Category: Ravings

Snippet Sunday #17

Today, another piece of Princes and Kings (a working title), introducing White Raven. He’s so damn interesting. You don’t see why right away, or in this piece, but he’s very interesting as far as I’m concerned — has a redemption arc. Anyway, go on and meet him, and later you can decide whether you like him or not…


White Raven jogged up the stone steps from the servants’ quarters, letting his hair down and anticipating a pleasant liaison with Slender Palm of Coral Spires. Lehua was bronze-skinned and dark-haired; she smelled of flowers Raven didn’t know, and her brown eyes and low voice were warm. The memory of his white hands on her dark thighs enticed, particularly with the tattoo that snaked down her leg. He’d first seen it when she wore a dress that was slit up the side to the weapons yard—and she’d seen him.

He was definitely looking forward to it. She fucked like she fought, loose-hipped and free. Too bad they were running out of time. Soon she would be back in Coral Spires, far away from everything, and he would be at Tangletree, and they might not meet again in either lifetime.

A figure flashed past him, well to his left. The exposed whiteness of stomach and the streaming hair might have been anyone, as well might the sobbing, but the way it—he—ran, like an untrained child no matter how much time Raven spent with him, marked him as Rhuez.

With a sinking stomach, Raven pinned up his hair again and strode after. In truth he minded less than he ought. He liked Rhuez, for all the boy was hopeless with the sword. It was only the loss of a night with Slender Palm he minded, and she’d probably tolerate an explanation. She’d seen Rhuez at his lessons.

His legs, longer than the Eiten Liedan’s, kept him close enough for sight, but not too close. He carefully turned his eyes from the huntsman’s cabin, where all the lights burned; he didn’t want to ruin his night vision. A fortunate decision, for Rhuez rounded the front of the Palace—Raven had to hustle after—and made straight for the oak lane that led away into the Valley. Rhuez squeezed into the lane and was lost.

“Crimson Fire”

This week’s read was Mirren Hogan’s Crimson Fire.

What I loved most about this book was the world-building. The enjoyable story serves as a kind of tour of the world, or at least the region with which the series (Magic of Isskasala) is concerned. The setting is realistic and deliciously crafted.

Hogan skilfully places her readers in a non-European world, and conveys a mindset that may be alien to a lot of fantasy fans. The plot contains a number of familiar elements (such as the Hero Enslaved), but puts its own spin on them. Readers may enjoy going somewhere totally different while remaining, for the genre, right at home. I strongly recommend Crimson Fire for adult lovers of fantasy, especially those who want to taste something new, or lovers of a charming, dirty, messed-up world.

I received a free copy of this book for the purposes of review.

A Hymn to Vard

I wrote this to the tune of Das Jahr ist guta German song about (surprise!) beer.


The Lord of our brew is kind to His people
When we come together, He eases our speaking
He makes it so easy to talk one to one
The veriest stranger might pass for our mum (might pass for our mum)!

The barrel is full of treasure abounding
Drink deep of His beer, prayers and belches resounding
Let all of His people be stout in their hearts
And pray that their alewives possess His great art (possess His great art)!

When I look upon my friends and my family
I know that the Brew-Lord thinks of me quite highly
He gave me these gifts and a place to belong
Alone we are weak, but together we’re strong (together we’re strong)!

Sir Santo Puglia

Santo’s a Menyoral character. He first appears in Hard Luck and has a slightly larger role in The Service. He wasn’t in the third book, and he won’t be in the fourth. (Jury’s out on #5.)

He’s one of Vandis’s closest friends. I knew that from the beginning. I had this mental character-picture, I mean a picture of his character, not a portrait. I was thinking of a youth pastor who honestly enjoyed his work; Santo loves taking and training Squires, working with young people from Brightwater in particular (all his Squires have been young men from Brightwater). The more I asked myself how that kind of person would act, the more I liked Santo.

The problem was, he wouldn’t talk to me directly, which I say with the writerly conceit that characters “speak to” me. (Some people say they do, but for the most part they don’t to me — literally anyway.)  I couldn’t figure out where he’d come from apart from “Brightwater,” or anything about his background.

You might have noticed he’s got the same name as Puglia Fountain. Yes, he’s from the same family as the Conte, in the direct line — but unless something goes horribly wrong, he won’t inherit the title. He’s the fourth son of the family, a spare in every way.

Expect to learn more about Santo soonish.


Tour Guide Tuesday: Puglia Fountain

Enrico Puglia, 19th Conte di Apuglio, commissioned this spectacular fountain nearly four centuries ago to commemorate a war between Brightwater and neighboring Lightsbridge. The truce he wanted to celebrate was broken while the fountain remained in construction, but it’s still an amazing piece of public art. None of the mechanisms involved in the fountain are magical; it’s all run by simple physics.

The fountain is located in the center of a square, and depicts the gods in Naheel’s throne hall in marble and semiprecious materials. Before, it was magically preserved, but since the death of magic no effort has thus far been made to restore Puglia Fountain. Many of the stones and much of the brass fitting out the model of the Queen’s Garden has been carried away by enterprising thieves.

However, as the fountain isn’t, of itself, magical, it continues to run unless it’s blocked (or the custodian forgets to pedal). Tours run also, but the fountain is low on the government’s priority list even now, so it’s a far cry from what it was, a confection of marble and brass, falls and streams, fine tile and semiprecious stones. Of particular note was the foaming barrel of Vard, which always bubbled and spat, and the figure of Oda skulking with his back turned to the rest, since the moon god isn’t often included in depictions of the pantheon.