Tag: Seven Forges

Competitions

GoodReads Giveaways: Seven Forges Series

Hello lovely Robots!

Fancy getting your hands on a whole bundle of wonderful books?

Well if you do, you’re in luck! If you head on over to GoodReads, we’re giving away ALL the books in James A. Moore’s Seven Forges Series to celebrate the release of  his new book The Last Sacrifice, the first in The Tides of War series.

Amazing right? That’s 4 books for free! Although there’s a different book scheduled each week, this means you have four chances to win the whole series. Eeeeeek. Below is the date for each giveaway, plus synopsis for each book in the series:

December 1 – 8 Seven Forges (bundle)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seven Forges by James A. Moore

Seven Forges

by James A. Moore

Giveaway ends December 08, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Synopsis: 

The people of Fellein have lived with legends for many centuries. To their far north, the Blasted Lands are vast, desolate and impassable, but that doesn’t stop the occasional expedition in search of the ancients who once live their and their rumored riches.  Captain Merros Dulver is the first to find a path beyond the great mountains known as the Seven Forges and encounter the half‐forgotten race who live there, who appear to be expecting him. He returns home with an entourage of strangers, but starts to wonder whether his discovery has been a positive one.

 

December 8 – 15 The Blasted Lands (bundle)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Blasted Lands by James A. Moore

The Blasted Lands

by James A. Moore

Giveaway ends November 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Synopsis:

The Empire of Fellein is in mourning. The Emperor is dead, and their armies have grown soft. Merros Dulver, their newly-appointed – and somewhat reluctant – commander, has been tasked with preparing them to fight the most savage enemy the world has yet seen. Meanwhile, a perpetual storm ravages the Blasted Lands, and a new threat is about to arise – the Broken are coming, and with them only Death.

December 15 – 22 City of Wonders (bundle)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

City of Wonders by James A. Moore

City of Wonders

by James A. Moore

Giveaway ends December 22, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Synopsis:

Old Canhoon, the City of Wonders, is facing a population explosion as refugees from Tyrne and Roathes alike try to escape the Sa’ba Taalor. All along the border between the Blasted Lands and the Fellein Empire, armies clash and the most powerful empire in the world is pushed back toward the old Capital. From the far east, the Pilgrim gathers an army of the faithful, heading for Old Canhoon, where the imperial family struggles against enemies old and new. In the distant Taalor valley, Andover Lashk continues his quest and must make a final decision, while at the Mounds, something inhuman is awakened and set free.

December 22 – 29 The Silent Army (bundle)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Silent Army by James A. Moore

The Silent Army

by James A. Moore

Giveaway ends December 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Synopsis:

The City of Wonders has been saved and the Silent Army is risen, ready to defend the Fellein Empire and Empress Nachia at any cost. The power that was hidden in the Mounds is on the move, seeking a final confrontation with the entities that kept it locked away since the Cataclysm. Andover Lashk has come to accept his destiny and prepares to journey back to Fellein. The Sa’ba Taalor continue their domination over each country and people they encounter, but the final conflict is coming: The Great Wave of the Sa’ba Taalor stands to destroy an empire and the Silent Army prepares to stop them in their tracks.

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Angry Robot

Nook ‘Start-a-Series’ Promo: Seven Forges

Seven Forges

It’s getting to that time of year where the leaves change colour, the air gets colder and all you want to do is snuggle down on the sofa and read a good book.

Heh, who are we kidding, we always want to snuggle down and read a good book, but that’s by-the-by. New books are brilliant and Nook know this, which is why they’re holding a ‘start-a-series’ promotion on our lovely James A Moore’s Seven Forges, which will be available for just $1.99.

The promotion will be on from Sept 13 – 17 (inclusive) so make sure to swing by and grab yourself a copy of the book described as “an excellent, enjoyable, and thoroughly entertaining fantasy debut.

 

 

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Angry Robot

Book Signing: James A Moore

The Silent Army by James A. Moore

James A Moore, grade A material robot and author of the Seven Forges series (among many, many other novels) will be holding a signing tomorrow, May 7 at Jabberwocky bookstore in Newburyport, MA to celebrate the US release of The Silent Army, the fourth book in the series.

For those who have missed out on reading this epic fantasy so far, the night will provide a perfect introduction to Fellein Empire and the Sa’ba Taalor. Here’s what some lovely people have had to say about the series:

“Truly this is turning into a series to be reckoned with.”
Lynn’s Book Blog

“Moore has created a brilliantly realised world here; his characters continue to get better with each book. It’s still exciting, it’s still fresh, and brilliantly vivid. Fantasy does not get much better than this.”
Morpheus Tales

 “He does some fresh, counterintuitive things with the genre conventions. More than once, he startled me into saying out loud, ‘I didn’t see that coming.’”
Black Gate

For more information visit the Jabberwocky events page.

And here’s your handy map to get you to the event. We hope to see you there!

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Angry Robot

Nook Deals until 31st December

The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog’s #RobotChristmas might be over now, however you can still catch a couple of great Nook Deals on selected Angry Robot titles. We just love to treat you guys!

Each of the below are now on offer over at Nook Books for $2.99 each:

The Alchemist of Souls by Anne LyleThe Alchemist of Souls

When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods – and a skrayling ambassador – to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador’s bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally – and Mal Catlyn his soul.

“With an effective mix of espionage, backstage drama, and mystery, Lyle provides compelling drama in an intriguing setting.”
Publishers Weekly

“…gives Shakespeare’s London an alternate-history twist … A lively, readable debut.”
– David Langford, Telegraph.co.uk

A gem of a first novel…I felt as if I walked those smelly Tudor streets as strongly as I’ve felt it reading writers like Mantel or Peter Ackroyd…Anne Lyle has given us the Elizabethan London we know from reading history and Shakespeare; but she’s also created a London that has just enough strangeness in its shadows to keep us anticipating wonder.”
– Richard Kellum, Elf Machines From Hyperspace

The The Bookman - buy it now!Bookman

When his beloved is killed in a terrorist atrocity committed by the sinister Bookman, young poet Orphan becomes enmeshed in a web of secrets and lies. His quest to uncover the truth takes him from the hidden catacombs of a London on the brink of revolution, through pirate-infested seas, to the mysterious island that may hold the secret to the origin, not only of the shadowy Bookman, but of Orphan himself…

“The Bookman is a delight, crammed with gorgeous period detail, seat-of-the-pants adventure and fabulous set-pieces.”
The Guardian

“The writing is beautiful and flows so well you’ll be farther along the journey than you realize when you finally come up for air.  Tidhar had me engaged throughout the book; from the set up during the first part, where he introduces us to his alternate Britain and its inhabitants, to the rollicking excitement of Orphan as he seeks out the Bookman and finally, to the climax where answers to mysteries are revealed and the whole grand design is wrapped up in a big, bodacious bow.”
Benito Corral Reviews

“…an intelligent, clever book, that creates a wonderfully complex secondary world … as well-constructed as a Swiss cuckoo clock and as readable as any genre fiction being written today.”
Red Rook Review

 

Seven Forges by James A. Moore, artwork by Alejandro Colucci
Seven Forges

Seven Forges

The people of Fellein have lived with legends for many centuries. To their far north, the Blasted Lands, a legacy of an ancient time of cataclysm, are vast, desolate and impassable, but that doesn’t stop the occasional expedition into their fringes in search of any trace of the ancients who once lived there… and oft-rumoured riches.

Captain Merros Dulver is the first in many lifetimes to find a path beyond the great mountains known as the Seven Forges and encounter, at last, the half‐forgotten race who live there. And it would appear that they were expecting him.

As he returns home, bringing an entourage of the strangers with him, he starts to wonder whether his discovery has been such a good thing. For the gods of this lost race are the gods of war, and their memories of that far-off cataclysm have not faded.

“James A. Moore dedicates Seven Forges in part ‘to the memory of Fritz Leiber and Robert E. Howard for the inspiration.’ That dedication sets the bar high, and caused me a bit of readerly apprehension, because so many writers have imitated badly those two greats of the sword and sorcery tradition. Moore is far more than an imitator, though. He does some fresh, counterintuitive things with the genre conventions. More than once, he startled me into saying out loud, ‘I didn’t see that coming.’”
Black Gate

Seven Forges is an excellent, enjoyable, and thoroughly entertaining fantasy debut into a new world of swords and sorcery, complete with romance, intrigue, and danger.”
Attack of the Books

Wow, that twist. In some ways I think I should have seen it coming, and I kind of did, butSeven Forges just lulled me into security and BAM! Craziness!”
– Anya, On Starships and Dragonwings

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Angry Robot

Angry Robot Author signings

Our Robot Authors are out and about in force over the next couple of weeks, with signings across the US. It might be getting cold outside but hey, what could be a better reason for leaving your house than seeing your favourite author and munching on some nibbles? Nothing. That’s what.

Check below for signings, readings and Q&A spots for James A Moore, Carrie Patel and Patrick S Tomlinson. Various authors will also be attending World Fantasy Con this weekend but that’s a story for another post.

James A Moore. He rocks!James A Moore:

November 3
Andover Bookstore, Andover MA
7pm onwards

Join James A Moore, author of the Seven Forges series, and Christopher Golden, author of Dead Ringers, for an evening of signings, readings and merriment to celebrate the launch of both City of Wonders – the third in the Seven Forges series – and Dead Ringers. Rumour has it snacks, quizzes and prizes will be abound.

James and Christopher are two of the three hosts of podcast Three Guys with Beards. Tune in here to listen to their opinions on books, movies and pop culture, from their unique perspective as writers of speculative fiction.

Event page

November 15
Pandemonium Books & Games, Cambridge MA
7 pm – 10pm

James A Moore and Christopher Golden are back! This time at Pandemonium Books & Games in Cambridge. Both authors will be reading from their forthcoming novels and answering questions from curious minds. Books will be available to purchase/have signed on the night.

Event page

The Author, Carrie PatelCarrie Patel:
November 14
Borderlands Books, San Francisco CA
7.30 – 9.30pm (doors open from 6.30pm)

Join io9’s Charlie Jane Anders, as she hosts the ever-popular Writers with Drinks. This time around Carrie Patel, author of The Buried Life and Cities & Thrones will be joining in with the fun. There will be copies of both novels for signing purposes.

NB: Carrie will also be doing an informal drop-by at the store between 12 noon and 2pm.

Event page

 

The Author, Patrick S. TomlinsonPatrick S Tomlinson:
5 November
A Room of One’s Own, Madison WI

Patrick will be launching The Ark over at A Room of One’s Own. Make sure to pop along for a reading, followed by Q&A session and have your brand new copy of The Ark signed.

Event page

6 November
Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee WI
7pm onwards 

Patrick will be appearing at Boswell Book Company to do a reading and then talk all things The Ark. If you’re lucky you might even get some of Patrick’s stellar stand-up comedy on the side!

NB: There will be an after party at 42 Lounge.

7 November
The Book Cellar, Chicago IL
7pm onwards

Come down to The Book Cellar to chat with Patrick about The Ark, as he rounds off his mini book tour in Chicago. There will be a reading and Q&A session, with books available for signing.

Event page

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Angry Robot

James A. Moore: We love him so much, we’ve signed a new trilogy

James A Moore. He rocks!When James A. Moore, author of the Seven Forges series, came to us with a synopsis for a new trilogy we caught him in a holding device and threatened him until he promised to stay with us for The Tides of War.  We’re happy to announce that James quickly caved from our various methods and The Last Tides, book number one in the trilogy, will be out in autumn 2016.

First though, James will be finishing his current Seven Forges trilogy, with the final book, City of Wonders, due for publication in November.

James: “After careful negotiations, Angry Robot has agreed to return my puppies unharmed. That is, the great folks over at Angry Robot Books have convinced me that my continuing to work with them in the publishing field would be mutually beneficial and has promised me many, many opportunities to speak with my family on the phone in exchange for my complete cooperation. I could not possibly be happier than I am at this moment, knowing that the three severed fingers were, in fact, merely props leftover from a movie and that no children were actually harmed in the course of our negotiations. Our Robot Overlords continue to ask only undying loyalty in exchange for the chance to serve, and really, what more could anyone want in this world? I’m delighted, of course, and look forward to seeing what other chaos we can generate together.’

Marc: “Jim Moore is one of the all-time good guys to work with. Already a master of sinister dark fantasy and horror, it turns out he’s really good at epic fantasy too. We’ve still got two more titles to publish in the Seven Forges sequence, but I’m so pleased we’ve been able to sign him up for this brand new series of everyday warriors caught up in empire-spanning events too.”

More details on the new series can be found over at Fantasy Faction.

If you’d like to catch up with Jim in person, he’ll holding his inaugural Writers’ Coffeehouse meet in Massachusetts on 15 September with Christopher Golden. More details can be found here.

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Angry Robot

City of Wonders Cover Reveal!

We do love a good book cover at Angry Robot HQ, and today we’re delighted to share with you the stunning new cover for James A Moore’s hotly anticipated new novel, City of Wonders.

Thanks go to the brilliant Alejandro Colucci, whose work on James’ last cover, The Blasted Lands, earned him a Gemmell Award nomination.

James: “I have loved every cover that Alejandro Colucci has done! He is an amazing artist. That said, finally seeing  Swech illustrated, makes me very happy. The covers for all three of the books has been spot on and Swech is no exception. Swech should be a powerful figure! By my count she has killed more people than anyone else in the book! I couldn’t be happier with her portrayal on the cover for City of Wonders.”

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge, then click again for yet more detail

Third in the Seven Forges series, City of Wonders is a must for all fans of epic fantasy.

Here’s the official blurb:

Old Canhoon, the City of Wonders, is having a population explosion as refugees from Tyrne and Roathes alike try to escape the Sa’ba Taalor. All along the border between the Blasted Lands and the Fellein Empire armies clash and the most powerful empire in the world is pushed back toward the old Capital. From the far east the Pilgrim gathers an army of the faithful, heading for Old Canhoon.

In Old Canhoon itself the imperial family struggles against enemies old and new as the spies of their enemies begin removing threats to the gods of the Seven Forges and prepare the way for the invading armies of the Seven Kings. In the distant Taalor valley Andover Lashk continues his quest and must make a final decision, while at the Mounds, something inhuman is awakened and set free.

War is Here. Blood will flow and bodies will burn.

The book will be released in November, so now just to wait until then *taps fingers*. However if you’d like the chance to read the book hot off the press, then enter the competitions running at Adventures Fantastic and The Book Plank.

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Angry Reboot, AR Authors, News

James A. Moore fans, rejoice! Announcing more books…

We are delighted to have shared with you our recent re-signings and new author deals. There are two new author announcements to come very soon, but today we are thrilled to tell you that James A. Moore will be writing two more books in his Seven Forges series, following Seven Forges and The Blasted Lands. Not only that but the next instalment, entitled City of Wonders, will be released this November, 2015. More details on City of Wonders below. James is a wonderful member of our Robot Family and we are excited to have his soul belong to continued involvement with Angry Robot Books.

James A Moore. He rocks!James A. Moore: “I am, of course, delighted to be working with my Robot Overlords once again. There have been rumors about them holding my family hostage through the negotiations and I want to make clear that nothing of the sort has happened. I am assured that the sudden disappearance of family members was merely a coincidence and not, as some AR authors have previously stated, a negotiating tool of any kind.

I have also been informed that so long as my manuscripts are delivered in a timely manner no more unexpected vacations to the “Lunar Gulag Wonderland” will be necessary.”

Marc Gascoigne: “I’m so pleased that Jim has agreed to write not one but two more Seven Forges books for us at Angry Robot. Clever, action-stuffed fantasy like his is why I became a fanatical fantasy fan in the first place.”

 

City of Wonders

Old Canhoon, the City of Wonders, is having a population explosion as refugees from Tyrne and Roathes alike try to escape the Sa’ba Taalor. All along the border between the Blasted Lands and the Fellein Empire armies clash and the most powerful empire in the world is pushed back toward the old Capital. From the far east the Pilgrim gathers an army of the faithful, heading for Old Canhoon and the growing masses of the lost and the desolate, on a mission of which he will not speak and looking for the faithful who will join him in his exodus.

In Old Canhoon itself the imperial family struggles against enemies old and new as the spies of their enemies begin removing threats to the gods of the Seven Forges and prepare the way for the invading armies of the Seven Kings. In the distant Taalor valley Andover Lashk continues his quest and must make a final decision, while at the Mounds, something inhuman is awakened and set free.

War is Here. Blood will flow and bodies will burn.
Seven Forges by James A. Moore, artwork by Alejandro Colucci
Seven Forges
The Blasted Lands by James A. Moore
The Blasted Lands

 

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12 Days, Christmas, Price Promotion

12 Days of Christmas: Recap

For the last 12 days we’ve brought you 2014’s titles at the knock-down festive promotional price of only £1, or your current equivalent. If you missed any of the daily offers, fear not as the deal is available until 2 January, 2015. Here’s a handy list of all the books we included and also links to the posts; click through for extra treats from some of your favourite authors.

13 December: Andy Remic’s The Iron Wolves

14 December: Justin Gustainis’ Hard Spell, Evil Dark, and Known Devil

15 December: Matthew Hughes’ To Hell and Back omnibus and Joseph D’Lacey’s Black Feathers & The Book of the Crowman

16 December: Anna Kashina’s Blades of the Old Empire and Freya Robertson’s HeartwoodSunstone

17 December: Michael Boatman’s Last God Standing

18 December: Danielle L. Jensen’s Stolen Songbird

19 December: Jay Posey’s Three & Morningside Fall

20 December: Marianne de Pierres’ Peacemaker

21 December: Tim Waggoner’s Night Terrors

22 December: Andy Remic’s The White Towers

23 December: Craig Cormick’s The Shadow Master

24 December: James A. Moore’s Seven ForgesThe Blasted Lands and Anna Kashina’s The Guild of Assassins

25 December: Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire and Rod Duncan’s The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter

Here’s how to take advantage of our £1 seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied

Wishing all our Robot Army, readers, fans, and friends a wonderful warm and merry Christmas and a happy new year.

C: http://www.thedoorknobsociety.com
C: http://www.thedoorknobsociety.com

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Angry Robot, AR Authors, Book Birthdays

James A. Moore & Craig Cormick: Celebrating Book Birthdays

It’s publication day at Angry Robot HQ and we have not one but two fantastic new titles for you: Craig Cormick‘s The Shadow Master and James A. Moore‘s The Blasted Lands, the sequel to Seven Forges.


The Shadow Master by Craig CormickThe Shadow Master 
is a witty, swashbuckling tale of families at war and features some of history’s most famous figures. It is brought to you by Australia’s award-winning Craig Cormick, who was wooed by Marc at Canberra’s Conflux in 2012. With assassination; ancient, impossible machines; and torture and infamy, The Shadow Master is a tale not-to-be missed! To celebrate the North American and ebook publication of The Shadow Master, Craig is today on The Qwillery answering questions on his star-crossed lovers theme and Renaissance Italy. For the “story behind” Craig’s story, be sure to visit Upcoming4.me at this link.

If you’d like a taster, click here for an exclusive excerpt from The Shadow Master, and here for an excerpt from The Blasted Lands.

 

 

The Blasted Lands by James A. MooreJoining Craig in the publication celebrations is James A. Moore with his second title with Angry Robot BooksSeven Forges appeared last September and this epic fantasy was an instant hit. This second instalment has been eagerly awaited, and is avoiding the dreaded second-book curse, as Bookwraiths nicely sums up. This is something Lynn agrees with, adding that it is “a fast paced novel and the world building and time spent with each character definitely adds extra value.” For full buying info on Seven Forges, click here and for The Blasted Lands, click through here.

If you’re in the UK/ROW and can’t wait to pick up your copies of these fantastic books, don’t forget you can pre-order and all of the various links are on the book pages. When you pick up your copy, remember you can leave reviews on the retailer’s site and also on Goodreads…and look what I happen to have here, Goodreads links for The Shadow Master and for both Seven Forges and The Blasted Lands!

All hail Craig and James!

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Angry Robot, AR Authors, Extracts, Free, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Short Story from James A. Moore

The wonderful James A. Moore has written an exclusive short story for all you fans of the Fellein Empire. Did you love Seven Forges and can’t wait until The Blasted Lands is released? Immerse yourself in the mountainous world, and count the days down until The Blasted Lands is published, which is currently 38 days, 8 hours, 23 minutes, and 32, 31, 30, 29, 28…. seconds.

When Korwa Fell

By James A. Moore

Captain Merros Dulver glanced over at the rider closest to him as they headed for Fellein from the Seven Forges. The journey was a long one and he was tired of staring at the barren landscape. It was time for a distraction. The Sa’ba Taalor were mysteries, even after a few weeks of riding together, they spoke and they answered questions, but as often as not they asked questions and then rode away to contemplate what they had learned.

       The one closest was a brute named Tusk. Under their armor and furs most of the people from the valley of the Seven Forges seemed large, but Tusk dwarfed the majority. He sported a great helmet like the skull of a beast and the mouth of that skull was decorated with teeth of all kinds. Real teeth, actually. A variety that boggled the mind. He didn’t much want to know what had happened to the donors of those decorations.

       “Tusk?”

       The man cast eyes his way, his face hidden behind both his helmet and the veil covering the lower half. The veils were there for protection from the weather and also because, according to Drask Silver Hand—the first of the people Merros and his fellow explorers had run across—neither Merros nor any of his people were ready to see the faces of the Sa’ba Taalor. That last was according to their gods. The Sa’ba Taalor seemed to have a very open relationship with their deities. Merros had never followed any of the gods very closely and to the best of his knowledge none of them had ever paid him the least bit of attention. He failed to see any sort of problem with that.

       Tusk’s eyes gave of a faint silvery glow in the perpetual twilight of the Blasted Lands. “Yes, Merros Dulver?”

       “Just call me Merros, if you prefer. I wanted to ask what your people believe happened here, in the Blasted Lands, to make them this way.”

       Tusk looked at him for a moment and the monstrous mount he rode let out a sound that was suspiciously like a chuckle. The only reason that Merros could understand the strangers riding with him was because he had been “gifted” with the ability to understand them.  He might have preferred that someone ask him if he wanted the gift before it was given, but that was hardly the issue. What puzzled him was the near-certainty that the predatory monster Tusk was riding on seemed to understand his words. Even the animals of the Sa’ba Taalor seemed to know more than they wanted to admit.

       Sure enough, the eyes of the animal were looking directly at him and glowing under the masking helmet that hid half of its face. He suppressed the desire to shudder.

       Tusk scratched at the map of scars across his hand and shrugged his massive shoulders.

       “We are told that there was a war between two great countries. The war ended with the creation of these lands.”

       Merros looked the man up and down. “That’s all?”

       “I can tell you the full story if you’d like.” Tusk sounded rather amused by the notion as if he might be preparing to tell a bedtime story to a child.

       Merros replied, “Well, I know what my people say happened. I want to hear what your people have to say.” He paused a moment as the warrior considered his words and because he feared he might not get the answer he wanted he added, “Or we can stare at the wastes around us and listen to the sound of the wind. I thought an exchange of stories might be more interesting.”

       Tusk nodded. “I agree.” He called out in his language—Merros understood the words sometimes, and just then did not; he suspected they were speaking different languages, only some of which understood. He was not mistaken—and three other riders came closer, moving to nearly surround Merros. They did not come with harmful intent. They merely came because they had been commanded.

       “Our friend Merros would like to hear how the Blasted Lands came to be. Which of you will tell him?” He looked to Merros and shrugged. “I do not tell stories well. I am not patient enough to tell them properly.”

       Drask Silver Hands was riding on the other side of Merros and he roared laughter at that. “Do you hear? Great Tusk even bores himself!” They all laughed, even Tusk. That was a good thing in Merros’s eyes as he was currently stuck between the two men and had no desire to become the battlefield upon which they settled their differences. Tusk was a giant and Drask not much smaller. Worse, he had seen Drask fight and kill with terrifying efficiency.

       “Swech!” Drask called to the rider at the front of them, a female with a thick mane of gray hair pulled into a tight knot at the top of her head. The resulting tail swayed with every move her mount made. She looked over her shoulder. Her eyes, like the eyes of all of Sa’ba Taalor, glowed. Still, Merros found the shape of her eyes enchanting. Too long without companionship, perhaps, but he liked the woman.

       She gripped the saddle of her mount and spun herself around so that she faced Merros and the other riders. Most of the soldiers he knew would have promptly fallen flat on their asses had they tried that from the back of a horse, but she managed it with seemingly no effort, despite her armor and furs.

       “Yes?” Her voice was higher than he expected.

       “You have a way with stories,” Drask answered. “You should tell Merros how the Blasted Lands came to be.”

       She nodded her head and leaned toward him across the back of her saddle. For that moment in time her eyes seemed only to see him.

       “It was a long time ago,” she started….

***

It was a long time ago, before the Seven Forges rose from the ground and before your Fellein Empire existed. It was because of the Cataclysm that your empire exists at all.

Everything changed when the Blasted Lands were shaped. That is always the way with great events. When they happen the world is never quite the same.

Back then all that you see around you was alive. There were great plains of green grass and there were farms and herds of animals, but more than that, there was the sea and there was Korwa. Korwa was a mighty city. According to some of the gods it was the greatest city that ever was.

What? No, not all of the gods say that. The Daxar Taalor do not agree on all things at all times. If they did there would only be one god, yes? Why would there be seven gods if they all thought alike? But some of them say Korwa was the greatest city there ever was.

All the gods agree upon is this: Korwa was magnificent. Towers of steel and stone and crystal rose high into the sky, as high as the tops of the Seven Forges themselves. The city rested on a sea of blue waters and vast bridges ran across the waters to let visitors in.

Korwa was the heart of the first empire, you see. The home of most peoples.

But sometimes the best of things become the most treasured. And what is treasured most is often coveted. Who can say what makes a people jealous? A man or a woman might desire the love of one who is already spoken for. Or perhaps a piece of land, or a trinket is all that is required. In the case of a people there must surely be better reasons but those are lost now, as lost as great Korwa. Whatever the reasons, the people from outside the empire became jealous of the power and beauty that Korwa offered and so they decided to take it.

We do not know all of the details. We only know what we have been told. But I will tell you what I can. The soldiers of Korwa were very skilled, but they were outnumbered, for the people who sought to take the city came from many directions. It might be that there was more than one group, or that the group was very large. We know that the leaders were called the Overlords and they were very hungry.  They came from the north and the east, and sailed across the sea in mighty ships. When they arrived, the ships let out thousands of soldiers and the weapons the Overlords created to either take Korwa as their own or to destroy the city.

Yes, that is correct. They planned to own Korwa or make sure that no one else would ever own it. No it does not make sense. On this we agree.

There were more threats. Korwa was home to the empire, yes, the seat of power, but the empire itself was vast and from within it came another threat. A country that was small and wanted to be bigger began conquering neighboring lands and then grew greedy. The people of that country were hungry, you see. They wanted all that they could have and they would not stop until even great Korwa was theirs.

The king of that land was related to the Empress of Korwa. That much is known. Beyond that, the gods do not agree. The country was called Felleis. Yes, much like your own empire, which rose from the ashes of Korwa. I suspect you already know this. But this is the story you wanted to hear. Now stop asking so many questions.

The old empire and the new empire. Together they might have stopped the Overlords. They did not fight together. They fought as enemies on the battlefield. It was while they were already engaged that the Overlords came to attack. Korwa looked to the south and did not cast their gaze far enough to the north to notice until it was too late.

The siege of Korwa was violent and very sudden. While the two armies fought the Overlords brought in their soldiers and attacker with great siege engines designed to knock down walls and warriors alike. They did not make demands. They merely attacked. Perhaps their plan was to injure and then demand surrender. Perhaps they merely wished to cause death. No one can know any longer.

The rulers of Korwa fought back. Though they were already in a war, they prepared for more battles. They had supplies and they had ships of their own. The great fleet of Korwa rode into the sea and fleets met and fought, and burned and died. “The sea was red with blood and fire,” that is what the god Wheklam said. Sailors died and no one had a chance to find their bodies. The war was too violent and the creatures of the sea feasted well.

I see the look on your face. Ask your question, Merros Dulver. Of course I know what ships are. Of course I know of navies and combat on the sea. Wheklam is the god of the sea. We have to travel to find the waters, but we know of them. Did you cross an ocean to get here? Yet you know of ships? And is this because you travel on them constantly? No? Good. Now let me go back to my story.

The war raged for almost a full year. The armies of the empires fought along the bridges leading to Korwa as the new forced the old back to the city. And even as they retreated to the city, the same empire had to fight against the attackers from the north. They tried their military methods and they were failing.

And as is often the case, the Empress turned to sorcery for her salvation. She called upon the greatest wizards of her empire to come to her and assist and they came, because the Empress was well loved by her people and because they wanted to live. They all wanted to live.

The spellcasters did what it is that they do. We do not have sorcerers in Taalor. We have gods. They react differently to these things, I suppose. Whatever the case, the mages gathered their powers and fought against the enemies of the Empress. The warships of the Overlords were pushed aside by waves that sank them and then swallowed the crews whole.  The sea grew redder and the creatures of the sea grew fatter.

And while the wizards cast their spells they turned to the new empire and sought to destroy the armies of the usurpers. When soldiers fell they did not stay fallen. The dead rose from the pits where they were buried and they attacked the living, and for each that fell before them another soldier was born, lifted from death and forced to fight for the sorcerers of Korwa.

Once a weapon has been used, it cannot be unused. That is what Truska-Pren says. And he is a god, he should know. The Overlords were powerful magicians as well, and they set aside their navies and their soldiers and they began casting mighty sorceries of their own. They brought forth storms to shatter the ground. Fingers of air raked the earth bare, and lightning dazzled the eyes of all who lived within Korwa, until the sun seemed but a faint glimmer in comparison. The war machines of the Overlords were frightening things, but their wizardry was far greater.

Through it all, Korwa stood, the walls damaged but not destroyed, the people wounded but not driven down. The Empress waited in her tower and spoke to the wizards and made demands of them and they in turn obeyed her, for they loved her and wished to serve her until the very end.

It is not certain what happened next. Three gods have spoken of this and I will tell you what each has said, because each is a part of the greater truth. Even gods cannot see everything, or if they can, they cannot see with the same eyes.

Paedle, who only ever whispers, tells us that the Empress was driven mad. All that she had worked for was taken from her. Her husband and consorts killed, her children burned and broken by the lightning. Paedle says that the Empress demanded the greatest vengeance ever, a fire so vast that it would destroy all of the empire’s enemies. Perhaps that is so. Perhaps the wizards managed their feat.

Durhallem the Wounder says that the Overlords carried out their promise. If they could not have the jewel of Korwa, then no one could. And so they summoned the elements to shatter the island where Korwa rested and watched as the city that everyone wanted was felled like a tree. It is his claim that the new empire was so angry at the Overlords that they then sought to destroy them and in time they succeeded.

All I can say for certain is that the Overlords are no more.

Wrommish, who many say watches best of all the Daxar Taalor, said that both stories have some truth, but are merely singular sides to a jewel of many facets. There were enchantments on all sides and they came together as wind and fire can merge to become something greater and more destructive.

Here is what we know.  Great Korwa fell and the oceans burned away. Vast armies were joined in combat across the land where we now walk and they were destroyed in one day. From time to time we still find pieces of the Old Empire and I have heard from your own people that some have come here in the past seeking treasures lost in the Cataclysm.

Where once there were fields and pastures of green there is now dust. The animals raised here are ashes and the orchards are ice. The people of Korwa are gone and when the winds are soft enough you can look down into the ground beneath us, through the glass that once was dirt and buildings, and you can see their bodies, broken and forgotten.

The war machines are lost. They are buried with Korwa, though from time to time you can hear the sounds of the great engines. That is what Wrommish says. Those vast devices and the remains of Korwa are locked together now, and they have become something we cannot know, we must not know. They have become the Mounds.

From life we have been given death. From peace we have been given war. From water we have been given ashes and disease. That is the legacy of Great Korwa and the peoples who coveted her beauty.

***

       Merros took a deep breath and shook his head. At the end he had lost himself in Swech’s words and the meter of her voice. She was a gifted storyteller.

       He looked to the west and saw the vast shapes of the Mounds and heard from deep within them the sounds of things that should not be.

       “Have your people ever been to the Mounds?”

       Swech shook her head. “That is forbidden by the gods.”

       “Can you tell me about the Overlords?”

       It was Tusk who answered, his voice gruff and his tone commanding. “No.” Merros turned to look at the man and found him staring back with narrowed eyes. Perhaps it was the wind that caused the sullen look. Perhaps it was something else. Either way Tusk made sure that everyone knew his position. “That is enough stories for one day. Later perhaps we will tell more. Tales and fables should be rationed, like all supplies.”

       When he looked around Drask and Tusk were both moving away, calling out to each other in a tongue he could not understand.

       Swech stayed where she was a moment longer before once more turning herself in the saddle of her mount and then riding away. 

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