Friday, August 27, 2021

Sept-Oct Groupreads - Brackett and Andersson

 

The Swords & Sorcery Group on Goodreads


This announces our next two month group reads. All are welcome to join us:

Sept-Oct Groupreads

A) Leigh Brackett - link to discussion, focus on the Skaith series
B) C. Dean Andersson - link to discussion, memorial tribute focus on Hel


Banner Credits
"The Reavers of Skaith" cover art by Chris Achilleos 1985 (Leigh Brackett)
"Hounds of Skaith" cover art by James Ryman 2008 (Leigh Brackett)
"Warrior Witch of Hel" cover art by Boris Vallejo 1985 (C.Dean Andersson writing as Asa Drake)

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Exalted Blasphemies - Fan Made Expansion for Deep Madness Boardgame

This is a portal page to a variety of other posts, all regarding my immersion into the Depp Madness universe. Phil Blake, an (the?) uber fan of Deep Madness (Diemension Games), painter of miniatures, and game addict had a vision: make playable scenarios for all the epic monsters" from the Kickstarter Campaign who did not get a proper one. 

For those not familiar, Kickstarter enables Diemension Games to crowdfund a cosmic-horror dungeon crawler; extra monsters (i.e. bosses) were designed as miniatures as stretch goals (bonuses). However, so many Epic Monsters were funded, they were birthed without scenarios to play them. Of course, the bosses could be inserted into existing scenarios, but they did get specific scenarios designed for them!

Phil Blake championed the fan community to get a team together, and I played a small part: writing intro stories for two Epic Monsters scenarios to fill the gap. Many others helped Phil Blake, and he has been gracious in communicating thanks to all. This post reveals how to access the entire expansion. My stories can be read in the other two posts revealed today:


Deep Madness - Scenario Guide, Interview & Book Review

As it turns out, I have already worked with Phil Blake to create the Deep Madness scenario guide (Scenario Guides version 8, link): How many scenarios are there across all the official expansions? Where does one start? How does the story develop...and which ones feature your favorite epic monster? The guide has it all.

Alas, my OCD extended further in the past. I had already cornered Deep Madness writer Byron Leavitt for a Black Gate magazine interview.  This goes into his creative process, his cancer challenges, and his work with the Diemension Games team. Also, I reviewed his Deep Madness inspired novel Shattered Seas.


Here's how to access and print the entire Exalted Blasphemies Expansion

I'm simply reposting the instructions Phil Blake came up with. Generally, if you are a fan of the game (or plan to become one) you are invited to join the Deep Madness Fans on Facebook ... and secondarily the Board Game Geek community. In both places, you'll find all the scenario guides and expansions. 


Just want to print a PDF yourself at home? Grab the PDF here: 


Want to print a hardcover via Lulu?  Follow Phil's instructions :

Interior Art for Lulu Printing  /  Cover for Lulu Printing


This is the Interior content of Exalted Blasphemies, designed for use for professional printing in hardback. You will also require the separate cover file that can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DeepMadnessFans/permalink/4338224872867510
Instructions on how to get it professionally printed are found further below:
Exalted Blasphemies is a fan-made expansion for Deep Madness, focussed around granting specific scenarios for the Epic monsters that where available as paid add-ons during the KS campaigns. I hope people in turn get more life out of these epic monsters and enjoy the selection of diverse scenarios and stories contained within this free expansion, and the greatest reward would be seeing photos of people playing the scenarios or commenting on the stories.
Hardcover Printing Instructions for Lulu
Since this is a free, fan-made book, I am not morally or legally allowed to set up a print on demand distribution. Which means you will need to set up an account with a print on demand company and upload files for printing (for personal use only). The directions I list below are for the company Lulu, but you are free to use any print on demand company you choose.
Go to lulu.com and create an account.
2. Under the CREATE tab, click the PRINT BOOKS option.
3. Click the button START YOUR PRINT BOOK
4. Enter your login credentials
5. In the START YOUR PROJECT section, choose PRINT BOOK
6. In the SELECT YOUR GOAL section, choose PRINT YOUR BOOK. (Do NOT select Publish your book for sale on Amazon. You will get sued. 🙂 )
7. In the BOOK DETAILS section, enter a project title of your choice. I recommend Exalted Blasphemies. Enter a language and CATEGORY, which is required.
8.Click the DESIGN YOUR PROJECT button at the bottom of the page to proceed to the Design page
9. In the INTERIOR FILE UPLOAD section, upload the file named "Exalted Blasphemies Interior Final PDF"
10. Wait for the file to upload and normalize. This can take a few minutes. Be patient and get yourself a cold beverage.
11. When the upload finishes, you will see some warnings. Like most warnings in life, feel free to ignore these.
In the BOOK SPECIFICATIONS section, the BOOK SIZE AND PAGE COUNT should already be pre-filled at US letter and 34 pages, respectively.
12. In the INTERIOR COLOR section, choose COLOR PREMIUM for the best quality color.
13.In the PAPER TYPE section, choose 80# COATED WHITE for the best paper quality.
14. In the BOOK BINDING section, choose HARDCOVER. Feel free to choose a different binding if that floats your boat.
15. In the COVER FINISH section, choose GLOSSY or MATTE, your choice.
16. Wait a moment for the PRINT COST to load. For me it was almost £12. This is a printing fee for Lulu, and I do not receive a penny of this, nor does Diemension Games.
17.In the DESIGN YOUR COVER section, make sure the UPLOAD COVER FILE option is selected.
Upload the file named "Cover Exalted Blasphemies PDF"
After a minute, the PREVIEW will load. This preview will give you a basic idea of what the book will be like, but it is just a preview and not super-high quality. (note the final picture of Forsaken does not show on the preview but will still print.)
18.When you are ready, click the REVIEW BOOK link at the bottom.
19.This brings you to a page where you can review the final specifications. Click the checkbox next to CONFIRM BOOK SPECIFICATIONS AND FILES
20.Click the ADD TO CART button when it becomes enabled
21.Click the CART icon at the top of the page and make the purchase. The shipping for me was around £3.50, but of course that will vary depending where you are located. (Also keep an eye out for discount codes on the home page.)
22. Feel free to print a copy for yourself or your friends, but DO NOT PRINT COPIES FOR SALE.
Note: The hardback book you receive from Lulu will not be perfect. There might be alignment issues with the binding, scratches, the interior margins might be tight, and the endsheets will be a boring white. That being said, it will still kick ass!
A massive thanks goes to Fabio Faletti for his many, many hours (and so many edits) to make this document as graphically pleasing as possible. Just don't mention the Forsaken.
Seth Lindberg and Saamm Dean Dean for contributing their artistic talent to provide additional stories and share that burden as well as additional proof reading.
Oscar Bok and Mark Turner for their time in playtesting these horrific scenarios to make sure things played smoothly, made sense and asking all those great questions.
and also to Byron Leavitt and the rest of the DM team for generally providing support, sharing files and keeping the community engaged.
lastly credit to Ken Meyri whom paved the way in organising fan made content to be professionally printed, and whose instructions to achieve this I shamelessly stole.

Dimension Sickness by S.E. Lindberg

Another introductory story for the Exalted Blasphemies - Fan-Made Expansion for Diemension Game's Deep Madness board game; designed for the Epic Monster: Dimension Rift. Phil Blake championed the Expansion set, and there will be another post for how to access/download/print that.  For now, enjoy a short dose of horror by S.E..... get lured into Deep Madness.

Overview: Exalted Blasphemies Fan-Made Expansion for Deep Madness
Hunger Pains (for Omega Ravenous Epic Monster) Story
Dimension Sickness (for Dimension Rift Epic Monster) Story   <-- You  are here



Game Overview for "Dimension Sickness" (featuring Epic Monster Dimension Rift)


Pressure fluctuations triggered alarms from the Lower Mining deck. You go to inspect for fissures inside Shaft-1, the tube designed for transporting fluidized minerals from the ocean floor to Kadath Facility’s underbelly. With the tube evacuated, the pressure readings should have equilibrated, but they vary erratically. Perhaps sensors needed replacing. Having donned protective gear, you open the inspection hatch. Corrupt dampness wafts out, somehow infiltrating your suit. Frost spawns on your eyebrows and noise hairs. The threshold sparkles, coated with angular crystals. Inserting your head, you see the interior appear like a split geode.

Despite all this beauty, you feel nauseous. Nor do you trust what you see. Kadath’s lead engineer, Edgar Kayce, had warned you about Dimension Sickness that spawned from Dimension Rifts. All those working the Lower Levels succumbed to hallucinations eventually. Unearthing strange minerals from nature’s hidden depths threatened to uncover sentient earth. Edgar claimed to have repaired invasive rifts before and created traps to ensnare the octopian creatures responsible. You have yet to employ those. The cyclopean hoarfrost coating this umbilical tube has you considering Edgar’s words and traps. In any event, inspecting this channel would be treacherous. The sharp crystals may pierce your gear. The scents toxic. Perhaps you should retrieve a trap out of precaution.

Yet you are pulled inside before you do so, lured into the darkness by a mysterious attractor. You stumble into the tube. Crushing the crystals emits dissipating vapours. Your eyes dilate as the doses of gas snake through your sinuses. By design, this mine shaft should be linear and clear of fouling. It was twisted now, curled like an intestine, and the crystals seemed to grow before your eyes. Dizzy, but drawn downward, you begin crawling. Your light dims as your lighting frosts over. Your face-shield blurs with glistening fog. You struggle to discern the chaos in front of you.

Suddenly, the crisp vision of a tentacled mass jolts your senses. Adrenaline races through your veins. Your heart races. Frantically back-pedaling, constantly relying on the walls for support, you arrive back at the hatch. Someone extends a hand into Shaft-1 to tug you out. Curses, Edgar was right!

Slapping sounds compel you to look back. A whipping tentacle breaching the hatch gropes the chamber. Wherever it contacts, crystals nucleate. Some part of you wants to help it, to pull it into the chamber as someone helped you. You crave the comforting embrace of mystery. You long to be bejewelled in cosmic crystals. Then, your partner grabs your shoulder and drags you to safety, and shoves one of Edgar’s traps into your hands. Time to act.

A Dimension Rift has occurred, threatening to engulf the whole facility, as reality itself is torn asunder. Can you disrupt the rift long enough to slay the creature behind it or will you all be dragged into an eternal darkness of twisted worlds? Combat the mental sickness and utilize Edgar Kayce’s traps to repel the horror of the deep, combat and seal the Dimension Rift.

Hunger Pains - By S.E. Lindberg

Introductory story for the Exalted Blasphemies - Fan-Made Expansion for Diemension Game's Deep Madness board game; designed for the Epic Monster: Omega Ravenous. Phil Blake championed the Expansion set, and there will be another post for how to access/download/print that.  For now, enjoy a short dose of horror by S.E..... get lured into Deep Madness.




Game Overview for "Hunger Pains" (featuring Epic Monster Omega Ravenous)

Dome Three Mess Hall closed at 10 p.m.. It will not open to employees again until 4 a.m.. That is hours from now! Stomach growling, mouth salivating, head aching, you are starving. Who has hours to wait? In minutes, hunger promises to spark some desperate, preternatural urge to hunt. Recalling the Mess Hall has vending machines, you stride there boldly in pajamas. Slippers beat the vacated corridors, footsteps echoing over buzzing fluorescent lights.

The vaulted chamber of the Mess Hall rivals a gymnasium. Three trains of tables run parallel across the greater length. Each line has ten tables positioned end-to-end, and each table spans six feet. White linens adorn them. The Hall is devoid of life, as empty as your stomach. Where are those vending machines?

What’s this? The tabletops are not flat. Gossamer veils cover amorphous heaps. Perhaps the staff has prepared a special breakfast—the cloths must cover hundreds of chafing dishes. Who needs vending machines if there is a buffet available? Sudden abdominal cramps compel you to collapse. Crawling, while cradling a roiling tummy, you approach a table. Grasping for support, the cloth gets in the way. It’s not linen. Tugging on it more, a blanket-sized gauze pad spills onto the floor. Red gore streaks the shroud.

From the opposite end of the chamber, wet slaps demand attention. Peering around the endcap, a humanoid creature can be seen in the distance, its ribcage split open like a turned mouth, a tentacle-like tongue flapping from a malformed head. Red gore splatters as it mounts a table. It pays no attention to you. Whatever it is, it is hungry; and it has a carcass to eat.

Food! Swelling organs push against your ribcage, buckling the sternum. Pain lances through each rib as they strain. Rolling in the fetal position fails to alleviate the pressure. Your heart rate plummets abruptly. An aura of peace stills any panic. Four more beasts have joined the first. As the pack grows, any reluctance to rise wanes. Pain and mental resistance recedes.

Standing, the tabletop comes into view. Food is not on the menu. A splayed deceased miner lies supine and naked. A recent, unfinished autopsy left its raw internals exposed. This not a cafeteria table. This is a gurney. This is no Mess Hall, but a mortuary. How did you get here?

The ravenous creatures across the Mess Hall do not radiate fear now. Dozens feed in a cluster, focused and frenzied. As they aggregate, fear lessens. They do not appear like grotesque demons anymore. They are familiar and share a common hunger, an urge to consume. Succulent, human meat beckons. It looks delicious! You lean into the offerings. A cannibal is born.

“Intrusion Alert!” the intercom sounds as emergency lights strobe. “Dome Three, Level Two, Mess Hall. Alert!” A band of investigators armed with crowbars, axes, and utility knives breach the chamber interrupting the feast to attack…


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Tribute to C. Dean Andersson

 



Black Gate Article Posted Regarding:

 C. DEAN ANDERSSON TRIBUTE INTERVIEW

 AND TOUR GUIDE OF HEL: BLOODSONG AND FREEDOM!


July 5th, 2021 marked the passing of CDean Andersson (a.k.a, Asa Drake). Christopher Fulbright (author, a journalist turned technical writer, and owner/webmaster of Realms of Night) posted a moving tribute this month online.

Andersson had his fame with both horror fans and the fantasy crowd for his Sword & Sorcery heroine Bloodsong.

This Black Gate post honors him by combining a review of his Bloodsong Saga (a.k.a. Hel Series) with a reposting of a 2014 interview regarding his creative process (with 3x illustrations he made to complement his written art, shared below).

We may never see the fourth installment (Valkyries in Hel)...sigh. Peace to C. Dean Andersson.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Ernst Haeckel interviewed about "Mystics"



I have a guest post over in the Library of Erana, and it all supports the release of Mystics in Hell.  Several authors will be posting author & character-perspective interviews for their contributions. My contribution is "Fool's Gold."

New to Hell? You may want to check out Joe Bonadonna's Black Gate article: PANIC AT THE INFERNO: MYSTICS IN HELL, PUBLISHED BY PERSEID PRESS that delves into this current collection.

There are formally >20 books in the satirical/dark-fantasy Heroes in Hell series, starting in 1986 and stalling in 1989 to be picked up again by author and champion Janet Morris. In 2011 she jumpstarted the series again with Lawyers in Hell. So Lawyers would serve as a natural starting point, but readers can jump in with any volume. Most readers select a book/theme that resonates with them. Each theme emphasizes historical events/characters. Mystics is appropriately full of religious zealots and devotion to deities.

Here is a link and teaser of what to expect in the guest post:

Interviews from Hell – Ernst Haeckel/Seth Lindberg Aug 2021 

Welcome to the Infernal Interview Service. Today we feature one of the characters and his writer from the acclaimed Heroes in Hell series. Ernst Haeckel (and his writer Seth) feature in Mystics in Hell.

What puts you above all the other self-proclaimed ‘mystics’ in Hell?


EH: Some consider me a mystic, but I am more of a scientist who searches for spiritual truths (I am certain you have read my treatise The Riddle of the Universe at the Close of the Nineteenth Century). Lately, I am wrapped up with mystics of the hierophant and alchemical type. See, there is a gold rush in hell! King Midas swallowed the Philosopher’s Stone and transmutes food into gold. He’s minting the promising new gastro-currency: buttcoin. I know, that sounds absurd, but the economy and nature of Hell is cruel. Anyway, the damned Forty-Niners are digging through excrement in attempts to get rich. The imprisoned Thoth, the Egyptian god of mysticism, has charged me to retrieve the Philosopher’s’ Stone. With it he can regain control of the afterlife, rescue me from Hell. So there is hope for me.


Thoth
Ernst Haeckel





Monday, August 2, 2021

The Green Knight Movie - review by SE

I just saw The Green Knight movie. The trailer was awesome. The reviews were promising..... but it was terrible. Beyond cinematics, it was not engaging, it was slow and incoherent. Sigh ..... stick with Excalibur (1980s), Clive Owen's "King Arthur", or even Guy Ritchie's Legend of the Sword. Well...there is always Monty Python's Holy Grail too.

Before I jump in, you may want to check out author Sean Poage's take. He is much more knowledgable than I am about the Gwain legends, having written one of his own too (The Retreat to Avalon, more on that below). Interestingly, he and his wife hit the movies as I did with mine (i.e., a post covid, first-time-back-to-movie-post-covid-wave-1 date). Here's his review of Gawain's legends and movie (link).

We are not treated to many Sword & Sorcery movies, let alone ones that promise some sense of intellectual content. So I was looking forward to this. As part of my grieving process.... I will go on a small rant.


Promises to be Broken

The intro sets up very clear "rules of engagement" (as revealed in the trailer). The Green Knight challenges a knight to strike him, and a year later he will return the wound to the challenger. Gawain cuts off the Green Knight's head...and a year later must confront the Knight again (who survived).

Bait and Switch Conflict

Although I am cool with a man-vs-self conflict..... the trailer, title, and beginning all promise a man-vs-man/creature (Gawain vs. Green Knight) conflict (which is not at the forefront). But let's say you get past that as you begin witnessing multiple, slow side-quests.

Incongruent Rules of the Game & Meaningless Fluff

The visuals were awesome. The pace couldn't have been slower....which I would have been okay with if the "rules of the game" were followed. Remember the super clear rules of the beginning? To Heck with clear rules going forward. One could literally cut the entire middle ~1.5hrs out (anything between the initial and final Green Knight interactions) and not change the impact of the climax. Actually, I think I would have loved this movie if were only 30min long.

Source Material?

Many claim that you can look beyond the "mysterious" presentation of the journey, and delight in a portrayal of the source material. Well, the movie should stand alone of course. Also, two of the best vignettes were not based on existing Gawain legends (the Saint Winifred tale is arguable a UK-thing, but it was never Gawain specific...and the cool, naked giants were just a throw in for fun and not tied to the story or myths....if you want to see a visionary story in which the giants are tied to the story, watch the anime or movie versions of Attack on Titan).


(below explains more with some obtuse/minor spoilers)

Gawain has several important items (sash, ax, jingle-bell, and fox) to take on a journey to reach the Green Knight's location. He loses sight of said items, and they reappear and disappear in ways that are incongruent across ~3-4 side quests/challenges/tests. Did he earn them back? Just stumble across them? How/why did they come back to him? You should care. Gawain doesn't.

The handling of the "rules" didn't feel intentionally done to be mysterious or engaging. It felt like the producers stitched together a few different historical legends of Gawain's journey/tests, and they did not harmonize the meaning/rules across them.

Frankly, if the conflict is indeed "man-vs-self" then Gawain strangely doesn't really seem affected/changed....nor does he seem surprised that his key items come back to him for no clear purpose... and he doesn't even seem to be in denial or fretting about his impending duel. What seemed clear is that the ~3-4 side quests (~1.5hrs of the 2hr movie) were actually pointless (they did not build-up to the climax or develop the character) and they were also full of non-sequitur events.


The Retreat to Avalon

So what should we do about scratching the Arthurian Legen itch? Monty Python's Holy Grail would have us "Run Away, Run Away!" Well, I recommend retreating..... ie to read Sean Poage's "The Retreat to Avalon" which will likely leave you excited about Gawain and Arthurian legends! Sean Poage is an accomplished author with a knack for storytelling.


Book Blurb:

Fifteen hundred years have turned history into legend…

After three generations of struggle against ruthless invaders, Britain has finally clawed its way back within reach of peace and prosperity. Across the sea, Rome is crumbling under an onslaught of barbarian attacks, internal corruption and civil war. Desperate for allies, Rome’s last great emperor looks to Britain and the rising fame of her High King, Arthur.

Arthur believes the coming war is inevitable, but many are opposed. Dissent, intrigue and betrayal threaten to tear the fragile British alliance apart from within, while the enemies of Britain wait for the first sign of weakness.

Meanwhile, Gawain, a young warrior craving fame, is swept up in Arthur’s wake as the king raises an army. While Gawain’s wife and kin face their own struggles at home, the young warrior finds himself taking on more than he bargained for, and heading into the greatest battle his people have faced in generations.

The Retreat to Avalon is the exciting beginning of the historical fiction trilogy The Arthuian Age, introducing readers to the origins of King Arthur and the world he lived and fought for.



Sunday, August 1, 2021

Worlds Beyond Worlds - Review by SE

 Also on EXPLORE THE BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS: WORLDS BEYOND WORLDS BY JOHNR. FULTZ (Aug 2021 Black Gate)


Worlds Beyond Worlds: The Short Fiction of John R. Fultz by John R. Fultz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Volume I: Transcending the Illusions of Modernity and Reason.: The first thing you must understand is that the One True World is not a figment of your imagination, and it does not lie in some faraway dimension. To help you understand the relationship between the True World and the False, you must envision the True World lying beneath the False, as a man can lay hidden beneath a blanket, or a woman’s true face can be hidden by an exquisite mask. (Fultz, “The Thirteen Texts of Arthyria” )

YOU WANT SOME OF THIS? The Brian LeBlanc cover of Worlds Beyond Worlds: The Short Fiction of John R. Fultz shows the revenant Chivaine displaying the trophy head of his enemy. As a reader, do you want to follow him? Challenge him? The tile and cover set up expectations well, so you can expect planetary landscapes, witches, twisted creatures, and villainous heroes. Worlds Beyond Worlds is exactly what it says, a collection that takes the reader/protagonists into other worlds which are beyond even stranger ones. You are invited to explore the beautiful darkness.

The mere fact Fultz can publish eleven tales across ten markets in just a few years is a testament to his skill. BTW, John R. Fultz is equally skilled in the novel form as he is in short stories; looking for a dose of weird adventure? Then consider The Shaper Trilogy or Tall Eagle series (listed below). He has a knack for blending genres/settings which reflects his desire to take the reader to new places, really weird new places full of disturbing surroundings and high-stakes adventure.  Heck, there is even a Sword & Sorcery tale that harmonizes dragon killing with the ambiance of Kung Fu (dedicated to David Carradine's iconic role in the TV show). Anyway, if you crave unique fiction that conveys a wild experience, and are excited to immerse yourself in the cover's world, then the answer is: YES, YOU DO WANT THIS.

Learn more about John R. Fultz by perusing the author's website and by reading the 2017 interview where I cornered him on the topic "Beauty in Weird Fiction". You'll learn about the author's muses and illustration skills (which inform his visual style).

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. “Chivaine” originally appeared in Weirdbook #31 (2015).
2. “Yael of the Strings” originally appeared in Shattered Shields (2014).
3. “Ten Thousand Drops of Holy Blood” originally appeared in Skelos #3 (2017).
4. “Strange Days in Old Yandrissa” originally appeared in Orbit Short Fiction (2013).
5. “The Gnomes of Carrick County” originally appeared in Space & Time #116 (2010).
6. “The Thirteen Texts of Arthyria” originally appeared in Way of the Wizard (2010).
7. “Daughter of the Elk Goddess” originally appeared in Hyperborea (August 2014).
8. “The Penitence of the Blade” originally appeared in The Audient Void #2 (2016).
9. “Where the White Lotus Grows” originally appeared in Monk Punk (2011).
10. “Oorg” originally appeared in The Audient Void #5 (2018).
11. “Tears of the Elohim” originally appeared in Forbidden Futures #3 (2018).

WILD CHARACTERS: The protagonists are as varied as the milieus. “Chivaine” opens with an undead knight. “Yael” offers a reluctant bard turned hero on a battlefield with mega-insects; later stories feature the perspectives of a sentient sword (“Ten Thousand Drops of Holy Blood”), and we even get a bibliophile (“Thirteen Texts”) and a moon-born elder god (“Oorg”)! And there is more. You will travel the Land of the Scorpions, Valley of Sacred Bones, Eiglophian Mountains, the doomed city of Yandrissa, and through the underworld of the New World. Here is a taste:

"In the Land of Scorpions the warlock Vallicus kept a fortress of volcanic stone. Its ramparts rose above a realm of poisoned waters and crumbling ruins. Vallicus, like his citadel, was a relic of the elder ages. He had ruled a decadent kingdom in the time before the Hundred Gods tamed the world. How he longed for those ancient days of blood and slaughter. I was born into flames, falling out of the void. A womb of stone hurtling ever downward, until the thunder of impact fractured my shell. I lay among the glittering shards, formless and thoughtless, until Vallicus came for me. Weaving spells against the heat and flame, he carried me from the steaming crater. A silvery seed he would nurture and grow with sorcery. A nameless mineral to which he gave a form, a name, and a purpose." (“Ten Thousand Drops of Holy Blood”)

"There came a day when the rusted moon cracked open like an egg, and the giant Oorg fell screaming to earth. A pale and fetal meteor, his body slammed into the green ocean. Tidal waves and tsunamis swept the shattered continents, drowning empires and flooding the world. The world had flooded before, but there had never been a burden like Oorg for the earth to endure. He rose up from the steaming mud of the drained seabed, gleaming like a mountain white as snow. The light of his eyes was the glow of double suns, scouring the air with heat, scorching the low-hanging clouds to ash. The world roiled with cataclysms about his gargantuan feet, and he roared like an uncaged beast.

On the other side of the world Oorg explored the nature of his surroundings, howling at the red sky with his great maw, possessing no language to express whatever mundane or alien thoughts might be swimming in his vast brain. He knew hunger, and confusion, and cold. Inside the moon’s womb he had been warm and oblivious, dreaming of unguessed realities. Here he was titanic, pain-struck, and alone. He howled his pain like a hungry wolf and stomped across the ruined lands, his great arms tearing up islands and hurling them at nothing. " ("Oorg")


STYLE: Fultz's approach is reminiscent of Clark Ashton Smith's weirdness blended with Robert E. Howard's action. Expect bloody, weird bloody melee:
The men of Sharoc marched toward the overwhelming ranks of Ghothians. Diving griffons harried the rows of colossal arachnids. Knights drove their lances into the bulbous monsters. The spider-beasts squirted silvery ropes of webbing into the sky, bringing knights and griffons tumbling to earth. The Ghothian pikemen closed about the fallen ones, stabbing them to death in seconds.

The marching armies grew closer and closer. They would meet in the valley’s exact center. The spider-banners of Ghoth rippled in the autumn wind, and the yellow banners of Lion and Hawk streamed forth to meet them. At a certain distance the archers on either side took to ground. Volleys flew into the sky, each a black rain of barbed death. The footmen paused, sank to their knees, and raised their shields for shelter. When the arrows had fallen, the footmen rose and marched again. Another volley shot into the sky, and the footmen paused again and raised their shields. A soldier next to Yael took an arrow in the eye and died instantly.

Again and again the arrows fell, until the two armies came together in a rush of shouting, charging pikemen. Then all sense of ranks and order was lost, and the slaughter truly began. The wicked pikes of the Ghothians impaled their foes, ripped sideways to spill guts from bellies. Others hooked men into immobile positions of lasting pain. In such cases the Ghothians pulled forth their scimitars and took the heads of wounded men.

Yael might have dropped his pike and ran from the fray like a coward, but the press of men behind him made this impossible. So he marched into the forest of barbed and glittering blades aimed at his gut and face. The Ghothian pikes were grotesquely made, barbed and hooked to inflict maximum carnage. The screams grew louder. Dying men wailed and clutched at their spilled intestines on the ground as others trampled them into the mud.

Time had slowed so that each moment was an eternity. The roar of battle was like the roar of the ocean in Yael’s ears. Droplets of red blood spilled through the air like tiny jewels, splattered across the muddy ground. Dead boys lay all about him, their skulls and hearts and bellies split open, spilling the red secrets of existence into the black dirt. The whiteness of an ancient bone poked through the mud, a remnant of some historic battle. How many bones, how many skulls, filled the earth beneath this valley? The soil was rich with decayed humanity. (“Yael of the Strings” )


NOVELS by John R. Fultz/b>

The Shaper Trilogy
Seven Sorcerers
Seven Princes
Seven Kings
Seven Sorcerers (Book of the Shapers 3) by John R. FultzSeven Princes (Books of the Shaper) by John R. FultzSeven Kings (Books of the Shaper, #2) by John R. Fultz

Tall Eagle Series
The Son of Tall Eagle
The Testament of Tall Eagle
The Son of Tall Eagle by John R. FultzThe Testament of Tall Eagle by John R. Fultz


View all my reviews