Review: The Light Years by RVV Greene (10/08/2021)

Posted in Critical Failures | News

Title: The Light Years

Author: R.V.V.Greene

Publisher: Angry Robot

Premise: A little over a thousand years from now, mankind has fled a dying Earth and founded a dozen or so colonies that now communicate and trade via sub-light Trade Ships. This wasn’t always the case, but the secret of “worm drives,” along with a lot of other dying Earth technology, has been lost. Thanks to relativity, the people who crew these ships experience history differently – while a few months may pass on a round trip between two colony worlds, twenty years may have passed on the worlds themselves. Some people live their lives on the trade ships, others work a few trips as crew and then settle on a colony world, the lives they left behind now relegated to history.

One such ship is the Hajj. Aboard, Adem Sadiq is a life-long crew member and a part of the family that controls and flies the Hajj. It is (for reasons that become clear quite quickly but aren’t exactly what they initially seem), time for Adem to get a wife. This is arranged by his family – but, because of the relativity effect, said arrangement is made before said wife is even born. Said wife is then genetically tailored and educated according to the design of Adem’s family. Enter Hisako, the co-protagonist of The Light Years.

Execution: The differing perspectives on history between those who see it unfold at different speeds combined with the designer bride idea gel together well and feel coherent. The first half of the book concerns itself with Hisako growing up, being educated, being talented, discovering that she’s a contract bride and trying to come to terms with this while the society around her creaks ever more at the seams from the constant influx of refugees from other (failing) colony worlds. Meanwhile, Adem is pootling around space in his family spaceship, noticing much the same general decline but more preoccupied with making music. Oh, and there’s a secret plot afoot and a villain aboard, both of which unfold with a sense of inevitability rather than as surprise twists, and neither of which directly involve Adem for quite a while. Eventually Hisako comes aboard and events unfold steadily towards their predestined (again, no great twists or surprises) conclusion.

Either of The Light Years twin premises could sustain an entire novel on their own and possibly an entire trilogy. It’s also a short book, and as a result The Light Years tends to touch on the surface of the questions it raises but never goes in deep. The arranged marriage between Hisako and Adem, for example: Hisako clearly had no say in the matter, Adem is largely going along with what’s been asked of him, yet they both remain largely calm and rational about their situation. The Light Years does a lot of good work setting up why they both have mixed feelings about it: Hisako might never have ever existed without it and has lived a somewhat privileged life because of it, while Adem was quite happy with his other lovers. When Hisako comes aboard, the crew (particularly Adem), fall over themselves once she’s aboard to give her has much space and freedom and agency as they possibly can; while at the same time the story never forgets that she’s had little choice in the decisions that have defined her life. However, it then largely leaves this hanging as a philosophical question for the reader rather than trying to dig into the meat of its own premise. It repeats this pattern throughout, the overall result being a sense of a lot of well-constructed questions for which the narrative doesn’t attempt to offer any answers.

Personal summary: The Light Years feels like the opening volume of a series: well-constructed concepts set up to be explored in depth in later instalments along with two central characters forced into a relationship but whom I never felt I got to know. The result for me was thought-provoking read rather than one that engages on an emotional level.

Narration: In keeping with the dual protagonist approach of the story, the audio production uses two narrators, one for Adem’s chapters and one for Hisako. Both narrators are clear and offer a ‘deliver the story’ rather than ‘deliver a performance’ approach to the narration (those who tend to listen with a high level of background noise may appreciate that delivering a ‘performance’ isn’t always a good thing). The dual narrator approach has the significant drawback that none of the background characters end up having any distinction – everything is either in Adem’s voice or Hisako’s voice. As a consequence, I occasionally lost track of which character was speaking whenever there were more than two characters in a scene. In my recording, there was a chapter towards the end that is repeated, once in each voice.

Disclaimer: This review was based on an Audible download provided for free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

General notes on my approach to reviews are here: Review Philosophy (03/08/2021) | Stephen Deas.

Back in Silver (8/2/2021)

Posted in News

The last four five years have been… odd. I’ve been writing other names. The Magenta trilogy was  written and sold and largely vanished without a trace, although it was very, very nearly a TV series, which would have been quite something.

I’ve since changed publishers, a parting of ways that was very mutual. I’ve written a crime novel for Arrow and I’m very happy with it. I’m now writing fantasy for Angry Robot. I like to think, as in the start of any new relationship, we’ve both put in the effort to make it work. COVID certainly isn’t helping. It IS nice, however, to have the same editor at publication as commissioned the books in the first place. With one exception, this is the first time in twelve books that’s happened.

I have a new agent too, this time because Robert had to quit for personal reasons.  We didn’t always see eye to eye but I can’t fault the effort he put in to getting I Know What I Saw  made into a novel that works.

Brexit is still a stupid act of national self-harm but I won’t bang on about it here. The facts and figures speak for themselves. If you don’t want to see them, you’ve already made that choice. There won’t be much politics here. We’ll back to reviews and giveaways and a little self-promotion and the odd extra scene that didn’t make it into the final MS and that sort of thing. It won’t be as regular as it once was, but it’s the books that matter, right?

(Lack of) Progress report (23/2/2017)

Posted in News

After a year of back and forth…

Neither Gallow nor William Falkland look set to make a return through conventional publishing. Sorry. I’d love go back to both of them but I have to write what pays for the foreseeable future. There are still stories happening but they have to stay under wraps for now.

Thank you all for your support. Zafir, Gallow and Falkland are all as dear to me as they are because of you.



Captain’s Log, Stardate… Holy crap, is that the time?

Posted in News

No, I’m not dead. Yes, I’m still writing. No, there won’t be anything new out from me this year. Yes, a good chunk of that is my fault for heading off on an entirely different tangent now the Silver Kings is done. For some reason I’ve been writing screenplays for the last year and a half. I promise to go back to novels just as soon as this doesn’t work out. Or as soon as it does. Until then, service






The LoneFire Experiment

Posted in News

I have a new book out. Mostly it’s made of AIs, Tesla pistols, bad attitudes and the word fuck.

How is this so?


I guess it was the best part of two decades ago when one of the friends I used to game with decided they wanted to run a cyberpunk campaign. Back then cyberpunk was all the rage, Neuromancer was still vaguely new and everyone wanted to be Hiro Protagonist from Snowcrash (you haven’t read Snowcrash? Go away and do that. No, wait, go away and read LoneFire and THEN read Snowcrash. Snowcrash is a considerably better book. I wish it wasn’t so but there it is. Then again being not-as-good-as-Snowcrash is a bit like being not-as-hot-as-the-sun…)

I digress. So a few years earlier I’d played a few sessions in a different campaign with a character I’d come to very much enjoy, and so I imported it, and if Constantine here feels like a character imported from a table-top game, that’s because he is, but I’d like to point out that it was a VERY GOOD tabletop game, thank you.

About the same time it finished I was struggling to write my first novel (and it’s still not finished, so there you go). As something else to do I started to write the story we’d just played. For some reason – I think because I was acutely aware that it was a little TOO close to Snowcrash and also I was very much into Peter Hamilton at the time – I shifted the setting from near-future Earth to a proper Space Opera backdrop. After a few false starts it just poured out. I think what I was aiming for was Snowcrash meets The Reality Dysfunction. Had I been a vastly better writer, I might have reached somewhere close. I wasn’t and so I didn’t, but over the years I found I kept coming back to it now and then, polishing, revising. It has something I like. A certain rawness, a naivety maybe. Maybe it’s just because it reminds me of all those game sessions, banging our heads against a plot we didn’t understand and couldn’t do anything to stop. So I was tinkering with it, now and then, more than any of the old stories from that time.

Cut to a couple of years ago and a clear realisation that The Silver Kings was going to be the last Stephen Deas fantasy that Gollancz were going to publish, at least in the foreseeable future. Thing is, I have a stack more material already partially written and there are at least six or seven people who’d like to read it. So I’ve been looking at self-publishing (efforts so far are the shorts here and here), but damn is it a lot of effort. It’s not so much the effort in getting the formatting done right (don’t use any formatting people), but if you want anyone to know it exists then you have to market hard and you have to play the system.

Venture Press, apparently, can do that. So we shall see. I always had a soft spot for my sweary little effort at cyberpunk, even if it’s not desperately profound; but then the cyberpunk gaming wave was all about style and substance came after.

Lonefire is available from Amazon and only from Amazon as an e-book and I’ve got a little sample of it here.

Remember what I said about it being SWEARY. There was point when the word fuck appeared on the first page more than forty times. It’s since been pruned… somewhat. Also prizes for spotting all the references to 80’s goth culture…

Publishers Weekly on Dragon Queen (23/6/2015)

Posted in News | Temp

Review in full from Publishers Weekly, 2015:

“In prose sometimes as elegant as a gold and glass airship, or as stark as a dragon destroying an entire city, the worlds Deas carefully built in his previous Memories of Flames novels are slowly torn apart. Bellepheros, Grand Master of the alchemists’ Order of the Scales, is kidnapped by Taiytakei slavers so their sea lords can exploit his control over immortal dragons. They need a dragon rider, so they capture the fallen dragon queen Zafir. The Taiytakei have also enslaved Tuuran, former soldier in the Adamantine Order that answered to Zafir, and Berren the Crowntaker, a warrior cast into another’s body through sorcery. Bellepheros is charmed by the compassionate witch Chay-Liang into building a dragon eyrie, Berren seeks to undo his curse with the help of Tuuran’s skills and companionship, and revenge-bent Zafir swears to destroy all Taiytakei everywhere with her dragon, Diamond Eye. All of them race toward a major clash that may appear in future books but is only hinted at in this installment. Deas’s dense tale unfurls a fantastic multiverse where a queen can become a slave but a slave can change worlds.”

It’s been a while since I got excited by a review, but for Publishers Weekly I make an exception.

WANTED: Cover Art (14/5/2015)

Posted in Important | News

A few weeks ago a put up a little short story on Amazon, The Sin Eater. This was a pipe-cleaner for some more substantial stories I wanted to publish this way. The next story I want to put up is a Thief-Taker story. I want to publish it in about two months. The text is largely good to go but I have a problem with the cover. Here is an approximation to the cover I want.

TTB cover example

Gollancz have kindly supplied the lettering to match the previous thief-taker books. There’s some more design work to be done and the colours are arbitrary at the moment, but I like the picture and the motif fits the story perfectly (a small band of thief-takers head out into the bay at night to investigate the arrival of a mysterious ship). So I’d like this for the cover, or something in a similar vein.

I found this particular piece here on deviant art. I’ve tried to contact the artist via Deviant Art’s message service, I’ve tried via the artist’s mail address given in his profile and I’ve tried via the contact link on his own web page, asking whether the rights to use the picture as cover art for a story are available for purchase. I’ve had no response. Too busy, not interested I don’t know. So OK, open call for submissions then. I’m looking for some cover art. I’m prepared to pay for it. The example here shows you what pretty well what I’m looking for (although if I’m comissioning from fresh I’d like something in portait format with bland areas of sky and sea for the title and the name, and might switch their positions).

So if anyone knows anyone who might be interested in taking on a commission like this, please let me know. Budget will be limited but I don’t expect artists to work for free. Meanwhile I continue my own searching, and if the original artist of this piece ever happens to get in touch, he’ll have first dibs. Suggestions here or via Twitter or e-mail me.

Don’t Buy My Book – Adventures in Self-Publishing (29/03/2015)

Posted in News | Temp

If you’ve been reading these pages at all regularly, you’ll probably know that The Silver Kings is coming out in a few months and that that’s going to be the last fantasy Stephen Deas writes for Gollancz for a little while (Nathan Hawke is still a more open question). Now this is sort of annoying and sort of good. It allows (forces) the pursuit of other projects. But on the other hand, there was more to the story of that world that I’d wanted to tell. Long story short, I’m contemplating self-publishing at the moment. I have no idea whether anything will come of this, but part of that whole contemplation thing was a decision to self-publish a few shorter stories to see what happens and (much more importantly) figure out how to do it.

Last week I self-published a short story through Amazon. Here it is. It’s a story that appeared in the BFS anthology Unexpected Journeys published for World Fantasycon 2013. It’s about six thousand words. Problems I encountered with this first pipe-cleaning exercise

Continue reading “Don’t Buy My Book – Adventures in Self-Publishing (29/03/2015)”

The Yearly Round-up (30/12/2014)

Posted in News

2013 saw the publication of Dragon Queen, the first book in my second trilogy of dragon fantasies, and while I kept the world the same, I took a different approach to the writing of it. The politics are still there, the battles and the dragons and the magic, but Dragon Queen was supposed to have a much more intense focus on character. I think Zafir was and remains the best character I’ve ever written (but I’m a little biased by knowing what happens in the second and third books). Dragon Queen was well received by the handful of people who read and reviewed it, but the sad fact (for me) is that it didn’t sell. I suppose I have to take that as a reflection on the books that preceded it. Which is a pity, because it’s light-years better.

2013 also saw the release of three Nathan Hawke novels in quick succession, much more swords and sorcery. Three novels in consecutive months, under a different name, straight into paperback (which isn’t the usual Gollancz way) and with those glorious covers with nothing but the artwork on the front. They didn’t sell terribly well either, although they did better than Dragon Queen. If there’s one ray of hope for Nathan Hawke it’s that there’s still a steady trickle of sales, and that the second and third books are selling close to as well as the first, which suggests that maybe, on the whole, The Crimson Shield is a strong enough story to make you want more.

On the whole, 2013 didn’t work (actually 2013 sucked for a whole variety of reasons, professional failure being the least of them). So just as well 2014 hasn’t been about fantasy nearly as much. As well as the second Zafir dragon novel, The Splintered Gods, 2014 saw historical crime fiction, The Royalist, military SF (Empires: Extraction) and a co-written SF game tie-in (Elite:Wanted). Turns out I was also a lot less productive this year than I was in 2013, writing only a little over two hundred thousand new words over the course of the year as opposed to over half a million the year before. That had a lot to do with needing to have a real job for a bit.

Will this year’s titles sell? The Splintered Gods won’t. I guess by now you either like my dragons or you don’t, so whoever liked Dragon Queen will probably get on with The Splintered Gods, but it’s definitely part two of a trilogy.

Elite: Wanted will probably do well enough. Don’t expect great depth of character or some startlingly original piece of world-building. It seems popular enough among Elite fans, but as with most tie-in fiction, it will doubtless struggle to reach beyond the game-playing audience. Whether there can be any more Ziva and Ravindra seems unlikely, and will depend very much on Frontier and their plans for further expansions of the game. Here’s a the most recent review I could find, which is fairly typical. “…a fast, frentic space opera that pays homage to Elite in the best possible way.”

Bulldog Drummond: Dead Man’s Gate is an e-book onyl novella I did for the small e-publisher Piqwiq. I have no idea AT ALL whether it’s selling any copies. The fact that the first novella went through three stages of editing and the second two are only going through one each smacks of desperately trying to save money, so I’m going to guess probably not, and apologise right now for the inevitable typos.

Empires: Extraction hasn’t been out for long and it hasn’t had many reviews, but so far they’ve all been pretty grim and they all like Infiltration better (OK, the two that I’ve read have. I haven’t read the SFX review), which largely sucks for me, but I can see their point that Gav’s aliens are better. Early impression is this is an experiment that didn’t work. I can’t see me and Gavin being asked to write a second pair of books in this form. There might be a different way to go forward.

The Royalist, by contrast, has enjoyed a rather kinder reception. Here’s the most recent review I could find; again fairly typical. “a very enjoyable and refreshing read that gave you a new understanding of the time and the New Model army and how it was anything but united” Reality is a Bore. A second William Falkland volume comes out next summer. If anything from this year is going to carry on, I reckon it’s this one.

2015: The Silver Kings comes out in the summer, the last of the dragon books I’ll be writing for a while. Like Dragon Queen it’s very much Zafir’s story, and all the better for it, though it does leave a few other things hanging as a result. That, for me, will be the pick of the bunch for next year because it’s so close to my heart. There are two more Bulldog Drummond novellas in the pipeline. Nathan Hawke has three Gallow shorts coming out in the first half of the year, and then I guess the title I’m most hopeful for is the second William Falkland novel: The Protector, but more about that closer to the time.

I have no idea what I’ll be writing in 2015. Another William Falkland novel, I hope. Maybe, if the Gallow shorts do well, there can be another Nathan Hawke outing.

Empires: Extraction (10/11/2014)

Posted in News | Temp

Yesterday (at the time of posting) was Rememberance Sunday. Between one sporting event and another, I think we observed a good few minutes of Silence. I suppose, what one is meant to do in those quiet moments is to reflect upon the horrors of war, all the lives lost and the reasons why. Rememberance Sunday was born from the first world war, and I doubt many of us really know why that happened in anything except the most general terms. I’m certainly quite sure that I don’t. Some more recent wars have been a bit clearer, others have been equally murky. A lot of them seem rather unnecessary.

In a couple of weeks the SF novels Empires: Extraction and Empires: Infiltration come out. Like Elite: Wanted, these both have a colon in the title and are coming out under the name of Gavin Deas on account of having been co-written with Gavin Smith. Unlike Elite, we each got to do our own whole novel in Empires. Although most of the events are set in 2015, Extraction starts twenty years earlier, in Bosnia, in 1995, with the massacre of Srebenica (or at least a part of it). Around that time I was exchanging a few letters with a Slovenian girl I’d met on a train a couple of years before and who happened to be into the same music as I was, and yes, OK, Slovenia wasn’t Bosnia, but it wasn’t exactly Scotland either. We didn’t talk about what was happening to what was once Yugoslavia, but it shamed me later to realise how ignorant I was, which is why this week’s giveaway is the way it is.

It’s also quite sweary, that opening chapter. I’m sure there are genteel squaddies out there, but I haven’t met them yet.

Other news: here’s a review for Elite: Wanted…

“I’ve enjoyed “Wanted” much more than I was supposed to enjoy any tie-in novel. Deas and Smith spin a mightily interesting yarn and I’ve especially enjoyed the way personal lives of characters influenced their decisions and often completely changed the course of events. This is in spirit of the original Elite which was not about heroes as such – it was more about small people trying to find their place in an endless, violently merciless environment. Having said that, the story does end up rather abruptly. Final 30-40 pages are some of the finest sci-fi I’ve ever read and admittedly I wanted to read more.” Upcoming4me

And here’s a review for The Royalist…

“Deas … integrates history and narrative knowledgeably, with wisdom that shines through in Falkland’s voice based on his experience of the tragedy of war.” The Historical Novel Society

The rest of the last week was spent working on a third Nathan Hawke story, Dragon’s Reach, which is centred around Oribas and Achista and what happens when Gallow isn’t around and the forkbeads are out for their revenge.

Now to the giveaway:

Covers 4

The covers are a bit of a clue as to the content. I think they’re well suited for what’s inside. In Extraction, it’s basically badass aliens, snarky spaceships and sweary SAS men. I think Gav give Infiltration a slightly darker, edgier feel, but then the novels have their differences in what’s going on around each protagonist. If you like you that sort of thing, the way the two novels both mesh and work on their own is pretty cool.

This week’s giveaway is a copy of Extraction and Infiltration. There’s a possibility I can get Gavin to sign Infiltration so they’ll be a matched pair. You can read the first chapter of Extraction here.

Usual deal – comment on this post before November 16th  and I’ll randomly select a lucky victims for a free copy. This week’s “game” isn’t game, really, but I’d like to know what else we should remember, lest we all forget. Or if that’s too touchy or difficult a subject, just comment and say “hi”  to enter.

Although, though no one has yet complained about how long it takes me to get to the post office and post things, it can take a while and if you live abroad then it can take even longer. Sorry about that, but they do get there eventually. Well, so far. Am currently up to date with sending things out except theat Dragon Queen T-Short from months ago which I still haven’t had printed but I haven’t forgotten either!

Brief Update (7/10/2014)

Posted in News

No giveaway this week, but I’ll make up for it next week with two copies of Elite: Wanted. In the meantime, here’s where things are at.

For new fans of William Falkland – I’m expecting the edits for his second outing imminently, and you’llbe seeing him again next summer.

For dragon fans – the edits to The Silver Kings are a little over half done and you’ll be seeing Zafir and the dragons again next summer too. I’m reasonably content that this is going to be a fitting end to the series, possibly the best book of the sequence or at least on a par with Dragon Queen.

For Gallow fans – I’m contracted to write three 10k(ish) short stories for Gollancz. The first, The Anvil, is now post-edit. The second, Solace, is with my editor. The third. . . exists as a vague idea in my head. I don’t have dates for these. There’s an omnibus edition of the first trilogy available as an e-book and, allegedly, as a paper book too soon, but I don’thave a date for that either. The omnibus does include some bonus material not in the original novels.

For Bulldog Drummond fans, the second novella is withe the publishers with all my work done. The third, The Jaguar Mask, is in for edit.

The physical version of Elite: Wanted comes out next week, and then Empires is out on 20th November, to this site might go all a bit SF for a couple of months…

Back again in a week.

The Royalist – Cover and stuff (8/7/2014)

Posted in News

No Giveaway this week, nor probably for a while, as there’s going to be something of a redesign of the website going on over the next couple of months ready for stuff that doesn’t have dragons in it. September 25th sees the publication of The Royalist, a historical mystery detective thriller thing set in the English civil war. Here’s the blurb and the cover.

“William Falkland is a dead man.

A Royalist dragoon who fought against Parliament, he is currently awaiting execution at Newgate prison. Yet when he is led away from Newgate with a sack over his head, it is not the gallows to which they take him, but to Oliver Cromwell himself. Cromwell has heard of Falkland’s reputation as an investigator and now more than ever he needs a man of conscience. His New Model Army are wintering in Devon but mysterious deaths are sweeping the camp. In return for his freedom, Falkland is despatched to uncover the truth.

With few friends and a slew of enemies, Falkland soon learns there is a dark demon at work, one who won’t go down without a fight. But how can he protect Cromwell’s army from such a monster and, more importantly, will he be able to protect himself?”


Notice the cunning use of a fake middle initial to totally hide who the author really is . . . oh, never mind. Then in October and November the Elite novel comes out in hardback and Empires follows it. So there’s going to be some rearrangement of the site to be less dragony and more with the spaceships and the muskets over the rest of summer.

More Gallow and a Gallow Giveaway (19/5/2014)

Posted in News

Still rewriting The Silver Kings. If I ever try to write a character as vexingly complicated as Zafir again, someone please shoot me.

Anyway, this week there is some good news for any Gallow and Nathan Hawke fans out there. To keep things smouldering along a bit while we all work out whether enough people want to see more Gallow for anyone to want to publish any more novels, I’ve agreed with Gollancz to write three shortish stories. No firm dates for publication as yet since they haven’t been written, but I imagine it’ll be as soon as reasonably possible. There’s also an e-book omnibus of the original novels available here.

That being the case I think I’ll give away another couple of Nathan Hawke books this week, Cold Redemption and The Last Bastion. The Last Bastion picks up from where Cold Redemption leaves off, so they’re pretty much a couple.

cold redemption cover lo-resCover artwork lo-res

Usual deal – comment on this post before May 25th  and I’ll randomly select lucky victims. This week I want to know WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ DRAGON QUEEN YET… No, this week I want you to vote, if you’re eligible. Just vote. I mean in the elections, not for which book you like best (yes, Mike, I’m looking at YOU).

Although, though no one has yet complained about how long it takes me to get to the post office and post things, it can take a while and if you live abroad then it can take even longer. Sorry about that, but they do get there eventually.

Bulldog Drummond (April 2014 UK)

Posted in Books | News

A couple of weeks back I signed off on another Bulldog Drummond novella. I might have made more of a fuss of it at the time, only there was another announcement about to come out that then didn’t and then was going to and then got delayed . . . an announcement which sort of merited a little more fuss.

Here’s an extract from the first one.

I was in two minds, back right at the start of last year when Bulldog Drummond came my way. On the one hand it’s writing to someone else’s tune; on the other, I had some free time coming up over the course of the year (which then got used up when Sekkrit Projekt came along, and yes, that’s writing to someone else’s tune too but never mind that… SEKKRIT PROJEKT!). To be fair to Piqwiq, they weren’t at all prescriptive about what needed to be done. I think they would have been quite happy to have a great-grandson of the original Bulldog Drummond running around in the dying days of the cold war having Bond-like adventures. Even sticking with the nineteen twenties setting, I’m not sure they would have been that troubled one way or another by how closely I stayed with the originals.

Which is probably just as well, although it was initially my intention to try and stay true to the original. Well over a dozen Drummond novels originally published in the twenties and thirties and nearly as many movies, and they’re mostly out of copyright and a good few of them are available for free via the internet. I have read and watched bits and I can’t really recommend much of it. Product of their time. They’re just . . . a bit dull. And original Drummond as a character . . . he’s a bit not my cup of tea. I’m entirely fine with the whole action hero thing and the Moriarty-style super-villain and there’s a nice bit of wit here and there but I never quite picked up what makes Drummond himself stand out as actually interesting to a modern eye. And yes, England in the nineteen twenties wasn’t a picture of equality and social justice but even within that setting, original Drummond is pretty conservative. I don’t necessarily mind that – a reactionary hero trying to cling to old ways and values while the world around him is changing and leaving him behind is a trope any writer can have some fun with and I don’t see anything particularly wrong with having a bigoted and prejudiced lead character provided that the narrative challenges that view of the world rather than continually supports it – but original Drummond . . . doesn’t.

I will admit to having played a bit fast and loose with the source. What I’ve aimed for, in the end, is to maintain a character who echoes the likes of James Bond (for whom the original Drummond was an inspiration) and Indiana Jones but with a little more of an awareness of the world and how it’s changing back in those times. Why? Because history interests me. Why do it at all? Oh, because who doesn’t like a good old-fashioned fast-paced action-adventure in which villainous master-criminals embark on grand schemes and are thwarted (or not) through gritty resolve, wily thinking and the careful application of a good right hook. And if you’re reading this and find yourself thinking ew, not me then these stories, my friend, are indeed not for you.Stephen_Deas_Drummond1_Dead_Mans_Gate_250

In Dead Man’s Gate, the story begins with an explosion at the Bank of England as dozens of anarchists and Bolsheviks pour into the building, something more akin to a riot than a robbery. As the unrest is subdued and as the last of the anarchists are either restrained or make good their escape, we see a man walking calmly away. In his hand he tosses a very large and old-looking key. This is the enigmatic Mr Crabbleston, and it’s down to Drummond to infiltrate London’s anarchists and Bolsheviks to uncover Crabbleston’s dastardly plan to bring the British Empire to its knees as he stages the most daring theft in modern history. I have no idea who the woman is on the cover for this one, but does Drummond look a bit like Bond in this cover art? Rumour has it that the model is/has been Daniel Craig’s body double.

I kind of like all these covers. They’re simple but have a nice forties feel to them. I can see Humphrey Bogart in them. Well . . . if I close my eyes and use my imagination I can.

There are a few reviews kicking about (other than Goodreads and Amazon) for Dead Man’s Gate, but only a few.

“I devoured it very quickly and was completely immersed in the tale throughout” Boolikes

“It is no easy task to revive a vintage property, particularly when society’s mores and attitudes have changed radically since its commercial heyday. Deas acquits himself honorably and leaves me looking forward to Books Two and Three over the course of the next year. Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of John Crabbleston.” Black Gate (kind of nice and kind of alarming to be reviewed by someone who clearly knows the original source materials considerably better than I do).

In The Faceless Men, the death of a government Secret Intelligence Service agent draws Drummond into the opium dens of Limehouse in pursuit of a mysterious Chinese Triad lord, a far-off conflict between nationalist and communist forces and the shady world of international espionage while all the time umm-ing and ah-ing about getting married. I had a lot of fun in this one with my Chinese spy, Wei Li. Wei Li might have to come back in something again one day.

In the Jaguar Mask, the story begins at the Museum of Natural History in New York. Yale university, sponsored by Senator Hiram Bingam, have allowed a quantity of Incan artefacts to be put on display. At a private party at the museum the night before the exhibition opens, Senator Bingham is the guest of honour. He finds himself in conversation with an unknown Englishman who calls himself Crabbleston, who seems to know a great deal about the Incas, about the fabulous golden Jaguar Mask that’s the centrepiece of the exhibition, and also about the general political instability that blights Peru as a whole in these troubled times. After the stranger takes his leave, Bingham goes to take a closer look at the mask again. Something is wrong. Right in front of a hundred people, the real mask has been stolen and replaced it with an expert fake…

Actually I haven’t written than one yet. Drummond may or may not  be married (yes, the author is umm-ing and ah-ing too). But it definitely sees the return of Mr Crabbleston, because he was WAY too much fun in Dead Man’s Gate, and if the first two were Bond movies in disguise, this time we’re going for Indiana Jones.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Um . . . hum the Bond theme as you leave. Or Raiders of the Lost Ark. Oh, and here’s a very short extract. And a picture of  a Supermarine Southahmpton, because I had to look up seaplanes, and because it’s kind of like a banana with wings and a tail.


Adam Dalton Interview (16/12/13)

Posted in News

A J Dalton is a fellow Gollancz author whose Gollancz debut, Empire of the Saviours, was published back in May last year but who has previously also gone the self-publishing route. In an effort to find yet another excuse to procrastinate and put off doing any actual real work, we decided to interview each other (well that was my reason, anyway).

Here’s the ‘official’ biopic, most of which Adam claims is nearly true, from Empire of the Saviours:

“A J Dalton (the ‘A’ is for Adam) has been an English language teacher as far afield as Egypt, the Czech Republic, Thailand, Slovakia, Poland and Manchester University. He has lived in Manchester since 2003, but has a conspicuous Cockney accent, as he was born in Croydon on a dark night, when strange stars were seen in the sky.

He published his first fantasy trilogy, consisting of Necromancer’s Gambit (2008), Necromancer’s Betrayal (2009) and Necromancer’s Fall (2010), to great acclaim. He is currently published by Gollancz, with whom he has put out the best-selling titles Empire of the Saviours (2012) and Gateway of the Saviours (2013). He maintains the Metaphysical Fantasy website (, where there is plenty to interest fantasy fans and there is advice for aspiring authors.”

If you want to know more, you can visit Adam’s website at or follow him on Twitter as @AJDalton1

Steve: So, first of all, what the hell is metaphysical fantasy (I want to spell it phantasy) as opposed to any other kind of fantasy. What are you trying to do that other fantasy authors are missing out on?

Adam: Hmm. Well, you can’t get a job as a philosopher these days, so people have to write fantasy and scifi instead. The term metaphysical references metaphysical poets like John Donne and Andrew Marvel . They describe close human scenes but give them large scale significance. It’s like writing through a microscope, if that makes sense. There are other authors like that – Philip Pullman, for example. It all sounds a bit poncy, but you’ve basically gotta have a good human drama that has epic significance… which lends itself to all sorts of pratt-falls, obviously. That’s jokes to you and me. The use of the term ‘metaphysical’ isn’t really a point about ‘other fantasy authors’ – it’s more of a point made to those who seem to think literary fiction is somehow worthier or more high-brow than fantasy.

Steve: If I’ve got it right, you self-published your first trilogy (the Necromancer’s Gambit). Now that you’re a Gollancz author, how has that changed your perspectives (if at all) on conventional traditional publishing and the do-it-yourself way. What do you see as the main differences and advantages to each?

Adam: Bizarrely, there’s preciously little difference between the two. I’m still left to sort out my own signings, etc. I still very much feel like I’m ‘on my own’. Except, of course, I make more money on the self-published books.

Steve: Why oh why oh why do we always write trilogies? Is it a good thing that we do? What could be done to make it stop (er, assuming we wanted to…)

Adam: Quite right! Why stop at trilogies? We should go for five-book series, or seven or ten! Chronicles of a Cosmic Warlord (Empire of the Saviours, Gateway or the Saviours and Tithe of the Saviours) was originally pitched as a five-booker. Gollancz, however, made me reduce it to three books – and I can see why they wouldn’t want to commit to a ‘first-timer’ over five books. But I guess your question is why fantasy comes in series like this. Well, one of the great pleasures of fantasy is full immersion in a different world. We don’t want to leave that world. We like our books to be a thousand pages long, and to carry on and on forever.

Steve: What’s your favourite book (apart from your own) and why?

Adam: Actually, I have a favourite play first – and that’s Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, followed by Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Favourite book is probably Machiavelli’s The Prince.

Steve: We’ve both travelled a fair bit, though I think you win that one: are there any places that you’d particularly encourage people to go and see for themselves?

Adam: Oh, I love the Czech Republic. It’s the true home of our (European) sense of the gothic. Prague is knock out. And the country has the best beer in the world. And produces more supermodels per square mile than any other country – and they’re all great chess-players. Geez. Art, beer, brains and good times!

Steve: And on the same subject, are there any places or aspects of culture from far away that you’ve knowingly slipping into one of your settings?

Adam: Yes, I plunder the whole Czech vibe for my gothic elements. Anything else? Hmm. Well, I did two years in Egypt and that would be rich material – but Saladin Ahmed (Throne of the Crescent Kingdom) has already beaten me to the punch on that stuff. Damn.

Steve: You asked me what was the best, so what’s the *worst* thing about being an author?

Adam: Definitely, the lack of money. Obviously, I’ll be worth a mint when I’m dead, but that’s no use to me. Publishers are fortunate that writers don’t tend to do it for the bucks. We do it because we have to. It’s that old fashioned idea of a job being a ‘calling’ or ‘vocation’. One other problem is simply never having enough time. I don’t enjoy the writing under pressure or to deadlines, but deadlines are necessary evils, I suppose.

Steve: Damn, you asked me that too. Well then, go on, what’s the best?

Adam: Therefore, the best thing about the writing is… the writing. I enjoy the process, creativity and discipline of it. You’ve got to. Otherwise, you just couldn’t stay motivated and inspired for the year or so it takes to write a book.

Steve: How much (if any at all) have games, either video games, or roleplaying games, influenced you as a story-teller?

Adam: Oo. Interesting. I’m quite a big gamer. I still play Warcraft 2 on the PS2 a lot (old school). And I read a fair bit of Warhammer stuff. The interactivity and immersion of gaming is great for the imagination. Has it directly influenced me as a story-teller. Hmm. Maybe on the big set-piece battles. And, when younger, I used to run around Chistlehurst Caves doing real-life D&D. I think the emotions you experience doing that are useful for any writer. [I used to run around Chislehurst Caves too. Mostly the emotions I experienced were of rage and pain as I smashed my head into a rock in the dark for the umpteenth time. If that taught me one thing, it's that all professional dungeoneers would always wear helmets, even the bloody wizards and sod the chance of spell failure - Ed].

Steve: And what was the question I really should have asked but didn’t, and what’s the answer?

Adam: Now that’s the 64 million dollar question. Maybe: what’s your secret? Answer: write what you enjoy reading, and don’t be upset if it isn’t published immediately. You’re probably born ahead of your time. You have to wait till the world catches up. Or your stuff isn’t currently ‘in fashion’ with publishers. Rejection should never be the same as dejection. Books get rejected for loads of reaons – and ‘quality of prose’ is really one of the rarer reasons. If you want to get published, focus on what the more common reasons are and address them. And the other question you should have asked is: where can legions of fans find you online? Answer: and on Twitter as @AJDalton1. Hurrah!

Who, Where, What, When?

Posted in News

I don’t collect stats for this site so I have no idea whether anyone reads these posts or pays a blind bit of attention to anything I write here. I mostly imagine myself writing into the void; which is as it should be. Most of what I have to say, I say better in my books. Still, maybe now and then there’s some sense i putting up a post that says where various projects are at. So . . .

The dragons and the thief-taker.

The second dragon trilogy (Dragon Queen, The Splintered Gods, The Silver King) has started to make its appearance in the UK. There’s no sight of a US publisher for this or for the Thief-Taker series but both should be available via online retailers at some point via the US distributor Trafalgar Square. They do all appear to be available from Amazon. Dragon Queen came out in trade in August and will follow in paperback next spring, I think. The Splintered Gods is into the later stages of the edit process and should come out in June, I think. I haven’t really got going on The Silver Kings but it should be delivered in six months or so as planned. And that, I’m afraid, is going to be it for dragons for a while. If they’re ever going to make a return past The Silver King, they need to sell a lot more. I would like to go back to Deephaven and the Ice Witch and that part of the world a little more. We shall have to wait and see.

Nathan Hawke

There are no firm plans and many tentative ones for more from Mr. Hawke. Doubtless it will depend a bit on the sales figures come the end of the year. There has been talk of some sort of omnibus. I’m frankly slightly miffed with Mr. Hawke. He’s had very little review coverage but he’s getting more positive attention on Amazon than me. Grrr. As with the later dragons books, there is no US publisher but it’s available from online retailers. And dear American friends, thank you for the online review love.

Gavin Deas

Looks like this is going to be the pen name for my SF collaborations with Gavin Smith  that are coming out next year. Irritatingly I can’t give dates for reasons that I can’t talk about. More grrr. But all three books are done, mine and Gavin’s, and in the later stages of the edit process.

What comes next? I don’t know.

NaNoWriMo (12/11/2013)

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Hi everybody!

<Hi, Doctor Nick!>

I’m doing NaNoWriMo through the whole of November and so news on the site here is going to be sparse because I’m writing up progress as it goes over on Fantasy Faction. Links to each post will be on the home page. see you all in December.

Name That Spaceship: (04/11/2013)

Posted in News

Last week: polishing off the penultimate rewrite of Bulldog Drummond and the Faceless; editing Empires: Extraction; going to World Fantasy Con. I’ll put up another extract from Empires later this week. This week I’m working on the sequel to The Royalist as a NaNoWriMo project. To follow my progress and/or find out what the hell that even means, you need to hop over to the Fantasy Faction site. Here’s the starter.

This week’s giveaway is a bit different. One of the nice things about conventions is that you get to see all sorts of people when they’re a bit tipsy and more pliable than usual to be tapped up for favours. If you follow the acquisitions news from Gollancz, you’ll already know that when the Kickstarter funding drive for Elite: Dangerous was launched, Gollancz bought the rights to publish three tie-in novel titles. In theory, then, there are three Gollancz novels coming out next year set in the Elite universe. If you’ve been following with *particular* interest (say because you happen to be a Gollancz author who pitch in to the Kickstarter, not that that actually narrows us down all that much, it turns out), you might have noticed that there haven’t been any announcements as to who will  be writing them and when they’ll be coming out.

Naturally, from my position of privilege, I shall not be sharing the INSIDE INFORMATION I have on the subject. What I will share, however, is the opportunity, acquired during the World Fantasy Convention for one of you to name a spaceship in one of the elite tie-in novels. Any thing you like provided is doesn’t break some other copyright and isn’t likely to cause offense (both Gollancz and Frontier would have to be OK with it). The ship is currently a Diamondback called the Sword of Alexander and exists in the narrative as something for the protagonist to ostentatiously have a fight with (I believe it puts in a good show for itself before it goes down). There is the possibility that the name might make its way back into the game database for the Elite universe, but I absolutely can’t say anything definite one way or the other about that.

To enter, you have to comment on this post before November 10th AND you have to finish this sentence: “Officer, I crashed into the space-station because…” The author who’ll be using your ship name will choose a winner by some opaque process not subject to any scrutiny next weekend. Enjoy.

New books for 2014/2015 (1/11/2013)

Posted in News

I have just signed a contract with Headline books to two historical fiction novels to be published in late 2014 and 2015 respectively. These will be published in parallel with my work for Gollancz (the Splintered Gods will still come out as planned next year and so forth).

The novels are set towards the end of the first English civil war and feature the former royalist William Falkland, who has been co-opted by the Parliamentarians as a sort of roving investigator. Falkland, who has seen more than his share of battles and death in the last five years, has lost any idealistic notions of King and Country he might have carried in to the start of the war and is simply trying to get home but Parliament has other ideas; yet behind the dry, bitter and cynical exterior, Falkland clings to his notions of what is right and decent and remains and man of principle and result makes him reminiscent of the cynical heroes of noir thrillers. So there it is: noir detective stories set in the English Civil War.

The novels will be entirely separate standalones centred around Falkland and a small handful of recurring secondary characters, the only ongoing storyline being Falkland himself. In the first novel (The Royalist), Falkland is sent to the winter camp of the New Model Army in Devon to poke his nose into a trio of unusual suicides that are, of course, nowhere near as simple as they first appear. In the second, the sister of John Milton (Paradise Lost) has gone missing.

Th first of these, Th Royalist, is due for publication in November 2014.

World Fantasy Con – Unexpected Journeys (02/10/2013)

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I shall be at World Fantasy Con at the end of the month, a long established intention and a fact of great excitement to at least one person. As things stand I won’t be doing any panels, despite last-ditch efforts to establish a panel on why author should regularly interact via the internet with those who comment on their work and damn well comment on any review they damn well please. Fortunately this means propping up the bar for longer hours and probably having exactly the same discussion only with beer and thus louder.

However, I can announce that I’ll also be appearing in a slightly more useful and written form as part of the BFS anthology Unexpected Journeys and in the form of a short story, The Sin Eater, a brief vignette of revenge and wickedness and redemption and in which dragons are not mentioned even once. See, I can if I try…

The other stories are:

A Thief in the Night by Anne Lyle
Seeds by Benjamin Tate
Steer a Pale Course by Gail Z Martin
The Groppler’s Harvest by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Oak, Broom and Meadowsweet by Liz Williams
King Harvest Has Surely Come by Chaz Brenchley
The Queen’s Garden by Kate Elliott

The anthology is edited by Juliet McKenna and rather than have me waffle about it any more, you might fancy reading her thoughts and observing how I totally stole that list. You can also see the cover artwork there.

The anthology is only available (I think) to BFS members and WFC attendees (that may be a redundant statement). The BFS have a few months of exclusive rights to the story before it revert, after which I reckon there’s a fair chance it’ll show up here as a freebie.

Holding Post (20/9/2013)

Posted in News

It’s been kind of a busy week and the internet made me cranky. Normal service will be resumed shortly with a giveaway of the whole Gallow series. In the meantime, be nice to each other and don’t threaten women with sexual violence just because you don’t like what they say. It makes you a dick, it may be against the law, depending on what country you’re in and there is now a secret conspiracy of pissed off folks who will track you down and show your mom what you did.

The rest of you, who don’t do that sort of thing, do carry on without me…

Empires: An update (6/9/2013)

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Back in April, I announced an SF collaboration with fellow Gollancz author Gavin Smith: “Caught between battery-farming and annihilation, can mankind find a way out in the face of Gavin’s personal guarantee that at no point will any vastly technologically superior alien races be defeated by a single big shouty man with a large gun or by some sort of computer hack? Find out next year . . .”

I’m pleased to say that my Empires: Extraction is ready to submit and Gavin’s companion volume is going through the proof-reading. It’s been slightly delayed due to being gazumped by another project that affects both of us but it’s basically on schedule. When it actually comes out is up to Gollancz. The results, though are some sort of monstrous hybrid of my penchant for extreme physics and Gavin’s special forces expertise.

What we’ve ended up with isn’t quite what we thought we were going to do but I’m pleased with the result. I don’t think I can claim any great depth of commentary on society with this one, just snarky spacehips, aliens, deranged sentient hallucinations, sweary SAS men, lots of guns and explosions, I get to be rude about the Cleggeron and we just won’t mention what Gavin gets up to across the Atlantic (mostly because it’ll get cut in the edit ).

Here’s an (unedited) extract:

June 28th, 1600 hours, One hundred miles east of Damascus

The cloned Fermat construct approached from the east. It had become irritatingly difficult to conceal itself crossing the desert. It could cloak itself perfectly well from all the standard senses and sensors but moving at any kind of speed close to the ground would throw up clouds of dust that would then be hard to conceal. It could stutter in little wormhole jumps and the natives wouldn’t be any the wiser but then there was the matter of who else was in this system. The Shriven appeared to have exceptional sensor arrays hidden somewhere and they might pick up the muon trail the stutters would leave behind. It couldn’t allow that. It wanted to optimise its chances to take them by surprise.

It settled for riding in the back of a native truck, concealed and invisible. It had engineered a xeno-fungus whose spores made their way into human nervous systems and made them entirely suggestible. It was a calculated risk – anything more complex that would have allowed more reliable subjugation might have aroused suspicion from the Shriven but it needed pliable natives. It considered flying but again the elimination of its own signature would have been imperfect.

The truck was slow. The clone took the time to flit its consciousness among the several hundred tiny drones that now orbited the earth. Individually they were simply things, barely even self-aware, but the network they made was showing interesting phenomena that even the Irrational Prime wasn’t picking up lurking out among the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. Most of all, the orbital network was showing consistent steady signs of pion decay somewhere in Damascus. The network had it pinned down to a few dozen yards. The clone would do the rest.

It assessed the tactical options it had prepared for whatever it encountered. Shortly after it did that, the truck ground to a halt at some sort of native checkpoint and an exchange of conversation occurred. From the back of the truck, the Fermat couldn’t intervene without giving itself away. It seemed that the conversation went logically enough but it nevertheless ended with the soldiers at the checkpoint hauling the driver out of his truck, dragging him behind a shed and shooting him in the head.

The Fermat considered this for an instant then unshrouded itself and climbed out. It didn’t trouble to not to scrape its armoured limbs against the side of the truck. The two soldiers who’d shot its driver came running back from behind the shed. They took one look at the clone and started shrieking as they opened fire. The Fermat phased so the bullets passed straight through and ignored them. It swept its hand across the soldiers’ hut and the rest of the checkpoint. For a nanosecond, magnetic fields several quadrillion times stronger than the earth’s own ripped apart the atoms of everything in front of it. The checkpoint disintegrated.

The Fermat turned to the two soldiers left behind it. One had fallen to his knees and was praying. The other was trying to reload and shaking too much to do it. The clone killed both of them by stopping their hearts. It left the praying one and hauled the other body into the truck, propped it up behind the wheel and infected the corpse with a modified version of its fungus. While it was waiting for the body to reanimate, it rewired the truck and took control. The dead man just had to sit up and loll there, that would do. An hour later, that was what it was doing. Another six and synaptic decay would be too far advanced for the deception to work any more but that was more than it needed.

“So your idea of stealth is to set off a magnetic pulse they’ll feel in orbit and create walking dead men?” asked the Irrational Prime.

The Apprentice is a fun and rapidly moving fantasy novel with elements of coming of age and rite of passage, along with thieves, villains, pirates, rogues, wizards who seem to do nothing wizardry and pubs. Plenty of pubs. – See more at:
The Apprentice is a fun and rapidly moving fantasy novel with elements of coming of age and rite of passage, along with thieves, villains, pirates, rogues, wizards who seem to do nothing wizardry and pubs. Plenty of pubs. – See more at: curious did-not-finish review:  “The Adamantine Palace was difficult for me to walk away from, as the storyline was actually quite interesting – it kept me trying for about 100 pages. I liked the world, I liked the plot, and I liked the dragons.” at It’s nice to see a reviewer put up a review of something they didn’t like rather than quietly ignoring it. We could all do with more of that.

Bulldog Drummond (02/08/2013)

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I can announce that I’ve signed a contract with Piqwiq, part of the Rushforth Media Group, to write two Bulldog Drummond novellas this year. I expect to fit these in quite comfortably around existing commitments, probably one before and one after the edit to The Splintered Gods which will start as soon as the school holidays end.

For those who don’t know, the character of Bulldog Drummond was created shortly after the first world war by Herman McNeile and is the subject of over a dozen short novels and a similar number of movies between the first and second world wars. Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond is de-mobbed army Captain. Finding himself at a loose end after the war, he embarks on a life of what can best be described as freelance adventure.

His early stories frequently involved an arch-nemesis Carl Petersen (who definitely has shades of Moriarty to him). The two stories I’ll be writing are set slightly later, leaving me with the fun of creating a new arch-nemesis, Mister Crabbleston. The first story will definitely revolve around a daring robbery of the Bank of England that’s only the start of something far more sinister. Not sure about the second one yet, mostly because I’m a bit spoiled for choice.

The character of Bulldog Drummond was one of the inspirations behind James Bond; so think a freelance nineteen-twenties James Bond, dabble with a little Indiana Jones while you’re at it, and that’s what I’m aiming for.

I’m aware, before anyone points it out, of issues of racism and facism around the original character. I’ve not studied the source material enough to form an opinion of my own as to how it stands compared to the general attitudes of its time; nevertheless, the general attitudes of its time don’t really need to be brought to a modern audience. I might keep a faint sense of hopefully rather ironic jingoism but otherwise we’ll be leaving all that nonsense behind, ta.

I Am Spartacus (29/07/2013)

Posted in News

It’s been an appallingly badly kept secret for quite some time. Goodreads will tell you and now SFX in their review of The Crimson Shield have let the cat out of the bag that it was already pretty much out of any way.

I am SpartacusNathan Hawke. Look – here’s a picture by the very talented by Alejandro Colucci

cover lo-res

Yup, that’s me. Angry Man With An Axe. The protagonist looks kind of like that too. It’s a different kind of fantasy. No dragons and much more straightforward story-telling, I think. Some people have said some nice things and Gollancz have rounded them all up soall I have to do is cut and paste . . .

The Crimson Shield is a fast-paced and full of bloody battles.’ SFX

“Shades of David Gemmell… It’s about time someone good took up the torch for heroic fantasy. Inspiring characters, great plot and culture. I read this in one session, utterly absorbed” CONN IGGULDEN, bestselling author of the EMPEROR and CONQUEROR series of historical novels, and THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS

“A great mix of bloodied axes and brave warriors, an honest hero and the war that gets in his way” TOM LLOYD, author of the TWILIGHT REIGN series and the forthcoming MOON’S ARTIFICE

THE CRIMSON SHIELD is at once a huge adrenaline rush and a thoughtful examination of the destructive nature of war. The key protagonist, Gallow, is a cleverly constructed hero, full of conflict, confusion and bravery, a man who is unsure where his loyalties truly lie. A man driven by his upbringing and his love for his wife and family – factors that make very uncomfortable bedfellows. Mind you, he’s handy in a fight, very handy. Hawke has created a world with enough history, myth and folklore to make it believable. His prose is fluid, his dialogue crisp and his action very well-handled and visceral. It is not a long read and all the better for it. Entertaining, sometimes moving and always eminently readable. Highly recommended.” JAMES BARCLAY, author of the RAVEN and ELVES series of fantasy epics

“Reminds me of the tales that made me want to write novels in the first place” GILES KRISTIAN, bestselling author of the RAVEN historical books

“The simple fact the book has me guessing and speculating rather than ploughing into the next read is again testament to its quality of plot and story telling. I really do recommend this book, to fantasy or Historical Fiction fans.” ROBIN CARTER, Parmenion Books

“Bloody and interesting” Edi’s Book Lighthouse

I’ll put some more up about these books over the next few weeks. The first, The Crimson Shield is already out in the UK and available through online retailers in the US. In theory it might be in some bookshops over there too but ha ha. . . Look, if anyone actually sees a copy of a Nathan Hawke book in a US bookshop, send me a photo and I’ll send you an Angry Dragons T-shirt or a mug or something.

The second and third installments, Cold Redemption and The Last Bastion come out in August and September respectively so no messing about. Between those three and Dragon Queen, that’s a summer’s reading right there.

This week’s competition is going to be a Twitter thing as well – I have ten copies of either The Crimson Shield or the sequel, Cold Redemption (you get to choose) to give away. Usual deal – comment on this post before August 3rd  and I’ll randomly select a lucky victim for a free copy of the series. This week we’re playing Viking Supermarket. So you need your comment to come up with something vaguely Vikingy. To enter the competition, you have to play the game. You can enter as may times as you like but I’ll only count the first entries – the rest are just for fun and showing off. You can also enter by re-tweeting the competition announcement on Twitter.

Extra points for humour and originality, not that extra points actually translates into anything useful :-p

Although, though no one has yet complained about how long it takes me to get to the post office and post things, it can take a while and if you live abroad then it can take even longer. Sorry about that, but they do get there eventually. Well, so far.

Dragon Queen (August 2013 UK)

Posted in Books | News

Dragon Queen is now published in the UK and available as an e-book in the US. In principle it should be available in paper form in the US from Trafalgar Square but I don’t see it listed as of the start of September. Maybe that’s changed.

Dragon Queen lo-res cover

Just as The Black Mausoleum was intended largely as a standalone work in the same universe as The Memory of Flames (how well it worked in that regard is something readers can judge better than I), so Dragon Queen rather ambitiously aims to be a both a new point of entry into the world and, to some extent, a continuation of previous stories. it’s definitely NOT a sequel to The Black Mausoleum. Arguably it’s a sequel to The Order of the Scales for at least one character, to The King’s Assassin for another and to The Adamatine Palace for a third. But it’s as much as anything starting anew[1]. In some ways it’s maybe what The Adamantine Palace would have been if I’d paid considerably more time and effort on the characters and gone to town on the world-building. The result is something that isn’t nearly as fast and furious (except for the last act which partially aims to be Call of Duty: Dragon Warfare) but maybe has a bit more weight to it. Or maybe not. For better or worse it’s as long as The Adamantine Palace and The King of the Crags combined.

For anyone who’s been reading the series so far, here’s a teaser: Remember Bellepheros? Remember how he mysteriously disappears half way through The Adamantine Palace? Not so mysterious any more.

And here’s another one: Remember how the Taiytakei get a tiny fleeting mention in The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice. . .  Guess who’s back!

No prizes, by the way, for guessing who the Dragon Queen is.

Dragon Queen’s first review was from Falcatta Times: “If you love a book that has fantasy elements, political double dealing and proceeds to give manipulate the reader then you really have to read Stephen’s work. The story is dark, it has a cracking pace and when you add into this an author who knows how to manipulate not only the reader but also the characters to showcase both their strengths and their weaknesses all round makes this compulsive reading.”

“If you like dragons and subtle story telling, then this is for you.” Fantasy Book Review

“I loved this book and I felt it was refreshing, action packed, destructive. It contains some great dialogue and a finale any author would be proud of.” Slightly Foxed

“The brooding menace of Diamond Eye builds and builds” Walled Kingdoms

“In short, Dragon Queen is a masterpiece of fantasy and easily Deas’ best work to date.” Fixed on Fantasy

Review in full from Publishers Weekly, 2015: “In prose sometimes as elegant as a gold and glass airship, or as stark as a dragon destroying an entire city, the worlds Deas carefully built in his previous Memories of Flames novels are slowly torn apart. Bellepheros, Grand Master of the alchemists’ Order of the Scales, is kidnapped by Taiytakei slavers so their sea lords can exploit his control over immortal dragons. They need a dragon rider, so they capture the fallen dragon queen Zafir. The Taiytakei have also enslaved Tuuran, former soldier in the Adamantine Order that answered to Zafir, and Berren the Crowntaker, a warrior cast into another’s body through sorcery. Bellepheros is charmed by the compassionate witch Chay-Liang into building a dragon eyrie, Berren seeks to undo his curse with the help of Tuuran’s skills and companionship, and revenge-bent Zafir swears to destroy all Taiytakei everywhere with her dragon, Diamond Eye. All of them race toward a major clash that may appear in future books but is only hinted at in this installment. Deas’s dense tale unfurls a fantastic multiverse where a queen can become a slave but a slave can change worlds.”

[1] Or so it was intended. The various reviews suggest maybe this doesn’t work as well as I’d hoped, and in part because of the uncertainty as to what a reader was *supposed* to know. I hadn’t thought of that.

After Angmar (02/05/2013)

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Something a little different today. This is a piece of fiction that my wife Michaela wrote as an exercise for her writing group. It made me laugh. If you like it, please let her know. She’s @adamantine_lady on Twitter.

After Angmar

Stale air hit him as he opened the door to his flat. He carefully stepped over the small pile of junk mail and the local newspaper that covered his mat and kicked the door shut behind him. He crossed the sitting room without as much as a sideways glance. The kitchen light flickered into clinical life. He opened the grease-sodden take-away bag on the blistered Formica table, turned and took another beer from the fridge. ‘Probably shouldn’t', he thought. He’d already had several in the pub with Gimli earlier but their conversation had left him feeling even moodier than before. Maybe a last can would take off the edge. He stood in the doorway for a moment, can in one hand, kebab in the other and surveyed the cluttered mess that was his living room. His shoulders slumped and he let out a resigned sigh. This was what it had come to, was it? From a kingdom to a single, dingy room, littered with what little was left of his life. The piles of clothes, the magazines and books everywhere, the threadbare sofa, the glass surface on the table in front sticky and ringed with marks, the limp curtains. It was a dump and a million miles from the old glory of Angmar. He slumped into the sofa and closed his eyes for a minute. On days like today, it was hard not to feel bitter about those stupid meddling hobbits. No-one would ever forget the day they’d thrown the Ring into Mount Doom, they’d made sure of that. That day had changed everything.

Everything. For everyone. He took another swig from the can, tossed the half-eaten kebab onto the table, sank deeper into the sofa and switched on the television. Times had been tough after the ‘Ring incident’, for some more than for others.

Earlier tonight, after a few pints, Gimli had been all too eager to spill the beans on Legolas’s little get-together a couple of weeks back. He remembered the email. How it had made him feel seeing all the old familiar names. The brief spike of excitement that withered away into a sinking realisation that he wouldn’t go anyway. There was still too much bitterness and resentment; still no place for him. According to Gimli the turn-out had been pretty low, which made him feel a bit better, with only Elrond, Galadriel and Aragorn showing up  at the trendy cocktail bar that Legolas had chosen for a venue. “You know what he’s like”, Gimli had said, snorting into his beer, “all flash and not much bang.”Legolas had basically run the show, apparently, gloating about the opportunities he’d had since signing with a modelling agency. After a particularly smug “Archery doesn’t pay whereas this face does,” Gimli had been sorely tempted to deck him.

On the screen, some bleached has-been was going on about the latest season of “I’m a Celebrity; Get me out of here!” Yeah, he thought, try being the Ex-Witch-king of Angmar. And get me out of Peckham. He switched the television off in disgust, scrunched the empty can in his palm and heaved himself off the sofa, then shuffled into the hallway and took the damp packet of cigarettes out of the hoodie he’d left on the sideboard. He picked the letters and newspaper off the mat and returned to the lounge.

Several of the people Legolas had emailed had never replied and a couple of the mails had bounced. Not that the elf had expected to be able to round up everyone. People change, life gets in the way. And some dogs are perhaps best left asleep. Gollum, another no-show, was apparently now living in Dorset and had made several ill-fated attempts at working in customer services. There had been much speculation in the bar that night whether his schizophrenic personality and his frankly infuriating penchant for engaging customers in riddles instead of a straightforward answer might have had something to do with it. Either way, he never lasted long anywhere.

Elrond had seized the opportunity of Galadriel going to the toilet to complain that her moodiness and tension headaches ever since they’d gone self-employed as clairvoyants would drive him to drink one day. The look she gave him when she came back had said it all. Daggers. Gimli said they’d spent the rest of the evening apart from the others, bickering in one of the booths.By the end of the night, Elrond had been seriously worse for wear. They weren’t going to last the year, Gimli reckoned. Aragorn, meanwhile, had been no fun either, nursing his J2Os and muttering bitterly about his seven-steps recovery program.

Gimli. His only real friend these days, unlikely a candidate as he was out of that lot. The dwarf had found a job working for a construction company run by a shady man with an East European accent. Conditions were grim, shifts long and wages minimal.  Instead of making a noise about it Gimli had, quietly and with a grim determination, taken to supplementing his miserly income by selling off bits of scrap metal that mysteriously disappeared from the site. What he couldn’t shift, he hoarded. Old habits died hard but one day it would cost him his job.

He deserved better; most of them did after what they’d been through. Last anyone had heard of Saruman, he was living in a cardboard box under Charing Cross Arches. No wonder that email had bounced then.

He was smoking too much. Lighting the next with the last, often letting them turn to pillars of ash in his tray. An unhealthy habit perhaps but it kept him calm and gave him something to do. A little routine, a break in the day. It kept the thoughts at bay. Just like the beers did.

He was halfway through the local paper, leafing listlessly, not really reading, when something in the vacancies section caught his eye.

Once in a lifetime job opportunity!
Internationally renowned news agency recruiting now!
Are you charismatic and driven?
Prepared to go the extra mile and interested in joining a long-established team?
Then do not hesitate to contact us today on:
Equine skills essential. Insectophobes need not apply

He paused for a moment, then carefully tore out the ad. He would get in touch first thing tomorrow. After all, what did he have to lose?

Empires – An SF collaboration (25/4/2013)

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Once upon a time there was an author who had an agent who liked the notion of shared worlds. The author quite liked the notion too but couldn’t for the life of him see how to make them work (yes yes there are examples I know). And it came to pass that the author mentioned these things to his editor and his editor stubbornly refused to acknowledge the difficulty and pitfalls in setting up any collaborative project never mind actually pitching it and marketing it and selling it and even came up with a suggestion that the author had to acknowledge might work and a possible collaborator and the author had to agree that yes, indeed, he might have some fun with that. In fact all in all the author walked away from that particular meeting with the distinct impression of having been set up, although apparently he wasn’t.

And so Empires was born, the monstrous hybrid that will be a Stephen Deas / Gavin Smith creation, a pair of interconnected SF novels to be released simultaneously in the summer of next year. In Gavin’s Empires: Infiltration, the Pleasure, the ultimate in galactic drug peddlers, have found a perfect drug in the neuro-chemistry of a retarded but sentient species on a small and insignificant world. Do they come in peace as they say? Maybe they do but they certainly want something. In the counterpart, Empires: Extraction, the coldly mathematical Weft have become aware of a compound that causes them a crippling and ultimately lethal addiction and they’d like to know where it’s coming from. They’d like to make it stop in a very permanent way.

Caught between being battery-farmed and annihilation, can mankind find a way out in the face of Gavin’s personal guarantee that at no point will any vastly technologically superior alien races be defeated by a single big shouty man with a large gun or by some sort of computer hack? Find out next year . . .

Name That Tune Book Giveaway

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The Black Mausoleum was release in its small paperback form last week and I have copies to give away. This week on Twitter (@stephendeas) I’ll be playing a game of Name-That-Tune in which I quote lyrics from obscure songs that I listened to while writing The Black Mausoleum and its sequel, Dragon Queen. The first person to reply with the correct song title wins a copy of the book.

As usual, the competition is open worldwide although international deliveries may take a little time and will require a phone number (not my rule).

I’ll post the name of the songs on Twitter once they’re guessed and maybe even a little about them. I’ll be running this from the 19th March until the weekend or until I run out of books to give away.


Where’s My Book? (13/12/2012)

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Possibly I should have posted this under Critical Failures…

Dear frustrated US readers who keep asking where they can get hold of the thief-taker books over on that side of the Atlantic. Look, frankly I share your pain. You’d have thought as the author I’d be the one person most likely to know. Well up to a point I do – you can get the first two from Amazon if you don’t mind getting the kindle edition. Amazon lists what appears to be a paperback US edition of The Warlock’s Shadow due to come out in June next year. Why the second one of three is coming out but not the first, I have no idea. I can tell you the reasons for all the delay and uncertainty: no US publisher wants to take it on. Allegedly my UK publisher has now given up and is distributing to the US via Trafalgar Books who do this sort of thing all the time. Can I find them there? No. If anyone out there has any kind of answer, do please share it so I can share it in turn. I realise there aren’t that many of you out there who care, but if you get as far as reading this, sorry: I really wish I could be more help.


Frustrated author.

Post-Script. It’s been pointed out below that you can order copies of the UK editions for anywhere in the world from The Book Depository. Shipping is free (or included in the price anyway) to most countries.

King’s Assassin – First Review (10/11/12)

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Sometimes I think The King’s Assassin is the weakest of the three thief-taker books, sometimes I’m not so sure, but it’s nice to have another opinion.

Other news…? Lots, but it’s all secret. Still.

I may have some Game of Thrones stuff to give away soon. Prepare your Mitt Romney names.

Also, possibly coming soon; Zafir, agony aunt.

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