Tag Archives: India

The Vulture – Chapter 2

Wrote a bit more of my experimental novel The Vulture this morning. Here’s chapter 2 told from the perspective of a different character this time.

If you’re young or prudish I would advise you to please look away now.

Chapter 2


My sword dripped red blood in a growing puddle on the floor. I stared down at the body at my feet. I had just killed my own brother, and as I had predicted they would be my emotions were mixed. But I didn’t have time to worry about those just then. You see my brother, being King of Realh Dorn, I mean having been King of Realh Dorn, had been well protected by guards, castles, magical wards, and even beasts of lore that the common people don’t even know about. Luckily for me I only had to face two of his guards. Although to call them mere guards would be insulting. These men were his bosom buddies, generals in his armies, advisers on policy, carousers in his drunken escapades to the brothels and pleasure-domes down by the river in Phun. They were mightily pissed off that I had just killed their best friend and adored leader.

But surprised too. They had no idea that I wanted to kill him, or even that I harboured more than a normal brotherly dislike for him. That’s what gave me my precious seconds.

‘You’ll pay for that,’ I heard Jakol say. Jakol was older than my brother but idolised him like he was a younger man looking up to a father figure. What I heard was more like ‘Yoooo-uuuu-llll ppppp-aaaa-yyyy …’ and then the tip of my sword had stabbed him twice hard in the stomach and he was doubled up in pain on the floor.

You see I’m Bachtrian trained.

And I had dropped a Phunish pill before I came here, two in fact, and I wasn’t operating on the same plane of existence as normal men at that moment.

But Phalan was coming at me hard and fast. He was younger than Jakol and younger than my dead brother. He was from the street and fought as dirty as I had learnt to. I managed to dodge his blow and sidestepped neatly up the wall of the chamber, grabbing hold of light fittings as I went, but they snapped off as I grabbed them and I felt my grip defeating me and my feet were suddenly scrabbling for purchase on the smooth walls. As my old master Pietaar would have said, I should have practiced more. I should have practiced in a chamber just like the King’s ante-chamber until I had every eventuality of combat just right. But there hadn’t been time for that. Correction, I had been too impatient for that. I wanted my sister back in my bed again, and out of my brother’s. And the only way I was going to do that, she had said, was if I proved I had the bigger cock, metaphorically speaking.

But this was the combat equivalent of premature ejaculation. I was in an awkward heap on the floor, and Phalan was standing over me, his sword poised to stab or slash me. He hadn’t made the mistake of raising it high in the air for a devastating killing blow, as he could see that I still had my weapon grasped in my hand.

But for some reason he didn’t strike immediately. He was saying something to me. I shook my head trying to clear the effects of the drugs out of it.

‘Say again,’ I said to him as I realised that he was waiting for me to answer him.

‘I want you to tell me why before I kill you,’ he snarled.

I grinned up at him. ‘I did it for love.’

He shook his head. ‘What the f…’

‘No it’s true,’ I countered. ‘I think you can guess. You know how much I love my sister. She commanded this.’

‘The Queen? That vile whore! She will pay for her treachery,’ he was snarling again, fairly frothing at the mouth at the thought of punishing and killing the most beautiful woman in Realh Dorn.

I was salivating myself, but more at the prospect of sucking on her breasts when I told her the good news. My cock was swelling as my mind touched on the thought of undressing and pleasuring her.

‘You did this just to sleep with a woman?’

I nodded.

‘You are in love with her?’

I nodded again.

‘Then you’re a fool?’ said Phalan. He was backing away from me now, and I had the opportunity to sit up. This could be problematic I realised. I hadn’t intended on making public the Queen’s involvement in this. It was supposed to be an unknown assassin, so that the court and the people who were loyal to us would assume that the Blues had done this cowardly act. I would then naturally step into my brother’s place and assume the mantle of the crown and reluctantly the wedding bed of the Queen-Goddess, my sister, and be joined physically and figuratively to the land of Realh Dorn.

But if one of my brother’s trusted lieutenants escaped and spread the word of what he had seen, who would have been believed?

I didn’t want to find out. My hand went to the throwing knife at my side and in a moment it was spinning through the air. It caught Phalan on the upper arm. A mistake as he wasn’t dead just wounded. He grinned and opened the door behind him and was gone. I was too stunned to respond. I could hear him shouting. ‘Guards! Guards!’

I knew all the ways out of the chamber and how to quickly make my getaway across the castle roofs and walls. That wasn’t the problem.

The problem was going to be my sister.

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The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie Gets My Juices Going

The Blade Itself: Book One Of The First Law

I love Joe Abercrombie! If I was a girl I’m sure I’d say that I’d be prepared to have his babies?

Why do I feel like this? Well I don’t know him personally, but you can tell that he has got a wicked and subtle sense of humour and a great way with words. In many ways his books are standard fantasy fiction fare. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie is the first part of a trilogy for instance and is a fairly weighty tome. The book is set in a world with a mix of medieval and colonial era style settings. The main country featured is the Union, which is very much like Great Britain – a number of separate nations brought together with colonial aspirations to the north in Angland and to the south in a city called Daroska which is very much like the Raj in India or maybe an outpost in the Arabian Gulf.

The plot is constructed so that we follow the character arcs of the main characters and how they fit into a larger narrative that is made up of world events. In The Blade Itself this larger narrative is about the threat to the Union from the king of the Northmen, Bethod, and also the dangers posed by a rogue magi, Khali. However, its really the individual character narratives that provide most of the interest and I think this is where Abercrombie raises his work above the humdrum of regular fantasy concerns.

Abercrombie’s narrative switches between a number of viewpoint characters, most of which have been constructed well. Probably my favourite of these is the Inquisitor Glotka, once a dashing cavalry officer and now a cynical and very funny secret policeman. His scenes are definitely the best in the book. Other characters such as Logen Ninefingers and Jezal Luthar work well too and you can see how they are all going to come together eventually in a satisfying conclusion to the first book. The Blade Itself however is definitely not a stand alone book. In the best traditions of fantasy trilogies it is just getting things started, by the end of the book we have all our heroes pretty much together and ready to set out on an important quest.

This sounds a bit clichéd, but you ignore that because of Abercrombie’s earthy and descriptive style. This is what he really excels at and its what keeps you reading and basically enjoying nearly every page. This is definitely muddy fantasy in the best traditions of something like the Warhammer game, where warriors are scarred, swear constantly and life is cheap and muddy and deadly. But Abercrombie doesn’t write with a blunt instrument like some other British fantasy writers do, such as Stan Nicholls or James Barclay. His descriptive powers really make you feel like you’re there tramping through wet woodlands or watching as Glotka hauls his crippled leg up yet another flight of stairs.

Here’s a paragraph that shows this quite well:

“The gorge was deep. Very deep with sheer, rocky sides. Here and there a tree clung to a crack, growing out into the empty air and spreading its leaves into space. The river hissed away far below, fast and angry, foaming white water fringed by jagged black stone. That was all bad, for sure, but the real problem was closer to hand. The big Shanka was still with him, swinging gently back and forth with its dirty hands clamped tight around his left ankle.”

Abercromie uses sound as well as sight to describe the scene, but he also supplies the viewpoint character’s opinon: ‘very deep’ the gorge seems, and ‘all bad’.

I think my only reservation would be the setting. We have seen it all before, but the way Abercrombie tells it makes it fun and exhilarating, but having only started reading the second book I’m not sure if it will ultimately prove to be a let down in the grander scheme of things. The style at the moment is winning over the feeling that there is a lack of substance to it all. I would also have to say that some of the minor characters are real clichés. There is the pathetically weak old king of the Union, the evil barbarian king etc. Although there’s nothing unrealistic about these characterisations on their own, they do feel a bit hollow when set against the main characters of the story. But then I perhaps shouldn’t complain as the story isn’t about these other characters anyway.