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Thursday, December 15, 2022

GUEST POST: The World Of The Spellbinders And The Gunslingers trilogy by Joseph John Lee

Order The Bleeding Stone over HERE

Hi there! My name is Joe Lee (or Joseph John Lee as it’s listed on my book and birth certificate), and I’m here to introduce you to the world of my debut novel, THE BLEEDING STONE. I’d like to thank Fantasy Book Critic for allowing me to move the furniture around.

THE BLEEDING STONE is the first in THE SPELLBINDERS AND THE GUNSLINGERS trilogy. It is an epic fantasy story with undertones and inflections of historical fantasy, adventure fantasy, and grimdark fantasy. It was a project borne of some of my own frustrations with American historical education, specifically the whitewashing of some of the atrocities in the founding of the country, and the modern-day equivalents which still run through American culture.

When I began writing THE BLEEDING STONE in March of 2020, it was a way to air out those frustrations, to admonish the concept of history being written by the victors, to reject imperialism and colonialism and the notion of exceptionalism superseding the sins inherent in the forging of a nation. And then, as a country, we began having those conversations a few months later in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the mass protests resultant from it.
I suppose you can say that this is my contribution to that conversation, two years late though it may be.

Series Overview

This series is set on a small island that will one day be known as the nation of Ferranda, the jewel of the Acrarian Kingdom, where its Founder, the Lord Aritz a Mata, is revered as a god among men. The tomes detailing the founding of Ferranda speak only of Aritz’s brave exploits in claiming an uncharted territory in the name of Acraria’s King and Queen, a territory that has yielded bountiful resources and utilities in spite of its small size, and what was once merely an island that served as a stopover in between the Kingdom to the east and the newly-discovered lands far across the ocean to the west has become one of the most prosperous holdings under the King and Queen’s yoke.

But a nation’s history books rarely tell the entire story.

In truth, the island that would one day become Ferranda was once home to a nameless union of indigenous Tribes, reverent of the heightened powers and aptitudes granted to them by their triumvirate of Animal Deities: the Bear, the Wolf, and the Owl.

And among these gods, there sat no place for Aritz a Mata, who was merely but a man and an Invader finding for himself and his people along the land’s southern shores, and in the process either displacing the southern Tribes or rendering them entirely extinct.

Fifteen years after the Invaders’ initial landing, the Stone Tribe of the unconquered north has offered a safe haven for the southern Tribes displaced by Aritz’s forces, whose occupying march north has been ostensibly halted by a dense forest barrier dividing the north from the south.

Among the Stone people lives Sen, a young woman who is seen as an outcast due to the circumstances of her birth, but is preserved in society only due to her status as the daughter of her Tribe’s Chief. Though she is kept to the outer fringes of society, Sen is able to find comfort in her life of forced solitude with her close inner circle, but the days of peace within the northern reaches are soon to come to a close.

For when Aritz’s technologically advanced forces at last break through the treacherous expanse of the dividing Forest, there will be little to stop the reach of ambition when faced with the forging of a nation.
The Tribes and Magic

As alluded to previously, the island upon which this tale takes place is comprised of numerous Tribes, seven to be exact.

The first of these Tribes is the Keepers. The only Tribe to dwell within the northern mountains, a range of peaks known among the Tribes as the Heart of the Land (or colloquially just the Heart), they devoutly serve and protect the three Animal Deities. Chief among their duties is the conducting of the “Trial,” a coming-of-age ritual during which the young flock of the various Tribes officially pass into adulthood and receive a Boon associated with one of the three Deities (which I will explain in detail further below).

Settled at the base of the Heart is the Stone Tribe, the largest of all the Tribes. Where the Keepers have been labeled the guardians of the Deities, the Stone Tribe can be considered the guardians of the Heart of the Land, given their proximity to the mountains. Their territorial claims once stretched from one end of the mountains base to the other, extending from coast to coast, but they have since opened their vast expanse of land holdings to those Tribes displaced by the Invaders’ occupation of the south.

Southwest of the Stone Tribe dwells the Lake Tribe, a collective of adamant and skilled fighters who have laid claim to the perimeter of the Big Lake from which they have derived their name. A Tribe that has often succumbed to infighting over the years, specifically towards those dwelling on opposite ends of the Big Lake, they are skilled naval fighters – even though that is largely due to the fact that they’ve constantly warred with each other on boat.

(Art by Felix Ortiz & Design-typography by Shawn T. King)

Within the dense Forest barrier separating north and south lives the Wood Tribe. Fiercely defensive of their land, many Tribes have drawn their ire simply by passing through the Forest – even those who were forced to do so as they were exiled from their own lands.

Among those displaced by the Invaders are the Sun Tribe, the first to face the Invaders as they were the ones who first welcomed Aritz to their shores. Perhaps the most hospitable Tribe, this was their undoing as Aritz’s forces took advantage of this kindness and took the Sun lands for themselves. As the Sun Tribe made their way north, they were further set upon by the zealous defenders of the Wood Tribe, waning their numbers even further. Now allowed to settle in the Stone Tribe’s northeastern territories, they now seek the aid of other Tribes in an effort to reclaim their lands from the Invaders.

Allowed to settle in the northwestern Stone territories is the Arrow Tribe, a group of nomadic wayfarers and horseriders hailing originally from the southern Steppes. The only Tribe brave enough to tame the wild horses of the south, they made their livelihood upon their steeds until the Invaders stole the steeds for themselves and forced the Arrow Tribe northward.

The final Tribe is the Haunted – a people that many believe to be extinct. Bearing the brunt of the Invader assault, the Haunted could not escape the Acrarians’ grasp, and those few who remain are forced into servitude in the Invader settlements. The term “Haunted” is not the true name of the Tribe, but rather a mocking term used to address the Tribe’s fascination with the concept of death, such to the point that they believe they can commune with the souls of the dead, whom they call the “lost.”

One of the chief tenets of Tribal life is the concept of the “Trial.” When a Tribesperson is born, they are set under a Sign in the sky which correlates to one of the three Deities. When said person comes of age at eighteen, they make a pilgrimage to the mountain ranges of the Heart and undertake a Trial, the content of which varies from person to person. Upon completion of this Trial, not only is the person allowed to enter adulthood, but they also receive a Boon related the associations and ideals of their respective Deity. Those born under the Sign of the Bear receive Boons related to physical prowess; under the Sign of the Wolf are granted abilities associated with the hunt; and those under the Sign of the Owl receive amplifications of their own wisdom.

Those who fail their Trials are thereby banished from their Tribes, forced to live on their own from there on.

And then there are those born under an Eclipse who…ah, I’m getting ahead of myself there. You’ll just have to read and find out on that one.


I’d like to once again thank the folks at Fantasy Book Critic for allowing me to share this world with you all. THE BLEEDING STONE has been published on December 13, 2022, in physical and electronic formats.

Order The Bleeding Stone over HERE
OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: Joseph John Lee is the author of THE BLEEDING STONE, the first in THE SPELLBINDERS AND THE GUNSLINGERS trilogy. He has lived near the Boston area for most of his life, except for the years when he didn’t. He pursued a career in academia and received a Bachelor’s degree and two Master’s degrees in history before realizing his true passion lay in creating new worlds rather than studying old ones. Currently, he works in higher education and spends too much time looking at dog accounts on Instagram.
THE BLEEDING STONE is his first novel. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @joelee__.



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