Tempus Unbound by Janet & Chris Morris reviewed on Library of Erana

Review – Tempus Unbound #Fantasy – Janet Morris

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Review for Tempus Unbound

5 stars

This particular Tempus/Sacred Band book is a little different – for a start, it’s all from Tempus’ point of view, and we have only Tempus himself, Cime and Askelon from the former books. Don’t let this put you off, there’s a host of worthies – not least Mano the mercenary from the future and bad guys to rival anyone in Sanctuary.

Called to Lemuria, a strange citadel between the worlds, and times it’s a chance to right wrongs if only you can work out WHICH wrongs. Tempus is lonely, alone save for his petulant and truculent god. Who is who, and who needs whom? That’s one of the questions asked as Tempus fights an old enemy in a new and unfamiliar world. The future is dark, and war will out. Strife is all and king of all. And so it was in his own time, and in this possible future. We see our hero struggle with technology he can barely imagine and his friends see power and courage they can barely comprehend. Gods, magic and tech fight as Tempus tries to save his sister, and save the world from his deadly sister. Choices are made, and regrets are put aside in the names of love and courage. Ideals are questioned, and truth is harsh.

As usual, the characters are supremely crafted, with a richness that brings emotion and a real sense of reality. In Morris’s world, anything is possible, and the reader believes it.  These aren’t easy reads, they have a high level of violence, sex and themes that require the reader to engage their brain. But this, and the other Sacred Band/Tempus books are worth the time, and the brainpower. Rarely does a reader find a world so rich, or characters so enchanting, or writing so lyrical.  The tempo of the book is a call to war, a call to stand for what is good, and a call to give all.

Heartily recommend this – even if you’re unfamiliar with the characters, and setting Tempus Unbound takes the reader on a journey from ancient times, to a future and it’s a thrilling journey and is a great intro to Tempus and his worlds.

 

Andrew P. Weston reviews the new Author’s Cut edition of Tempus Unbound by Janet & Chris Morris for Amazon UK.

Format: Kindle Edition

     Tempus the Black – Lord of Time, Commander of the Sacred Band, Avatar of Enlil the storm god – enters Lemuria on New Year’s Eve, not quite sure why his deity has seen fit to place him there.
Once inside, he becomes a guest of Chiara – the Evening Star – and is invited to a sumptuous feast where he is greeted by a number of other visitors who, as it transpires, are from different epochs of earth’s history. Mingled in amongst them is none other than Aškelon of Meridian, Lord of Dreams and entelechy of the Seventh Sphere; onetime husband of Tempus’ sister, Cime.
While the majority of the group believes they are there to determine the fate of billions in the present and future by undoing mistakes & manipulating events in the past, Tempus suspects events are being staged, for Cime had disappeared from the land of dreams, along with her deadly rods. Thus begins the hunt that sees the storm god’s avatar transported to present day – and 22nd Century – New York.
Tempus in New York! Can you imagine?
The culture shock itself leads to some rather imaginative confrontations. And that’s only the beginning, for there is an Archmage and his minions to kill.
Enmity is guaranteed. Combat is inevitable. Bloodletting abounds.
Along the way, old wounds are opened; long held grudges come to the fore; bitter lessons are learned; eternal stories come full circle; and Tempus discovers just how intimately his affairs are interwoven to that of his god.
Having read all of Tempus’ adventures, I have to say this is one of my favorites. Fast paced, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable, it adds a clever twist to his epic narrative and keeps his story as fresh today as it’s always been.
     Tempus Unbound, #2 in the Sacred Band Book series,  is available in a new Author’s Cut Edition from Perseid Press  in digital, trade paper, and hardback formats on Amazon worldwide, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere else….
     And if you’re not yet a fan of the Sacred Band books and series, here’s a thumbnail to whet your appetite:
“Janet Morris, Tempus (1987), and, with Chris Morris, Tempus Unbound (1989), The Sacred Band (2010).

“A fantasy series about the Sacred Band of Stepsons, an elite army modeled on the fourth-century B.C.E. Sacred Band of Thebes. The stories explore the fraught personal relationships of mixed hetero- and homosexual troops, only sometimes paired, as they fight for their commander, the immortal Tempus. Morris includes archaeological and historical details, from physical items to social practices, religion, and philosophy, to create a fantasy world that is, in many ways, more historically accurate than many popular accounts of antiquity.” — Robert W. Cape, Jr, in Classical Traditions in Science Fiction, Brett M. Rogers & Benjamin Eldon Stevens, eds.,  Oxford University Press

Book Spotlight: The Carnelian Throne by Janet Morris. Author’s Cut Edition

Book Spotlight – The Carnelian Throne – Science Fiction/Spec Fic/Fantasy

see original post at: https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/book-spotlight-the-carnelian-throne-science-fictionspec-ficfantasy/comment-page-1/#comment-1604

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Title: The Carnelian Throne

Author: Janet Morris

Genre: allegorical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, political fiction

Main character description (short).

In a far and dystopian future, three rulers seeking to make truth of prophecy explore the “shores of which none are empowered to speak,” a forbidden continent where humanity no longer rules.

Synopsis:

Brief Excerpt 250 words:

“Gate!” he bellowed over the storm, his dripping lips at my ear. The deluge had made us sparing of words. Under leathers soaked to thrice their weight, I shivered in spasms. Arms clutched to my sides, I stared into the rain. The driven sheets slashed me for my audacity. Lightning flared, illuminating the riverbank white. A moment later, the bright noise cracked through my head. The hillock trembled.

Over the gate danced the lightning. Its crackling fingers quested down thick-crossed slabs of iron, seared flesh. Emblazoned as they tumbled were those six-legged amphibians, their streamered tails lashing, scaled, fangful heads thrown back in dismay. I saw their afterimage: beryl and cinnabar, aglow upon the storm. Then their charred remains splashed into oblivion, spun away on the fast current.

“Down!” One man shouted, the other shoved me, and as I staggered to kneel in the sedges, the god that washed this land shook it, grumbling. I crouched on my hands and knees on the bucking sod, between them. Little protection could they offer up against shaking earth and searing sky, not even for themselves, without divorcing themselves from the reality they had come here to explore. And that they would not do.

Somewhere far off the weather struck earth again. We knelt on a fast-declining shore. On our right and left, steeps ascended, cresting in a plume of dense rain forest. In that moment of illumination the whole river valley and the gate set into the river stood bared of shadow. Six times the height of a man was that gate.

Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?

The Carnelian Throne makes you think as it explores the revenge of nature upon humanity once we have despoiled land and sea, and what our manipulation of genetics may mean for the future as the three foretold seek truth in prophecy where men no longer rule.

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Links etc.

Kindle On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XDC8Y4K/

Hardcover on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Carnelian-Throne-Silistra-Quartet/dp/099775835X/

Trade paper on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Carnelian-Throne-Silistra-Quartet/dp/0997758341/

Hardcover on Barnes and Noble

Paperback on Barnes and Noble

Nook Edition

The Silistra Quartet on Black Gate Magazine: https://www.blackgate.com/2016/03/19/vintage-treasures-the-silistra-quartet-by-janet-morris/

Google Books: https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Carnelian_Throne.html?id=NJcIMQAACAAJ&source=kp_cover

About the Author:  Best selling author Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 30 novels. She wrote the bestselling Silistra Quartet in the 1970s, including High Couch of Silistra, The Golden Sword, Wind from the Abyss, and The Carnelian Throne. This quartet had more than four million copies in Bantam print alone, and was translated into German, French, Italian, Russian and other languages. In the 1980s, Baen Books released a second edition of this landmark series. This third edition is the Author’s Cut edition, newly revised by the author for Perseid Press. Most of her fiction work has been in the fantasy and science fiction genres, although she has also written historical and other novels. Morris has written, contributed to, or edited several book-length works of nonfiction, as well as papers and articles on nonlethal weapons, developmental military technology and other defense and national security topics.

Andrew P. Weston meets Mighty Thor Jr

See the original post at: https://mightythorjrs.wordpress.com/2017/01/11/guest-blog-welcome-to-my-world-by-andrew-weston-author-of-the-ix-and-exordium-of-tears/

Mighty Thor Jr. Guest Blog: Welcome To My World by Andrew Weston author of The IX, and Exordium of Tears

As part of my author guest blog series I am proud to present another guest blog spot. Andrew P Weston the author of The IX, and Exordium of Tears has been kind enough to write a guest blog post for MightyThor JRS today. I am very excited and I would like to thank Andrew and Perseid Press for the opportunity to host this Guest Blog. 

The IX

by Andrew P Weston

is Out NOW!

and

Exordium of Tears

by Andrew P Weston

is available now!

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So go get your copies!

http://www.theperseidpress.com/


Welcome To My World

By Andrew Weston

When it comes to writing, one of my “things” is what most people refer to as – World Building – the process of constructing an imaginary framework in which to set your epic adventure. What’s a shame is the fact that, in many cases, authors don’t put enough effort into creating a real setting for their stories, something that contains sufficient coherent qualities such as history, geography, ecology and suchlike. Yet, when you think about it, this is a key task, especially for novelists like me who concentrate on science fiction and fantasy.

So, how do I do it?

I usually begin my process from the top down. What does that mean? Basically, I devise a general overview of the world in which I’m going to set my creation and then I start working inwards. Here’s a broad example of what I did for the IX Series:

I started by considering where the world – Arden, the main location where adventure begins – would be situated.

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What type of sun would it have? Who would be its inhabitants and what was their history? What level of technology did they possess? What geographical and topographical features does Arden have how does this affect things like climate and skin tone?

Once I’d determined those facets, I started to add smaller details in layers – or as I refer to them – modules.
Personally, I devise a number of sketches from which I can create maps, bases or starships, etc, and continually refine them as I go along until I have something concrete.

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That might sound a lot of trouble to go to, but it gives me a sense of scale from which I can later determine other factors like timing and provisions and equipment, (especially important if different groups of protagonists and antagonists clash at varying venues). I also find this method allows me to build well-integrated societies or storylines, which in turn, reflects a superior level of quality and realism within the narrative itself.

This is another vital ingredient we writers have to ensure. We want the picture we create in the readers minds to be as vivid as possible. You can’t do that unless you create a solid foundation for them to recreate our vision in their own minds.

That’s why I go so far as to construct actual languages, flora and fauna, behavioral and migratory patterns. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t drown the reader in a deluge of detail, but I have lots of elements ready – at my beck and call, so to speak – so I can add the little touches here and there that gradually fills the narrative out and makes it sparkle.
Imagine, for a moment, how that helps the reader to connect to, and bring your imaginary world to life.

I like to think of my stories as rough diamonds. To begin with, I’ve got an absolute gem of an idea to work with. But it’s rough and lackluster. I need to examine it closely and buff it up with world building. Decide what to engrave and shape, and where to spend time grinding and polishing. As it gets into the final stages, I make sure each facet gleams and that there’s a sharp definite edge to the final cut, a depth and perspective you won’t see until you’ve viewed all the angles.

One of the main ingredients in my imaginary worlds is the “keep it real” ethic. I’m fortunate to be a Master of Astronomy. So, when I devise my fictional setting, I base futuristic technology on the very latest theoretical science.

And think about what’s been in the news over the past year or so: teleportation was the stuff of pure science fiction not so long ago, but now, scientists can transport quantum packets of information through the ether with remarkable clarity and accuracy; we can levitate objects; have artificial air scrubbers that make the foulest environment breathable; there are engines under development that researchers are sure will punch us to Mars in a matter of weeks, not months.
All these things help me stretch the imagination that little bit further, so my readers can seriously consider…“Yes, the citizens of Arden – thousands of years in advance of our own – use everyday constructs that we are only just delving into. I can believe that.”
Once you establish such a connection, you’ve got your readers hooked…
Then it’s just a matter of reeling them in.

How to do that?

Aha – we’ll chat next time in – Keeping Things Balanced 🙂


Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.

An astronomy and law graduate, he is the creator of the international number one bestselling, IX Series and Hell Bound, (A novel forming part of Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society, the British Science Fiction Association and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.

Author Website: http://www.andrewpweston.com/


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Exordium of Tears

by Andrew P Weston

Fight or die.

That simple yet brutal reality is the tenet by which the refugees from Earth – including the fabled lost 9th Legion of Rome; the 5thCompany, 2nd Mounted Cavalry Unit; and the Special Forces Anti-Terrorist Team – were forced to live by while the Horde menace existed. Believing that the threat is over, the survivors now yearn to settle down, start families, and reclaim the lives stolen from them.

But such aspirations might remain beyond their reach, for a shadow looms on the rose-tinted horizon of new beginnings.

The release of the re-genesis matrix has done much to foster a restoration of exuberance across Arden. Along with a resurgence in floral and faunal diversity comes the results of splicing the Ardenese and human genomes: transmutation. A metamorphosis of stunning magnitude that not only affects the living, but those still is stasis as well.

Recognizing the emergence of a new hybrid species, the Architect – the arcane AI construct tasked with the preservation of the Ardenese race – responds by unlocking previously hidden and inaccessible areas of the city. It also releases an archive of sealed state secrets. Such revelations are eagerly perused, whereupon a shocking discovery is made.

Prior to the fall, it was common knowledge amongst the Senatum (the highest levels of Arden’s government) that not all the rabid Horde had joined in the rampage across the stars toward Arden.

Realizing that the peril still exists, the newly reformed administration elects to respond in earnest. Existing resources are utilized, suitable candidates are chosen, and a flotilla of ships is sent out to secure, quarantine, and reclaim the outer colonies.

A mammoth and hazardous undertaking. And nowhere more so than at the planet from where the outbreak was known to have originated – Exordium – for there, the ancient Horde are not only supremely evolved and highly organized, but are capable of a level of lethal sophistication, the likes of which has never been witnessed before.

It is into this kiln of incendiary potential that the cream of Arden’s fighting forces is deployed.

Worlds are torn asunder, suns destroyed, and star systems obliterated. Yes, tragedy is forged, in a universe spanning conflict which proves once again that…

Death is only the beginning of the adventure.

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

ALSO AVAILABLE:

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The IX

by Andrew P Weston

Roman legionaries, far from home, lost in the mists of Caledonia.

A US cavalry company, engaged on a special mission, vital to the peace treaty proposed by Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln.

A twenty-first century Special Forces unit, desperate to prevent a nuclear catastrophe.

From vastly different backgrounds, these soldiers are united when they are snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing. Thinking they may have been granted a reprieve, imagine their horror when they discover they have been transported to a failing planet on the far side of the galaxy, where they are given a simple ultimatum. Fight or die. Against all odds, this group of misfits manages to turn the tide against a relentless foe, only to discover the true cost of victory might exact a price they are unwilling to pay.

How far would you be willing to go to stay alive?

The IX.

Sometimes, death is only the beginning of the adventure.

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

Estri of Silistra Interviewed

Originally published by  Library of Erana at: https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/character-interview-number-thirty-eight-estri-of-silistra/

Character Interview Number Thirty-Eight – Estri of Silistra

Name (s) Estri Hadrath diet Estrazi

Age: Three hundred forty Silistran years old

Please tell us a little about yourself.

First, I must say that your language is difficult, not one intuitive to me. Nevertheless I shall try to answer you in your own tongue. Excuse my syntax, and I will tell you what I can.

Once I ruled the greatest house of pleasure in the civilized stars. When I reached my majority of three hundred years, I undertook a quest to find my father at the behest of my dead mother. So I left my position as Well-Keepress in my beloved Astria, and nothing has been the same for me since. All I thought I knew, I now question. So many truths proved false, so many assumptions groundless, so much love lost and found. I have greater powers now than I once did, but wisdom can triumph over power, and color all life anew.

I have been many things: aristocrat, outcast, picara, slave, ruler. I have served powers greater than my own, and baser than my soul could stand. I have had everything, lost everything, and gained knowledge by seeking love along the way. Doubtless I am wiser now than when I began my journey out of Astria, having learned that true wisdom comes only to a loving heart. But where love lies, there hatred takes root, and envy, and fear, and dangers undreamt. And yet, love is the key to every mystery: to life and death and creation itself. For without love, what are we, but a brief glimmer seen against eternal night? Where are we in this combustible universe? What arms hold us safe? What we learn, exploring, brings us home to ourselves, to our own loves, our own hearts. Creation plays no favorites, seeking only change. Love can surmount all, I once believed as a naive girl, and believe it yet.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Copper-skinned, copper-haired, with a body to please the gods.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Silistra’s moral code I still hold as mine: my world was wrecked and sundered by unbridled lusts for power. We who remain must rebuild not only our population, but our faith that whatever man destroys, nature can put to rights . . . given time.

Would you kill for those you love? I have done so, and killed that I myself survive.

Would you die for those you love? Would that I had the chance. To die for something is an honor.  To die for nothing is a cruelty greater than any other.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses? Ha. You must not know my people, to ask such a thing. Some say my strengths are in my blood, that I was bred to this battle between the spirit and the flesh, between man and woman, between life ineffable and life everlasting, a battle begun long before I was born. Some say my coming was devoutly to be wished, and others say I and those who love me are travesties, a flaw in the natural order. I myself say that life and love are their own justification, where passion rules.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why? What entitles you to know my heart, my mind, my soul? Shall I feed you platitudes, disarming truisms and children’s tales? Of my beloveds, you need to know very little, perhaps only one thing: “We are all bound, the greatest no less than the meanest,” as my lover says. I prize the sky and earth and every creature upon it with a love fierce enough to defeat even the foolishness of man.

Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions? I have whatever walks or crawls or slithers or swims, slinks or flies free in our air. We are part of our world’s nature, sometimes its victims, but never its masters. I have friends among the honest killers of the wild, for all kill to eat and thrive and risk their own lives so their offspring will survive. Sometimes I ride on the backs of those who roam the plains or stalk their prey, or live cheek by jowl with them; sometimes not. But they are not mine any more or less than I am theirs.

Do you have a family? Tell us about them. You haven’t the time to hear my story here and now. I’ve written some of it; look there to see my mother, my father, my lost child, my relations, deadly every one. My bloodline is old: to live so long, to prowl the universe and shower in star’s breath, my family well learned the wisdom of survival, when to destroy and when to succor.

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behavior? How do you think it influences you? Where I live, some can survive for hundreds of years or more. When my mother bade me seek my father, she sent me on a trek more dangerous than my young and foolish self understood. Before then, I thought that men and women were put on the ground to reproduce, to conserve, not to destroy. To claim my heritage, I learned hard lessons — about the nature of life, and the degree to which we are all controlled by the wisdom of our sex. And thus did I blindly go forth to claim my inheritance, thinking all I had to do was ask and the universe would serve my pleasure. I learned otherwise, in the doing; that the world turns by a greater will than mine; that reality is the child of biology, that all things come into being by strife; these truths I learned by battling against men, against women, and sometimes against the gods themselves.

I learned many lessons about what men will do to win, and what women will do, and why. I learned that men who punish men and women lust to rule all; that women who punish men and women lust after dominion, and how dangerous both can be.

From childhood’s days to these, I have striven to keep my wits well about me, and shape my own fate.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. In my three hundredth years, I was known as the most beautiful and exotic courtesan in the civilized stars. I commanded a great price.

Tell Us About Your World

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live. Silistra is a planet in the Bipedal Federate Group.  Our main exports are our life-extending serums. Our men, in their romance with machines and technology, warred until our planet and its ecology was all but destroyed and life on the surface became nearly impossible. One result of this war was that conception became very difficult, and those who could conceive a child had power. Then did our leaders develop the life-extending serum which gave us some hope of not becoming extinct.  For thousands of years, a few survivors languished in underground shelters, while women took power away from the men that had nearly destroyed us all.

When the time came that Silistrans could live above the ground, we instituted the Well system, where a fertile woman could come to find a man who could impregnate her, and the nature of our culture, under the guidance of our spiritual leaders, became life-conserving, rather than life-destroying.

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? If so do you follow one of them? Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behavior. On Silistra, some believe in gods, some are descended from gods, some meet with gods, face to face. Whether or not we believe in gods, the gods who made us take a hand in our fates. We are a culture that values those skills by which an individual mind can shape the future. Our dhareners, interpreters of the will of those gods who walk with mankind, guide our development by choosing our paths and making our laws.

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? I have been to places on Silistra that are thought mythical and mystical, where few outsiders have ever been; I have gone to the places where gods hold sway, and seen what few Silistrans have ever seen. I have traveled among the stars, and farther.

What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.) On civilized Silistra, our government is controlled by our dhareners, our spiritual leaders, and by the Well-Keepresses, hereditary matriarchs, or by the cahndors, hereditary patriarchs. But our governments have no simple rule by the lowest common denominator as seen on other worlds, nor the rule by wealth, nor are we controlled by a theocracy as you will know the term. The composition of our high councils varies, depending on where one lives or travels. Like our government or not, it has kept us safe from the depredations of plutocracy and the tyranny of mercantilists and their machines. Some parts of Silistra are timocratic, some oligarchic, and some, such as the Wells, are controlled by a hereditary matriarchy or patriarchy.

Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another?We are few, and some are black, brown, copper-colored, red or white. On Silistra, what is in the heart, the mind, and the bloodline determines status, not the color of skin.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. Silistran myths are predominantly memories, from before the fall of man. My favorite is the legend of Se’keroth, and if you read my writings, you will see why.

We also have a divination system, called Ors Yris-tera, that guides some of us and helps us forecast the Weathers of Life.  But on Silistra, any legend that survives is a memory of truths from the past or a portent of the future. Or both.

What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? What item would you not be able to live without? Most of us live without technology, as you know it, by choice. The off-worlders who visit try to seduce us with their machines of ease and speed, but we have lived upon and below the surface of a world ravaged by technology for too long to be fooled. True strength lies in the one’s mind and heart. If we wish to do more than a person should, the old weapons and tools of our fallen past still exist in our ‘hides,’ where those who lust for such things can still find them.

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links:

High Couch of Silsitra:         https://www.amazon.com/High-Couch-Silistra-Quartet-Book-ebook/dp/B01B1M1JBY/

The Golden Sword…………. https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Sword-Silistra-Quartet-Book-ebook/dp/B01FCMA7LM/
The Silistra Quartet consists of four books in chronological order:  High Couch of Silistra, The Golden Sword, Wind from the Abyss, and The Carnelian Throne. The first two books are now available in hardcover, trade paper, and e-book “Author’s Cut” editions from Perseid Press.  The final two books will be available from Perseid in 2017.

The Bantam and Baen editions of the Silistra Quartet are out of print.

Author name: Janet Morris

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

https://sacredbander.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Janet-Morris/e/B001HPJJB8/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
https://www.blackgate.com/2016/03/19/vintage-treasures-the-silistra-quartet-by-janet-morris/

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Epicstream reviews Exordium of Tears

First published at: http://epicstream.com/reviews/Book-Review-Exordium-of-Tears-The-IX-Series-Book-2-by-Andrew-P-Weston

 

Book Review: ‘Exordium of Tears’ (The IX Series Book 2) by Andrew P. Weston

Author ThumbnailHannah Anderson –March 01, 2016
Science fiction and fantasy are all about expanding new horizons and augmenting the knowledge we currently hold. It is only fitting, then, that a new first for myself as an Epicstream reviewer come in the package of a fantasy and science fiction novel. This is the first time I have had the pleasure to read both the beginning novel of a series and its direct sequel, and that it is The IX Series by Andrew P. Weston makes that first all the sweeter.
In my review of The IX, I mentioned it is a refreshing blend of the classic elements of science fiction and fantasy. In Exordium of Tears, Weston continues this tradition of mixing the best of the best with new, thrilling storylines. The sequel follows the majority of the characters from The IX as they move toward a more democratic, established society in the wake of a long battle with the Horde, enemies with a surprising origin. This development into a more civilized way of life eventually leads the characters into interstellar travel as they attempt to resettle and reshape colonies affected by the Horde.
Although the novel itself is satisfying and fulfilling as its own work, I highly recommend readers first take in The IX before reading Exordium of Tears. As a reader who did so, I found the experience enriching. The sequel has enough nods to the first novel in The IX Series that understanding the events of The IX is helpful to reading Exordium of Tears, but it never felt like a rehash of the first novel, nor like Weston was trying too hard to expand the universe and characters he built up in The IX. The progression of the story was understandable and logically follows from the conclusion of The IX, and the same themes of honor, duty, and the survival of humanity that made The IX a favorite of mine are also present in Exordium of Tears.
One of the best aspects of reading Exordium of Tears is the way that Weston allows characters who once had minor or even passing roles in The IX a chance to flourish in new and unexpected ways. Several characters are far more prominent in Exordium of Tears, and while this growth is certainly necessary for the success of the novel, Weston writes his characters in such a natural way that the growth is never forced.
Weston doesn’t hide his characters’ flaws or mistakes, which makes them all the more admirable: they’re allowed to be human. This humanity is explored and expanded, almost to the breaking point, by the circumstances the characters encounter. These situations are neither artificial, nor forced – they’re logical consequences of decisions made or actions taken by the characters, and thus more dramatic than any deus ex machina set-up more mainstream books may employ.
The attention to detail of both the ancient Earth culture of some characters and the new, expanding culture in Exordium of Tears is astounding. Plausible explanations are provided for scientific advances, problems are solved thoroughly but realistically, and conflicts occur that seem organic and understandable. While some characters are neither sympathetic nor likeable, they only enhance the world that Weston has built in The IX Series. Relationships between characters, be they platonic or romantic, blossom in a way that feels genuine, and the perspectives that Weston shifts through to provide a multifaceted mode of delivery never complicate the overarching story or its themes. Weston maintains a precarious balancing act, an act which pays in dividends as the story of Exordium of Tears unfolds.
As Weston continues to expand The IX Series, I look forward to following the progress of the world he has crafted. If Exordium of Tears is any indication of the growth Weston will continue to undergo as a writer, the story will only get better from here.

Janet Morris and Chris Morris interview on the collaborative process in literature

Originally published in Uviart.  Thanks. Uvi Poznansky, for this incisive interview

http://uviart.blogspot.com/p/guest-interview.html

Guest

Interview about Collaboration:
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.”
with
Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Authors of
And more books
So said Shakespeare’s Polonius of Hamlet, in Hamlet. So say Janet Morris and Chris Morris, lifetime collaborators in words, music, and strategy. I cornered this elusive pair to ask some hard questions about how they do what they do, and why.
Janet and Chris, writing is known to be a solitary art. How do you two manage to write seamlessly together, so much so that no one can tell which of you wrote what?
Uvi, Apropos of collaboration, Shakespeare’s Touchstone said in As You Like It, “We that are true lovers run into strange capers.” As Chris and I often do.
But first let us give you our view of collaboration as an art form. For centuries, two or more people have been collaborating on written works under one person’s name. History is rife with collaborations, announced and unannounced.
Some examples? Shakespeare had several close collaborators, none so famous in his own right as Christopher Marlowe, who seems to us to have been his closest collaborator, due to similarity in each man’s work and style. We’ve written of these two collaborating in various tales in our Heroes in Hell series. J, the Yahwist, first writer of the Old Testament, also had many collaborators. Even before Biblical times, collaboration was common: the Greek mythic cycles were written not only by Homer, but by many writers; whether these collaborators wrote at the same time, or followed one another, is immaterial: these were true collaborations. As literature became a business, not merely an art form for the collective memory of the human race, the custom and marketing strategy of putting one — almost always male — name on a work became an unwritten convention, pushing anonymous contributors into the background. Yet they often can be found, peeking out from history’s shadows, unsung and influential.
But these questions are about us, collaborating today: while we’re alive, we can answer what questions we choose, rather than leaving posterity to wonder; be as forthcoming as we wish about life and love and art. For us, life and love and art are one. We have always written together, first song melodies and lyrics, later novels — but always with one of us taking the lead, the other in support. In our early days, Janet supported Chris’ music, and Chris supported Janet’s prose. Since we met in 1966, we spent years smoothing the rough edges of our collaborative process, learning to focus on the art in question, not the artist, and thereby improving both. If we write seamlessly, it is because we deliberate about every thought, every phrase, every word, every rhythm, yet strive never to lose the shape of the initial conception. Our prose is rhythmic, our plots inventive, our song lyrics carry messages because we are keenly aware that a person has only so much time in life, and must use that time wisely.  When we begin a new piece of prose or piece of music, we start with a clear idea of what that story or song must say. We vigorously weed out irrelevancies and polish our idea until it is bright, clear, shining in our hearts and in our minds. When writing prose, the mind’s eye is where the visualization first takes place; when we write music, it is the ear which first carries the message to the brain.
All art is communication of ideas. We have co-written op/eds and policy pieces for governments, strategic plans for military, academic, and industrial users, as well as fiction. Writing nonfiction has taught us when and how to be sparing of words. Chris has been the voice of a TV station and products as well as our music. Now we are exploring the close relationships between music and writing fiction by producing audio books. The Sacred Band (audio edition) took a year to complete. Because the story’s characters live deep in our hearts and first drew breath in the 20th century, we took great pains to ensure that the narration remains true to the characters, who have evolved over decades and millions of words. Narration is only one breath away from literary exposition.
For each art form, our process is the same: one of us begins the effort with a title, a musical passage, a topic or an idea, or a clearly-stated purpose. Once the title and the purpose of the piece are agreed, the process of perfecting story and rhythm — yes, even fiction should have its rhythms, its beats — is sometimes begun by one or the other. Often, when a day’s work is completed by one, the other adds a voicing, a suggestion, recognizes a lost facet or missed opportunity, clarifies whatever is unclear; changes are agreed, and at the end of the day, we are sitting together, reading or playing the work aloud and finishing what the morning began. In music or prose, we never continue drafting or recording a long piece of work until we’re both happy with what we’ve done previously. If later in the evolution of the piece an element needs to be included that was omitted or unrecognized in the work as we began it, we go back and make those changes. Some recent examples of this process can be seen in our Heroes in Hell series,
For instance, Chris began Babe in Hell (a story in Rogues in Hell) with the idea of a baby and Solomon reprising the famous Biblical story, albeit in Hell. To Hell Bent in Dreamers in Hell Chris immediately added the quip “And twice on Sadderdays.” Once we’d named the play which is the centerpiece of the story, Janet added the flayed skins of heroes to be used as props. But sometimes, in longer works, we can’t recall who authored what lines. In “Words” in Poets in Hell, working on the first paragraph, Janet asked Chris to supply the crucial word: “Words are the what? of the mind” Janet asked. Chris said “mortar.” So the line now reads “Words are the mortar of the mind.” And so it goes, a natural give and take, sometimes contentious, often strenuous, always fascinating.
Our process is not quick. We’ve taken years to do a book such as I, the Sun; we say The Sacred Band (TSB) took eighteen months, but if one includes the research and discussion time before the first word was written, TSB culminates years of effort to crystallize that story so we could then write it. In this way, we please ourselves, and have pleased many readers and listeners as well.
You who know our body of work are now wondering why one name appears on so many of the books or musical compositions. For now, suffice it to say that publishers think readers want a work crafted by an individual, preferably a male (unless the work is a romance or a book about women in society).
Now that you have told us how you write together, answer this harder question: Why?
Why write together? A collaborator provides perspective, a broader view; a universality that one mind, male or female, often cannot attain. For centuries such collaborations were known only behind the scenes:  the woman or man who was the editor, co-creator of ideas, first reader, was the power behind the throne, unnamed, a secret presence. So how do we decide whose name goes on a work when only one name appears? If one writer drives the work individually, or if a work is best read as the product of male or female, we so credit it. For this reason, we have several times used male pseudonyms when selling a book to a publisher for a particular market.
As you point out, the two of you haven’t always published with joint bylines. How did your first official collaborations come about?
Our first official collaborations in song music and lyrics preceded our collaborations in books and stories by about a decade. Although Janet received some writing credits on The Christopher Morris Band (MCA 1977) record album, and High Couch of Silistra was published under the byline ‘Janet Morris’ in that same year, not until 1984 was the first fantasy fiction story, “What Women Do Best,” published with the byline ‘Chris and Janet Morris’ in Wings of Omen, (Ace, 1984). And that occurred only with editor Bob Asprin grumbling that ‘now everybody’s going to want to do this in Thieves’ World®.’”
If Janet hadn’t been a canonical contributor to the series at that time, we wouldn’t have gotten permission for the dual byline. And sure enough, other spouses and collaborators long relegated to the background began appearing in Thieves’ World volumes and other places.
Subsequently, we signed a multi-book contract with Jim Baen, one of the caveats being dual authorship for some titles, but not all. We delivered those books, including The 40-Minute War, M.E.D.U.S.A, City at the Edge of Time, Tempus Unbound, and Storm Seed with dual authorship and Jim published them that way.
This in turn led to other joint book contracts, including but not limited to Outpassage (1988), Threshold (1990), Trust Territory (1992), The Stalk (1994), as well as several books by single-author male pseudonyms.
Nevertheless, publishers generally still wanted single male names on adventure or nonfiction or ‘serious books’ and female names on romance books, so the market continued to conform to its preference for single-writer bylines.
A book with the name ‘Janet Morris’ was still worth more to a publisher than a book with ‘Janet Morris and Chris Morris’ as listed co-authors. So we created male pseudonyms and these books commanded substantial advances in markets formerly closed to us. In the minds of publishers then, and perhaps readers, a story told by a single male was preferable, but even a tale told by a woman was preferable to a tale told by one woman and one man. We set our sites on this ox, and set off to gore it. And might have succeeded, as male/female co-authorship became more commonplace, but our brainchild “nonlethal weapons” intervened, taking us out of the fiction marketplace for nearly two decades. In that interval, Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock, another writer at the literary agency which handles us, wrote War and Anti-war with his wife Heidi Toffler, insisting her name appear this time as co-author. The revolution had begun in earnest among writers with enough clout to enforce their wishes.
Do you believe that putting a man’s name or a woman’s name on a book effects who will read that book?
We experimented, as did other writers and publishers, with putting different names on books. Sometimes Janet wrote with other male or female writers, to see if the ‘Janet Morris’ brand could be transferred as publishers looked for ways to turn writers into franchises, as was done with Robert Ludlum, Stephen King, Tom Clancy, etc. But when a better writer is paired with a lesser writer, quality may suffer, and even honest writers trying to accommodate one another may lose the consistency of purpose, passion, and voice that a single writer or a self-chosen pair of writers can achieve.
The ‘brand name writer’ bias may then kick in, causing readers to buy only books written by the individuals or pairs of writers they already enjoy, not the franchised producers of subsidiary works or ‘as told to’ books.
As for the ‘gender’ bias in literature, at present this is still a real and strong force. Men looking for adventure fantasy or science fiction or military books are less likely to buy a book written by a woman; women with a strong allegiance to women’s rights and women’s issues are less likely to buy a book by a man or co-written by a man.
So the issue of whether a man’s name or a woman’s name goes on a book may be inextricably linked to subject as well as story, insight, and prose quality.
You’ve both written under single-author pseudonyms, always choosing a single male. Why did you do that? Do you still do it? If, so, why or why not?
We did this to break out of the science fiction/fantasy ghetto, into the mainstream, in days when those genres had a more limited market than today.
Do we still do it? No.
In actuality, our body of work allows us to write what we wish under either or both our names. For instance, we’re writing a novel about Rhesos of Thrace — as is our wont, this book has a Homeric feel, a purport that takes the Iliad for true, but focuses on a single character from that story and his later adventures. This book is a true novel — one part mythical realism, one part dark fantasy, one part heroic fiction in the literary sense, and one part a historical representation of the mythos of that character. We plan a new Sacred Band of Stepsons novel, which requires very specific voices and explores the hero-cult as a fait accompli, a subject fascinating us.
But if we were to undertake a contemporary story dealing with modern politics (sexual, racial, governmental and corporate), we’d consider writing such a book under a new male pseudonym, to allow us complete freedom of what we’d say and how we’d say it, because the truths behind these topics are brutal and unwelcome to those who think revisionist history will solve all the problems inherent in modern society and the human condition. Which condition is, of course, the only fit subject for fiction.
What are the benefits and debits of collaboration so far as process, not marketing, is concerned?
If a pair entering into a collaboration sets ground rules, defines story elements and shares a joint preoccupation with the characters, two hearts, two sets of eyes and two sets of ears impart an enhanced perspective, powering the creation of characters spun from utmost reality, characters perhaps more fully realized than a single mind might contrive to make them. In a pair made up of one male and one female writer, the native intelligence of both sexes is present in great measure, bringing a universal verisimilitude. The process of reaching truth and clarity for characters and story may have uncomfortable moments for one or both writers, but facing those places in the soul where one hesitates to look is the true purpose of fiction — to portray the world through a temperament (or two, or three).
What advice would you give to other collaborators about creating and marketing their joint works?
If two collaborators each have a previous body of work, then once both acknowledge parity, a new book can begin taking shape. If one writer is better known or better at structure or at lyric, then play to those strengths. Do not show this book to third parties, or discuss it with others until both writers are completely certain of every nuance, every line, every twist and turn of plot and psyche.
If two collaborators have no previous experience working with others, they must work harder to put aside their preconceptions and look at story and character honestly: success, not in the short term but for all time, depends upon the quality of every word. Make sure that both collaborators share the same goals. Define the story elements. Invoke the characters and be sure both agree who those characters are and what they represent concerning the story’s driving purpose.
Then begin, starting at the beginning. Create an adventure that two can share, and you will have created an adventure that the world can love.
Only when this first book is finished, no longer a fragile vision, but a full blown juggernaut of risk and beauty, show it to a publisher whose other publications attract you. If you both like what an editor or publisher has previously chosen, they may well decide to choose you.
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