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The second of three stand-alone novellas set in the world of The Free is out now, everywhere e-books are sold: EXILE.

EXILE coverAs with all these novellas I’m doing, it’s a stand-alone prequel to my novel The Free.

In this particular case, it’s about certain of the main characters from that book, and how one of them in particular wound up joining the world’s most fearsome mercenary company.

It features, amongst other things, barbarian hordes, magic on the brink of running out of control, and what happens when you jump overboard to escape your pursuers …

Here’s the publisher’s really quite accurate blurb (taken from here):

Wren is a Clever, someone who can shape the unseen forces of the world. Such powers are more a curse than a blessing, and Wren has been running all of her life — from the consequences of her actions, and from those who would use her abilities for their own ends.

Now she finally has a direction. Rumours talk of a legendary Clever living in the Hommetic Kingdom’s borderlands, a man who can teach her how to control the forces that rage inside her — if she can find him.

Yet enemies from Wren’s past hound her every step, and a horde of ferocious barbarians ravages the very lands that she must travel. Somewhere in this chaos, the Free — the most feared mercenary company in the world — are fighting against the invaders. Surely they would help her in her quest . . .

Or perhaps the Free will need her help even more.

You can pick up Exile (and, naturally, the other two novellas in the series – Corsair and Tyrant) for what I think it’s fair to call a jolly fair price from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Nook, Google Play, iTunes, and anywhere else you buy your e-books from…

I’ve got a new novella out today! The first of three, in fact, that’ll be showing up over the course of the next few months.


Here’s what it says on the Orbit website about what’s happening:

“Drawing comparisons to films like Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven, THE FREE received widespread critical acclaim upon publication, and received starred reviews from both Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal.

The good news is that the adventures of The Free don’t end with this novel – far from it! The world that Brian has created is too large, and the history of the Free too bloody and tumultuous, to be explored in just a single novel. So we’re very pleased to announce three new novellas that will explore the eventful past of this famous mercenary company, all of which will be published this year.”

So, yes. These novellas are set in the world of my novel The Free, and they’re all stand-alone prequels to that book.

You don’t need to have read The Free to make sense of them – nor, come to that, do you have to read them to make sense of The Free – but they do fill in a little bit of the backstory for some of the main characters in that book, explain how some of them wind up where they do, that kind of thing.

So if you’ve read The Free and would like to know little things like … oh, I don’t know … what was young Yulan’s first big mission, or how did Wren and Kerig meet, or what actually happened when the Free chased slavers into the Empire of Orphans … well, these novellas might be what you’re looking for.

And if you haven’t read The Free, these novellas are for you too. Perfect way to sample the world and the characters without straining your wallet!

The first of them – Corsair – is available now in any and, as far as I know, all places where e-books are sold. Exile, the second, will show up in June; Tyrant, the third, will poke its head up above the battlements in September.

The e-book  of Corsair is awaiting you on Amazon UK, Amazon US, B&N/Nook, Google Books … all the usual places.

The Free is not the only book I’ve got out this autumn, you know. Oh, no. The Free‘s just my October book; my September book (i.e. this very month!) is a handsome collected edition of the comic I wrote earlier this year: Rogue Trooper: Last Man Standing.

I’m quite proud of it, to be honest. Future war, lone warrior, talking gun, conspiracies and chaos. How can that not sound like fun to any right-thinking reader?


You can get it in paper-and-ink form or e-form alike, and if you’re tempted but need a little help taking that all important next step of ordering the thing, here’s a nice succinct five star review from to do the helping.

Here it is on Wordery, look (I know the cover’s different, but that’s it, honestly). I really am being helpful today. I might need to go have a little lie down.

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… kind of fun. First time I’d been to one of these ‘pop culture’ shows that are sprouting up all over the place now, mixing celebs from film/TV/Sports with bits of toys, comics, all sorts of odds and ends. First time Newcastle had had one too, I think, and the level of interest seemed to have caught the organisers a bit by surprise, so there were biiig queues (at least on the Saturday, I gather it was all more or less under control by the time Sunday came around).

Anyway, I had a good time. Was great to meet Alberto Ponticelli in the flesh and spend a pleasant few hours hanging out with him. Talked to a few folks about Rogue Trooper, signed a lot of copies of the first issue. Got my own, unique copy as a souvenir, signed by me, Alberto and Courtney, the very nice lady from the convention crew who patiently sat with us for the whole day:

All the usual sort of stuff was going on …

… but a few personal highlights/impressions:

  • seeing a Rorschach cosplayer wandering around all day holding a can of baked beans (you’d have to have read Watchmen to get that …)
  • having lunch in the secret guests’ facilities while sitting next to Frank Bruno (you’d have to be a Brit of a certain age, or a serious boxing fan, to get that), and realising he really is as big as he always looked, and he really does have the deeeepest voice ever heard on the surface of the planet
  • watching (and filming, but that didn’t work) Alberto do a Rogue Trooper sketch in three minutes flat – which he then gave to me, because he’s nice like that:

  • being Judged (inexplicably, I was released without charge) …

  • realising I have never, not once in my life, been as much of a fan of any piece of entertainment, or brand, or celebrity, as many of the attendees were. Not being sure whether that was a good thing or bad; but knowing I didn’t regret it for one second.
  • coming out of the ‘celeb’ toilets just as Teal’c from Stargate SG-1 was going in, and thinking ‘Huh. Isn’t it funny how life turns out?’
  • being generally very struck by how extremely pleasant and patient and accommodating all the celebs were in dealing with their fans, no matter how big or small their celebritude was (and then overhearing one of them – who shall remain nameless – at the train station after the show telling someone it had been a ‘terrible, terrible madhouse’, and feeling some sympathy. Can’t be that easy, doing what they do at these shows and smiling, being utterly professional, all the way through it.)
  • giving Alberto a sustained and detailed introduction to the correct use of the word ‘Cheers’ in colloquial English (I think he got the hang of it, since he’s using it in his e-mails to me now …)

But you know what the best bit of the whole day was? It was the most striking, most obvious example of something that happened several times: people deriving enormous pleasure from their experience of being at the show. And even though this instance only involved me somewhat indirectly, it was immensely enjoyable to sit there and watch it happen.

A guy came wandering past, saw me and Alberto sitting there and came over to see what was what. He was after a copy of Rogue Trooper, but then he discovered Alberto’s small portfolio of original art pages for sale, and I could see his eyes lighting up in something approaching disbelief. To cut a long story short, this guy eventually (after queueing at a cash machine for about half an hour, spending another fifteen minutes trying to decide) bought a page of original Ponticelli comic art, and he was as happy as a happy person could be.

He said something along the lines of ‘You’ve made my day, I never in my life thought I’d own something like this’, and he absolutely meant it, and he was absolutely delighted. It was great. And it was kind of the point of the whole show, really. Whyever they came, whoever they wanted to see, I guess pretty much everyone who was there was just looking for that moment when they’d think to themselves ‘This is awesome. I never imagined …’

And although, on some really quite profound level I don’t get, can’t share in and indeed find a little dispiriting this whole celebrity culture, this idolisation of actors and characters and shows and films and fictions, this longing to be part of something, there’s no denying the happiness that was abroad in Newcastle on Saturday. And there’s no denying it was infectious.

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If The Godin says it, it must be true, right? Well, could be. His is one of three posts linked to from this round-up, all of which are worth a read and all of which, I think, are fundamentally saying not so much that books are dying, as that the infrastructure and systems in place to publish, distribute and sell them as physical objects are dying, or at the very least heading towards a radically different and very probably much diminished future.  Which seems kind of plausible, if nothing else.  Difficult to be confident that the ink-and-paper book business faces anything other than ‘interesting times’.

Despite that, I’m evidently still writing books.  I know this because look: someone’s somehow got their hands on a book cover.  And discovered an Amazon UK link.  Cool.

Hold your horses, though.  I can certainly vouch for the fact that my novel The Free should indeed be published next year, because I’m in the late stages of battering it into publication-ready form at this very moment  (I was until I broke off to write this post, anyway).  That cover, though?  If you’d read the book, you’d know that the ‘Cover Not Final’ tag appearing on the artwork is … well, highly likely to be accurate.  That rather fine image of knightly chaps looking mean and moody is kind of cool, but it’s not what you’d call a ruthlessly accurate representation of the text.

Mean and moody’s fair enough, mind you, so who knows what’ll be adorning the book when it does eventually hit the shelves next year?  Anyway, I’m aware I’ve not said much about my writing endeavours here of late, but with The Free nearing something that approximates to a presentable state, that’ll be changing a bit.  I’ve got some stuff to say about the perils and pleasures of rewriting and revising, I think, which’ll be along in due course …

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Hi.  My name is Brian and I’m … still here.  Blogging break over, back to business.  Starting with a quick update on various book-related matters.

My copies of the French edition of Winterbirth Un Hiver de Sang – arrived in the mail not so long ago, and they are really rather lovely.  A very nice, chunky edition by Eclipse.  Good job.

Because I have nothing better to do with my time, and am easily interested by things others would not expend any mental energy upon, I note something that’s been on my mind ever since the first translations of my books started to appear: UK and Dutch books generally seem to have the title running vertically down the spine so that you read from top to bottom; German and French have the title running up the spine.  It always looks odd to me, whenever I notice it.  Just what you’re used to, I guess.

And while we’re on the subject of translations, thanks to Martin for sending me the Czech cover to Fall of Thanes recently.  Fantom continue their tradition of using gorgeous, if rather unrelated, art to cover my books!

And on the Edinburgh Dead front, what news to report?  Well, there’s an August publication date on both sides of the Atlantic.  Don’t know about anyone else, but I’ll be glad to finally see this one hit the shelves.  The proofs – the final pre-printing paperwork that lets you see how the whole text is going to look once bound in book form – have been cluttering up my desk for a while now, so here, by way of tiny teaser is a snapshot (very poor quality, for which apologies; I hope your eyes are up to the task) of the quote that prefaces the book:

‘dens and holes to which the Genius of Iniquity has fled, and become envenomed with newer and more malignant inspirations.’  That’s good stuff, that is.  Mr. Thomas Ireland Jnr had a way with sensationalist words.

Feels surprisingly satisfying to be blogging again, so you can expect to hear quite a bit more from me in the coming weeks.  Coming this Friday:  the return of Moving Pictures on a Friday.  I know.  How exciting is that?  Be still your beating heart and all that.

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Winterbirth arrives in France this month, courtesy of Editions Eclipse.

It comes with a slightly tweaked version of a familiar cover:

And with its own little corner of the Eclipse website.

And with a minor role in a snappy little video promo for the November releases from this perky new imprint:

Tell all your French friends the good news!

So, this has shown up here and there on the internet in the last week or so.  Figure it’s only fair it should show up here too.  One slight word of caution: this might be the final cover for The Edinburgh Dead.  Or it might not quite be.  If it isn’t, though, the final version won’t be massively different.  For what it’s worth (and the opinion of authors on their own covers is not always worth as much as you might imagine) I like it.  I’ll be delighted to have my book wear such a skin.

Publication date?  2011.  A more precise predicition should be available before too long …

So, as mentioned a few posts back, I’ve got a story in Speculative Horizons, an upcoming anthology from Subterranean Press. It’s edited by Patrick ‘Fantasy Hotlist‘ St Denis, and he’s using it in part to raise some funds for the American Cancer Society.  Which is A Good Thing.

Sub Press are donating 10% of the cover price of all pre-orders to the ACS, and they’ve now extended the period for which that condition applies until the end of June 11th, i.e. if you place a pre-order via this link before close of play Friday, you’ll get not only the book but also the warm glow of supporting a good cause.  And behold, there’s some good stuff in there, as the blurb makes clear:

Speculative fiction is wide in scope and styles, and Speculative Horizons showcases the talent and storytelling skills of five of the genre’s most imaginative voices:

In C. S. Friedman’s “Soul Mate,” it’s love at first sight for Josie at the arts and crafts festival when she meets the handsome Stephan Mayeaux. It all sounds  too good to be true until her newfound boyfriend starts to act strangely and unexplained occurrences begin to take place around her.

In Tobias S. Buckell’s “The Eve of the Fall of Habesh,” contragnartii Jazim must carry out one final assignment before the armies of the Sea People lay waste to the city he loves.

L. E. Modesitt, Jr. returns to the universe of his bestselling Recluce saga in “The Stranger.” A young herder’s existence will be forever changed by the unexpected arrival of the black-clad man recounting tales of angels living on the summit of the Roof of the World.

In “Flint,” Brian Ruckley introduces us to a young and inexperienced shaman who must venture into the spirit world to discover the source of the sickness which afflicts his tribe before they are all wiped out.

Talk to any cop working for Homicide, Narcotics, or Vice, and they’ll tell you that they get the worst cases imaginable. But in Hal Duncan’s “The Death of a Love,” you realize that they have nothing on Erocide


Well, yes. Three weeks since the last post, and even longer since the rest of the site got refreshed (the links page is in need of some serious housekeeping, for instance) and I’m sure … well, I guess maybe there’s someone somewhere who noticed, and maybe cared just a little bit.

But there is a reason – aka an excuse. (Aside from me being busy writing and stuff, obviously, which is my standard justification for anything and everything I don’t do). Significant changes are in the pipeline for, so I figured I’d hold off until v2.0 emerges. So it’s good news, really: a brand spanking new is en route! But the pipeline in which it currently resides has been of slightly indeterminate length, hence the drop-off in activity while those involved awaited a measuring tape. I can now report that the end of said pipe is within sight and my virtual facelift will occur in the not too distant future (which is still not exactly a precise prediction, I know, but we’re talking weeks rather than months, assuming no disastrous interventions by the gods of chance).

So things will remain subdued around these parts until then.

In the meantime, look: pretty picture. Specifically, the cover to the recently released Czech edition of Bloodheir (thanks to Martin for sending me the image).

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