Hi! You may remember me, I was the one excitedly bouncing up and down to discover I have TWO pieces nominated in the longlist for the British Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards – my second novel, Darksoul, and the short story Flesh and Coin.
If you are a member of the BSFA and haven’t yet cast your vote, here’s something that may help!
Longlisted for the #NotTheBooker2018 award, Darksoul is book 2 in the Godblind trilogy. Siege warfare, more military tactics than you can stab a spear at, gods of both good and evil, love in the midst of hopeless betrayal, and a few deaths you may not have seen coming, Darksoul ramps up the tension to 11 ready to set up the final book in the trilogy, Bloodchild (published 22 August).
You can listen to an extract from the audiobook here to help you make up your mind.
Flesh and Coin:
The first outing for Syl Stoneheart, famed captain of the mercenary band the Iron Blades, this story appears in the Art of War charity anthology published by Booknest, with all proceeds going to Medicins sans Frontieres. It’s also available on Amazon.
And here’s the opening few paragraphs if you want to take a look:
They called her Stoneheart. And they didn’t smile when they said it. Didn’t mean it as a joke or a mock. They Named her in the old way and there was nothing she could do about it. Can’t argue getting a Name, but of all the Names she’d hoped for herself as she made her way into the ranks of mercenaries, as she climbed those ranks like ladders, Stoneheart wasn’t one of them. Quickstrike, Spearfast, Steelwill, those were Names she could be proud of, Names she could wear like a badge, carry like a banner. Not Stoneheart. Not cold and hard and without mercy or regret.
Stoneheart. But what could she do other than smile, big and bold and mocking, chin up and a challenge in a cocked eyebrow. Stoneheart, aye? Sure you want to find out just how stony?
But right now Syl Stoneheart had more pressing concerns. She crouched with her company on the western slope of the ravine, scrunched in among the boulders and scree, two dozen women and men in scuffed leather and ragged shirts, chainmail muffled under jerkins, spears and bucklers plain and functional. Nothing fancy. Nothing shiny or noisy. Just quiet, grim-faced folk in a quiet, grim ravine on the road to Talannest.
Syl hated ambushes more than she hated stupid fucking Names. Too many things to go wrong. Too many unknowns. And worst, too much time sitting, waiting, thinking about all the things to go wrong. The boulder was cold beneath her cheek as she rolled her head up to peer around it. She could see a quarter-mile before the twisting road vanished around an outcrop. Every stride of that quarter-mile was empty. Empty as her purse until after this job was done.
A guarded wagon will traverse the ravine an hour before noon. Bring me its contents and I’ll give you a bag of gold.
The Tinker’s words echoed in her head. She’d asked him what size bag of gold; on reflection she should’ve asked what size guard. Still, she’d the numbers to see this through, and another tale to add to the Stoneheart’s glory.
The company opposite was silent and invisible. Or gone, she supposed, quelling the urge to spit. Wouldn’t surprise her if Garn Spineless had lived up to his Name and fled with his fighters. She’d have to be the Stoneheart if he had. Have to be ruthless if she was to get this done with only half an ambush team.
And done it had to be. Her belly was emptier than her purse and her company, while not yet muttering, had taken to exchanging meaningful looks when they thought she wasn’t looking. A crew that did that was a crew days away from meaningful words with their commander, and after that there was nothing for it but meaningful fists and terminal knives. The Iron Blades were a good company; she’d no desire to be gutted by them. Or forced to do the gutting herself.
And while we’re riding the self-promo train to ego-land, as far as I’m aware I’m in my second year of eligibility for both the Hugos and the Campbell award, if any of you fine eligible folks would like to nominate Godblind or Darksoul for those.
Thanks! Cheeky vote link.
Right, I’m off to dive into more Bloodchild edits – see you on the bloody side.