Friday 30 May 2014

My Favourite Fantasy Books

OK - time has moved on so here is my latest update - in a more sensible order of priority (I think). This is a list of my favourite fantasy authors and characters: Check out more reviews on

1. J R R Tolkien. I especially liked the Silmarillion and the tale of Turin Turambar. I am on tenterhooks that there will be a film one day!! The problem is the Silmarillion is not for everyone. What an epic tale though, sweeping through generations of elves and men. Brilliant. A bitter sweet tale in many ways.

2. George Martin's Games of Thrones. Brilliant series, but where is it going and who will be left in it? Lots of good characters and Tyrion Lanister is definitely a favourite. What a great character. So cool and flippant under pressure. The TV series (I'm on the second series) is excellent, but already taking significant short cuts over the books!

3. Brent Weeks - Beyond the Shadows, my favourite character has to be Kylar. Very long books. Really good characterisation. Lightbringer is also an excellent series, although I've only read books 1 and 2 so far. Not as good as the first series in my opinion. Longer books again and lots of description. Very readable though and once again brilliant characterisation. Quite hard to follow in places but worth a read.

4. Michael Sullivan's Riyria series (Theft of Swords). I had given up reading books for enjoyment for a while and found that I was forcing myself to read. These books re-awoke the joy of reading a good book. Excellent characters. Hadrian and Royce are complete opposites but that is the part of the joy about the books, who can tame who?

5. Elle Casey's War of the Fae. A light-hearted romp with some every likeable characters. well worth a look and book 1 was FREE on Kindle. What's not to like? A modern day tale from a teens perspective but a very adult read.

6. Ian Irvine - Nish, a cracking character who first appears in The Geomancer, The Well of Echoes Novels. Ian has created several really good characters. A master of creation!

7. Terry Goodkind. The Sword of Truth series are cracking reads. No one character leaps out though. I liked the first few books but struggled with Soul of the Fire. It's worth reading up to that point and/or omitting that book.

8. Weiss and Hickmann - Raistlin is my favourite character and the Twins novels my favourite series. This is the original Dungeons and Dragons story for me. Time travel is dealt with brilliantly and is quite spooky in its way.

9. J K Rowling - Harry Potter books. Many really good characters! Luna Lovegrove has to be high on the list! Excellent books leading to a really good ending. Perhaps should be higher on my list? For a while I didn't consider this fantasy as it's a novel in its own right.

10. Edgar Rice Burroughs - Mars series. Nostalgic value for me as this was my first read.

11. David Gemmell - Druss is my favourite character in the Legend of Druss. Well worth a read. Other books by this author are good but some less so. The Greek series was poor.

12. Joe Abercrombe - The Blade Itself and in particular Glokta. One of the best characters for a while. Very readable books but a little meandering with a long build up in the plot. Excellent for those that like politics in a fantasy novel. This is full of intrigue.

13. Michael Moorcock - He has written many good books, my favourite character were Elric, Hawkmoon and Corum. I really liked the Eternal Champion concept, bring several heroes together for one epic battle. Jerry Cornelious series based at the end of time is a good read as well.

14. Robin Hobb and the Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies were excellent. I found the Mad Ship series was very difficult to get into.

15 Stan Nicholls, Orcs. Quite a brutal tale. Takes a long time to get going but excellent read and teh dwarves are trully inspirational characters.

16. Raymond Feist and Magician and Talon of the Silver Hawk. I far preferred Magician and if all his novels were of this standard he would have been higher on my list. Magician is a seriously good read.

17. James Clemens - The Wit'ch Fire series. I need to reread this series. I don't remember much from it which may be a bad sign.

18. Robert Jordan - Wheel of Time series. Book 9 was a stinker. Nothing really happened and it was so bad I gave up on the series. I have since read book 11, having been persuaded to continue and again found much of the story to be too slow. Book 12 (by another author) is starting to look promising. this was a cracking series to start with and books 1-3 were really good. such a shame.

19. Christopher Paolini, Eragon, but I didn't enjoy later books as much.

The Prophecy of the Kings, a Fantasy Trilogy.

Fantasy Dreams - Castles.

Kilchurn Castle, Scotland. You can almost imagine the dragon's steam encapsulating this one!

Fantasy Dreams - The Ultimate in Bling!

Amazing helmets. One I saw was silver (not sure these ones) - recreation of the Sutton Hoo helm. Amazing and amazing price tag!! The hours taken to make these is also amazing

Monday 26 May 2014

Godzilla - Not bad. Not bad at all.

On a rainy bank holiday, after running and tidying the house I treated myself to see Godzilla. Don't question where the monsters come from, but apart from that it's very entertaining. Shame to see US cities flattened, but hey, you allowed the monsters to fight there. Generally getting good reviews and  LOT OF SITES ARE 7/10, or there abouts. Think I preferred X-Men but Godzilla was worth seeing

Sunday 25 May 2014

Amazing Review - Prophecy of the Kings: Give it a try.

I love this site and especially Mulluane's reviews. 4 stars from her is pretty good given she doesn't normally read self-published works. I feel very honoured.

♦" What I liked. Pretty much everything. I loved the premise of alternate realms. I loved the interplay of dragons, demons, dwarves, heroes and magic. I liked the fact that though there was a prophecy, it was not used as an excuse for everything that took place. Much the opposite. It hardly played a role at all except to explain why the main characters came together how and when they did. Beyond that, the outcome rested squarely in their hands. I never got the impression that some all powerful, all knowing prophecy dangled them along like puppets on a string. I also enjoyed the tension filled, edge of your seat, pace of the entire story.

What I didn't like. As a rule, I consider character-driven fantasy to be the best of the best. I like getting into a character's head, seeing what they see, feeling what they feel. I enjoy living the story along with the protagonists and occasionally, their sidekicks. This however, is not a character-driven story. Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing really. As powerful as this story is, if it had been "shown" instead of told I would be seriously sleep deprived at this point not to mention lightheaded from forgetting to eat. As it was, it was still hard to put down, easy to pick up and far too easy to get lost in. This is a case where its weakness may very well be its strength. The story itself was enough to keep me glued to the pages.

Conclusion. If you want to sit back, relax, drink a glass of wine and enjoy a deep, character driven old-fashioned fantasy, this isn't it. But, if you want to rapidly turn pages, hold your breath - alot - get thrown for a loop by unexpected twists, get more story in 170 pages than most books relay in 600, this is a series you will thoroughly enjoy. Worried that this story is told instead of shown? Don't be. What it loses in emotional characterization, it more than makes up for with strong, engrossing narrative."

Go on - give the books a try -

The Joys of Meeting a Fellow Author

Strange to meet an author at a re-enactment event, but then again his book was Napoleonic era-ish. It's also set in Rye so we had quite a good chin-wag about that medieval town. For those that remember I posted some pictures of Rye fairly recently.

Nice to have a chat though about all the difficulties writing and selling books entail. It's encouraging meeting someone in a similar vein with similar aspirations and issues.

Did I buy a book? how could I not support a fellow writer. :)

Good luck David and hope the day went well.

How Selfish Can a Wife be?

Wife has left me for a week. Selfish bism. How do I tell the difference between the washing machine, oven and tumble dryer?? 

Today I have had to cook AND washing up, whereas if I pull a sickie T typically get away with one or the other. AND I have had to do the laundry and also put it out on the line. The wicker basket for laundry ISN'T working and clean clothes don't appear (as per normal) folded in the correct drawer. 

This afternoon, it's a toss up between longer on the hammock in the sun, reading a book and having an ice-cream OR mowing the lawn!! 

Come back dear, I miss you!!

Today? I Went Back in Time.Hunton Court Napoleonic Event.

Love it or hate it - re-enactment certainly gives you a flavour of what happened in the past. Today was Napoleonic at Hunton Court, Maidstone. Glorious sunshine (in parts), this morning, lent a hand to make this a very pleasant experience.

 This bridge looked old enough to have seen troops from this period for real. Spooky.

Old Nosey himself. The chap looked the spitting image of Wellington.

X-man - Days of Future Past

Very entertaining but also confusing. Worth watching but there's lots of "trust me" moments in the film. I thought Professor X had died in the last film? Certainly if every one of my atoms were scattered across a wide area I think i would have problems. Still - very entertaining.

Fun Friday - Which Witch is Which

Pick your favourite witch at

It's just for fun so have a look.

Saturday 24 May 2014

Free Fantasy Short Stories - Download

I've put several short stories together in a free download. Check it out at  I did the artwork for the cover - it's my sword and helmet. Happy to discuss the stories or the cover art. The flowers are forget me nots - I think

Thursday 22 May 2014

Shadow of the Demon - Book 3 of the Prophecy of the Kings

Michael Sullivan's Heir of Novron

Heir of Novron (The Riyria Revelations, #5-6)Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent book and the plot was rounded off nicely without being obvious. Characterisation good until the very end. Definitely an improvement on the previous book. A good author and well worth reading.

View all my reviews

Short Fantasy Story - Blood of the Dragon

Blood of the Dragon
By David and Andrew Burrows

The crisp cold air seared their lungs. Around the small party a thick layer of permafrost glistened in the dazzling rays of the sun, and it sparkled with the intensity of a rolling sea of pearls. Snow glinted and stretched like a thick blanket for miles around and created an unnatural, oppressive silence.
The splendour of the scene was lost on Forfar; he cursed as he crunched through the snow, glancing in apprehension at the darkening sky. The mountain climate changed regularly and swiftly, and he had no desire to be trapped in a snowstorm. He felt that his life had changed significantly, being an apprentice, and a friend of the renegade Salar. To be entrusted with this task was pleasing on the one hand but very scary on the other.
He glanced back behind them to the swirling sheets of spiralling fog and sleet, a curious curtain of downpour. The thin curtain only existed for a few metres, making it all the more stranger, as to either side of the continual veil the sky was morphing and changing. At present, sleet fell from the dark sky, except in the ever- present strip a few feet behind them. Forfar didn’t like it; he was convinced it was a pathway to the underworld, but having emerged tentatively from it unscathed, he thought no more of it as they ascended the peak of the massive mountain.
Forfar was accompanied by seven others, two were sorceresses, and the others sorcerers. King Darwyl had tasked them with contacting the dragon world to see if they could expect aid; a monumental task that might help their war against the demons. But were dragons ally or foe? Others had discovered the dragon world, in their efforts to learn about the demons. If there was a demon world, they had speculated, then why not others.
Forfar tried not to think too hard about the task. It scared him. He glanced behind at the others. Their ragged breaths emerged in quick, shallow bursts of vapour that trailed behind them in slivers of ice, like banners unfurled and streaming through the crystalline air.
 “What in the name of the Kalanth are we doing here?” Asked Shatha, her teeth chattered uncontrollably. She was leading the others, a young woman, tall and dark haired. Her eyes flashed her frustration as she struggled to breathe in the thin air.
Forfar smiled. “You know as well as I do, opening a gateway to the dragon world.”
“But why on top of a mountain?” Shatha quizzed. The others had stopped and were listening.
“Well, for one, we need to be away from the general population. We do not know what to expect and in case things go wrong… The other reason is, I’m told, the spell will work better in the mountains, especially in the cold. With all this snow and ice we certainly have that, in abundance.”
Shatha grinned. “By the Kalanth, it is cold, I’ll grant you that. But why will the cold help?”
“Because we can only open a gateway to the dragon world briefly,” one of the other sorcerers chipped in. “In the cold, the gateway will stay open for longer, or so goes the theory. No one has tried this before don’t forget.” He rubbed his hands together, clearly cold even though his mitts looked thick. He wondered how deep the ice was beneath his feet.
Forfar looked around. They were standing on a glacier not too far from BanKildor. That was the tallest mountain in the region. A frigid wind gusted from its peak chilling his cheeks. He pulled his cloak tighter about his shoulders.
“This should do,” Forfar announced looking around. “There’s no point in tiring ourselves further. Well this is it. Good luck to you all.”
 They had the spell committed to memory yet it took them a while to organize themselves, drawing the necessary runes in the snow. When the casting started, elementals were summoned; their small forms dancing within the confines of the runes as the power of the spell grew. The chanting voices soon vibrated the very air about them, the magic of sorcery expanding the words into entities of their own.
A rift began to form above the circle of Eldric, and their shouts multiplied in fervour and astonishment. Whereas the rift to the demon world was always green and like a jagged tear in the fabric between the worlds, this was different, like looking through a giant lens.
Forfar didn’t know what to expect. The spell was cast and the rift was open. It should hold longer here in the frozen domain. But, it would still close soon enough. What was he expecting? It could take days to contact a dragon, assuming contact could be made. They continued casting spells, seeking to keep the gateway open.
An intake of breath from the others alerted him to something and glancing at the rift he saw a dark shape gliding upon thermals. Then he recognised a long serpentine body with gossamer thin wings, as the shape flew silently towards them. It was a dragon. He was amazed that one had found the rift so swiftly. Chanathan had said they might. A rift would be like a brazen alarm to anyone with magical abilities. Forfar could feel the rift’s presence strongly, and to his chagrin he could also tell that it was starting to close.
He and the others stepped back as the dragon approached. It was going to make it through, but it would be close. Then the apparition was crawling through the rent in time and space. He caught sight of a huge red pupil, a large, heavy black claw, blue scales that glistened and gleamed as though with a life of their own, a blue dragon? His colleagues had only spoken about red dragons.
Forfar fell to his knees as they sought to keep the gateway from collapsing for a few more seconds. The dragon itself seemed to help them and to their shock, the reflux of energy was morphed into a massive rent through the sky, sparkling and shining in radiant beauty. An explosion shook the mountain, tossing the Eldric through the snow like dolls, their heads ringing with ancient power.
The rent glistened and shut swiftly, but not before  the huge beast had flown through, and now it hung suspended in the freezing air, huge gossamer thin wings stretched to either side of its massive body, bulked with girth and powerful muscle, framed with scales of blue.
Forfar had a sinking feeling. There was little or no intelligence behind the creature’s fa├žade. Its keen gaze was more akin to a fox looking at its prey than a benefactor. Its red eyes stared at them madly then its maw opened, revealing large, serrated teeth that clashed and salivated.
For a second there was silence, as the world appeared to freeze on its pivot. The Eldric stared back in an amalgamation of terror and awe at the huge beast, which appeared to be just as confused as they. The thermals in the air caused it to rise and fall like flotsam, and it shook in surprise, its rippling tendons straining and bulging.
Then suddenly, with the speed of light, it whipped down, snatching a screaming body in its talons and expended a stream of burning, liquid flame over his face. The dying scream withered as the sorcerer’s  flesh bubbled and his skin melted, his bones cracked into slivers and shards and his blackened corpse fell to the snow; shocking the other sorcerers into action.
“Take cover!” screamed Forfar.
Everyone scattered. “Stop!” Forfar shouted at the dragon. But it was clear that the creature would not obey him. It seemed that dragons were mad, and not to be trusted.
“Kill it!” Forfar shouted and immediately the others started to cast spells aimed at the dragon, summoning power through elementals and then imps. The mountain resonated to the sounds of explosions, the snow bucked and the mountains crumbled as a multitude of spells were tossed at the dragon.
It screamed in fury and spiralled into the air, spewing vitriol and magma at the insects below. Forfar swiftly created a shield of magic around his companions and he gasped as they survived the first blanket of burning flame and licking acid, but the effort expended left him weak and trembling, and Forfar knew that he had to destroy the beast quickly.
He sent a spear of light at the creature, but it simply bounced off a scale in a burst of blinding power that left Forfar gasping on the ground, rubbing his burning eyes. A woman was rent in two by a hurricane of talon and teeth and the dragon seemed to laugh as it carried the corpse back into the air, out of reach of the Eldric spells, where it devoured the woman in sight of them all.
Then the creature roared and swept down. Most of the Eldric scurried away to avoid the bulk of the beast, but one man was flattened by the flailing muscles and tail as it snapped and jerked its head round, attempting to slay all those around it.
Forfar screamed to the others. “When I shout, take the air away from beneath its wings,” he screeched. “Shatha! With me!”
The sorceress ducked beneath a splash of flame and ran towards Forfar. The dragon flew low, spewing flame and vitriol almost randomly in an attempt to kill them. It seemed to be toying with them, as though enjoying the sport.
“Over there,” Forfar shouted. “Turn the ice into water.”
The dragon was hovering high in the air, as though debating which of them to kill next. Forfar and Shatha cast their spells and a lake formed beneath the dragon.
“Now!” Forfar screamed at the others. He watched them casting their spell, his heart in his throat and fear in his belly. Would his plan work?
The dragon screamed as it plummeted down. With a splash that sent water cascading all around them, it fell deep into the magical lake. Forfar snapped off his spell. “Release your spell,” he screamed at Shatha, which she did; only too glad to cut off the spell. Forfar cast a spell to hurry the freezing process.
The lake froze instantly. Forfar waited. He wasn’t sure if it would work and the dragon would be trapped and he feared that it would somehow escape. When nothing happened he timidly walked out onto the ice, staring down beneath his feet. The others called to him, their voices sounding shocked and afraid.
Then he saw it; an indistinct shape tens of feet beneath him. Trapped in the ice, its body had contorted as it had tried to right itself. Its great wings had spread uselessly about its body as they fought against the water, suddenly locked in the ice’s hard embrace. Even the dragon’s great maw was trapped shut. Tons of ice pressed down on it, sealing its fate.
The others gathered around Forfar. They looked pale and shocked by what had happened. He glanced around to seek out the wounded. He should have realised not to bother. Dragons didn’t wound, it seemed. The bodies of the four dead spellcasters were torn to shreds, their dismembered parts cast across a wide area. Snow had turned red, marking the points where limbs had been strewn.
“By the Kalanth,” Shatha said. “What have we done?”
It had taken only moments, but the dragon had killed four of their number. “There is no help to be had from the dragon world,” Forfar exclaimed.
“I would prefer to face demons,” said another.
“At least with a dragon, death is swift,” Shatha intoned. “They do not take your soul for an eternity of torment!”
“Come, we must leave. There is no point remaining here,” Forfar said, looking to the sky, which had turned a leaden grey. He had to report to the king that yet another avenue of hope was closed to them. It was a meeting that he was dreading. With heavy hearts the small group turned their backs on the dragon’s tomb, and retraced their steps down the mountain.

By David Burrows
Author of the Prophecy of the Kings

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Fantasy Dreams - Amazing Medieval Archway

This is an awesome archway, Jedburgh - Scotland. Not as cool as the one in Canterbury, but still not bad. You can imagine Orcs sweeping through this. well, not sweeping...marauding. Canterbury entrance below. Late 16c.

Saturday 17 May 2014

Vikings. What an Amazing Series.

This series is really good. Excellent tale and the settings seem very realistic. The boats are gorgeous. Definitely on my favourite list!!

Stunning photo - Rome

This is amazing.

London Taken Over by Blue Cockrell

very bizarre scene in Trafalgar square. Only in London!! It was quite eye catching - but made Trafalgar Square loose it's meaning, as a monument to the greatest naval battle of its time.

Amazing Medieval Street in Rye

In Rye there is a street where every house is 1420 ish. I think the French burned Rye to the ground in the later 14th century. There's some lovely houses with one called - house with a bench!! Now that's living.

Fantasy Dreams - Cooking

Cooking is not something you would consider in fantasy but in medieval times cooks were on the go all day long. At Hampton Court i saw a cooking pot built into the brickwork and the pot was so large it was never moved. Probably used a small child to clean it out once a year!!

The photo above is spits for roasting meat. One man would rotate two spits - each containing meat of about his own body weight

Above is a range of cooking pots and wood burners to cook with. Feeding a garrison must have been a nightmare.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Fantasy Dreams - Weapons

Very nice selection of hand weapons from medieval times. I like the spiked weapons which look particularly fierce. The largest axe is gorgeously decorated which seems bizarre but reflects nicely the warriors status.

This silver-inlaid axe is AD 900 and the workmanship is amazing. Anyone carrying this would be a target for any warrior looking to be high status. think I'll stick to spears!!

Sunday 11 May 2014

Geomancer - Ian Irvine

Geomancer (The Well of Echoes, #1)Geomancer by Ian Irvine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Well of Echoes is my favourite Ian Irvine series. Geomancer starts very oddly in a manufactory set in a world where life is hard and full of strange and wonderful machinery. The characters are a mixed bag. Nish is clearly central and a bit of a toady in this early phase. Tiaan is an artisan with a hidden talent who is framed for a crime she did not commit and she is forced to flee. The world is beset by war with brutal alien creatures. Clankers are the main weapon to defeat the enemy and these are powered by an unknown force which is starting to fail in some regions of the world. Nish and Tiaan’s future are clearly intertwined as he sets off in pursuit of her. The novel is beautifully written and full of surprises. Characterisation is brilliant with a slow but good development of each person. Nish’s father is superb and you eventually start to feel sorry for Nish as eventually he starts to show a glimmer of heroics.

View all my reviews

Fantasy Creatures - Dragon versus Wizard

Once again - the wizard is toast! Or is he?

Cannibal Joke

A father and son cannibal are walking through the jungle when they spot a dusk maiden bathing in a sunlit pool. The son says "Dad, are we taking her home to eat?"

Father says "Let's take her home and eat your mother."

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Rise of Empire - Michael Sullivan. Not as epic as previous epics

Rise of Empire (The Riyria Revelations, #3-4)Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another good book, but I found this lacked the flair of the earlier books. At times it felt a bit aimless and the adventurers were wandering for the sake of it. A ship voyage was well researched and well written but as to the point...

Having said that - I love the characters and I am hoping the next novel picks up. The characters have been left in dire peril and everything seems very very bleak. All their hopes and aspirations seem to have reached a very low point and I'm not sure how the author will recover the tale from this point. Could be interesting.

View all my reviews

Scared the Pants Off Me!!

Saw this horror film last night. Please stop me from watching Horror films. I cannot take it!! Haunting in Connecticut...

Monday 5 May 2014

Why Dragons are Special in Fantasy?

The most poignant use of dragons was Tolkien in the Silmarillion. That, to my mind, brought out why dragons are so utterly special (in fantasy of course). The High Elves were being destroyed and a man joined the Elves after his people heroically defended the Elves retreat in the Battle of Unnumbered tears. He persuades the Elves to do battle - but this is before dragons came to Middle Earth. 

Unfortunately a dragon does appear and the Elves have a very hard time of it. Dragons are killing machines and very damned successful ones too. Dangerous and unpredictable, even the enemy are not certain that they control dragons.

In real life the West (a pretty large Chrristian army) lost a majorbattle against the Mongols. The defeat was so epic (God was on our side) that the people blamed dragons. Understandable really.

Nice artwork!!

Pompeii - Awesome

I love tales about Rome so I am biased. This was an excellent film and it brought Pompeii back from the ashes.  The story erupts from the viewpoint of a gladiator, newly arrived in Pompeii. Brilliant and nicely done.Non typical Hollywood ending and rightly so. (pardon the puns :) ).

The tale is bitter sweet as you might expect. I visited Pompeii and was impressed by the intact streets and some building. This film captures all that and painstakingly recreates the city in all its glory. Well worth seeing - and more so if you've actually seen the ruins. Very sad and poignant.

Loch Ness Monster Found

Fantasy Dreams - Moonlit Castle (Germany)

This has quite nice appeal. Must be from inside the castle otherwise the low roof is a good opportunity to help get in.

Currently Reading

Michael Sullivan's Rise of Empire. I'm about 60% through (kindle doesn't give page numbers) - Royce and Hadrian are setting off through a jungle/forest. I'm finding the direction of the plot less good than the previous books. Still an entertaining read but more opportunity to put the book down and forget to pick it up for a while. Not too keen on sea voyages but it is handled quite well.

Sunday 4 May 2014

DragonLance Characters

Just found this site

Some graphics for some of the characters. I really enjoyed War of the Twins series. Very excellent fantasy and some interesting twists. Recommended.