Acclaimed science fiction and western author Peter Grant turns to sword and sorcery with his first fantasy novel.

After decades of peace, war is threatening the Kingdom of Avranche. Its old foes are stirring, in a new alliance with darker powers. Black wings bring death and torture in the night.

Owain, former King’s Champion, hears rumors of sorcery. Visiting the grave of his sword brother, he stumbles into a deadly raid, and uncovers coded orders for a larger plot.

The kingdom’s enemies know Owain is now their greatest danger. He must race against time to find and deal with them… before they deal with him!

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Reader Praise for Peter Grant:

“The two books so far in his Walt Ames series really stand on their own as a solid reads, any way you want to measure them today. What really stands out at the forefront of this novel (and its predecessor) is how well researched it is. Grant took painstaking measures to make sure that all of the details, from the geography to the firearms, are completely accurate for the era. And the amount of detail provided is excellent. He doesn’t overwhelm us with historical details or exposition that overly explains things, but there’s plenty of detail to bring the world to life.”

“If you believe that hard work is irrelevant, only who you know or what you look matters, and only government allows “normal people” to succeed, then you may have a problem with this.”

“I described the first book in [The Maxwell Saga] as feeling very much like one of Heinlein’s coming-of-age stories. This entry maintains the feel, but gives us a more mature protagonist facing larger challenges.”

“The writing is taut and well-paced, with in the main decent characterization of both heroes and villains (and I found myself actually liking a couple of the latter, who were portrayed as decent, even honorable and courageous, people who happened to be on the wrong side). The gunplay and action scenes are well-described, and (one imagines) draw heavily on the author’s own combat experiences, which if I recall correctly involves considerable experience in the southern African bush wars.”

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Check out Peter Grant’s earlier series: The Maxwell Saga and The Ames Archives.

Months after a Lupin doppelganger is sentenced to death and hanged, Lupin III returns to the limelight, stealing a number of legendary artifacts tied to longevity on the request of Fujiko. Meanwhile, her mysterious benefactor tries to woo Fujiko, promising immortality to his personal Helen of Troy. But when Lupin double-crosses Fujiko to learn the identity of her benefactor, he finds himself in the middle of web of deceit drawing in a reclusive billionaire, clones of history’s greatest men, and the might of the United States’ military, all around one name: Mamo.

Originally titled “Lupin vs. the Clones,” 1978’s The Mystery of Mamo is the first Lupin III movie. Hampered by the restrictions of network censors, the Lupin franchise sought to use the creative freedom of the silver screen to create a faithful adaptation of Monkey Punch’s manga in tone, humor, and artistic style. While future animators would draw inspiration from The Mystery of Mamo, as 2001’s James Bond meets the X-men action caper Read or Die would retread its plotit would be overshadowed by 1979’s The Castle of Cagliostro.

What a difference a year makes. Read More

Castalia House is pleased to be able to inform everyone that both A THRONE OF BONES and A SEA OF SKULLS are free ebooks today on Amazon. That is a combined 1,354 pages of truly epic fantasy, and will cost you literally nothing except the hours required to read them.

A SEA OF SKULLS

In Selenoth, the war drums are beating throughout the land. The savage orcs of Hagahorn and Zoth Ommog are on the move, imperiling Man, Dwarf, and Elf alike. The Houses Martial of Amorr have gone to war with each other, pitting legion against legion, and family against family, as civil war wracks the disintegrating Empire. In the north, inhuman wolf-demons besiege the last redoubt of Man in the White Sea, while in Savondir, the royal house of de Mirid desperately prepares to defend the kingdom against an invading army that is larger than any it has ever faced before. And in the underground realm of the King of Iron Mountain, a strange new enemy has been attacking dwarf villages throughout the Underdeep.

Beneath the widespread violence that has seized all Selenoth in its grasp, a select few are beginning to recognize the appearance of a historic pattern of almost unimaginable proportions. Are all these conflicts involving Orc, Elf, Man, and Dwarf the natural result of inevitable rivalries, or are they little more than battlegrounds in an ancient war that began long before the dawn of time?

From the reviews:

  • “With this book, Vox Day has catapulted himself into the storied and rarefied rank of writers that sits just below The Master himself. That’s right, I went there. I just said that Vox Day has written a book that is nearly as good as J. R. R. Tolkien’s work.”
  • “It is the best fantasy book of the past 50 years.”
  • “As richly developed as its predecessor was, A Sea Of Skulls added many new dimensions to this world and the crisis it’s in. All the positives I spoke of in my review of A Throne Of Bones, and more, were leveled up.”
  • “Vox’s Selenoth is amazing. I can hardly wait for more. I am a big-time Tolkien and George Martin fan. Vox’s Selenoth has wiggled its way between Middle Earth and Westeros”
  • “Why did it take me so long to find Vox Day? What a great storyteller this man is, a grand master of multiverse chess.”
As you may recall, A SEA OF SKULLS is a Finalist for Best Fantasy Novel in the 2017 Dragon Awards. If you find it sufficiently compelling, you may wish to vote for it here before August 28th.

This game. Oh, this game!

I really didn’t expect it to be as nail-bitingly fun as it turned out to be. I certainly didn’t expect it to take over the weekly game night. But it did. Because this solitaire game really does get ten times as fun when you play it in two-player mode. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s true!

We each captained Gato class boats out of Freemantle, Australia on April, 1942. And I tell you, the American subs play totally different than the German ones. The torpedoes are way more likely to be dud so you practically can’t hit anything early on in the war. It matters, too, because pulling three unsuccessful patrols in a row will cause the brass to give you the boot. Meanwhile… the Japanese freighters are both smaller and less numerous. Their escorts’ depth charges are messed up and are far less effective. And there aren’t nearly as many aircraft harassing you as you come out of port compared to what tends to happen over at the Bay of Biscay.

I know it’s practically the same game and all, but after playing way too many games of The Hunters, this just feels weird.

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What If Conan Was The Man With No Name

The streets run red with blood when a man known only as The Sellsword comes to the dying mining city of Aldreth. The advanced infirmity of the plague-ridden nominal ruler, Duke Owain, has opened the door for two rival wizards to vie for control of the city. The sorcerer Varlak has run things on the Duke’s behalf for years, but his rival and former apprentice, Anaias the Whisperer, grew tired of playing second fiddle and with the allegiance of the town’s guardsmen has moved to oust Varlak from his seat of power. With the city racked by turmoil and the mine’s output dwindling, the Usurper sends his best man to Aldreth to sort things out and set things to right once more.

What follows is the literary equivalent of a Charles Bronson movie. The Sellsword cleaves his way through the city, at first playing the two wizards against each other and maneuvering them into open confrontation, then taking sword in hand and slaughtering his way through the survivors. The city of Aldreth, called “Alldeath” by its long suffering citizens, has the feral and dirty feel of a 1970s New York City with dust and garbage set against the backdrop of the rotting bones of the mining and smelting industry. The two factions become largely indistinguishable as the two wizards soon recognize the Sellsword as the greater threat to their plans and send wave after wave of thugs at him, including a few more fleshed-out hirelings complete with names and personalities of their own. Read More

Operation Barbarossa: the Complete Organisational and Statistical Analysis, and Military Simulation is destined to become the essential reference and with Volume VI the most historically accurate game on the 1941 invasion of Russia.

Historians, students, scenario and game designers will find the extensive data and the methodology to study modern conflict useful. For the lay reader not interested in the Table of Organization and Equipment (TOE) of a German Panzer Division or the difference in the Supply Distribution Efficiency (SDE) between Soviet and German ground forces in 1941* there is an abundance of informative text, to include neglected subjects such as German Armed-Forces Auxiliary Organizations, coastal aviation, patrol and anti-ship aircraft, Soviet armored trains and naval ground combat units.

 

The amount of shelf space required to house the books and the total cost  may be prohibitive for those with only a cursory interest, but if your library contains two or more David Glantz books; if you have read John Erickson’s Road to Stalingrad and Road to Berlin and many of your Osprey books are East Front related then Askey’s Operation Barbarossa is for you. 

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In Selenoth, the race of Man is on the ascendant. The ancient dragons sleep. The ghastly Witchkings are no more; their evil power destroyed by the courage of Men and the fearsome magic of the Elves. The Dwarves have retreated to the kingdoms of the Underdeep, the trolls hide in their mountains, and even the savage orc tribes have learned to dread the iron discipline of Amorr’s mighty legions. But after four hundred years of mutual suspicion, the rivalry between two of the Houses Martial that rule the Amorran Senate threatens to turn violent, and unrest sparks rebellion throughout the imperial provinces.

In the north, the barbarian reavers who have long plagued the coasts of the White Sea unexpectedly plead for the royal protection of the King of Savondir, as they flee a vicious race of wolf-demons who have invaded their islands. And in the distant east, the war drums echo throughout the mountains as orcs and goblins gather in vast numbers, summoned by their bestial gods.

Epic fantasy at its deepest and most gripping, A THRONE OF BONES is Book I in the ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT. DRM-free.

The 924-page monster is also a free download for the next four days. If you’ve been holding off on dipping your toe into the murky waters of Selenoth, this would be the time to jump in. Of course, no matter how excellent, an ebook is no substitute for the beautiful hardcover or even the imposing paperback.

From the reviews:

  • “This hefty tome has a scope and grandeur rivaling George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, but instead of mocking heroic ideals, Day celebrates them.”
  • “This book contains strong traces DNA from Umberto Eco and Neal Stephenson, but it stands on its own as a fantastically monstrous creature.”
  • “There are beautiful moments, there is clever dialogue, there is deep mystery. It took some level of genius to write it.”
  • “There are gritty moments and complex characters. But what really distinguishes A Throne of Bones from other recent epic fantasy is that Day hasn’t forgotten the value of beauty. ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT is the most promising new series in epic fantasy.”
  • “He’s a far better writer than most fantasy authors you’ll find. His pacing is incredible, as somehow the last half of this beastly volume flies by with accelerating momentum, and the ending actual feels like a grandiose beginning while still bringing closure to most of the threads.”
Don’t forget that Book II of the ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT, A SEA OF SKULLS, is a finalist for Best Fantasy Novel in the 2017 Dragon Awards. Or our new release, the brutally funny THE PROMETHEAN, which is presently the #1 bestseller in Satire.

I recently pointed out how the moral element of pulp-style stories absolutely saturates them, driving not just the structure of their plots, but also defining the likability of the characters on a scene-by-scene basis. I would even go so far as to say that this is what makes old school pulpy thrills even possible.

In the first place, the film I used as an object lesson in this was rejected as not being pulpy enough.

Chris L. wrote in with this: John Wayne saw High Noon as trying to rob the western of heroics. His reasoning was that the Cooper character should have had no trouble getting help (it’s the frontier, and frontiers aren’t for wusses). He felt so strong about the issue that he did Rio Bravo as a counter argument.

Matthew went even further and weighed in with this: I tried to watch this for the first time recently and was surprised to find Gary Cooper’s character despicable. He’s a bully, aloof from the townsfolk, doesn’t go to church except when he needs a posse, tries to recruit in a bar full of the friends of the “bad guys”. Add that to the judge who already had to flee a job in a previous town, and this is clearly the story of rootless cosmopolitan elites who suppress populists.

 

So let’s take a look at how High Noon stacks up against a random Leigh Brackett story. I chose this one because it is the one was referenced in the Did You Just Misgender Leigh Brackett!? story that Alex Kimball broke this past weekend.

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THE PROMETHEAN is a brutally funny novel exposing the utter insanity of modern academia and the world of technology. An extraordinary tale of ambition, social justice, and human folly, it combines the mordant wit of W. Somerset Maugham with a sense of humor reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse.

When American billionaire Henry Hockenheimer discovers that conquering the corporate world is no longer enough for him on the eve of his 40th birthday, he decides to leave his mark on the world by creating the first Superman, a robot as intellectually brilliant as it is physically capable. But his ideas are thwarted on every side by the most brilliant minds of the academic world, from the AI researcher Dr. Vishnu Sharma to the wheelchair-bound head of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of Her Majesty’s Government’s Bio-Engineering Research Fund, Nkwandi Obolajuwan, and, of course, Dr. Sydney Prout, formerly of the United Nations, now Special Adviser on Human Rights to the European Union.

And when Hockenheimer succeeds, despite all of the incredible obstacles placed in his way, he discovers that success can be the cruelest failure of all.

THE PROMETHEAN is available at Amazon via ebook and Kindle Unlimited.

From the reviews:

  • I do not remember which famous English authors use similar storytelling styles as satire, but Owen Stanley has generally followed their design and adapted it well to our age. His skewering of the EU and the diversity commission is written by a man with either first- or second-hand knowledge of these groups.
  • Absolutely delightful, not to mention timely, witty, thought-provoking and occasionally side-splitting. I was almost in need of surgery.

So you wanna be a Pulp Superstar / And live large / A big house, five cars / You’re in charge

Mass Effect: Andromeda is a failure. A massive failure. A failure so large, the company shuttered the “Mass Effect” series entirely and even shut down the studio that made it. You see…

It only sold three million copies.

Three. Million. Copies. Of a game that costs $60 apiece, and requires a $400+ piece of equipment just to play it.

When’s the last time a book sold three million copies… and was considered a failure?

Folks, books are a niche market right now. Novels are a niche of a niche, Fantasy & Science Fiction novels a niche of a niche of a niche, and as for short stories… they just don’t exist.

It didn’t use to be this way. Read More

Pulp Revolution (Wasteland and Sky) To Pulp or Not to Pulp ~ A Review of Astounding Frontiers #1 and a Bonus! — “Keep in mind that there are no bad stories here. They’re all well written and do what they do well, but they are not Pulp stories aside from According to Culture. The reason they’re not Pulp is not just because of lax pacing (the first story in particular is rather quick and it is not very Pulp either) but that there isn’t much mystery or wonder at the world outside of the characters. There’s no genre bending (though again Finn’s comes close), and there are no moral conflicts that tie in to the exterior battles– if there are exterior battles at all.”

Ideological Conquest (Kairos) Orwell Was 4 Years off — “Print science fiction–once a dominant form of mass entertainment–was hijacked after WWII by screwdriver-wielding Modernists and outright Communists who wanted to make SF more literary in the former case and a propaganda tool in the latter. Arising during this takeover of the genre, the Hugos were compromised from the beginning. Their current sorry state: a participation award given to authors from the most victimized groups by a small clique of dwindling fossils, was their inevitable intended end.”

Video Games (Amatopia) Retro Inspiration — “From the plots to the aesthetics to the mechanics, these old games captured my thoughts when I was a kid, and they still do now. The imagination that went into them, before the days of massive budgets and mainstream acceptance, is truly remarkable. Perhaps it was this lack of expectation that allowed the makers to take risks, tinkering with mechanics, storytelling, and puzzle design? Or perhaps they just wanted to make the games that they would play, hoping that the audience would be willing to come along for the ride.”

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The pulp ethos is a real thing. Some people think I just made it up or something. Or they think I’m being evasive when I refuse to define “pulp” as a distinct genre in its own right.

Of course, not everyone wants to spend a solid year surveying a bunch of works that nobody is talking about and which are generally regarded as juvenile, poorly written, and dangerously retrograde. Authors tend to want some sort of checklist they can use to confirm that their work stacks up reasonably well against the pulp masters. Watching how some of this plays out, I can’t help but think that Plato knew exactly what he was talking about when he wrote the Allegory of the Cave!

One of the key flashpoints that comes out of these conversations is this one from Misha Burnett’s Five Pillars of Pulp Revival:

In Pulp stories there is not simply the risk that that the hero may fail to defeat the villain, there is also the greater risk that the hero may become the villain. A hero should have a code to follow, and lines that he or she is resolved not to cross. That line should be close enough that the temptation to cross is real—maybe not constantly, but from time to time. There is almost always a really good reason to break one’s moral code, particularly to protect a loved one in danger.

I have to say… this is not something you accomplish in a couple of scenes. This is not an element you fold into your story concept in order capture a veneer of pulpy greatness. Go back and watch the classic western High Noon and you’ll see, this moral dimension saturates everything.

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