The Story Behind the Books – The Tattered Banner

The Tattered Banner, Huntsman's Amulet, and Telastrian Song book covers.

After receiving a couple of questions on this topic, I thought I’d write up a series of posts about the inspirations behind my books. To start with, I’m going to talk about my first trilogy, Society of the Sword, and The Tattered Banner in particular.

At the time, I thought that The Tattered Banner would be the only book I ever published. It started as a piece of historical fiction, set around a made up military school set in early Renaissance northern Italy. At the time, I really only wrote historical fiction, and always hit up against the same obstacle. I wasn’t willing to take liberties with history to help my plot along.

I was fascinated by the changes in technology, art, and the rapid growth of the economies around the European trade centres of the time, and the changes that brought to society. Gunpowder was becoming a thing in Europe at that time, but that was something I wanted to avoid in this story. I wanted to keep the focus on swordplay. This is the society of the sword, after all! How to make this world seem plausible without one of the major technological advances? Easy. Magic!

That presented me with something else that might draw attention away from this society’s veneration for swordsmen, so I made magic illegal. That gave rise to all sorts of things, like the Intelligenciers, and also some of the major plot points for the two following books. I placed some aspects of magic into a bit of a grey area. They were things that this society grandfathered into legality as they were just too convenient for society to do without. It was a hypocrisy that intrigued me, and one that I think works well in a society that is mercantile and ruthless.

I wrote the book on and off over the course of about a year, circling what I knew was ultimately going to be a dead end. Then, one day, the I finally realised the obvious. If I make it a fantasy story, I can hold true to the history and societies that fascinate me, but create my own history and events to suit my story.

From that moment, things happened quickly. Starting over, I rewrote the story with a new fantasy setting, and did all the world building that entailed on my lunch breaks at work. I had my new manuscript complete in about six months. I then forgot about it for a while!

When I came back to read The Tattered Banner’s manuscript, I thought, ‘this is actually pretty decent’. I’ll never make the claim that I thought it was going to change the face of fantasy – that really isn’t what I set out to do with my stories – but I thought it could certainly stand with its peers. I bought a copy of the Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook and started giving thought to querying agents.

At that time, self publishing was really taking off, and that started to catch my attention. I never thought I’d have a career writing, and I was working very hard to make a success of the career I did have, so the self publishing route became an ever more attractive option. In the end I decided to take that route, to get the book out there, tick it off the bucket list, and get back to my day job. I decided if I was going to do this, I had to be able to stand over every aspect, for it to be something I could be proud of. I researched editors, proof readers, and cover designers, embarked on that process.

The title came to me very late. Originally I was going to just call this book the Society of the Sword. While I was having the cover designed, a scene near the end of the book presented the perfect name, and the book became The Tattered Banner. In April of 2013, I finally published it on a Thursday evening. When I woke up on Friday, expecting not a single sale, I’d sold 12 copies.

Within 3 months, I’d covered my costs of putting the book together and was starting to think there might be something to all of this. I was starting to consider a career change at the time, from being an independent practitioner (barrister) to working in house in a legal department. I thought I could probably risk a year’s career break in between the move to see if the writing might take off.

Shortly before I made that decision, The Tattered Banner featured on BuzzFeed’s Best Fantasy of 2013 in early December 2013, and everything changed overnight. Literally. There were so many mentions and alerts on my Twitter when I woke up the next day, I thought my account had been hacked. What had seemed like a possibility now seemed dangerously like a reality. I made my choice, and didn’t return to work the following January. It was a bit of a risk, but I’d planned to make that jump the following May anyway, so this was more of an acceleration of an established plan than a leap into the void!

I’m not sure what The Tattered Banner would look like if I were to write it today. I’ve learned so much as a writer in the 8 years since I wrote it, so it would probably be pretty different. Nonetheless, I still feel like I achieved what I set out to do with it – create something I could stand over and be proud of, which I am. The Tattered Banner is the book that started me on this journey. The people who bought it and read it allowed me to stay on that journey, leading to all the books I’ve written since.

Updates!

It’s crazy to think that it’s a full month since I posted my last Space Marine photo – that was already 2 weeks into lockdown for us here, and was all the stored up photos I had to rely on! I’m looking forward to getting back to my painting table and sharing some more of my efforts with you all, but that looks like it’s still some way off, so I wanted to post some updates to let you all know what I’ve been up to!

I usually have a few projects on the go at any one time, all at different stages of completion, one with my editors, while the other is on my desk. The whole lockdown thing has upset my schedules a little but I’ve a couple of different stories at an advanced stage right now.

The first of these projects is the one that you’ll probably be most interested in. It’s a new fantasy story with new characters set in my Middle Sea world, and picks up some of the concepts I raised in my previous trilogies. As I usually like to do, it’ll be a self contained story that you can read on its own, but with some cameos from old characters and references to events from the past books. I’ve not got a title for this one yet, but it’s what I’m working on right now, and the first draft is almost complete. I’m hopeful that I’ll still be able to hit my original target of releasing it before the end of the year!

The other project is a bit of a new area for me, and quite an exciting prospect as a result! I’ve often talked about how I love to write the genres I like to read – fantasy, sci-fi, and action/adventure. I’ve been working on a couple of sci-fi ideas for a while now, and have completed the first book in a military sci-fi/space opera style series, entitled ‘The Alpha Protocol’.

It’s a similar style of story telling to my fantasy work, just set in space! It was a lot of fun to write, those who’ve read it so far tell me it was a lot of fun to read (and they don’t always say that!), so I’m hoping you guys will enjoy it too! I’m hoping to get this book out in the coming Autumn.

We’ve been surviving the lockdown here with lots of cooking, and also some chocolate making, which has been surprisingly successful. Sadly, few, if any, of these creations last long enough to be photographed, so it would seem I’m not destined to become a foodie instagramer!

I hope everyone else is doing well, staying healthy, and surviving the lockdown. If you’re looking for something to read, I believe Knight of the Silver Circle is on sale at the moment. I might be a bit biased in saying I think it’s a great book, and well worth checking out if you haven’t already, but hey, everyone’s got their favourite!

Take care!

Dragonslayer 3 Out Today!

Today is release day for Servant of the Crown, the third and final part of The Dragonslayer trilogy! How will things turn out for Gill, and the world in general now that magic, dragons, and other magical creatures have awakened?

You can pick up a copy in paperback, ebook, and audiobook, and start reading it now at the following links!

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Audible.com

So, that wraps up another trilogy, and my first that’s been traditionally published, with Tor. I’ve already got my next project well underway, so stay tuned to find out about that, which I hope to start talking about in the next couple of months!

I hope you all enjoy Servant of the Crown, and want to thank you for following and supporting my work!

Duncan

Giveaway Time!

Available on Tuesday 10 March!

To celebrate the upcoming release of Servant of the Crown, the final part of the Dragonslayer trilogy which will be out on Tuesday 10 March, I’m running a giveaway over on Goodreads for 5 signed paperback copies of the first book in the trilogy, Dragonslayer.

I’m afraid the giveaway is only open to residents of the US and Canada. Once again, apologies to everyone else for this, but it’s completely beyond my control.

You can enter the giveaway over here: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/303936-dragonslayer

Good luck to everyone who has entered!

Dragonslayer Christmas Sale!

Dragonslayer

A little news first! Dragonslayer in ebook is on sale for a few days over Christmas, reduced to only $2.99 and the equivalent in other currencies. The sale runs until 29 December. If you haven’t already got one, you can pick up a copy at the following links!

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Snowman

Finally, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, or whatever you do or don’t celebrate! Thank you all for your support and encouragement over the past year – it’s always very much appreciated. I hope you all have a relaxing few days, and the opportunity to spend them with people who matter to you!

Over the holiday, I’m planning to paint my way through a box of space marines I bought a recently, while working my way through the nice bottle of whiskey I’m hoping my brother’s going to give me for Christmas! Hopefully I’ll have some photos to post of my efforts in the New Year!

There’ll also be plenty to look forward to in the New Year on the writing side of things. The final part of the Dragonslayer trilogy – Servant of the Crown – comes out in March, and I have a few new projects on the production line that I’m very excited about, and am looking forward to telling you more about soon!

Duncan

Dragonslayer 2 – Excerpt

Tor have released an excerpt for Knight of the Silver Circle, the second part of the Dragonslayer trilogy. You can read it here:

I hope you’re all having a great summer,

Duncan

Dragonslayer out in the wild, and weekend promotion!

As you may or may not have heard, Dragonslayer is now out in the wild, available in ebook, hardback – which is new for me, paperback, and audiobook which is once again narrated by the awesome Simon Vance. You can pick up a copy in a format of your choice at the links below:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

To mark Dragonslayer’s release, and to shamelessly attempt to fill your summer reading pile with my titles, I’m giving away the kindle edition of The First Blade of Ostia, a swashbuckling fantasy adventure with tons of swordfights, for free this weekend. You can pick up your copy at the following links:

First Blade – Amazon US

First Blade – Amazon UK

Finally, if you enjoyed Dragonslayer, and have a moment to spare, I’d really appreciate it if you could leave a review over on Amazon, at either of the two links above. Aside from buying an author’s book (thanks!), the best thing you can do to help them out is leave a review!

I hope you all have a great weekend,

Duncan

Dragonslayer released today!

Hey folks,

I’m delighted to announce that Dragonslayer—Book 1 in the Dragonslayer trilogy—is now available to purchase in hardback, ebook, and audiobook. It’s been a long road and very different experience getting here with this book, and it’s hard to believe that the day I’ve been working towards for so long has finally arrived!

Dragonslayer is a trilogy about redemption, destructive obsession with power, and, of course, dragons! I’ve wanted to explore the idea and myth of dragons since I started writing fantasy, and this trilogy provided the perfect opportunity to do that. I feel that it’s my best work to date, so I really hope you all enjoy it. Once again, thanks for all your support, and for the interest you’ve shown in my books! So, on to the book!

The cover copy:

With the dragons believed dead, the kingdom had no more need for dragonslayers.

Drunk, disgraced, and all but forgotten, Guillot has long since left his days of heroism behind him.

As forgotten places are disturbed in the quest for power, and things long dormant awaken, the kingdom finds itself in need of a dragonslayer once again, and Guillot is the only one left…

Here’s a snippet of what Publishers Weekly had to say about it (my first big trade publication review!):

Hamilton successfully mixes swords, sorcery, and skullduggery with complex characters […] This is pure adventure fun with plenty for epic fantasy readers to enjoy.

You can order your copy of Dragonslayer now at any of the following links:

I hope you all enjoy Dragonslayer, and that you’re all having a great summer!

Duncan

Twas the night before… new book release

So, it’s the night before Dragonslayer’s release. It’s a feeling similar to the night before Christmas excitement, but with a liberal dose of anxiety added into the mix! Actually, it’s more anxiety with a little excitement added. Or perhaps just anxiety partially masquerading as excitement. This being my 8th book release, you’d think it’d get easier. It doesn’t…

It’s always something of a relief to get some positive feedback at a time like this, so I was delighted today to see Dragonslayer feature on Barnes & Noble’s Best Sci Fi and Fantasy for July, and on the Verge’s Sci Fi and Fantasy to check out in July. You can take a look at the snippets here:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/the-best-science-fiction-fantasy-books-of-july-2019/

https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/1/18680132/science-fiction-fantasy-books-recommendations-july-kloos-clarke-del-toro-tremblay-wendig

Finally, there are still a few hours left to preorder Dragonslayer, and be eligible for a copy of The Drake of White Peak. It’s a great short story that I’m particularly proud of. All the details of how to get it, and some preorder links, can be found here:

https://read.macmillan.com/promo/dragonslayerpreorder/

Dragonslayer eBook Pricing

After a number of comments from my readers who were concerned by the more traditional pricing for the ebook for Dragonslayer, and some discussions with the people at Tor, I’m delighted to be able to announce that we’ve decided to lower the ebook price to something more in line with my previously published titles – $6.99 or equivalent in other currencies, down from the original point of $9.99. Anyone who’s already preordered will only pay the new, lower price at release.

It’s very important to me that my work remains accessible to my longstanding readers now that I’ve made the switch over to the traditional publishing model, so I hope this drop in price puts it back within reach of those for whom it was too expensive!

You can preorder a copy now, over at Amazon:

Amazon US

Also, don’t forget about the preorder bonus, The Drake of White Peak. With only 2 weeks left before Dragonslayer’s release on 2 July, time’s running out to get your copy! You can find all the details of how to redeem your proof of purchase and get The Drake of White Peak here:

https://read.macmillan.com/promo/dragonslayerpreorder/