At long last, the event you have all been waiting breathlessly for: the unveiling of the long-awaited box set of my epic fantasy series. (C’mon, at least act like you’ve been waiting breathlessly.)
Drum roll, please…
It contains all five books of the Immortality and Chaos fantasy series (formerly known as The Devastation Wars). Bought separately they’d cost you 23 smackers, so it’s a bargain at $9.99 (ebook. No paperback version yet).
What’s it about, you ask?
When two soldiers are tricked into removing an artifact buried deep beneath the burning sands, they release something that no one, neither gods nor men, can control…
Here’s an excerpt:
A scream came from the depths of the canyon.
General Wulf Rome held up a hand and the forty mounted soldiers strung out on the ridge behind him came to a halt. He stared down into the narrow canyon and swore softly.
“So they got Myles after all,” he said bleakly. Myles was their scout. Rome turned to look at the man riding behind him. Tall and lean, with a narrow, hatchet face and a perpetually sour look, Quyloc was his oldest friend. They’d grown up in the slums of Qarath together and they’d joined the army together, more than fifteen years ago. “Now they’re using him as bait to draw the rest of us into their ambush.”
Quyloc didn’t meet his gaze. He wasn’t much for direct eye contact. “It’s what I would do.”
Which was true. Quyloc was ruthless. When it came to a fight, all that mattered was winning, whatever it took.
The canyon was a sharp gash cut deep into the sandstone, sheer cliffs making it inaccessible for most of its length. But below them the cliffs had collapsed, providing a way in, though a treacherous one that was little more than a long scree slope of loose stones. A turn in the canyon made it impossible to see the wounded man.
Behind them the other soldiers sat their mounts uneasily, their heads turning, eyes moving, watching. Towering sandstone buttes and mesas in every direction. They were three days deep in Crodin territory. Every man there knew the axe was going to fall. It was just a matter of when.
There was another scream from the depths of the canyon, fading slowly.
“What do you think, Quyloc?” Rome asked.
Quyloc shrugged. “We go back.”
“I can’t do that,” Rome said. “You know what the Crodin do to their prisoners.”
“Then why did you ask?”
“I’ve fought beside the man, Quyloc. I led him in here. I can’t just leave him to die. You know that.”
“So do they,” Quyloc replied. He gave Rome a sidelong glance, then quickly turned his face away.
“We’re going in.” Rome turned in the saddle and spoke to the men he led. “Look sharp.” Some faces registered fear, but on most there was only resignation mixed with bleak approval. Each man there knew if he was in Myles’ place, he’d want Rome to make the same decision. Not only that, he’d count on it. Rome took care of his men.
Rome drew the battle axe that hung on his saddle and started down into the canyon, his horse picking its way carefully through the loose rock. He entered the canyon knowing that the orders he followed, the orders that sent him deep into enemy territory with an insufficient force, were not about running down one troublesome band of Crodin raiders. No, those orders were all about making sure one man died.
And that man was Wulf Rome.
╬ ╬ ╬
The orders had come in just days ago to the dusty little outpost Rome commanded. He’d paced the tiny room that was his office, cursing, while Quyloc read the orders aloud. He was to lead his meager force of men in pursuit of Trakar Cornash and his band of raiders. They were to kill Cornash and send his head back to the king in Qarath. No matter what it took. Failure was not an option.
“So that’s it, then.” Quyloc set the orders down on Rome’s desk. “Rix is finally getting rid of you.” He said nothing else and he kept his face expressionless, but nevertheless Rome saw something—or thought he did—and he set his jaw stubbornly.
“Go ahead and say it. You know you want to.”
“Say what?” Quyloc took out the long dagger he always wore on his belt and picked at his fingernails.
“Say I told you so.”
Quyloc’s gaze flicked to Rome, then away. Rome had his fists bunched and that glint he got in his eye when he was feeling belligerent.
“Just say it. We’ll both feel better.”
Quyloc gave in. There was no arguing with Rome when he got like this. “Okay. I told you so.”
With the words some of the steam went out of Rome and he sat down at his desk and put his head in his hands. “You were right. I should have listened to you. You told me to keep my mouth shut, but I didn’t. And now men, my men, are going to die on this suicide mission.”
Quyloc put his knife away.
“I just couldn’t help myself. You know how I get.”
“Yes, Rome. I know how you get.”
“It wasn’t right!” Rome exploded, slapping the desk top with one thick hand. Rome was a big man, only a little bit shorter than Quyloc, but broad through the chest and thickly muscled, and the table jumped when he hit it. “It’s still not right.”
Quyloc clasped his hands behind his back.
“They sit there in their fancy chairs wearing their gold and silk and they talk about war and killing like it’s this noble, glorious game.”
Quyloc sat down in the room’s other chair. He’d heard this rant many times. It would take a while.
“It’s so easy for them,” Rome continued. “It’s not their blood being spilled, is it?” He glowered at Quyloc.
“No. It’s not.”
“Was I just supposed to do nothing?”
“It’s what most people do.”
“Well I’m not made like that.”
“I just couldn’t sit there and say nothing, Quyloc. Surely you can see that.”
Quyloc sighed. “Did it make any difference, Rome? Did anything change?”
Rome slumped in his chair.
A little background on this series: The earliest scenes were written in 1991 or so. By the end of the 90’s I had a complete trilogy but a couple years later I realized too much was left unsaid and set out to write “a few chapters” of prequel.
A few chapters, my ass. It took two books just to get up to where the trilogy started and by then the story had mutated so much the original books no longer applied.
Anyway, here it is. I swear this time it’s done, done, done.
Thank the lord I can breathe again.
You were starting to look a little pale.