Dragons with new faces (20/6/2012)

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New covers for old words: The Memory of Flames re-release has entirely new art. Although less entirely new if you’ve seen the US covers.I’ve never quite been able to decide which ones I like more…



adpalaceCover first draftORDER OF THE SCALES draft cover

A timeless classic sort of look… or DRAGONS! RAAAARRRR!

And I get to have both :-)

Poland. New Reviews. Stuff (14/6/2011)

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The King of the Crags is to be published in Poland (probably) next year by Dwojka bez sternika, who recently published The Adamantine Palace. The Thief-Taker’s apprentice, meanwhile has been acquired by Proszynski, who also brought out (are bringing out?) Wolfsangel. I think it would amuse my thief-taker to be in the company of a werewolf. Possibly this is an excuse to visit Poland…

There have been some reviews recently.

The Adamantine Palace first: “…fast, furious and action packed…” Vilutheril

And finally, a couple for the Order of the Scales: “Great Stuff” Falcatta Times and “enthusiastic … brilliantly executed … heart-thumping dragon action” from LEC Book reviews.

For the handful of you following the adventures of Diamond Cascade, there will be a large hiatus shortly (we played the last session last week and left everything on a total cliff-hanger – which I guess is what you get when you put the fate of the world into the hands of a bunch of chaotic thieves and wizards, most of whom are carrying negative wisdom modifiers (and believe me, when it comes to party actions, those modifiers do stack).

I had a go at a couple of other projects to replace Diamond Cascade, but they were rubbish. In fact, everything I write at the moment appears to be rubbish, but that’s what rewrites and editors are for, so no worries – yet. There might be some cartoons instead. Which will also be rubbish since I can’t draw. But it’s my blog, so nyer!

SFX Weekender (02/02/2012)

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It’s the SFX Weekender and I’ll be there with some freebies, but for those who can’t make it – well, that’s hardly fair. So, to celebrate the release of King of the Crags in the US and in the UK in small paperback format, I have the following to give away:

  • SIX first edition hardback copies of The King of the Crags
  • TWO ARCs for The King of the Crags
  • And, because I have no idea whatsoever what to do with it, ONE copy of Der Drachenthron (that’s The Adamantine Palace in german, but if you neede me to tell you that, it’s probably not much use…)

Signed and lined if you want, available to anyone in the EU (or worldwide to anyone prepared to paypal me the postage!) If you want one, you have to tell me. And that’s it.

Other stuff at the weekender.

Elsewhere, rewrites are in progress on The Black Mausoleum (early days but going well) and The King’s Assassin (about to have a huge chunk cut out of its middle grrrsnarlgnash).

And a Brief Newsflash (11/1/2011)

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The Warlock’s Shadow has been submitted! Hurrah!

King of the Crags hit the Ranting Dragon’s best of 2010 list! Hurrah!

Now what?

Your Author Needs YOU (27/7/2010)

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A stern man with a handle-bar moustache and a swanky hat is pointing at you. Yes, YOU.

No, nor her. Or him. YOU!

It has come to my attention, over the year-and-a-bit since it first came out, that The Adamantine Palace is IMPERFECT. Not in imperfect in the sort of way that reviewers object to (the snail-like pace, the soulless carboard cut-out characters, the bizarrely camp yet lifeless dragons, the risotto-like dialogue, blah blah blah). Those are merely differences of opinion in which we can all serenely smile at each other in the quiet certainty that we know EXACTLY who’s right and who’s a dickhead wrong.

Imperfect in the sort of categorically wrong sort of way. Such as refering to someone as a ‘her’ when they are categorically a ‘him’. That sort of thing. Using the wrong word, basically. Categorically, indisputably wrong. Failures of the proof-readers, one of which was me.

Well we’re not having that. So, in preparation for a future career, I’m here to tell you that these are NOT typos, not a bit of it. They are… OPPORTUNITIES, that’s right. Deliberately and painstakingly woven into the fabric of the manuscript to provide you, the reader, with a chance to win prizes…


OK, look, just help me look less stupid. There are probably some, er, “opportunities” in King of the Crags too and I’d like to get rid of them. So the deal is, if you find one and you’re the first person to tell me, you get to choose a prize from my box of prizes, filled with books, Xbox games, the odd DVD and other stuff I’m throwing out cool stuff. To enter, simply post the typo you think you’ve found as a comment to King of the Crags and we’ll take it from there.

Please be sensible and constructive. And sorry, but (when this eventually becomes relevant), the offer of prizes applies to the UK only. Postage, man.

Alternatively, if you want to laugh at me without going to the trouble of reading an entire book and trying to find the one or two mistakes it may contain, go read tomorrow’s SFX. There might be an interview. Frankly, I have almost no memory of what I said. However, since it was in a pub and I distinctly remember not being able to shut up for at least an hour, I’m sure there must a few things worth a cringe.


Thank Goodness for Trilogies (19/7/2010)

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The writing is still sharp, right to the point, without being excessively extravagant and just harsh and biting enough to give it some edge. … Bring on The Order of the Scales, I’m hungry for dragons eating useful food!

Yes, another review for King of the Crags, this time at A Fantasy Reader. A nice one, too. However, it was eclipsed by a piece of fanmail that showed up about the same time (sorry Fantasy Reader):

I read TAP a few months back and instantly fell in love with it, especially Princess Jaslyn and Snow. My only regret was that it was a first novel and that I thought I’d have to wait ages for the second to come out. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago where I suddenly found King of the Crags, devoured it as soon as I finished my exams … and then instantlyhopped online to see if there was going to be another part.

It’s 4AM over here as I write this and when I saw that it’s a trilogy, I squeed so loudly that my puppy woke up and started barking out of fright. YES! There is going to be another part and it’s going to be the end part so that I will finally know how it all turns out — and yet, despite my glee, I’m sad at the thought of everything ending.

I loved the implication that Jehal’s brother and uncle might’ve been lovers; one of the things that did make me sad about your book was that all the romances seemed to be heterosexual ones so I was thrilled to see at least a hint of something else. Lystra was amazing in King of the Crags, you really get to see her come into her own and most of all, I loved seeing so much more of how the dragons think and interact with each other. I love sentient dragons and there are so many dragons-peacefully-allow-humans-to-dominate worlds out there, it was fantastic to come across one where they are breaking free of their bondage and fighting back.

You built an amazing world, populated it with a rich range of believable characters and peppered everything with minor NPCs and backstory galore — speaking as a roleplayer, I would love to be in any game you GMed. XD

Can’t wait for Order of the Scales to come out!

As fanmail goes, there are so many things right with this. Articulate, heartfelt, and full of delight for some relatively little things that not one single review has mentioned (as well as a few bigger things that they have). It’s really nice to know that’s someone’s actually noticed things like Meteroa’s sexuality isn’t entirely straightforward, or appreciates a character like Lystra, who doesn’t get very much of the limelight, but who still has a crucial part to play. Mails like this popping up in my inbox make the whole day glow, they really do. Bad reviews suck, good reviews are great, but speaking for myself nothing beats a good piece of fanmail.

However, the most poignant thing, the reason I’m posting this, was the title of the mail: Thank Goodness for Trilogies. Usually I hear nothing but complaints about that. Sometimes from readers, more often from reviewers. Why oh why oh why does it always have to be trilogies. I’m not even that enamoured of them myself.

Well now I know the answer. It’s so we can make people wake up their puppies at four o’clock in the morning. THAT’s why we write trilogies.

Thank-you, anonymous happy reader.

Sales on a Stick (12/7/2010)

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The US cover for King of the Crags, again by Stephen Youll. Magnificent.

Might be some more big news later in the week, but this deserves a post of its own.

Oh look! Snow!

Oh look! Snow!

Foreshadowing (7/6/2010)

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First off, a couple of early reviews for The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice: - “a gripping read, with engaging characters, that bodes well for future books in the series (and it has me that little more eager for ‘The King of the Crags’)” Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review. Not going to argue with that, although I’m sure there will be plenty more. And

“This apprentice has potential. Please, Mr Deas, can I have some more?” Yes, International Writers Magazine, you may. Books two and three, The Warlock’s Shadow and The King’s Assassin will follow in 2011 and 2012. I’m writing them both right now (strictly rewriting, if there’s truly a difference). Faster than I was a few days ago, having been poked about King of the Crags…

“I also sincerely dislike the fact that I now have to wait for the next instalment to find out what happens next. *Pokes Stephen with a pointy metal stick* Write faster!! Ow! The next installment is with my editor! Poke him!

Even a new review of The Adamantine Palace “Deas gives classic fantasy a unique twist, and I am really curious to see where he will take us from here.”

After posting last week about how role-playing games were a fantastic sandbox for story design, I thought maybe I should justify that statement (of the obvious, to my mind) in a little more depth. So here and there I’ll be putting up what hints and tips I can that I think help in the design of a good story. With a bit of luck, they’ll work for writing novels just as well as for writing adventure campaigns, and I thought I’d start with foreshadowing.

So what is this foreshadowing thing and where do I get some? It’s actually pretty straightforward. Look it up on the internet if you want, but basically, it’s dropping hints early on about stuff that’s going to happen later. So in the first scene of your story, you describe the room where your main character lives and you put a gun on the wall and make of point of mentioning that it’s loaded. In the last scene, someone takes the gun off the wall and shoots him. Mentioning the gun much earlier than it was actually relevant to the story, that’s foreshadowing. Easy. If the apparently goody two-shoes king’s mage is actually going to launch a coup half way through your story and seize the kingdom in the name of Zarkz the Lord of Demons, then foreshadowing is, well, mentioning the existence of Zarkz the Lord of Demons at some point before it happens. Foreshadowing is having the players/protagonists get wind that the king’s mage isn’t quite as nice as people think, whether they see something themselves or hear it through others (if the entire focus of the plot is stopping Zarkz, then it’s arguable that this isn’t foreshadowing so much as, well, plot. So imagine the focus of the story being elsewhere…)

Anyway, the lesson I’ve learned from running too many RPGs is that, whatever you think your story is going to be about, there’s a fair chance that your players will have other ideas and go find some other piece of story. So you might have meant them to investigate the king’s mage and stop Zarkz from being summoned, but in fact, chances are they’ll start running a scam involving bear-baiting, a druid and a lycanthrope, and the first they’ll know about Zarkz is when the Abyssal Palace rises from the earth, half the city falls apart around their feet and there are demonic servitors roaming the streets. So look, for my playing group, I don’t just put a loaded gun on the wall and hope they players notice; scatter them about like confetti. The champion bear is called Zarkz and everyone goes on about how he fights like a demon. That sort of thing. I ran a game once set in the near future where every single item of news ended up being related to the plot, somehow. Just litter the storyline with stuff that takes your fancy, even if you have no idea what you’re going to do with it. Half the time your players won’t notice, the other half you’ll come up with something ten sessions later. Trust your imagination. You can throw in a bit of foreshadowing without having a clue what you’re going to do with it. Have no fear – you’ll find something. Leave ‘em lying around, and whenever you need a bit of inspiration as to how the hell you’re going to cope with whatever bizarre plan of action your players come up with, they’ll be waiting for you with open arms…

Books, I think, are much the same. Maybe a bit easier and a bit harder at the same time, in that readers are a little more attentive than players. You don’t need to litter the place with bits of foreshadowing quite so much and you need can’t let them go unused quite so much.

I’ve heard it said, on the subject, that if you’re going to put a loaded gun on the wall in scene one, someone had better use it before the end of the story. Well if you make a big deal of it, yes, but otherwise my advice is to throw the kitchen sink at the foreshadowing, don’t worry if you don’t even know where half your ideas will lead or how they tie into the plot, and don’t worry about the devices you end up not using. In a game, your players will pick up on the ones that interest them and all the rest, well, they probably never noticed in the first place. In a book you can take out the ones that didn’t go anywhere later. That’s what rewrites and editors are for.

King of the Crags hits the charts (28/4/2010)

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Book chart

OK, so it’s the local Waterstones best-seller charts, not the New York Times. Allow me to revel in pretend glory nonetheless. I even had to wait while someone decided not to buy my book before taking this…

King of the Crags – more reviews (22/4/2010)

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More reviews trickle in, so far all to my liking. The Locus review is interesting (Locus really liked the first book), insofar as it goes out of its way not to express a good/bad opinion (something which more reviewers could usefully do in my opinion), but manages to convey something of a sense of awe, almost of fear(!) “I can only hope Deas returns to his world, not with rosy visions of restoration, but to give his humans some reason not to pack it all in…”

The Booksmugglers, who were in the more-depth-less-speed camp last time around seem to be converted. “Questions aside, I finished reading The Adamantine Palace only just about interested about reading this sequel. I closed The King of the Crags knowing for a fact that I will be picking up the final instalment in the trilogy come rain or come shine.”

And then finally one from a site I’ve missed up until now, with a pertinent comment at the end.

“Overall, a very strong sequel and one of the best second entries in a trilogy I’ve had the chance to read. In the final paragraph of my Adamantine Palace review I said that The Adamantine Palace was not top notch…well…forget that. It might have been on its own but with The King of the Crags as its sequel it now certainly falls into that category.” LEC Book Reviews

See that bit about The Adamantine Palace? Thank-you LEC – a series should be more than the sum of its parts.

So Crags is better than The Adamantine Palace? That seems to be the consensus so far, but not everyone agrees.

“An impressive sequel that boasts the same flare and excitement of its predecessor.” Total SciFi. But then they did rather like the first one.

One quite contented author.

Easter Shenanigans and Shortlists (7/4/2010)

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Eastercon was a blast, as Eastercons are wont to be. First highlight the Swordplay for Writers panel, from which I took copious notes which would have been directly relevant to the sequel to The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice had I not promptly lost them (if anyone who reads this was there, Steve Kilbane gave out his contact address… pretty please?). Second highlight was the JET panel, simply because it told you all you need to know about how to describe credible fusion containment. Last and best highlight was the company. This could be a very long post if I went on about everyone who was there, but star performer award for all-round good company goes to Gollancz author Gavin Smith, whose debut, Veteran, comes out later this year. I’ve read the first chapter, I liked it very much (reminded me of neuromancer, only in Scotland, so more dirty) and I’ll be reading a lot more just as soon as I get my signed ARC back from wherever it ended up…

Other Eastery things: There’s a new issue of SFX out, and might it have the first review of King of the Crags in it? Yes, it might…

When it landed last year amidst considerable fuss, it was hard not to be a little disappointed with Stephen Deas’s debut, The Adamantine Palace.  Here was a novel that promised a tougher, new fantasy style that take on the old fantasy’s stock creatures, dragons.  It largely delivered, but along the way some of the world-building and characterisation were a little wobbly.

This sequel marks a step change.  As sharp as anything by George RR Martin or Joe Abercrombie this is a fast moving, confident offering from a writer who’s clearly found his rhythm and pace and who doesn’t mess about.   Crags picks up almost immediately where its predecessor left off.  By way of a darkly humorous reminder that fire-breathing lizards are dangerous, we’re straight into the the action.  Frankly, you expect the intrigue and hints of revolution in the offing that Deas serves up, but more impressive is the way he re-engineers familiar fantasy elements.  The neo-religious zeal of his red riders for example has clear parallels with our dangerous world.  Prince Jehal the chief villain has evolved from a black hat to a altogether more nuanced character.  Quite why he does what he does may even be a mystery to Jehal at times you suspect, which makes him gloriously unpredictable.  And then there is the white dragon that drives so much of the plot, a creature that has recovered from a chemical castration that keeps its brethren cowed.  Whenever snow – which as names go is like calling a tiger Tiddles – is around, there is a vivid sense of an altogether alien presence.  While the wider world that forms the backdrop here could still be better realised, it appears the new fantasy has another new star.

Hard, really, to find anything to complain about there. If you happen to read the SFX review column, you’ll notice another Gollancz offering that happens to be due out on the same day as King of the Crags: Tome of the Undergates. Tome got itself a pretty good SFX review too, and then someone who might have been me had this to say about it…

“Wildly descriptive slaughter-fest fantasy with a surprising pathos. Monstrous, murderous, psychotic, deranged, possessed and insane – the only question is what our heroes hate more: The demons they’re fighting, each other or themselves. Sam Sykes has invented a whole new genre – Call Of Duty: Demon Warfare.”

Did I like it? Yes. Grew on me after I’d finished, which is always a good sign. You can see the X-Box version as you read (and to me that’s a good thing), and while I have some reservations here and there, I think (I hope) this could be going somewhere special. A fine companion to Crags, they come out on the same day, and if you like surreal, go you can follow @SamSykesSwears on twitter too.

And one other little thing… (of which more later)

TAP - Gemmell

They Live! (24/3/2010)

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Gemmel awards last reminder: You vote for the Morning Star award here, the Legend award here and the Ravenheart (cover art) award here. Inside information is that the Ravenheart award in particular needs your love, and given the passion of debate about cover art I’ve seen here and there over the last months, that’s a bit of a surprise. Vote, if you haven’t, and if you have, make ten other people do it. And then make each of them make ten more people vote. Build your own block-voting pyramid scheme! Anything, as long as it’s not apathy. Apathy would be bad. This round of voting is just for the shortlists, after all. A month from now, I shall be bothering you all about this again.

Today’s news is that the final printed copies of King of the Crags have arrived, and very fine they look too:

Shiny shiny, shiny books of dragons...

Shiny shiny, shiny books of dragons...

Nice sample on the back of the hardcover, too: He’d tried to hide deep amid the darkness, beneath layer upon layer of leaf-shadow and branches, but they always found him. He’d tried to run, but the fire always followed him and the forest turned to flames and ash behind him. He’d tried the freezing waters of the river and the dragons had simply boiled it dry… (from chapter one).

On Order of the Scales, I spent the last few days rearranging the chapters in the first third until my eyes bled, trying to get the pacing right. But that’s done, and once I can see again, I’ll be about halfway through by the end of the week. I’m very close to a draft that’s ready to submit with this one.

Oh, and at the Gollancz quiz night last night, I think I got at least one question right, and we all left hot with the buzz about the latest offering from Adam Roberts, who largely stole the show with his plug for Yellow Blue Tibia III, Yellowest, bluest, most-tibia-like-thing. Or something like that. Am already looking forward to any news on part IV, Yellow Blue Tibia with A Vengeance.

I may also finally be living my childhood dreams. Or I may not. For now, this is as uncertain as Adam’s aliens.

Down time (22/12/09)

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Rumour has it that the ARCs for King of the Crags might be flying about in the post. For anyone who wants something better to do over the Christmas break, I’m off over at paizo making up weird and wonderful magic items before I get back to Order of the Scales.

Oh, and Diamond Cascade has updated. Is anyone apart from Matt actually reading this or am I writing to an empty room? Because I can stop, you know. I can. I don’t need to write every day to stop myself from going mad. I could give up any time I want. If I happen to be all crotchety and twitchy and pacing-around-the-room-y, why it must be something entirely unrelated. Must be, right.

Anyway, happy Christmas.

Arcs (25/11/09)

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Arcs arcs arcs lov-er-ly ARCS. They’re on their way, people. To, er… wherever they go.

Almost There (20/10/09)

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It’s very nearly done. The last re-write ever of King of the Crags is heading slowly and surely towards completion. By the end of the week, it’ll be safely in my editor’s hands. It’ll be free. As good as I can make it, however good that turns out to be. All that’s left is the proof-reading (which doesn’t really count – making editorial changes at that point is a severe wrist-slapping offence) and to fret about the reviews.

In other words, it’ll be done. Really done. Possibly even over-done, but certainly no-turning-back done. Too late to regret having introduced characters called Tallulah Spandex, Edwina Gristle and Spartacus Beefcake as a result of too many attempts to attract Twitter followers with put-your-RPG-character-into-my-novel competitions. Too late to go back and put the were-ducks back in after all. Too late to change the twenty-page chapter on exactly how dragons stay up in the air[1] that all made perfect sense at the time but hindsight will show to have a killer flaw [2]. Too late to change the inadvertent shifting of geography between books one and two [3]. Too late to regret the addition of all those lurid semi-porn sex-scenes that I added in the hope of shifting more copies. Too late for anything except waving goodbye and moving on.

Ah well. Fare well, little manuscript. We had some fun.

[1] A mixture of hydrogen bladders, low gravity, dense air, cows, invisible strings that suspend them from UFOs in geo-stationary orbit and, for some reason, cloves.

[2] Cloves? So obviously should have been cumin seeds. Duh!

[3] In which what was open plains becomes a mountain range in order to cast a rain-shadow in order to make sense of a desert that was put there in book one for no better reason than deserts are bleak and gritty. Thus spawning a desperate sub-plot involving earth-elementals that exists purely to ‘explain’ the mistake and has nothing whatsoever to do with the main plot in book three.

King of the Crags (April 2010 UK, 2011 US, Fr, 2012 Ger)

“…rapid battle scenes which stand out as some of the best dragon fights I’ve ever witnessed.” SFbook

King of the Crags picks up right where The Adamantine Palace left off. There are a couple of major characters who now appear and one or two of the minor figures from TAP get a bigger role. The pace is maybe a little more measured than TAP. OK, a maybe *tiny* bit more measured. There are deaths, oh yes. And burning. Much, much burning. There are a couple of characters who might be mistaken for the ‘good’ guys, although I’m not saying how long they last before they get eaten. And a few secrets of both the dragons and the alchemists are beginning to leak out.

Ideas from early drafts for a lengthy chapter on dragon anatomy and a cameo appearance by a flight of were-ducks have been ditched; however they may reappear… elsewhere.

For the truly dedicated, there is a map here and the ALL-NEW alternate prologue here

UK Cover with dragons by Domonic Harman:

Shiny shiny, shiny books of dragons...
Shiny shiny, shiny books of dragons…

US cover art by Stephen Youll:

Oh look! Snow!
Oh look! Snow!

French cover by Alain Brion

Le_Roi_des_cimes cover


“As sharp as anything by George RR Martin or Joe Abercrombie . . . the new fantasy has another new star.”SFX

Look, they said the ‘M’ word. THE ‘M’ WORD! Frankly who needs more?

“A fiery, eventful read” .. “refreshingly fast paced”SciFi Now

“Beautifully written, excellently plotted and above all a descriptiveness for the world that is almost photographic.” Falcatta Times.

“I can only hope Deas returns to his world, not with rosy visions of restoration, but to give his humans some reason not to pack it all in…” Locus

“Fans of grim epic fantasy will find these intrigues engrossing.” Publisher weekly

“…characters like Jehal and Kemir shine, the world feels more solid and interesting, the battles are well-described and the various plots twists are more ruthless and startling than anything else this side of Paul Kearney and George RR Martin…” The Wertzone

“Stephen Deas has combined all that’s good in fantasy and spun it around in a thriller-paced tale that will leave you breathless.” The Ranting Dragon.

“Prince Jehal … is brilliant. One of the most complex, twisted and ultimately human characters I’ve read … When I think back over what I’ve read this year … I’m hard pressed to find one I enjoyed more than this one.” SF Crowsnest

“Overall, a very strong sequel and one of the best second entries in a trilogy I’ve had the chance to read. In the final paragraph of my Adamantine Palace review I said that The Adamantine Palace was not top notch…well…forget that. It might have been on its own but with The King of the Crags as its sequel it now certainly falls into that category.” LEC Book Reviews (see that bit about The Adamantine Palace – a series should be more than the sum of its parts).

“This is, quite simply, some of the best fantasy writing I’ve read in quite some time. This series is highly recommended.” CA Reviews.

“Stephen Deas successfully delivers another wonderful and exciting fantasy novel, just as enjoyable as his previous one” SFF Chat

Another review of TAP/KOTC

“The first book was a marvellous debut.  The second book trumped it hands down.  The excitement, thrills and spills anticipated in the final book promise to be an incomparable fantasy ride.” M/C reviews

“…filled to the brim with murder, revenge, double-dealings, politics and power grabs…” Monsters and Critics

The writing is still sharp, right to the point, without being excessively extravagant and just harsh and biting enough to give it some edge. … Bring on The Order of the Scales, I’m hungry for dragons eating useful food! A Fantasy Reader

The Booksmugglers seem to be converted. “Questions aside, I finished reading The Adamantine Palace only just about interested about reading this sequel. I closed The King of the Crags knowing for a fact that I will be picking up the final instalment in the trilogy come rain or come shine.”

Not the only one: “And I won’t be waiting to read volume 3 when it eventually arrives.” Lowly’s Book Blog (and that’s meant in a good way).

“…a wonderful follow-up to The Adamantine Palace and I enjoyed reading it even more than I did the first book.” Night Owl SF

So Crags is better than The Adamantine Palace? Not every one seems to think so.

“I also sincerely dislike the fact that I now have to wait for the next instalment to find out what happens next. *Pokes Stephen with a pointy metal stick* Write faster!!”

“. . . the tension that made The Adamantine Palace so addictive runs throughout this sequel . . . The Dragon War that rages throughout the final stages of the book is simply superb. . . An impressive sequel that boasts the same flare and excitement of its predecessor.” Total SciFi.

“…even more brutal that the first one, darker and more cynical with no-nonsense and sentimentality…” Fantasy Book Critic

“A fairly successful stab at viciously political fantasy.” Kirkus Reviews (who assert they are the world’s toughest book critics; although I take that with a pinch of salt, I’ll take the review too).

“the second best opening I’ve ever encountered after ‘Tigana’” (Pauline’s Fantasy Reviews, who would like some nicer characters I think)

Still not bad then. But then they did rather like the first one. However, for some, the slight change in style seems to have come as a real disappointment. I guess you can’t please everyone.

“In The Adamantine Palace Deas went all out and told an amazing story at a break-neck pace and that was lacking in The King of the Crags. While I still plan to continue reading the series I hope that Deas returns to a faster plot for the third book.”

Some reviews are simply… curious…

“Readers will appreciate soaring through the skies of the Realms” OK, but… “…this is no cozy.” Eh?

However, the most heartfelt reviews of all are those written by readers who are simply that and nothing more:

“You built an amazing world, populated it with a rich range of believable characters and peppered everything with minor NPCs and backstory galore — speaking as a roleplayer, I would love to be in any game you GMed.”

It’s not a wish I can fulfil, but it’s one I wish I could.

If there’s a plan for book three, it’s to rattle along like book one but with the depth of book 2. Best of both? Falling between two stools? Read it and see…

One rewrite finishes, another one starts (8/9/09)

Posted in News

The rewrite for King of the Crags is finally finished. (This is author-speak, which is, I’ve discovered, much like scientist-speak or engineer-speak for finished in that what it actually means, is that the bulk of the hard work is done and now I’m going to fiddle around the edges for several years).

OK. Almost finished. It will be finished before Fantasycon. Promise. Finished and deliverated. Well, finished and deliverated except for all the changes that will happen during the copy-edit, that is.

OK, OK, not finished then. On schedule. Will that do?

No it won’t, because April next year still feels like half a lifetime away. There’s the now definitely officially deleted prologue, but that’s old news. New news is that there is a most excellent draft map from the most excellent Dave Senior (no link – sorry) which just goes to show what a real professional can do when compared with my own somewhat less excellent draft map posted previously. Also, I’ve been sitting on the incredibly gorgeous draft cover for King of the Crags for ages now with dragon-art by the master of dragon art Dominic Harman. Unveiled exclusively here in advance of Fantasycon!

See what I did here? Lots of stuff by other people… No actual new material.

There will be, though, and a lot sooner than April. There’s a Sollos-and-Kemir short story waiting patiently to be written. There’s the gazetteer, nearly done, probably ready as a first draft by the end of the month, and believe me, that sucker’s going straight up here, warts and all and anyone who helps to proof-read it will get a part in the movie big thank-you. Promise.

In the meantime though, I have to go bury myself in The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice again.

Status Report (1/9/09)

Posted in News

Am uninspired. Witicisms and worldly insights elude me. The rewriting of The King of the Crags is a few days from finished. The first draft of the gazetteer might just about be done for Fantasycon. Still awaiting official map. Yadda yadda yadda. I am dragon-ed out. Am half moved to drop it all after this rewrite is done and go and do something else for a bit. Elf Cops: Kicking ass[1] and taking names. Pixellated wizards dealing in cut-and-shut horses. Overworked and underpaid goblin engineers building designer monsters for their arms-dealer troll masters. Something daft like that. Suggestions on a postcard, please.

Or urban fantasy. Something to do with zombies, or maybe some edgy vampire thing. Something that sells bucketloads is original. [2]

Fantasycon. Yes. I’ll be at Fantasucon. Come to Fantasycon! Everyone come to fantasycon and buy me beer so I can dazzle you with the exceptionally magnificent cover to King of the Crags and with awesome author insights like: How come zombies always seem to have all their teeth even when the rest of them has half rotted away? and If vampires are cold, how come I can see their breath?

I’ll get me coat.

[1] Don’t kick asses. They kick back and they’re much better at it.

[2] Yeah. Like dragons. Totally edge-of-the-envelope.

The Cutting Room Floor (18/8/09)

Posted in News

The rewrite has begun. We’re a couple of days in and it has its tentacles firmly wrapped around my free time, such as it was. On other days I might have posted about how kittens on Capstar are like ninjas on a really strong acid/amphetamine mix, or how to get over being terrified of rewrites by scaring the crap out of yourself in an entirely different way. But no time for that this week. Instead, I give you my first editorial sacrifice. I was loathe to let it go, but two prologues is one prologue too many. So – the first of many sweepings from the cutting room floor, some good, some…. not so good. This is a good one: The alternate prologue for The King of the Crags.

King of the Crags – the edit begins… in a bit (7/8/09)

Posted in News

Well I got my editor’s comments back on King of the Crags last week. And I’m about to go on holiday, so what’s the point in getting started only to stop again… (but then again, how can I leave it be for two weeks… ah, the tension, the trauma…). I’ve been looking forward to ranting on about the iniquities of the editing process, how all my cool and exciting ideas are being crushed or something like that, but the plain fact is that’s not how it works. What you actually get are some nice congratulatory words on a job well done and a few hints on how to make it even better. Like make sure you don’t lose track of who is related to who (meh… can’t really argue with that), and put a bit more effort into describing the eyries and the mountain scenery (which is fine with me – in a perfect world, I’d live in the mountains. I’d walk in the mountains. I’d write in the mountains. I’d buy one of those indestructible kitten-proof laptops I mentioned last time so that I could write in the mountains in the rain and the snow. I breathe mountains, dammit. In fact, in a perfect world, I’d probably be a mountain). The only thing I can find to really even start to try and raise a head of steam about is the complaint that the book has too many prologues. Is two prologues too many? Really?

Sadly yes. One of the nice things about being able to leave the story alone for six months, you get to see stuff like that a lot more clearly. Unless you go the whole hog, maybe. Yeah, a fantasy consisting of forty-seven prologues and three short chapters entitled ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’. Yeah, actually, maybe…

OK, OK, not King of the Crags, though. I’ll put the spare one up here when I’m done with the edit so you can see what you’re missing. It’s a good chapter. Pity it has to go.


So no, being edited isn’t really that traumatic. What’s traumatic is the terrifying realisation that this is it. This is the last chance, realistically, to make it right. To make it perfect. For some reason, that never really struck me with The Adamantine Palace, but the terror’s got me good this time. In a way The Adamantine Palace was easy. Kick in the door, make a big fuss. Yes, a lot got sacrificed for sheer pace. Right or wrong, that was the intent. It’s pretty clear from the reviews and the other feedback that I’ve had that for a lot of people, this really really works. For others, it really really doesn’t. For those the former, I offer more. For the latter… sorry, but it ain’t going to happen. Maybe next time.

And then there’s the middle ground. The ‘yes, but…’ camp. There’s quite a lot of you, too. Well, Yesbuts, in a way this one was always for you (because let’s face it, we all know I’m going to let rip again in book three). So what am I trying to do? As I sit down and start what will be the final set of re-writes to King of the Crags, what am I trying to achieve?

A long time ago, I read The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. For most of the book I was a bit bored. The characters struck me as two-dimensional and cartoonish. And then something happened. Just as the horror of the denouement was about to descend, the characters suddenly somehow flipped into three dimensions. The cardboard cut-outs I’d sneered and laughed at suddenly became people with souls. As I watched their world fall apart, I felt guilty and ashamed. That’s just how one book happened to work for me, but it’s haunted me ever since.

So that’s what I’m trying to achieve. I’m trying to recapture that feeling of guilt when a person you took for granted as being horrible crept under your skin while you weren’t looking and turned out to be human after all.

King of the Crags may be slower (not a lot slower, but it will be slower) than The Adamantine Palace. If I’m doing my job right, it will give the world and the characters some more depth. It’ll move events forward, but it’ll also put add a layer underneath everything that happened before. Book three will do the same – another step forward and yet another layer underneath. There will be action, adventure, terror and war. There will be dragons, and I promise they’re not going to go all soft and philosophical on you. You can even, just for those of you who need one, have a character with a strong moral compass. Maybe even two. Not sure why you want them – they’ll probably just get their asses eaten by some dragon and then you’ll get all pissy with me again. But you can have them anyway.

But for those who get to the end and if I’ve done my job really right, the shallow selfish bastard that is Jehal will haunt you long after you put book three down. :twisted:

So that’s the challenge I set myself, and I don’t know whether or not I can do it and it’s probably true to say that I’m as scared witless about launching into this edit as I’ve been about anything.

And at the same time, I can’t wait. Just in case I can get it right.


Oh yeah, and a full draft of book three is written. Needs months of polishing, but it’s all there. Mwah ha ha…

Plugging Holes (21/7/09)

Posted in News

Three weeks ago I said something about how following your synopsis was a good thing and that I might have made a wee little cock-up on this front but that it was easily fixed…

Jeez. Well it’s fixed now. Three weeks later, which means three weeks of words, which means there was a 15,000 word hole in the middle of what I was writing. <furrows brow> No wonder it seemed a bit off. Well it’s done now. Thief-Taker is now on the home straight and should still finish by the end of next week. Just about. Which means I can finally turn my attention to… T-shirts? Signings? the Absurd Movie-Trailer Project? Sollos and Kemir short stories? Ah, the choice, the choice, the CHOICE!

Except it’ll be none of that because then I rather hope I’ll be straight into the re-writing of King of the Crags.
<sigh> No rest for the wicked. At least I got the map done, eh?

La la la la la l’america (13/11/08)

Posted in News

The one (and only) big advantage of being sent to far-away places in service of the day-job is suddenly finding myself with lots of free time at very strange hours of the day. Even in sub-urban Los Angeles, there really isn’t a huge amount of touristy stuff that I want to do when I’ve just woken up a three o’clock in the morning. Actually, mostly what I want to do is have breakfast. However, it’s also turning out to be a fine time to get some writing done, and so King of the Crags has raced ahead. Word count is sitting at 113k and the book is very nearly finished (the very first draft, at least). With a bit of luck it’ll be done in time for the proofs of the Adamantine Palace to arrive next week. It’s not going to be any longer than The Adamantine Palace, but the chapter count is a little lower which might please a few people. There’s more dragon, too, but you’ll still all have to wait until book three for certain mysteries to be resolved.

And the other America news is that a deal has been struck and The Adamantine Palace and all its little friends will be being published in the US as well. More when I know it.

Characters Behaving Badly II (18/9/08)

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I was kind of hoping that rewriting King of the Crags from the start, given the revised ending to The Adamantine Palace, would cause the circumstances of two rather important characters ending up in a room together with a crossbow and a heady portion of murderous intent to go away. Sadly, the character who contrived for this to happen has still managed to do so.

Bloody pesky meddling characters.

Crags has reached about 65000 words.

King of the Crags (taster)

Posted in Excerpts

Bear with me on the numerous typos and other mistakes littering this passage. The keyboard writes and having writ moves on, and doesn’t come back to sort that sort of thing out until the very end.