The main difficulty for me with the Halcyon Cycle has been the interval between books! On this occasion, (having previously written to ask when this was coming out) Peter kindly sent me a free review copy, which I found waiting for me on my return from a trip away. I was tired from my travels; so that made a perfect excuse to put my feet up and read – and I devoured over a third of the book in one day! After that, I decided I had better catch up on my other work and rationed myself quite severely. One tip: if, like me, it’s about 2 years since you read the last book I’d recommend re-reading that first. Maybe even re-read both. I found that I had become pretty hazy over some of the details: but I was so intent on following the story that I failed to notice the helpful glossary and maps at the back until I’d almost finished.
The book is very fast-paced, as Al and his friends engage in an increasingly desperate search to trace his wife and adopted son before they are lost forever in the terrifying abyss called Sheol. This leaves them less time for philosophical debate than in previous books. Nevertheless, the philosophical element is still present, covering such issues as the social bankruptcy of [tyranny], duty in the face of despair and whether the goodies are always good or the baddies irredeemably bad.
The book ends on a high note: but this is very evidently the calm before the storm. Key questions remain unanswered; and the eventual outcome is far from certain. Will good ultimately triumph over the evils that may arise from the depths of Sheol, from within the ranks of the Ancient Ones, or from Earth itself? Is there going to be another trilogy? I won’t be satisfied until I see the next series.
A reader of Peter Kazmaier’s first book (The Halcyon Dislocation) state that “Kazmaier hurls readers into a world with shady morals, dubious friendships and exotic surroundings.” Kazmaier’s most recent manuscript, The Dragons of Sheol, is also worthy of this praise.
The exotic setting, in this case, is the continent of Abaddon which resembles a giant continent-sized crater with a ring of coastal mountains and the Abaddon plain some ten kilometers below sea level. The high air pressure and the penchant for wizards in one area of the continent (the Mutandi Highlands) to create all kinds of bizarre and dangerous lifeforms, fills this continent with exotic and dangerous plants and animals.
We had heard of Abaddon in Kazmaier’s second book (The Battle for Halcyon). Now the reader gets to explore this world in an adventure in which Albert Gleeson tries to rescue his kidnapped pregnant wife and adopted son.
The manuscript is just entering the editing stage. The book itself is slated to be published in 2019.
Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to family, friends, and readers. Find out what’s new with author Peter Kazmaier and his writing.
Peter and Kathy wish you …
Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year
Inns, Castles, and Towers
Inns, castles, and towers are part of the literary fare that make fantasy stories so interesting. The Prancing Pony in The Lord of the Rings, The Silver Swan in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, and even The Phoenix in Steven Eriksen’s Gardens of the Moon provide a “home away from home” with good food, drink, and a place to meet new characters as part of a journey quest. These venues contribute much to the ambience of the story.
Kathy and I had a chance to spend two weeks in Germany (Peter was on business, but we also had time to spend with family, sightseeing). Germany, like England, has many traditional inns. The food was uniformly excellent, the beer fine, and the wine of a very high quality.
My most recent book, The Battle for Halcyon, also has quite a bit of action that take place at an inn (The Golden Goose). It helps to add authenticity to writing if one can experience these fine establishments first hand.
My next (fourth) book is called Descent into Abaddon and is the third in The Halcyon Cycle. While in Germany I had a chance to visit a well preserved castle called Die Altenburg. The header picture of this newsletter shows a bridge crossing a dry moat to the main gate of the castle. Inside there was a beautiful keep shown below. Both of these helped me imagine a fortress and keep in Descent into Abaddon which play a critical role in the adventures. The tower in Descent into Abaddon is much bigger than the one pictured below, dwarfing the walls of the Abaddon fortress. Travelling in Germany seems to make writing easier (especially if you write science fiction that reads a lot like fantasy) and I’ve come back with renewed enthusiasm to get my next book finished.
Reconnecting with friends is one of the things I like best about sending out these periodic newsletters. If you have a few moments during this busy season, please send me an email note and let me know how you’re doing. Merry Christmas!
The Wolfsburg Ruins – Origin of the Name ‘Wolfsburg Imprints’
As you may have noticed, although my books are published by Word Alive Press, they are also listed under Wolfsburg Imprints. The name is derived from a castle ruin, depicted here, in south western Germany. With the uncertain and ever changing world of book publishing, it seemed like a good idea to have one place where all my books can be found and listed. I am deeply grateful for your encouragement, your reviews, your book ratings, and your interest in my writing.
Kay MacLeod, a fantasy writer from England, has put together writer’s advent calendar, featuring two writers per day up until Christmas. My book, The Halcyon Dislocation will be featured on December 19th. Why not check out her site and see the creations of the many fine writers featured. You can even vote on your favourite featured book and have a chance to win a free copy.
What Peter’s Been Reading
The Game Changers
The Game Changers is a powerful and moving book that gives a snapshot of the lives of key leaders, healthcare workers, and teachers in Uganda as they struggle to solve the huge problem of mother-and-child deaths during pregnancy and delivery. Through the lives of front-line workers, Dr. Jean Chamberlain-Froese (the founder of Save The Mothers) and Patricia Paddey (a journalist) provide heart-wrenching accounts of the magnitude of the problem as well as a look at the courageous men and women who are working to solve it in East Africa.
This book will move you and also give you a sense of hope as you see the commitment of these Ugandans, see how their deep faith moves them to action, and marvel at the progress that has already been made. It will also leave you (as it did me) with a profound sense of gratitude that we are not forced to go through the same trials here. The Gamer Changers is worth reading several times and can also be picked up and read in short sittings. I highly recommend it.
No Free Lunch
This brilliant book by William A. Dembski on specified complexity and the implications for intelligent design is a superbly written book that follows his other seminal work, The Design Inference. Dembski comprehensively analyzes the criticisms levelled at the arguments made in The Design Inference and then graciously explains in great detail why these counter arguments are flawed. The wealth of information in this book and the breadth of subjects covered, mean that reading only a few pages at one sitting gives me a great deal to think about.
The Codex Alera
I read all five volumes of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera fantasy series this summer and really enjoyed the some 3000 pages of action-packed adventure. Butcher, better known for The Dresden Files, shows great imagination and each volume follows seamlessly from the last. If you like fantasy linked to a roman legion setting, then I think you might like this series (particularly if you like long series with many characters and intricate plot lines as I do).
The Wolfsburg Imprints book, The Battle for Halcyon, is still in the running for the Speculative Fiction category of the Word Awards. The Award winner will be announced at the Word Award Gala in Toronto on June 24, 2016.
Here is a 100 word excerpt from the book requested for the Gala.
Dave peeked over the rubble heap and saw a large band of Halfmen approaching, carrying torches. Just then an arrow thudded into the first Halfman and the others howled with rage and sprang to the attack. There were so many of them that they flowed through a gap in the broken ruin of the wall like a dark howling tide. Dave had no time to think, but along with his friends was fighting for his life. Three large Lupi bounded on a nearby broken wall. The leader spotted Dave, growled and leapt for him. Dave rammed his shield into its snout and thrust his sword into its chest.
I came across Peter Kazmaier in an online group discussion on some fairly contentious issues relating to faith and morality. I was struck by his reasoned approach and intrigued to discover that he was also the author of this book. Having read many sci-fi and fantasy books in the past, but nothing of that ilk recently; I decided to put it on my Christmas list. After all, it should be better than a pair of socks. And I’m glad to say, it was.
Initially, the book reads like a fairly standard science fiction novel. A force-field experiment at a University on the little island of Halcyon goes catastrophically wrong, ripping the entire island into what appears to be an alternate reality with no human inhabitants. But as they begin to explore this part-familiar, part-alien world a different picture slowly emerges. Was their coming here an accident, and what is the real agenda of the men who have set themselves up as Halcyon’s leaders? More worryingly still, it gradually becomes apparent that this world was not always uninhabited. So why does it seem that way now – and is it really?
As the plot thickens the book becomes more of a science fantasy battle between both moral and spiritual forces of good and evil than a simple science fiction. But this is one of the most interesting aspects of the book. On one hand, are hard-nosed scientists and philosophers, determined to create a new human utopia without any taint of religion or old-fashioned morality. In the middle are a lot of hurting and confused young people of various persuasions who desperately want to go home; and at the other extreme a group of religious fundamentalists who simply want an escape from the perceived evils of this brave new world.
But who are the real moralists and the real oppressors? As we follow the stories of some of those caught in the middle of all this, there are many fascinating discussions as they try to work through the issues of who, and what, they should believe, and how they should respond in this strange new reality.