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Fraser

Light From a Dark Lord 02: : On the Shore of the Great River

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Chapter 2: On the Shore of the Great River

When Tak had said to meet him at a camp, I had expected something more than a single tent with a guttering fire in front of it. I guess a camp is a camp. And I guess we should be a bit careful with assumptions.

Or maybe it’s just me.

The province we were in, Lunaventum, seemed a nice place, even in the dead of night. What with all the trees and fields and such. There were farms. I mean, not along the river, but in the area. I had seen a few since arriving in the province, but I think more than a few were abandoned. A lot of the space was empty. That didn’t make a lot of sense because since this land was pretty much free for anyone from the Great Kingdom. It had been a hundred years since the Downfall, but I think people were still afraid of the Terror Lands. I mean, they still called them the Terror Lands.

The royal steward resided in Lunaventum, further south than Tak’s camp or Bailthair by about a day. He had a thousand cavalry and triple that in infantry. That should have made anyone feel safe. But with the war over for a century, and the province ‘pacified,’ people just didn’t come.

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A Bloody Crown: Chapter 03

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Working cover for the novel A Bloody Crown: a castle wall in darkness

The Cyclops Banner: A Bloody Crown available now as an e-book.

You can find chapter 2 here.

Chapter 3: The Month of the Sparrow, Wegeresday the Twenty-seventh.

Aubrien Port in the Belgdstaet Unity

He wanted to stay in Taulmeer, at the company’s camp. That was his home. The company was his home. But when Cristobel returned from Aneros, he had told Alec to reach out to their contacts in Aubrien and find out what kind of transport was available. The contract wasn’t certain. Cristobel needed seals on it and he needed the coin from the last contract. He didn’t believe it would happen, but the company needed to be ready. And it needed trustworthy ships to get them across the Small Sea.

That made Alec wonder. Travel to most parts of the East Kingdoms would be on the roads. The only possible destination—outside the Fist—would be the Empire. The Empire was always at war, but mostly with itself. Could they be heading to the Empire? That didn’t make sense. Taulmeer had accepted peace with Surraev because it didn’t have the money to keep fighting. Would the king take further loans to campaign in the Empire?

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A Bloody Crown: Chapter 02

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The Cyclops Banner: A Bloody Crown available now as an e-book.

You can find Chapter 01 here.

Chapter 2: The Month of the Sparrow, Ferisday the Twenty-Second.

Kaessekros on the Red Isles in Kellalh

Working cover for the novel A Bloody Crown: a castle wall in darkness

Rhona Trevean pinched the bridge of her nose. They had buried her father that day in a secret ceremony. He had long stood against Surraev, claiming to fight for a Kellei crown which no longer existed. She sat watching the Small Sea, to the west. The last rays of the sinking sun reached out, rising from the horizon, touching the sea over which lay Taulmeer and Kadetera. That was where most of the smugglers that sheltered in Kaessekros sold their goods.

The smugglers sheltered in Kaessekros because no crown could touch it. Fifteen years after the rest of Kellalh fell to it, Surraev still could not conquer the barony. In her heart, she knew that was because they had not tried. Not really. The Old Baron, her father—Argus Trevean—had a fleet of fast ships manned by fearless crews who knew how to fight on the water. Surraev had knights and cannons, and could crush most forces on land. At sea? That, they had not mastered. Her galleys protected the Red Isles on the sea, and on land, Selcost nestled in the Shieldlands—rocky hills and mountains cut through with rivers and glens but no real roads or open fields on which to array one’s cavalry or set up one’s cannons.

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Light From A Dark Lord 01: Right Place, Wrong Place

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I’m once again here posting my longform fiction. This time, it’s not from a completed work, but from my primary work-in-progress. I find it useful to have different WIPs with different voices as a kind of palate cleanser, and also because I generally have too many ideas banging around in my head.

This will not be presented as an e-book or in print any time soon. I’ve got to finish it first.

Temp novel cover: person with lantern in barren wood with dying trees and ash falling. "Light From A Dark Lord. A Novel by Fraser Ronald."

Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

Chapter 1: Right Place, Wrong Place

I’ve been told it was my mother who named me Magastoris Algorist. Everyone just calls me Max. Though I found myself in a province on the outskirts of the Great Kingdom, that’s not where I was from. Not that it mattered. I wasn’t really from anywhere. There had been places I had lived, places I knew well, and places I might have even liked. I wouldn’t have called any of them home. I just didn’t have one.

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Sharing is Caring

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I write fiction because I am compelled to write fiction. There is so much I have written that no one will ever see. I’ve completed a couple of novels and a couple of screenplays that will never get published and never get shared. I have untold pieces of short fiction that no one else will ever see. I don’t write to publish. I write because I must.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to share it. And this coming year, I will share it. I have completed the first novel of a planned trilogy. I’m calling the series The Cyclops Banner, and the first novel is A Bloody Crown. I’ll be sharing that online here and will also publish it as an ebook. Each two weeks, I’ll publish a new chapter. There are 34 chapters, so that’s about a year and a half of content.

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Disappointment of Man

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The thing with first run movies hitting streaming quickly or at the same time as theatrical releases, is that I see movies a lot earlier than I would. I highly doubt I would have seen Wrath of Man in the theatre. The last Jason Statham movie I saw in the theatre was The Transporter 2, and the last Guy Ritchie movie I saw in the theatre was Sherlock Holmes.

The bottom-line is that I would hesitantly recommend Wrath of Man for Jason Statham fans, and give it a 3 invincible armoured car guards out of 5 (would have been a 2 without Statham). There are parts of a fun action movie here, but additional storylines dilute it and actually ruin parts of the core for me.

Wrath of Man poster with Jason Statham looking sombre in a suit

I think I would have been upset if I had seen Wrath of Man in the theatre, specifically because of the cost. If I had paid good money for this specifically rather than for the streaming service that showcased it, I would have been kind of upset.

Now, if what you want is plenty of Jason Statham, you’ll get plenty of Jason Statham—though less Jason Statham than the grease fight in The Transporter. If what you want is a compelling story, good pacing, and strong characters . . . well . . . no.

Guy Ritchie has never been known for deep characterization, but his usual character shorthand—like in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, or Snatch—worked really well to actualize the characters in a very short period of time, allowing large casts of memorable characters. That doesn’t happen in Wrath of Man. I think there was an attempt to do it, but it failed. It could be that I was more forgiving of movies in 2000 than I am in 2021, but I didn’t find any of the characters in Wrath of Man compelling.

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Dissing the Sea Peoples

I listened to a podcast on the Sea Peoples, because that’s something I do. And now you must all suffer! In case you were looking for context, it’s here.

Even though Sagas of the Sea Peoples won’t be happening, I remain fascinated with this period in history. I’ll read the occasional new article or listen to a podcast discussing the subject. I think I will stick to recent academic pieces, as I am a bit sick of non-critical acceptance of primary sources, like the inscriptions of Pharaonic Egypt.

I’m not going to name the podcast that set this off. It is generally entertaining and only because I have strong assessments of this period based on some strong scholarship did I find the particular episode on the Sea Peoples annoying. And, frankly, I could very much be wrong. Everybody could be wrong. We have so little actual evidence, how can anyone really know.

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Gunpowder Milkshake, a review

Gunpowder Milkshake seems like another attempt to adapt the John Wick formula outside of Wick-verse (is that a thing?). There is enough fun here for a light recommend. I’d give it 3 stoner van-mounted miniguns out of 5. Karen Gillan plays a credible bad-ass, Lena Heady can kill with a stare, and we need a modern Iron Mask re-telling with Angela Bassett, Carla Gugino, and Michelle Yeoh.

Poster for Gunpowder Milkshake including the main characters looking at the camera

The movie is about a woman whose mother—an assassin—abandoned her to a criminal cartel who exploited her greatest natural talent—violence. When I first saw the trailer, I was ready to buy in.

Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t live up to its potential. It meanders a fair amount, seems unfocused in many parts, and wastes an absolutely stellar cast with a movie that both tries to go to far with violence but doesn’t go far enough with the characters. Even while it has sparks of great fight choreography, it too often mistakes graphic violence for exciting action.

But a strong script with strong characters could have saved it. The cast is absolutely stellar, and was even able to squeeze some emotional investment out of this viewer, but the characters were nowhere near strong enough to balance out the deficits with the story.

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