Today I am host to the blog tour supporting The Return of the Sword from Flashing Swords Press (also available from Amazon). Modesty forbids me from telling you what a great book it is, since I’m in it, but it doesn’t forbid Jason Waltz, the editor: here are some of his comments from the blurb:
Return of the Sword is a brand new anthology of blood-pounding, spine-tingling stories by some of fantasy’s most critically acclaimed Sword and Sorcery authors.
Stacey Berg, Bill Ward, Phil Emery, Jeff Draper, Nicholas Ian Hawkins, David Pitchford, Ty Johnston, Jeff Stewart, Angeline Hawkes, Robert Rhodes, E.E. Knight, James Enge, Michael Ehart, Thomas M. MacKay, Christopher Heath, Nathan Meyer, S.C. Bryce, Allen B. Lloyd, William Clunie, Steve Goble, Bruce Durham, and Harold Lamb present you with enough fast paced adventure to keep you reading for hours.
A hand painted, wrap around cover by fantasy artist Johnney Perkins ensures that Return of the Sword will not only be enjoyable to read, but also look good on your coffee table or bookshelf.
His story in Return of the Sword is “The Wyrd of War.” It’s bleak, action-filled and evocative. Here’s the opener:
It was the autumn of the world. On the hard earth of Toth, where the bones of twice ten thousand lay broken and scattered upon the plain, great hosts marched to war. From the north came proud armies beneath banners of rust red and red-gold and the stark white of wasteland snow. Assembled from fenland and mountain dale, city, town, and freehold, the able few of all tribes and nations stood within its ranks. They were the last of their kind upon the lands, the last to stand against the Animus – the living shadow at world’s end.
It had waxed strong, this unseen power, sweeping armies from the field and devouring whole kingdoms in its wars. It had spread across the lands, a blight, enslaving those it did not destroy. Now on this, the last day, the Animus brought forth its force of beasts and bestial men upon the parched earth of the ancient battle-plain, and there made war for the fate of all.
At the northern army’s leftmost point stood Vendic and his fate-bound brothers, eying the vile host that surged across the plain – a patchwork mass uncountable and chaotic, as inconsistent in its component parts as the hordings of a madman. It held no common step, no order of march, no signal banner. Among its many files and divisions jungle savages cavorted before the stately remnants of baronial armies, somber steppe horsemen canted side-by-side with stave-ribbed wolves, and baboons in leathern armor ambled soberly amongst mobs of blood-mad berserkers. Still stranger things moved within this vast and many-headed shadow, half-men and unmen, unnatural fusions of man, beast, and other, creatures warped and debased by the energies of the Animus.
The sky above the horde was filled with raucous birds, a million bits of dirty rag caught swirling in a maelstrom.
Perhaps it was the dark sorceries that now dominated Vendic and his comrades that allowed him to view the approaching host without fear. Or perhaps it was a still larger fate than that demanded by the necromantic charms he wore beneath his skin, a world-fate of supreme indifference, that provided the anchor for his own fatalism. No matter.
As if seized by a single impulse Vendic and his battle-brothers, the forty-nine men of the Wyrdkin, strode forward, leaving behind the defending line of spearmen and archers of the left flank. They would be the first to meet the enemy, the first to die. The first to test fate – to find their wyrd.
Unaccompanied by the bray of horn or the pounding of drums the onrushing horde charged.
After that it gets a little dark. Good stuff, good stuff.