I have completed the first draft of a new epic fantasy novel. The file is called Eternal Warrior, but that may not be the name forever. It comes in at nearly 99k words, and it will get longer in the several rounds of rewriting that I expect it will get. This is a project I have put aside several times while other things (Shadows of Faerie and its sequel, Nandor) got worked on, so it feels good to have typed THE END.
NEW BOOK! Shiny!
FAERIE SERIAL KILLERS IN THE NEW FOREST
For centuries countrywomen in England have kept a secret; if you go to the right part of the woods and sing the right song, an Otherkin man will appear and be your lover. Charlie Somes, 24, postgraduate chemistry student at Southampton University, is the product of such a liaison and is touch telepathic; a gift which blights his life as he cannot control it. When Charlie discovers his gift works on the recently dead he is forced to use it to avoid a murder charge and then when the bodies of women who have taken faerie lovers start turning up, Charlie is the only person who can stop the serial killers.
At Last! Shadows of Faerie is available for preorder here
I should not have to explain who best-selling fantasy author Mark Lawrence is, if you haven’t read his work then you should. He is also the guy behind the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off that has done so much to raise the profile of the very many great self published fantasy novels that are out there. So to have him say nice things about Exile is a huge thing for me.
Here is his review as posted on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2774668065?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1
“This book was given to me in the bar outside Bristolcon, which is where you’ll find me on the one day a year that Bristolcon takes place. Author Paul Lavender gave it to me on behalf of the actual author Martin Owton.
I get given quite a few books at Bristolcon, most of them self-published (as I assumed this one was, though it turns out to have come from a small press). If I don’t like a book I either don’t review it or I focus on the nice things I can say about it. This book however is rugged enough for me to voice some of my issues with it as well as some of the things I enjoyed. The copy I got was a nice sturdy hardback with the cover art printed directly onto the cover (no dust jacket) as they do in some European countries. I like that style and this was a high quality binding. The story is also quite solid and sturdy.
The book was entered in the first Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) and went out without comment (I’m now told this was because it turned out not to be self published)- but it did feature in the same group that yielded the book that won the whole contest, The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids. So for all we know, if that book had had a nasty accident, this one might have won!
Owton has a clear and direct writing style that passes unnoticed. There’s no ornamentation. I don’t recall a seeing a single simile in the whole book. There must have been some … surely? That may sound like criticism but it really isn’t. To write a book that isn’t a chore to read is a rare skill. To write prose that let the reader glide through rather than labour across requires talent. The writing will probably not wow you but it is solid and lets the story take centre focus.
The setting is a kingdom in the land of Generica, which is my smart arse way of saying fantasy-everywhere, a medievalesque land of castles dukes, kings, taverns, farmers, the occasional wizard or wise-woman, a “standard” comfortable fantasy land where you’ll encounter no surprises and feel at home. Again, you could read this as a criticism, but the reason many authors rely on established fantasy common ground is so they can focus on story.
So, the story! Well, it’s a quite small scale tale. Small scale for fantasy that is. There are no wars, the fate of nations is not really at stake. There’s no evil other than the common or garden human variety. No magical cataclysm approaches. We are concerned with one point-of-view character. He wants revenge on a powerful man but gets sucked into the affairs of an impoverished duchy. The bulk of the book concerns his getting involved with the local minor nobility and mounting an attempt to rescue the duke’s son from a rival holding him hostage over some land dispute. Not high stakes stuff, but interesting in a small scale swords & sorcery way.
Exile is a “traditional” fantasy of the sort that wouldn’t raise any eyebrows twenty years ago but might now get readers asking “what about the women?”. The women largely feature in the form of the duke’s wife and two daughters (both husband hunting) and later a minor goddess, all four of whom sleep with or snog our hero. Other women are relegated to serving maids, whores and wise-women. I’ve written books in this style but it does seem that the tide may have turned toward fantasy equality of the style Robin Hobb championed 20+ years ago when the castle barracks turned out both male and female soldiers without remarking on the fact.
I’m poking at this book, but as I said, it’s sturdy enough to take it. I enjoyed the story. It was sword-swinging, castle climbing, hard drinking fun.
There were moments of very literal deus ex machina but it didn’t bother me. It is, in a good way, a simple undemanding story that offers amusing diversion, and that’s a good thing.”
I think his review is spot on, and I agree with the points of weakness he mentioned – the setting is fairly generic and the female characters play secondary roles. If you want to read about the ladies doing more then you have to read Nandor, where they get a lot more to do, particularly Lady Edith.
Thank you, Mr Lawrence.
Goodbye 2018. You were a tough year but I’m finishing in much better state than I started. The biggest difference is having started on Venetoclax in February which has worked really well. Most of my blood parameters are now in the normal range, I’ve put back the weight I had lost, and my knees and ankles are much improved after the damage Ibrutinib did to them.
My writing has picked up; I now have 80k of the first draft of my new fantasy novel – more epic than the Nandor Tales books – and hope to have a complete first draft soon. Since I resumed work on it I’ve written about 50k words which is pretty good going for me.
2018 was a tough year for a Southampton supporter too. Mark Hughes looked like a saviour at the end of last season but it quickly became clear that, despite the new players brought in, the team was still weak. I’ve been well enough to go to a lot of home games this season and the number of errors that cost us points was disturbing. The new man Ralph Hassenhuttl seems to have a strong vision for the side and I think we’ve made a good appointment. I look forward to seeing us win a lot more games in 2019.
I have a story in Blackest Knights, an anthology edited by Charles Phipps and published by Crossroad Press, who will be publishing my contemporary fantasy novel next year.
So is it any good? Here’s what I thought of it:
|19 fantasy adventure short stories from 15 different authors, many set in the worlds of the their novels, all action-packed and never less than entertaining; there is simply not a bad one amongst them. My standouts were “Gift of the Gaze” by James Alderdice, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother” by Allan Batchelder and “Honor is Just a Word” by CT Phipps (who edited and has 3 stories in the anthology). This serves as an excellent sampler of the writing of these talented independent authors|
I don’t know Ed McDonald. I’ve briefly met him at a Con, share an agent with him and haven’t yet read his work (though I heard it is damn good), but I agree with so much of this.