#ShareAReviewDay – THE PRINCE’S MAN by Deborah Jay

While Marcia is ensconced in her writing cave, I thought I’d hijack #ShareAReviewDay with the latest review for the opening novel in my Five Kingdoms epic fantasy series, THE PRINCE’S MAN.

I’ve had a tough few weeks (months, really), and this lovely review helped lift my spirits:

REVIEW:
D. W. Peach
5.0 out of 5 stars  Wonderfully written
September 24, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining and skillfully-written fantasy novel. I was particularly taken with the tight narrative, not a wasted scene or conversation, every word counting as the story unfolded. This contributed to a quick pace and complimented the well-considered plot that comes together with a satisfying ending. Though the first in a series, The Prince’s Man can also be read as a stand-alone.

All that good stuff, and then there’s more… the characters are fabulous, deeply flawed and sympathetic at the same time. The relationship between Rustam and Risada takes center stage. There are hints of a romantic attraction but the reader is saved from moon eyes and heaving chests by a very real tension based on past experiences, current loyalties, and objectives. Despite being allies, there’s a lot of loathing going on here. I love that.

Elves, trolls, and were-cats throw the story into the classic fantasy genre and are integral to the plot and underlying theme of the book. The political machinations are realistic enough to be recognizable today. Prejudices, bigotry, genocide, and beliefs in cultural superiority are alive and well in her world-building. The characters are forced to revisit their worldviews, but just like in real life, they will only open their eyes so wide. And Jay doesn’t hold back on the brutality.

I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series and seeing what happens to the two main characters as well as a host of others who intrigued me no end. Recommended for anyone who loves a good fantasy.

Available at most outlets HERE Continue reading

#FREE for the first (and only) time – THE PRINCE’S MAN #Fantasy

While Marcia is clearing up her dead moss monster following Hurricane Dorian’s unwelcome visit, I thought I’d quickly share the news that book #1 in my Five Kingdoms fantasy series, THE PRINCE’S MAN, is part of a FREE boxed set. So, if you’ve hesitated about trying it, you can pick it up now without parting with a cent.

It’s marketed as ‘Dark Fantasy’, but that’s only on the grounds the books contain some violence (sword fights, anyone?) and darker themes. To be fair, I haven’t read the others, so I can’t vouch fully for their content, but this was the second set put together by Patty Jensen, the other set having the criteria of being ‘wholesome and sweet’.

The set is currently sitting pretty in the top 10 free fantasy books on Amazon, but it can always do with a few more downloads – PLEASE SHARE!

You can find it at any of these outlets:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WCDBVDC
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/sorcery-warlocks
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sorcery-warlocks-patty-jansen/1132903657?ean=2940163744749
Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1476156119
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Patty_Jansen_Sorcery_Warlocks?id=XQ6oDwAAQBAJ

Deborah

Find me at:

https://deborahjayauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DeborahJay

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172608.Deborah_Jay

Amazon author page: https://viewAuthor.at/DeborahJay

Newsletter sign up and FREE Five Kingdoms short story: https://eepurl.com/bPZcmT

Release day! The Prince’s Protege is available on all channels & The Prince’s Man is on #sale #0.99

A quick announcement that my latest story is out there in the world!

The Prince’s Protégé is available from today in all outlets, at the introductory price of $2.99 – if you enjoyed THE PRINCE’S MAN and THE PRINCE’S SON, you are going to want to read this one!

If you haven’t tried them out yet, what better chance than to pick up #1, The Prince’s Man for $0.99, for the next two weeks only.

When I set out to write The Prince’s Man, I began with the tagline ‘Think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings’, because those are two of my favourite books/movies.

I’ve always felt a bit sad and frustrated for James Bond, because he is never permitted to develop as a character beyond the super smooth spy with no real life of his own. I wanted to start with a similar character, and allow him to grow and change from his life experiences. Enter Rustam Chalice – ‘ridiculously good looking’ (according to one reviewer), suave ladies-man, accomplished spy, and a vain, shallow man at the start of the story…

Being a first time fantasy author at this point (I’d previously written non-fiction and SF), I freely admit I was quite heavily influenced by Tolkein’s creations, but added my own ideas and slants to create a unique world with a history all its own that shapes the societies of The Five Kingdoms, in which the rest of the series takes place. Today, #3 in the series debuts, but believe me, there are lots more to come…

Find THE PRINCE’S MAN on sale at AMAZON, and a choice of OTHER RETAILERS

Find THE PRINCE’S PROTEGE on special release offer at AMAZON and OTHER RETAILERS

 

#FabulousFridayGuestBlogger, Deborah Jay: how do you write ‘what you know’, when you write fantasy?

Thanks, Marcia, for the opportunity to be featured guest blogger here on The Write Stuff this week. I’m so thrilled this wonderful blog is up and running again after all your trials and tribulations. We missed you!

‘Write what you know’ is one of those rules all authors come across. But when you’re writing a fantasy novel, how can you do that?

With book #3 in my Five Kingdoms fantasy series releasing next week, I thought I’d share a peek into how I chose to incorporate a little of what I know into my imaginary world. You might notice a bit of a theme across my covers…

mock3[23043]

One of the draws of writing fantasy is the ability (necessity) to create your own world from scratch, but it’s nevertheless important to have enough similarities with the real world for readers to have an easy frame of reference. If everything is unfamiliar, they have to work too hard at understanding what’s going on to enjoy following the plot, or find empathy with the protagonist and supporting characters.

If I’d wanted, I could have given my characters 6-legged, horned critters to ride, but as a professional horse rider (my day job, lucky me), I decided to give them regular horses. Well, slightly enhanced, almost regular horses!

This enabled me to inject some realism into the world of the Five Kingdoms, with small details of horsemanship and horse behaviour that bring the horses to life as characters in their own right. Here’s a snippet featuring one of my favourites:

* * * * * * *

At this time of day, only one horse stood inside. Fleetfoot, Rustam’s bright bay Shivan stallion, dozed on his feet in the middle of the walkway, disdaining an actual stable. None of the stable lads would dream of trying to coax him into a loose box—he’d shown them how such an attempt would end within half a day of his arrival in the barn. Fortunately, as the season was so warm, the lad in question had dried out quickly after his dunking in the water trough.

Fleetfoot acknowledged Rustam’s arrival with a shake of his neck, his long black mane swishing from side to side. Rustam patted his shoulder. “It’s good to see you resting, my friend. We’ve an important task ahead.”

He ran a hand along the stallion’s muscular crest beneath the heavy fall of mane, marvelling as always at the softness of the horse’s hair. Fleetfoot bent his neck around and blinked at Rustam, who sighed. “I’m guessing the hardest part will be persuading Risada to stay behind. Ouch!”

He leaned against the stallion’s shoulder, pushing hard until the horse lifted the hoof he’d planted on Rustam’s foot. “What was that for?”

Rustam hopped a few steps, before rubbing the top of his abused foot against the back of his other calf. He’d never held any illusions about the weight of the substantial animal even before being trodden on. “That’s going to be one almighty bruise, thank you very much. What did I say to offend you?”

Fleetfoot arched his neck, lowering his head until he matched eyelines with Rustam. His expression revealed both dismay and disapproval. Rustam shook his head. “For someone who can’t utter words, you have an amazing ability to express your opinions. You think Risada should come with us, don’t you?” Fleetfoot bobbed his head down, once, twice.

* * * * * * *

Each of my books features several named horses who have their parts to play in developing the characters of their riders, instead of being just a means of conveyance. I find human/horse (or indeed, any animal) relationships bring out greater personality depths, and in the case of horses are often a means of strengthening and deepening certain traits, such as patience, empathy and humility. Exactly what they do for those of us fortunate enough to work with them in real life.

DO you follow the ‘write what you know’ rule? Please tell me in the comments: it’s always fascinating to hear other writers’ thoughts on the ‘rules’.

If you haven’t read any of my Five Kingdoms novels yet, #1, THE PRINCE’S MAN goes on sale next Friday at $0.99 in all stores, the same day as #3, THE PRINCE’S PROTEGE releases with an introductory price of $2.99

Mar 19 sale

Each book has a stand alone story arc, but they have ongoing threads leading towards a final showdown in book #4.

If you HAVE read books 1 & 2, this is what #3 looks like, and is available now on Amazon pre-order,

launch promo

thumb nailDeborah Jay writes fantasy and urban fantasy featuring complex, quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.

Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she has time. Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many horses, and her complete inability to cook.
She has a dream day job riding, training and judging competition dressage horses and riders, and also writes books and magazine features on the subject under her professional name of Debby Lush.

Connect with Deborah elsewhere across the web

BLOG        FACEBOOK         TWITTER           PINTEREST        GOODREADS

AMAZON

If you fancy trying out a FREE Five Kingdoms story, sign up to my mailing list HERE – you can always unsubscribe if it’s not to your taste.

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Other books by Deborah Jay

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#ShareAReviewDay – The Prince’s Man by Deborah Jay

As no one else seems to have claimed today, I thought I would share a short review for the first in my Five Kingdoms series – short, but lovely.

 

What if the magic that can save your loved ones also condemns you to death_ (2)

This is the most recent review of 48 on Amazon UK, with an average star rating of 4.6*

5 stars

“I’m a great fan of a fantasy novel and this book is such a gripping read that I could hardly put it down. I thought the plot and unfolding of each character very imaginative and the authors writing style really allows you to visualise each character and draws you in to the story.

I bought the 2nd book immediately and hoping a 3rd book is on its way.”

Blurb

What if the magic that could save your loved ones condemns you to death?
Rakish royal spy, Rustam Chalice, loves his life the way it is, so when the kingdom he serves is threatened from within, he leaps into action. To his dismay the spymaster prince teams him up with an untouchable aristocratic assassin. And to make matters worse, she’s the most beautiful woman in the Five Kingdoms.
Plunged into a desperate journey over the mountains, the mismatched pair struggle to survive deadly wildlife, the machinations of a spiteful god—and each other. When Rustam discovers he has magic of his own, he is forced to question his identity, his sanity, and his loyalty to his prince. For in Tyr-en, all magic users are put to death.
The Prince’s Man is the first book in The Five Kingdoms epic fantasy series. If you like action, intrigue, and magic, spiced with a touch of romance, then you’ll love Deborah Jay’s vividly realised characters.

Buy THE PRINCE’S MAN HERE

Deborah Jay

Deborah Jay writes fantasy and urban fantasy featuring complex, quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.
Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she has time. Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many horses, and her complete inability to cook.
She has a dream day job riding, training and judging competition dressage horses and riders, and also writes books and magazine features on the subject under her professional name of Debby Lush.
A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, she started writing her first novel aged eight, and has never stopped. Her first published novel is epic fantasy, THE PRINCE’S MAN, first in the Five Kingdoms series, and winner of a UK Arts Board award. #2, THE PRINCE’S SON is also available with THE PRINCE’S PROTEGE due soon.
Her first urban fantasy, DESPRITE MEASURES, about a Scottish water sprite, is the opening novel of the CALEDONIAN SPRITE SERIES. The companion short story, SPRITE NIGHT is available FREE on most ebook retailers.

Sign up to Deborah’s newsletter HERE and receive a FREE short story in the Five Kingdoms series!

You can find Deborah on social media at:

Blog http://deborahjayauthor.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DeborahJay

Twitter https://twitter.com/DeborahJay2

Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/debbylush/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172608.Deborah_Jay

Amazon http://viewAuthor.at/DeborahJay

 

#$0.99 #SALE – THE PRINCE’S MAN, first in THE FIVE KINGDOMS #EpicFantasy series

Hi Marcia and all – waves from the UK.

I hope you all had a great Christmas? For me it’s all about joining up with the family and taking time off work without feeling guilty. The best thing is, after Church, my sister-in-law cooks the best ever goose with all the trimmings – a huge blessing as any of you that have read my bio will know that I can’t cook!!!

There was a tinge of sadness this year as this was our first Christmas without my father, who died in July at the grand age of 98, but my mother, at 97, is still with us 😀

I set up a WORLD WIDE SALE for the Christmas period, $0.99 (or the equivalent) for my award-winning first in my epic fantasy Five Kingdoms series, THE PRINCE’S MAN, and as it’s gathering pace, I’ve decided to let it run on into the new year. So until January 4th, if you haven’t already indulged, why not grab a copy at this tiny price?

New Year sale

Available at:      AMAZON       B&N        APPLE      KOBO

Please share!

 

#ExcerptWeek – The Spy and the Lady – a Five Kingdoms short story by @DeborahJay2 #EpicFantasy

THE FIVE KINGDOMS epic fantasy series (think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings) has a new entry!

To fill in some of the gap between books 1 and 2, THE PRINCE’S MAN and THE PRINCE’S SON, I have embarked on a series of short stories that I am giving away FREE to my mailing list subscribers.

THE SPY AND THE LADY is now available.

Ex-spy, Rustam Chalice, never could resist a lady in peril, and this one’s up to her pretty eyelashes.

Getting into the outlaws’ camp isn’t so tricky, but how come the rogues don’t seem that motivated by promise of a rich ransom? And why does the lady not appear enthusiastic about escaping?

Excerpt

“Unhand the lady, you ruffians!”

Was that pompous enough? Exiled spy, Rustam Chalice, slipped into the role of arrogant nobleman with the ease of donning a cloak. When he’d ridden into the forest clearing, he’d had nothing more on his mind than reaching a lower altitude before nightfall. Crossing paths with the motley group of armed men and their captive–a statuesque beauty—was sheer bad timing.

Or was it?

Perhaps the goddess hasn’t finished meddling with my life yet.

Rustam and the outlaws studied each other warily. On foot, the eight men presented a limited threat. Even so, Rustam’s pulse raced. The boredom of days of aimless wandering vanished in a heartbeat, and excitement zipped along his nerves for the first time since he’d been forced to abandon his old life.

A rescue attempt also promised a diversion to take his mind off a certain lady he would probably never see again.

Weapons drawn, several of the men edged toward Rustam. He flourished his sword randomly as discouragement. The magnificent black mare beneath him sidled away from the swishing weapon, and Rustam reassured her with a light touch of his hand. “Easy, Nightstalker,” he murmured. “I haven’t lost my mind, I promise.”

Two men slipped away between the straight pine trunks that rose to majestic heights above the mountainside. Another man grabbed the prisoner by one arm, as though he feared she might try to escape. Quite where he thought she would go, on foot, leagues from anywhere—not to mention the question of what she was doing here in the first place—puzzled Rustam.

One of the bandits, a particularly skinny specimen, stepped in front of the others. “And why should we do that?” he asked.

“I’ll run you through if you don’t, that’s why,” Rustam declared with another wild swing of his blade. “Your weapons are puny, and I am an expert swordsman.”

Rustam winced at his ridiculous claim, but he wanted a moment to think. He could ride away now, follow the group at a safe distance and take time to plan a rescue. Probably the sensible thing to do. But now the outlaws were aware of his presence, they would be on guard, making such an approach trickier.

Working from the inside—now that was more his style.

Nightstalker jigged nervously and bunched her hindquarters, readying a vicious kick intended to maim the two men creeping up behind her. Choice made, Rustam reined her to one side, breaking her concentration. The battle-trained mare’s hooves could be deadly from many directions, and Rustam didn’t want to anger the bandits by dispatching any of them. He wanted to get captured, not killed.

* * * * * *

If you want to read more, sign up to my (infrequent) newsletter HERE and download your FREE copy.

If you already subscribe, I will be delivering complementary copies soon.

About Deborah Jay

Deborah Jay writes fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring quirky characters and multi-layered plots.

Living mostly on the UK South coast, she also shares a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she can find time. Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many dressage horses, and her complete inability to cook.

Her debut novel, epic fantasy THE PRINCE’S MAN, won a UK Arts Board award and was an Amazon Top 100 Hot New Release.

You can also stalk her at:

http://deborahjayauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DeborahJay

https://twitter.com/DeborahJay2

http://www.pinterest.com/debbylush/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172608.Deborah_Jay

Amazon author page: http://viewAuthor.at/DeborahJay

 

 

 

Fantasy and the problem with Tolkien

castle of dreams

Painting: Sue Vincent

It has to be said that Tolkien causes problems. Quite apart from being so addictive that, once read, you are likely to go back and read the books again, you may never find anywhere quite as rich as  Middle Earth within the pages of another book.

Anyone whose introduction to fantasy is via The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, will have a fabulously detailed, multi-layered and multicultural world permanently established in their imagination. Especially if you go on to read The Silmarillion too and become aware of the rich complexity and authenticity of the languages, histories and mythologies he created as the backdrop for his world. Tolkien’s elves, orcs and wizards will quickly become the standard by which all others are judged. The sheer scope of the story means that just about every possible trope is used, and every mythical or magical species is covered, along with a goodly armoury of magical weapons and the central motif of the Ring of Power.

Is there any reason to read or to attempt to write fantasy any more? It is almost impossible to write high fantasy these days without being accused of stealing ideas from Tolkien. For aficionados of Middle Earth, it is even harder to read fantasy without drawing comparisons. While creating what is arguably the best fantasy ever, the author has also inadvertently ruined the very genre he brought to popularity.

Or has he?

Our teacher read The Hobbit to the class of eager listeners in junior school, but I did not read Lord of the Rings until I was in my teens. Even though the Narnia stories of C.S. Lewis were already so well-thumbed that the books were disintegrating, it was not until I read Tolkien that I heard of fantasy as a genre. There were only stories, fairytales, myths and legends. Oddly enough, that did not stop me from enjoying them all equally. I was reading tales of giants and talking trees, elves, trolls and goblins long before I came across hobbits. Although perfected by Tolkien, the lineaments of such characters were already drawn in my mind by the fairy-tales of early childhood. The quest is a familiar concept in myth and Excalibur is surely the most famous sword with which to prove kingship, even more so than Andúril, while the popular version of Merlin must surely outrank even Gandalf.

The first officially designated fantasy I read after Tolkien was Stephen Donaldson’s Lord Foul’s Bane, the opening book of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Lo and behold, the hero, Covenant, had a magical ring whose powers could save or damn the world. The ring was both feared and sought by the dark Lord Foul as Covenant traversed a land peopled with both characters and situations that could have been lifted directly from Tolkien. The parallels are striking in places, from the tree-city to the goblins, the extra-special horses to the healing vegetation. Yet the writer managed to make me forget all that by his creation of the Land. This is no Middle Earth… and the parallels that at first seemed gratingly familiar, soon diverged and developed into a rich tapestry of a tale with its own unique character and ‘feel’. Other fantasies followed, each creating a landscape and feeling entirely different from the last… and each sharing something with the reader that was unique in spite of a common heritage.

The truth is, we cannot blame it all on Tolkien. He himself drew heavily upon myth and legend, particularly the Norse myths. Most of the characters and storylines he uses so magnificently are familiar from our oldest tales. Even the Ring was not his idea. Odin, the Norse god, had a magic ring, although admittedly, Draupnir was an arm ring. Plato speaks of the Ring of Gyges that conferred invisibility on its wearer. Wagner’s Ring Cycle tells the story of a magical ring whose power resides in the ‘denial of love’ and can bring the entire world under subjugation. And every mythology has its Dark Lord in one form or another.

Fantasy is not just a way to escape reality for a while, it offers a means of exploring, understanding and explaining it. The battle between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is something we see played out on both the world stage and within our own natures every day. The sustaining qualities of the Quest, such as loyalty, endurance and vision, are those that serve us, while the betrayals and obstacles mirror our own. Just as stories reflect our own so do our own lives reflect the greater life around us. Just as we played at being grown-ups when we were children, fantasy allows the mind to experience a new mode of being in a symbolic landscape that can enrich our lives and present us with questions we might never otherwise consider. Without realising, we may learn much from a well-crafted tale.

Does it matter if it has been ‘done before’ no matter how brilliantly, when all our stories follow threads that lead back to the beginning of mankind’s fascination with storytelling? Stories have always taught through entertainment, by capturing the attention and imagination, engaging the emotions and settling themselves firmly in memory. Each tale appeals to something within us that answers with its own voice. Every storyteller brings something of themselves, something unique, to the tale.

#Win this bundle of #FANTASY books


This is a quick hijack of The Write Stuff for the fantasy readers amongst us…

How would you like to win this fabulous bundle of fantasy books? Oh, and it includes one of mine (The Prince’s Man).

You can enter the competition HERE, and also find free stuff from the authors of these books and more.

Competition runs until April 14th, but why hang around, go, enter now!

Lovely people, please share this competition using the buttons below, or any other way you care to use – the more entries the better!

#FREE gift – SPRITE NIGHT – a Caledonian Sprite short story #UrbanFantasy #ScottishHighlands

As a late Christmas (or early New Year) present, please help yourself to a FREE copy of my Caledonian Sprite short story, SPRITE NIGHT.

rsz_rsz_sprite_night_complete

If you have yet to meet sassy Cassie, the Scottish water sprite with a passion for the environment (not to mention the odd hunky Highlander), now is your chance.

rsz_desprite_measuresebook-3

This 8000 word story is a stand alone read, though it follows on from events in the full length novel DESPRITE MEASURES, described by one reviewer as ‘a unique eco-urban fantasy’.

So if you love the Scottish Highlands (yes, Marcia, men in kilts!), the environment, strong characters and a bit of magic, then bag a copy while it’s FREE this week.

Here’s a little taster…

The inn was typical of its type; old, creaky and in need of renovation, but warm with hospitality and a reputation for excellent food and choice of single malts. One of the more frustrating aspects of my human body is that consuming food or alcohol is a futile exercise; I can eat, but solid food needs disposing of—let’s not go there—and alcohol, whilst I can take pleasure in the taste, has no effect on my metabolism.

Companionship though—that I can, and do, enjoy.

I pushed open the swing doors to the lounge and glanced around. Most of the crowd were locals I’d come to know over the past few weeks, but a rather delectable-looking stranger sat in the snug beside the chimney. My body perked up with interest.

Right now, my DNA stores were high, and gathering more would be an indulgence, but this guy had the makings of a pleasing dalliance, with or without extra benefits. His shaggy brown hair melded into a luxuriant beard, above which shone a pair of the brightest blue eyes I’d seen in a long while. He was dressed in a heavy woollen sweater with a thick, quilted jacket and thermal beanie discarded beside him on the bench.

Never one to stand on ceremony, I sauntered across the room and put a hand on the chair facing him. A pleasant waft of pine aftershave tickled my nose, evoking images of wide open spaces and forest, meeting my approval. He nodded in response to my raised eyebrow, and I pulled the chair out, dragging it across the bare wooden floorboards with a squeal.

He winced. “Dear God, lass, d’ye like to torture your men even before ye’ve been introduced?”

Blurb

When Scottish water sprite, Cassie, joins an anti-fracking protest, she doesn’t expect to find herself at odds with a druid. But with time running out for the local environment she can’t afford to be distracted by the handsome hunk of a Highlander.

Intent on sabotage, Cassie is unprepared to be caught in the cross-fire of a magical battle. Can she avert catastrophe? Or will she become the very agency of an ecological disaster?

Download from Amazon,  or leave me a message below if you’d like a different format and I’ll send it to you directly.