Guest Post: “Fire Lookout, Monk, Water-Skier, Teacher; the Best Profession for a Writer” by Brian Staveley

StaveleyB-AuthorPicI got an email a few weeks ago from a young man just graduating from college, an aspiring writer, who wanted to know which careers I thought might be most conducive to the writing life. I suspect the answer might be Fire Lookout. Or maybe Monk. Professional Writer seems promising, at least at first glance, but turns out to entail all kinds of stuff that’s not actually writing.

In fact, I’m not in the greatest position to answer this question. Aside from college stints as a waiter and a rock climbing instructor and a short time immediately after graduation in which I worked at a halfway house for convicted felons, the only job I’ve ever had, the one I held from my early twenties until I quit to write full time, was teaching. For all I know, Professional Water Skier might facilitate the hell out of some good writing, but I can only talk teaching. Continue reading

Excerpt: THE PROVIDENCE OF FIRE by Brian Staveley (Tor)


As I prep this post, I’m in the middle of reading Brian Staveley‘s debut, The Emperor’s Blades – the first novels in the author’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series. It’s certainly very good. It’s sequel, The Providence of Fire is now out in the UK and North America, published by Tor Books. To whet your appetites, Tor has allowed me to share this excerpt from the first chapter. But first, here’s the synopsis:

War is coming, secrets multiply and betrayal waits in the wings…

The Annurian Empire’s ruling family must be vigilant, as the conspiracy against them deepens. Having discovered her father’s assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies. But few trust her, until she seems marked by the people’s goddess in an ordeal of flame.

As Adare struggles to unite Annur, unrest breeds rival armies – then barbarian hordes threaten to invade. And unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn has fallen in with forces mustering at the empire’s borders. The terrible choices they face could make war between them inevitable.

Fighting his own battles is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with two strange companions. While imperial forces prepare to defend a far-distant front, Kaden’s actions could save the empire, or destroy it.

Now, on to the excerpt! Continue reading

Review: THE EMPEROR’S BLADES by Brian Staveley (Tor)

Staveley-1-TheEmperorsBladesUKA superb, must-read debut epic fantasy

The circle is closing. The stakes are high. And old truths will live again…

The Emperor has been murdered, leaving the Annurian Empire in turmoil. Now his progeny must prepare to unmask a conspiracy. His son Valyn, training for the empire’s deadliest fighting force, hears the news an ocean away. And after several ‘accidents’ and a dying soldier’s warning, he realizes his life is also in danger. Yet before Valyn can act, he must survive the mercenaries’ brutal final initiation.

The Emperor’s daughter, Minister Adare, hunts her father’s murderer in the capital. Court politics can be fatal, but she needs justice. Lastly Kaden, heir to the empire, studies in a remote monastery. Here, the Blank God’s disciples teach their harsh ways, which Kaden must master to unlock ancient powers. But when an imperial delegation arrives, has he learnt enough to keep him alive, as long-hidden powers make their move?

There was much hype around The Emperor’s Blades when it was released last year. Naturally, being the ornery and difficult fellow, I decided to wait. And wait. As the weeks passed, I became distracted by other things and other new books. Then I moved to Canada. After the arrival of the sequel, The Providence of Fire, I decided I had waited long enough, and started reading The Emperor’s Blades (wow, that was one long, convoluted tale that was utterly unimportant and uninteresting…). And then I kept reading. Well into the night, multiple times. With only a couple of niggles, I can sum things up thus: Believe the hype. This is a great novel and the beginning of something special. Continue reading