Nathanial West and Twever

I always enjoyed writing the scenes between Nathanial West and Twever. Even though they are two of the most dangerous characters in the trilogy, when they are together they act just like naughty school boys.
The extract below from Scions of the Storm, sums the pair up perfectly.
Hope you enjoy
Alan
“Anyway,” said Twever, “you then add in the fresh herbs and serve with rice. It’s lovely.”
“Does sound nice,” agreed Nathanial.
Charlie looked on in disbelief at the two unarmed older men standing in the middle of the trail, calmly chatting away as if fifty armed men walking towards them were a common occurrence.
“It looks like our guests have arrived,” Twever grinned. “Do you want to do the talking?”
“Bollocks to that.”
“Succinct and to the point; I like it. Ok, I’ll do it.”
Charlie stopped ten feet away and held up his hand to indicate to the rest of his pack to do the same.
Nathanial stood silent.
“You will have to excuse Natti-boy, he can be an antisocial bugger, at times. A bit moody at times, also. Let me introduce myself. I am,” Twever struck a suitably dramatic pose, “Twever the Magnificent, the Beast of the Granite Mountains. You may have heard of me?”
“Nope,” replied Charlie.
“Oh,” a slightly deflated Twever said.
Nathanial smiled.
“You think that funny, do you?” Twever asked Nathanial and hit Nathanial on the shoulder.
Nathanial’s smile got wider.
“Hate you.”
“If I could interrupt you idiots,” called out Charlie, “what are you doing?”
“He may be an idiot, but, apparently, I’m insane, so I would be grateful if you could get it right.” Twever sniffed.
“Do you know what we are?” asked Charlie.
Twever looked at Nathanial. “Do we know who they are?”
“Yes.”
“Do you think they know who we are?”
“Doesn’t seem so.”
“Do you know who we are – eh, what is your name?” queried Twever.
“My name is ‘Your Death’ and I do not care who you are, fools,” Charlie replied.
“Well, ‘Your Death’ – that’s a daft name – anyway, Deathie-boy, I strongly suggest you look at us.”
Charlie felt the restlessness running through his pack. “I am looking at you, and all is see is two dead men,” he said, angrily.
“Try looking through a different set of eyes,” suggested Nathanial.
“Excellent suggestion, Natti-boy,” grinned Twever.
***
Ardo slowly moved into position behind the pack and settled down to wait.
***
“This is a serious matter, you cretins. You should take this seriously. I will show you ‘different eyes’,” growled Charlie as he started the change. He fell to his knees and cried out in agony as his body was wracked and torn by the transformation. His pack became more and more agitated by the smell of blood and, at the sight of Charlie’s warping body, one by one, they began the transformation themselves.
Nathanial and Twever watched on with disinterest. “He wants us to be serious,” said Nathanial.
“Then the creature is a fool,” said Twever, flickers of red starting to show in his eyes. “The last thing any creature should wish is for us being serious.”
Nathanial rolled his shoulders and neck. “It’s been a long time, Red Eyes, since we hunted.”
“That is true, Red Claw; however, these pathetic fools will be poor sport. They don’t even know who we really are.” The flickers of red in Twever’s eyes changed to flames of deep hellfire and his face started to twist into its demonic mask.
The pack leader of the Dev’ver slowly stood and roared its arrival into sky, its pack mates answering his call. Lowering its muzzle, he looked at the two weak creatures before it and hesitated, and for the first and last time, felt a flicker of fear within its linked souls.
There before him, their hearts burning bright, were two ancient and Greater Ones. There before him was Red Claw and an unknown but extremely powerful Fire Spirit.
“Do you need any of them alive?” asked Red Eyes as he flexed his fingers before they vanished.
“No,” growled Nathanial.
“Correct answer,” said Red Eyes as his hands reappeared with a wickedly curved sword in each.
Nathanial locked eyes with the creature that had been Charlie and started the change. His eyes never wavered as his body ripped itself apart and started to rebuild into a Dev’ver. Finally, with a shudder and a roar of challenge, Red Claw entered the world of men again.
“Come, Red Claw, let us be serious,” said Red Eyes.
The pack leader looked at the great prizes before it. If it could claim one of those hearts, it would gain great power; it would become great and gain a name. Howling its own challenge, which the pack picked up and amplified, the pack leader charged.
The Dev’ver known as pack leader rushed at Red Claw and took a wild swipe. With effortless ease, Red Claw batted the arm aside, reached out, and ripped the creature’s throat out, throwing the flesh in his claw contemptuously to the ground. Red Claw moved on, the useless creature’s heart not worthy of his attention.
Red Eye’s swords leaped and danced, cutting through flesh, separating heads and arms from bodies, his face a mask of demonic glee in which his eyes burned with a deep hellfire red, as he systematically worked his way through those standing before him.
Ardo heard the roars of challenge and, as the pack surged forward, he leaped into the fray, his mighty jaws and paws ripping through the neck and back of the rear- most Dev’ver.
End of the extract.

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Female Characters in Fantasy Novels

In ninety percent of Fantasy and Sci-fi books, there only ever seem to be three types of heroine:

1. The one that screams a lot, needs to be rescued a lot, and whose hair and fingernails are always perfect.
2. The five-foot nothing, smart sassy one, who, with a suitable quip, can kill five hundred heavily-armed and armoured six-foot deadly killers in two seconds flat.
3. The muscle-bound broadsword wielding one who will happily do battle in a skimpy chainmail bikini, regardless of the weather conditions or practicality.

There is nothing wrong with any of the above, and many good books include them; however, I wanted to write my female heroes as, well… real woman. So, I looked at fictional characters – such as Judy Dench’s “M” in the James Bond films, real life characters such as Margaret Thatcher, and various women that I know – to be my inspiration.

Queen Alexandra Peterson – My Female Hero

The Early Years

Not a lot is known about the early years of Alexandra. All we really know is that she was forced into an arranged marriage at a young age to King Hamish Peterson, who once famously said, “If I can’t fight it or romance it, I’m not interested in it” (or words to that effect). Although King Hamish was not deliberately cruel or aggressive to his Queen, Alexandra felt alone and unloved in her marriage as her husband waged war, hunted, and claimed his royal prerogative on the willing women of the kingdom.

Because of her husband’s behaviour, Alexandra had a brief affair with her bodyguard, Nathanial West. As a result of that affair, she fell pregnant. Luckily, King Peterson thought Alexandra was pregnant via him and the resulting daughter, Princess Kathleen, was raised as his heir.

King Peterson then died from plague, leaving an unprepared Alexandra widowed and Kathleen seemingly fatherless.

To Be a Queen

With the death of her husband, Alexandra had to learn quickly. She was a single mother ruling a small kingdom in a violent and dangerous world. By necessity, ‘duty to daughter and realm’ became the basis of her reign as Queen, which she firmly ingrained in her daughter’s education and everyday life.

Being a widowed Queen, there were many suitors trying to claim her hand in marriage. It was while she was trying to fend off these unwanted attentions that she first showed the steel within her – by unleashing her Dev’ver bodyguard, Nathanial West, in his werewolf form upon an aggressive suitor (see the short story ‘A Mere Woman’ in Tales of Solomon Pace for full details).

Echoes of a Storm

At the start of the book ‘Echoes of a Storm’, we find Alexandra having just survived an assassination attempt on her life and the life of her daughter. This attack causes her to make a hasty decision that comes back to haunt her later on in the book.

Throughout the novel, Alexandra shrugs off her youthful ideas and becomes a powerful and confident woman, a determined Queen who can protect her daughter and kingdom from the evils of the world. This determination to protect her daughter leads to the dramatic ending of the book.

Summary

I have tried to write Alexandra as a real woman who does not need to be rescued every five minutes, does not wear skimpy outfits, and uses her assassins, armies, and generals to fight her battles, but does not shy away from using a sword or knife in defence of her daughter and kingdom.

My hope is that I have written a strong female character in a fantasy setting to whom women can relate to and empathise with.

Alan

Heroes don’t have to be boring or have a heart of gold.

I never really trusted the traditional hero of films and books when I was growing up.  He (generally, the hero was male) usually had a massive death wish – willingly throwing himself into danger, always attempting to take the bullet, blade, or explosion for a friend or total stranger, and generally trying to get killed – all for a good cause.

 Then, when they had survived all their near-misses and subconscious attempts to die, they would tell you to be good, do your homework, study hard, brush your teeth, etc, etc…

Also, they all had massive egos, an adoring girlfriend (hourglass figure, of course), and a few male friends who hero-worshipped them and always told them that they were marvellous and wonderful.

So, for me, heroes were boring, self-serving, and got in the way of the good bits of the book/film.

It was then that I discovered Sean Connery playing James Bond – what an eye-opener that was! – a hero who would do bad things! (As an aside, for me, there are only two actors who have played James Bond as he should be played – a thug in a tux: Sean Connery and Daniel Craig.)

At about the same time, I discovered David Gemmell, a British writer. His heroes were tired, old, and not trying to save the world; they were trying to save their homes and their families (Legend, Waylander, etc). At last, here was a hero I could understand. I knew why he was making a stand. I knew why he was willing to risk all. More importantly, he was a lot more interesting than the classic ‘hero’.

Then I got hold of work by Alan Moore, another British writer. Everyone should read The Ballad of Halo Jones. Forget that it is a graphic novel; just enjoy one of the best-written space opera / adventure stories ever.  

Right, I’m getting sidetracked; back to the point of this post.

As most of you will know, I am in the slow process of writing another novel, with the Midnight Man and the Brethren of the Night as the main villains. To counter them, I need a true hero.

For those of you that have read Salvation and Damnation, you will already know who the hero is. Maybe you raised an eyebrow and muttered, “Really? Him!!”

Yes, HIM! He was chosen with great care and much thought, He was no sudden whim or shock choice.

Let me ask you a question – If the world was on fire and evil ruled, who would you rather have fighting for you?

1.   A hero who is constantly throwing himself in front of every sharp object to protect his friends, and weeping (he is a modern man) at the death and destruction all around.

Or

2.   A man who does not care about niceties or delicate flowers – a man who, no matter how badly beaten, will always get back up – a man who will stand when everyone else has given up hope – a man who is driven by a furnace of white-hot emotions – a man who will stare evil in the eye and say, “Come on, if you think you are hard enough, fat boy!”

My hero in the new books may not have a heart of gold or kiss babies, but you know that he will take a stand when no one else will, and, to me, that is what true heroes do – stand, when no one else will.

Alan

 

 

A Good Book Needs a Good Villain – Part two

My next villain from the Storm Series Trilogy is the Midnight Man. Now is Solomon Pace is a James Bond type of Villain, then the Midnight Man is the polar opposite he is the Villain nightmares are made of.

The Midnight Man

The following extract is taken from “Scions of the Storm” and shows the Midnight Man at his worst. Please note that in the extract the Midnight Man is going by the name Tom.

“…With his hands in his pockets, Tom wandered aimlessly among the trees until he heard a ‘meow’ coming from up ahead.  Slowly and quietly, he made his way to the sound and spotted a small cat.

“Here, Puss-Puss,” Tom called, “here, Puss-Puss.”

The cat made its way to Tom and started to purr as he knelt down to scratch its ear.  Tom laughed with pleasure as the cat rubbed itself against him and flung itself on its back.

“There you go, Puss-Puss,” said Tom as he rubbed the cat’s belly.  The cat’s paws raked Tom’s hand.  Tom snatched his hand away and looked down at the cat, his face suddenly cold.  His hand was like a blur as he grabbed one of the cat’s legs and broke it.

The cat screamed in agony and tried to get away.  Tom’s hand shot out again and he broke another leg.  As he watched the cat and the great pain it was in, tears started to flow down his cheeks.  He tenderly stroked its small face with a gentle finger.  “Such pain,” he said quietly, his face a perfect picture of empathy.

“Oscar!  Oscar!”

Tom raised his head and saw two young children, a boy and a girl, coming towards him as they shouted out together, “Oscar!  Oscar!”

 

Tom looked down at the pain-stricken cat.  “Oscar?”

The cat gave a small and pitiful cry.

Standing, Tom brushed off his trousers and made his way towards the children with a playful smile. “Ah children; they will be much more fun that a cat,” he mused….”

So there you have it, villains love them or hate them you have to have them in a book, Otherwise who is going to make the hero look good?

Alan

A Good Book Needs a Good Villain – Part one

Let’s face it Hero’s are boring. They are boring to write and boring to read and no matter how much you try and making them dirty it never quite works (I’m thinking Superman here)

However, the Villain’s they are never boring and as a writer you can have great fun with them.

I’ve been lucky and managed to sneak in two villains into my trilogy. They are:

Solomon Pace

Now Solomon Pace would make an excellent James Bond Villain he is that sort of villain . As the extract from “Tales of Solomon Pace” shows

“…Alex started to drag himself along the floor.

“Would you just stay put?”  Solomon clicked his fingers again.

Alex once again screamed as his left wrist fractured.

“Just stay where you are.  Trust me; it will be a lot less painful for you.”

“What…what …are you going to do with me?” managed Alex.

“I gave that a lot of thought last night.  There is some good news and some not-so-good news, Alex.  The good news is that your family will be safe.  It would be a little boring and, to be frank, very lazy and a bit unimaginative as a punishment, if I hurt or killed them.”

“My family is safe?”

“Yes, I can promise you I will not harm a hair on their heads, as long as you behave.”

Alex managed a smile of relief.

“However, as for you, well, I had to find something that would punish you, yet reward you for being brave and loyal.  You will be glad to know that the answer came to me just before dawn.”

“What are you going to…Arrrgh,” started Alex.

Solomon shook his head as he clicked his fingers and shattered Alex’s right wrist.  “Do not interrupt me.  And stop screaming or I will break your ribs, one by one.”

Alex did his best to muffle his screams and, with fearful eyes, looked up at Solomon.

“Do not interrupt me again.  Do you understand?”

Alex nodded.

“Good.  Now, where was I?  Oh yes, your punishment.  You see, you have brought to my attention the fact that I have very little presence here in the furthest reaches of my land and I need to change that.  That is the wonderful beauty of my punishment for you; you will help me maintain a presence here in Westwood and the surrounding area.

You see, I am going to turn you into a Dev’ver.  I know you don’t know what a Dev’ver is, yet, so I am going to tell you.  Basically, I am going to turn you into a monster from your darkest nightmares.  Don’t worry, you will still look as you do now, but you will be able to turn into this monster at will, although there may be a small amount of pain involved during the transformation.  Anyway, the good news is that you will be able to heal very quickly and, if you ever get bandits again, you will be able to wipe them out without my help.

Now, the not-so-good news.  This creature will make you age very slowly, so you will watch your wife and children grow old before your eyes, while you will hardly change.

Gradually, at first, then quicker with each passing year, people will notice that you do not grow old.  They will become suspicious and wary of you and, after awhile, you will have to leave everything you care about and all the people you love because, if you don’t, these suspicious and wary people will attempt to kill you and destroy everything you care about.”

Solomon crossed his legs, swinging the topmost leg, casually.  ”Don’t think about suicide or moving away, either.  The creature I will put inside you will not allow you to commit suicide, and if I hear that you have moved away, then I will have to be very boring and obvious and destroy your family.

 I will, of course, make sure your wife will be violently and repeatedly violated in the most brutal of manners.  As for your son and daughter?  Well, let’s just say they will pray for death for many years before what’s left of their ruined bodies and minds finally and mercifully die.”

Alex looked at Solomon in disbelief.  “I just wanted to protect my village,” he whispered.

“And you did it,” said Solomon.  Standing up, retrieving his cane, and grasping the handle firmly, he pulled sharply to reveal a slender, but strong, steel blade.  “Congratulations, I’m sure that the villagers will remember that fact for a long time.”  Solomon walked towards Alex.  “Now, there is going to be some slight pain.”

“I just wanted to protect my village,” repeated Alex as he watched Solomon advance towards him…”

 In part two we will look at the Midnight Man

Queen Alexandra Peterson – A Female Character in Fantasy Series

In ninety percent of Fantasy and Sci-fi books, there only ever seem to be three types of heroine:

  1. The one that screams a lot and needs to be rescued a lot (not very heroic, but helpless women draw the heroes to her).
  2. The five-foot nothing, smart sassy one, who, with a suitable quip, can kill five hundred heavily-armed and armoured six-foot deadly killers in two seconds flat.
  3. The muscle-bound broadsword wielding one who will happily do battle in an armoured bikini, regardless of the weather conditions or practicality.

There is nothing wrong with any of the above, and many good books include them; however, I wanted to write my female heroes as, well… real woman. So, I looked at fictional characters – such as Judy Dench’s “M” in the James Bond films, real life characters such as Margaret Thatcher, and various women that I know – to be my inspiration.

Queen Alexandra Peterson

The Early Years

Not a lot is known about the early years of Alexandra. All we really know is that she was forced into an arranged marriage at a young age to King Hamish Peterson, who once famously said, “If I can’t fight it or romance it, I’m not interested in it” (or words to that effect). Although King Hamish was not deliberately cruel or aggressive to his Queen, Alexandra felt alone and unloved in her marriage as her husband waged war, hunted, and claimed his royal prerogative on the willing women of the kingdom.

Because of her husband’s behaviour, Alexandra had a brief affair with her bodyguard, Nathanial West. As a result of that affair, she fell pregnant. Luckily, King Peterson thought Alexandra was pregnant via him and the resulting daughter, Princess Kathleen, was raised as his heir.

King Peterson then died from plague, leaving an unprepared Alexandra widowed and Kathleen seemingly fatherless.

To Be a Queen

With the death of her husband, Alexandra had to learn quickly. She was a single mother ruling a small kingdom in a violent and dangerous world. By necessity, ‘duty to daughter and realm’ became the basis of her reign as Queen, which she firmly ingrained in her daughter’s education and everyday life.

Being a widowed Queen, there were many suitors trying to claim her hand in marriage. It was while she was trying to fend off these unwanted attentions that she first showed the steel within her – by unleashing her Dev’ver bodyguard, Nathanial West, in his werewolf form upon an aggressive suitor (see the short story ‘A Mere Woman’ in Tales of Solomon Pace for full details).

Echoes of a Storm

At the start of the book ‘Echoes of a Storm’, we find Alexandra having just survived an assassination attempt on her life and the life of her daughter. This attack causes her to make a hasty decision that comes back to haunt her later on in the book.

Throughout the novel, Alexandra shrugs off her youthful ideas and becomes a powerful and confident woman, a determined Queen who can protect her daughter and kingdom from the evils of the world. This determination to protect her daughter leads to the dramatic ending of the book.

Summary

I have tried to write Alexandra as a real woman who does not need to be rescued every five minutes, does not wear skimpy outfits, and uses her assassins, armies, and generals to fight her battles, but does not shy away from using a sword or knife in defence of her daughter and kingdom.

My hope is that I have written a strong female character in a fantasy setting to whom women can relate, giving the fairer sex the respect they so richly deserve.

Alan