What I'm Working On

Aside from what I should be doing (which is revising Call to Arms), my next project is a series of fantasy novels (three at the current stage of planning) covering a series of wars focusing on a central nation named Stavalka. The main antagonists of the series are the Nimueae, a far-reaching conspiracy of demon-worshipping witches who have taken control of the once powerful and good Ascaroth, Realm of the Three Kings (the purple-coloured region on the far write of the map below).

An old version of the map where I was still
calling Hrvaska "Hvaria"

Things are not exactly that cut-and-dry for the protagonists, however, who first find their country under attack by the neighouring Hrvaska. The inhabitants of that kingdom aren't so obviously evil as the Nimueae, but they are invading and hard decisions must be made, especially when Halogland (the kingdom to the west) forms an alliance with Ascaroth against Hrvaska.

There will be genre-bending aplenty, I hope, as this fantasy realm has, on the one hand, black magic, dragons, and other strange creatures, but on the other, ancient artifacts that appear magical but are actually ancient technology of a long-gone civilisation. There may be other creations of that civilisation still lurking about as well ... stay tuned here for further updates (I will let you know when things are added in blog entries).

I have fleshed-out three of the principal characters, though the other four that I intend to use as "viewpoint characters" remain little more than shells. The three thus far are:

Hektor Vierkus Argenty III (A.K.A. "The Third") - Sole heir to the title Prince of Lower Stavalka (Lower Stavalka being the northern portion of our protagonists' homeland, Stavalka). His grandfather was the great hero of the last war with Hrvaska ~45 years previous to the novel's events, much celebrated for his brilliant campaign omwhich, with approximately 4,000 troops against no less than 20,000 asserted control over the entire province of Koroia (the disputed province between Stavalka and Hrvaska). Although Hektor's father ("The Second") had the misfortune to not inherit the distinctive platinum blonde hair of the Argenty family, nor the physical abilities and natural charisma of his father, "The Third" did, and although he's yet to accomplish any feats of his own (being but 17) he enjoys a certain "sports star" status among the common folk. He is known among the nobility more as a drinker and a brawler who's a frequent embarrassment to the family, but will come into his own when the war starts.

Domaslav Korbut - A student at the university in Volbromov (capital city of Stavalka), studying the arcane arts of the "technomages" (they will not be called this in the novel, but I use this name as a placeholder to describe what they are -- men who are able to operate the technologically advanced relics of a long-extinct civilization and who have some understanding of science). He is a genius who is easily bored by his classes and tends to indulge his hopeless romanticism, writing sonnets and love letters. Usually he writes these for his classmates as he is in fact cowardly in the face of personal contact with women, although his letters get him embroiled with a bored and sensual wealthy woman of the "New Nobility" leading him to be sent off to the war by his guild.

Rutgar Orda the Nimueak - A member of the elite "Husaria" knights; called "the Nimueak" because His parents were adherents of the Nimueae cult; his mother was a longtime practitioner of the vile religion who seduced Prokop Orda, a wealthy and influential cloth merchant as part of the Nimueae programme of infiltration into the upper echelons of society. At 22, Rutgar repudiated this vile cult but had to go into hiding from the coven his parents belonged to, taking up the life of a sellsword abroad. He eventually returned and revealed the coven, burning his own parents at the stake and was rewarded with a place among the Husaria. He is a large, brooding character, easily given to outbursts of emotion.

Readers will notice a Polish style to the names of the Stavalkans. I've decided to give this story an eastern/central European flavour, with the Hrvaskans being loosely based on Croatians and other southern Slavs, and the Stavalkans based on Poles. I decided to do this not only because my wife's Polish and so is some of my own heritage, but because almost all fantasy fiction has an English/French or Scandinavian feel. Also, most people in the English-speaking world know very little about Poland so I can draw liberally on history here to give the world a realistic feel but one that is very alien to the average reader which I hope will add to the sense of wonder.
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