Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Lands of Empire Of Bones


Empire of Bones is set in the same world as The Dragon Sword Histories, although 300 years later and on the other side of the world.

There are no common characters and there is no need to have read the first series to begin this one.

There is one, small connection in that an event at the end of The Radiant Child had an unexpected effect on the other side of the world and began the chain of events that leads to Bridge Of Swords.

But you don’t have to have any prior knowledge of the world, nor its history and all will be made clear as Empire Of Bones moves to its conclusion.

The three lands Empire Of Bones is principally set in are very different.

First we have Dokuzen. This is a land with magic, healing, advanced building techniques and a high standard of living. Their lifestyle has hints of the Roman era, with similar technology, as well as a strong flavour of Shogun-era Japan, with concepts of honour and an emphasis on your clan and family determining your status in society. They worship this world’s God, Aroaril, but religion is not an integral part of their lives. The people’s names, as well as the place names, reflect the Japanese influence.

Next we meet Vales. This is much more a rougher, cruder community, much less formally structured, without a central ruler or anything more than a loose connection between its towns and villages. Rather than building in stone, they use wood and thatch. Principally a land of farmers, they are also miners and traders but have few, if any warriors, despite their personal bravery. Perhaps closest to Britain following the Roman withdrawal, before the Saxon invasion changed the language and the face, when the old British tribes ruled, although without their unique Celtic culture. The people’s names, as well as some of the place names, reflect the Celtic influence.

Finally there is Forland. More advanced than Vales but without the higher knowledge and technology of Dokuzen, they are able to build with stone. Ruled by a King, they have a standing army and a warrior tradition. Conquerors and aggressors, they have taken many of the southern countries by force and thirst for more. Perhaps comparable to Saxon Britain, where it was torn between a warrior code and something higher. Their names, as well as some of the place names, reflect the Saxon era.

One note about the place names in Vales and Forland (and indeed in all the other countries in the surrounding lands). There is a mystery, central to the story, around these names and why some carry certain meanings and others seem normal. As the main characters and readers will discover …

The Heart Of Empire Of Bones


The Dragon Sword Histories was, at its heart, about a man in a dark place, coming back from that through the love of a small child. One of the themes it explored was how children can alter our view of the world and how their innocence can change the loss and regret adults carry.

For the Empire Of Bones, I wanted to explore this from the other side – how fathers can affect children and how so many of us seek to either live up to or grow away from the way we were raised.

In a primitive society, childbirth becomes hazardous to the health of women and babies and both are at high risk of dying. In such a society, fathers become the constant and even more important – or at least they do in this fantasy world.

All the major characters and indeed many of the minor ones explore this issue from all sorts of angles. Even King Ward, the brutal ruler of Forland, struggles with his two sons, who he sees as not fit to carry on his work of uniting the countries and forging an empire.

Interestingly enough, I was touring for my last book, The Radiant Child in July 2010 and was down at Shellharbour, on the NSW South Coast. Sadly the Angus & Robertson store there has now closed but a strange thing happened.

It was one of the more challenging store appearances I’ve had, competing against a cheerful spruiker at the chicken shop next door whose amplified offers to the shoppers to come and check out his ``lovely legs’’ wasn’t funny the first time round, let alone the 10th.

Then an older Aboriginal lady stopped by to have a chat with me and told me she knew I was writing my next book (I had just begun the first draft of what was to become Bridge Of Swords) and encouraged me to keep going, because it would help me get the darkness out from inside me.

I have to admit the hair went up on the back of my neck and I believed every word she said.

Although whether I have written out my darkness is another matter …

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Villains of Bridge Of Swords (Part Two)


The father of Rhiannon, was forced to leave King Ward’s court to avoid a scandal with a minor nobleman’s daughter. Before he could regain favour with the king, a virus robbed him of his singing voice and his hastily-married wife, leaving him to look after a baby.

Rhiannon was his only way back to the fame and riches of the court and he intended to use it. Having managed to get her into the court, then persuaded King Ward that he could not survive without Rhiannon as his mistress, he is horrified when she is stolen away by some scruffy bard.

Worse, the bard is a Velshman and is taking her north, into the middle of the King’s careful plan to bring the Velsh to heel. With a King’s Seal and a squad of guards, he hurries to rescue his daughter – and his last chance at fame and fortune.

He will stop at nothing to get her back … except risking his precious life.


One of King Ward’s carefully-selected soldiers, he has led a band of men north into Vales with order to rob, burn and terrify the Velsh until they will beg to come under Ward’s banner.

But when he runs into a mysterious traveller who kills several of his men, he puts aside thoughts of following the King’s orders to pursue his vengeance. For this traveller uses a strange bow, the likes of which have not been seen in 300 years and was thought to only come from fabled Dokuzen.

The King’s plan was for the Forlish to form small bands and travel around, plundering like bandits. But to get his revenge, Broyle is prepared to do anything, including forming his own private army. Especially when he meets a mysterious Forlishman who has both guards and a King’s Seal.


The personal officer of Lord Jaken, he was tasked to bring both Sendatsu and a secret scroll to his Clan Leader.

But when a pair of Magic-weavers became involved, everything went wrong, including losing most of his squad and seeing Sendatsu escape through the barrier into Vales.

His only chance of redemption from a furious Jaken is to take a pair of warriors and hunt down Sendatsu, kill any that are with him and return him to his father’s judgment.


The ruler of Dokuzen, head of a clan that has controlled every aspect of life for the last 300 years, he is determined to preserve the status quo.

He does not trust Jaken or Sumiko and is determined to stamp out dangerous ideas – such as the one Sendatsu has uncovered. With the Border Patrol, Council Guards and his own clans behind him, he will not hesitate to keep uncomfortable secrets buried.

And the villains of Bridge Of Swords (Part One)


He knows the other lands have slid backwards into the mud since Dokuzen locked itself away from the world 300 years ago. His dream is to see a new golden age – and he will make it happen with fire and sword. Only united can the countries pool their knowledge and rise once more.

Brutal conquest and slavery are but the by-products of his glorious vision for the world.

His armies are the biggest, the best-trained and the best-armed and have never known defeat. Every country he has invaded have fallen to them.

His capital, Cridianton, is now a place of learning and culture, grace and art – albeit supported on the back of slavery. To show his people the glorious future that awaits them and to take their minds off the high taxes that will cost, he has the finest performers from across the country amuse and amaze in his court.

But while his armies rampage through the south, to his north are two growing problems.

He wants the Velsh mines and farms but not the expense of invasion, so plans to send bands of warriors north to plunder and terrorise the Velsh until they beg to come under his protection.

And he also has his eyes on Dokuzen and the treasures that await behind a magical barrier, for his health is slowly failing after 20 years on the throne and not even bedding the most beautiful young women from across the country can restore his youth …


Ruler of the Tadayoshi clan, he is determined to see his clan rise to control not just Dokuzen but the whole world. His son Sendatsu unwittingly provided him with proof that the barrier around Dokuzen was not put up to keep the barbarians out – but to protect them from the clans. With this knowledge allied to the power of Dokuzen, he knows he can fashion an empire.

Jaken tried to control Sendatsu but has now been forced to send warriors out into Vales to try and bring his errant son back, so he can control how and when revolution comes to Dokuzen. He also has a spy within the Magic-weaver ranks and plots to use them to overthrow Dokuzen’s ruler, Daichi, then take control himself.


Centuries ago, for reasons lost in the mists of time, the Magic-weavers rebelled against the rulers of Dokuzen but were broken and thrown outside society.

As guardians of the magical barrier that protects Dokuzen, they are vital to society but they exist on the outskirts, despised by the nobles and feared by the commoners, denied the respect and honour they deserve.

Sumiko’s life is devoted to restoring the Magic-weavers to power and ruling Dokuzen. To her, it does not matter which clan a person is from, only that they have magical powers. She knows the barrier around Dokuzen is fading, as the magic fades within Dokuzen and soon the clans will have to rejoin the world. Her plan is for it to happen under her control – and then for her control to spread across the other lands.

Meet the heroes of Bridge Of Swords


Sendatsu is a warrior on the run, being hunted by his own people, trying frantically to get back to his children and unravel a 300-year-old mystery about magic and why his people sealed themselves off from the rest of the world.

The son of a Clan Leader, his name means Guide or Pioneer in the old tongue of his people, the language nobody speaks any more. He has lived a life of privilege and luxury, always surrounded by servants and those eager to do his bidding.

Yet it has not been easy. His father, Lord Jaken, is determined to take control of the Council, to rule not one clan but the whole of Dokuzen. Sendatsu had to be the best at everything, prove the superiority of Clan Tadayoshi – or else. And he has known heartache. As the son of a Clan Leader, he was not allowed to marry his childhood love, Asami. Instead he was forced to marry the daughter of another Clan Leader, to unite two clans and improve their political standing. Meanwhile Asami also had to marry – Sendatsu’s best friend, Gaibun.

His wife, Kayiko, died in childbirth and he stepped aside from the life of political manoeuvring and backstabbing his father saw for him to instead raise his children. This act of rebellion was the first and only way he had defied his father.

But when a chance discovery reveals clues to a 300-year-old mystery and threatens to turn Dokuzen on its head, Sendatsu is the one at the heart of it.

Forced to go on the run, hunted by his own people, he finds himself in Vales, a rough, backward land that nevertheless may hold all the answers in the ruins dotted across his hills and valleys and in the hearts of its people. If he can find the answers, he can go home.

But Vales is not without its own problems, while to the south, the cruel King Ward of Forland looks to add it to the long list of his conquests.

Sendatsu stumbles across a curious pair, a young Velsh bard called Huw and a young Forlish dancer called Rhiannon, both on the run from Ward.

He sees them as the source of answers and the way home. They see him as the hero they need. But are both wrong?


In a land where all must work hard to live, Huw dares to dream. While his people love to pass the long winter nights with tales, songs and riddles, Huw is the first of them to want to make that his life. While his village sneers and laughs at him, he travels south to Forland, to earn enough gold to prove them wrong.

In this arrogant country, made rich from its conquests and packed with slaves from conquered lands, he wins both gold and fame, winning the coveted right to perform at the King’s court.

To get there he has had to deny his Velsh heritage, pretend he is also Forlish, forget all his father taught him about honour and principles – but he sees that as a small price to pay.

But then two things rock his complacent little world. First he meets Rhiannon, a beautiful Forlish dancer also performing for the King and falls head over heels for her. Then he learns King Ward plans to terrorise and terrify the Velsh until they beg to become part of Forland.

Torn between staying and somehow winning the heart of the untouchable Rhiannon and warning his people, the decision is taken out of his hands when he overhears King Ward and Rhiannon’s father discussing how to make her the King’s mistress.

Huw tricks Rhiannon and flees north to Vales, hoping to save his people and win the girl, all in one.

But saving a peaceful land of farmers and miners from a brutal army of conquest is not an easy task.

Then Huw and Rhiannon meet Sendatsu, from fabled Dokuzen. Not realising he is a hunted fugitive, they see him as the saviour of Vales. Although Rhiannon, who has been raised on tales of beautiful Dokuzen and longs to dance there, sees Sendatsu as something more …

Huw faces many choices, none of them easy, and must learn there is always a price to be paid for your actions …


Her mother died giving birth to her and she has been raised by her father Hector, once a noted singer in the court of King Ward, until illness robbed him of his voice and his fame. He has trained her from birth to astound the court and astonish the King with her singing and dancing.

Her life has been devoted to the one goal, without friends or family, until she meets a young bard she thinks is called Hugh of Browns Brook. But her new friend turns her life upside down when he tells her he is really Huw from Vales and she has to run away with him or join her father as a victim of King Ward.

Torn between grief at the loss of her beloved father and a determination to avenge his death and protect the Velsh, she only sees Huw as a friend. But she sees Sendatsu as a vision, something out of the songs she has spent her life singing.

Meanwhile, she is learning to stretch her wings, to make decisions for herself and step outside the gilded cage her father crafted for her.

What she doesn’t know is that her father Hector is very much alive and hunting for her and Huw, determined to drag them both to King Ward and face his vengeance at being cheated of his prize.

What none of them know is that the answers to the 300-year-old mystery lie within Rhiannon. She has a hidden power that will turn every single land upside down and utterly destroy everything the people think they know about their history.

She is the future … if she can unlock what is within her.


While Sendatsu searches for answers and a way back to his children, his two childhood friends struggle to find a way to return him.

Asami is the most talented Magic-weaver Dokuzen has seen in a generation. Once, all the people could use magic but the power has been dwindling within them. There are few capable of more than a trick or two.

Devastated by Sendatsu’s refusal to defy his father and run away with her, forced to see him marry for politics and not love, she has thrown herself into her magic.

She agreed to marry Gaibun but it was not a union of love and while they share a large home, they do not share a bed. She consoles herself with dreams of a different Dokuzen, where who your clan and parents were do not matter as much as your talents. The head of the Magic-weavers, Sumiko, tells her that if she were to rule Dokuzen, things would be very different – and this is music to Asami’s ears, although also treason, punishable by death.

Gaibun’s father Retsu should have been Clan Leader, until tricked and outwitted by Lord Jaken – Sendatsu’s father. And yet the two boys became friends. Gaibun is desperately in love with Asami but has had to live with the knowledge she sees him as but a friend and loves Sendatsu.

When their marriage turned his dream into a nightmare he consoled himself with mistresses and devoted himself to the Border Patrol, dedicated to keeping everyone else out of Dokuzen. Now working for Lord Jaken, he has been promised much, not least the leadership of their clan when and if Lord Jaken can take control of Dokuzen.

Sendatsu’s unwitting discovery of a revelation that could destroy the very foundations of Dokuzen sets both Sumiko and Jaken’s plans to rule into motion. Asami and Gaibun must somehow help return their friend and avoid being drawn deeper and deeper into plots and conspiracies in the struggle to rule Dokuzen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bridge Of Swords tour schedule July-Sept 2012

Here it is, the long list of places where I'll be appearing, talking and indeed selling Bridge Of Swords, as well as the original trilogy, the Dragon Sword Histories.
Feel free to bring along books to get them signed or just pop in to say hello!

Thursday July 26 - Shearer's Bookshop Leichhardt (for When Genres Attack panel) from 7pm
Sunday July 29 - Dymocks Erina (11am) Dymocks Tuggerah (2pm)

Thursday August 2 - Dymocks North Sydney (7.30am and again at 12pm)
Friday August 3 - Kinokuniya (11.30am)
Sunday August 5 - Unleash Kotara (11am)
Thursday August 9 - Galaxy Bookstore in the city (12pm)
Thursday August 16 - Dymocks Penrith (12pm and then again at 5pm)
Friday August 17 - Unleash Miranda fair (11am)
Saturday August 18 - Book Bazaar Umina (11am)
Sunday August 19 - Dymocks Carlingford (11am)
Thursday August 23 -  ADELAIDE Dymocks Adelaide (11am), Dillons Books Northwood (1.30pm) Mostly Books Torrens Park (4pm)
Friday August 24 - ADELAIDE Collins Edwardstown (10.30am) Dymocks Glenelg (12.30pm) Pages & More West Lakes (2.30pm)
Saturday August 25 - Talk at Lake Haven Library (12pm)
Sunday August 26 - Dymocks Parramatta (11am)
Thursday August 30 - CANBERRA Town &Country Goulburn (10am); Dymocks Tuggeranong (1.30pm)
FRiday August 31 - CANBERRA Dymocks Belconnen (10.30am); Dymocks Central (2pm)
Saturday September 1 - Dymocks Macquarie Centre (11am)
Thursday September 6 - BRISBANE Dymocks Brisbane (10.30am), Pulp Fiction (2.30pm); A+R Post Office Square (3pm) Dymocks Carindale (4pm)
Friday September 7 BRISBANE TLC Books Manly (10am); Dymocks Chermside (1pm)
Saturday September 8 Gosford City Markets (on behalf of All Good Books Gosford) 10am
Sunday September 9 Dymocks Chatswood (11am)
Thursday September 13 MELBOURNE Dymocks City (11am); Minotaur (2.30pm); Dymocks Southlands (4.30pm)
Friday September 14 MELBOURNE Dymocks Knox City (10.30am); Dymocks Camberwell (1pm)
Saturday September 15 Dymocks Rouse Hill 11am
Sunday September Dymocks Warringah Mall 11am
Saturday September 22 Infinitas Parramatta 10am; Dymocks Castle Towers 12.30pm
Sunday September 23 Dymocks Charlestown 11am