Maps and fantasy

Share

Monday musings on fantasy writing

By Scott Bury

A map is a necessary feature of any fantasy novel.

Tolkien’s map from The Hobbit

Ever since Tolkien and Lewis, and maybe before, every fantasy novel has a map at the beginning or the end of the book.

It’s not necessary, but I find a map often helps. I also think a good map would help with any historical fiction as well as some others, to show the reader the relationships between settings in any story, to give an idea of how close or far apart key locations are. 

The trouble is, with a lot of fantasy novels, the map is childish looking. Totally unsatisfying for anyone who knows the first thing about maps.

It seems that every fantasy writer thinks that Pauline Baynes, the illustrator of the maps in The Hobbit, set the rules of cartography. 

But they’re not as good at drawing maps as Baynes. As a result, their maps are not detailed, nor realistic nor, more importantly, believable.

One good example is the map of the fantasy world in the bestselling Eragon by David Paolini. Obviously inspired by the maps drawn by Tolkien and Baynes, it’s particularly unsatisfying and child-like. It displays a lack of understanding how geography and geology work. 

This is not the only example. All the writers of fantasy seem to think mountains look like individual little cones, sometimes topped with a charming snowy peak. Rivers conveniently go through cities, which always have a hill for a castle with four towers in it. 

Coastlines are remarkably smooth, and borders between kingdoms are regular, rather than the tortuous, twisting and contentious messes you can see in virtually every part of the word, shaped by centuries of warfare and politics. 

Likewise, the societies were always limited and simplistic. There is a good kingdom and an evil kingdom. Their allies are also either good or bad, but less extreme. Tolkien, Lewis, Pratchett, Turtledove and most others follow this trope. George Martin is the one author who comes close to reflecting the complexity of international relations and dynastic politics in his Song of Ice and Fire series. But even that is not as complex, nor as far-reaching as the real ancient world was.

The sophistication of ancient societies

The ancient Greeks and Romans, for example, knew about China (which they variously called “Qin” or “Seres.”) Rome traded with India, and with far-off places like Abyssinia and Axum. Roman writers listed far-flung tribes in Scandinavia and what is now Russia, as well as in Africa. Their geography extended far beyond the maps of most fantasy writers. 

Maps and direction

Dissatisfaction with maps was part of the inspiration behind my first-published novel, The Bones of the Earth. When I began writing it, many years ago, my children were quite young and seemed to like stories about dragons. So we got a few movies and books, but somehow, they all seemed to follow a few well-worn tropes. The dragons were all friendly, or at least amenable to human direction. 

But that’s not what dragons meant to me. A little reading about the mythology involving dragons reveals them to be immensely powerful creatures, as well as very intelligent. While European stories generally depict dragons as antagonistic. Leave them alone on their giant piles of gold and jewels, or they’ll burn down your town and eat you alive, is the moral.

Asian dragons, on the other hand, are often said to have taught humans agriculture and other wisdom. They’re still not friendly, though. Certainly they are not suitable as pets.

Inspiration

All of this inspired me to do something different.

I guess it started with the map. “How can I make a map look more realistic?” I wondered. Eventually, I found the obvious solution: use a real map.

Which then led me to the next decision: set the fantasy story in a real place. And what is more fantastic than the Dark Age?

Current thinking dismisses the concept of the Dark Age of history. There are plenty of records from the time following the fall of the Western Roman Empire. In fact, the idea is highly western-European-centric and ignores the splendid civilizations that persisted through the years 476 to 800 CE: the Sassanid Persian Empire, China, Japan, powerful and sophisticated civilizations in India and Africa and the Americas. 

But it’s still a powerful, romantic idea, a great place for stories.

So that’s what led me to set a fantasy series in the Eastern Roman Empire around the turn of the seventh century CE. 

And it has an awesome map, and I’ll use it in my upcoming sequel, The Children of the Seventh Son.

Share

A new bestseller with a new teaser: Fancy Man Blues

Share

A Thursday teaser from new member A.J. Llewellyn

Exciting news, readers! Bestselling author A.J. Llewellyn has joined the ranks of your favorite bestselling writers. Without further ado, let’s go to the sample of her newest book.

Stumpy Lake, Virginia Beach, Virginia, February. Midnight. Five Years ago. 

Athen felt ridiculous, in the dead of night, to be waiting to meet a man who’d claimed he could help him with his case. A man who was blind, no less. Athen shifted his feet a little farther apart on the edge of the damp, rock-strewn lakefront. His boots were wet, but the water hadn’t soaked through to his socked feet. Yet. 

He let his flashlight blaze a trail around him. The lake was considered perfect for watercraft, especially kayaks and ca- noes, but not for swimming. Athen had already been warned it was filled with deadly snakes. 

Something terrible had happened here to someone beauti- ful, and he wouldn’t rest until he solved the mystery of Allie Madden’s disappearance. He focused his gaze on a ripple of movement in the water. He didn’t want to get bitten and die before he could find her. 

Her disappearance and apparently brutal murder ached in his gut like an ulcer. 

He took some deep breaths and it only hurt his throat more. How cold is it? Last time I checked it was thirty-two degrees. Much colder now. Athen switched off the flashlight, tucked it into the pocket of his pea coat, and rubbed his gloved hands together. It didn’t help him get any warmer. 

I should have worn something else. This old coat won’t cut it. A fleeting sense of passion scissored through him for his lover, who’d lent it to him. Another worry invaded his thoughts. 

What if the tracker doesn’t show? Was it this cold the night Allie Madden was dragged out here?

He slid his left foot across the sand to his right. Then he drew it back, bringing the right foot toward the left. He shuf- fled this way repeatedly until the heat from his feet traveled up his calves and moved up toward the rest of his body. 

He let out a breath, condensation evaporating from his frigid lips. 

Keep moving, man

He continued sliding his feet back and forth, a trick he’d learned from his days working for the US Marshals. An ac- tress he’d protected from a stalker had taught him this routine from her long days standing on movie sets.

Where is she now? She’d been stalked by an ex-lover and he’d guarded her for two months in Savannah, Georgia. It had been hot and sticky and… Yeah. That’s the ticket. Pretend it’s hot right now. Her won- derful smile came to mind, and her wicked sense of humor. She was the closest thing he’d come to falling for a woman. 

And the nearest thing he knew of perfection.

Athen kept his gaze swiveling across the deserted beach. Where is this guy? Was this a hoax? The skin prickled at the back of his neck. The gift of fear. No. Not a hoax. He detected movement. The old man was close. 

Or somebody was. 

Fancy Man Blues

Can Blackeye solve his craziest case yet?

Athen ‘Blackeye’ Mavromatis, roving lieutenant with the Bev- erly Hills Police Department, is trying to enjoy a rare day off. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen when the mayor hands him a twisty missing person’s case. A Saudi Princess has vanished. Because of royal protocols, Athen must conduct his investigation under the wire. He doesn’t mind doing that, but it soon becomes apparent that the princess, who’s also a wannabe actress, might have been murdered. Her apartment appears to be one big giant crime scene.

But just who is Natasha Al-Khan, AKA Natasha King, and who wants her dead? Though Beverly Hills has the reputation of being crime-free, this is the second murder case he’s tackled in the short time Athen’s been with the department. Not only does he have to solve this one fast, but he and his lover, Grady, are dealing with Athen’s delinquent niece who’s just come out to them. Oh, and somebody very near and dear to them may turn out to be a deranged psychopath…

A.J. Llewellyn

A.J. Llewellyn is the author of over 300 M/M romance novels. She was born in Australia, and lives in Los Angeles. An early obsession with Robinson Crusoe led to a lifelong love affair with islands, particularly Hawaii and Easter Island.

Being marooned once on Wedding Cake Island in Australia cured her of a passion for fishing, but led to a plotline for a novel. A.J.’s friends live in fear because even the smallest details of their lives usually wind up in her stories. A.J. has a desire to paint, draw, juggle, work for the FBI, walk a tightrope with an elephant, be a chess champion, a steeplejack, master chef, and a world-class surfer. She can’t do any of these things so she writes about them instead.

A.J. I started life as a journalist and boxing columnist, and still enjoys interrogating, er, interviewing people to find out what makes them tick.

How to find/friend her:

And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter by emailing ajllewellynnewsletter@gmail.com – each month she gives away a free ebook!

Share

To create the perfect book

Share

It’s been said that no artist is ever satisfied with their work. And I think that’s just as true for writers.

I know that, once they’re out there in front readers, there is always something that I wish I had done differently with every one of my books.

For my first published book-length fiction, The Bones of the Earth, there are some things that still bother me about it. Even eight years after its release.

I wish I had included more description of the environmental damage done by civilization, even in the sixth century. For example, both Rome and Constantinople had to import most of their grain from Egypt and the province of Africa; bad farming practices and heavy urbanization had rendered the land around the big cities unable to produce enough food for the urban populations.

I did address this more in the sequel to The Bones of the Earth, the imminent The Children of the Seventh Son.

I also wish I written more about griffins. I put one into Part 1 of the story. I intended it to represent celestial or sky powers, as opposed to the chthonic or earthly gods. However, by the time I got deep into parts 2 and 3, somehow I forgot. Also, there are already a lot of fantastical creatures in it.

A griffin from a medieval tapestry now in Basel, Switzerland. Source: Wikipedia.

Also, I wish I had known more about covers for commercial fiction: would have liked my name to be in larger type.

However, Bones was not my first published fiction. That was a story that looks like it’s for children, Sam, the Strawb Part. It’s about a young boy who loves strawberries so much, that he dresses as a pirate and attaches a skull-and-crossbones flag to his bicycle, then uses it to rob local mothers of strawberries.

I just wish, now, that the tone had been a little less acerbic, and the story a little more suitable for children to enjoy.

The good news

That’s the thing about publishing today: you can change your books after they’re written. Re-publishing an e-book means that even the people who bought or downloaded it before the change will get the new version.

And the paperbacks are print-on-demand. There are no great stacks of books in a warehouse somewhere, so producing new versions will not require wasting the original editions.

Dr. Malcolm’s question

Then there’s the question that Jeff Goldblum’s character asked in Jurassic Park: I can go back and change books and stories that are already in readers’ hands—but should I? Will those people have a different reaction? Will a slight improvement bring more readers to the book?

My first job after university was as a book editor for one of the major publishers. On my first day, I asked my boss, the chief editor, if the goal was to produce the perfect book.

He laughed.

To this day, I have not come across a single book that did not have something wrong with it. Some error, at least a typo.

I know that every time I go through a manuscript I have already edited and re-written, I find something to change. A typo that I missed, a reversed quotation mark, an awkward phrase.

If I make a lot of changes and what I think are improvements, will I just find yet more problems or errors? Worse, will I create more problems?

What if what I think as such a huge, glaring problem is something that readers barely notice?

So should I revise old books, or move on and write new and better ones?

What do you think? Leave an answer in the Comments, below.

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has several mysteries and thrillers, including Torn RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

Share

Dead Man Lying

Share

A sneak peek ahead at the upcoming third Hawaiian Storm mystery

By Scott Bury

Vanessa paused at the edge of the forest to try to rub some of the dirt off her shoes. “Steven Sangster. I can’t believe I’m investigating his death. Did you like his music, Detective Ferreira?”

“Call me Lani. Yeah, I had one of Steven Sangster’s albums as a girl. I loved trying to figure out the hidden meanings in the words. Did you like him, too?”

Vanessa could not repress a smile. “I was a big fan. I had all his old CDs — still do. But I thought the ‘hidden meanings’ thing was blown way out of proportion. I thought his songs were easy enough to understand. Still, I had a huge crush on him when I was 16. He was so handsome.”

Lani smiled back. “The blue eyes and the square chin, huh?”

So this is the famous Nalani Ferreira, Vanessa thought, looking at the slender detective with her peripheral vision while appearing to study the heiau. She was small for a cop, but athletic, with beautiful big brown eyes and cheekbones that told Vanessa of mixed Asian and Hawaiian extraction. She had tried to tame her thick, dark hair, but the humidity of Maui’s rain coast was curling it .

 “Is this where it happened?” said an unfamiliar voice. Vanessa and Lani turned and Vanessa’s shoe slipped again. Her knee buckled and she almost went down, but Lani’s small hand grabbed her arm, steadying her. Vanessa was impressed — Lani was stronger than she looked.

Steady again on the wet lava, she looked up to see a short, balding man letting the yellow police tape down behind him.

“Don’t the words ‘Do not cross’ mean anything to you?” Lani demanded, stepping toward the man.

“I’m Simon Sangster. He — the victim … I mean, he was my father,” the man stammered. He did not step back, but actually put a foot up on the lava rock.

“I’m sorry for your loss, Mr. Sangster, but you still cannot step past the yellow tape.”

The man scowled, straightened his back and puffed out his little chest, which did not protrude nearly as much as his belly. “Now that my father is — I mean, this is now my property,” he said, but his voice did not match his posture.

“I’m not sure that’s quite true, but even so, this is a crime scene and you’ll have to step back past the yellow tape,” Lani retorted. She lifted the tape for him.

“It’s so that no one inadvertently compromises the investigation,” Vanessa offered, trying to make her tone conciliatory. “Please, step back.”

“In-investigation?” he said, seeming to deflate. “I thought it was an accident?”

“We’ll have to wait for the coroner’s final report to know that,” said Lani. She stepped off the heiau and took the younger Sangster by the arm, directing him into the path back down the hill.

Vanessa was just about to step onto the path when a koa tree exploded. Wood chips flew through the heavy air and the sound of a shotgun rolled up the slope. Lani threw herself off the path, pushing the pudgy Simon Sangster down. Behind her, Vanessa dropped to the ground and rolled, tearing her jacket on ragged volcanic rock. They held still, barely breathing, counting the seconds as the top half of the koa tree slowly toppled.

Dead Man Lying

Vanessa Storm is back! Dead Man Lying returns the FBI Special Agent to Hana on Maui’s rain-soaked coast.

She knows when you’re lying …FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm is back on Maui to catch a killer.

With lush rain forests, black sand beaches, and a laid-back lifestyle, Maui offers the perfect retirement location for once-famous country singer Steven Sangster … until he ends up dead.

As the killer, or killers, strike again and again, FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm must untangle the lies spun by the singer’s associates, friends, family — and the singer himself before the music dies.

Dead Man Lying will be out in autumn 2020.

Find out more about the Hawaiian Storm series on Scott Bury’s website.

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has several mysteries and thrillers, including Torn RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

Share

How do they do that?

Share

Monday musings on the writing process

Every writer gets this question at some point: “Where do you get your ideas?”

Running a close second has to be “How do you get from the idea to a finished book?”

To satisfy our readers’ curiosity, we’re starting a new Monday Musings series describe share their writing process—how they write what they write.

First up, multi-genre author

Scott Bury.

Essential elements

Every story, the way I see it, has to start with four necessary elements:

  • an idea
  • characters
  • setting
  • plot.

But they don’t necessarily have to come in that order. For me, stories or novels can start with any one of idea, character or setting.

When I started writing my first published novel, The Bones of the Earth, I wanted to create a story about dragons that was different from the usual.

I set my first mystery, Torn Roots, in Hawaii because I wanted to write a tale set in Hawaii.

Sometimes, I begin with a character. My story Dark Clouds is about the Queen of all witches, and her son, who is immune to magic.

Ideas can come from literally anywhere: a news story, something I see when travelling or even just in my own city.

Sometimes, I watch a movie or TV show, or read a book and think “This story could be better if…” Or I must think, “How would this story go if one little thing changed?”

Or you could write a story set in the future by imagining “If this goes on,” or “If that one situation changes a little, what will happen to…”

Or an alternative history, like Len Deighton’s SS-GB, or Philip K. Dick’s award-winning The Man in the High Castle, where the author asked “What if Nazi Germany had won the Second World War?”

Populating the imaginary world

I find it helps to clearly describe characters before going on to the plot. Characters are the most important part.

Often, I’ll base characters on people I know. For instance, in The Bones of the Earth, I made the main character, Javor, look like my older son but with the personality of my younger. I’ve made my lovely and supportive wife into the basis of my sleuth, Vanessa Storm in Torn Roots. It’s always fun to put friends, colleagues and neighbors into stories and books, too.

And I have to admit, sometimes it’s wicked fun when I make someone I know into a villain.

Getting to work

Once I have chosen the idea, the people it’s about (sometimes there are animals, too, and occasionally, the setting can almost become a character), I’ll work out the plot—the outline of the story.

I usually like to write down the first ideas using a pen on paper. Yes, very old school, but somehow the words flow better.

When I realize that my writing hand just cannot keep up with my brain, then I’ll go to a computer and start typing in point form.

I’ll move things around, add ideas, delete more, until I have some kind of direction, some sequence of events and descriptions.

This will grow and change, but I try to stick pretty close to it at least until the first draft is complete.

First draft

At this point, I like to format the manuscript a little bit, choosing a text typeface and fonts for headings. These choices help make the manuscript easier to read, and gives me an idea of how a reader will experience the book when it’s finished.

When I get to the end, I put the book down for a while, work on other ideas or on, you know, work that pays me. But before too long (usually), I come back to the manuscript and read it through, making little changes and corrections as I go.

That will show me at least some of the problems with the story: plot holes, missing ideas, things I forgot to write, incorrect grammar and just plain bad writing.

I’ll clarify murky areas, add description where I think it’s needed, and take out unnecessary details and sections. I have deleted whole chapters because, while they may be fun, they didn’t move the story forward.

Then I’ll go through it one more time to check that I’m reasonably happy with it.

It gets real

This is where things really get serious: I give the manuscript to my lovely and always supportive wife as the first reader. She always finds places where I’ve repeated myself. Sometimes it’s just a mechanical thing, like where I decide to move a scene from one chapter to another, but click on Copy instead of Cut.

But if it’s a book that’s taken a long time to write, sometimes repetition is a matter of an idea or a scene that I think is really good, or really important, and writing it, and then forgetting I did that when I come back to the story some time later.

Which means it’s time for a third draft.

The outside world

My third draft involves fixing all the things my first reader caught, and then another check through the whole story. Finally, it’s probably pretty close to being something I don’t mind sharing with others.

First, a professional editor. This is someone who knows writing, knows what a good book is and how to write in English.

Readers can tell when a book has not been edited by a professional.

For my last several books, that’s been Gary Henry, himself also an author. Thanks, Gary, for helping make my books better.

Once I’ve cleaned it up to suit the editor, it’s on to people who read because they like to read. Some people call these first readers their “beta readers.” I prefer to call them my Alpha Team. They’re great, supportive and helpful people, who catch more mistakes and places where readers just don’t get what I was trying to say. It’s humbling to know there are always people willing to help.

More changes

Hopefully, but this point, there won’t be too many more corrections to make.

But there are always a few.

That’s why there is one more important step: the professional proofreader.

No matter how good a writer you are, no matter how carefully you check your work, you can never catch every error in your own writing. It’s important to have another set of eyes look at your book before you publish it—especially at a point where you’ve written it, read it, re-written and re-read several times. You just don’t see what’s on the page, anymore. You see what you intended to put on the page.

A long process

That’s partly why it takes so long to publish a book. Reading anything long takes time, and to edit and fix it, you must read slowly. And you have to do this several times.

Or at least, I do.

So with all that being said, if you would like to be one of my “alpha readers,” contact me through the Author page, and I’ll send you an alpha version of my work-in-progress, The Children of the Seventh Son.

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has several mysteries and thrillers, including Torn RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

Share

A Constantinopolitan wedding

Share

A Thursday throwback teaser from The Bones of the Earth

By Scott Bury

Ancient Constantinople in its day. Image source: History.com

This week’s teaser is from the novel set in the late sixth century CE, in the capital of the Roman Empire.

Javor wandered around the wedding hall, looking at the mosaics on the walls, nibbling on cakes and drinking wine. It was becoming decidedly hot.

The music changed, and people started moving about quickly with a sense of purpose. One of the entertainers, a thin man with a long, emaciated face and a crimson robe, stood in the middle of the floor and began chanting. The wedding guests formed two concentric circles around the chanting crimson man, women on the inside circle, men on the outside.

Javor watched them, bemused and sipping wine, until a giggling Xenia skipped up from behind him, grabbed his robe and tugged him toward the outer circle. Javor resisted until two burly young men at Xenia’s bidding hooked his elbows in theirs and pulled him into the men’s circle.

Javor did his best to keep up with the circles as they danced one way, then the other, but he couldn’t match the footsteps. They danced around the women, first left, then right, then left again, in time with the musicians and the chanting of the crimson-robed man in the centre, who clapped his hands in time to the music. The women danced in the opposite direction to the men, their skirts swaying.

5th-7th century Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire fashion
Source: Pinterest

They unlinked arms, turned around and re-linked their elbows so that they faced the men, their backs to the chanter, and danced back and forth. Javor looked for Xenia and found her beaming back at him. She smiled in that way that only beautiful young women can smile at susceptible young men and skipped away with her circle, and then all the women turned around again so that they faced into the centre of the circle, their backs to the men again.

Javor realized all the men were turning, too. He stumbled and did a few steps left, then right, bumping and jostling Xenia’s friends—cousins? bodyguards?—as he tried to follow them, but he couldn’t predict when they would change direction.

They turned again to face inside the circle, and the women’s backs. The women turned again. Javor felt disappointed that could not see Xenia’s face before the men turned around one more time, their backs to the women. After that, all he could do was try to follow along with dancing left and right, turning into and then out of the circle.

Finally, the music reached a climax, the chanter cried out one last time, and the dancers stopped, men facing the women. They bowed to each other. Xenia was almost a quarter of the way around the circle from Javor, and she didn’t seem to be looking his way until just before the music started up again, when she smiled at him.

The music started again, a little slower, and Javor followed along to the left and right the best he could. There was no turning back and forth this time, but a lot of stately, formal steps. Javor started to feel a little proud of his ability to mimic the others when the music stopped.

He was out of breath and sweaty as the groom. He unlinked from the burly brothers and stumbled to the buffet table for a drink of wine, then to the open door where a cool breeze was blowing in.

A small group of men stood on the outside steps, holding drinks and chatting good-naturedly. Briefly, Javor wondered if they were laughing at him. He took deep breaths, trying to cool down and wondered where his friends were. He couldn’t see anything in the hall but the dark, scowling face of a young man with a wispy black beard. His hair was black and curly, his eyebrows thick and black and bunched together, and the top of his head came up to Javor’s shoulder.

“What’s wrong, barbarian, don’t you like our dancing?” His words were slightly slurred and he seemed to waver back and forth in front of Javor. Is that because of him or me?

 “I just came out to cool off. It’s hot in there.”

Byzantine nobles

“So we’re too hot for you, is that it?” The dark man stepped closer. Javor felt his amulet stir.

“No, I just want to cool off,” he replied, looking down into the strange man’s eyes. “Maybe you should, too.”

“I saw you liked Xenia.”

This must be Vlassis. “She seems very nice.”

“She’s taken.” Javor noticed what seemed to be tiny bubbles of foam at the corner of Vlassis’ mouth.The amulet started to vibrate softly. Javor turned slightly to see two other young men in dark tunics trying to move unseen behind him. They had removed their dressy robes and dalmatics. They lunged forward, each trying to grab one of Javor’s arms. Before they could, Javor stepped ahead and grabbed Vlassis, wrapping one arm around his neck and twirling him around so that the shorter man became a shield between Javor and the attackers. They collided with each other. One fell, tangled in the other’s legs, and brought his partner down on top of him with an “oof!” Other men on the steps chuckled at their antics.

“Let me go, you barbarian!” Vlassis yelled, choking. He cursed. Javor pulled the small man’s arm up behind his back. “Get your filthy paws off me, you stinking barbarian!” Vlassis cried out again.

The Bones of the Earth

The Dark Age, eastern Europe: the earth has decided to rid itself of humanity with earthquakes, volcanoes and new plagues. Civilizations, even the mighty Roman Empire, crumble under the pressure of barbarian waves that are fleeing worse terrors.

Rejected by his own people, pursued by a dragon, young Javor heads for Constantinople, the centre of civilization, looking for answers to the puzzle of his great-grandfather’s dagger and the murder of his family.

Author Scott Bury has just completed writing the sequel to The Bones of the Earth: The Children of the Seventh Son. In anticipation, he has released this vignette of life in Constantinople, the greatest city of its time.

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has several mysteries and thrillers, including Torn RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

Share
Share