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I’m breaking radio silence briefly today to announce the release of The Emperor’s Railroad, the first in my brand, spanking new series of novellas from Tor.com.

Here’s the blurb:

Global war devastated the environment, a plague of the dead wiped out much of humanity, and civilization as we once understood it came to a standstill. But that was a thousand years ago, and the world is now a very different place.

Conflict between city states is constant, superstition is rife, and machine relics, mutant creatures and resurrected prehistoric beasts trouble the land. Watching over all are the silent Dreaming Cities. Homes of the angels, bastion outposts of heaven on Earth. Or so the church claims. Very few go in, and nobody ever comes out.

Until now…

I’ve put a lot into the world building here and there is a whole lot of adventure as well as zombies, gun-slingers, and more! There is literally something for everyone in this. If you like cross-genre, you’ll dig it. Promise.

Best of all, the ebook version is less than two pounds (audio and paperback are also available). Part two, The Ghoul King, is out in July. US readers, check out The Emperor’s Railroad at your Amazon store.  Naturally, citizens of any nation can head over to the book’s page at Tor.com where a variety of formats may be purchased.

There are already several, mostly positive reviews up at Goodreads. To further whet your appetite, here’s a snippet from Publisher’s Weekly, who rather enjoyed it…

“Haley serves up equal helpings of horror, fantasy adventure, and SF in this stark, intriguing story of a ruined Earth where the remaining humans are determined to survive.”

I will of course be answering questions on the book here and on my Goodreads profile, so if you’ve any questions, ask away. I will answer.

Eagle-eyed sorts (actually, anyone with basic sparrow eyes can spot it) will have noticed I’ve not been very present on the net these last six weeks. This is because I’ve had a very hectic period that is still ongoing. Once it is over, normal service will resume. Thank you.


More greenskins, of course. What do you take me for, some kind of elf-fondler?

After last week’s AoS game, I decided to split my two units of 30+ and 40+ Orruks into three. After snipping some arms off and rearranging things, I now have one unit of 23 with two choppas, one unit of 24 with two choppas, and one unit of 23 with pigstikka spears and Waaagh! shields. The larger units were just too unwieldy. With their low-sh bravery, I was losing far more to battleshock than actual fighting, plus you can’t bring the numbers of a large unit to bear. I’m hoping this will allow more flexible movement, while preserving that vital +1 attack for having 20 or more models, for at least one turn, anyway.

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I cannot cure my orc addiction, now matter what you call them.


I’m still playing and enjoying Age of Sigmar. I’m not quite used to the tactical niceties of it yet, I’m talking about things like optimal unit size for my Orruks and how to use the various mobs in conjunction with each other. One of the things I like so much about the game is the more organic feel the unit formations have. You can have a line of choppa armed Orruks backed up by two lines of spear orruks, employ skirmish screens of archers or embed your larger creatures in less powerful units. Sounds ridiculous to say in a game about dragons and such, but it feels more realistic not having this absolute separation of units from one another (although I still wish you could merge different groups together). I have also learned the hard way that a handful of Fyreslayers are more than a match for nearly one hundred Orruks, especially if you feed them one unit at a time like an arse.

We played The Watchtower on Tuesday night, with some hastily concocted homebrew rules to more adequately reflect the solid, stone built nature of the Mighty Fortress tower we were using, including wounds for the building, and the need to break down a reinforced door before the units inside could be attacked. My Orruks were pounded, but not before slaying my good buddy Steve’s Magmadroth. Finally. After it ate most of my army. But I still win, morally.

Here are some pictures.

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The Orruk battleline. I’ve added my old spear chukkas to the army, and painted some more boys. Slowly getting there in terms of the grey plastic to paint ratio.

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Orruks supporting my giant. Of course, like a knob I separated them, didn’t I?

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Waaaagh! Etc. I do actually shout this, as someone I know recently commented on the internet.

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Watch out boys, naked, unpainted dwarfs! The worst kind of nakedness.

 


As spring has arrived, with its soggy load of pissing rain (rain! How much I haven’t missed thee), let’s take a look back to last week when we had a fleeting taste of proper cold in this, the mildest winter on record. I love snow, and have been most disappointed by the last couple of years, but hey, that’s climate change for you.

On Saturday Benny, Magnus and I went up to the tops to our favourite place, The Bridestones, whose magnificent, wind sculpted formations have appeared here before. The snow fell on Friday. It didn’t last in the valley, but as usual, the moors were practically arctic. Very cold, and dazzling bright in the intermittent sun. Up there, there was around 25 centimetres of snow, or thereabouts. We did a bit of sledging, with Magnus doing a little pulling.

The Bridestones are amazingly beautiful whatever the season. I recommend you visit them, should you get the chance.

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A view down the Calder Valley.

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My lad Benny, giving the thumbs up before he got wet and cold.

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Looking out Todmorden way.

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The majestic Magnus in his natural environment. He’s on his lead because, you know, sheep.


Baneblade

A few eagle-eyed folks out there have spotted Black Library books from the far future on Amazon and tweeted about them. This is because Amazon gets GW’s catalogue nice and early. So, as it’s out there, I’ve been given the go ahead to talk about these titles a bit here.

Two of mine have been mentioned on the net. The Beast Arises 12 is the first. I’ve been pretty open about writing the conclusion to the series but it seems to be news to some people. Finishing off this massive run of books is a big privilege and I’m raring to get going on it. The finale has loads of that political chicanery that I love, so it’ll be totes awesome to pen (as they say. Or probably used to say about 20 years ago).

However, first I have to write Shadowsword. This sequel to my first ever Black Library book has been a long time coming and I am so excited to be writing it. Which I am doing right now, in fact. It is a direct sequel, and follows on from Baneblade and the two shorts “Iron Harvest” and “Stormlord”. Bannick is back in his new baneblade, Cortein’s Honour, battling the enemies of the Imperium. There will, of course, be a shadowsword in it too.  More than this, I cannot say.

And these are but two of the many projects I’m currently working on for BL. Check back here from time to time, I’ll be talking about them when I can. If I say too much, it’ll be inquisitorial trouble for me, so don’t expect too much!


prince_o_foolsFrom #SFX 249.

THREE STARS

Author: Mark Lawrence

Publisher: Harper Voyager

502pp

Fools out of thorns

With his fast-paced plots and helpings of blood, Lawrence is perhaps closest to Abercrombie in tone (not G.R.R. Martin, not matter what the cover notes might say). A companion piece to the Broken Empire trilogy – different prince, same world – the titular Prince of Fools is Jalan, a royal wastrel who gets dragged off on an adventure to the Arctic by a big Viking. Horrific sequences of necromancy follow.

Lawrence is a sharp writer who keeps us turning the pages with a careful balance of quips and gory incident, but this book is in other regards disappointing. We’re in a future epoch where civilisation’s returned after a nuclear war, bringing magic with it. This is rich ground for adventure, the painted backdrop we get however far from lives up to the setting’s promise. It’s rife with illogicality and there’s a degree of unimaginativeness. Compared with the dazzling fantasy future Earths of Gene Wolfe, Jack Vance, Michael Moorcock et al, the Broken Empire is badly sketched.

Prince Jalan has tendency to repeatedly tell us he’s a coward, when, of course, he has more than a hero’s measure of courage. It reminds us of all those fantasies from fifteen years ago or so that had beautiful female heroines who, for various reasons, thought they were repulsive. We can only hope this doesn’t reflect a male-equivalent trend of protagonists who loathe themselves for similarly unbelievable reasons.

Did you know?

The Broken Empire is our own Europe, its map redrawn by cataclysmic warfare and flooding. All things said, it’s a great fantasy map.