Teaser Tuesday

This week is book three of the Domains of the Chosen, Bloodlust: The Shield Maiden. I often look upon this book as a failure of kind. I failed to keep up the momentum from Domains of the Chosen #2 by naming it Warbound: The Shield Maiden on release. My plan was to signal that this book took place outside the arena, but all I did was confuse readers. Sales picked up after I changed the name, but it took two more books to recover.

Bloodlust TSM cover

This scene is from the middle of the book, and has been altered to cut spoilers.

The Spire Lady shook her head. “You are deluded Legate. You hold two of my people. You have no right to shelter them–”

The Legate raised his hand, swiftly, cutting the Kirifan woman off. Her Elites stirred, like angry bees. The Legate smiled and spoke. “I’m afraid that I do, Spire Lady [Click]kith. The laws of my people are quite clear in these matters. I must do my best to protect any citizens of the Empire who shelter with me. Your daughters-in-law became citizens of the Empire when they married the Chosen. I have a clear duty to shelter the citizens of the Domains, under the laws of my homeland. My hands are tied. They remain with us, unless you can convince them to return of their own free will.”

“Don’t be foolish Legate,” said the Spire Lady. “Look at what you are facing. You cannot possibly face the united armies of Kirif and survive. You are alone here, cut off from your people and surrounded by enemies. Make pragmatic choices and you might survive to return home. You gain nothing by keeping these [Click]ka.”

Lady [Click]kith spat the last word; the Legate laughed.

“If we are speaking frankly, perhaps we should invite the Deomen to this talk as well. After all, while you may be able to defeat us I will make sure to bloody the waters enough that the sharks come calling. The Deomen are watching. Your city is wounded Spire Lady; two citizens of Krass are not worth the hardship that will come if you face us.”

“Will your men die for these whores?” snarled the Spire Lady.

“No,” said the Legate. “They will kill for these women. They will drown this field in Kirifan blood to protect their citizens and their brothers and sisters in arms. They will fight to the last Legionnaire, if they must, having seen the viciousness with which you turn upon your allies. And as they fall, they will be comforted by the knowledge that if they do not return, then the Legions will seek out their lost brethren. My people will come here, in force. You cannot understand what this means, but remember that your husband saw our power and that is why he chose to ally with us. One Legion put flight to your greatest foes. This was an expedition of peace. What will you do when we come for war?”

Here we have a bit of a culture clash between a Kirifan noble and a Legion Commander. It takes place on the field as the Legion is withdrawing to seek safety.

The war altar flashed again, blasting men and spears into the air, followed moments later by a great concussive boom. A cry of dismay went up from the Kirifans in that section, and they wavered. Had they not been defending their homes they would have broken and run.

In the shadow of the Eastern spires the Kirifan Phalanx struggled against the Deomen horde. The scale of the battle was overwhelming and frantic, more like the shifting tides than the acts of men.

Headtaker finished a wounded Silver Mask with a dismissive kick, pausing to survey the field as the Phalanx pulled up and reformed behind her. The Kirifans communicated their battle orders with a series of fluid sounds that she could hear even over the din of battle. She saw the gap in their lines where she was needed most and ran toward it.

Their goal was to hold the Eastern Bridge. It was a grim effort. The immense War Altar had shattered the wall of eastern Kirif and was now turning its power against the armies holding the breach. Wherever it struck the brave Kirifan Hoplites were reduced to red ruin and chaos.

In the wake of each blast the Deomen surged forward. They did so now, howling gleefully, a dozen warped giants wearing Gold Masks at the forefront. Kirifan siege engines fired, glass globes spreading noxious fumes among the enemy. One of the crews, by fortune or by skill, shattered a globe of clear liquid on the face of a Gold Mask, melting both mask and face, sending the beast sprawling, drawing a cheer from the Kirifan lines. The Spireless, now armed as skirmishers or with discarded Deomen slings bombarded the Howlers from above as the lines closed.

This bit is from the first siege of Kirif, where Gavin and Sadira are drawn into a larger conflict, that will culminate in book 5.

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Teaser Tuesday: A Little Bosh

This week’s Tuesday Teaser is a throwback to Bloodlust: A Shield Maiden, the third Domains of the Chosen Novel. It features Bosh, who is an… interesting character, a more traditional archetype that my other male leads.

“Black Sails!” the shout echoed across the water.

Bosh eagerly tightened his grip on his heavy bladed sword and axe, eager for the fight. The fat war-barges and ships of the Sudran pirate fleet moved far too slowly for his liking. It also rankled him that the plan called for them to run from the enemy, at least initially.

“Fucking tactics,” Bosh muttered, mostly to himself, “always getting in the way of a good fight.”

Chosen Brightloch wanted to cripple the pirates that infested the waters around Sudra’s Horn, the northern tip of the continent Sudra. The pirates were a thorn in the side of the expedition, one that needed to be pulled now that they were underway. It would not do for them to be able to raid the expedition’s supply vessels at will.

“Try to look frightened Bosh,” said the First Shield beside him. “Logistics crewmen usually don’t drool at the prospect of being raided.”

“Don’t matter, Arturo,” said Bosh, savouring the frown that his insolence purchased from the First Shield. Ol’ Arturo would hardly punish him with a fight looming, and Bosh cared less about what happened after the action. “Them son’s o’ whores see red now. Any one of ’em breaks off or shows caution and the others will brand them cowards and hunt ’em down later. The blood is in the water and the sharks are in a frenzy, lads.”

Bosh thumped his chest. The First Shield shook his head but said nothing.

Their fleet, made to look like heavy-laden stragglers from the rear of the main expedition fleet, consisted of a dozen ships and a pair of plausible looking escorts, heavy ironclads with powerful cannons.

The pirates had well over a hundred vessels by Bosh’s reckoning, although they were a mixed bunch. They likely planned to swiftly swarm the Krassian ships while their tougher ships ran interference against the deadly Ironclads. Many of the ships were little more than oar propelled war- barges that were fast moving, but barely seaworthy. Others were small, agile, single-sailed ships that rode the water with enviable agility. There were a few that looked to be warships stolen from The Domains, and several others that Bosh didn’t care to identify. His eye was drawn to a behemoth of a vessel at the back of the bunch.

“Is that thing made of bone?” asked one of the men.

Bosh is big and bold, and does what he wants even though it tends to constantly bite him in the ass. To some of his compatriots he is a hero, a man’s man, and the backbone of the Warbound. Others see him as a bully and a reckless screw up or just a weapon to be unleashed and then put back in his cage. Having Bosh as a perspective character allows the reader to get inside his head, and form their own opinion as to his character.

I often treat the Shield Maiden as the bastard child of the series because I made a horrific branding error when I released it. For some reason I decided that calling it Warbound: The Shield Maiden would be a good idea. The thought was that the Warbound moniker would help readers get in the right mindset for the first book in the Domains series that did not happen in the arena. I stuck with this idea, even when my dad advised me against it, because it was in a very dark time in my life and I just had to stick to the plan and keep going or drown.

Which is why, of course, later in the same fight, Bosh punches a sea monster, which is just over the top.

Bosh plunged deep, aided by the weight of his armour and the stoneskin spell he had cast. He looked about him as he sank and kicked towards the nearest war-barge. A shadow cut towards him, something large and swift. He turned to meet it, catching sight of a mouthful of jagged teeth closing around him. The teeth clamped onto his armour. Bosh felt a pain in his leg as one tooth penetrated. The stoneskin would not hold up. Plunging his hand into the maw he channelled hard, casting a fireball down the beast’s throat. The explosion blasted Bosh out of the maw. The beast, a real monster, lit up from the inside out as it died. Bosh kicked to the surface. He saw the cannons of a ship above him go off, a remarkable sight from under the waves. The fire of the guns was magnified even as the furious sound was muted by the deep.

Yeah, I would love to see that on the big screen or in a video game 😛

Interestingly, other than Vintia (the titular Shield Maiden). Arturo and Bosh are my favourite characters in this book.

Title Change for Book Three

After much soul searching, more like agonized dawdling I suppose, I have decided to change the name of Warbound: The Shield Maiden to Bloodlust: The Shield Maiden. Many readers are not connecting Warbound with the first two Domains of the Chosen Books. This is entirely my fault, as most of my beta readers suggested that I keep the name Bloodlust for consistency. I should have listened, but I was focused on getting the book out and not thinking enough about branding issues.

Hopefully the switch does not cause any problems. Here is what the new cover looks like. It will release on the 16th. If you have the old cover, don’t worry about switching over, the book itself remains unchanged.

Not a huge change, but it is still a mistake on my part.

Not a huge change, but it is still a mistake on my part.

If this does cause a problem for anyone, let me know and I will send you a file in any format you choose.

 

Domains of the Chosen Facebook Ad

My Domains of the Chosen series is three years, and three novels old. Readers who enjoy superheroic action, strange monsters, explosive magic, and political intrigue should definitely give these books a try. Read the excerpts on Amazon or try my free short story, Bloodlust: The Great Games, on Smashwords.

Click on any of the books to follow a link to amazon.com.

Domains of the Chosen book one.

Domains of the Chosen book one.

Bloodlust follows the career of Gavin, an unlikely Gladiator, and five friends.

Bloodlust: Will to Power

Domains of the Chosen book two.

The second Bloodlust novel follows the six Gladiators as they seek their place in the world, leading up the Grand Championships.

Bloodlust TSM cover

Domains of the Chosen Book Three

The Shield Maiden takes the action outside of the arena, following a former Gladiatrix as she enlists in the Legions to uphold a family legacy. Hi folks, I’m promoting this as a facebook ad, let me know what you think!

Teaser Tuesday

In two days I will upload Warbound: The Shield Maiden to Amazon. If all goes well it will be available for download on Thursday.

I want to thank everyone who helped me out or offered encouragements. This year has been tough, with several deaths and unfortunate events, not just for me, but for my family and friends. With your help I persevered, perhaps even prospered in some ways. I am truly lucky to have friends, family, and fans who care so much.

Here is the final version of the cover.

The Final Version

The Final Version

Damn fine work.

And here is one last set of teasers for ya’ll. I hope you enjoy the book.

Finally, the time came to embark. The Bright Company, Ninth Legion in tow, marched through the North Gates of the Capital, down through the tall-house tenements, up through the industrial districts and out onto a long pier full of ships.

            The people of Krass lined the streets to watch the procession. The expedition to Ithal’Duin was seen as folly by some, but most people were eager for tales of new lands and the hope of new opportunities that they might bring.

            Chosen Brightloch, smiling at the head of the parade, with strange-eyed Ri[click]va at his side drew many cheers. Some among the crowd remembered his time in the arena, fifty years past.

Vintia marched with the Eighth Cohort, the first unit of the Ninth Legion to reach the ships. The engineers of the Eighth would oversee the loading of artillery and other delicate equipment through out the day, while the rest of the Legion would assist the civilian pioneers.

            Legions on campaign typically included a contingent of professionals that tended to their needs.  These ranged from smiths and healers, to herdsmen and cooks. The Bright Company included a much larger number of these, adding prospectors, surveyors, and many other specialists who would ready the Chosen’s Domain for settlers.

            Many of these civilian pioneers had been handpicked by Brightloch himself. They were rugged travellers who rode in collapsible waggons. Whether stream powered, elemental, or animal driven, these waggons would be rapidly dissassembled and stowed aboard the ships.

            Over two dozen transport vessels, escorted by a trio of fearsome Ironclads, would make the journey.

            A smaller crowd gathered the next day, as the sun rose and the ships finally set sail. Vintia scanned the people gathered, a cheering mass, looking for familiar faces as they wind pushed them away from home and toward adventure.

And here is a second bit. These excerpts twere added to the book during late re-writes, both based on reader feedback, from my sister and brother, if I recall correctly.

“I like it here,” said Sadira looking out over the Spires of Kirif from a sheltered cove. They lay on the beach, naked and entwined, watching the Fologi play in the wake of three massive ironclads headed to Fort Nerus.

“It is rather far from Krass,” said Gavin. “Are you sure?”

“You and I are only allowed a single Domain,” said Sadira. “And a single vote in the Council of the Chosen. Why hurry? We can also communicate without a link over long distances. What stops us from continuing our explorations here? I am fond of the idea that others won’t be looking over our shoulders all the time.”

“So be it,” said Gavin. “Let us be a little more open about it than Chosen Brightloch.”

“I would prefer to stay out of Kirifan politics as much as possible,” said Sadira.

Gavin laughed. “What about your plans to reconquer Avenholt?”

“Don’t think I’ve given up on that, Gavin,” said Sadira. “I am an ambitious woman, and I am learning the value of patience. I will follow that dream when I am ready. I will enjoy the fruit that is Ithal’Duin while it is at hand, learn what I can, and move on. We don’t have to settle here.”

The Cover, In rough

After a long day I had Dan’s first full draft of the cover for the Warbound: The Shield Maiden waiting for me!

The First Image (note the brightness of the purple)

The First Image (note the brightness of the purple)

I like the composition, but the purple struck me as too intense. After discussing this and a few other changes with Dan, here is the second iteration.

The Second Draft

The Second Draft

Compare the two. I find the second more to my liking. I suggested a few more changes, which are not on this version. Mainly positioning font stuff. In all I am very happy with it.