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 Post subject: Dorth's Cunning Plan
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 11:20 am 
Ringwraith
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Some people wonder what I have been up to for the past three or four years so here is a 'brief' explanation.
I read a lot of books, an awful lot of books. I read a lot online but that tends to be historical and factual. But then I begin to wonder about all of the 'what ifs?'
That is one of the reasons for enjoying Middle-earth gaming and hobby activity. What if Sauron had done this instead and so forth? What would have happened if Saruman had obtained the Ring?
For years a number of ideas have been bubbling away in the back of my mind so I began writing them down, creating maps, timelines, motivations, resources - all sorts of background. Tales should never take place in a vacuum. Tolkien created languages, poetry and music as well as a creation myth, a pantheon of gods and a long and detailed history.
I am not a linguist, and would never claim to be a musician or a singer. But I reckon I can spin a yarn or two (colloquial term for telling stories).
So I have gone ahead and done it.
The first published tale is out there now. It is aimed at an audience from late teens and upward so there is some violence (swords, knives and bows) and some mild swearing. The tale is set in a fictional world roughly technologically equivalent to ours around 2200-1800 years ago.
While it is a fantasy tale, do not expect the usual stereotypes. Angels are mentioned, as are demons but neither are quite what you might expect. The first book is an introduction really, both to some very important characters but hints and references to many other things that come into the tales I am working on now.
If anyone is interested, the first 25% of the first book can be downloaded for free in a variety of formats compatible with e-readers, computers, tablets, smartphones and so forth, so if you do not interested, there is no purchase involved.
I have also ventured on to Facebook for the first time (now there's a frightening prospect). I have an author page and welcome any reviews, criticisms, even suggestions and questions. I am getting feedback already from people who have read the first book. Most of it is surprising positive.
Anyway, enough of my ramblings.
The book (Instrument of the Empire) can be seen here:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/536954
The author page can be seen here:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/JC-Ramsa ... 5384480587

Where does it all lead to? Without giving anything away, the stories I am working on at present feature some types of events that were never covered in the Professor's writings, at least not in any detail. There are spies and agents, assassins, plots, skirmishes, ambushes, battles in some strange places, and some unusual allies. In the back of my mind is the thought that all of this could lead to a gaming paradigm, involving minis and terrain. Who knows? Skirmish game, compatible with large battle game and so on.

Thanks for reading this far folks. Feedback welcomed. Last word: the author site also has maps and photos of places that have helped inspire the work. And dogs - my Wargs. I am a bit of a soppy old git really :)

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 Post subject: Re: Dorth's Cunning Plan
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 11:58 am 
Kinsman
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Congratulations! Sounds like you have been busy! Downloaded the teaser, maybe when I have time I will pick it up. At the moment though I have too many books I'm ploughing through, all the oldies like Les Miserable, Frankenstein, etc.

I have always wanted to write a book myself. I have all kinds of ideas ideas floating around in my head, but I'm usually too much of a scatter brain. I blot down the first chapter, and then my mind is off again and thinking about another story. My friends are usually amazed by the things I come up with, but I just never get round to putting anything down.

Wishing you the best with your books!

Elladan

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Last edited by Elladan & Elrohir on Sun May 17, 2015 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Dorth's Cunning Plan
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 12:12 pm 
Ringwraith
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I'll read this and let you know my thoughts! Ha it really was a cunning plan

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 Post subject: Re: Dorth's Cunning Plan
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 5:09 pm 
Ringwraith
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I put a summary of background material regarding the Empire on the Facebook page but to make life easier for people, here it is (slightly tweaked):
Instrument of the Empire is set entirely within the bounds of the eponymous Empire, though some references are made to neighbouring lands. This is a brief explanation of how the Empire was formed, how it is governed, and gives a little ‘historical’ insight.
Our tale takes place in the early spring of the seven hundredth anniversary of the founding of what became the Empire. This founding occurred at the end of the First Demon War. The Empire was created from an alliance between the scattered survivors of the native peoples in the western lands of the continent, and the refugees from many eastern and southern lands who fled there to escape from the appalling death and destruction the demons brought to Adenor.
The greatest number of refugees had travelled together for many months, valuing the protection of strength in numbers, and learning more about one another along the way as they shared the constant hardships, the little triumphs, and the many tragedies. A guardian was sent to guide them, a being of power who could speak all of their tongues. The angels were glimpsed occasionally, though one seemed to spend more time watching over them than any other. When demons and their allies sought to attack the people, the angel and the guardian organised their defence, redirected their line of advance, and the angel intervened personally on more than one occasion. The angels and demons wielded powers the people did not understand, but her actions saved them on more than one occasion. While she defended the refugees, her companions scoured Adenor, seeking the demons and destroying them.
Once the demons had been eradicated, some of the Angels met with the refugees in the broad valley under the towering peak known as the Red Spire. The Angel, the female who seemed to be in charge told them, ‘We are not gods’, and guidance was offered for the future of the survivors. Some of the hill tribes came to witness the event and were welcomed. It was the first tentative step toward what would emerge over time.
Almost ninety percent of the western population had died in plagues caused by the demons. Huge swathes of land were unpopulated. But the newcomers found out early on that there were some unpleasant neighbours to the south and far west.
The Old Kingdom lay to the south. It had been relatively untouched by the war or the diseases that had devastated most of the world. The rulers learned that the war was over, and decided to resume preying upon the empty lands to the north. Their slavers and plunderers came north via the Gateway, known in Omari’s time as the Narrowlands. This is the area in the bottom right corner of the main map, with the port of Kyremeila marked on it. The Angels left the people of Adenor to their own destiny as they had other battles to fight in a war that had raged for millennia. The survivors and natives of the northern lands cooperated in defending against the Old Kingdom’s aggression. Much of the population shifted into the areas close to the site of the current Capital. River crossings were fortified and a watch was maintained on the coast. Agriculture and industry was established away from known locations in an effort to mask the growing population.
The current site for the Capital began in what is now called the Water Meadows. The largest of three villages stood on that site which was dominated by the tall hill to the north, topped by a shrine to the same Goddess worshipped by the Confrator. Some of the natives still occupied one of the villages but welcomed the newcomers. The Jennarians who had become the de facto leaders of the former refugees refused sovereign status. They were neutral toward the many factions within the growing population and put into law many of the recommendations the Angels had given them. Slavery was outlawed permanently. Basic education and the right to freedom of worship, expression and protection under the law was granted to all, regardless of race, gender, religion or any clan or cultural affiliations. The Old Kingdom continued to prey upon the north for almost two hundred years, destroying the Capital twice in that time only for it to be rebuilt bigger and better each time.
Expansion brought some minor friction with the growing populations of natives in more remote areas but when the early Empire made it clear that they had no territorial ambitions, and were open to trade and cooperation, it won them more allies.
Five hundred years before Omari’s tale, the Sealords attacked the North Coast and entered the Inner Sea in large numbers. They fought the Old Kingdom on land and on the water, resulting in a stalemate on the southern flank. In the lands between Spear Point, the Capital and the North Coast, Sealord raiders and slavers attacked scores of farms and settlements. But the North Coast was home to clans of tall people, used to fighting among themselves, and equipped with a ferocious longbow that matched their stature. The Sealord forces withered under the arrows. But the terrible war left the North with no harvest, few livestock and no ships. Help came from an unexpected quarter.
Scouts brought word to the clan chiefs of columns of wagons and pack animals approaching warily from the east, led by a woman wearing armour but carrying no weapons. The newcomers made no secret of their advance, though troops guarded the columns day and night. The clans met them on the slopes of a mountain pass and an armed delegation went to meet the strangers. They were surprised when the woman and one cleric came forward. The cleric knew enough of the north-western tongue to make himself understood. The spokesman for the clans told the strangers that they had seen off invaders already. The woman said she had not come to fight or plunder, but to offer help. The wagons contained surplus food, clothing, blankets, cooking utensils and other simple necessities. The warriors and their chiefs were startled and asked what she wanted in exchange. Her answer came as a shock: she told them her desire was for friendship between their peoples, and a husband. The future Empress confounded their expectations, and her boldness won them over. Within another fifty years, all of the north had joined the Empire.
The Sealords were forced from the Inner Sea and all their outposts on the mainland and littoral islands were taken in a long military campaign on land and at sea. Spear Point was made into a huge fortified port as it controlled all access via the straits. The prolonged focus on the west had given the Old Kingdom the impression that the southern flank of the Empire was unguarded and another attempt was made to defeat the growing power of the Empire. It very nearly succeeded.
The Kingdom threw fleets of ships at Gorna and the ports and cities of the eastern Inner Sea. Small armies were landed from each of the fleets, but the main force of over one hundred thousand troops marched from the Gateway, sweeping all resistance before it and sacking cities and settlements on the way. The Capital was their goal. It took the southerners three months to reach it, and a brutal siege commenced. Relief came from the west and the north as Imperial armies converged on their enemy’s main force. The southerners experienced the full fury of the Northern archers for the first time. The arrow storms felled lords and their vassals by the thousand. The southerners capitulated when their Crown Prince fell.
The Emperor realised that the Gateway had to be controlled to prevent a recurrence of the land invasion, and the Imperial Fleet was divided into areas of responsibility so that the Inner Sea was dominated and all access to it was controlled by the Empire. The Gateway was annexed after a short campaign against the Old Kingdom. It was fortified and guarded, but the Empire made it clear that they had no territorial ambitions within the Kingdom itself.
The Second Demon War began shortly after the Empire had consolidated its hold on the Gateway, now renamed the Narrowlands. It was a lesser affair than the first event, and the Angels left Adenor again once the small force of demons had been destroyed. What they said at the Red Spire has remained a secret only a few in the Jennarian clan know. The demons’ destruction of the port city of Karsendia and the loss of the Gateway to the Empire triggered a series of civil wars in the Old Kingdom. It fractured into the Principalities and City States. The old seat of power at Sheylon remained the most powerful of the Principalities, and the Princes of that line maintain their right to kingship over all the territories that once were controlled by their ancestors. Sheylon has remained the most aggressive and ambitious of the Empire’s southern neighbours. The conflicts between the six Principalities and fifty city states have mitigated the threat they posed to the Empire for a long time.
Eighty years before Omari’s tale, an alliance led by the Prince of Sheylon attempted to retake the Gateway. That military gamble failed utterly, losing tens of thousands in battle on land and at sea, and thousands more perished in the eastern marshes as the uneducated soldiery fled without maps or any idea of where they were going.
The last war the Empire fought was the short campaign to defend Spear Point from a bold Sealord attempt to seize control of the access to the Inner Sea. Admiral Hejada’s forces defeated the westerners at sea and on land. The current Emperor Carlis fought Sealord raiders to reach Spear Point. After such a heavy defeat, Queen Cherada’s eyes turned to other targets, and the Sealords invaded some of the southern City States. Those wars have continued for over twenty five years, and are currently stalemated.
The Capital is known only by that name as the Emperors and Empresses overruled the Imperial Council. They refused to have the city named after any of them or their clan, and they refused to accept any name that would imply favouring any of the many races, religions and clans within the Empire. It was rebuilt in a grid pattern to allow faster movement of troops in time of conflict. Those same, broad, paved main thoroughfares were conducive to commerce, better hygiene and health.
This is a very brief summary of Imperial history. More will be revealed over time in the books and the supporting material.

Feel free to comment and ask questions folks. Thanks for reading :)

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 Post subject: Re: Dorth's Cunning Plan
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 3:03 pm 
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Your mind must be awash with all sorts of plots, battles, deaths and any more things
Needless to say I wish you all the very best of luck with this venture. The synopsis does suggest areas that others have not covered making this unique, though similarities will always be drawn.
Unfortunately I am no reader these days, simply no time but if I ever have the time then I will pick yours first, I just don't make promises I can't keep.
However, once the figure range is released I will gladly do the paintwork for you.

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 Post subject: Re: Dorth's Cunning Plan
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 3:43 pm 
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I hope the books are not all doom and gloom. I do try to inject humour into them as real life can throw up comic moments at the most inappropriate times.
Minis - that may not come to pass (see what I did there?) but who knows?
That last post is a tiny summary. I need to be cloned to get all of it done :)

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 Post subject: Re: Dorth's Cunning Plan
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 12:18 pm 
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As both a fan of fantasy and a aspiring writer myself I must say I find this interesting. The Empire seems a little more sunshine and rainbows in its doings than I'd like something called the Empire to be. But that hasn't made it any less interesting. I will make a point to read through the first 4th at the very least and get back to you with my thoughts on it.

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 Post subject: Re: Dorth's Cunning Plan
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 6:37 pm 
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just been on your FB page and clicked the follow button, sounds interesting and will read it over the next few days, thanks

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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 7:06 pm 
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I chose to name it the Empire as democracy in any form was not a common practice 2000 years ago on Earth (there are many who would argue that it still isn't) but I tried to think of what would be a plausible, more accountable form of governance.
The head of state in this instance is not the inheritor of a hereditary position, though one extended clan has held it for all of the 7 centuries of the Empire's existence. They were nominated because one of their number plucked up the courage to speak to the Angel when she came to them, and that same Jennar of Obin became renowned for resolving conflicts and dealing fairly with all who came to him.
I mentioned that an Empress made peace with the North coasters and married one of their number. That was far from the only instance of it in Imperial history. What makes this clan different it that they stipulated that the head of state can be impeached (removed) for wrong doing, negligence, incompetence, insanity and a list of other specified reasons.
I chose the word Empire as it is an Anglicisation of an old Latin word. It was a title was first used as an honorific for a military leader in ancient Rome, meaning commander or general - basically the giver of orders. This Empire has the equivalent of a Parliament with two houses, but the cities and provinces also have accountable bodies. There are no elections as we would know them, but the representatives come from a wide pool and all walks of life, not just the wealthy and influential.
The Empire does not discriminate on any grounds of race, colour, creed or affiliation. Unusually for a fantasy universe, one of their main opponents (the Sealords) have a similar attitude, though in their Domain anything remotely clashing with the views of the Synod or the current Queen (Cherada) can mean a sudden reduction in life expectancy.
The Imperial family does not permit freeloaders. All of them work for a living. The current Emperor was a soldier and still considers himself to be one. His redoubtable mother (you do not meet her in the first book) is older and is not someone you would wish to annoy. She achieved higher rank in her military career, for which her son is very proud but just a little envious.
Sunshine and rainbows? The Imperial Palace is largely a workplace and not a private hotel. The gardens around it are largely open to all citizens. A significant proportion of the clan died defending their people, but more have become innovators, physicians, architects and builders. Imperial roads and settlements are well built, largely because they were rebuilt to better designs after centuries of attacks from the Sealords and the Old Kingdom. The clans who lived there before the others arrived, and those people who came after the First Demon War expect a lot from their leaders. In return they are educated, housed, employed and cared for. This Empire has no ambitions outside the territory it holds. Admittedly, Imperial Intelligence does send operatives into neighbouring lands, but that is to determine the extent of the ongoing threat to the people of the Empire.
There is no slavery - that was banned from the very start, on of the first laws passed by the newborn nation. Many of the people who made up the first gathering had seen or even been enslaved or oppressed before the Demons came. They agreed with the guidance the Angels gave.
Healthcare is still primitive but developing. Good hygiene, clean streets and efficient sewage and waste disposal have helped the Empire avoid plagues and outbreaks of disease that are more common in lands when the power squander the wealth of their people on pampering themselves and furthering their ambitions. When decadence becomes de rigour, the fall becomes inevitable. There are many instances of this in real history. I am attempting to explore what might happen when a land created with the best of intentions has to face up to all the troubles that outsiders and malevolent forces may bring to bear upon it.
And that's before we get to the Demons :)
So in short, my Empire is not going to be some theme park sugar and spice attraction. Protecting it will be a painful, expensive and at times deadly task. There will be sorrows and there will be joys, just like our world.
Will there be magic, or magical moments? Something like that, but you will have to wait and see.

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 Post subject: Re: Dorth's Cunning Plan
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2015 8:22 pm 
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I have just finished the first draft of a short story intended as an introduction to a very important character. I need to gather some props for a cover photo....
The 'main' tale is plodding along steadily but there is a lot of editing and tweaking to work on, plus the decision on where to split it into manageable chunks for readers and the formatting software - there is a file size limitation and this story definitely needs maps, plans and a few images.
I am also contemplating a rewards system for 'likers' on Facebook and 'downloaders' on Smashwords - that includes anyone who has only tried the 25% free download. At least they have taken the time to have a read at it so maybe I will put out some free content, additional maps, images and so on as bonus information.
This may sound mad but I might even create a character based on a lucky randomly selected winner - they can suggest the sort of character they would like in the tales. It will NOT be one of the 'traditional' dwarf/elf/goblin/orc/fairy types as I made a conscious decision from the start that other people had done that already. But there are some 'fantastic' creatures, good and bad. That is just a long term idea for now.

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 Post subject: Re: Dorth's Cunning Plan
PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 4:58 pm 
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Progress is being made. One of the things I am conscious of is that I have all this information rattling around inside my head, so I can 'see' places and people and landscapes as I write about them. Some of the places are a wee bit complicated so I decided to put one of my neglected IT/creative skills to good use. I am starting to build CGI models of some of the locations. Now we are not talking ILM levels of detail here - there's just me and one desktop creating this, not a host of artists, with high end workstations, every piece of CGI software you can think of plus server farms to die for... but it is a start :)
So this is me just practicing something I have not done for about 10 or 11 years - starting with something very simple.
For scale purposes, the higher wall is 80 feet.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 12:59 pm 
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More elements added to the models - these are still just components as the place I am constructing is a bit large. Wouldn't be me if it wasn't OTT, eh? (thought I would say it before anyone else did)
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And now for a first stab at terrain. This is not Dorth faking his arrival on Mars by the way :(
Image
Ignore the steep-sided lower area - it was unintended and would be invisible when I put the water in anyway. Not bad for the first attempt in the better part of 10 years. More to follow, and looking forward to dropping the architecture into the landscape. By the way, that is roughly four square miles you are looking at, so even big forts look small on that scale.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:02 am 
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Ooh, this is all looking really interesting. Not promising I'll read your sampler, but I'll keep it in mind when I've got some free time to kill. 8)
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:00 pm 
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Thanks theavenger001.
I can understand that people have busy lives and all sorts of pressures on they regardless of age or circumstances. But I find it a little weird that so many people tell me they have no time to read anything yet they spend hours daily on social media, online games and texting or using some app or other to keep in touch with other people. Some of my work colleagues admit they don't read any books at all. :roll:
I have been asked frequently how I know so many things. The simple answer is I read a lot. I am curious and like to follow lines of thought and interest on many subjects. Reading will not teach you everything but it is a good place to start.
it also helps me sleep at night. You can lose yourself in a story or a history. And then ZZZZZZzzzzzzz...... :)

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:27 am 
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For me it's more priorities (watching/listening to sports), as well as actually remembering when I do have free time that I haven't booked for something else. But I agree, you shouldn't be so busy that you can't set aside a couple of hours to read in a week or two.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:48 am 
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Fully agree wit you Dorth, i normally read for a couple of hours a day for pleasure, its food for the brain! Love the CGI work by the way

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:34 am 
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I have had to lay the CGI aside for a few days - a lot of reading to do of the work-in-progress. I will get back to that eventually - to be honest I am enjoying the CGI. It is a bit like hobby work as you have to plan everything out and conduct some experiments along the way. I just though of one small thing I meant to try, relating to one of the Devices :)

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 1:58 pm 
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I have written a short prequel featuring several characters who did not appear in Instrument of the Empire. This story is standalone and is intended as an introduction with a bit of background material. The story is being polished but now I am working on the maps for the ebook. There are times when I wish I had created a smaller Empire...
I hope to have this one out before the end of August - there is a cover required and that will take some more cunning planning :)

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:35 pm 
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Working on a rather enormous map at present as this encompasses action that will span multiple books. This is a downsized image of PART of the map. I have not included the layer with place names on it (no plot spoilers). Anyone who has read Instrument of the Empire should be able to pick out where the Capital is.

Not all features have been included in this version - there are islands and higher section of some mountain ranges get to be applied. This area is roughly 1500 miles across.

Image

I am well on with the short prequel (apart from needing to finish 3 maps for that and create a cover image :) ). It introduces some rather formidable ladies.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 8:06 pm 
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I just published the second book - 'A Note of Defiance'. This is a novella (about 21000 words) set 10 years before 'Instrument of the Empire' and featuring a rather formidable archer. She and her cousin (another archer) will appear in the longer tale that runs parallel and in sequence to Master Omari's tale.

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Published ebooks:
Instrument of the Empire
A Note of Defiance
Phantom Ships, Ghost Flotilla
More to come!
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