Tantur, Part II

Volun Embyri Qiie was waiting for him outside the Nirvan Baths when he eventually descended from the hills.

Pecha … Balch,” the shaggy Fliei said. He spoke Xidh without a translator now, although his accent was still endearingly stilted. All too acutely aware of the situation, Volun had changed out of his customary etched grey leathers and was wearing a colourful pair of trousers to go with the loops of beads decorating the long hair covering his upper body. “I was concerned.”

“Don’t worry, Volun,” Bortemus said, smiling up at the big mammal. “I’m not going anywhere. Did you find a place that sold ambrosia?”

“Several places,” Volun replied. “It is an almost universal dietary requirement of Heaven-folk, this I think you know, but they sell it in many different varieties for visitors as well. This one,” he produced a dark canister from his trouser pocket, “is flavoured like a forbidden thing called a fellflower,” he offered the canister to Bortemus. “It does not contain fellflower,” he added earnestly. “It is only flavoured like it.”

Bortemus sipped the syrupy ambrosia, and managed not to make a face. It tasted like a heavy-loader full of sugar being flown by someone who might have eaten a fellflower once, but that was about all he could say. “It’s sweet,” he said, and handed the canister back with a smile.

“Does a God really live here?” Volun asked, turning his furry head towards the gleaming structure.

“Not here in the Baths,” Bortemus said, although from what he’d heard about the Pinian God he wouldn’t have been at all surprised. “In the big palace in the middle of the city, though, yes.”

“My people have not believed in Gods for a long time,” Volun declared.

“Yes, I seem to recall you mentioning that once or twice,” Bortemus said, tension making him unnecessarily curt. He moderated his tone. “Well, out here Gods are really just a different order of life-form, and They have a nasty habit of existing whether we believe in Them or not.”

“And this is the source of our current difficulty,” Volun said, “is it not, pecha-Balch?”

Bortemus considered this. “Yes,” he said eventually, “I suppose you could say it is.”

“And we cannot ask this God for aid?”

Bortemus shook his head. “I’m afraid this particular God has more immediate problems,” he studied the Fliei for a moment. “Do you trust me?”

Volun sipped his ambrosia. “No,” he replied. “Not at all.”

Bortemus grinned.

Gartuda Felhbron and Team Member 7, elderly Molran male and Uternlan female of indeterminate age respectively, were waiting for them in the dining area inside the Baths. The booking had been placed at short notice and consequently exorbitant expense, under Balch’s name, and coupled with the cost of bringing the two specialists to the Void by private cruiser it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that Bortemus would have to sell a filter-set to every phobe in Piniandom in order to make the whole effort worthwhile. And he did not anticipate selling a single damned thing.

Molran and Uternlan rose and watched, the former’s face unreadable and the latter’s making it seem expressive in comparison, as Bortemus and Volun were led over by the ebonchrome-plated Gatunwode waiter. The bulky creature somehow managed to trundle silently across the tiled floor on its four massive feet.

“Bortemus Balch, I presume?” Felhbron said. The old man stepped out around the table – his movements were heavy and ungainly, his skin at once wrinkled and too-smooth – and sized Bortemus up with a slow and not-completely-disapproving glance. Then he turned to Volun. “Which makes you Volun Embyri Qiie of the Fliei investigative task force.”

“Greetings,” Volun said.

“He is not Bortemus Balch,” Team Member 7 said. Bortemus didn’t have much experience with Uternlans. They were catastrophically bad at the legality-skirting nuance required for operations that were his usual field, which made them nothing but a liability. Team Member 7’s professional and private history were a matter of painstaking public record, and while Molren were physiologically incapable of sleeping Bortemus was convinced another ten or fifteen minutes reading 7’s life story would have sent him off. “We all know who this man is and I refuse to take part in this farce.”

“You can of course call me what you like, Team Member 7,” Bortemus said smoothly, “although as a matter of legal record and codified identity, my name is Bortemus Balch and all required corroborating documentation is in good order.”

“That is true,” Team Member 7 said. While almost any other creature would be disgruntled by having to concede this fact, the Uternlan simply accepted it. Facts were her religion, her ideology, her biological imperative. “The documentation is all falsified,” she said, “but to such a degree of accuracy as to deny me the practical option of satisfying the burden of proof.”

“That must be a real dilemma for you,” Bortemus said, and ushered Volun to a seat before taking his own. Each of the four items of furniture around the table had been perfectly scaled and sculpted to fit the three different species and four different builds of the guests. Again, at very short notice and very considerable expense.

“Greyskin, Balch?” Felhbron said in a low voice as the two members of the Standard 3 Aquatic Environment Diplomatic Team also sat. “Really?”

“It was the best I could do in the time I had,” Bortemus admitted. “The consultant I hired to set up this meeting said it was fine.”

“And how much did you pay this consultant?”

“I am uninterested in banter,” 7 said. “I want to know why we have been flown here, what the true purpose of this meeting is, and why I was involved when it is obvious that my only recommendation can be that we escalate this entire affair to the High Council – or the police-” she added, her pale eyes flicking in Bortemus’s direction, “-regardless of the meeting’s content.”

“Perhaps your role in this is to escalate it to the High Council,” Bortemus said. “It would certainly look better coming from you than from me.”

“What, a highly reputable sanitary appliance vendor like you?” Felhbron said with what Bortemus had to concede was forgivable smarm.

“Alright, I will make it plain,” Bortemus said. “I am here to swap caseloads with you.”

Felhbron and 7 exchanged a glance, then both looked at Volun.

“And are you … fine with that, Volun?” Felhbron asked.

“I am personally unhappy,” Volun said, “and I know the sentiment is shared by many of my fellow Fliei. But there are factors at work that are beyond our control, and pecha-Balch has assured us that this change in situation will not take place unless his standards and promises are upheld.”

“I’m afraid if ‘pecha-Balch’ wants the High Council to take your case, it will be a standard offering,” Felhbron said. “And probably starting from scratch, and certainly not handled by an aquatic unit. And neither we nor any other unit would be authorised to promise you the technology Balch’s … sponsors … have been supplying you with.”

“You know perfectly well this is a special case,” Bortemus said.

“Is it?” Felhbron raised his ears quizzically. “It’s an unfortunate case, certainly, but it always is when we encounter slave / oppressor sentient groupings.”

“There’s even legal precedent with the Skyward Wanderers and the Drab Underbeasts of Ezim,” Bortemus insisted. “Yes, that was an avian species with a landbound slave-species, but the respective patronage of the High Council and Bazilard of Quam meant that the handover was accompanied by equivalent gifts of technological-”

“Bazilard was only a Class Five criminal, wasn’t she?” Felhbron asked.

“Actually she was a Class Six until her little cultural anthropology games with the Underbeasts got her promoted,” Bortemus said.

“Not that it’s a competition or anything,” Felhbron quipped.

“…but that doesn’t affect the legal framework,” Bortemus finished.

7 had evidently heard enough. “We cannot swap,” she snapped, her rigid pallid face stiffening still further in disapproval. “Our part in this induction was concluded almost three years ago.”

“She’s right,” Felhbron said. “The Standard 3 Aquatic Environment Diplomatic Team has taken part in over seventy contact missions since Tantur.”

“Seventy-four,” 7 inevitably clarified. “Including one in which we were still actively involved, albeit in a handover capacity, before we were dragged away to dabble in … luxury criminality.”

“Now to be fair-” Felhbron started.

“I know you’re authorised to go back and reopen old induction cases, and to negotiate adjusted Corporate entry offerings,” Bortemus said, “if new information about the dumblers in question comes to light.”

“And what new information would that be?” Felhbron said, while 7 looked acutely uncomfortable.

Bortemus went on studying the Uternlan for a few seconds, then addressed his next comment to the other Molran. “You can’t reopen this one, can you?” he said. It wasn’t really a question. He’d had his suspicions, and his sources, for some time. “The High Council has closed the book on Tantur. They may have opened another book, but it’s not one they’re showing you. You can’t swap dumblers with me because they won’t let you back in. And they won’t tell you why.”

Molran and Uternlan alike pressed their mouths closed and looked grim. Bortemus exchanged a glance with Volun, which the Fliei returned with blankness that was evident despite his alien features.

“I still don’t know what you expect from us,” Felhbron said eventually. “Particularly if what you say is accurate – if – then I don’t know why you’d even bother…”

“Don’t worry,” Bortemus said, and raised a left hand to wave over the waiter. The massive gleaming Gatunwode detached from the far wall and approached at an eerie quadrupedal glide. “We’ll eat, and I’ll do all the talking. I will tell you everything, and you can tell me nothing, and I’ll pay for lunch. And it absolutely adheres to your diplomatic policies on gifts, bribes and exchanges,” he added for 7’s benefit. “You can check the fine print.”

“I already have,” 7 announced. “But I intend to check it again before eating a bite.”

“You’re not likely to get a better deal,” Bortemus said. The waiter loomed above them. “We’re ready to order,” he told it smoothly, and turned to the diplomats. “Aren’t we?”

Gartuda Felhbron squinted at Bortemus a few seconds longer, then nodded.

“Yes,” he said, “I believe we are.”

Posted in Astro Tramp 400, IACM, Oræl Rides To War, The Book of Pinian | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tantur, Part I

“First time in Heaven?”

Bortemus Balch turned and glanced at the Vorontessi. Glanced up; he had to angle his head a little, which was still something of a novelty despite the company he’d been keeping lately. Vorontessæ were tall.

“Yes,” he said, and smiled. “Is it that obvious?”

“You have that pilgrim’s gaze,” the Vorontessi, a gaunt and towering semi-humanoid with large luminous eyes and a skull crowned with a gnarled circlet of spiny growths, favoured Bortemus with a wide grin and inclined its head politely. “Do you mind if I ask … Capital Mind?”

“Lucky guess,” Bortemus was by no means a small Molran, but the Heaven-folk was a head taller than him. And not a broad, flat-topped Molranoid head, but the round high-domed Vorontessi variety. Bortemus lowered his gaze to his own four grey-skinned hands and the numerous glossy little filtering devices about his person. “I suppose the suit must have given me away.”

The Vorontessi smiled. “I’m not much for fashion,” it said, and gestured at its garments which were mostly composed of leather straps and pouches. Then it turned its face outwards once more. “This isn’t a very well-known area for tourists,” it went on, “but in my opinion offers the best views of the citadel and the mountains,” it inclined its head again. “You made a wise choice in coming this far from the spaceport,” it congratulated him.

“I can’t take all the credit,” Bortemus said. “It was recommended to me, and I have a meeting with some associates in the Nirvan Baths in a few hours’ time.”

The Vorontessi whistled appreciatively. “Exclusive meeting place,” it said. “Your associates must be high fliers.”

“Sanitary field tech and cleansing agent formulation and distribution,” Bortemus chuckled self-deprecatingly. “We serve the specialised needs of the populations of three Buildings in The Centre, and are hoping to expand into the Brotherhood’s territories. You can help us pay for our enormously expensive booking at the Baths by spreading the word,” the Vorontessi laughed, and Bortemus raised his personal datapad. “Bortemus Balch,” he said, “AktaTech Acquisitions and Marketing.”

The Vorontessi beamed, and pulled an esoterically curled black device from a pouch. It was presumably a datapad equivalent, because it exchanged nods with Bortemus’s device. “Dedimar-Cantorio Bazeen,” it said. “Natural Sciences Academy. Call me Canto.”

“Bort,” Bortemus returned the courtesy. “Pleasure to make your acquaintance. Is the Natural Sciences Academy responsible for this scenery?”

“We do what we can,” Canto replied. “Are there many of your … ah … demographic in the Four Realms?”

The Four Realms, Bortemus thought in amusement. The locals insisted on calling Heaven by this name, even though the three worlds underneath it had been missing – vanished without a trace and with nothing but a series of increasingly ludicrous and desperately strident explanations as to why – for as long as Bortemus had been alive.

“You mean phobes?” he asked casually. Canto slumped a little in visible relief, and Bortemus grinned. “Yes, you can say it.”

“I wasn’t sure if it was a slur.”

“You want to know a secret, Canto?” Bortemus leaned in, looked up, and lowered his voice. “Nobody is,” he flashed his eye teeth – longer and thicker than average, a feature which might have looked undignified or unattractive in a less imposing figure of slightly above-spec Molranhood – in another grin. “Best anyone can do is exactly what you did: assume it’s going to upset someone, and wait for them to use it first. Where I come from, it’s fine,” he went on, honestly enough. None of the phobes he knew – the other phobes he knew, he reminded himself – had any issue with the descriptor. On another hand, of course, it was always possible that they just tolerated it from him. “As for our population in the Four Realms, we’re estimating less than a million. Almost exclusively Molran, but a few thousand examples from various other species. A reasonable market, even if it’s barely ten percent of our current Capital Mind customer base. But as they say…”

“The Four Realms is the gateway to the Pinian dominion,” Canto said.

“Precisely. We’re hoping that the gamble of coming at the Brotherhood’s territory this way, rather than struggling in the mire of Capital Mind for another hundred years, will pay off.”

“I’m not sure what a Gróbi phobe would look like,” Canto remarked, “but if only one in a billion of them is one…”

“And we sell a set of cleansers to one in a hundred of them…” Bortemus agreed wryly.

Canto laughed. “Quite so. I wish you success.”


“Forgive the assumption, but I would have thought the communal waters and airborne microbial environment of the Baths would be something of a nightmare for a phobe,” the Vorontessi went on. “That may be an insulting misconception, of course.”

“It’s neither, I assure you,” Bortemus said. “While we’re not quite as squeamish as our reputation might lead you to believe, the Baths are notoriously … shall we say, immuno-bracing.”

Canto flicked its long, tough fingers with a dry snap. “A perfect place to demonstrate the quality of your products,” it said. “If they allow a phobe to enter the Baths…”

Precisely,” Bortemus said again.

“Fascinating. Truly fascinating,” Canto enthused. Then it glanced at another electronic device, this one built into its forearm-strap. “I wish you success on your venture, Bort,” it repeated. “I myself have to continue my circuit and head home.”

“Pleasant travels, Canto.”

Molran and Heaven-folk exchanged nods, and Bortemus was once again left alone. He wandered to the end of the gentle pale-purple headland and stopped, looking up.

He couldn’t see the vault of space from where he stood. Heaven’s atmoplane was thick and the sun that hung in the sky was fiercely bright. He couldn’t see the stars, since they were generally only visible during the seasonal observance of … something-or-other celestis, he didn’t remember offhand. The local authorities decommissioned the sun for upkeep, and only then were the stars visible. Most of the Heaven-folk would be too busy drinking, dancing and fornicating to pay much attention to them, but they’d be visible.

He couldn’t see the bright wheel of the closest galaxy, a standard gigastellar mass that had for the past few hundred million years been drifting above the Four Realms almost as close as cosmic matter could come to the Face of the Deep. Drifting from Heaven’s perspective, and dragging its feet a little from the stellar-gulf norm due to the adjacent plane of physics and other various factors, but in fact spinning through the vacuum at thunderous speeds. Just not moving along anywhere near fast enough, as far as Bortemus was concerned.

The galaxy was known as Cursèd’s Playground. And what an appropriate name it was.

Still, he looked. And pretended he could see it up there, glowing bright and mysterious beneath the twinkling blanket of its even-more-distant siblings. He indulged in a brief fantasy that he’d never heard of the place, had never heard of the Four Realms, had somehow managed to vanish into thin Castle space air the way 75% of the sovereign Pinian Brotherhood seat had done, all those years ago.

He pretended it might be possible to simply go on being Bortemus Balch, to go down to the Baths and have his meeting, make his agreements, become a successful purveyor of sanitary field tech and cleansing agents for the near-Centre territories and retire to spend his Second Prime in a modest home in the Upper ‘Urbs.

He pretended he’d never heard of the damned hallowed silence.

You’re fucked, Bortemus heard Gent Strojen in his cold and panic-adjacent mind. His old friend’s voice was filled with dread and gleeful horror. You’re irredeemably, utterly, irretrievably fucked. You know that, don’t you?

Bortemus sighed. It was true. He was fucked. It wasn’t like the other times, the other challenges he had faced. There was no way out of this that he could see. This was the end of the line, the end of his career just as surely as if it had been orchestrated by one of his many, many enemies. No – even more surely than that. His enemies would have made a mistake, left some gap he could exploit. This was … fate. This was the cold hand of Limbo, the dark sense of humour of the turning urverse.

And it was going to be the end of him.

Posted in Astro Tramp 400, IACM, Oræl Rides To War, The Book of Pinian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I did write 2,000 posts, and I will write 2,000 more

Yes! With this post, I hit the long-awaited 2,000th blog post for Hatboy’s Hatstand. I’ve been holding off until I had something worth posting and I know it’s been a long time coming, but what with a variety of absolutely awful things that happened in the past couple of weeks I figured what the heck, it might as well be this instead.

I’ve got a little bit more planned, but for now let’s bring the first two thousand posts to a close with this: My Expanded Literary Universe’s Five Phase Plan.


Marvel has one, I have one.

I shared this with my editors a little while ago, but I decided it deserved a bigger version and I made a couple of changes. Including the addition of the dotted-line incidental / potential set which technically belongs in Phase Zero, and might not become actual books since a lot of it is already available here for free.

Although I am now keen to start on Colouring with Contro.

Oh well.

Phase Five, I should add, almost certainly will not end with just one book. But at this point it’s just possible the urverse will (kidding … or am I?), so I’m not sure where to go from there. Guess we’ll see at the 4,000th Blog Post Spectacular in five or six years’ time (assuming an ongoing post-per-day rate; or another fourteen years, if we take the length of time 2,000 posts took and multiply it by two, and always assuming I write at even remotely the same pace and produce a consistent size-range of books…).

So there it is! All that remains is to start on the next 2,000 posts.

Thanks for hanging out with me and being such excellent readers and commenters and, dare I say it, friends.

I do dare, because there’s like five of you who comment regularly and you’re absolutely my friends. The rest of ye, discerning strangers all, thank you too.

Posted in Astro Tramp 400, Chuck Dickens’s “A Christmas Carl”, Creepy and Hatboy Save the World, Edpool, IACM, Oræl Rides To War, The Book of Pinian | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Signal boost: Save the Drake

Here’s a random story and a call to arms for my 1,999th blog post.

Back at the end of the last century, I was running wild and free on a Usenet newsgroup called alt.fan.robert-jordan. I’ve talked about it a lot in the past, and some of you know me from there. It was where I met Mrs. Hatboy, and that’s where it all started.

At around the same time, I ran into this USian dude by the name of Shannon Drake. Since Shannon is totally a girl’s name, he dubbed himself He Who Is Shannon on the newsgroup. He still got cast as a girl in basically all our fanfic and was referred to using female pronouns in every conversation we had. It was a simpler time.

Shannon immediately endeared himself to me by being smart, funny, genuine, and relentlessly brutal. His mocking impersonations of assorted Usenet posters were second to none. He nailed it, every time – not only by hilarious exaggeration, but by the truths he so often distilled into caricature. He was also a pretty decent writer, which helped.

What I didn’t realise was that, while Shannon was of course sufficiently warped and cynical to fit right in on the ol’ Monkeyhouse group, he was actually staggeringly well-adjusted and balanced considering the assorted factors at work on him. Having dealt in some small measure with depression and stress and other shit like that myself recently, I can only shake my head in wonder when he talks about making it through his twenties without committing suicide.


Fast forward twenty-odd years and Shannon,  his lady friend, and his hysterical collection of cats (I believe non-breeders and irretrievable cat people sometimes refer to them as “fur babies”, but as permissive as I have become in my early middle age I can neither abide nor approve of such twattery) have been obligated to return home to his mother’s house for economic reasons. I think it’s something to do with Freedom. All that Freedom apparently makes it hard for a gainfully employed man pushing forty to … live, somehow? Anyway, Freedom. Yeah.

Also he and his partner are writers and we are fucking broke all the fucking time.

Long story short, my pal Shannon ran into some shit, and now he and his nearest and dearest are having just the most spectacular run of problems. Most of them are caused by the fact that he’s living with the woman who seems like the wellspring of most of his crazy. But I should probably let Shannon tell it.

Because he has.

Using his decades-honed writing skill and merciless ability to characterise toxic or otherwise disturbed people; using his gift for setting scenes and turning horrible situations into darkly hilarious stories; using all the lame-as-fuck superpowers bestowed upon him by his genes, environment, upbringing, culture, education and wise Australian Internet friends; Shannon has rendered his frankly unbelievable recent history down into a miniature biography.

This is Shannon Drake’s Arsebook, and it is well worth a read. All profits from this specially-crafted piece of dystopian family dramedy go towards moving Shannon and his girl and his cats the fuck out of Crazytown.

If you feel particularly generous or don’t think the book proceeds are enough, he also has a GoFundMe. Because, again, Freedom. This is how members of Generation X and later pay for shit while the Boomers still have all the money. I know it’s a culturally difficult thing to confront and of course there’s no obligation to any of you, but I think the bravery my friend has shown in “begging for help” far outstrips the difficulty I’ve had in boosting the signal.

So yeah. There it is. A fascinating read and a harrowing window into human psychology, set against the backdrop of helping a friend get back on his feet. I’m calling it worthy.


– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while on the metro.

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Attention Snowflakes


I’m still on hiatus. Feeling much better, but felt that this required a small post just to clarify my position. If you catch yourself bemoaning how over-sensitive and easily-offended people are these days, and how nobody got offended by politically incorrect harmless fun in the good old days, just remember:

The premise of Blazing Saddles was that ignorant racists were such utter snowflakes that they’d be offended enough at the idea of a black sheriff that they would move en masse out of town in response to his appointment.

If you rail against how some things are no longer accepted in civilised society when they were fine fifty or twenty or even ten years ago, you’re not the hero of this story. You’re railing against humanity getting better.

If you want to rail against how offensive and unacceptable Blazing Saddles is in terms of its treatment of minorities of all kinds, bless your heart. It is unacceptable now – almost unthinkable. Because we’re getting better. Or at least we’re trying. I think that’s probably okay. It’s not supposed to stand up to today’s sensibilities, because the whole point of the movie was to mock the bigots until our sensibilities evolved.

You really think people have gotten easier to offend? They haven’t. They’ve just stopped accepting the casual assumption that it’s okay to offend people who don’t have the power to slap back.


– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while sitting in the carpark.

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Stress, Melancholy, and the Deep Dark Hatboy

I’m sitting in a different carpark today, waiting in the warm until it’s time for pipe practice. I don’t want to be here.

I’m trying to tell myself that this chapter of my life – the pipe band, the practice, all of that – is over. I’m pretty sure it’s true. I don’t want to join another band now. I don’t want to go to practice every week or even every other week. I don’t want to have to learn new tunes and deal with the expectations set on me by agreeing to play turnouts and take band reeds and equipment. I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m more than content being a noisy mediocre drunk pest at parties and pub crawls. I’m done. It’s too much and I have so many other things in my life now.

That brings me to stress.

At work a few weeks back, we were treated to stress meters to see how we were going. I have no idea what they measured. I took one, because although I was perfectly happy at work (an extra €200 a month would be great though), I was curious what sort of results I would get.

The results were not good.

I don’t know if I’m a naturally tense and stressed person who just bottles it up and denies it. I guess I probably am. I think everyone close to me, when I told them about this, tried as nicely as possible to tell me as much.

I work full-time in my (distant) second language. I live perpetually with a bag of shit that could peel off at any moment. Even when I sleep, I’m aware of that risk. I wake up to vent gas. I have two amazing kids, but kids are hard work. And I have a second job writing and publishing novels.

So yeah, my results were appalling. Like, if the average test result showed a balance of 50-50 on stress and recovery, my score was 98-2 on stress. Not at a single point – and this included two nights of 10+ hours of sleep – in the test period did I actually gain anything. I was in massive loss of reserves the entire time.

Of course the test results stressed me out even more. I’m sure they were skewed, but I’m also sure they were telling me something fairly accurate about the tension I live under.

This threw me into a downward spiral, but it only lasted a day or two. Most of my downward spirals do. And I have a lot of them. Today, sitting at work and thinking about how I had to go and practice with the band this evening, I almost shut down. I didn’t want to do anything. I just sat, locked, getting more and more miserable and unable to function.

In the end I snapped out of it, sort of, and here I am. But I don’t want to be.

And I’m so tired of this shit happening, whether it’s for a good reason or – which also seems to happen – for no reason. I don’t know. I’m just tired.

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Greyblade: Ready

So Greyblade finally came in at 715 pages, 205,282 words. Quite the monster.


The paperback is available on Amazon here.

The e-book is available here.

My hiatus continues, but here is my usual metrics graph for the three parts of Greyblade, and the writing of them. Interesting mix, since the first part benefited from some holiday-time fudging of numbers, and I got quite bogged down in the second and third parts before blasting into the final few chapters.


All in all, despite my ~117 day official record, I’d say that along with The First Feast, this took me the better part of a year to actually get done. Which is slow, I know … but at the moment I have more people complaining that I write too much, too fast, than I have people complaining that I’m writing slowly and too little. So there you go.

Back to resting. I’m sorry. Feeling unfortunately busted at the moment.

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