A disappointment

‘Game Of Thrones’ Audience Disappointed By Season Finale’s Bland, Uninspired Incest
Criticizing the show’s reluctance to explore new creative ground, Game Of Thrones fans reported being disappointed Sunday by the bland, uninspired incest in the HBO drama’s season finale.

“You’d think this far into the show’s run they’d have found some new angles on incestuous relationships, but this was just more of the same, by-the-numbers intercourse between blood relatives we’ve seen before,” said local viewer Jaime Cohn, echoing the views of thousands of fans who complained about the series’ increasingly derivative depiction of sexual relations between siblings and other family members. “In the early seasons, it felt like the show’s creators weren’t afraid to take risks on fresh ideas like incest involving twins or even between multiple generations of the same family, but since then it hasn’t really progressed at all. By this point, they should be experimenting with things like group sex with identical quadruplets, but it’s pretty obvious that the writers are just on autopilot now.” 

Despite their disappointment with the episode’s lackluster incest, fans almost unanimously agreed that the show’s latest season had staked out bold new territory in terms of narrative implausibility.

As for myself, I was a little shocked. There has been no rape at all this entire season. Which would seem impossible for A Game of Thrones, until you recall that the series has passed the material from George RR Martin’s novels. But I’m sure Martin will rectify this shocking and uncharacteristic omission when he finally gets around to writing the novelization of the TV series based on his previous novels.
There is still a long way to go, but I have to admit that I am increasingly confident that ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT will eventually come to be seen as superior epic fantasy in comparison to A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.

A THRONE OF BONES is free this week

In Selenoth, the race of Man is on the ascendant. The ancient dragons sleep. The ghastly Witchkings are no more; their evil power destroyed by the courage of Men and the fearsome magic of the Elves. The Dwarves have retreated to the kingdoms of the Underdeep, the trolls hide in their mountains, and even the savage orc tribes have learned to dread the iron discipline of Amorr’s mighty legions. But after four hundred years of mutual suspicion, the rivalry between two of the Houses Martial that rule the Amorran Senate threatens to turn violent, and unrest sparks rebellion throughout the imperial provinces.

In the north, the barbarian reavers who have long plagued the coasts of the White Sea unexpectedly plead for the royal protection of the King of Savondir, as they flee a vicious race of wolf-demons who have invaded their islands. And in the distant east, the war drums echo throughout the mountains as orcs and goblins gather in vast numbers, summoned by their bestial gods.
Epic fantasy at its deepest and most gripping, A THRONE OF BONES is Book I in the ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT. DRM-free.
The 924-page monster is also a free download for the next four days. If you’ve been holding off on dipping your toe into the murky waters of Selenoth, this would be the time to jump in. Of course, no matter how excellent, an ebook is no substitute for the beautiful hardcover or even the imposing paperback.
From the reviews:

  • “This hefty tome has a scope and grandeur rivaling George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, but instead of mocking heroic ideals, Day celebrates them.”
  • “This book contains strong traces DNA from Umberto Eco and Neal Stephenson, but it stands on its own as a fantastically monstrous creature.”
  • “There are beautiful moments, there is clever dialogue, there is deep mystery. It took some level of genius to write it.”
  • “There are gritty moments and complex characters. But what really distinguishes A Throne of Bones from other recent epic fantasy is that Day hasn’t forgotten the value of beauty. ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT is the most promising new series in epic fantasy.”
  • “He’s a far better writer than most fantasy authors you’ll find. His pacing is incredible, as somehow the last half of this beastly volume flies by with accelerating momentum, and the ending actual feels like a grandiose beginning while still bringing closure to most of the threads.”
Don’t forget that Book II of the ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT, A SEA OF SKULLS, is a finalist for Best Fantasy Novel in the 2017 Dragon Awards. Or our new release, the brutally funny THE PROMETHEAN, which is presently the #1 bestseller in Satire.

The Wardog’s Coin, in detail

And considerably more detail than you’re probably suspecting. It’s rather like the start of a wargame ruleset.

In the interest of speed, Ulgor left his siege train behind but still possessed a potent force of heavily armored orc boar riders. Unless a means was found to neutralize this force the elves and mercenaries would be forced to retreat. In desperation, a risky plan was hatched and the ensuing night raid is an exciting part of story. The Sergeant and a companion are drafted to raid the boar corral, carried aloft and inserted into the camp by hawks, flown by elven mage/scouts. Depositing the conduits for elven magic around the boar corral, the Sergeant accounts for half the boar order of battle but his companion’s efforts are fruitless. This is enough to convince the Elven king to chance his luck and make a stand, defending the first village in his realm instead of abandoning it to the invaders.

Despite the loss of half his heavy cavalry Ulgor continues his advance the next day. The story resumes after the Sergeant rejoins his company and prepares to meet the final wave of attacks. The initial attacks only consisted of goblin conscripts whose sacrifice was intended to tire the defenders. This last wave consisted of goblins in the vanguard immediately followed by the boar riders, heading direct for the mercenary company, holding the weakest part of the line (despite being in the center the section of ditch to their immediate front is the most shallow). Ulgor’s tactics are simple, easily anticipated but still feared by the elves and mercenaries alike. The goblins are to soak up elf defensive fire, the boars will punch a hole in the line, followed closely by heavily armed and fresh orc warriors.

 The map below shows the positions of the various units as the goblins begin the final charge. Of note, this is the only battle map, fictional or historical, to contain the words “Big Arse”

The Wardog’s Coin is included in Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy & Other Stories.

Latest reviews of A SEA OF SKULLS

At Castalia House, we are intent on building gradually, on the strong foundations of well-loved series of novels rather than chasing one-off hits. Amazon has listed Arts of Dark and Light as a series now, and the reviews for the latest installment continue to be gratifyingly positive.

Epic Fantasy done right

Vox Day has a gift. He is exceptionally skilled at crafting viewpoints that are reasonable, relatable, emotionally compelling, and completely opposed to each other. This serves him well in the genre of epic fantasy, as it enables him to ensure the reader is fully invested in all the many pieces that make up the puzzle of a great fantasy epic.

Not only do his characters feel realized, his plot is suitably grand. From labyrinthine schemes, to an army that has yet to show its true terror, and a pervading presence of evil that threatens all of Selenoth, our heroes have quite the obstacles to overcome. With these first two books we’ve been shown small pieces of the disaster that is to befall Selenoth, and I for one, cannot wait for the next installment.

Simply Amazing

Head and shoulders above its predecessor, which is no mean feat! It manages to have multiple characters with completely different viewpoints without a) becoming a confusing mess or b) being disappointing when subbing in an uninteresting character for an interesting one, since all the characters were genuinely interesting. All were fully fleshed out and heroic in their own way. Amazing world-building also really made the story come alive, everything had a real sense of place. A fantastic read, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

The Saga of Selenoth Grows and Gains Momentum

One of my favorite, all-too-brief parts of Lord of the Rings was the brief view of things we get from an orcish perspective when Sam is temporarily bearing the ring on Frodo’s behalf; not with guilty pleasure because the orcs were bad, but because it gave us a glimpse of the world of Middle Earth and War of the Ring from such a different point of view. A Sea of Skulls, the second installment in the Arts of Dark and Light trilogy pentalogy set in the world of Selenoth–a fantasy realm where elves and dwarves, orcs and goblins, have been partially displaced by a Catholicized Roman Empire exerting powerful influence through the iron discipline of its legions–gives us that and much more.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like for Roman infantry, with their centurions and balllistae, to stand their ground against goblin hordes, war pigs, and orcish shamans (or have now begun to wonder), the world of Selenoth is for you, and the Arts of Dark and Light trilogy pentalogy  tells a complex and engaging story of war and intrigue set in that world as the various races of Selenoth are manipulated and set against each other by powerful actors in the shadows….

This is grown-up fantasy which makes for a decent study of human (or orcish, for that matter) nature, not to mention Roman military chain of command, and entertains questions like how the seemingly inevitable decline of an advanced but decadent elven civilization could possibly be reversed, and how dwarves unexpectedly stuck in their own tunnels might feel about it. The violence depicted is quite explicit, both in the grim reality of war and especially in the opening scene of a brutal orc raid on a human village, but not exulted in, and one manages to understand the comradery-in-arms of warriors on every side of the struggle, human or otherwise.

But speaking of trilogies that are not trilogies, let’s not forget the first quarter of John C. Wright’s excellent Moth & Cobweb series. The final book of The Green Knight’s Squire have also been getting excellent reviews.

Fantastic modern, yet traditional fantasy

If you like the old tales of elves, heroes, Arthurian legends, men and monsters and great deeds, then you will enjoy this modern retelling. Highly enjoyable and recommended.

A Fine Conclusion to an Excellent Adventure Trilogy

Swan Knight’s Sword is a fitting end to the story of Gilberec Moth, an idealistic teenager out of place in the human world who gradually becomes a brave, worthy, Christian knight….The same elements present in the earlier works are apparent here. Swashbuckling adventure featuring lavish description of mystical beings and surroundings as well as full-blooded, desperate combat. A strong sense of Christian morality. Many newly revealed secrets of both Gil’s past and the elf world.

As with the second book, there are a myriad of references, both Christian and pagan, expertly blended together. I was particularly amused by the one to a character of Edgar Rice Burroughs, an author all modern adventure writers owe a debt of gratitude to. Or the use of Roland’s horn.

However, this installment also introduces several new wrinkles. There is a more varied, consistent use of humor. Much of it comes from Ruff, Gil’s trusty dog whose barks he can understand. In fact, all the interaction with Gil talking to animals is funny. John C Wright evidently discovered the same comedic truth that Ricky Gervais has; personifying animals is always funny. There is also verbal humor and some absurdist situations.

Swan Knight’s Sword features an especially strong conclusion, being the culmination of Gil’s transformation from a strange boy into a righteous, mighty man. While it satisfyingly ends this tale of Gilberec Moth, it promises more adventure for both him and the world at large.

A worthy ending, a tantalizing beginning

Swan Knight’s Sword is the best in this trilogy. A beautiful paean of adventure, courage, honor, loyalty and love. This book reminds me of the stuff I read in my youth, before the fantasy genre was a cesspool of pornography and meaningless nihilistic violence. I laughed, I cried, I wished I had a sword. But of course one does not simply walk into MordorMart and buy a sword, one must be bequeathed a sword by a father, or win one in a heroic quest. And sometimes one must hunt down and confront the magically invulnerable sasquatch that stole your father’s sword. This is one of those times…

An introduction to Selenoth

In case you’re wondering what all the discussion of the various Selenoth-related books is about, or if some of the superlatives being cast about could be even remotely justified, you can now dip your toe into the epic fantasy waters at neither risk nor cost to yourself, as A MAGIC BROKEN is free on Kindle today.

The ebook is a novella in which is related the brief intersection of two perspective characters from A THRONE OF BONES and A SEA OF SKULLS prior to the events of either book. I think those who are fans of the Arts of Dark and Light series would agree that it is a reasonably fair warning of what the reader can expect from immersion into what is now, according to Amazon’s most recent Kindle Normalized Page Count, a cumulative 3,053 pages of epic high fantasy.

Anyhow, if you haven’t read it yet, I’d encourage you to download it and check it out. Even if fantasy isn’t really your thing, it’s more than a bit of a spy thriller as well.


A text sample from the newly released Book Two in Arts of Dark and Light, A SEA OF SKULLS, featuring one of the new perspective characters, Lugbol, the captain of a warband of orcs called the Black Fist. If you are new to the fictional world of Selenoth, pick up both Books One and Two, but start with A THRONE OF BONES for a combined 1,303 pages of truly epic military fantasy.

“I have tasted Manflesh! I have raped she-men! I have burned Man cities!”

Lugbol rolled his eyes. Who hadn’t? He was almost embarrassed for the big mountain orc, who was boasting of his accomplishments while stalking back and forth in a large circle of about fifty warband leaders listening to their warleader’s customary evening rant. As for the burned cities, most of them had held populations smaller than Lugbol’s own kai hari gungiyar. If they were the terrible Man cities of which Lugbol had been told frightening stories since he was a small orcling, then he was a one-armed goblin.

“Man-Zarki’agh shaking in their tents! Man-Kings on their thrones pissing themselves when they hear the name Zlatagh! Zlatagh Life-taker! Zlatagh Piss-maker! Zlatagh Man-eater!”

That was their cue. “Maneater! Maneater!” the shugaba’ugh obediently chanted, Lugbol among them. He knew that Zlatagh secretly hungered after the praise-name Mansbane, but even the giant warleader knew better than to risk stepping on the clawed toes of the Great Orc Azzakhar, whose claim to the title would certainly trump Zlatagh’s.

And Lugbol rather doubted any Man-King had ever heard the name Zlatagh, let alone pissed himself for fear of it.

Zlatagh was an imposing brute, though, even for a mountain orc. He stood nearly a head taller than most of the shugaba’ugh gathered around him, with a thick chest and heavy muscles that belied his violent speed. A pair of captured iron Man plates covered each powerful shoulder; two cow’s horns had somehow been driven through the center of both breastplates, curving upward like two spare pairs of tusks. Zlatagh’s own tusks were nearly as large; they were thick, yellowed with maturity, and reached nearly to the tip of his nose. Almost unique among the orcs present, Zlatagh’s tusks were unsharpened and unadorned with any bone, paint, or metal.

But that didn’t mean they weren’t fearsome weapons. Lugbol had seen with his own eyes how the big orc once used them to disembowel a goblin. The goblin had been wearing leather armor too, which made the feat all the more impressive. After Azzakhar commanded Zlatagh to invade the Man lands two moons past, the Maneater had found himself facing three challenges to his leadership, two of them on the very first day. Zlatagh beheaded one with the monstrous cleaver he called Headchopper, blinded the second with his bare hands, and ripped the arm off the third before using it to bash in the skull of the overmatched orc. At this point, only a truly thick-skulled shugaba would dare to cross the giant orc, let alone challenge him.

Nor, beyond personal ambition, was there any reason for anyone to do so. Zlatagh was a good warleader, and the warbands over which he’d been given command had enjoyed an unbroken string of victories under his leadership. More than one hundred Man villages had been pillaged and burned, and the orc encampment was littered with the broken remnants of trophies taken throughout the spring campaign. None could complain that he had not passed the ultimate test of leadership; providing his followers with more food than they could eat and more booty than they could carry. Not a single orc’s belly didn’t bulge with fat of the last two moons’ devourings, and even the most cowardly goblin wolfrider wore decorative trophies of one sort or another by now.

That didn’t mean Lugbol was entirely confident in the big mountain orc. Smashing sparsely guarded hamlets and carrying off helpless herds and captives was one thing, defeating a large and well-armed army of the sort that waited for them at the northwestern edge of the Korokhurmagh was another. Zlatagh could boast that the Man chieftains were pissing themselves and afraid to take the field against him all he liked, but it hadn’t escaped Lugbol’s notice that it was their forces who avoided meeting the mounted patrols that chased them throughout the woods, and that Zlatagh hadn’t moved their encampment one step closer to the Man army ever since its presence had been reported by wolfriders fleeing from the metal-clad Mandokki warriors and the huge, fierce, four-legged beasts they rode.

“Who marches today! Who takes the fight to Man!”

“Lugbol!” Lugbol raised his fist and cried half-heartedly, quite happy to be outshouted by other shugaba’ugh more eager to demonstrate their enthusiasm to the big orc. “Lugbol!”

In truth, he was hoping to spend the next day or three in the camp, sleeping, squagging, and allowing four of his wounded warriors to recover from their injuries. One of his trophies was a large keg of yellow liquid that looked like piss, tasted like honey, and hit the skull harder than ale, wine, or club. He didn’t know what it was called, but he fully intended to drain it with the help of a few select companions this evening. It was a pity no females had been permitted; a few abokhi’agh would just about make for a perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon. There were a few she-men in the prisoner corral, but Lugbol was more in the mood for some relaxed and drunken squagging than having his ears assaulted by the piercing shrieks of a raped man. Rape was a fine thing when the dead enemy was strewn about, smoke was in one’s nostrils, and one’s blood was up, but for now it struck him as being more akin to work than pleasure. Especially considering how he only had one good arm at his disposal at the moment.

He watched the Maneater nod with satisfaction as the big orc looked over the shouting captains vying for his attention. Zlatagh laughed, a deep guttural sound, as he basked in the raw power of the moment. Two months of slaughter and victory had given him absolute control over the shugaba’ugh, and it was clear that he knew it.

“The auguries!” Zlatagh cried suddenly. “Bring forward the augurs! What say Gor-Gor?”

As the shouting dissolved into a general cheering, Lugbol saw a pair of heavily tattooed orcs with sharpened silver tusk-caps push into the center of the circle. They accompanied someone; at first Lugbol thought it might be a juvenile Man, but then he caught a sight of yellow-green skin and realized it was a goblin. Nearly half their troops were goblins; they had started out with ten thousand but thanks to the inevitable costs of the campaign, there were about fifteen hundred fewer of them now. The doomed creature looked wild with terror; he seemed to have a fair notion of his imminent fate. But he was silent and he did not struggle; there was literally nothing that a single goblin could do to save itself, not when surrounded by howling, blood-hungry orcs with arms twice the thickness of his legs.

The augury looked to be the usual entrail-reading. For some reason Lugbol had never quite grasped, Gor-Gor preferred to speak to his priests through the intestines of his lesser worshippers. Goblins were the preferred method of communication, though orcs, Men, and even large rats would do in a pinch. He noticed Gor-Gor never seemed to speak through either wolves or warboars, two martial commodities that were always in great demand.

The goblin broke his silence when one shaman kneeled down before him, then ripped open his stomach with both silver-tipped tusks. As the other shaman held the victim, chanting all the while, the killer began calling out the haruspictic ritual and reached into the goblin with both hands. Then he began walking backwards, pulling the dying goblin’s innards out. After taking seven steps, he gave three firm tugs, then finally released the bloody, stinking offal and let it fall with a wet thud. The other shaman followed his example, stepping back and finally allowing the moaning goblin to collapse, dying, to the ground.

Lugbol saw the shaman raise his bloody hands and call out to Gor-Gor. The shaman’s eyes suddenly rolled back into his head and he swayed back and forth, as if drunk, while looking over the entrails spread out upon the ground. He took a step forward, then another, holding his palms toward the ground with his fingers spread wide. It was as if he was feeling his way through something rising up from the spilled innards. Several of the shaman’s tattoos flared into life; a rune on his shoulder blazed red and began to smoke as it burned away his skin, but the shaman didn’t seem to feel or notice anything was wrong. With nothing but the whites of his eyes showing, he began to grunt and growl. Gradually, the guttural noises became discernible as words.

“Fire,” he rumbled. “Fire burns. Demon wings of fire, burning, burning. Demons, iron demons, and death.”

The shugaba’ugh looked at each other, confused. This was not how the ritual usually proceeded. Zlatagh’s eyes narrowed and he made as if to step forward, then the big orc stopped himself. Even a warleader would not dare to lay claws upon a shaman in the holy grip of Gor-Gor.

“Death come, death come, on fire and iron, death come to all!” The shaman’s voice rose into a shriek and he thrust his bloody hands skyward. Then, he began to shake and shiver, as if Gor-Gor was attempting to rid himself of his puppet. Finally, the shaman collapsed face-first on the ground, where he lay motionless except for his labored breathing. Smoke, stinking of burned flesh, rose from three or four blackened tattoos on his back and shoulders.

“The Hell he say? What does that mean?” a furious Zlatagh demanded of the other shaman. One might have almost thought that he was alarmed. “What was the damn augury?”
Lugbol looked around at his fellow shugaba’ugh. They were agitated and alarmed, with one significant exception. Snaghak, alone among the warband captains, wore an expression that was full of fury. He no longer looked triumphant, he looked downright vengeful. And, for once, Lugbol thought, Snaghak’s hatred didn’t appear to be directed at him. He stifled a dismissive snort and returned his attention to Zlatagh, who had grabbed the smaller shaman by his tattooed shoulders and was shaking him while shouting in his face.

“I don’t know!” the smaller orc pleaded. “I swear, I swear by Gor-Gor’s tail, I don’t know what happened!”

Zlatagh snarled in disgust and shoved the tattooed orc away from him. Then a groan from the fallen shaman caught the big orc’s attention and he whirled around to see the shaman, his skin still smoking slightly, trying to push himself up from the ground. The injured shaman failed the first time with a barely muted cry, then his muscles bulged with effort as he succeeded in rising to his knees on his second attempt. He didn’t seem to have known what happened to him earlier, because he suddenly winced and looked down at the burns on his shoulders with an expression of pained surprise.

“You!” Zlatagh said, reaching out and pulling the shaman to his feet. “What did you do? What thing did you see in the guts there? What secrets did Gor-Gor tell you?”

The shaman rolled his eyes and slumped in the warleader’s grasp. His initial reply was a drawn-out groan, but when the warleader violently shook him, it seemed to pull him out of his swoon. “I saw death. Everywhere, death.”

“Whose death! The Man cities?”

“No,” the stricken shaman said. He stared intensely into Zlatagh’s face. “Ours. Everywhere, all throughout the woods, I saw orcs dead on the ground, murdered, all of them, by demons of fire and iron!”

“You lie!” Zlatagh shouted instinctively, before driving an oversized fist into the shaman’s tattooed face. There was a loud crunch and the shaman crumpled as if he’d been cloven through the head with a dwarven axe. Whether the shaman was dead or not, Lugbol couldn’t tell, but he wouldn’t be surprised either way.

Zlatagh pointed at the other shaman, who was cringing behind the corpse of the goblin. “You, read the bloody guts! And tell me the truth or I’ll rip your balls out of your sack and feed them to you!”


In Selenoth, the war drums are beating throughout the land. The savage orcs of Hagahorn and Zoth Ommog are on the move, imperiling Man, Dwarf, and Elf alike. The Houses Martial of Amorr have gone to war with each other, pitting legion against legion, and family against family as civil war wracks the disintegrating Empire. In the north, inhuman wolf-demons besiege the last redoubt of Man in the White Sea, while in Savondir, the royal house of de Mirid desperately prepares to defend the kingdom against an invading army that is larger than any it has ever faced before. And in the underground realm of the King of Iron Mountain, a strange new enemy has begun attacking dwarf villages throughout the Underdeep.

Beneath the widespread violence that has seized all Selenoth in its grasp, a select few are beginning to recognize the appearance of a historic pattern of almost unimaginable proportions. Are all these conflicts involving Orc, Elf, Man, and Dwarf the natural result of inevitable rivalries, or are they little more than battlegrounds in an ancient war that began long before the dawn of time?

Epic fantasy at its deepest and most intense. A SEA OF SKULLS is Book II in the ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT series that began with A THRONE OF BONES.

A SEA OF SKULLS is 449 pages, DRM-free, and retails for $5.99 on Amazon and at Castalia House. This is the early edition of the book; those who purchase it now will receive a free copy of the 850-page final edition in ebook format if they a) buy the book on Amazon and send a copy of the Kindle receipt to voxday-at-gmail-dot-com right away or b) buy the book from the Castalia House store.

UPDATE: just to be perfectly clear, New Release subscribers are free to download the bonus book from John Van Stry regardless of where they purchase A Sea of Skulls.

Every author faces a few decisions when he writes a book, particularly when writing a sequel. Be driven by the market or be driven by the vision. Write more of the same that has proven popular or go where the story takes you. These are not binary decisions, but a series of gradients, and while the consequences of those decisions vary, there are no right or wrong decisions per se, only more effective and less effective decisions which depend entirely upon the perspective.

I made two choices in writing the second book of Arts of Dark and Light, and I have no idea if my decisions will prove to be popular or not. The first decision was that it had to be better from my perspective and more true to my original vision than its predecessor was. That’s why it has taken longer to write. Before, I was only dealing in existing human cultures. Now, I had to work in 3+ inhuman cultures as well, which proved considerably more difficult. The second decision was to increase the contrast. A moral dilemma where there is neither potential loss to the character nor moral consequence is no true dilemma. A choice that is obvious to everyone but an idiot is no true choice. Good people do bad things, and bad people do good things, but the character of a man is seldom defined by a single act. And, I decided, even the most minor character deserves to be taken seriously, presented fairly, and speak with his own voice. Or her own voice. As an example of what I mean by that, here is a sample of the text at Castalia House.

In other words, this is a “damn the torpedoes” book. It should be interesting to learn who likes it better than A THRONE OF BONES and who likes it less. But I hope you will enjoy it, and I hope those of you who read it will be as diligent about posting serious and substantive reviews as you were with its predecessor.

As a side note, I find it incredible to observe that, according to Amazon’s page count, there is now more Selenoth, with 1837 pages of Summa Elvetica + A Throne of Bones + A Sea of Skulls, than there is Middle Earth proper, with 1531 for Lord of the Rings + The Hobbit. It’s not as good, of course – how could it possibly be – but it is worthy of the title “epic”. I should mention that there will be print editions in April-May and they will be the final edition.

Thanks very much to Matthew, Robert, and Kirk for all their hard work in getting this out before the end of the year.

Another “review”

A review of Cuckservative from someone named Pink Gandhi:

1.0 out of 5 stars This book sets up a false binary from the start …
By PinkGandhi on December 9, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
This book sets up a false binary from the start and then goes to prove its case on these terms. It is for the simple minded.

How fortunate that there are so many simple-minded people who troubled to read it.

I also have some other book-related news. As you know, the 500-page early edition of A SEA OF SKULLS will be out soon, most likely next week. There will be two ways to acquire it:

  1. Buy it for $7.99 at the Castalia store. We will send out the 900-page final edition when it is completed in the late spring, which is when the paperback and hardcover editions will also be released. There will be no print editions of the early edition.
  2. Buy it for $5.99 at Amazon, then update in the spring.

We expect most people to prefer Amazon and we will absolutely be willing to send out updates to everyone who buys from Amazon and send us a copy of a purchase invoice dated December 2016, but we are aware that there are people who are liable to fall through the cracks that way.

Take this with a grain of salt, of course, given that an author finishing a novel is among the least trustworthy of judges, but the initial internal reviews of ASOS have been positive. I was determined to avoid both the sophomore slump and middle-book syndrome, as well as GRRM’s patented perspective-character metastasization, and it would appear that I have been successful in doing so. ASOS is a harsher book than ATOB, but then, that is because it provides a glimpse into some harsher cultures than that of Amorr.


In Selenoth, the race of Man is on the ascendant. The ancient dragons sleep. The ghastly Witchkings are no more; their evil power destroyed by the courage of Men and the fearsome magic of the Elves. The Dwarves have retreated to the kingdoms of the Underdeep, the trolls hide in their mountains, and even the savage orc tribes have learned to dread the iron discipline of Amorr’s mighty legions. But after four hundred years of mutual suspicion, the rivalry between two of the Houses Martial that rule the Amorran Senate threatens to turn violent, and unrest sparks rebellion throughout the imperial provinces.

In the north, the barbarian reavers who have long plagued the coasts of the White Sea unexpectedly plead for the royal protection of the King of Savondir, as they flee a vicious race of wolf-demons who have invaded their islands. And in the distant east, the war drums echo throughout the mountains as orcs and goblins gather in vast numbers, summoned by their bestial gods.

Epic fantasy at its deepest and most gripping. Military fiction at its most fantastic. A THRONE OF BONES is Book I in the ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT series. Available in both paperback and case-bound hardcover.

Thanks to Matt, Robert, Markku, and Kirk, who somehow managed to find the time to get this out before next week’s release of the early edition of Book II, and in between all of the other new releases to boot. Although the text is the same, it has had another round of deep proofreading and is a completely revamped print edition. Despite being Royal Octavo and larger than the Marcher Lord hardcover, it clocks in at 922 pages.

Mailvox: Sociosexuality and Selenoth

Cogitans Iuvenis was the first of several to ask:

So how would you classify each character in Throne of Bones.

My own work tends to illustrate the intrinsic challenge of writing outside one’s rank. Let’s look at the perspective characters first:

Marcus Valerius: too soon to tell. Either Alpha or Sigma.
Valerius Corvus: Alpha, but less Alpha than his brother Magnus
Valerius Fortex: Alpha
Severus Aulan: Beta
Theuderic: Sigma
Lodi: Beta
Meerfin: Delta

Non-perspective characters:

Valerius Magnus: Alpha
Severus Patronus: Alpha
Charles-Philippe de Mirid: Alpha
Skuli Skullbreaker: Alpha

Now, considering that it is a book that concerns a considerable quantity of kings, aristocrats, and generals, it is entirely appropriate that the characters should be weighted towards the Alpha rank. But I think the book would be better, and more interesting, if a broader range of characters were portrayed, so long as they were portrayed accurately according to their socio-sexual profile.

The challenge is that it is no easier for an Alpha to convincingly write a Gamma than vice-versa. Or for the Delta to write a Sigma, etc. Just as the Gamma writes paper Alphas, the Alpha is likely to write excessively sniveling Gammas that don’t do justice to either the observable exterior or the rich, self-centered interior.