Guest Post: “Anarchy Sucks” by Gail Z. Martin

0061-eWomenNetworkWar of Shadows is the newest book in my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, tracing the struggle of disgraced lord Blaine McFadden and his convict friends, as they attempt to restore control over magic and reinstate the rule of law in the devastated kingdom of Donderath. It’s the third book in the series, and with rival warlords and rogue mages competing for control over Donderath’s ruins, there’s action and intrigue aplenty.

Underneath this all is a heartfelt conviction, born out of a lifelong study of history, that anarchy sucks.

The suckishness of anarchy seems up for debate. It’s quite trendy these days to loudly announce “we don’t need no stinkin’ government”. Sometimes, the announcement comes from people well-heeled enough to wall themselves in secure enclaves and protect their interests with private armies of security guards. On the other end of the spectrum are live-off-the-land survivalist types who believe that some canned food, a trout stream and several thousand rounds of ammunition are all that’s needed to live the good life. Continue reading

Guest Post: “It’s the End of the World — Bring Charmin” by Gail Z. Martin

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In the post-apocalyptic TV show “Revolution,” one of the characters, a former Google executive, says, “80 million dollars in the bank and I would trade it all right now for a roll of Charmin.” Of all the things that society has lost, at that moment, he misses commercially-produced toilet paper. It’s the little things that count.

I write the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, a post-apocalyptic medieval epic fantasy series, for Orbit Books. In Ice Forged, the first book in the series, my characters have to come to terms with what they’ve lost, both big and small. Oddly enough, sometimes it’s the small things that matter the most.

Epic fantasy usually deals with the sweeping repercussions of events and decisions — the wars, assassinations, dynastic conflicts and economic collapses that change the balance of power. Certainly anything worthy of being called an apocalypse affects the superstructure of society: government, commerce, economics, and technology. Add in plague and natural disaster and a nation, continent or kingdom loses a significant portion of its workforce, its intellectual capital, its history and its physical infrastructure. Those losses are guaranteed to change what daily life is like for the survivors, and to make just getting by much more difficult.

Martin,GZ-IceForgedYet for individuals — whether real people or book characters — sometimes the big losses seem distant and abstract and it’s the small losses that drive home just how much life has changed and what is gone. In Ice Forged, characters mention what they miss, little things like memories of how holidays were celebrated and favourite foods that are now difficult or impossible to get. Perhaps it’s the realization that the landmarks — like a castle or the main street of a city—that seemed immutable are now ruined. It’s the dislocation of war and cataclysm that causes long-time neighbours to go missing, and the people you always met in the course of your daily life to vanish. Or it’s discovering that with crops unplanted or unharvested and distilleries and vineyards ruined, there’s not going to be any new good wine, ale or whiskey any time soon.

When the means of production are destroyed, whether those are craftsmen or factories, the goods in existence are all the goods there will be until manufacturing is restored. For the characters in Ice Forged, that means any goods they can’t grow themselves or create from raw materials. Not only will there be no new brocades or silks (and nowhere to wear them), but no new metals or coal mined, no imported goods until trade is restored, and nothing that someone might have purchased rather than making. Things like sugar and salt, maybe even lumber and clay become difficult to find. Looting the ruins and the trash heaps becomes the new form of shopping. And in a million little ways, life becomes strange and hard.

In Ice Forged, the devastation of the Cataclysm goes beyond physical destruction. Mages on both sides made a doomsday strike using magic, and unintentionally destroyed the bonds that allowed men to tame magic and use it to their purposes. For a culture that depended on the little magics for everyday life, that means no healers, no using magic to keep pests out of the crops or strengthen a sea wall, no way to keep milk from spoiling or food from rotting or all the hundreds of small ways that people had come to rely on a flicker of power here and there. And after four centuries of using magic as part of everyday life, few people remember how to do things the old way.

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams advised readers to “Always know where your towel is.” Perhaps he should have included some Charmin, just in case?

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Martin,GZ-ReignOfAshCome check out all the free excerpts, book giveaways and other goodies that are part of my Days of the Dead blog tour! Trick-or-Treat you way through more than 30 partner sites where you’ll find brand new interviews, freebies and more.

Ice Forged will be a Kindle Daily Deal with a special one-day price of just $1.99 only on October 31!

Reign of Ash, book two in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga launches in April, 2014 from Orbit Books.

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About the author: Gail Z. Martin is the author of Ice Forged in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga and the upcoming Reign of Ash (Orbit Books, 2014), plus The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven & Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books, and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn and The Dread) from Orbit Books. In 2014, Gail launches a new urban fantasy novel, Deadly Curiosities, from Solaris Books. She is also the author of two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures. Be sure to check out Gail’s website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook for more up-to-date news. Gail can also be found at the Disquieting Visions blog and on the Ghost In The Machine Podcast.

Guest Post: “After Apocalypse” by Gail Z. Martin

Martin,GZ-ReignOfAshMaybe it’s a sign of the times, but we seem to be obsessed with the end of the world.

Sure, such fascinations, both literary and religious, have come and gone in times past. It’s just our luck to live in the midst of a resurgence of end-of-the-world fatalism.

Pick your poison—climate change, asteroid collision, bio-warfare, zombies, or mad scientists, there are plenty of ways to die. Personally, I prefer magic.

In Ice Forged, and the upcoming Reign of Ash, Books 1 and 2 in my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, mages on both sides of a devastating war use magic as their doomsday weapon. They manage to destroy civilization on their continent, and magic itself.

Apocalypse-by-mage was a twist that intrigued me. Magic, in the world of the Ascendant Kingdoms, does for them what technology does for us—heals the sick, makes routine tasks easier, reduces effort, and controls the environment. Long ago, people used to do those things without magic, but since the wild power was harnessed so that it could be controlled by humans, people have forgotten the old ways.

That makes it rough when the magic stops working.

There’s a fantastic TV series about “Life After People” that shows just how quickly the modern world falls apart—literally—when people are suddenly removed and no one is left to maintain what has been built. I watched those shows, riveted, as it speculated that in about 250 years after all people disappeared, the world would heal itself and most of our structures would be largely obliterated. We’re not as important as we think we are.

That concept served well as I imagined the apocalypse in Ice Forged. Not only do survivors of the war endure hardship because of the fire that rained down from the skies in a powerful magic strike, they also suffer because there is no magic. Few people know how to treat wounds, protect crops from pests, or do many other essential tasks. Where magic was used for infrastructure, either as a repair patch or to do something important, like keeping back the sea at the sea wall, magic’s failure results in additional disaster. Not only that, but the once-harnessed magic, returned to the wild, becomes a violent force of nature, creating dangerous storms and unnatural monsters.

So when exiled convict and disgraced lord Blaine McFadden discovers that he might be the only one who can restore the magic, the stakes are high. Trying to bring magic back might cause Blaine’s death, and there’s no guarantee the attempt will work. Even if he can restore the magic, it may not function the way it did before, and in any event, the kingdom is in rubble, its leaders dead.

It’s been said that “fortune” is the combination of “danger” and “opportunity.” If you define it that way, then Blaine McFadden is a very “fortunate” man.

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The Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event includes book giveaways, free excerpts and readings, all-new guest blog posts and author Q&A on 21 awesome partner sites around the globe. For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit the Ascendant Kingdoms website.

Book Giveaway on Twitter: Every day from June 21-28, I’ll be choosing someone at random from my Twitter followers to win a free signed book. Invite your friends to follow me – for every new 200 followers I gain between June 21-28, I’ll give away an additional book, up to 20 books!

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Gail Z. Martin is the author of Ice Forged in her new The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books), plus The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven and Dark Lady’s Chosen) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn and The Dread). She is also the author of two series on eBook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Series. Her books are available in bookstores worldwide and on Kindle, Kobo and Nook.