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Friday, July 21, 2017

2017 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Giveaway Part VI (by M. D. Presley)

Closing out our second week of the SPFBO giveaway, we again bring together three digital books from one blog’s selections: Fantasy Faction. With divergent settings ranging from Elven farms to sprawling fantasy epics, to even some Romans thrown in, this giveaway promised over 1,000 pages for four winners to while away their summer with.

To enter, leave a comment here on the blog, or head on over to Fantasy Book Critic’s Facebook page and SHARE this post to enter for a chance to win. I assure you, you’ll be glad you did.

Ryan M. Meuller: Empire of Chains

Official Author Website, Facebook, & Twitter pages

Official Blurb: Five hundred years ago, powerful magic sealed Emperor Darien Warrick inside a ring of mountains. For five hundred years, his subjects have been trapped beside him. Some say he’s evil and these actions were necessary. Others say he’s a man willing to sacrifice anything for the greater good.

To young noblewoman Nadia, he is nothing but a murderer. On the day Warrick’s executioner takes her mother’s head, Nadia dedicates her life to one goal: killing Warrick. She spends her days training with the castle guard, her nights poring over the notes her mother left behind. In them, she finds the location of the only spell that can defeat the immortal sorcerer. But it feels too convenient. If she is to succeed in her quest, she must figure out Warrick’s true motivations and outsmart him.

For young woodsman Markus, Warrick is the man who owns him. Markus has spent his entire life training to become an Imperial Guard, but it’s a future he can’t stomach. However, it’s the only option he has, or at least the only sane one.

Until he meets Nadia.

Reformed thief Berig doesn’t care about Warrick one way or the other. Berig would rather keep his head down and try to scratch out what meager living he can. But in a world like this, he’ll never get what he wants.

Warrick has other plans.

Brandon Draga: The Summerlark Elf

Official Author Facebook, Instagram & Twitter pages

Official Blurb: Enna Summerlark has spent her entire life as a farmer's daughter in the kingdom of Hallowspire, paying little mind to anything past what to sell at the next market day. When the next market day comes, however, strange events take place that will reunite her with an old friend, bring her into the world of a pair of sell-swords, and reveal a secret that will change Hallowspire forever, and cause ripples across the whole of the Four Kingdoms.

The first book in "The Four Kingdoms Saga", The Summerlark Elf introduces readers to compelling characters in an engaging world of swords and sorcery, personal turmoil and political intrigue!

Frances Smith: Spirit of the Sword: Pride and Fury

Official Author Website & Twitter page

Official Blurb: The Divine Empire teeters on the brink of collapse, riven by division and ravaged by a lack of purpose in its soul. Miranda Callistus, the first Aurelian mage born in five hundred years, may have the power to save the Empire from itself...if she decides that the proud and vainglorious nation is worth saving.

Meanwhile, believing that Miranda's life is in danger, her estranged brother Michael sets forth to her rescue, hoping to prove himself a true hero on the battlefield. But the allies he gathers to his side may be as dangerous to Miranda as any of her enemies.

While Michael fights against his foes, Miranda banters with them in the parlours of the Empire’s great families. Princes, princesses and patricians all claim to have the cure for the Empire’s sickness, and all seek to bend Miranda to their will – or break her, for if they cannot make her their friend then none in the capital will hesitate to make her a corpse.


Official Author Website
Order The Woven Ring HERE

Bio: MD Presley
is a screenwriter, blogger and occasional novelist… which basically means he’s a layabout. But if you’ve ever got a hankering for some grimdark gunpowder fantasy with a female anti-hero, check him out at

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

2017 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Giveaway Part V (by M. D. Presley)

If only hump day meant more camels in our lives—one hump or two, it makes no matter—life would be significantly better for everyone involved. Alas, we can only offer succor in the form of three fantasy fans picking up digital copies of these three SPFBO competitors.

But then, to sweeten the deal even further, we’re adding one FREE SPFBO download for everyone who wants it. Look for the link at the bottom of the post as you gorge your eyes and imaginations while checking out the three other entrants for the daily giveaway.

To enter, leave a comment here on the blog, or head on over to Fantasy Book Critic’s Facebook page and SHARE this post to enter for a chance to win. I assure you, you’ll be glad you did.

Maya Starling: Dragon’s Treasure

Official Author Facebook & Twitter pages

Official Blurb: “She was the girl who longed for the freedom of the dragon, and he was the dragon who longed to be a man.”

A heroine reclaiming her fate. A dragon with a secret. A prince on a quest.

Olivia flees to the forest seeking freedom from her family’s demands. She finds refuge in a cave, only to discover it is a dragon’s lair. The dragon, Kaden, is not the monster she first thinks him to be. After overcoming her initial fright – of not being eaten – Olivia discovers that the dragon has a gentle heart.

Kaden is resigned to loneliness after centuries of wandering the lands. Meeting Olivia brings joy to his solitary life, and never has he dreamed that a young woman would be the one to start the change in him.

A storm brews on the horizon.

A prince with a handsome face and a cruel heart is on a quest to slay the dragon, and take the throne. He will do whatever it takes to have what he believes is his to own. And now, he has his eyes set on the pretty little maiden from the forest. He will make her his Queen, whether she wants it or not.

Beth Hammond: The Sound of the Stones

Official Author Website

Official Blurb: An ancient book

A hidden prophecy

A quest to save humanity

When Frankie breaks the binding on an ancient book Ashra's world intertwines with her own. 

Evil seeks to destroy humanity, but Ashra is more powerful than she knows. As a new king ascends the throne both her virtue and her life are in danger. She risks everything to flee the city in search of answers. In her quest to save humanity she finds love, uncovers mysteries from the past, and unlocks a primordial magic she never knew she had. 

The multi perspective, epic setting of Game of Thrones meets the "book within a book" concept of The Never Ending Story. With a sense of humor similar to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and romantic undertones reminiscent of The Name of the Wind, The Sound of the Stones appeals to a wide fantasy loving audience.

Jeramy Goble: Souls of Astaeus
Official Author Website, Facebook, & Twitter pages

Official Blurb: The Astraeans access their millions of previous lives whenever they wish. Their semi-immortality is a curse as well as a blessing. 

Book one of the completed Akallian Tales trilogy, Souls of Astraeus, is a fresh take on fantasy adventure, and plunges you into the fight among a myriad of worlds and characters.

Everyone has a part in this story.

When Akal Atka loses his wife and dies from a related horror, he is slammed into an awareness of being the owner of millions of previous lives. As he struggles to adapt to the steep learning curve of ancient reincarnation, Akal learns he is only one of many with access to his semi-immortal gift.

With the death of his last regular life's love still fresh in his soul, Akal seeks to take advantage of his new abilities to somehow go back and prevent her death. Akal fails to do so however, and has no choice but to slow down and show his past lives the proper respect they deserve. As he grows in the wisdom of this patience, Akal develops relationships with others like him, and sets upon a path of discovery that reveals he and his comrades are not alone in their presumed authority over the multiverse.

D.E. Olsen: The Eagle’s Flight (FREE DOWNLOAD)

Official Author Website & Facebook page

Official Blurb: Peace in the Seven Realms of Adalmearc is only as strong as those who rule them. With the death of the high king and his heir too young to assume the throne, political intrigues fill the landscape as the leading noble families scheme and plot their way to power. Meanwhile, enemies abroad sense the changes and make their own preparations.  

Standing as a safeguard against both foreign foes as well as enemies closer to heart are the Order and its knights. Keeping the realms of Adalmearc united and at peace is their foremost duty. But when the strife turns political and the enemy is difficult to discern, when alliances shift and allegiances are torn, even the hitherto unassailable honour of a knight may become stained.  

The Eagle's Flight compiles the first three of the Chronicles of Adalmearc. It is a journey into the world of Adal, its realms, peoples, cultures, and conflicts.


Official Author Website
Order The Woven Ring HERE

Bio: MD Presley
is a screenwriter, blogger and occasional novelist… which basically means he’s a layabout. But if you’ve ever got a hankering for some grimdark gunpowder fantasy with a female anti-hero, check him out at

Monday, July 17, 2017

2017 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Giveaway Part IV (by M. D. Presley)

Well, our first week of giveaways is now under our belt with nary a hitch. Messages are out to our first 16 winners, and now it’s time to turn our attention to the second week with the first giveaway revolving around four digital copies of books in Kitty G’s stable.

Feel free to put on your figurative (or literal) judge’s cap as you peruse this eclectic lot. All four kick off their own series to open up their own unique worlds, and if we were trying to make a sentence combining bits of each of their titles, it would go a little something like this: “The Eighth God uses The Sword to Sunder the Crown in the Darklands.”

To enter, leave a comment here on the blog, or head on over to Fantasy Book Critic’s Facebook page and SHARE this post to enter for a chance to win. I assure you, you’ll be glad you did

M.L. Spencer: Darkstorm

Official Author Facebook, Twitter & Goodreads pages  

Official Blurb: Braden and Quin Reis share a tragic past, but it’s now up to them to save the future. When a secret conspiracy resorts to harnessing the powers of the Netherworld to save their legacy, Braden and Quin are the only mages capable of stopping them. But these two would-be heroes are compromised, harboring terrible secrets.

Can Braden and Quin put aside their differences long enough to prevent the unsealing of the Well of Tears? Or will they relent and join the conspiracy?

Darkstorm is the prequel to the epic grimdark fantasy series The Rhenwars Saga. If you like morally gray antiheroes, page-turning action, and mind-boggling plot twists, then you’ll love Spencer’s award-winning series.

T.H. Paul: The Legacy Chronicle: The Sword

Official Author Facebook, & Twitter pages 

Official Blurb: In The Sword, the first volume of his new fantasy series The Legacy Chronicle, T.H. Paul brings you into a vast world of gods and mortals. The story of The Sword follows the life of Trem Waterhound, a half-elven hermit who, against his own judgment, heals and befriends a wounded young man when he finds his unconscious body in the thick undergrowth of Silverleaf Forest. 

Together, Trem and his former patient, Jovanaleth, embark on a journey to find Jovan's missing father. Along the way they become embroiled in a conflict that extends across the mortal world of Teth-tenir and even into the Godly Realms, and both are forced to confront their past in order to face an even more dangerous future.

Paul Lavender: The Eighth God

Official Author site

Official Blurb: For thousands of years, five great fortresses have stood sentinel between the Borderlands and the rapacious Orcs. But the Orcs have allies and these allies are about to set a chain of events in motion that will lead to war...
Heroes will rise to answer the call.

Saethryth has just returned from the Orc Lands where he has been killing them for over twenty years. He is one of the last Orcslayers left alive.

 Melress is a Half-Elven Battle Mage, recently promoted to Captain and sent to the fortress of Knight's Perch, where there are rumours of a traitor.


Tierra has been sleeping with the enemy and now she wants revenge.

 And Bazak-Kul, well he just wants to get home alive.

They, and others, will face the onslaught at Knight's Perch, but battle is the least of anyone's problems, because The Eighth God is on the rise and everything can change when the Gods are playing.

Matthew Olney: Heir to the Sundered Crown

Official Author Facebook page

Official Blurb: A realm torn asunder by civil war will give rise to a hero. 

The Kingdom of Delfinnia is in chaos. After assassins kill the king and his family, greedy self serving men battle one another for the crown. Unknown to them is that one heir yet lives, a baby boy now hidden and protected. 

In the mage city of Caldaria is a boy named Luxon. A young mage who will discover his past and his powers. For he will one day become known as the Legendary, the wizard who would break the world, the man who would embrace death and live and the hero who would give a realm its greatest king. 

Sent on a quest to find the one responsible for the King's assassination Luxon teams up with Ferran of the Blackmoor the legendary Nightblade and hunter of fell beasts, Sophia Cunning the land’s greatest witch hunter and Kaiden, a noble knight sworn to defend the world from darkness. 

Together they find the answers they seek, but the truth is far worse than anyone could possibly imagine. 

The Heir to the Sundered Crown is a fantasy tale that will ignite the imagination and set the stage for an epic battle between the light and the darkness.


Official Author Website
Order The Woven Ring HERE

Bio: MD Presley
is a screenwriter, blogger and occasional novelist… which basically means he’s a layabout. But if you’ve ever got a hankering for some grimdark gunpowder fantasy with a female anti-hero, check him out at

Friday, July 14, 2017

2017 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Giveaway Part III (by M. D. Presley)

I can’t promise this will be the last time I go to the High Fidelity well, but I will assure you that it will be the last time this week (TGIF!). But you should all know that the making of a great giveaway, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You got to kick it off with a killer (done) to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch (also done). But you don’t wanna blow your wad, so you got to cool it off a notch.

And what could be cooler than the theme of this, our third giveaway, where all three competitors are currently battling it out under the Booknest blog banner? Only one has the opportunity to rise to the position of Booknest’s champion, and four folks now have the chance to sample nearly one third of Booknest’s crop and decide for themselves which one they’d personally advance.

As always, head on over to Fantasy Book Critic’s Facebook page and SHARE this post to enter for a chance to win. I assure you, you’ll be glad you did.

Darrell Drake: A Star-Reckoner’s Lot

Official Author Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook Pages 

Official Blurb: Ashtadukht is a star-reckoner. The worst there's ever been.

It is said she commanded the might of constellations—though her spells often backfired. That her exploits caused the stars themselves to pause and take notice. It is said that, though dogged with illness, she crossed the lands of Iran in pursuit of demons that have since passed into myth, and brought them to heel.

She is spoken of in hushed tones, in half-truths and lesser lies.

Ashtadukht is a star-reckoner. The worst there's ever been. This is the story of her path... a warning to those who would follow in her footsteps.

Russ Linton: Pilgrim of the Storm

Official Author Facebook page 

Official Blurb: Sidge knows the rituals of the Stormblade Temple in meticulous detail. He has mastered every word, every phrase of the twelve thousand mantras. Among those who seek to defend humankind, he is a model in every way except one.

 He isn't human.

Adopted by an eccentric mentor, Sidge has never known his own people, an insectoid race more often pressed into menial labor than meditation. The temple is his entire life. Yet for many of his fellow acolytes, his presence is an affront to their vigil against an ancient foe who once held all mankind captive.

Dark omens follow Sidge on his first pilgrimage. The Wisdom of the mighty storm dragon, Vasheru, seeks a new vessel to lead the temple and the most likely candidate sees Sidge as an abomination. He and his mentor begin a desperate attempt to compete for the title. But an encounter with a streetwise woman named Kaaliya sets off a chain of events millennia in the making which will reshape Sidge’s destiny.

His first journey outside the temple walls will not only test Sidge’s faith but his sense of identity as he races to ensure his beloved temple does not fall into the wrong hands. 

Tara Saunders: Requiem for the Wolf
Official Author Facebook & Twitter pages 

Official Blurb: They told him that the Lost were animals. Crazed and brutal, they said, a danger to themselves and others. Hero, they called him, for providing the mercy of a clean death. They lied.

The Tiarna Beo is a land frozen in the still moment between acts of savage violence. Forty years after a Purging that drove an entire race either into the ground or north through the mountains, every man watches his words and his neighbour. Only a fool draws attention to himself, and only the suicidal travel from the North.

Growing up fatherless in a cold and grieving home, Breag had a clear vision for his future – a good woman, a family of his own and a quiet life. When his good woman betrays him, her confederates force him into the Tiarna on a mission to find one of the Lost and bring it home to be sacrificed. Mired in hopeless duty and wandering rootless among people who would kill him if they knew what he was, Breag struggles to hold on to the frayed edges of his humanity.

But no good deed goes unpunished. When his rescue of a brutalised young woman reveals her to be the Lost he has spent eight years hunting, Breag is forced to choose between her life and his future. And she’s not prepared to go quietly. Breag’s choice will create ripples that ignite the fumes of anger among his people and theirs, and ultimately to burn the entire kingdom down around his ears.


Official Author Website
Order The Woven Ring HERE

Bio: MD Presley
is a screenwriter, blogger and occasional novelist… which basically means he’s a layabout. But if you’ve ever got a hankering for some grimdark gunpowder fantasy with a female anti-hero, check him out at

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2017 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Giveaway Part II (by M. D. Presley)

To paraphrase from High Fidelity, the making of a good giveaway is a very subtle art. Many do’s and don’ts. First of all, you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.

So delicate, in fact, we wouldn’t be able to build off of our solid foundation from our first giveaway without the steadfast support of the following three authors. Ergo, get those pointer fingers and thumbs primed to share this group. Because the only way three people are going to win these three books, ranging from swashbuckling pirates to sleuthing witches, to the answer of what happens when an enigmatic elf, a crotchety dwarf and a bumbling wizard walk into a tavern, is to SHARE the Fantasy Book Critic’s post for this on Facebook.

So head on over and get to it to get some of this action:

Rob Hayes: Where Loyalties Lie

Official Author Website
Official Author Facebook & Twitter pages

Official Blurb: Everybody knows Drake Morrass is only out for himself.

As the fires of a dying city burn on a distant shore, Drake sees an opportunity to unite the other pirate Captains under his flag and claim a crown for himself. If he is to succeed he will need allies and the Oracle named Keelin Stillwater, the best swordsman in the isles, as Drake's right hand.

With enemy ships sailing his waters and setting fire to his cities, and the sinister Tanner Black threatening to steal the throne before Drake has even sat in it, Drake must somehow convince the other Captains that his best interests are also theirs.

Author Rob J. Hayes, after his successful completion of his award-winning grimdark trilogy, The Ties That Bind, now continues the saga of First Earth.

Alexa Grave: Mind Behind the Mind

Official Author Website
Official Author Facebook, Twitter, Instagram pages & Blog

Official Blurb: A witch who believes one of her own kind could never kill...

In a world where people believe the crimson sun is a dead witch’s head and the witch hunter who killed her stalks the night sky, a witch who ventures outside of Haven risks losing her life. Tessa is one such witch. Like many of her kind, she hopes to help the people of Leera, not harm them, and she’s on her first mission to heal an ailing man named Jeremiah. But when she crosses paths with a witch hunter, instead of avoiding him like she knows she should, she succumbs to her desires and ends up in his bed.

The local Enforcers believe a witch is behind Jeremiah’s sickness, so they call Bastian to town. He’s a young witch hunter who normally has a knack for sniffing out witches. But when he runs into the striking Tessa, she scrambles his senses. He’s inexplicably drawn to her and abandons his usually cautious nature.

As Tessa and Bastian uncover clues about Jeremiah’s illness, Tessa has to face the possibility that another witch may have had a hand in the incident. And if Bastian learns she’s a witch, he may point his finger at her. Then her head will surely roll.

JA Andrews: A Threat of Shadows 

Official Author Website

Official Blurb: When Alaric’s beloved wife is poisoned, he uproots his life as a Keeper and sets out to find a way to heal her. Along the way he befriends magical characters — and encounters an ancient evil that stands between him and a cure.

Alaric was a Keeper; a good man, protecting the land with knowledge and magic, until his wife was poisoned and he betrayed everyone and everything to save her--only to fail.

Now Alaric has one last chance at a cure, but it's buried in an ancient stone. To find it, he'll need the help of an enigmatic elf, a crotchety dwarf, and a bumbling wizard. However, Alaric isn't the only one seeking the stone; an old evil stirs, and one of Alaric's companions will betray them all.

The task would be nearly impossible for a Keeper; so what chance does the shadow of a former Keeper stand?

Alaric must find the strength to become the man he used to be, cure his wife, and save the world from the looming shadows--but he cannot have all three. Which will he sacrifice?

Join Alaric in a land of magic, elves, and the occasional dragon as he is forced to make impossible sacrifices to save everything he knows.

Remember to SHARE on Facebook for your chance to be the cool kid who wins these gems.


Official Author Website
Order The Woven Ring HERE

Bio: MD Presley is a screenwriter, blogger and occasional novelist… which basically means he’s a layabout. But if you’ve ever got a hankering for some grimdark gunpowder fantasy with a female anti-hero, check him out at

Monday, July 10, 2017

2017 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Giveaway Part I (by M. D. Presley)

Birthed by blogs, SPFBO (pronounced “spiffbo” to those in the know) came about when Mark Lawrence wondered how many great undiscovered self-published fantasy novels were out there and ten heroic blogs took him up on the challenge to churn through the slush of nearly 300 novels and declare a single winner. There were a few tears, and maybe the loss of a limb or two, but eventually Michael McClung stood atop the tower of vanquished foes and even earned himself a traditional publishing deal, as did Jonathan French the second time around.

Now in its third year, a new crop of ravenous, steely-eyed self-published fantasy challengers step into the SPFBO ring for the amusement of fantasy fans everywhere. But instead of battle, this time 37 SPFBO authors have banded together to give away 170 copies in ten chances three times a week throughout July, culminating in a Grand Prize consisting of 31 books.

The entry fee is free: Just share our host Fantasy Books Critic’s Facebook and you’re in. Winners will be chosen at random after two days and treated to 3-4 ebooks.

Please note that it says “SHARE,” not “like” or “comment.” Both are always welcome, but if you want a piece of those 170 books, you better play by the rules.

And to show we mean business, let’s kick it off with the opportunity for nine folks winning the following four books:

Jamie Edmundson: Toric’s Dagger

Official Author Website
Official Author Twitter & Facebook pages

Official Blurb: Toric's Dagger is just another religious relic, until it's stolen. Belwynn and her twin brother, Soren, volunteer to lead a team tasked with its retrieval. Drawn into a world of danger and treachery, they must rely on Soren's magical abilities, and on the telepathic bond they share.

Now, as kingdoms and empires start to fall, the twins confront the dark forces that threaten them. They must not let the Dagger fall into the wrong hands. But when mercenaries, zealots and sorcerers are all hunting for the same weapon, who should they trust?

Book One of The Weapon Takers Saga, an Epic Fantasy Series in the tradition of Tolkien, Tad Williams & G.R.R. Martin. The story is told from multiple points of view, and is perfect for readers who like their fantasy done on a grand scale.

Mike Rutledge: The Apotheosis Break

Official Author Website
Official Author Twitter, Instagram, Facebook pages

Official Blurb: The life of an airshipman is violent and short, but every sailor still breathing in the clouds has a tale of Anton Mikhailovich.

Vasili, his fourteen year old son, never knew the man. The swashbuckling captain died mysteriously when the boy was five, leaving only tall tales and long shadows. His father’s remembrance ever looming, Vasili wants to leave his tiny frontier village and become a skysailing legend of his own accord.

A charismatic traveler arrives on an airship, a bishop with robes as worn as his smile. He comes to convey a funerary Telling of Anton some nine years overdue. Late but still timely, the traveler hints that his vessel may be looking for a new deckhand. He could put in a good word for the son of Anton.

The twinkling lights of home disappear over the horizon and the boy begins his own adventure, starting his own tale as he learns the truth of his father’s.

But the world and its skies are nothing like Vasili’s books. The serendipitous airship is the famed Apotheosis Break, Anton’s old ship, filled with beguiling shard hunters now at the end of their rope. They have already lost good men looking for Vasili. They may still lose everything seeking the forgotten legacy of Captain Mikhailovich.

Vasili will learn that the memories you try to escape are the ones you will always carry with you. And if half of what his crew says is true, his father’s story was one of loss, betrayal, and madness. If Vasili is to survive in the skies he will have to be as clever as his father and twice as lucky. Otherwise a traveler will return home with a Telling of another Mikhailovich boy.

Howard Gurney: Twin

Official Author Website

Official Blurb: Jack and Tul are twins separated at birth by evil monks who seek to break down the Weave that separates hell from the world. One is raised in a monastery and the other in the southern wilderness of Ganya but their lives are again brutally changed when a prophecy is revealed that says the twins must find each other to save the world.

But in a land where the separation of good and evil is rapidly fragmenting, Tul and Jack find that no one is who they first seem to be – including each other! They struggle with the discovery that they can control the pattern of life so that impossible things become a reality. Is that chaotic power magic? And more importantly, is it evil?

Twin is a rich and gripping story of action and adventure, isolation and the strength of family, and the choice between good and evil. Maybe it’s not a fantasy after all

MD Presley: The Woven Ring

Official Author Website
Official Author Facebook page

Official Blurb: A fantasy reimagining of the American Civil War, The Woven Ring pits muskets against magic, massive war machines against mind readers, and glass sabers against soldiers in psychic exoskeletons.

In exile since the civil war that tore the nation of Newfield apart, former spy and turncoat Marta Childress wants nothing more than to quietly live out her remaining days in the West. But then her manipulative brother arrives with one final mission: Transport the daughter of a hated inventor deep into the East. Forced to decide between safely delivering the girl and assassinating the inventor, Marta is torn between ensuring the fragile peace and sparking a second civil war.

Aided by an untrustworthy Dobra and his mysterious mute companion, Marta soon discovers that dark forces, human and perhaps the devil herself, seek to end her quest into the East.

Have you entered by sharing this on Facebook yet? Well then get to it.

And show up in two days (July 12th) for the next opportunity to score some 2017 SPFBO ebooks.


Official Author Website
Order The Woven Ring HERE

Guest Author Information: MD Presley is a screenwriter, blogger and occasional novelist… which basically means he’s a layabout. But if you’ve ever got a hankering for some grimdark gunpowder fantasy with a female anti-hero, check him out at

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Court Of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark (Reviewed by Michael E. Everest)

Official Author Website
Order the book HERE (USA) & HERE (UK)
Read Michael's Interview with Anna Smith Spark
Read "On Writing Violence In A Violent World" by Anna Smith Spark (guest post)

OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: Anna Smith Spark lives in London, UK. She loves grimdark and epic fantasy and historical military fiction. Anna has a BA in Classics, an MA in history and a PhD in English Literature. She has previously been published in the Fortean Times and the poetry website Previous jobs include petty bureaucrat, English teacher and fetish model.

Anna’s favourite authors and key influences are R. Scott Bakker, Steve Erikson, M. John Harrison, Ursula Le Guin, Mary Stewart and Mary Renault. She spent several years as an obsessive D&D player.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we piss gold and jewels into the dust.

In the richest empire the world has ever known, the city of Sorlost has always stood, eternal and unconquered. But in a city of dreams governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has become the true ruler, and has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The empire is on the verge of invasion – and only one man can see it.

Haunted by dreams of the empire’s demise, Orhan Emmereth has decided to act. On his orders, a company of soldiers cross the desert to reach the city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Marching on Sorlost, Marith thinks he is running away from the past which haunts him. But in the Golden City, his destiny awaits him – beautiful, bloody, and more terrible than anyone could have foreseen.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS:The Court of Broken Knives’ is the stunning debut to Anna Smith Spark’s ‘The Empires of Dust’ series. One of two Anna’s to be released in June 2017 (UK), by Harper Voyager, the story of ‘The Court of Broken Knives’ is outmatched only by the unique voice that tells it. Bold, beautiful, brutal, Smith-Spark lives up to her twitter handle @QueenofGrimdark whilst pushing the boundaries of storytelling amongst recent releases.

THE GOOD: The voice is strong in this one! Right from the start, as the reader, you’re drawn into a world by the power of the words used to describe it to you – but it’s not so much description, more a depth that brings it all to life. Both beautifully inventive as it is brutally evocative, the characters are morbidly mortal, dragged into a doomed destiny of a plot.

THE BAD: The voice is strong in this one! I know, I’ve already said that, but it’s true. You will either love this voice, or never quite grasp the sumptuous simplicity of what it’s saying. If you’ve looking for an a-to-b quest fantasy with paint by numbers characters and complexities, this book is not for you.

THE UGLY TRUTH: The voice is strong in this one? I know, I know, I know! I’m labouring a point, but it’s only fair that I give this book the credit that it’s due. Anna Smith Spark’s voice is equal parts mesmerising as it is magical. It’s more than epic – it’s operatic! But at the same time it has the distortion and drop tuning of a metal band in full force. The Court Of Broken Knives is cranked all the way to 11, and you’ll either be a fan for life, or not quite sure what’s going on.

What sounds like a relatively simple plot line (mercenary hand hired to assassinate an Emperor) turns into one of the most stunning imaginings of fantasy in recent times. Naturally, and not in the least because of the author’s twitter handle, this has earned the label of Grimdark (because who doesn’t love a label), but The Court Of Broken Knives is so much more than that. If I had to throw tags together in an effort to label this, it’d be Grand-Dire, for the sheer opulence of the story telling and the world itself, versus the stakes and the events set in motion.

The world Smith-Spark has woven – and I say woven, because building inspires thoughts of blocks, and The Court Of Broken Knives is a rich tapestry not levels of lego – is breath taking. Soul destroying at times, too. Yet, somehow, it comes crashing back to earth right when you need it to.

I will have to admit that this took me a moment or two to get used to. Actually, not a moment or two – a chapter of two, in fact.

I fell in love with the first chapter – the opening page in particular. You’ll know what I mean when you read it, but the language, the choice of wording, even the tempo…there’s something about it. A je ne sais quoi that will breed diehards by the thousands, but naysayers, too.

But as I reached the second chapter, I began to notice that I wasn’t grasping everything that the voice was trying to tell me. A sentence here, there, there and there. I was almost reading the words rather than reading what was going on. Now, let me be clear, this isn’t because the voice is speaking in a language that I didn’t understand, the words I knew, but as a reader who takes joy in simple pleasures and straight forward prose (e.g. Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames, and RJ Barker’s Age of Assassins, as examples from 2017, and of course my love of David Gemmell) I wasn’t fully appreciating what Anna was saying in the telling of this story.

So, I restarted.

Not once.


And then I got it. Oh boy, I got it.

And it wasn’t just speaking to me. It was singing!

I must’ve only been 10 or so pages in when I restarted (note: I checked, it was page 11) but I’m glad I did. Once I had tuned myself in to the voice, I went from enjoying it, to being wrapped up in it.

And why was this?

Without overdoing it any more, it’s the voice! The sentence structure and wording will be new – dare I say unique – to many readers, and the shifts between first and third person will be staggering until you’re used to it.

Speaking of perspectives, the story is told through that of a quartet of diverse characters. A priestess, a politician, a veteran mercenary, and a seemingly-simple-yet-forever-suffering ranking soldier. The contrast between the two pairings allows for interplay and a comparison of human nature, that is both provocative as it is a pleasure to read and explore. For me, my favourite as is the norm, was the veteran, who I connected with. The priestess in particular allows for an eye-opening account of the perversities and providence in divinity, whilst the politician delves into the sheer determination of mortal will and the downfalls that come with it.

The Court Of Broken Knives is not for the faint hearted – both in terms of themes and the style of delivery. It’s a hard book to put down and come back to, potentially another reason why I had to restart, as I was so caught up with work at time of beginning reading. But, I felt that’s because it’s meant to be devoured. Not a page turner, but a page burner. Once you get into the flow of things, you’ve dragged along, sucked down into the depths, and when you come back up you’ll be gasping for air.

CONCLUSION: I realise that this review is thin on the ground in terms of detail on the plot or the characters – but you can get that from the blurb. This review is here to tell you what the blurb won’t. That this book really is different. It will make you think differently. It will challenge you. Recommended for fans of Mark Lawrence and R. Scott Bakker, I can understand why, but by the time you’ve finished, you’ll realise there isn’t another author quite like Anna Smith Spark. Not just a new voice. But a different voice.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Double Or Nothing by Craig Schaefer (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Order Double Or Nothing HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Long Way Down 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The White Gold Score 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Redemption Song 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Living End 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of A Plain-Dealing Villain
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Killing Floor Blues
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Castle Doctrine
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Winter's Reach 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Instruments Of Control 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Harmony Black
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Red Knight Falling
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Glass Predator

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Craig Schaefer was born in Chicago and wanted to be a writer since a very young age. His writing was inspired by Elmore Leonard, Richard Stark, Clive Barker & H. P. Lovecraft. After reaching his 40th birthday he decided to give in to his passion and since then has released twelve novels in the last three years. He currently lives in Joliet, Illinois and loves visiting museums and libraries for inspiration. 

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Daniel Faust – sorcerer, thief, and newly-minted Las Vegas crime boss – has debts to pay. One of those debts has just come due, an IOU to be paid in the form of a high-risk heist, and it’s a job he can’t refuse. The mark? Daniel’s arch-nemesis, a man with a Cheshire smile and the powers of a living god. The score? A sacrificial dagger buried under layers of electronic, occult, and human security, snug on the far side of a custom-built deathtrap.

Normally, a heist like that would be the end of Daniel’s problems. This time, it’s only the beginning.

Caitlin, Daniel’s lover and the right hand of a demon prince, faces her own threat. She’s adept at navigating the politics of Hell, keeping the peace with diplomatic grace and a whip, but a plan years in the making has left a ticking time bomb under her feet. When it explodes, it will send shockwaves through the infernal courts – and expose one of Caitlin’s darkest secrets. A hidden enemy has targeted Caitlin and Daniel for destruction, and aims to lure them into an impossible snare. For one of them to escape, the other must die.

The only way out is through a maze of demonic bounty hunters, psychic assassins, unlikely enemies and even more unlikely allies. Daniel Faust has spent his life as a trickster, defeating his enemies with the art of the con. He may have finally met his match. Las Vegas is the ultimate chessboard, and his opponent is already two moves ahead..

FORMAT/INFO: Double Or Nothing is 307 pages long divided over forty-three chapters with a prologue, an epilogue and an afterword. Narration is in the first-person, via Daniel Faust solely and different third-person narratives for the prologue and epilogue. This is the seventh volume of The Daniel Faust series. 

June 27, 2017 marks the North American paperback and e-book publication of Double Or Nothing and it will be self-published by the author. Cover art and design is by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.

CLASSIFICATION: Featuring a cast of anti-heroes and with a magician con-man as the protagonist, the Daniel Faust series is Richard Stark's Parker crossed with The Dresden Files and set in Las Vegas. 

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Double Or Nothing is the seventh book of the Daniel Faust series and the potentially the first book of the third arc of the series. It's also the first book that has so many nods and set-up for future books that at this point it would be highly unadvisable to jump into this series with this volume. What I mean to say is that if you really should start from the beginning/book 1 of the Daniel Faust series (The Long Way Down) or even The White Gold Score which is book 1.5 of the Daniel Faust series (it is a novella and also acts as a good starting point for the series).

Double Or Nothing basically opens up after the events of The Castle Doctrine and we find Faust now in control of his life for the first time after the events showcased in the past six books. He however has been called up on the first of the two favors he owes to a certain baron from the Court of Night Blooming Flowers. The first task being re-acquiring the knife that Faust stole in the events showcased within A Plain-Dealing Villain which lead to the start of all his troubles with Damien Ecko. Things are never simple as the knife is now with a person who's under the control of Ms. Fleiss & by extension the Cheshire Smile. Knowing what a dangerous mission this can be, Faust has to enlist his gang but also has to plan accordingly as they are dealing with the Cheshire Smile after all. This is the main thread that kicks off the story, another dangling thread which has been present from the past couple of books has been the whole situation with Caitlin's past lovers. This book brings the plot thread to a solid conclusion. Whether the readers will feel the same remains to seem, as for me I feel that there might be more to this angle, even after this conclusion.

This book also focuses the Cheshire Smile but not in the way you would expect. There's a smart nod to Glass Predator (the scene where Daniel finds out what happened to his Hemi' Cuda is quite funny) as well as some nods to the happenings in the Harmony Black series. There's also some intriguing plot happenings for the future trilogy that the author is planning and while this book isn't the first to lay out these tracts (There's a partial but clear nod in The Castle Doctrine and Glass Predator even introduces a character who most likely will be a POV protagonist for that trilogy). Lastly what this book does gloriously is give us the first physical appearance of not one but two princes of hell. The characters also make some trips to Albuquerque, Denver, Chicago and a place that hasn't been featured so far in the series at all.

This book has all the trappings of its wonderful predecessors, it’s action-packed, has a lot of plot twists, revelations and the climax is definitely out of this world (quite literally). Primarily this series has always been about characters and this book continues to highlight them. While we only get Faust’s POV, the secondary character cast is so well-developed that while many fav-favorite characters don’t get that much screen time, newer ones that do more than make up for it. A well-liked secondary character from the Harmony Black books graces Daniel Faust’s world however the way he makes an appearance, Faust is none too happy about it. The best part for me was that this book focused on one of my favorite grey side characters, one who is possibly craftier than Faust and kudos to the author as the book’s epilogue will leave most readers astounded. Lastly I would like to highlight Corman & Bentley's (Faust's foster parents and mentors) exploits which are often mentioned in several books. This one however mentions a very exciting chapter in their past and I hope the author can explore their past in novellas or short stories or even novels.

Talking about the action, as always with the Faust volumes, action is more so on a personal level rather than big action scenes. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun to read. The pace of the book is such that along with our protagonist, we are constantly shepherded along by the author. It’s fun to try to anticipate the twists and try to predict where the story is going. The book does manage to keep readers on tenterhooks with all the plot twists and manages to put Faust through another wringer but this time Caitlin also has to face the music.

With this book though while I had an idea where the story might end up, the climax and all the plot twists were a nice surprise. There's some terrific cameo appearances of new characters who I believe will have significant roles to play in the future books. This series has also never shied away from the horror genre aspects and this book takes things a few notches further. What I’m referring to has to deal with the lower levels of winter and pathway connecting it to Prince Sitri’s realm. The author has a gruesome imagination and kudos for coming up with that particular sequence (combining claustrophobia & revulsion).

The author also spoke to us in this interview about the various intricacies involved in the book and hints about the various things (read Qs. 3, 4, & 5) that can be expected. He also mentions the brilliant cover design and what it points towards. This book has a particular connection to the events of A Plain-Dealing Villain and while it’s not necessary to re-read that book before this one, it can be helpful to at least know a strong summary of it. Lastly this book is also the start of the proper binding of the two series (Daniel Faust & Harmony Black), we get so many nods and hints about the world and the happenings that I can't wait to read Cold Spectrum (Harmony Black# 4) when it releases on Halloween later this year. For those readers who haven’t read the Harmony Black series yet, I would implore you to do so as then only can you get a hint of the sinister plan that Craig Schaefer seems to be hatching across these different series.

CONCLUSION: Double Or Nothing is exactly what the author promised it would be, a crackerjack bomb of a story that once lit up, burns rapidly towards its mind-shattering climax. This book just makes this series that much more stronger and is a rapid indicator of how soon the Daniel Faust series will be challenging the Harry Dresden files for being the best thing that urban fantasy has to offer us readers.
Sunday, June 25, 2017

RE-REVIEW: The Price Of Faith by Rob J. Hayes (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Rob J. Hayes was born and brought up in Basingstoke, UK. As a child he was fascinated with Lego, Star Wars and Transformers that fueled his imagination and he spent quite a bit of his growing up years playing around with such. He began writing at the age of fourteen however soon discovered the fallacies of his work. After four years at University studying Zoology and three years working for a string of high street banks as a desk jockey/keyboard monkey Rob lived on a desert island in Fiji for three months. It was there he re-discovered his love of writing and, more specifically, of writing fantasy. The Ties That Bind trilogy is his debut.


Separated and miserable, Thanquil Darkheart and Jezzet Vel’urn both have their reasons for wanting to leave the Dragon Empire. Jezzet flees from the wrathful fury of an Empress scorned while accompanied by the ever insidious Drake Morrass and Thanquil sets out to find and judge his one heretical loose end...

FORMAT/INFO: The Price Of Faith is divided into five sections with forty-six POV chapters and an epilogue. The narration is in third person via Arbiter Thanquil Darkheart, Jezzet, Betrim Thorn aka The Black Thorn, Jacob Lee, Pern Suzku the Haarin, and Anders. This is the final volume of The Ties That Bind trilogy.

June 21, 2017 marks the worldwide e-book re-release of The Price Of Faith and it was self-published by the author. Cover art is by Alex Raspad, cover design was by Shawn King.

CLASSIFICATION: The Ties that Bind is a dark fantasy trilogy with terrific characterization and a twisted plot that is very reminiscent of the works by Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and Scott Lynch.

ANALYSIS: This book has been re-released by the author after he got his rights back from Ragnarok Publications and readers can read more about that in this interview and over on the author's site. I'm reposting my review with a few edits and to espouse the brand, new cover and re-release of the entire trilogy. I've been a big fan of Rob J. Hayes since I first got my hands on his debut book The Heresy Within. However it was The Colour Of Vengeance, which simply blew my mind and convinced me of the awesomeness of this trilogy and the author. With this book, I was waiting to see how the author would end his trilogy. This volume also featured the return of Jezzet and Thanquil who were conspicuously missing from the second volume. A warning to readers, I'lll be discussing certain things which can be considered spoilers for the preceding titles so be forewarned.

The Price Of Faith begins once again with Thanquil who now finds him being hunted. His prey now has turned predator and the witch stalks Thanquil in his dreams as well as the awakened stage. Thanquil is still bitter about his parting with Jezzet who now finds herself as the court of the Dragon Empire and a friend to the Dragon Empress. A stranger in a strange land, Jezzet finds herself drawn to the weird customs and a certain dark and dangerous pirate who also happens to be the paramour of the Dragon Empress. Drake Morass is feared by everyone and for good reason. His antics in Chade haven’t gone unnoticed however he has a bigger game in mind.

Lastly there’s Betrim “Black Thorn” Thorne who now finds himself as the head of a new crew of deadly misfits and a drunken sot named Anders. Betrim still hungers for revenge for the events that befell him at the end of the first book and just maybe he might find the person who bested him. However can the Black Thorn best those far deadlier than him and his crew. These are the many questions posed in this final volume. However this story is about our three leads introduced in the first book, they all have changed. Jezzet was a killer however by the end of the first book became a true blademaster. Betrim was a scoundrel and murderer however he became a deadlier leader and now leads the motley crew of Henry, Pern, Ben Six Cities, Anders and Riley. This third volume is about the change that befalls Thanquil. We get to learn how he acquired the sobriquet of Darkheart that has followed him around since his initiations as an arbiter. We get to see what really happened in his childhood and how he was “saved” by Arbiter Prin.

We get to see his connection with the Templar Jacob Lee as well learn why the Emperor chose him for the furtive mission. All of this and more is laid bare, in this ending volume. As is the case with the preceding two volumes, characterization once again is the author’s forte. We get all our main POV characters back however once again it’s the side character cast who make the read that much more rewarding. Last time around we got to know Henry, Pern and Anders and while they are back, it’s pirate captain Drake Morass who steals the show every time he graces the pages. Oozing menace and charm in equal measure; Drake Morass is a charmer who is poison to those he opposes.

He however also steals scenes whenever he appears and confounds our POV characters as much as he does the readers. I believe the author is setting him up for something pivotal in the future and he will be playing a major role in the books to come. Not that he doesn’t play any less of a significant one in this one as well. The action sequences are no less exciting than the preceding volume, however this time around; there are pirates, dragons and demons involved. All the threads introduced so far come to an exciting, action-filled climax which answers some pretty fundamental questions about the nature of reality of the world, the aspect of calling upon a god’s power and also concept of avatar-hood.

All the characters from the previous two volumes make an appearance (at least the ones left alive) and there are a few new ones to hook the reader’s interest. There’s also the character arc, with this book it’s Thanquil who gets the treatment and we get a peek into his madness. This book makes him even more sympathetic and a little crazy. He’s been pushed to the end of his wits due to the fact that Jezzet is somewhere and needs his help. Thanquil’s background and powers are laid bare and as a reader it was good to read what makes such a complex character tick.

Going on to the drawbacks of the book, one factor going against is that not all threads are completely closed. In fact the epilogue alone puts a whole new spin on the entire story that has happened within the space of three books. Also there’s the aspect of character deaths and particularly a couple of characters meet untimely ends. This on a whole kept the story exciting however on a personal note, I was just saddened by it. Lastly the only other thing that might cause heartache for readers is the fact there’s a resolution provided but that might not be what they expect. To some it might be underwhelming in a way. I think that was the author’s intent to undercut expectations and it will be up to each reader to gauge how successful the author was.

CONCLUSION: The Price Of Faith brings to an explosive end to a trilogy that while being self-published can be safely considered as a superb dark fantasy trilogy. It will have its detractors but the fans outnumber them sharply. The Price Of Faith is indeed about the faith that the characters have invested and the price it extracts when their conventions are challenged. Simply put this is a fantastic end to a great trilogy and a terrific beginning to Rob J. Hayes’ career.

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