Blackest Knights, then I moved on to his first book Shattered Dreams. He's created a large, fantastic world, and was willing to share more about his process with us.
What inspired your world building process?
Mythology, History, Realism. Too many fantasy worlds are a patchwork of different influences, with magic been tossed in as well, you have your Aztec, Venetian, German, whathaveyou. But if you look at mythology, every place the characters go to is whichever region the myths originate from. The people of Troy are Greek even though they probably weren’t and didn’t speak the language. The point is, if you have a pantheon that has peopled the world, it will be that pantheon’s creations that people the world, one language etc. I wanted not the ubiquitous Common Tongue, I didn’t want to develop a multitude of languages (of which the reader barely reads anything because we bloody write in English). In the end all that counts is to have consistency, and for that you need an understanding of history. The realism comes when you actually understand history, and people, and context.
Who are you writing for and why?
Myself, I want to read the stories I want to read, and so I write them.
What do you do to recharge your creative energy?
Music, mostly. Loud music.
What reactions do you hope to inspire in others?
Other than them enjoying my tales? I honestly don’t know, never thought about it. As I said, I write the stories I want to read. There is no ulterior motive. Afterwards I catch myself realizing I wrote something profound, but while they are my words, and my opinions, I don’t sit down and say to myself “Self, you have got to write something life altering today.” I just write stories.
Where is your writing taking you?
Two decades ago I would’ve said “To the next bar.” Nowadays, if people like my stories – that’s almost reward enough. Would I like to be better off? Sure! Hell yea! I’d love to not be poor anymore, but I write because if I didn’t I’d probably have killed myself a while ago.
Find Ulff Lehmann online:
If one looks too long into the abyss, the abyss looks back. Drangar Ralgon has been avoiding the abyss's gaze for far too long and now he turns to face it.
For a hundred years the young kingdom of Danastaer has thrived in peace. Now their northern neighbor, mighty Chanastardh, has begun a cunning invasion.
Thrust into events far beyond his control, the mercenary Drangar Ralgon flees his solitary life as a shepherd to evade the coming war and take responsibility for his crimes.
In Dunthiochagh, Danastaer's oldest city, the holy warrior Kildanor uncovers the enemy's plans for invasion.
As ancient forces reach forth to shape the world once more, the sorceress Ealisaid wakes from a century of hibernation only to realize the Dunthiochagh she knew is no more. Magic, believed long gone, returns, and with it comes an elven wizard sent to recover a dangerous secret.
4 of 5 stars
Shattered Dreams covers the build up and invasion of a major battle, and definitely has the sense there is more to come. It's the first book of an epic war series and is truly just the beginning.
Drangar Ralgon has been living in misery, ignoring his past. He finally decides to return home to face the violence he took part in two years prior. His journey is full of challenges and enemies. His story is the one on the most personal level, as we see his remorse and struggle to seek the truth of who he is and what he's done.
Most of the other point of view characters center around two sides of a brewing war. There are a few scenes in court discussing the politics of the realm, and we get to know the dynamics of the officers and nobles on both sides of the conflict.
There's a lot of history and religion in the world building. One point of view character is an elf whose people had left the region thousands of years ago. He's returning to collect a missing tome in hopes of protecting what secrets it holds. Another point of view character is a wizardess who has been in a hibernation of sorts for generations. She's highly unusual. By this point in time, there aren't any human wizards, so if she can get a handle on her magical powers, she can be a great advantage in the war.
There's a little bit of everything here—intrigue, battle, deceit, vengeance, love, loss, victory, magic. At times I felt the pacing was slow and had a little trouble keeping up with the different characters at first. It picks up and moves the story forward while building a lot of interesting politics and backstory. I recommend this book to fans of dark fantasy, complex court politics, and epic war series.
You can find it here on Amazon or here on Goodreads.
This year was my first full year reviewing books, and I focused on indie dark fantasy. I found some new favorite authors and tried some things I normally wouldn't have. There is so much great work out there. It would be easy to hand out 5-star reviews often. I decided to come up with one specific criteria that sets a book apart enough to earn 5-stars from me: the further I get into a book, the harder it should be to put down.
Here are my 5-star reads for this year, in no particular order. The links go to my reviews on Goodreads. With each of these books, I had trouble putting it down, and have great respect for the author's storytelling expertise.
Straight Outta Fangton by C.T. Phipps
Blackest Knights edited by C.T. Phipps
An American Weredeer in Michigan by C.T. Phipps
Faith by A. Dale Triplett
Hemlock by Jesse Teller
Crown by Jesse Teller
Darkstorm by M.L. Spencer
Darkmage by M.L. Spencer
Darklands by M.L. Spencer
Kings of Paradise by Richard Nell
They Mostly Come Out At Night by Benedict Patrick
The Fifth Empire of Man by Rob J. Hayes
City of Kings by Rob J. Hayes
Labels: A. Dale Triplett, Articles, Benedict Patrick, C.T. Phipps, Jesse Teller, M.L. Spencer, Reviews, Richard Nell, Rob J. Hayes