Book 4 of the Koholt Chronicles


True to form, this one also took a bit longer than I expected. At least it wasn’t two years this time. There are only two more titles left in this story, so you will see some of its strands starting to come together here. In the previous book, The Colours of the Past, we did not go down to the mines of Tvinde town, and in this new title, Eagle and Hare, we are even leaving Tvinde itself.

Here we follow Koholt on his quest to make contact with Vriddhir’s teacher, who is said to live in a little village to the east of Daler. Of course, as readers of The Colours of the Past will know, he is being hunted every step of the way. And who knows what really may really lie in wait for him at the end of his journey?

The next (and penultimate!) book should be out in a month or two – I hope.

Eagle and Hare is now available from Amazon. Discuss it on Goodreads.




Koholt Chronicles Book 3 is now available


Last week I finally published the third volume of the Koholt Chronicles, The Colours of the Past. Like the two preceding volumes, it is a short story/novella/thing of about 11 000 words. Unlike those predecessors, it is the first installment in the series where we are not going down to the mines. We are still going places though, and we will see the first appearances of elements that previously only have been hinted at.

Also, it’s called The Colours of the Past for a reason! When I first began writing the Koholt Chronicles I envisaged how the various titles in my series would be colour-coded according to where they would take place; blue books for one place, green for another. Eventually I realised that this was yet another example of a fancy idea that does not, in the end, really add that much, so I dropped it and got the new covers you see today. But the concept of thinking of places in terms of colours stuck, and I found it evocative to play around with as I worked on this title.

The next installment is out in early June. Till then, I hope you all will enjoy seeing Koholt again!

The Colours of the Past is now available from Amazon. Discuss it at Goodreads.

Getting into Atwood

I recently began reading the work of Margaret Atwood, and I’m very glad I did! Her wit, clarity, and complexity are all very stimulating, and sometimes makes one ashamed of the bloated prose that’s so common in fantasy fiction (I’m a recurring sinner here myself).

My first Atwood was Moral Disorder, and it made me feel I’ve wasted time by not reading her before. The stories in this book can be read independently, but also add up to a complex whole. Mostly they follow the life of a protagonist from childhood to adulthood, while also tracing the lives of her sister, parents, and others. Often the stories hinge on very particular elements, such as a Halloween costume made and worn just as our protagonist is outgrowing Halloween itself, or the life of a horse that she ends up taking care of during a spell as a farm holder along with her partner. Also interesting are the stories that aren’t told, but which seem to happen between what is told – effectually suggesting the fullness of life and how hard it is to capture it. All of this is written in an admirably simple, effective, and beautiful prose. I now promise to mend my ways and start going through Atwood’s impressive catalogue.

My second encounter with Atwood’s work was Hag-Seed, and that too was a wonderful read. This is a part of the Hogarth Shakespeare, meaning that invited authors do their own takes of assigned plays. Atwood faces off with The Tempest. I really like her idea of doing this by telling the story of how a fallen theatre director and his production of the play with convicts in a prison. It allows for both an effective frame that mirrors the themes and plot of the play itself, and to have an ongoing discussion between the characters about all the small and large problems of the play and how to stage it. Throughout, there are elegant but non-obvious references to the play’s production history and the many debates surrounding its reception, all of which are admirably up-to-date. And the theatre production frame opens for all the little questions of the practical aspects of performing Shakespeare, something I think is all too missing in many discussions of his plays – after all, they really are PLAYS!

It is also refreshing to see how Atwood does not engage too much with the many postcolonial readings of Caliban that now are so influential. That is not to say that I have anything against them – on the contrary, they are essential to how I read the play myself – but it is still intriguing with a take which gives room to many of the play’s other aspects.

As with many other similar books (and films!) that follow classical originals, some parts of the plot here appear a bit too contrived, and the resolution itself is a bit rushed. Also, it is very hard, even for a writer like Atwood, to keep readers from playing ‘spot the original plot’ while reading. That being said, most of the characters of this book do take on lives of their own, lives that brush with The Tempest and then continue along their own trajectories.

So great books both.

Parts of this blogpost originally appeared as reviews on my Goodreads blog.

Revisiting Discworld

When I’m not tumbling around in the world of All, I tend to read books from elsewhere. Lately they’ve been from the world of the Disc – or Discworld, as one says.

I’m rereading the series now, though ‘rereading’ is an overstatement. Finding that I hadn’t read nearly as many of them as I’d remembered, I’m rereading some, but reading most of them for the very first time.

I’ve tried to review them on Goodreads as I go along, though I haven’t necessarily been reading them in the chronological order.

I started out conservatively with the very first Discworld titles, . These were my first entry into the series 20 years ago, but I didn’t enjoy them that much this time around.

My reading of the Discworld series has been very eclectic; I read them out of order, and often with several years in between each time I pick up one. I reread the two first titles, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, a couple of years ago, and found them to be both funnier and less well-structured than I remembered.
I then went on to Guards! Guards!, and that is one of the very best Discworld novels I’ve read – maybe even one of the best fantasy novels, period. I won’t go into details on the plot or the characters, since I believe it is all quite well known. While I hadn’t read the novel before, I could recognise the plot from the 1995 PlayStation game Discworld, which was a little jewel in its own right. It replaced Sam Vimes with Rincewind (voiced by Eric Idle), had beautiful animation, and was packed with witty and clever gags – just like the Discworld novels themselves. It also had a very 90s approach to puzzle-solving – meaning it was at times almost impossibly difficult to progress. I wish there’d be a release on GOG or similar.

But back to the book itself: What I think is noteworthy here is how Pratchett manages to weave together a quite bizarre storyline that riffs on a number of stale fantasy tropes, a set of outrageous, but believable characters (who don’t really need the overarching storyline to be interesting), and to make it all come together in a surprisingly dark meditation on the nature of power and human ambition – while being effortlessly funny throughout.

A detail I’ve never appreciated before in Pratchett’s writing is his wonderful talent of finding exactly the right word in a given context. For instance, when the imprisoned Patrician orders a set of illiterate rats to provide him with books, the ensuing library is described as “baroque”. Perfect.

After this very enjoyable read I tried to go back into the formal chronology of the series. As I’ve said, I was surprised by how funny and inventive I foundThe Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, having only read them once nearly 20 years ago. However, I was also disappointed by their weak narrative structure. They’re basically just a long series of set pieces, not all of them equally successful. The Discworld books clearly got better later on.

I’d heard that Equal Rites is the first book in the series to evidence some of the elegant plotting of the later titles, being not only a series of jokes but actually coming off as a novel.

I was disappointed. While clearly an improvement on the two earlier titles, Equal Rites still struggles with carrying its characters through an engaging storyline. The ingredients are there, but the result doesn’t come off – not to my taste, at least. The middle section where Esk runs away does not, as far as I can tell, add anything to the proceedings, and the final set piece lacks suspense and purpose.

On the other hand, some of the new characters are very promising, and the budding relationship between Granny Weatherwax and the Archchancellor of Unseen University is one of the best elements in the entire book.

The best thing about the title remains the title itself – a truly wonderful pun.

Parts of this post first appeared on my Goodreads blog. I will be back with more reflections on my Discworld reading.

The World of All

The World of All is the setting of my new, ongoing series of dark fantasy stories. The first cycle of stories, the Koholt Chronicles, focuses on the mercenary Koholt, who tries to live out his days in relative peace as a guard for a security company in the mining town of Tvinde. As those of you who have read the first installment of the series, The Beast in the Rocks, will know, events in the mines are making his so-called “retirement plan” a lot more challenging than he wished for.

I will not reveal any upcoming plot points, but I will say this: An essential theme of the series is to discuss the relationship between language, magic, power, and many other things. All this is of course partly inspired by my day job as a PhD researcher in medieval languages and literary culture, and fragments of that work do show up in unexpected places in the world of All.

But for now, we follow Koholt. Once I met him, I quickly found that he can be more interesting company than many of the fancy ideas I first brought with me to the empty page.

This blog is my online home, but you can reach out to me many other places, such as Goodreads and Twitter. I am glad to hear from you, whatever you wish to say, and no matter how you say it.

This blog post first appeared on Goodreads, and then in a quite different form. Take a look if you want to see how different my take was back in 2015.