can even see myself reading it again so I can pour over all the rich descriptions of weird monsters and undead abominations. The visual nature of LORDS OF DYSCRASIA would make it an excellent candidate for adaptation into a graphic medium, especially a comic or video game.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series and I urge anyone who likes truly weird and innovative fantasy to give it a try.


B.J. Swann writes punk as fuck fiction with elements of fantasy, extreme horror, erotica, and anything else he wants to throw in there. The Aeon of Chaos is his fictional setting, a hyperreality of fairytale madness where anything can happen.



Monday, April 26, 2021

Quiet Place - Podcast interviews SE

"A Quiet Place:124 " Reading Club Podcast April 2021

"Hatchet Mouth" host Jeremy (aka Level One Edge Lord) with some of his reading buddies corners SE for an hour. Lords of Dyscrasia is the focus, though we discuss writing and alchemy too. Jeremy squeezed in an excerpt reading. I explain why Helen's Daimones is my suggested gateway into the series.
This emerged after the host reviewed Lords of Dyscrasia on Goodreads and we struck up a correspondence.  
Thanks to Jeremy, Sir Gregor, and Ben!

Just the first hr target me!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

May-June S&S Group-reads: Non-Fiction, Empire of Sol, and Simon of Gitta!

 Sword & Sorcery: "An earthier sort of fantasy"

Goodreads Group


This May-June we will have three topics to focus on! (Worlds Beyond Worlds: The Short Fiction of John R. Fultz was a close 4th place, so that'll be a lead topic for July-Aug). All are welcome to join in!

(1) Non-Fiction Discussion Folder link

(2) The Lost Empire of Sol Discussion Folder link

(3) Simon of Gitta Discussion Folder


Banner Credits
Three topics, cover art in banner represents them (cover artists below):
1) Non-Fiction represented by Flame and Crimson: A History of Sword-and-Sorcery : cover art by Tom Barber
2) Lost Empire of SolScott Oden Presents The Lost Empire of Sol: A Shared World Anthology of Sword & Planet Tales : cover art by M.D. Jackson 2021
3) Simon of Gitta Sorcery Against Caesar: The Complete Simon of Gitta Short Stories: cover art by Steven Gilberts 2020

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Rakefire and Other Stories - Review by SE



Rakefire and Other Stories by Jason Ray Carney

S.E. rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rakefire and Other Stories's Sum Is Greater Than Its Parts

Rakefire and Other Stories
released July 2020 via Pulp Hero Press. Nine weird adventures span the 216 pages of this grimoire. Penned by emerging thaumaturgist Jason Ray Carney, Rakefire promises to corrupt any reader. So let us get this disclaimer out of the way: the mere reading of this tome may thicken your blood with wonder. Red turning to black, your blood will never bleed the same. Read this review at your own risk.

The book blurb labels this “Fever Dreams of Sword & Sorcery in an Eld Realm of Unfathomable Beauty and Cruelty” and it also contains “enigmatic tales of horror and fantasy in the pulp tradition.” That summary is spot on. Most of the tales here can be considered S&S, but they focus on the sorcery end of the spectrum. The writing style is reminiscent of Lord Dunsany and Clark Ashton Smith (full of pregnant shadows and intellectual skullduggery!). Excerpts throughout this review reinforce what to expect.

The majority of the stories (6/9) have been published in various magazines, but reading them piece-meal is like eating random snacks instead of a 5-course meal. The confluence amplifies the lore threading them all together (lore discussed below). Plus, the 3 newly published tales extend the impact. Each is recapped below, and most have excerpts that emphasize the style and common milieu (while avoiding spoilers). This serves as a tour guide into Jason Ray Carney's strange world.

Cover & Title: The cover depicts Mera the Cruelly Beautiful (from story#1, not the witch from #6-Rakefire). I would have expected a red-robed sorceress (i.e., representing the character Rakefire), or, since Rakefire (although a fine story) does not stand apart as being the singular cornerstone, I could actually see this collection keeping the cover and retitling it “Weird Legends of Drossus” (which would sound too much like a David Gemmell work…but the point is: the collection does not revolve around the character Rakefire…but it does have a unified world which is a character unto itself).

Contents:
1. “The Ink of the Slime Lord” appeared in Swords Against Cthulhu II: Hyperborean Nights (2017) & Sword & Sorcery Magazine (Dec 1018)
- Mera the Cruelly Beautiful alone survives a purging of her cult…and goes on a quest to resurrect her bloodline. She’s crazy and attractive (like DC Comic Harley Quinn). She invades Inmor’leh for essential ingredients. Her sister Sasha the Scarred is mentioned a lot in stories #5 and #7. As mentioned above, that’s probably Mera on the cover. Backcover Blurb: A psychotic witch, driven by the spirits of her murdered sisters, seeks out the secret of a ruined city and the formless horror that destroyed it.... Excerpt:
“…along with their prophets, Alesh the Old, Sasha the Scarred, and Mera the Cruelly Beautiful, the cultists were taken to the purple swamps outside of the city. A deep grotto had been prepared there, of roots, mud, and worms. Their crime, writ on the beaten bronze tablet in ancient hieroglyphs, there was verbalized with the sonorous majesty of the High Priest of Atok’s powerful voice. Amidst song and the beating of spears on shields, all of the heads were sliced off the convicted and swung into the hole.”

2. Trigon (new)
-The captain of the Gate Watch investigates and attempts to close the gate which oozes evil. Coincidentally, this journey involves the removal of a sorcerer’s hand (which obtusely foreshadows the next section). Backcover Blurb: "An impudent sorcerer, contemplating the outer beyond between stars, threshes shadowy demons from the lightless outside.... Excerpt:
“The thrall-messenger breathlessly pleaded his case, told the council his terrible tale: high in hubris, the Sorcerer Peroptoma of Dis-Penethor, Duke of Chius, seeking secrets in the stars, had opened a Black Gate, one he could not close, and now shadows poured through it, like black blood from a wound, ravening with hunger for human flesh."
3. “One Less Hand for the Shaping of Things” appeared in Skelos, #1 (2016)
- A weird tale, but not S&S. This is all about Ayolo’s journey and his infatuation with Jessa, a tree spirit who rescues him. The title is cryptic, though a priestly character does mention this verbatim. Note, #5 indicates this title is a line used by the followers of the tree goddess Ral (from the Discourses of Thees). Backcover Blurb: A reluctant scholar, forced to confront his impermanence, abandons hearth and wealth for a doomed passion.... Excerpt:
“[Ayolo’s] thoughts wandered to his wife Shemira and Chamberlain Brocoshio, who had, with clever arguments, convinced him to organize his caravan to the south...If he had any virtue as a merchant, it was due to his shrewdness. He was no swordsman or adventurer and was fully aware of the dangers that plagued the roads through Yizdra. Instead of sublime beauty of alien lands, he’d much prefer the ordinariness of his study, reading correspondence or tabulating accounts by candlelight; or better yet, the poetry of Thees….
4. “A Song in Deepest Darkness” appeared in Cirsova: Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, Issue #10 (2018)
- A weird S&S tale very much in the vein of CAS. This is the most comedic of the bunch, I laughed out loud over the predicaments of the protagonists: Pardew and the warlock, Ka seek out the Hearthfather’s true name and make poor decisions. Callouts to “Rakefire’s Resplendent Roadblock” and “Ink of the doom of Inmor’leh” were welcome. Backcover Blurb: A holy man and a pauper mage delve the devil-haunted maze of a dead wizard of legend.... Excerpt:
“O lightdrinkers!” sung a mellifluous voice as pale lights bobbed behind them. “Listen to how we will treat with you! We will flay you and then bind a Black Book with your skin! We will make a wine pot of your skull! We will read dark verses as your soul writhes in the chest-cage of the Horned One’s breast!”
5. "Her Formless Temple" appeared in Phantaxis #7 (2017)
-Sasha the Scarred is sought after to heal a sick child, Cas. He is worked upon, and he joins up with Lia (his love) as leaders of the tree-loving Ral. Backcover Blurb: A guttersnipe transforms hatred into a force of nature... Excerpts
"Cas of the Sun Disk flourished at his mother’s breast, and when he grew to a hate-filled guttersnipe, he was not killed in the urchin wars that plagued that slum’s youths, nor did he lose his namesake; but, alas, a grippe swept through the slum, and both mother and child contracted it. "
We also learn more about the cryptically named story #3 with this excerpt:
“Most heroes know not themselves .... have fallen deeply... Their joy in questing unselfing like a breath exhaled .... Inflating their mainsails, propelling them beyond .... To strangle lands where the measure of joy is sunlight, lightning, shadow, and mist, and sometimes death: one less hand for the shaping of things.”

6. "Rakefire" appeared in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Q33 (2017)
Qwayas is sought after by the female narrator (the titular Rakefire). She is enlisted by a village to investigate weird sorcery, which has his signature attached. Book Blurb: A nameless sorceress takes a thrall and gains a name...Excerpt:
"...they looked at me, the little quivering wretches, and answered my warning with snarling grins that revealed transparent teeth. Their radiant eyes dilated. I saw their brains bulging, brightening. They threw the force of their poisonous dreams against my ward that repelled them back like a brick wall. In the intensity of their mental barrage, they popped like overindulging ticks, the bloody slime of their brains smearing across the cliff face and undergrowth."

7. “Two Silvers for a Song of Blood” (new)
- An unidentified rogue comes to the rescue of the bard Maur who played a role in #3) from the anti-magic, policing minions of Atok (i.e. those of the priest who slew Mera and her sisters in #1). Excerpt:
“The Rogue slid his dagger into this man; his eyes bulged and bubbling foam spurted from his mouth. The dagger removed, the Rogue slit his throat with a wet slash, hissing, showing stained teeth in a rictus snarl, and then shoved the limp body over a table, scattering wine bowls, gnaw bones, and candles. In a flash, seven swords gleamed trembling in the flickering light of the smoking grease lamps swaying from the rafters. The Rogue leapt to a table, his cloak thrown off, his blade, a curving shiwa, gripped and ready at his dark brow. One of the men-at-arms came forward and died, stabbed through the eye. Another guard came forward and died, his blood spattering the Rogue’s face and bare chest, and thereafter fell like a sack of roots to the ground, his hot blood spurting rhythmically from his wound. The sounds of his gargling and dim death-movements were all that broke a new silence, and the iron aroma of blood blended with the stale musk of fear-sweat.”
8. “Shadows from Shadows” (new)
- Mika protects/rescues the seedling Shela from the necromancer who created her and other homunculi (loriks). Book Blurb: Hope steams as hot blood in the snow...Excerpt:
"I saw them: at the base of the incline were two Loriks, their faces nearly identical, their brains glowing red in grayish, translucent skulls. They gazed up at me with large, lamplight eyes: little naked slime men with undulating lobes like blooming flowers. They chattered something at me in a foul, half-formed language, black tongues slipping out."
9. “The Curio Dealer” appeared in Hypnos, Vol. 6 No. 1 (2017)
- A short piece that reveals the audacity of merchants preying on the poor land of Bel (Yesha valley specifically, where Cas from story #5 is gifted the copper amulet mentioned here).

Themes and reoccurring Items/Places
1) Triangles (a.k.a. trigon, a polygon of 3 sides): in addition to being the title of a story, these appear as icons for witchery, inform the design of amulets, banners, and other insignia.

2) Weird pregnancies: from adjectives describing "gestures" and "shadows" to plots based on foundlings and the creation of homunculi (loriks).

3) Black blood: evil usually bleeds black, whether be from the Slime Lord, the goblin-like granlings' blood, or the evil that pours through Trigon’s black gate. The gran and their Horned One leader are mentioned in at least three stories. Excerpt:
"The gran were elder-lived humans of mysterious origin, sometimes thralls to ancient, tree-tall sorcerers, purposefully stirred to emotional frenzy so that their insubstantial fear, hatred, and rage could be incarnated, extracted, and harvested as a black sap used as a dark fuel for even darker sorceries."
4) The land is shared across all tales, and an excerpt from story#5 best captures some of the names:
Cas and Lia learned much about the world: the Youv to the north marshalled brown-cloaked armies of Porthror axemen and swore to annex Drossus, a northern fief of Griess Volor, peopled by shrewd merchants who flirted with republicanism. The City of Re to the south was plagued with religious dissent; a coven of witches cowed the oligarchy there, a masked priesthood of Atok, a God of a Million Eyes. Even whispers of Yesha trickled into Roa: the devil sorcerer who sat on the throne of that city-state was fashioning a great sphere that gave dark vibrations, and the thrall-nobles who kept his court, bathed in the sphere’s subtle movements, had developed a taste for human flesh and long teeth to tear it. But the worst of these stories treated Yizdra, the forestland Cas and Lia called home, where of recent seasons evil, cavern-dwelling creatures, the gran, had been waxing in numbers and raiding by night. They depleted game, burned villages, and murdered travelers on the ancient roads. … hung brazenly at a crossed cart road, the flyblown, wet skins and bones of the slaughtered, hooked beneath a rude formation of horns and antlers nailed and tied to a stand of weeping trees, and a flapping banner with ancient runes inked with blood and gore, and a single rune, a rendering in an ancient tongue. What, precisely, it meant, no scholar could tell, but its core message was clear: war.


Who is Jason Ray Carney? : If you are a fan of adventure horror, then keep an eye out. I first read his work in Skelos #1..and first saw him (via video) on a Howard Days 2019 Panel on S&S. Recently, he seems to be ever-present in the S&S and Weird Fiction communities, contributing to Goodman Games and to Black Gate blogs with articles on the gothic tradition in S&S and “How S&S brings us life.” He recently edited Savage Scrolls Volume One : Thrilling Tales of Sword-and-Sorcery for Pulp Hero Press and is an editor at The Dark Man: Journal of Robert E. Howard and Pulp Studies and Whetstone: Amateur Magazine of Sword and Sorcery. By day, he is a Lecturer in Popular Literature at Christopher Newport University. He also authored the academic book Weird Tales of Modernity: The Ephemerality of the Ordinary in the Stories of Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and H.P. Lovecraft.

View all my reviews

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Alchemical Muses for Hell and Heroika


Perseid Press Author Spotlight on

 S.E. Lindberg: April 15th, 2021

With the release of Mystics in Hell,  Perseid Press is rotating a spotlight on its authors. This week it's on me, eh gad! I wanted to capture my post here as well, adding some extra links and ensuring my blog has a record of how I infuse Alchemy into the Heroes in Hell and Heroika series: 

Alchemical Muses:

Strange muses have had inspired my creativity for decades. I’m fascinated with the intersection of science, art, and spirituality (alchemy essentially) and have turned toward writing as a medium to learn. Since 2014, I’ve also interviewed authors on the topic Beauty in Weird Fiction to explore how others approached such inspirations (for this crowd, I recommend Death Panelists, when is it O.K. to go to hell?). By education and trade, I am actually a chemist. For Perseid Press, I’ve contributed five alchemy-inspired tales to date (three for the Heroes in Hell series and two for Heroika).

Alchemy in Heroes in Hell:

I’ve adopted the duo of Howard Carter (renowned archaeologist and looter of King Tutankhamun’s tomb) and Ernst Haeckel (discredited evolutionist and original ‘ecologist’) as tour guides. Their motives contrast: Carter adores material, artificial wealth as much as Haeckel is fascinated with nature’s riches. They roam the Egyptian world of the dead, Duat. Their story arc continues in the just-released Mystics in Hell.

1)     “Curse of the Pharaohs” in Pirates in Hell

·       In the Egyptian realm of the dead of Duat, many pharaohs wait to be judged by Anubis; yet, he has been in absentia for centuries. As the piratical Sea People threaten to come ashore, the meddling duo of Carter and Haeckel unearth Anubis’s Hall of Two Truths. Eleven anxious Rameses risk leaving the shoreline unprotected to chance judgment (and a chance to exit Duat!). Read this teaser interview to learn more: Ernest Haeckel Interview (Hell Week 2017, Pirates in Hell).

2)     “Lovers Sans Phalli” in Lovers in Hell

·       Surviving Pirates in Hell’s “Curse of the Pharaohs”, the lovers Hatshepsut and Senenmut depart Duat toward hell proper, Anubis having removed their hearts and broken their toy phallus. They find Osiris, missing the penis he requires to retake the realm from Satan’s influence. Carter and Haeckel quest with the Egyptians, seeking to make everyone whole again by stealing genitalia from the Undertaker’s Mortuary. Listen to this teaser interrogation of Carter and Haeckel as higher powers seek out the location of a stolen artifact: the phallus of the Egyptian god of rejuvenation: Osiris. Hell Week 2018 – A Day in the Life of Haeckel and Carter.

3)     “Fool’s Gold? in Mystics in Hell

·       The Egyptian god of mysticism, Thoth, seeks conspirators to retrieve the Philosopher’s Stone; with it, Thoth could usurp Satan’s control of the realm of Duat. Taking up the charge is Carter and Haeckel. They discover that King Midas’s alchemical ability to transmute flesh into gold relies on the stolen Philosopher’s Stone, and Midas is producing hell’s new gastro-currency: buttcoin. Yes, rejoice, there is a gold-rush in hell! Mine for a price. At your own risk.


Alchemy in Heroika:

For this series, I track the mystical Emerald Tablet (a.k.a., the Philosopher’s Stone) through time. Read these and experience the birth of chemical warfare. You’ll see that Thoth and Osiris make appearances here too.

1)      “Legacy of the Great Dragon” in Heroika 1:Dragon Eaters

·       Legacy of the Great Dragon fictionalizes the Hermetic Tradition, presenting the “Divine Pymander–Great Dragon” as being the sun-eating Apep serpent of Egyptian antiquity (a dragon who ate the sun each day from under the horizon, in the underworld). Thoth, physician of the gods (the Father of Alchemy), helps Horus to find power to avenge the death of his father, Osiris, at the hands of Set. This is a wild piece, with a cosmically huge dragon and gods fighting inside of it.  Learn more: Library of Erana Interview.

2)     “The Naked Daemon” in Heroika 2:  Skirmishers

·       “The Naked Daemon” pits the mystic Apollonius of Tyana (deceased ~100 CE) against zealots who destroy what remains of the Alexandria Library. In life, his principles had been aligned with those of the pacifist gymnosophists (a.k.a. naked philosophers); hundreds of years past his death, Apollonius finds himself reborn as a daemon empowered with Hermes’s Emerald Tablet. He observes the Roman oppression over pagan scholars and is challenged with an urgent need to defend knowledge. Will Apollonius rationalize war by unleashing the power of alchemy to do harm? Will he become an angel or demon? How will alchemy transform The Naked Demon? Learn more: Heroika: Skirmishers – Witness the Birth of Alchemical Warfare

 

S.E. Lindberg Bio:

S.E. Lindberg resides near Cincinnati, Ohio working as a microscopist, employing scientific and artistic skills to understand the manufacturing of products analogous to medieval paints. Two decades of practicing chemistry, combined with a passion for the Sword & Sorcery genre, spurs him to write graphic adventure fictionalizing the alchemical humors (including his independently published “Dyscrasia Fiction” series). With Perseid Press, he writes weird tales infused with history and alchemy (Heroika: Dragon Eaters & SkirmishersPirates in Hell, Lovers in Hell, Mystics in Hell). S.E. Lindberg is a Managing Editor at Black Gate and co-moderates the Sword & Sorcery group on Goodreads.

  S.E.’s Amazon Page   /    Perseid Press Author Page  /   Sword & Sorcery Group on Goodreads

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Eda Blessed: A Ki Khanga Adventure - Review By SE

Eda Blessed: A Ki Khanga Adventure by Milton J. Davis

SE rating: 5 of 5 stars

Omari Ket, an Agency of One

Eda Blessed: A Ki Khanga Adventure is all about Omari Ket. The collection chronicles his rise from street-rat to god-marked mercenary (a Mikijen). “Agency” is a term for the capacity of a character to act independently, and Omari Ket is an Agency onto himself. He is as suave, cunning, and as lethal as James Bond, but Omari reports to no one, really; he is a survivor more than a spy, so he approximates a Han Solo rogue who is happy to join a large melee (for a price). And woman-in-power and upper-classes adore him! He’s the bad boy of action.

Why the call-outs to Bond and Solo (and not Conan)? I wanted to emphasize that Omari Ket feels like a non-stereotypical Sword & Sorcery hero. In fact, his testosterone-rich aura is expected from a Secret Agent Man. Omari is not a spy, but he is a ladies’ man in a dog-eat-dog world. If you like a cut-throat, libertine, action-oriented protagonist then try this out. You’ll enjoy the action set in an alternative African continent called Ki Kanga.

Omari earns a role in the band of mystical Mikijen mercenaries granting him Ngisimaugi tattoos; these enable his boldness and ability for his body to rejuvenate. He confronts all sorts of conflicts, from tomb raiding, chaotic skirmishes, and battles with strange centaur-like creatures that are “amalgam of man and beast; their bodies that of the great grass antelopes, their torsos man-like, their heads crowned with horns.”

Omari appears to be an anagram for Imaro, the original Sword & Soul champion created by Charles Saunders (that alternative Africa was called Nyumbani). The author of Eda Blessed, Milton Davis, is a Black Speculative fiction writer and owner of MVmedia, LLC, a publishing company specializing in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Sword and Soul…including Saunder’s works. Milton writes other characters as well, in other universes, including the Changa's Safari series (Changa is an action hero of historic Africa), who has a polar opposite personality to Omari).

More Ki Khanga: Ki Khanga has its own anthology (Ki-Khanga: The Anthology) and RPG game world to immerse yourself in. Read the books, then play the world. There are other spinoffs too, including two with leading heroines Priestess of nKu and The Bene's Daughter: A Ki Khanga Novel. And Eda Blessed II (~10 more tales) is due out imminently (Spring 2021)

Contents (Eda Blessed I)
-Kept
-A Better Deal
-Second Chance
-The Skin Man (Originally published in Skelos II)
-The Ngola’s Promise
-Assassin’s Choice
-Old Habits (Originally published in Griots: Sisters of the Spear)
-Simple Math (Originally published in the Ki-Khanga: The Anthology)


View all my reviews

Monday, March 29, 2021

Sword & Sorcery Group Poll for May-June 2021 Group-Read Topics

 Goodreads Sword & Sorcery Group

Join us May-June for our 2-month, 2-topic Group-Read.  Currently, we are homing in on topics! Vote!

Friday, February 26, 2021

“Behind the Scenes with Skull & Friends”

Saturday 2/27 at 10AM EST. ~1 hour. 
 “Behind the Scenes with Skull & Friends.” 




Join us Saturday, February 27 at 10:00 am EST on Goodman Games Official Twitch Channel

"The exalted Skull, lord of all things sword & sorcery, has sent a selection of his minions and interns to satiate the mortal desire for sword & sorcery discussion while they breathlessly await issue #6 of his magazine of superlative greatness.

Join Chief Editorial Minion and interns #12, 34, and 657 to learn more about the ongoing open call for sword & sorcery fiction, tips and tricks for writing great fiction, and just a good discussion of what books we’ve been reading. Intern #78 will fill in if any other interns meet their demise prior to screen time."








Sunday, February 21, 2021

Mar-Apr 2021 Group Reads: Nostalgia And Appendix N: Eldritch Roots of D&D



Sword & Sorcery Group On Goodreads



Our Spring 2021 (March-April) groupreads will have a "rebirth" theme to our two topics. Please join us!

Nostalgia TOPIC FOLDER: Share, reread, and review the books that lured you into the Sword & Sorcery genre.

Appendix N: Eldritch Roots FOLDER LINK. The anthology "
Appendix N: The Eldritch Roots of Dungeons and Dragons" exhibits the weird roots of Sword & Sorcery, and was a hot topic delayed from our Jan-Feb Anthology topic (book release was moved to late Feb).



Banner Credits, L --> R

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Tears and Crimson Velvet - Guest Post by A. L. Butcher

Today we host a guest blog from fellow Heroika and Heroes in Hell author, A. L. Butcher. She has a new entry out now for her Legacy of the Mask series of short stories (Historical Fantasy). Tears and Crimson Velvet is the sequel to Echoes of a Song, and you'll hear from a key protagonist in this guest post.  This is also part of a blog tour via Silver Dagger Book Tours and includes a giveaway (info/ below).


A L Butcher's character Lise Giry gets interviewed. Learn more about the character, and the historical fantasy exhibited in the award-winning Legacy of the Mask short story series:

Lise Giry, how did you find yourself in your current predicament/on your current adventure?

Years ago, I took pity on a young man – he was caged like a beast, beaten, starved. He was a prisoner, because of the face he wore. Never had I seen the like of him – thin and wiry, ugly as the devil, but his voice… oh that voice. The moment I heard Erik sing my soul rejoiced, for it was a heavenly sound. No mortal should be able to sing like that – not even the greatest of the Opera singers. It was so full of joy, and yet so terribly sorrowful. That day I heard the Angel of Music and brought the Angel of Death to my door.

Can a man be an Angel and a devil in one? Yes. He is the best of men, and the worst.

I found him in my husband’s barn, cold, bleeding and desperate. I should have turned him in, but I did not. I brought him food, tended his wounds and clothed him. I could not know than how that act of Christian goodness would shape my life. I could not know who he would become, or indeed, who I would become. No one had ever been kind to him. His life was pain, darkness, hatred and fear. Poor Erik.

Erik was my secret, my first lie. After my husband died, I was left with nothing, my stepchildren saw to that. My daughter and I would have starved, but ‘opportunities’ appeared, like working at the Opera House. I thought about him, not every day. Not then. I wondered what had happened to the frightened boy I had helped, sometimes I heard fantastic stories about a wizard who built palaces for kings, and sang like no one else.

What is your moral code? How does it compare with the general moral code of your area?

I was raised as a Catholic. France is a religious country, and it is expected one follows the teachings of Jesus. I pray to God, he doesn’t listen, but I pray nonetheless. Do I believe, truly? I believe in angels – for I have met one. He is terrible, enchanting, captivating and mysterious. I used to believe no one is beyond redemption, no one is truly damned – and now I question that. I have spoken with an angel in hell, a man truly damned.

To others I am the prim and proper dance mistress of the Opera Populaire in Paris. I live quietly, I tell no tales, do not gossip, attend Mass and don’t flaunt my body – although at my age that would be a sin indeed.

In truth I live a lie and have done for many years. The secrets I keep could bring a man to the executioner or could have saved a man’s life. The truth I know is not that of others.

How many crimes have you committed?

I have harboured a murderer, fed him, clothed him. I have remained silent whilst the bodies pile up. I have been complicit in extortion, theft, deceit, and even kidnap.

Sins – many of those have been committed. Every day he lives. Every day I live.

What is your greatest achievement? 

My daughter, Meg. She is a talented dancer, and despite our hardships and our strange life she has done well.

What is your greatest failure? 

I could not save his soul.

If you could live your life again would you make the same choices? 

Yes.

Have you ever loved/been loved? 

I loved my father, I loved my husband, in a way, and I loved Erik.

Tell us about your family. I have a daughter Meg. 

My other children are with their father in heaven. I have no family other than that.

How does your society deal with those on the edges? Do you approve of this?

Those who are poor, infirm or disfigured often find themselves at the mercy of others. There are those who are different, feared, hated for no reason other than they ARE different. I wonder what Erik would have become if he had not bore the face he had. If a man lives in shadows, he becomes a ghost.

Women, especially widows, often find life a struggle. It’s a man’s world – and we must conform or be outcast. Many resort to crime to feed hungry bellies, I have seen failed dancers, abandoned my patrons, often pregnant, starving in the streets or selling their bodies for bread.





Giveaway & Blog Tour

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

  • $20 Amazon giftcard,
  • Free Audible edition of both books (UK, US, DE),
  • Signed print copy (or large print - winners choice) of either book,
  • Free copy of Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales (fantasy) in either ebook, signed print edition or audible.
  • 1 winner each!

 About the Author

British-born A. L. Butcher is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as 'dark and gritty' and her poetry as 'evocative'. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.

Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror, including the Legacy of the Mask series. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.

She also curates speculative fiction themed book bundles on BundleRabbit - for the most part the Here Be Series

Alex is also proud to be a writer for Perseid Press where her work features in Heroika: Dragon Eaters, Heroika Skirmishers - where she was editor and cover designer as well as writer; and Lovers in Hell - part of the acclaimed Heroes in Hell series. http://www.theperseidpress.com/
Awards: Outside the Walls, co-written with Diana L. Wicker received a Chill with a Book Reader's Award in 2017.

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