Heroes of the Empire – Vigram Rossum

One of the cool things about writing books – a series of books, especially – is that you have characters who grow into the story in ways you never imagined when they first showed up. For the record, I’m not one of those authors who anthropomorphize my characters – I made them, I’ll do with them what I damned well please – but that doesn’t mean small characters who weren’t intended for big things can’t surprise you.

I had that happen in The Water Road books. Part of The Endless Hills, the second book, dealt with the aftermath of the sack of a city called Innisport. When I had the main character tour the devastated city I wanted a local to call her out about what her troops had done there. That character was called Mida and all I intended for her to be in one a single scene in that book. Turns out in the final book, The Bay of Sins, Mida not only came back but had a significant storyline of her own, which I used to explore how the people of that city were trying to process what had happened there. Vigram Rossum turned out to be a similar character for me in the Unari Empire trilogy.

I created him originally to be a foil for Aton Askins, the main character who spends most of the story finding ancient artifacts for a mysterious employer. Rossum was the head of security for the person from whom Aton, um, “liberated” his first artifact. Beyond Rossum trying to track Aton down to get it back, I wasn’t sure he’d play much of a role.

Turns out, I liked the idea of Aton having a foil. Not someone who was working against him, at least directly, but who was sort of in the same line of work. The fraternity of those tracking down ancient artifacts of the gods for wealthy patrons isn’t that large, after all. More than that, I liked the idea of having Aton’s foil know precisely what he was doing. Aton has always kind of worked in a state of what we lawyers call willful ignorance – he’s willing to do the job and make the money and not think too hard about where it all comes from. Rossum knows and he thinks Aton needs to know, too. In other words, I liked the idea of Rossum almost becoming a form of Aton’s conscience, getting under his skin and making him reconsider how he’s making a living.

Rossum wound up hanging around, to the point where he’s one of the many point-of-view characters in Heroes. Not only do we get his view of the events in Cye as the story barrels to a close, we learn some more about how he wound up working for his employer in the first place. Rossum was once an Imperial Marine who got caught up in a bad situation and made it worse by doing the right thing. His future employer plucked him from the brig and gave him a second chance, but now Rossum is having second thoughts. Will his current actions echo his past?

Heroes of the Empire – Out June 7. Preorders available here for Kindle and here for other ebook formats.


All 99-cents All Month!

To celebrate the successful end of NaNoWriMo, and in an attempt to spread a little bit of holiday cheer, I’ve lowered prices on all my books to 99 cents across all platorms for the entire month of December!

That includes Moore Hollow, the entire The Water Road trilogy, and even my short story collection, The Last Ereph and Other Stories.

Get ‘em for a friend, get ‘em for yourself!

Water Road Wednesday – The Bay of Sins Is Here!

Today’s the big day – after several delays (sorry about that), the saga of The Water Road trilogy is complete:


The Bay of Sins is now available from Amazon in both eBook and paperback form! For just 99 cents!

In fact, for the next few days, in celebration of the trilogy being complete, you can get each volume for just 99 cents.

The one that started it all, The Water Road:

TWR Cover

The follow up that tackles the costs of war, The Endless Hills:

TEH Cover (1800x2700)

Each just 99 cents!  They’re not likely to be this price again for a very long time.

Next week – final thoughts on an 8-year journey.

Come Watch Me Read!

All this month my abode of Putnam County is having “Tastes and Talents: A month featuring Putnam’s finest  food, art, and music!” I’m happy to say that I’m a part of this, with a reading next Wednesday at the Putnam County Public library.*

TastesAndTalents Graphic

I’ll be reading a few different things, maybe, just possibly, including a new short story I’ve been working on. I’ll also be giving away a few books as part of the world’s easiest fantasy/sci-fi trivia game. This will also be my first appearance once The Bay of Sins comes out, so I’ll have the complete The Water Road trilogy with me for sale.

And if that’s not enough – there be cupcakes!  Serendipity Cupcake Boutique will be providing some tasty treats. So even if you don’t enjoy what you hear, you’ll enjoy what you eat. Can’t beat that, can you?

For more details check here on Facebook (be sure to tell us if you’re going or interested) and see the full roster of Tastes and Talents events here.

* Don’t let Google fool you – the library is behind Liberty Square on Route 34 (as you head toward Winfield), not down past the new elementary school out toward Hurricane.

Water Road Wednesday – Second Excerpt from The Bay of Sins

In this excerpt from The Bay of Sins, Rurek arrives in Modrozon Crossing looking for someone. Not a friend, but a familiar face from readers of The Endless Hills – the thief turned soldier Martoh. In between, these two have developed a little bit of bad blood.

 Martoh sits down:

“Well, well, well,” he said, looking very satisfied with himself. “I believe the words were, ‘I’ll never come anywhere near this place again, you filthy criminal.’ Was that about right, Rurek?” While he spoke, he fiddled with the bracelet on his wrist.

Rurek cleared his throat. “Nice to see you too, Martoh. Believe me, when I said that I meant it. If circumstances were any different I wouldn’t be here.”

“Then I am truly touched that, in your hour of need, you found your way back here.” He signaled to someone, and a drink, some kind of deep-green alcohol, arrived within moments. “Have you had the ordem? It is a local specialty, requires a special kind of grain that grows wild around here. Very strong, but a wonderfully complex flavor, if you can handle it.” He took a long, slow sip and set the glass down on the table. “The girl is fine, by the way. I thought you might like to know.”

“I don’t care.” That was a lie. There wasn’t a night he didn’t think about the little girl and what her life was like in Wellston. He wasn’t about to let Martoh know that, however.

Martoh shrugged. “So be it. What, then, brings you so low that you would go back on your word and return to Modrozon Crossing, to this pub, and seek me out? I hope you did not gamble away all that money. It was so hard-earned.”

“After a fashion,” Rurek said, stifling a chuckle. “I got the money I needed to do what I needed to do. Problem is, now I’m not sure what to do with what I’ve got.”

“How cryptic. If you will not tell me what the problem is, I cannot help you.”

“Except I don’t really trust you.”

“You must trust me a little, Rurek, or you would have gone somewhere else. Did I cheat you? Did I tell you I would pay and then not pay, or pay less than we agreed?”

“No.” Rurek had to admit that.

“Did I lie to you about the nature of the work? And I mean lie, Rurek, really tell you something that was not true?”

“You didn’t tell me—”

Martoh raised a hand. “I told you what you needed to know to complete the task. Entirely accurate information. That you did not ask more questions, better questions, before taking my money is not my fault. You needed the money badly enough to keep you from asking those questions.”

“You’re being overly technical.”

“Overly technical is what put me in prison. Why should I not use it to my advantage now?”

Rurek knew Martoh had been in prison before the war and that he didn’t think he belonged there, but he didn’t know details. He didn’t want to know. “If that’s how you want to live your life.”

“It is.” Martoh sat back, looked out the window, and smiled. “Now that our reunion is out of the way, what is it that you think I might do for you?”

The Bay of Sins arrives March 22 – pre order now for the low launch price of 99 cents!. Get The Water Road and The Endless Hills while you’re at it!


Water Road Wednesday – First Excerpt from The Bay of Sins

The first excerpt from The Bay of Sins. In this scene, Mida, the healer in Innisport who Antrey put in charge of the city, has been arrested and charged with treason and collaboration with the Neldathi. Using a code delivered via a wadded up piece of paper thrown over a wall, she reached out to her neighbor in prison:

After supper, when she knew she’d be left alone for the night, Mida moved the desk chair next to the wall she shared with C4 and waited. She wasn’t sure if her neighbor would try to make contact first, but Mida thought it wise to wait. Such communication was against the rules, and she wanted the defense, if only in her head, that she didn’t break them first. She was on the verge of giving up and getting into bed when she heard it.

Six taps, faint, like a small metal pick scratching on rock. The sound repeated itself over and over.

The night before, Mida had pried a piece of metal out from under the desk. It was part of a brace that held the desk up, but it was already lose when she found it, and the desk seemed perfectly sturdy without it. She fetched the metal from its hiding place near the toilet and tapped six times in response, then waited.

The code came, slowly and deliberately. Mida wasn’t certain if the other person was being slow for her benefit or not, but she appreciated it regardless. You are new?

Yes, Mida tapped back, quietly sounding out each letter. Two days ago. You?

Long time, came the answer, a little quicker this time. What for?

I don’t know. It was only partially untrue. She was certain it had something to do with Phichan’s need to punish those who worked with the Neldathi during the occupation, but she had no idea what the specific charges were yet. You?


War is over. Mida didn’t understand.

Not for me. Name?

Mida chuckled. They were prisoners, and, naturally, went straight to talking about why they were in prison. Small details like names were secondary. Mida Innis, Healer, she tapped back. You?

Bist, her neighbor tapped, of Clan Kohar.

The Bay of Sins arrives March 22. Get The Water Road and The Endless Hills now!


Water Road Wednesday – It Returns!

Hey, everybody – remember these? I know it’s been a while, but I am beyond pleased to announce that the final chapter of The Water Road trilogy, The Bay of Sins, is complete! It will be released on March 22, 2017.


What’s happening as the story roars to a conclusion? Glad you asked:

The war is over, but nothing is settled.

On the Neldathi side of the Water Road the clans are slowly pulling apart following a sudden murder. Hirrek is tasked with getting to the bottom of a mystery: was this killing the random act of a violent, unstable man? Or was it something more sinister, a hint of what the Neldathi thought they’d defeated during the war? The unity won in blood may be slipping away.

In the rebuilding city of Innisport, life is returning to something like normal. That’s largely due to Mida, given the task of rebuilding the city by Antrey Ranbren herself. After Mida hands power over to the Guild of Politicians, she finds herself on trial for her life, charged with treason and being a collaborator. Along the way she meets someone, a curious remnant of the war, who makes her rethink the way she sees those that destroyed her city.

In the meantime, Antrey returns from exile, escaping to the wilderness of Telebria. She gains new allies, including Rurek, and a new foe, the Sentinel Faerl. He’s best known among the other Sentinels as the man who let Antrey slip away once before, getting all his men killed in the process. Now he has a chance for redemption and revenge. But Antrey is willing to do anything to ensure that her legacy does not slip away.

The chase is on, as the saga of The Water Road barrels toward its explosive conclusion.

I’ll have more from The Bay of Sins in the next few weeks, all leading up to the big launch event on March 22.

Water Road Wednesday: A Confession

Dear readers, it’s come time for me to make a confession – The Bay of Sins, the final volume of The Water Road trilogy will not be coming out this year.

I’ve said from the beginning that I planned to release the entire trilogy in 2016 – it’s the year of The Water Road, after all. That being said, you know what a much more famous Burns once wrote about the best laid plans.

Fact is, the editing process is taking a little longer with this one than anticipated. Given that we’re getting into the holidays and people have lots of other demands on their times, I don’t think it’s fair to my beta readers or editor to try and ram things through just to have a finished product by December 31. Better that all involved have the time to do the same excellent jobs they’ve done on The Water Road and The Endless Hills.

With that, I’m going to draw Water Road Wednesday to a close for this year. I’ll ramp it back up in 2017 when we’re closer to the final product seeing the light of day.

Until then, get caught up with the trilogy by picking up The Water Road and The Endless Hills now.

Water Road Wednesday: Cover Reveal – The Bay of Sins

As we roll on towards the holidays, how about an early present? Or a slightly delayed treat, I suppose – it’s the cover for the third part of The Water Road trilogy, The Bay of Sins:


As with the first two volumes, The Water Road and The Endless Hills, this is another fabulous design from the folks at Deranged Doctor Designs.

Get caught up with the trilogy by picking up The Water Road and The Endless Hills now.

Water Road Wednesday: First Excerpt from The Bay of Sins

The Water Road Trilogy wraps up later this year with The Bay of Sins. The bay is where the Water Road empties into the sea and is home to the island city of Tolenor, home of the Triumvirate. In ancient times it was where pilgrims would come to wash away their sins. It’s always been a place of reckoning.

 In this scene, something happens in the new Neldathi city of Albandala that will require some reckoning.

It was overcast the next day, snow spitting from the slate grey sky. Weft made his rounds in the morning, speaking with members of various clans, chatting about nothing important. He was feeling things out, trying to get information without anyone knowing they were giving it to him. He usually had better luck, but today people seemed tight lipped. Something was in the air, something Weft couldn’t quite put his finger on.

The day began to achieve some focus when he saw an old Neldathi man emerge from the meeting hall in the center of the city. The long, low log building was where the clans met to discuss vital issues. It wasn’t clear what this meeting had been about or how many people had been involved, but the old man’s bearing and entourage suggested that he was important. Weft suspected he was one of the chiefs, a thek, but he couldn’t tell from which clan. He had no painted lines in the long black and grey braid that hung down his back.

Even if he couldn’t tell which clan the thek belonged to, Weft could make a guess as to which faction could claim him. It wasn’t a hard and fast rule, but generally an unpainted braid identified one as a unificationist. If a Neldathi still wore clan colors, most likely he was an independent. This was most likely one of Antrey Ranbren’s men, come to Albandala on a mission.

Weft watched as the man shuffled through the snow. There were four younger men with him, all of them also wearing black braids. Warriors, no doubt, although none of them had weapons to hand. One had a rifle slung across his back, another a short spear of some kind. The others no doubt had knives or swords on them, but Weft couldn’t see. Regardless, they were woefully unprepared for what came next.

The thek was greeting people as he shuffled. He must have been popular, at least among some portions of Neldathi society. People gave him what looked like warm hellos, meeting him with smiles and nods. The jumble of voices overtaxed Weft’s limited grip on the language. The numbers overwhelmed his guards, who looked reluctant to try and push back the well wishers anyway. Were they obeying the thek’s orders?

One Neldathi, smaller than the others and with black, blue, and red stripes in his braid, stepped forward with another group to greet the old man. Weft had a hard time keeping sight of him, with the press of tall bodies around him blocking the view. He worked his way through the crowd just in time to see the small Neldathi raise his right arm and charge at the thek. He yelled something, low and guttural and angry. Weft couldn’t begin to understand it, but he caught the gist. There was a pistol in his right hand.

It wasn’t as loud as he expected, but the shot rattled Weft’s bones all the same. The speed and violence of the maneuver took him by surprise. He knew something like this might happen, but had no idea when. In the blink of an eye there was a cloud of smoke surrounding the old chief as he fell, clutching his throat. The snow turned red underneath him.

The shooter held the useless pistol aloft and began to laugh, loudly, in a way that proved he was out of his mind. Before he could even try to run away another Neldathi, this one taller, wider, and altogether more in keeping with the stereotype of his people, tackled the shooter, driving him to the ground.

There was no need for Weft to see what happened next. His work was done. He needed to leave the city as quickly as he could.

Get caught up with the trilogy by picking up The Water Road and The Endless Hills now.