Thursday, 31 October 2013

Sir Edric's Temple is out now!

Sir Edric's Temple, my first comedy, is out now at Smashwords for the modest sum of $2.99!

Even better, loyal readers of my blog, site and Twitter feed can benefit from a two-thirds discount (until 7 November) using the code KF49K.

It's in the pipeline to appear on Amazon and will hopefully be up tomorrow, and will, over time, be distributed to most other online retailers.

So, if you want to give yourself a treat this Halloween, buy Sir Edric's Temple and enjoy the knight's misadventures!

Update: it's been put on sale at Amazon this very evening. Huzzah! 


Monday, 28 October 2013

Non-combat classes

I was pondering the other day the classes in RPGs (in videogames). Generally, there are three types: warrior, mage and thief/rogue. All have differing strengths and weaknesses in battle, different weapons, armour types etc, and it works so well it hasn’t been significantly changed for ages.

But what about when you aren’t fighting?

In RPGs an awful lot of time is spent interacting with NPCs or in cities, buying and selling. And here, the differences between the bearded wizardy fellow, the gruff warrior and the streetwise rogue seem to melt into nothingness.

Should that be the case? Wouldn’t it make sense to have a subsidiary class to accompany warrior/mage/rogue that would determine how a character behaves interacting with others or in a peaceful city situation?

Not only would that be a bit more realistic without detracting from the game, it’d enhance the degree of customisation available.

Here are my suggested classes: scholar, merchant, craftsman

The craftsman does what it says on the tin. He or she can create and enhance armour, weapons and perhaps even trinkets whose sole purpose is to be sold for more coin.

The merchant would gain bonuses to buying and selling, be better able to steer conversations the way they like and perhaps be able to buy extra items from shopkeepers not available to the Great Unwashed.

Scholars would be able to discern more from skill books, and perhaps gain insight to unlock areas ahead of time. After all, a wise man reading a book about a great battle might reason that visiting the site could lead to some discoveries of ancient weapons and armour.


Friday, 25 October 2013

Review: Roman Warfare, by Adrian Goldsworthy

This book takes a look at the Roman army from its origins at the start of Rome through to the 6th century. That seemingly odd ending point (the Western Empire ended in the 5th, the Eastern in the 15th) is because that was the final time there was a concerted effort to try and take back Rome for the Roman Empire (which was then based in Byzantium).

I have to be honest, and say that I found this to be a quite fantastic book. Certain periods (3rd century BC and 2nd century AD) I knew reasonably well already, but the earlier form of the army and its slow transition to the ‘classic’ Roman army of later years was fascinating to read about. It was also interesting to read another view regarding the downfall of the empire and how the spiral of decline interacted with political and military changes.

Early on, the army was essentially drawn along the same lines as the Greek hoplites. Gradually this evolved into a more flexible army, equipped with shields copied from the Samnites and swords from the Iberians.

The army also became pathologically aggressive, which worked very well in most circumstances. The infantry was exceptional, and the cavalry notable for being rubbish. In later years, this was reversed, as the army became concentrated in many smaller units rather than the army-in-itself legion, and was mostly focused on fighting off raids (obviously cavalry excel at this, compared to infantry).

However, the old aggression had gone. The more effective command structures of both the Republican and early Imperial periods had fragmented into a bureaucratic mess. The army had adopted the worst aspects of both localism (making it hard to concentrate large forces) and centralism (making it hard to do anything unless the Emperor was there). And that’s without considering the regicidal habit the army had adopted.

In addition to the clear and interesting history, the book is festooned with splendid photographs of Roman artwork and engineering, from forts to aqueducts, and diagrams of various battles. It’s a great book, and I very much enjoyed reading it.


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Review: Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow, by Jerome K. Jerome

Whilst not my usual fare, I was very kindly sent a copy by a friend and (once I’d finished The Hundred Years War by Christopher Allmand) gave it a go.

As suggested by the title, the book is a series of lazy musings on various aspects of life, with chapters on the weather, shyness, cats and dogs and so forth.

Being first published in 1886, it’s still surprisingly relevant, and whilst one suspects that if it were written today there might be chapters on mobile phones and the internet what has been written, by and large, still holds true. Where it does not the sentiment behind the author’s words is still easy to appreciate.

In terms of language, being over a hundred years old has very little impact on readability. It’s always clear what the meaning is, and perhaps three or four words in the whole book were new to me. The style of writing is easy to read and rather good.

Here and there the meandering approach was such that I was left a little unengaged, and I did take a short break from the book about halfway through. And whilst the use of language is generally very good, towards the end when the author was describing the ultimate fate of us all (a subject that leaves me either bored or depressed) I did skip a page or two (that’s probably a testament to the quality of the writing, though).

Despite these little gripes, overall I did enjoy the book, and it also has the financial advantage of being available for free, should you happen to have an e-reader.

It does make me wonder if the 19th century might be the perfect time for writing, as the language is modern enough to be understood with ease (I do like Gibbon but he, like Thucydides, is unafraid to use 9 clauses in a sentence) but is nevertheless rather elegant and pleasing to read.

On the other hand, Dracula is a bloody awful book. Hmm…


Friday, 4 October 2013

Radio silence

Apologies for the prolonged gap between the last post and this mini-post. Shockingly, I’ve actually been busy trying to finish off Sir Edric’s Temple. The proofreading approach I take is rather lengthy, but it worked well in Journey to Altmortis. If I can, I’ll release Sir Edric’s Temple later this month.

It’ll be my first comedy, although Bane of Souls had some comedy moments (Altmortis had a few but was a shade darker). It’s also what I’d call a short story, but as it’s around 36,000 words I think the slightly pretentious term ‘novella’ is technically the most accurate description. That might sound pretty small, but it's roughly the same size as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

It’ll also be the first book I try and put into physical format. The electronic versions will come first (and I plan to have a first week discount code, as I did for Journey to Altmortis). Not sure quite how long or difficult/easy it will be to make the physical version but the necessary delay (I’ll need to actually check and see the cover and so forth works well in the flesh) means I’m not going for a simultaneous release.

It’s a stand-alone book, and I hope to write more of Sir Edric’s misadventures in the future. When it comes out I’ll be sure to bang on about it here, as well as posting the code and a link to make use of the early discount.