Archive | January, 2013

New Book–Bookworm!

27 Jan

Bookworm, my second published book, is now available from Elsewhen Press in electronic format. Download it from a number of different sellers here.

Elaine is an orphan girl who has grown up in a world where magical ability brings power. Her limited talent was enough to ensure a magical training but she’s very inexperienced and was lucky to get a position working in the Great Library. Now, the Grand Sorcerer – the most powerful magician of them all – is dying, although initially that makes little difference to Elaine; she certainly doesn’t have the power to compete for higher status in the Golden City. But all that changes when she triggers a magical trap and ends up with all the knowledge from the Great Library – including forbidden magic that no one is supposed to know – stuffed inside her head. This unwanted gift doesn’t give her greater power, but it does give her a better understanding of magic, allowing her to accomplish far more than ever before.

It’s also terribly dangerous. If the senior wizards find out what has happened to her, they will almost certainly have her killed. The knowledge locked away in the Great Library was meant to remain permanently sealed and letting it out could mean a repeat of the catastrophic Necromantic Wars of five hundred years earlier. Elaine is forced to struggle with the terrors and temptations represented by her newfound knowledge, all the while trying to stay out of sight of those she fears, embodied by the sinister Inquisitor Dread.

But a darkly powerful figure has been drawing up a plan to take the power of the Grand Sorcerer for himself; and Elaine, unknowingly, is vital to his scheme. Unless she can unlock the mysteries behind her new knowledge, divine the unfolding plan, and discover the truth about her own origins, there is no hope for those she loves, the Golden City or her entire world.

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You can download a Free Sample from my site. Enjoy! And please review!

And The Royal Sorceress will be out in paperback on February 4th!

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A Study in Slaughter (Schooled in Magic III)–Snippet!

9 Jan

Prologue

“Welcome back to Whitehall, Lady Barb.”

“Thank you, Grandmaster,” Lady Barb said. “It’s good to be back.”

He didn’t say another word until they were in his office, surrounded by the most complex and powerful wards in the Allied Lands, and they both had a glass of wine in their hands.

“I understand that you had a chance to observe our Child of Destiny in Zangaria,” he said, bluntly. “What do you make of her?”

“A bundle of contradictions,” Lady Barb admitted, after a long moment. “She’s smart, but she seems to lack practical knowledge and awareness. She’s powerful, but she seems almost reluctant to use that power. She’s loyal to her friends, to the point where they can get her into trouble. Where does she come from?”

The Grandmaster lifted an eyebrow. “What makes you think she comes from anywhere special?”

“Her … attitudes, for want of a better word,” Lady Barb said. “I was given to understand that she was brought up in a sorcerer’s tower. She simply doesn’t act like any of the other children I’ve known who had sorcerers for fathers. At times, she can be more caring and sympathetic than anyone else, but at other times she simply doesn’t realise that there is a problem. She acts more like a visiting tourist than someone who belongs in Zangaria.”

“Where she was ennobled, after saving the lives of the Royal Family,” the Grandmaster said, dryly. “But you’re right. She doesn’t come from here at all.”

Lady Barb listened, feeling a growing sense of unreality, as the Grandmaster explained.

“Lady Emily was kidnapped out of her world by Shadye,” the Grandmaster told her. “She’s from another world.”

“Impossible,” Lady Barb said, when he had finished. “There are no such things as alternate worlds.”

“It isn’t a very well studied branch of magic,” the Grandmaster said, shaking his head. “But yes, alternate worlds do exist – and Lady Emily was taken from one.”

“And saved by Void,” Lady Barb said, unable to hide the bitterness in her voice. “Do you trust him with a girl of unknown potential?”

“No,” the Grandmaster said. He looked down at his desk. “Why do you think I was so quick to agree to allow her to come to Whitehall?”

Lady Barb studied his face for a long moment. “Do you trust her?”

“I think that she is a decent human being,” the Grandmaster said. “On the other hand, some of her virtues are also weaknesses. Do you realise that she is intensely loyal to her friends?”

“You mean she might be loyal to Void,” Lady Barb said. “Do you trust him?”

“With great power comes great instability,” the Grandmaster said. “And a certain lack of concern for everyone else.”

“That isn’t an answer,” Lady Barb said.

“We know very little about Emily’s life before she was kidnapped,” the Grandmaster said, ignoring her. “I believe that it wasn’t a very happy one, as she has shown no particular interest in returning home. On the other hand, her life here hasn’t been very happy either.”

“She’s wealthy and famous,” Lady Barb pointed out.

“She was targeted by a necromancer for death – and then enslavement,” the Grandmaster countered. “One of her father figures is a rogue half-mad sorcerer. Another – Sergeant Harkin – died at her hand. She had no choice, but she still took it badly.”

“I’d only heard rumours,” Lady Barb said. “Is that true?”

“In a manner of speaking,” the Grandmaster said. “She really had no choice.”

He explained, briefly.

Lady Barb listened in disbelief. “She knows how to perform a necromantic rite?”

“It isn’t difficult to master the theory,” the Grandmaster reminded her. “Do you like Lady Emily, personally?”

“I could,” Lady Barb admitted. “She’s a decent person – and I honestly don’t think that she intended to cause problems for the Allied Lands. But on the other hand … there’s a sense that she thinks she knows what is right, always. She has a touch of Void’s arrogance without the willingness to believe that the ends justify the means.”

She shrugged. “And when the time came, she slipped into the castle to save Princess Alassa – her friend – and the rest of the Royal Family,” she added. “Someone like that shouldn’t be dismissed easily.”

“True,” the Grandmaster agreed. “Will you watch her?”

“I only agreed to stay at Whitehall for a year,” Lady Barb said, in some irritation. “You know how I feel about Healing. But yes, I will watch her.”

“Good,” the Grandmaster said. “Because, just like her Guardian, she’s a rogue element. And rogue elements cause trouble.”

A More Realistic Atlas Shrugged?

7 Jan

I was reading a discussion on Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism in particular and it occurred to me that Rand’s doorstopper of a book had the right general idea (it’s hard to argue when you look at British Rail, or the growth in government bureaucratise) but it tended to take it too far. And then I started wondering …

John Galt is the mayor of a rural area or the governor of a single American state (we can sort of the exact details later). He and his party have near-complete control over the state; they rewrite the laws to prevent the decay of the country, at least in their state. Zero-tolerance policies for crime, limited interference (if any) in business, common sense laws, etc, etc. Francisco (the guy with the very long name) could be a businessman who moves his entire company into the state. The pirate could be a renegade (someone who believes in fighting the Feds, maybe a borderline terrorist) or someone who believes that they will have to fight sooner or later.

Dagny and Eddie might be ‘only sane men’ in government, trying to keep the overall country running. The ‘strike’ might be people moving to Galt-land rather than actually vanishing.

The basic point of Atlas Shrugged was that society had to be maintained to make it work (i.e. you have to do maintenance on your rails or you start having disasters.) That’s something the West seems to have forgotten how to do these days. Galt could be actually trying to do something about it. Actually, as wealth flows into Galt-land, the states bordering it will have to alter their own laws, or risk losing their own businesses and law-abiding citizens. This might set off the crisis in a more realistic manner.

Thoughts?

Chris