Fantasy author P.L. Stuart graces the pages of the second installment of The Drowned Kingdom Saga with bloodshed, deception, and a hero’s search for affirmation in the The Last of the Atalanteans. Stuart deftly spins long allegories of lore and legend into blinding moments of conflict, both internal and physical, as we learn more of Othrun’s past while he journeys forward into battle facing new foes, and forging new alliances.
Full disclosure, I received an Advanced Reader Copy of the book, which in no way influenced my opinion or the contents of this review.
Beginning where the first book left us hanging from a cliff’s edge, we find ourselves immersed in Othrun’s false quest. As Stuart beautifully writes, “A game. A play. Theatre.” A band of liars set to infiltrate the ancient Goldhall and return the throne to King Wely, rightful King of Lynchun.
This is a story of mages and spirits and swordplay, told through the narrow but widening eyes of Othrun. Ost, as he is now known, comes from a bigoted and closed-minded family of rulers now long dead. And while Ost retains these traits, we see in him the ability to grow beyond the values he was saddled with since birth. Stuart tackles some difficult themes here; racism, bigotry, sexism, and shows how a mind can be changed over time as Ost softens to his new and only world. A world he desires to rule.
Parts of this book read like a raid in World of Warcraft. Frantic, visceral sword-fights amongst vast battle scenes where Stuart brilliantly focusses his lens to keep the reader not only engaged, but begging for more. I could read 500 pages of P.L. Stuart’s armed skirmishes, he is a master of medieval conflict. And so he should be. With a degree in English, specializing in Medieval literature, Stuart is well-versed on the subject.
The author treats us to some brilliant prosaic dialogue amongst his furious storytelling. Gems such as, “With the blush of dawn,” and “All good kings are killers, and all kings good killers.” These lines had me physically nodding not only in recognition of great writing, but in agreement with the characters. In these moments I had suspended all disbelief in the face of Stuart’s clear glass prose.
Although the book begins by enveloping the reader in Ost’s and Atalantean history, which as we know is only written by the victor, by the end of Part One, the creeping build up to action hooks the reader as the mammoth arrives in Part Two. From here forward the story continues to increase in momentum through well-written tension-building and violent conflict. By the end of the novel, (spoiler) we are grateful for a moment of calm, and yet left wanting more.
The Last of the Atalanteans is an illuminating insight into a man once bound by tradition and aging beliefs who has lost his history, wiped from the planet by a cruel stroke of nature, and who must adapt to a new culture in order to fulfill his destiny, to rule the sole Kingdom before him.
— Lucien Telford, author of The Sequence
In my last post I wrote about long covid symptoms but I did not write about their effects.
So I won't write long and eloquent about long covid, but know that my lungs burn while I climb Spanky's ladder, and the short uphill hike from Showcase T-bar to the Blowhole, altitude likely not aiding my plight.
So now I face several daunting tasks.
First; completing the first draft of the sequel to The Sequence, a book most reviewers have said they look forward to.
Second; work. Maybe not daunting but jet-lag and whatever we are calling shift-work lag these days is a routine not easily adjusted to. I continue to adjust, on both ends of the shift.
Third; attempting to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of the self-publishing world. Minting NFT's, serializing my work, various emerging digital platforms. There is a lot happening in the creative world right now and simply keeping pace with it requires hours each week. And then there is engaging with the audience...
All while managing a fatigue I haven't known since flying ultra long haul, and the sleep deprivation that came with it. Needless to say I do not maintain a classic sleep schedule. Daylight meant sleep for so many years of my life, the darkness beckons, reminds me it's time to work.
From beneath the lamplight of a perpetual synthetic dusk, I am writing that sequel, False Ignition. There is no day back here in the crawlspace, only the hint of dawn to propel me forward.
Stay tuned for further origin stories.
I have hesitated to write about contracting SARS-CoV-2.0 as I did not want any negative feedback surrounding my behaviour, good, bad, or otherwise. However I think people will find that I lived a reclusive life during covid times, and had no interest in contracting the disease.
After three weeks of extreme fatigue, razor blades in my throat and the obvious inability to work and earn a salary, I am left with what can only be described as "long covid" symptoms. Continuing fatigue, brain fog, and lungs that feel as though I have spent my a lifetime smoking cigarettes. (I do not smoke.)
This (in my opinion) synthetic disease is no bullshit, and even though I was double vaccinated, it would appear to have had no effect on my recovery.
I'll cut this short as I'm a passenger currently and we are about to pushback. YYZ-YVR. On my way home from simulator sessions.
There will be much more fiction in the near future here.
Stay tuned for the next ATIS message.
This is the story of The America.
A collection of foundation anecdotes detailing how the US became The America. Along with a precision view into the backstories of the characters of The Sequence, and their egress from a home country that no longer exists.
News travels, at times, faster than the speed of light. Ideas forming beyond mankind’s ability to broadcast.
Senator Cook and his surprise Presidential campaign takes flight as polls suggest he could secure a victory in next months election
“Dallas are you seeing this?”
“I’m hearing it babe, but all I’m seeing right now is brown and diaper.”
Cook claims his regime is capable of righting the lean of the nation towards international independence
“What does that even mean?”
“Means he wants to make America great again.”
“Heard that before.”
Cook alleges that the rise of the East, specifically China, has its basis in internal strength
“Does that mean we are weak Dee? Like as a nation?”
“I’ve spent a lot of time over there babe. People do as they’re told. Not saying it’s the best way to be, but they’ve got a lot of things right that we don’t. It’s safe over there. No guns.”
“S’long as you follow their rules, sure. I heard the triads use swords. Is that right?”
That they do, thought Dallas, attaching velcro straps over Andromeda’s belly. And I would never want to cross those that wield them.
Further to Information Papa, I am super excited to announce that I have made the Final Round of the NYCMidnight 250 word Micro Fiction Challenge with "Wet Work," which I qualified with a second place in my group of 46 writers.
The genre was Sci-Fi, the action was "Pushing someone in a pool," and the word was 'lock.' From 5700+ writers I am now part of the final 125 in a winner takes all 24 hour writing challenge, taking place this Saturday.
Wet Work, by Lucien Telford
Backyard pools. Scenes for summertime bliss and play, no place for a homicide detective to be spending an autumn evening.
“Bot’s not showing anything unexpected, boss,” Fong said while swiping gestures through his glasses, vector graphics displayed in-lens allowing him control of the airborne drone. At their feet, the water writhed with the motion of something living. A reflective swirling metallic sheen blocking light from below its surface.
Detective Woo reminisced, the ghost of his baby brother fooling around poolside after dark. A slip. A fall. A drowning.
Not his fault, the psychiatrist would continue to say.
“No word from the owners?”
“No responses yet, boss.”
“The house closed up?”
“Lock and key.”
Woo pulled a coin from his pocket, tossed it at the pool. It bounced, coming to rest on the tile.
He dragged a wooden deck chair to the pool’s edge. “Help me lift this.”
Together they hurled it at the reflective layer. The surface protection glitched, momentarily vanishing then reappearing, giving a brief glance at a headless body drifting beneath the water, simultaneously cleaving the chair in two. One half remained below.
A uniformed officer approached from the home’s rear glass doors. “There’s a severed head visible on the kitchen counter. Scanned and ran it through Facial Recog and got a hit. It’s the home owner’s son.”
Pushed their own child into a swimming pool with an active security layer. Not my fault, Woo reminded himself, picking up his coin, his brother’s memory no longer distant.
Things that won't make it into the next book.
I mean, maybe this will, but there's very little happening in the scene. Just some backstory into the character of Dallas. Who he was, back in a previous and now distant life.
Please do comment if you enjoy this. I've been considering releasing on a semi-regular basis slightly edited content that didn't make The Sequence. There's 100,000 words of it, some you may even enjoy...
Lighting the candle was never dull, never boring, never routine. At 40,000 feet above the southern tip of Florida’s coastline, with all checklists complete, Dallas Ward consistently experienced the one long second of trepidation and knowledge that this next action had a less than zero chance of being the last switch he would ever throw. The toggle mounted against the overhead panel was guarded in red. He lifted the guard, called for confirmation, declared “ignition,” and depressed the switch.
The acceleration was immediate, violent, and brutal. He smiled every time. Five gee’s of acceleration weighed him into the control seat, his first officer continuing to call out azimuth, heading, and deviation from their required trajectory. Dallas rested his hand on the side stick, ready to correct for any unexpected changes in control. Through his side window Dallas watched as the azure sky thinned and fell below them, transitioning into the blackness of space with what seemed inconceivable speed. As the atmosphere surrounding them lessened, the spacecraft’s rumble and jolting became smoother and then with a sudden whump and lurch as the propellant exhausted itself, the ship became still and weightless.
“Sub-orbital trajectory achieved, captain,” his first officer proclaimed. Another successful launch. Another smile that wouldn’t leave until touchdown.
NYC Midnight. For those of you that have never seen this name, NYC Midnight hosts a series of micro to short fiction contests. I've entered my first with this 250 word micro-fiction challenge. When the contest opens you are assigned a genre and two words that you must include in the piece, and given 24 hours to come up with something that will get you through to the next round.
Here's my entry. Bolds are the required words. Fairy Tale/Fantasy was the genre.
Sixteen years had passed since Odessa last laid eyes on the iridescent shimmer of reflected sunlight off dragon scale. The creature had grown, terrifyingly so, though her eyes still sparkled with the same love and kindness Odessa had known as a child, when they had played and giggled together before the dragon’s fire came, before they were to play never more.
Now she watched as her friend was marched against her will, shackled in steel and muzzled, along cobblestone streets toward the castle gates, towards a lifetime of slavery and control. Dragon-breath was a most valuable resource, those who controlled it grew to be powerful rulers. She knew it well, her father was most powerful of all.
Days passed, each morning the dragon marched past, each night she returned, soot staining her nostrils, blood caking her claws. Those eyes no longer shone with love like they once had, and in time, Odessa began to see a darkness creep into their shared glances that once shone with such hope.
Years before, in innocence and youth Odessa lived without rules. The daughter of a king knows no boundaries. Who else could play with a newborn dragon? But the dragon had wings, and sought the sky, and Odessa thought to help, releasing her friend made prisoner., unlocking the chains, watching her fly. A child sees only the good.
The time had come once more to share the freedom she had known in her youth. To be the child that knows only good.
I am extremely proud to report that The Sequence has found some shelf space in my hometown bookstore, Armchair Books. Nestled in nicely between Tchaikovsky and Tolkien, the red and purple looks cozy and comfortable. I'm not sure why this placement is so important for me, and without diminishing other bookstores who have happily stocked my book, Armchair represents something more for me. Like winning on home ice, it's just somehow better.
I’m pleased to announce the physical placement of The Sequence in stores! Fincher’s books in Kincardine, Ontario; Möbius Books in Port Alberni, BC; and WindowSeat Books in Nanaimo, BC. Some exciting times for me as I posed with my book on display for the first time. These placements came alongside a few rejections, but overall I have been met with positivity and support for local authors, and having moved past the moments of dread that preceded each of these meetings, I now look forward to many more. Bookstore owners are an intriguing and charismatic group I’m finding, and I’m excited for what the next encounters bring!
It’s all happening but very little is happening.
Amazon continues to juggle their pricing (Note I have zero control over this) and I eagerly await the appearance of the kindle edition. Good news is that they have reduced the hardcover price from over $100 CAD!
Hardcovers are best purchased through the FriesenPress bookstore, and offer the most financial support for the author.
I feel this is the proverbial calm before the storm. Having re-read my promotions strategy document I most certainly have some catching up to do. Electronic Press Kit? Ummm a work in progress. For you other authors out there, read your documentation thoroughly and ask tons of questions of your promotions team, they are there to help!
One day soon a large quantity of books are going to arrive at my door, and I will need to begin the process of becoming a salesman, peddling my books to indie bookstores across the province. I’m looking forward to the unboxing, check back here for the video in the coming weeks.