Pinterest updates…

I’ve had a chance to do a little organising over on Pinterest, and have put some photos of buildings and cities into their appropriate categories, if anyone is curious as to what place inspired which city!

If you reckon you can connect any of the buildings to the ones they inspired in the book, feel free to drop me a mail and I’ll confirm if you’re right!

You can get to my Pinterest page by clicking below:

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End of year report!

Ok, first off, apologies for posting here so infrequently. It's not down to laziness on my part (well, ok, maybe a bit) but because I've been hard at work on my next trilogy, The Wolf of the North. I wanted to have at least a first draft of all three books completed before I move forward with the first one, and I'm almost at that point now, so hopefully not too much longer to wait! It's really hard to believe that over a year has passed since I released The First Blade of Ostia. Time really flies when you spend most of your day in a made up world!

By way of teaser, The Wolf of the North is set in the Middle Sea world, but with new characters and new locations that I haven't had the chance to explore before. It's also allowed me to look at the world from a different cultural perspective, and as small a thing as that might sound, it's been a lot of fun to take these ideas and play around with them from a different viewpoint. It's the story of a young man from the Barbarian North who, from an inauspicious start, becomes a legend in his own time.

Next year will be all about The Wolf of the North, but the fact that I've got a lot of the hard work done on it already means I'll have a little time for another character who's been simmering away in the back of my mind for quite a long time now!

That's about all I've got for now, so I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas! Thanks again for your support and interest in my work!

Best wishes,

Duncan

Black Sails

I’ve just finished watching the second season of Black Sails, and enjoyed it enough to be motivated to write a post about it! I thought the first season was excellent, and this one was a solid step up, both in terms of the story and the characters.

The storyline is developing nicely and expanding to give the viewer a broader appreciation of the characters and the world they inhabit. A new character was brilliantly sinister, while others were developed to a much deeper level, Charles Vane in particular, who is threatening to knock Jack Rackham from his perch as my favourite character. Vane has been brought from a comparatively two dimensional psycho to a man with much more interesting dynamics, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where they take him in the next season. The sets are incredible, and the ship scenes brilliant. It captures the atmosphere of the period brilliantly, and shows the pirates as far more than plundering, rum swigging savages.

If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s well worth a look. A word of warning however – it’s definitely for a grown up audience. Lots of nudity, violence, and bad language. It’s certainly not Pirates of the Caribbean!

Updates and an announcement of sorts…

Ok,  time for an update I think!

First off, there’ve been a few minor visible changes to the website, but a fair bit more going on under the bonnet (hood!). There’s still a little more to come, so please bear with me! Between renovating my apartment, minor knee surgery, and finishing off drafts for the first part of my next trilogy, finding time for everything over the past little while has been a challenge!

There’ll be a couple of more interesting things coming down the pipeline pretty soon, one of which is a new novella, called The Marcher Lord. It’s the story of a young, rural swordsman making his first journey to his capital city. It explores a region in the west of the Middle Sea world, called Mirabaya, so it’s been a fun opportunity to roll back the covers from another little bit of the world and explore it. I’ll be posting more about The Marcher Lord over the next few days. Expect plenty of intrigue and swashbuckling!

That’s all for now, so I hope everyone is doing well!

Where Next?

With the release of The First Blade of Ostia, I plan on moving to a different part of the Middle Sea World to explore for my next few books. The Empire didn’t swallow up the entire world, even at its peak, and the other side of its ancient borders is where the next trilogy will start off. It’s a place where magic and the gods are viewed as one and the same; a place where men still believe they walk the land.

From a writing perspective, it’s been a really fun way to look at some of the Middle Sea concepts from a completely different perspective, and also a great chance to really expand on the world I’ve created, to give it more depth, character, and colour. The first book of this series is with my long suffering alpha readers at the moment, and the second is well under way. I’ll reveal more about this series in coming weeks, as it will be my focus for 2015.

For those who enjoyed the setting of the Society of the Sword books, worry not! That part of the world is still very much open for business, and I have a further series plotted out that will take place in those regions, and focus on a more minor character from the Society trilogy who seems to have been pretty popular. He’s certainly one of my favourites, and I was constantly looking for ways to give him a more prominent role. He’ll finally be taking centre stage in this series, and working through his backstory has been a huge amount of fun. That’s all I’m giving away about that for now!

I hope everyone has had a good start to 2015!

Things I watched over Christmas

My Christmas viewing revolved around a few box sets and some stuff on Netflix. First off was an A/B session of ‘Borgia’ and ‘The Borgias’. Coming to the European-made Borgia from the US-made The Borgias was a bit jarring, and initially I wasn’t at all impressed with the former. I like Jeremy Irons as an actor, and think he’s one of those actors who has gravitas to burn. However, after a few episodes, I thought John Doman—despite an American accent I gather a great many viewers were put off by—was far better suited to the role of Rodrigo Borgia/Pope Alexander VI. As my esteem for him grew, so to did my opinion of Borgia as a whole.

The supporting cast were excellent, if they can be called that. Any of the major parts, from Cesare and Lucrezia to Alessandro and Giulia Farnese, could be considered leading players. Across the board, I thought the actors in Borgia were far stronger, and far better suited to the parts they played.

Both shows portrayed the period well, although once again I felt Borgia got it a bit closer to the mark. I like watching shows like this in an attempt to immerse myself into that atmosphere, as it is, broadly speaking, the period that the Middle Sea world is set in at the time of The Tattered Banner and The First Blade of Ostia. My inspiration files for weapons, clothes, and architecture are filled with pictures of things from the 1450-1650 period.

Overall, I think both series are worth watching, but if you only have time for one, I’d go with Borgia. This is the area of history that most interests me, and I can definitely see myself watching Borgia again in the not too distant future.

I also watched the new Netflix show ‘Marco Polo’ which I really enjoyed. We go from an area of history that I know quite a bit about, to one I know very little about. I’ve not made anything more than a cursory reading of Asian and Mongol history, which is something I’m going to have to rectify this year, as it really is fascinating. A very good show, with solid acting across the board—I thought Benedict Wong playing Kublai Khan was particularly excellent—and one which I’m eagerly anticipating the second season of.

I have the first season of the recent BBC version of The Three Musketeers next in the queue, which I’m looking forward to. I’ve mentioned before I think that The Three Musketeers is one of my favourite stories, so I’m interested to see what they do with it. From the bits I’ve seen, it looks pretty encouraging.

As a reminder, there are still signed copies of The First Blade of Ostia up to be won over on Goodreads. You can enter the competition by clicking here.

Well, I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and is having a very happy new year!

The First Blade of Ostia now available!

I’m happy to announce that The First Blade of Ostia went on sale last Friday. To be notified as soon as I release a new book, you can sign up for my New Release Newsletter.

The First Blade of Ostia is set a little more than a decade before The Tattered Banner, so you’ll see some familiar faces (albeit younger!) and some new and interesting ones also. It follows a young man called Bryn as he embarks on a duelling career after graduating from Ostenheim’s Academy. He’s accompanied on this path by his best friend, a young aristocrat named Amero…

Writing this book gave me the opportunity to explore the role dueling plays in Ostian society, something I’ve been eager to do ever since first developing the world for The Tattered Banner. It was a lot of fun to write, so I really hope you enjoy the story!
You can pick up a copy from the following vendors. iBooks and Barnes & Noble will follow shortly, and the paperback should be available soon after.

The First Blade of Ostia – Cover Reveal

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Here’s the cover for my impending release, The First Blade of Ostia. I hope you like it. I’m very pleased with how it’s turned out, and think it captures the atmosphere of the book perfectly.

There will be more updates and announcements over the next couple of days. I hope everyone’s well!

The First Blade of Ostia Back Cover Copy…

Here’s the back cover copy for the upcoming ‘The First Blade of Ostia’.

The ‘First Blade of Ostia’ is an accolade few will achieve. In Ostenheim, a city obsessed with duelling, it is one that nobody forgets.

Bryn’s earliest memory is of watching duels in the arena. His earliest dream is of taking his place there.

Amero has no dreams. His life has been about fulfilling the expectations of others. In search of a path of his own, the dreams of others are too tempting to resist.

After years of sacrifice and hard work, Bryn is finally a professional duellist. Becoming the First Blade of Ostia no longer seems the childish fantasy it once did. To find the man standing in his way is also his best friend will test him in ways he would never have believed.

 

Cover design is progressing well, and I’m really happy with the initial concepts, which are being tweaked as I write. Hopefully they’ll be ready for a cover reveal in the next week or so!