Comics!

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By | Posted March 18, 2014

Foreworld stories have jumped formats, and we’re now reaching out to the comic book and graphic novel folks. While the third and final issue of Symposium is still in the works, our second graphic story, The Dead God is underway. Written by Erik Bear and illustrated by Haiwei Hou, this three-part story tells of the adventures of Eadhild, Coll, and Valens as they search for the lost head of a dead god in a land wreathed in Myth and Magic.

The first and second issues are both available NOW! The third issue shows up in just a few weeks. Queue on up for these as they’re coming fast.

The Dead God, issue #1

The Dead God, issue #2

Blood And Ashes is out!

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By | Posted March 14, 2014

Blood and Ashes by Scott James Magner is out!

Scott takes us back to the heady days of Pompeii for a little bit of gladiator and zombie action, as well as a reveal of some of the underlying conflict between the Shield-Brethren and them—you know, the bad guys. Though in this era, they weren’t quite so bad. Not yet . . .

It’s getting great reviews on Amazon, and dare I go so far as to say that it more entertaining than a recently released film that might take place on the same weekend in history? I do dare! I do! Plus as an e-novella, it is much cheaper than a film ticket. Just noting.

My favorite review of it so far is this one: “Once you get past the cover art (oiled up hairy chested dude) you discover an amazing story.” (Thank you, K. Stewart for your honesty.)

Siege Perilous Release Party

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By | Posted January 17, 2014

Siege Perilous is expected to be out in less than two weeks, and to celebrate the culmination of the medieval era storyline, we’ll be gathering at the University Bookstore in Seattle at 7:00PM on January 29th.

link to event

Nicki/E.D. is coming out from Boston area, and this is the one of the few times (I don’t want to say the last) that all seven of the original authors will be present. We’ll also have a number of the SideQuest authors on hand. It will be more of a party/signing than an actual reading/talkie event, but we would love to see anyone who is local to the area.

It was four years ago this month that we started doodling on the chalkboard in the new office at the circus school, putting down the first notes about what would become The Mongoliad. While the release of Siege Perilous certainly closes one chapter of the history of Foreworld, we really do feel like we’re just getting started.

Blood and Ashes

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By | Posted December 21, 2013

Our last SideQuest in this current round of releases is Blood and Ashes by Scott James Magner. Scott takes us back to the heady days of Pompeii for a little bit of gladiator and zombie action, as well as a reveal of some of the underlying conflict between the Shield-Brethren and them—you know, the bad guys. Though in this era, they weren’t quite so bad. Not yet . . .

As Mt. Vesuvius rumbles ominously, Pompeiian Councilor Valerius needs assistance in performing rituals to protect the city from the wrath of the fire-god, Vulcan. But his agenda is far from benevolent, as he cares less about quieting the volcano than taming it and taking the power for himself.

Now it’s up to Horatius, a former legionnaire and gladiator, to prevent Valerius’s sinister rites from coming to fruition. But with Vesuvius looming over the city—and the dead rising to defend the corrupt councilor—the warrior might have fled a troubled past only to have entered a doomed future . . .

Blood and Ashes will be out late February from 47North.

Siege Perilous Cover Reveal

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By | Posted November 26, 2013

As cover artist Nekro noted on his Facebook page earlier today, the cover for Siege Perilous, the last book in the Mongoliad cycle has been revealed.

The book is scheduled to be released in late January, and it sees the return of those characters who weren’t accounted for in Katabasis. The long-form arc that has been in motion since Feronantus decided to take a team east will finally come to a close. We’ve been working toward this book for nigh four years now, and we’re pleased that we’re almost there. Below is the marketing teaser for the book.

Ocyrhoe, a young, cunning fugitive from Rome, safeguards a chalice of subtle but great power. Finding herself in France, she allies with the persecuted, pacifist Cathar sect in their legendary mountaintop stronghold, Montségur. There she resists agents of the Roman Church and its Inquisition, fights off escalating, bloody besiegement by troops of the King of France, and shields the mysterious cup from the designs of many.

Percival, the heroic Shield-Brethren knight consumed by his mystical visions of the Holy Grail, is also drawn to Montségur—where the chalice holds the key to his destiny.

Arrayed against Percival and Ocyrhoe are enemies both old and new who are determined to reveal the secrets of the Shield-Brethren with the hope of destroying the order once and for all.

Alive with memorable characters, intense with action and intrigue, Siege Perilous conjures a medieval world where the forces of faith confront the forces of fear. Choices made by characters in The Mongoliad reach their ultimate conclusion in this fifth and concluding novel—and all of Christendom is at stake.

This will wrap up our adventures in the Medieval Era of Foreworld. As you can see from the SideQuests and upcoming comics serials, there are still more stories to tell.

Marshal vs the Assassins

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By | Posted November 21, 2013

In 1197, the Marshal—Sir William the Marshal—stormed a French castle single-handed. He was fifty years old.
 
A respected commander, past his best as a combatant, the Marshal had stood by and watched while King Richard Lionheart hurled his men at the ramparts. Two knightly storming parties weathered a rain of arrows, stones, lumps of wood, hauled themselves to the top of their ladders, took on the flails, forks and spears of the defenders. One of the ladders broke. Thousands of pounds of men and maille thudded into the ditch.
 
The other party retreated, all except for Sir Guy de la Bruyere, trapped at the top of the ladder—the defenders had him hooked by his maille. He could only keep his shield up while they hammered at him with flails, and archers peppered his armour.
 
The Marshal draws his sword, leaps down into the ditch, slithers through the mud. Shafts buzz past, ping off his helm. Long-limbed, he takes the ladder like an iron-skinned spider.
 
King Richard—the man who led the beach assault at Jaffa, crossbow in one hand, Danish axe in the other—wants to go after him. His advisors hold him back; Leave the crazy old knight to his fate, they tell him. We need to regroup and attack properly, or not at all.
 
The Marshal reaches Sir Guy, climbs over him, vaults onto the battlements. A single greybeard, outnumbered, out-of-puff, surrounded by a mob of men with spears and flails. How will this end?
 
Badly for the defenders.
 
The Marshal strikes to the left and the right, clears the parapet. He stands in the midst of the carnage, gasping for breath. He’s too old for this game.
 
Sir William de Monceaux, the young constable of the castle, sees his chance to win fame.  He charges over the blood-slick wall walk and lays into the greybeard. The Marshal cleaves his helmet with a single blow. The blade passes through the maille and padding beneath, shears into the scalp, throws the young knight unconscious to the stones.
 
Tired now, the Marshal sits on the downed man and waits for the rest of the army to join him.
 
#
 
And that was the Marshal at the age of fifty. At seventy he led the charge into Lincoln, carved his way through the bodyguard of the French captain. What must he have been like in his thirties when he went to the Holy Land?
 
More to the point, what did he get up to while he was there?
 
His rollicking contemporary biography, The History of William Marshal gives us a blow-by-blow account of his career. He’s pretty much a posh William Thatcher from the movie Knight’s Tale, working his way up from nothing via the tournament circuit (only with more fatality and less Rock and Roll). Then in 1183 his patron died, and the Marshal took ship for the Holy Land. All the History tells us is that he stayed there for a couple of years and did great deeds.
 
What great deeds?
 
The Marshal arrived too late for the main 1183 campaign—no glorious battles, that one anyway. By 1187, he’d been home for at least a year, so was not there when the Crusaders rode out to their doom at the Horns of Hattin.
 
However, we have a record of one feat of arms for the very end of 1183. It was the kind of crazy stunt only the Marshal could have pulled off, and therein lies the genesis of M. Harold Page’s new SideQuest, Marshal vs the Assassins.

This standalone SideQuest is out now via 47North.

Authors and Arthur

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By | Posted November 13, 2013

When you propose to write an epic martial arts adventure set in Medieval Europe, you can’t be blithely unaware of the nascent emergence of the code of chivalry, which is indelibly tied to the romantic stories of the Knights of the Round Table. The Mongoliad Cycle is set in years surrounding the Mongolian invasion of 1241, and when we decided to introduce a perfectly coifed and mannered knight named Percival, we did so being fully aware of the time period. And when you drop a knight named Percival into an epic adventure, you have to address the legacy of this name.

During one of the early conversations in the writers’ room, we had floated the idea that our Percival was the historical personage who the early romance writers based their character on. It felt like a nice little in-joke, but then someone did a date check and we realized that Chrétien de Troyes, who is credited with one of the earliest versions of the Percival story, had done so some sixty years earlier. Early in the 13th century, the German knight Wolfram von Eschenbach had written his romance, Parzival. The joke was on us, and we considered changing the name until Greg Bear offered the suggestion that perhaps there was a Percival in every generation. It was one of those quick fixes that writers come up with—a bit of spackling over a rough spot—and in an emotionally charged scene following one of the first encounters with the Mongols, our Percival has a religious experience. He receives a vision, and this vision haunts him throughout the journey to the East.

In our initial presentation of the Foreworld Saga, our focus has been on the heretofore neglected martial arts of the West. We have sought to bring to life the rich and varied fighting arts that are now being rediscovered and enthusiastically explored by numerous study groups around the world. But our underlying foundation of Foreworld has always been a crypto-pagan mythic structure. One that Percival glimpsed a portion of during his experience in the woods; one that lay underneath the life and death of Genghis Khan. And now, with Katabasis and Siege Perilous, the remaining two volumes of the Mongoliad Cycle, the mystery of the sprig and the cup come to the forefront. It all hinges on the knight for all seasons—the singular one born of every generation: Percival, the knight of the Grail.

It doesn’t end here, either. Next year, Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons, a graphic serial written by Tony Wolf and drawn by Yasmin Liang, will be released. It takes place in Victorian England and stars Mr. Bartitsu himself, Edward Barton-Wright, and his liberated niece Persephone Wright—“Persi” as she is known to her friends . . .

[Katabasis is out now via 47North. Siege Perilous will be out in January of 2014.]

[This post originally appeared on the Kindle blog.]

Foreworld at Jet City Comic Show

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By | Posted November 1, 2013

This weekend is the Jet City Comic Show in Tacoma, Washington, and Foreworld will be there. Neal Stephenson and Mark Teppo will be participating on a panel at 12:00 PM where they’ll be doing a Q & A with Alex Carr, the Senior Editorial Lead at Jet City Comics (Amazon Publishing’s comic book arm). What they’re going to show off is the Graphic SideQuests line of Foreworld stories. Symposium is the first, but there are three others coming soon. Drop by and get an exclusive look at some of the art for The Dead God, Cimarronin, and Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons.

Katabasis Release Day

By | Posted October 29, 2013

Katabasis cover

It is release day for Katabasis, the fourth volume of The Mongoliad Cycle, and whereas the first three volumes followed the Shield-Brethren east into the land of the Mongols, Katabasis begins the long journey home. Herein lies the consequences of their actions, as well as the realization of many arcs that have been initiated in the various SideQuests over the last year. There is a vast crypto-pagan mythology that runs beneath the surface of Foreworld, and with Katabasis, you’ll start to get glimpses of what lies beneath. All of your favorite characters return (those who survived, that is), and we’ll see the return of our friend from Rus, left behind in Kiev . . .

Beside him, Nika stirred, as if she, too, had been released from the grip of some unspeakable glamour. He shivered, as the wind had shifted again and its breath was fiercely cold once more.

“Did you see . . .?” he asked, reluctant to put into words the vision he had witnessed.

“Aye,” Nika said, her voice as unsteady as his. “I saw the ghosts of my fallen sisters.”

“No,” Illarion said. “There were men, carrying heavy shields, like the Greek infantry once did. And . . . and there was an old woman.”

Nika stood close enough to him that he could make out her features in the starlit night. There was still a trace of fear in her face, but mostly Illarion saw a fierce determination in the Shield-Maiden’s eyes. “I only saw the faces of dead Skjalddis,” Nika said. Her throat worked and her eyes widened slightly.

“You have been keeping a vigil,” he whispered, realizing she had been lying to him earlier. “You’ve seen them before.”

“Every month,” she admitted. “When there is no moon.” Her eyes were bright now, tears reflecting starlight. “But I never saw the old woman,” she said. “Not until tonight.”

“Who is she?” Illarion asked.

Nika let loose a short bray of laughter, a cruel sound that was quickly swallowed by the night. “She showed herself because you were here,” Nika said. “You’re the one who summoned her.”

“Me?”

“Aye,” Nika said. “You stayed when the others left. You had family here. You are part of Rus. You have been down into the crypts and seen the grave of Saint Ilya. You know the stories.”

“They’re just stories,” Illarion protested.

Nika stepped closer to Illarion and peered into his eyes as if she were trying to see some flicker of light hidden deep within. “You know who she was,” she said softly. “From the stories. The witch with the leg of stone. The witch who knows what must be done.”

Illarion’s heart was pounding. He looked at Nika, and though he already knew the answer, he could not stop himself from asking, desperate that she should tell him otherwise.

“Nika,” he whispered, “what is it that must be done?”

“You must go north,” she replied. “That is where Baba Yaga has instructed you to go, and wherever you go, my sisters and I will follow.”

Tyr’s Hammer

By | Posted October 25, 2013

This is the time of year for spooky stories, and the medieval version of the camp fire story was always tales of the Wild Hunt. Michael “Tinker” Pearce and Linda Pearce return to Foreworld SideQuests with Tyr’s Hammer, a story about the origins of the cold fortress in the north.

tyrshammer_cover

In this quick-witted and action-packed addition to The Foreworld Saga series, the leader of the Shield-Brethren has dispatched two of his men northward to secure land for a new citadel. When Tyr and his companion come upon the perfect spot, they discover that it is owned by Voldrun, a northern king with a questionable sense of justice. Although he welcomes the travelers, the king’s true motives eventually become clear. Determined to be compensated for his hospitality, Voldrun subjects the duo to several challenges, culminating in a game more dangerous than either warrior could ever have imagined. Steadfast and brave to the end, Tyr must draw upon all of his considerable skill and cunning as he endeavors to outwit the sly Voldrun and strives to secure a bright future for the order.

You can get yours here.

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