HS&S:WT EBooks!

A whole series of NaNoWriMo novels, now available as EBooks!

Book I – Please Kill the Neighbours

Most nuisance neighbours can be dealt with by a court order. When your neighbour is a country ruled by an evil wizard, we recommend a demon.
Of course, you need someone … disposable … to summon the damn thing.

Meet Cullan and his companions, Alys and Kenyon, and follow their adventures when they’re blackmailed into escorting Morgan, a gifted young mage, into a hostile country so that she can fulfil her Destiny.


Book II – Finish the Job So We Don’t Have To

Whenever you kill an evil wizard, there are three things you should remember:
1. Kill his bodyguards and sidekicks as well;
2. Steal all his treasure;
3. Have an escape route planned in advance.
So… Second time lucky?

A second chance arrives for Cullan and his companions to loot the Tower of Morss – not that they really want to go back there after what happened last time. Especially with an invading army in the way. Oh, and having to kill the three most well-protected people in a besieged city first.


Book III – All’s Fair in Love and Politics

Inter-monarchial relationships can be tricky things. There are all sorts of things to consider concerning alliances, succession, trade, and so on. Not to mention security – with all the travelling between two countries that will be going on, it makes it easier for someone to, for example, kidnap someone.

When Queen Elspeth is abducted on a state visit to Galorndan, Cullan and his companions are ordered to once again travel several hundred miles to find someone – this time to rescue, not to kill. Although, someone probably will need killing while they’re in the area.


Book IV – Things Never Go Smooth

Gods exist. Some of them are family. And all families have squabbles. Some might say there’s profit to be made from them – others say that now’s a good time to hide in the cellar.

A chance sight of a Princess on the streets of Doronatha causes big problems for Cullan – not only do two Gods have their eye on the Princess, the Princess has her eye on Cullan. And to make matters worse, the only ones willing to rescue him aren’t going to get paid for it!


Book V – Cult Following

People keep getting kidnapped. It’s not usually an occupational hazard when you’re a mercenary, so when it happens to you, it usually means your friends have to go and do the rescuing.

An obscure cult from the mysterious continent across the Eastern Ocean has decided that Morgan is the one spoken of in an ancient prophecy. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s been fingered by Destiny, but at least the cultists could have asked before taking her back home for training.


Book VI – Customs & Duty

There’s a vicious new bandit chief operating in the area. There’s also a conspiracy to usurp King Dashell and prevent his marriage to Queen Elspeth (for economic reasons, not political). Guess who gets hired to sort it all out?

If there’s one piece of advice a young soldier of fortune might get from an older one, it would probably be, “never mess with religion, politics, or trade”. This does tend to cut down the available avenues of work, though. So with a coup being plotted and not much time left before it swings into action, Alys, Cullan, Kenyon and Morgan have to take their new mercenary company after the ringleaders, and hope they don’t get involved with all three at once.


Book VII – The Dragon, Shrouded

An exhausted and desperate man staggers out of a mountain pass bringing dire news from the South. Ancient legends are re-awakening, and dark forces are mustering to bring them into the light.

The Burning Rose Armed Company, now a Royal bodyguard detachment, are sent to investigate the man’s story. With very little solid information to go on, and people disappearing, they nevertheless follow the trail into the vast Kcodi desert of the South.


Book VIII – The Dragon, Rising

War is coming to the North, whether it wants it or not. They are ill-prepared, fragmented, and unenthusiastic about the prospect – unlike their opponents. As the powerful joint Kingdom of Turnobae-Galorndan scrambles to forge an alliance that will give them the men to oppose the Sword Bearers’ Army, what they need most is time…

Rather than face a massive army of religious fanatics who have found a symbol to rally behind, the Burning Rose are sent into Ras Natara on a twofold mission. First, a diplomatic approach to the Sultan to persuade him to diffuse the situation before it gets out of hand. Then, a clandestine trip into the heart of the Nataran desert to find the prophecised dragon and kill it.


Book IX – The Dragon

War! Invasion! Massacre! Betrayal! Mercenaries!

The Burning Rose have quite spectacularly failed in their mission to avert a war with an enemy that has a dragon. As a punishment, they are not allowed to take part in the desperate defence of the North against the massive army of fanatics fielded by the Sword Bearers. Instead, they have to journey into a legendary wasteland and find a talisman that can help them defeat the dragon. Without the dragon, it might just be possible to defeat the Nataran army that outnumbers the armies of the North by at least two-to-one.


The Original Trilogy

A single volume collection of Books I, II and III, with a new introduction, and an exclusive short story.

Available as paperback only


The Budding Rose Trilogy

A single volume collection of Books IV, V and VI, with an introduction, and an exclusive short story.

Available as paperback only

Available through Lulu, iBooks, Nook, Kobo and Kindle.

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HSAS:WT 2018

Good news! I have re-worked the ebooks (again) so that iBooks and Kindle won’t throw a wobbler and refuse to accept them.

Bad news: It’s the Christmas holidays, so they are still being assessed by the QA teams.

All my books, both ebook and print are available through Lulu, and as soon as the ebooks get accepted for Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo and Amazon Kindle, I will let you know. All ebooks are £1.99, print versions range from £8.75 to £11.49.

More good news! In April, the final trilogy will be published in one big volume (paperback only). It will contain the entirety of Books VII, VIII and IX, the complete map with everything named on it that came with Book IX, an introduction, and an exclusive short story that will be found nowhere else.

More bad news: It’s so big it will cost £25.

Even more good news! I will be publishing one new short story a month online until September. At some point after that, I will be publishing them all in something for you to buy, including at least one story that has not been put online. The book will include notes on where each story lies in the general chronology of the Have Sword & Sorcery: Will Travel™ world.

So, Happy New Year! Lots of things to look forward to from it!

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Some of my previous posts about politics, particularly relating to the EU Referendum and its’ result1 may have been a bit ranty.

This isn’t.

1 Actually, I don’t think I managed more than one, in case the rage-stress of the imbecility of the government and a quarter of the population gave me a heart attack.

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The Invisible Backpack of Able-Bodied Privilege Checklist

Sit Down, Fight Back

There are a couple of these already online, but they are written by able-bodied people, and seem to miss some major points of privilege.  I decided to write my own.

1. I can, if I wish, arrange to attend social events without worrying if they are accessible to me.

2. If I am in the company of people that make me uncomfortable, I can easily choose to move elsewhere.

3. I can easily find housing that is accessible to me, with no barriers to my mobility.

4. I can go shopping alone most of the time and be able to reach and obtain all of the items without assistance, know that cashiers will notice I am there, and can easily see and use the credit card machines.  I also don’t have to worry about finding a dressing room I can use, or that it’s being used as a storage room.

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Optimates delenda est

The Conservative party has always been the party of the rich; the monied and the titled, the landowners and the business magnate. There are some who fall into those categories who, due to conscience or not being born into their privileged position, place their political allegiance elsewhere – but they are not the norm.

Conservative politicians are usually from families rich enough so that they never have to work a day in their lives. If they do ever have a job, chances are it’ll pay more than twice the national average salary, and Daddy or some other relative of an older generation will have arranged it on their behalf. From those who sat in the House of Commons since 2010, over 100 were income millionaires, many more were millionaires by capital (land, stocks & shares and/or funds), and about a dozen had some sort of title or were heir to one. Every member of the current cabinet is a millionaire.

The Conservative party is the party of keeping the flame of feudalism alive. They are the descendants of the barons who answered only to the monarch, and even then only if the monarch could raise a bigger army than them. The peasants who worked their land meant absolutely nothing to them; they were nothing more than a source of income (taxes) or warm bodies with which to fight a war. Societal, legal and political reforms may have removed their legal status as everything from arbiters of justice to tax gatherers to military commanders, but in their heads they still feel it is their right to make rules that only others have to obey, to dictate from on-high how the world should be according to them; they are at the top of a pyramid, and if those forming the lower layers do not pass upwards what they feel is due tribute, they are in a perfect position to crush them under their booted heels.

A certain segment of society has always believed the rules do not apply to them, that they are above constraints that lesser being have to accept. Wealth, birth, political influence; pick one, two, or all three. They have power – power they take so completely for granted that the responsibilities which go with it have no bearing on their lives. Power that they abuse with a casual lack of concern that sickens many of the people they purport to govern or manage. They have a vicious, small-souled egotism that makes them truly believe they are superior to those about them, and that their position will eternally protect them from the consequences of their actions.

The Conservatives who have been in power since 2010 have exhibited these traits and more: Self-centred arrogance. Habitual and persistent lying, even in the face of contrary evidence. Acting only in their self-interest, never thinking that the interest of others (or the country) might be different. Corruption, law-breaking, hypocrisy in word and deed.

As an artefact of the quality of education that they paid for, many of them have an understanding of Latin. Latin is a dead language, no one has used it as their first language for over 1500 years. Meanings of words in Latin do not change, because there is no one speaking them in everyday conversation to apply different meanings and usages to them. Therefore, the words that Cato the Elder spoke at the end of all his speeches in the Roman Senate, calling for total victory over Carthage, will be recognised and understood by the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson, and Asterix readers: Carthago delenda est – Carthage must be destroyed.

I want to put the Conservatives on notice. Their behaviour, their policies, their attitude, is not only toxic in general, it damages society and the country. They are supposed to be governing this country for the benefit of all, yet there is a vast plethora of evidence that they are governing it only for the benefit of themselves and their financial backers. That is not acceptable. They have had seven years to change their ways; seven years in which protests have taken place, in which evidence has been published, in which the United Nations has studied this country and found them to be inhumanely treating the unemployed and the disabled.

They have not changed. Therefore, their time is up.

Optimates delenda est.


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Tonight’s Movie

Matrix Reloaded

“You look surprised to see me again, Mr Anderson”

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Tonight’s Movie



Mayor: Titan has freed us!
Titan: Oh, I wouldn’t say “freed”. More like “under new management”.

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North Korea has fired another test missile, this time over Japanese territory. Officials in Japan and the USA have called it an outrageous provocation – as has the UK’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson. We need to make sure that BoJo does not drag this country into a military conflict on the other side of the world between a dictator and a would-be dictator over their fragile egos.
Please sign and share this as widely as possible.

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Tonight’s Movie

is going to be a couple of episodes of The World At War. So, not a movie.


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The 13th Doctor

So, the new Doctor Who is a woman. So what? I hear she’s a good actor, and casting directors tend to know what they are doing, and from all reports the stuff Chris Chibnall has worked on before has been good. There’s a certain amount of “who you know not what you know” involved in this casting decision, what with both of them previously working on the same series (Broadchurch), but I doubt that will affect the quality of the storylines that Whittaker will get. In short, I have no objection to The Doctor being a woman on the grounds that she is a woman. I have no doubt that she will be a good Doctor, and that her tenure will not see the show go downhill in any way, nor will it signal the beginning of the end of the show/the BBC/civilisation.

What I have an objection to is that (and I know this is going to sound sexist, but please at least read the explanation in the next paragraph) the decision was taken for The Doctor to not be a man.

I am not a misogynist, or a “men’s rights activist”, or a douchebag. At least, I try not to be. I probably am sometimes, but never intentionally or deliberately, and I actively try to treat everyone equally, or to at least begin my opinion of everyone from the same neutral viewpoint. I do not go out of my way to victimise people (no matter how trivial the victimisation may seem to others, if they even consider it victimisation, which probably says something about how far our massively patriarchal and elitist society needs to go). Whilst I am male I have nowhere near enough money or influence to be a member of the patriarchy and thus benefit from the old boy network and suchlike, and consequently find myself on the receiving end of prejudice more often than the delivering end. Nowhere near as often as women do, let alone non-Anglo-Saxons, non-Christians, non-heterosexuals, or those with non-traditional gender identities or preferences do. What I’m trying to say is that this piece is not born of malice or anger or injured pride, but of disappointment.

Y’see, Western society, particularly American and British society has a rather oppressive collection of male archetypes that boys are supposed to aspire to imitate. A real man is supposed to be ruthless, particularly in business; the only time you can show mercy is when it would utterly humiliate your opponent. A real man is supposed to take what he wants when he wants it. A real man is supposed to be fearless. A real man is supposed to speak his mind and not be offended by anyone else speaking theirs. A real man is supposed to have enough muscles to knock out a horse in one punch, or at least be ridiculously buff. A real man is supposed to take the law into his own hands to right a wrong, even if the wrong is imagined or not illegal (and thus not punishable by law). A real man is supposed to never show any emotion except anger or lust, except in very specific circumstances – usually right after someone/thing has died. If you can’t do, or fail to do, any one of the above things, you are not a Real Man™. If you are not a Real Man™, your opinion, knowledge, ideas, preferences, experience and even presence can safely be ignored by Real Men™ and those who aspire to be.

That means that I, along with everyone I know and care to associate with who has a Y-chromosome, are not Real Men™. So what the fuck are we then? Penguins? Clockwork-powered mannequins? Golems? Female? It can be very demoralising for someone who, for example, sees an attractive woman, spends a couple of moments coming up with an interesting and amusing opening line, only to be brushed aside by someone whose attitude is, “I saw it, I want it, it will be mine!”, and whose conversational gambits are variations on that theme. Now multiply that by seven, and repeat for every day of your life.

So why am I disappointed that The Doctor is not a man? Well, The Doctor is one of very few intellect-based role models for boys. Most role models for boys are either sports stars or action hero tough-guy types – archetypal Real Men™. And that’s fine for the sporty boys and the physically active boys – but they tend to be the ones who don’t do so well at school and bully the ones who do. Where are the role models for the weedy little nerd who gets picked on in the playground because he’s top of the class? There’s maybe two that share the same sort of exposure level, and are promoted (either in-universe or by their publicity team) as someone to emulate – Professor Brian Cox, and The Doctor. A lot of people have said, “it’s time for a female Doctor,” but if The Doctor becomes a woman, that removes one of the most visible role model for boys who aren’t into sports or action heroes. No pre-teen or teenaged boy is going to want to use a woman as a role model, and the more boys who grow up looking up to someone who uses their brain first, and who exhibits compassion and mercy and looks for non-violent solutions whenever possible, the better. No sports star or action hero will be able to do that.

You could say that boys have far more role models to choose from than girls. That is a fact. You could say that Professor Brian Cox and The Doctor are not the only intellect-based role models for boys. That is also a fact. You could say that it’s perfectly possible for boys to use a woman as a role model. Again, factual. However, there are other facts which apply which largely invalidate those points. In order, they are: Girls have far more intellect/emotion-based role models to choose from than boys do; There are no other intellect-based role models for boys (in the UK at least) with the same breadth and regularity of exposure than Prof. B.C. and The Doctor; The sort of boy who would take The Doctor as a role model is the usually sort of boy who will not want to be thought of as even less of a Real Man™ than he already is by the tough kids at school by taking a female as a role model.

Someone tried to tell me that Batman was an intellect-based role model, based of their original comic-book billing as “the world’s greatest detective”. No. Firstly because the world’s greatest detective is Sherlock Holmes, and secondly because comic books have tiny levels of exposure compared to the films, where Batman is unequivocally an action hero (a change shared by many characters when they move to the big screen). And the films are irregular with years between them (just like series of Sherlock), while Doctor Who has instalments every week for a quarter of the year, every year. Okay then, what about Harry Potter? Seven books and eight movies, all with massive exposure, but that’s all there is. There will be no more Harry Potter, whereas Doctor Who has already had, what? ten? series since the reboot, with at least two more planned. Sam Vimes or Rincewind or Moist von Lipwig? Again, there will be no more Discworld, and until and unless the Discworld characters get a TV series, either based on the books or original material, they all lack The Doctor’s exposure.

The most formative years for someone in terms of worldview and social outlook are their early teens. For over a decade in the 90s and early 00s, 11-14 year-old boys did not have a significant intellect-based role model with wide and regular exposure. And now, for the next few years, they don’t again. I managed to find other role models in my formative years, mainly because I read, but reading is a dying art among those who publishers target with “Young Adult” marketing and others may not be so fortunate. Given the paucity of male intellect-based role models in general, I am disappointed that one of the most visible is now temporarily not available. There are now a new age group of boys who will have less opportunity to discover that being a man does not mean acting first and thinking later, of not caring and blowing shit up, and that it does not make them less of a man if they’re not super-fit or buff or skilled at kicking a ball, or they care about other people and try to solve their problems without an appeal to force. If we want society to advance, we need more people – men especially – like The Doctor, and now those who will become men have less of an opportunity to find out what The Doctor is like.

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