Tuesday 20 December 2016

The Reality of Fighting in a Fantasy World

OK, most weapons in fantasy tend to be swords, axes, spears etc. My experiences are in Saxon/Viking reenactment and although it's clearly not a real battle there are parallels that can help you visualise the true brutality of fighting with these types of weapons, and to be honest, it's pretty grim.

Given that most opponents are armoured, fighting becomes brutal and the aim is to break bones rather than pierce the armour. It's also a bit of a scrum as shields make the use of swords and spear very difficult to use effectively. In a scrum though you don't have to watch out for someone lying on the ground stabbing at your unprotected favourite bits with a knife. Your feet also become an easy target. The shields themselves become a weapon and on occasions someone has bashed my shield so that the rim has hit my face and that can really hurt and momentarily distract you.

Spears are horrible. Often you face an opponent but then a spear from someone else lances across several feet and catches you in the gut or chest. A spear has a better chance of penetrating chain mail so this is a real threat. That a spear can come from any direction is another real threat and makes fighting incredibly hard. Spears can hit virtually any part of your body so speed of response is vital. However, lower your shield and you open your vitals to other weapons.

Occasionally I have faced arrows and again this is a nightmare as again they can come from anywhere. If fired in a volley, high into the sky then raising your shield will protect you (in most instances). It is the lone, predatory archer that is more of a worry. Again, if you have faced off against a few opponents you may not be watching for an archer to one side.

As to the reality. I have broken fingers and ribs in my clashes. Weapons are blunt but still very effective. What is missing though is the blood, gore and screaming. Apparently battlefields were misted with arterial blood. Imaging a mist of warm blood and tasting it on your tongue. The ground would become slippery with blood and gore, making every step a nightmare.

Many of us enjoy reading fantasy but the reality of a medieval battle is far from what any of us can visualise. It also makes it harder to imaging a true hero when so much depends on luck, a chance spear thrust, a slip on a bloody patch or an arrow in the face. Brutal times and usually a brutal end.

Sunday 18 December 2016

Author Admits Plagiarising Work and Reveals Books' Origins

I was day dreaming, staring deep into the dying embers of the coal fire, my eyeballs dry from the heat as I ignored the howl of the wind on a bitter January night. I jumped when a knock at the door interrupted my reverie. This was an insistent knock, a loud demanding knock; one that shattered the calm, refusing to be ignored. Sighing, I went to the door, angered by the loss of solitude made worse by the frigid wind that greeted me.

He was an old man with an old man's frailties. His face was long, and his flesh grey and wrinkled. Dark bags beneath his eyes suggested insomnia, the curse of the old.

"Yes," I said, not hiding the anger that I felt.

"I need to speak with you," he snapped, seemingly equally irritable.

"Do I know you?" I asked, for his tone was one of a relative, making demands.

I did not like his look and was already pushing the door too when, remarkably swift for an old man, an arthritic claw grabbed the door and a boot thudded against the base.

I was scared now. He had shocked me. Feral eyes locked on mine, deep dark and accusing. "I need to talk," he insisted.

My first thoughts were to call for help. Phone the police perhaps, but that would be too late. He was wild ... a mad man standing halfway in my house. The simplest course seemed to be to let him in and listen to his ramblings, after all he was an old man and what harm could he do?

As he swept inside, I noticed for the first time his attire. It was outlandish to say the least, a long flowing tunic, grimed with dirt, and the cuffs frayed. At one time, it had probably been blue, probably a deep rich colour, but under the dirt it was now hard to say. He smelt old, and a scent lingered that I found hard to place, but an image of a dragon swept to mind and I shivered, even though the door was now shut.

With a thud, he dropped a sizable doorstep of papers on the coffee table. The paper was sun-bleached and aged as much as he was. I shook my head; it was going to be a long night.

As I sat, a hand shot out and with strength belittling his years seemed to seek to crush my bones as though talking was insufficient to hold my attention. Well that did it; he had my attention now as dread coursed through my veins.

"I am Vastra," he announced as though it was of some importance. "Vastra," he repeated, his mouth agape.

"My arm," I wheedled for I did not relish the pain.

He looked at me, before releasing his grasp. My wrist was red and burned still from his grip. The wind rattled the window, deepening the mood.

"I have done much wrong and I need to atone," he said, looking at me fiercely. I nodded and he sat back. His eyes swept around the room, glancing at the TV and the hi-fi, but somehow unseeing.

"I did them all wrong. I betrayed them, but I tried ... in the end. Oh, yes, I tried. It is in the manuscript, I have written it all down. A labour of love some would say, but to me it is a curse, for my part in it was real, too real and the impact had repercussions across the world, ours and theirs."

"Theirs?" I asked.

He nodded. "Demons. Dragons," he said in a hushed voice

I believed him. Why shouldn't I?

"Go on," I said, enthralled.

"I was an ambitious fool. I thought that I controlled the imp, but I didn't."

When he said the word imp, something appeared, hovering by his side. A small demon-like creature, hairless, a green glow emanating from deep within its flesh. I jumped and could not hide my fear.

"Do not worry," he sneered, glancing at the creature. "It is a memory, a shaol, a guardian spirit. That is all...

"Some guardian though! I can see yours, faint across the expanse of time. He will protect you as best he can; a sixth sense in the darkest hour. But why did I trust an imp? I was warned, by my friends... but I knew better, and the very people who would have helped me, I ignored, and worse, betrayed."

His gaze dropped and the final word was barely a whisper. A tear slid down his cheek and fell upon the manuscript.

"No one is alone," I said. "You must have friends, talk to them."

He sniffed wiping the tears with his cuff, shaking his head. "I cannot, for I am banished from that world. Shastlan understood. The ghost of a dead emperor, exiled from his own world for deeds as bad as mine. What a pair we made, arrogant and foolish, engrossed in our own self-importance.

"And what of the people I betrayed. Kaplyn. As good a friend as any, but so far beneath my ambitious scheming. Of all the people, I hurt him the worst. I would make amends, but I cannot.

"Because of me, his family and friends all died. I was responsible for Shastlan becoming his shaol. Mad whispering in the dark of the night. And dragons! An evil curse to blight the world. Demons and dragons, the choice was unfair. How could anyone choose and remain sane?"

"Surely it cannot be that bad," I said when he fell silent, his gaze riveted to the manuscript.

"Read it," he said through clenched teeth. "Judge me then, not before. I must atone."

"How is this atoning?" I said. "You chastise yourself with a stick of your own making. How can I be your judge? Surely your friends have judged and forgiven you. Everyone has a spark of good deep within. They must have seen yours."

"Read it! " he insisted.

I picked it up. Reverently. It was heavy as though weighted by the souls of the damned. When I looked up, he was gone. Yet the tearstain on the cover was as real as anything I had ever seen.

The Prophecy of the Kings, the title said. Flicking to the back cover it was signed Vastra.

Having now read the manuscript I wonder at our meeting. Was he a shoal, or a restless spirit wandering the worlds seeking redemption? Of one thing I am certain, if his world was real then the tale must be told. By doing so, it honours the dead, and forgives those who need to be forgiven.

Excuse me then for claiming to be the author. It is a wondrous story and it will move you. As you read, think then upon Vastra, and Shastlan. Perhaps we can find it in our hearts to forgive, for now I know why so many people in their worlds would not. But then, that was Vastra's intent, and if he knocks on your door in the dead of night, listen to his tale. It will move you, as it has moved me.

Visit my website for further details http://davidburrows.org.uk/

Friday 16 December 2016

Win a FREE Book

Only a few weeks left to enter this competition. Check out David's Fantasy Jokes Blog for details.

To enter, submit a Fantasy Joke at the above site. Any jokes about Santa, elves, dwarves, dragons, genies etc will do. Visit the site to give you some festive cheer.

Jokes from the Hobbit:

What's the most popular band amongst dwarves?
Durin Durin

Why did the Dwarves in The Hobbit all get asthma?
Too much Smaug

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Excellent Review for Legacy of the Eldric from Fantasybookreview.co.uk

This is an excellent review and greatly appreciated:

Solid fantasy; exactly what a fantasy doctor would order.
Long ago the Eldric mysteriously disappeared from the land, shortly after the Krell Wars when Drachar’s shade was finally banished from the world. Perhaps they believed the threat was gone, but in leaving they took with them sorcery, the only effective means of defeating demons. Then came the Prophecy and only one thing is certain in the cryptic lines, Drachar’s shade will one day return. Against this backdrop three men seek what became of the Eldric. One man, Vastra, recklessly ambitious and driven by greed for power, harbours a secret and will kill to protect it. His companions, Kaplyn and Lars have their own reasons for helping, but who will succeed?
If you have having a bad day, or worse still a bad week then a fantasy book can come to the rescue - no other genre can offer the complete escapism that fantasy does. Legacy of the Eldric, the first book in The Prophecy of the Kingstrilogy by David Burrows is a book that offers this escapism; within its pages is everything that a fantasy fan needs to allow them to let their imaginations soar free.
There are three main characters - Kaplyn, Lars and Vastra – and they are good, strong personalities. Kaplyn is noble; Lars is a rough diamond and Vastra provides the sinister element - the character you do not know if you can trust or not. David Burrows is a big fan of The Lord of the Rings and the friendship between Kaplyn and Lars can be seen as an affectionate tip of the hat to that of Frodo and Sam, both feature the same traits that so endeared the two hobbits to readers worldwide. The extract below shows Kaplyn’s second impressions of Lars shortly after he had saved him from certain death at the hands of bandits:
“Kaplyn regarded the other man. The night before he had cut an imposing figure, but the light of day told a different story. He was carrying too much weight and the colour of his nose suggested he was fond of ale. However, at the moment he looked genuinely sorry, like a chastised puppy.”
Chapter 2: Pendrat
Legacy of the Eldric is written in the third person although an argument could be made that it could also have made an excellent first person narrative with the reader experiencing events through Kaplyn’s eyes. The settings were vibrant with two locations in particular standing out; the magical ruins of Tanel and the majestic forest realm of Gillfillan:
They finally came to a door leading to a corridor, cut deep into the heart of the ancient tree. If they had expected the forest dwelling to be frugal then they were pleasantly surprised; dazzling silks decorated the walls and a deep, rich carpet covered the floor. The furniture was exquisite, formed from branches that had grown into odd shapes.
Chapter 24: Where God’s Dwell
David Burrows’s interest in fantasy began with The Lord of the Rings. Inspired by the epic tale he put pen to paper, determined to create a story with bold characters and an intriguing plot. In Legacy of the Eldric he has certainly achieved his aim; the characters are memorable and the plot is fast-paced and exciting. It is an opening chapter in a series that I look forward to reading the mid and end parts to.
This is solid fantasy; exactly what a fantasy doctor would order for those looking for an enjoyable escape from reality… fans of Tolkien, Hobb and Moorcock will love what they find here. Definitely recommended."
If you like this then read more about my books on my website http://davidburrows.org.uk/

Saturday 3 December 2016

Fantasy Fans, Games and Virtual Reality. Are You Ready?

I enjoy reading fantasy and since Diablo have dabbled in some role playing games For me Diablo remains my favourite (excluding II and III), but I recently found Path of Exile. That's a very addictive game and like all the games in this genre part f the addiction is seeking new weapons and armour. Like most games, these are the Holy Grail and very rarely, if ever, drop, keeping you playing for hours in the vein hope of finding something. 

These games are a bit of fun and are great for fantasy fans fond of sorcery as well as sword. You get to clobber all sorts of monsters, many of which explode on dying -- probably taking your hero with them. 

In some respects, they are a waste of time and in other respects they are a bit of fun. Path of Exile is free which is a blessing, although you can buy things like Bloody Footprints. Why? I'm not too sure.

With the advent of virtual reality these sorts of games are likely to mushroom. However, what will it be like to play the main character and, of course, die? On recent TV programmes, I have watched others playing these games and how they duck when a swarm of killer-somethings fly straight at them. What that does to the nervous system, I'm not sure? It must be quite terrifying even though the graphics are surreal. Of course, as graphics and sophistication improve -- will be entering our own worst nightmares?

I have been in a historical re-enactment society for many years and have fought in a shield wall using weapons as real as any of the time (albeit blunt), faced cavalry charges and storms of arrows (Battle of Hastings), but even still these new virtual reality games leave me fearful. Facing dragons and demons in a gore-drenched clearing is more than my simple mind can take. I look forward to it with trepidation.

Image From The Unspoken - Insomniac Games

Thursday 1 December 2016

Fantasy Fans -- David Burrows on Authors Den

Anyone wanting to find me on Authors Den - check me out here:


It's a great place for a natter for all fantasy fans :)