Saturday, November 26, 2022

Curse of Shadows Giveaways

Curse of Shadows - December 6, 2022 just received a ⭑ Starred review ⭑ from School Library Journal. 

VERDICT Recommended for all fantasy fans and ­especially those who enjoyed the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy by Leigh Bardugo and “The Bone Witch” ­trilogy by Rin Chupeco.–Susan Catlett

You can jump on any number of giveaways now!

πŸ’™ But first, thank you to everyone who has shown their awesome support by pre-ordering Curse of Shadows. As I said before, this early enthusiasm can make or break a book, so my heartfelt gratitude is flowing for the response.

 And now, to the GIVEAWAYS!

πŸ’™ As for Worldwide giveaways, check Writerspace with an ongoing giveaway happening now.

πŸ’™ More Upcoming Worldwide Giveaways for your calendar include:

πŸ’™ The Fresh Fiction Title Challenge (up on December 8th)

πŸ’™ The Harlequin Junkie Spotlight (up on December 9th)

Some of these giveaways include two books, both Crown of Bones and Curse of Shadows - just in time for a fun holiday season gift. 

πŸ’™ For members of the Wilder New Moon Newsletter, I'm giving away several copies of Curse of Shadows (Hardback, ebook or Audio as you prefer) and one set of both books in the series. To Jump In just Email Me with your country and preferred format. I plan to pick a winner from each country entered!

Good Luck Everyone,

And thanks again for all that magnificent pre-ordering support! You are the best!


Kim Falconer, currently writing as A K Wilder, has released Crown of Bones, a YA Epic Fantasy with Curse of Shadows coming out December 6, 2022.

Kim can be found on  AKWilder TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Throw the bones, read your horoscopes or Raise Your Phantom on the site 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

What Makes A Hero? #9: Calm and Chaos


Here it is #9 in the What Makes A Hero in Fantasy series! A little later than usual, but still with plenty of reading time left in the month. ;-)
What makes a hero?

And of course, a Having Fun With Fantasy (tropes) post on the "Band of Brothers" by way of an off-course substitute. I do hope you've enjoyed the additional reading goodness. :D

Last Kingdom: the "band of brothers"

So where are we up to with the What Makes A Hero series? I started by focusing on what I considered essential elements in the making of heroes, from the Call through Commitment, to Courage and meeting the Challenge

More recently, I've been checking out qualities that may be more optional. To date, I've canvassed Charisma, Chivalry, and Clever vs Clueless. Today I'm taking a closer look at Calm and/or Chaos.

What Makes A Fantasy Hero – Calm and Chaos

At face value, an appropriate subtitle could be Berserker vs Stone Killer except for the niggle that killing and battle are not the beginning or end of heroism. 

Aragorn as healer, in "The Lord of the Rings"

As discussed under Courage in particular, the risk faced may also comprise:

"...unjust imprisonment, loss of standing and/or livelihood within a society, or outright exile from family, community, nation or species."

Consequently, answering the heroic call may require:

 "...physical and mental, or moral courage—or all three."

So I feel that Calm or Chaos is the better starting point. In other words, a protagonist may emulate Kipling's famous If,  and keep their head "when all about ... [them, others] ... are losing theirs", or hurl caution to the winds and charge headlong into the face of overwhelming odds.

Furiosa -- berserker hero

In that context, "berserker" still has its place and one of fantasy's more famous berserker heroes is the outcast Rek, who becomes the Earl of Bronze in David Gemmell's seminal Legend. His counterpart is Druss, a famous axeman and legendary hero: Druss the Legend, in fact. 


Druss is not a stone killer, and he's not really a warmaster either, although circumstances require that he steps into that role in the defence of the fortress of Dross Drelnoch. (Fortress aside, think a Thermopylae and the Three Hundred-style story.) Druss is unquestionably coolheaded, though, and keeps his calm in the thick of battle, while still taking the fight to the enemy.

Dalinar Kholin, in Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive, is an interesting example of a warrior who has been a berserker-style champion, but deliberately chooses to contain that part of himself, instead pursuing a warmaster's role.

Gideon and Harrow(hark), in Tamsyn Muir's Gideon the Ninth, are another chaos-and-calm combination. Where Gideon likes to hurl herself at an adversary, preferably wielding her broadsword, Harrow retains her cool--although that may be a be a matter of dire necessity in order to work her necromancy. 

Zeetha, in Studio Foglio's Girl Genius series, is another warrior who likes to hurl herself into the thick of every fray, and Agatha Heterodyne's  extravaganzas of mechanical creation are very berserker-like in their frenzy. Gil (Gilgamesh) on the other hand, is a far cooler-headed character, although just as much a "spark" genius. 

When it comes to outright mayhem, NK Jemisin's Nahadoth, in The One Hundred Thousand Kingdoms,  is a chaos god, and wreaks havoc when his power is unleashed. By contrast, the con artist Nahriin SA Chakraborty's City of Brassrelies on her wits, no matter how challenging the circumstances. 

One of fantasy's most interesting characters, in terms of the calm-chaos continuum, is JRR Tolkien's Galadriel, a continuum that has been illuminated in series one of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. In The Lord of the Rings (LoTR) proper, Galadriel is an elder statesperson and great power of the elven realm, who epitomizes calm. The Silmarillion, however, makes it clear the young Galadriel was decidedly hawkish and something of a fireeater. 

Galadriel: The Lord of the Rings

Over the intervening millenia, she has clearly changed a great deal, with the LoTR Galadriel displaying a wisdom that the young Galadriel lacked, which she demonstrates in refusing the ring.

Consideration of Galadriel's arc leads to another class of hero, that does not slot neatly into either the "calm" or "chaos" categories. This is the individualor "band of brothers"who is not necessarily trained to lead nations or armies, or overcome challenges, but is forced by circumstances to confront them.

Avatar, the Last Airbender -- another "band of brothers"

In many ways, this is one of fantasy's oldest tropes (which I've called "A Farmboy/Gal Goes On A Journey" in another post), but it's also the basis for "David and Goliath" tales that are enduringly popular in folklore and legend.

Nori Brandyfoot -- an everyday heroine

Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, and the four hobbit comrades of The Lord of the Rings, are probably the most famous example of ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. They certainly don't hurl themselves headfirst into peril, and when peril finds them anyway, they would rather tun and hide than stand and fight.

Yet when in the thick of things, they stumble or crawl to do what needs to be done. One of the great examples is Merry, on the Pelennor Fields. He is dazed from being flung from a horse, but will not let Eowyn confront the Lord of the Nazgul alone, and so crawls to her aid. The result, between Eowyn and Merry, is one of the great deeds of the war, and turns the tide of the battle.

A desperate Merry stabs the Lord of the Nazgul

Myr, "the Mouse", is a similar character in Daughter of Blood (The Wall of Night, Book #3.) She is not a warrior and has no overt superpowers, and she is frequently terrified, but has the moral courage to walk a true course amid turmoil, and to avert destruction by remaining true to herself and those she loves.

It is because of characters like the hobbits and Myr, but also Galadriel and Dalinar Kholin, that this post is titled Calm and Chaosbecause it's a continuum that depends on circumstance and personality. Regardless of confusion or clarity, circumstances are also likely to create situations where both the cool and hotheaded heroes have their place.

The crows: cool, hotheaded -- & somewhere in between

So as with charisma and chivalry, calm and/or chaos are optional qualities for a fantasy hero, though eitheror a combination of bothmay greatly assist in getting the heroic job done.

© Helen Lowe


Previous Posts:

January: Looking Forward To An Heroic 2022

March: What Makes A Hero -- and The Call

April: What Makes A Hero #2: Circumstance

May: What Makes A Hero #3: Commitment 

June: What Makes A Hero #4: Courage

July: What Makes A Hero #5: Challenge

August: What Makes A Hero #6: Charisma

September: What Makes A Hero #7: Chivalry 

October: What Makes A Hero #8: Clever or Clueless? 


About The Author:

Helen Lowe is an award-winning novelist, poet, and lover of story. With four books published to date, she is currently completing the final instalment in The Wall Of Night series.

Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, monthly on the Supernatural Underground, and tweets @helenl0we.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Giveaway on Nov 5 - December 5th 2022

Hey Everyone,

I am dropping in early this month to let you know about the Curse of Shadows giveaway on Goodreads. They have 5 hardback copies looking for a good home in the USA.

Follow the link to be in it!

I'm wishing you all good luck.

Here's the guff:

Goodreads & Entangled Teen are giving away five print copies of my new YA fantasy release, CURSE OF SHADOWS!

For fans of epic fantasy with adventure and romance, Curse of Shadows reveals a world of unique magic, breathtaking action, and unforgettable love.

Amassia teeters on the brink of the next Great Dying.

The second sun has returned as our Bone Throwers foresaw--casting the nine realms into war.

My name is Ash, and I fell in the battle for Baiseen. But I’m awake now, slowly putting the pieces back together.

My Heir has lost his throne.

My sailor is gone.

And there is an emptiness inside me I can’t explain.

Amid the chaos, someone must collect the original twelve whistle bones from all corners of the world. Marcus is named to lead the cause, but with his volatile phantom, he’ll need diplomacy as much as his sword. And we are not the only ones to seek the bones.

Yet succeed we must.

Because if we don’t, it will be death to all…

Join in for USA readers. Aussie and NZ Giveaway coming soon!

#goodreads #yafantasy #giveaway



Kim Falconer, currently writing as A K Wilder, has just released Crown of Bones, a YA Epic Fantasy with Curse of Shadows coming out December 6, 2022.

Kim can be found on  AKWilder TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Throw the bones, read your horoscopes or Raise Your Phantom on the site 

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

The "Band of Brothers" -- A Heroes-Related Post!


Very many apologies to those of you who’re waiting for Instalment #9 of the “What Makes A Fantasy Hero” series – there’s been a delay, but it should post some time over the weekend.

What makes a hero?

In the meantime, I thought I’d feature The Band of Brothers, which is a heroes-related theme. It first posted on the late, great SF Signal.

The Band of Brothers was an early instalment in the “Having Fun With Epic Fantasy” series I commenced on SF Signal and continued on my own “…on Anything, Really” blog. (In fact it’s still continuing and is up to #14  no small endeavor, I assure you! :D)

Enjoy – & Heroes #9 will post shortly! (Two instead of one – what could be better?!)


Having Fun with Epic Fantasy: The Band of Brothers

…And Crispin…[Day]…shall ne’er go by

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remembered –

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother…

~ William Shakespeare: Henry V

If anyone doubts epic fantasy’s strong and enduring roots in story, this quote from Shakespeare’s Henry V (the famous St Crispin’s Day speech made on the eve of Agincourt) must dispel their error. For the famous quote, “we band of brothers”, speaks to the heart of epic fantasy.

We find the “band of brothers” throughout fairytale, folklore and myth: Robin Hood and His Merry Men, King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, Penthesilea and the Amazons. The “band” ideal crosses into history as well, with the Spartan 300 at Thermopylae, the 47 ronin-and the more contemporary defence of Rorke’s Drift, which inspired Tanya Huff’s Valor’s Choice and is alluded to (as the basis for an event in the Wasp/Dragonfly war) in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt series.

Myth, legend, history: no wonder the “band of brothers”, or “buddies”, lies at the heart of epic fantasy (and a great deal more contemporary genre: Star Wars, Buffy, Firefly, Babylon 5 – I rest my case.) But it is the link to the quest-journey and tales of war, from Roland and Oliver at Roncesvalles, to Blenda and the shield-maidens of SmΓ₯land, that make the “band” so apt to epic fantasy, with its focus on large-scale conflict and world-altering events. 

Buffy -- "The Scooby Gang"

Although Tolkien’s “nine companions” who set out for Mount Doom are the obvious example, Steven Eriksons’ Malazan series includes the Bridgeburners, the Bonehunters, and the “chain of dogs.” There’s also the bridgebearers in Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings – and the “band of brothers” characterizes David Gemmell’s writing: with “The Thirty” in his Drenai novels, as well as the defence of Dros Delnoch in Legend, and The King Beyond The Gate‘s friendship between Tenaka Khan and Ananais, which transcends cultural difference and traditional enmity.

The Fellowship if the Ring: the nine companions (plus Bill the pony...)

Guy Gavriel Kay’s work also exemplifies use of the “Band of Brothers” motif, notably in A Song for Arbonne where the element that most defines the protagonist, Blaise, is his friendships-more even than his hatred for his father and bitterness over the betrayal of his homeland. The “band of brothers” also charts the heart of Kay’s The Lions of Al-Rassan, where the friendship between Rodrigo Belmonte and Ammar ibn Khairan ultimately cannot transcend traditional enmity and cultural and religious difference.

But is the “band of ‘brothers'” theme solely the preserve of male writers and male-centric stories? I am glad to answer with a resolute “no.” Barbara Hambly’s The Ladies of Mandrigyn focuses on two separate “bands of sisters”: Sheera Galernas and the title’s ladies, forming themselves into a “scared band” to retake their city from a tyrant wizard; also the mercenary, Star Hawk, and courtesan, Fawn, thrown together in their quest to retrieve an abducted companion. 


Among Robin McKinley’s heroines, Aerin and Hari both fulfil their quests with the aid of sworn companions-although these comprise more animals than humans in Aerin’s case, drawing on the fairy- and folktale origins of the “band of buddies.” And the friendship of Raederle, Lyra of Herun, and Tristan of Hed, together with Lyra’s companion guards, makes Patricia McKillip’s Heir of Sea and Fire a memorable read.


It could be said that our enduring love for “the band” is simply another escapism. But then there are those examples from history… So perhaps we all just love those high, doomed tales of sacrifice and valor… Or maybe, somewhere in the mix, we recognize that comradeship and friendship are amongst the few human qualities capable of transcending self interest. As to whether they succeed, or notwell, that’s what puts the drama in the storytelling!


About The Author:

Helen Lowe is an award-winning novelist, poet, and lover of story. With four books published to date, she is currently completing the final instalment in The Wall Of Night series.

Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, monthly on the Supernatural Underground, and tweets @helenl0we.