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The Fourth Annual Indie Author Labor Day Sale!

Since it’s a nice, long weekend, and there’s no better way to spend a hot, lazy afternoon than with a good book, several authors have put their wares on sale for the weekend.  I’ve read almost all of these, and they’re excellent.

 

Rimworld- Into the Green

By JL Curtis

On sale  for $1.99 1-3 September.

http://amzn.to/2w9xxgT

After a chance encounter with Dragoons and Traders turns a routine planet exploration into a rout that kills his team and his career, Lieutenant Ethan Fargo, medically retired, wants nothing more than to hole up in the backwater Rimworld he’d explored and enjoy a quiet retirement far from people or problems.

Unfortunately, he’s about to find out that he’s not as retired as he wants to be, and that his new home system comes with dangers, politics, and Dragoon sightings of its own. What promised to be a boring retirement will turn out to be anything but.

Take the Star Road

by Peter Grant

$0.99 Sep 1- Sep 4

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CS52I32/

Nineteen-year-old Steve Maxwell just wants to get his feet on the star road to find a better homeworld. By facing down Lotus Tong thugs, he earns an opportunity to become a spacer apprentice on a merchant spaceship, leaving the corruption and crime of Earth behind. Sure, he needs to prove himself to an older, tight-knit crew, but how bad can it be if he keeps his head down and the decks clean?

He never counted on the interstellar trade routes having their own problems, from local wars to plagues of pirates – and the jade in his luggage is hotter than a neutron star. Steve’s left a world of troubles behind, only to find a galaxy of them ahead…

Scaling the Rim

By Dorothy Grant

On sale for $0.99

Sept 1 – 4

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06VT6VTYM

Never underestimate the power of a competent tech.

When Annika Danilova arrived at the edge of the colony’s crater to install a weather station, she knew the mission had been sabotaged from the start. The powers that be sent the wrong people, underequipped, and antagonized their supporting sometimes-allies. The mission was already slated for unmarked graves and an excuse for war…

But they hadn’t counted on Annika allying with the support staff, or the sheer determination of their leader, Captain Restin, to accomplish the mission. Together, they will overcome killing weather above and traitors within to fight for the control of the planet itself!

Carpathian Campaign

By Alma Boykin

https://www.amazon.com/Carpathian-Campaign-Powers-Book/dp/177342002X

It is on sale today through Wednesday, September 6 for $1.99. The sequel, Grasping for the Crowns will be out in November.

War rumors stalk Europe, but István Eszterházy has other concerns. Or so he thinks. The Powers—ancient creatures living on the very energy of the land. Allied with the Houses, together the Powers and Houses have guided parts of Europe for a thousand years and more, humans, HalfDragons, and True-dragons working as one. But other forces shift, movements of peoples and of pride. István ignores them, intent on his military duties and his forthcoming wedding. War waits for no man, and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand turns rumor into red war, setting Power against Power and House against House. And war is not what István imagined. How can he survive this new world and protect his new family and his House? He must find a way, even as he begins a delicate dance with the Powers, that of his House and some far older and much more dangerous. István’s world is changing. He will survive this new campaign, or die trying.

Jade Star

By Cedar Sanderson

Free from Sept 2-4

https://www.amazon.com/Jade-Star-Tanager-Book-0-ebook/dp/B01JD1PGB4

Jade is determined to die. She is old, and useless, when she points her tiny subspace craft at the cold stars. She wakes up in the care of others who refuse to grant her death, and instead give her a new mission in life.

Jade isn’t happy, and she only gets angrier when she learns that her mysterious new home hides a horrible secret. It’s time for this old lady to kick butt and take names. Aliens, death, destruction… nothing trumps the fierce old woman who is protecting her family.

Dragon Blood: A Collection of Short Stories

By Sarah Hoyt

https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Blood-Collection-Short-Stories-ebook/dp/B01M598E72

From the trenches of WWI where the Red Baron just can’t help turning into a dragon, to the desert sands of a future world where humans have become something else, from a coffee shop between worlds where magicians gather, to a place where your worst nightmare can love you, let Dragon Blood take you on a series of fantastic adventures.

Lucky Number 7: A Rats, Bats, and Vats Story

By Dave Freer

https://www.amazon.com/Lucky-Number-Rats-Bats-Story-ebook/dp/B06X9QH791

John Norway is an alcoholic, a double amputee combat veteran, a street beggar with nothing much to live for. But once — before conscription – he’d been a rally driver. One of the best, at the wheel of Lucky Number 7. Now… Ariel the rat wants to have him drive in a desperate race against death, and the ‘magh.

The only question: does Norway want to win that race?

And will it solve Fat Fal’s inflatable rattess problem?

Directorate School

by Pam Uphoff

 

Free through Wednesday

First Book of The Directorate Series

Ebsa “Kitchen” Clostuone invades the sacred precincts of the High Oners! The School of Directorate Studies has a wide variety of students, including the president’s daughter Paer, this strange Ra’d fellow, and Nighthawk, the first foreign student from Comet Fall. Ebsa wants to explore across the dimensions. And all he has to do is keep his grades up, learn how to shoot every kind of gun imaginable, and not get pounded by the Action Team trainees.

And last, but not least,

By Tom Rogneby

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072M6JX5H

On sale from Sept 1 through the weekend

Elsked, son of DaddyBear the Minivandian and Ruarin, the Lady of Eyre, ventures out into the night to learn the saga of his mother and father.

An ancient storyteller exchanges tales of Elsked’s life for the story of how DaddyBear and Ruarin became the lord and lady of their manor.

Coming Home brings together the stories of Quest to the North, Lost Children, and Lady of Eyre, along with four new short tales of the Minivandian and his family.

Join Elsked as he creeps into the storyteller’s lair and comes to know the next Tales of the Minivandians

 

Lots of good reading in this list.  Hope everyone finds something they like!

Musings

  • I was informed this evening that I will not be allowed to pick out school clothes for Boo on the days where he does not have to wear his uniform.
    • Apparently it’s tied to my refusal to acknowledge that Kelly Green does not go with Hunter Green.
    • This is just another attempt by the Irish Woman to keep the Barbarian-American man down!
  • Parenting becomes a lot more fun when you start mocking your child’s dramatic protestations against some grave injustice in another language.
  • Speaking of which, my accent in Russian was commented on a few weeks ago.  Apparently I talk funny.
    • No kidding.  I learned Russian from two Ukrainians, a former artillery officer from Moscow, a teacher of proper Russian from Leningrad, and a man who was born in China to a father who fought in the White Army.  I wonder why I don’t speak the Tsaritsa’s Russian.
  • You know, rather than tear down statues of folks who had morals and values that conflict with what we consider right, we ought to be putting up statues of people who reflect our values.
    • Seriously, for every statue of Forrest, Lee, and Jackson that you disagree with, erect a statue of Evers, Douglas, or King nearby.
    • That assumes, of course, that all of this is really about racial issues.
  • We’ve always known that the folks who participated in Kilted to Kick Cancer are a great bunch of people.  Today, they showed their class all over again.

Book Review – King’s Champion

Peter Grant’s latest, his first work in epic fantasy, is out.  It’s called “King’s Champion” and it’s an awesome tale.

After decades of peace, war is threatening the Kingdom of Avranche. Its old foes are stirring, in a new alliance with darker powers. Black wings bring death and torture in the night.

Owain, former King’s Champion, hears rumors of sorcery. Visiting the grave of his sword brother, he stumbles into a deadly raid, and uncovers coded orders for a larger plot.

The kingdom’s enemies know Owain is now their greatest danger. He must race against time to find and deal with them… before they deal with him!

The story is well-paced, with action punctuating an immersive narrative through a world where honor, magic, and bravery rule the day.  The main character, Owain, is an old warrior who is called back to service by his sense of duty to the kingdom.  He confronts an ancient evil that he thought he had defeated decades earlier, and works to restore the protectors of his land.

Grant brings his outstanding writing to this new genre, and he has captured the spirit of classic fantasy.   He doesn’t dwell on descriptions, but does an excellent job of drawing out the lands and people that populate this new world.

King’s Champion is an easy, enjoyable read that grabs you and won’t let go.  If you can put it down, it will keep you thinking until you pick it back up.  It’s definitely recommended for anyone who enjoys excellent stories about honor and bravery.

Bonus Story

Here is another bonus story from “Coming Home“.  Please let me know what you think, and if you’ve read the entire book, please leave me a review on Amazon.


The Flying Beast Who Did Not Eat His Breakfast

 

The pilot, a young woman with a slender build, an easy smile, and a set of flashing blue eyes, patted her winged beast upon his feathered neck. He was of one of the smaller varieties of such animals, suitable only for short trips with light loads. The creature’s blue and white scales were brilliant in the light of the torches the maintenance gnomes had arrayed around his bulk so that they could see as they conducted their pre-flight rituals and checks. Downy winter plumage moved in the wind that even the large stone building next to him could not block completely.

“Are we ready?” the pilot asked the chief gnome, who stood close to the beast to warm himself with the heat radiating from the creature’s middle. Both were dressed in multiple layers of wool and fur, but even this could not completely protect them from the wind’s sharp edge.

The gnome looked up from his tablet, upon which he had written each of the tasks needed to prepare the beast for flight, and replied in a squeaky voice, “Everything is prepared, but I’m worried that he hasn’t eaten enough.”

“Oh?” the pilot, whose name was Elbee, said. “Will he have what he needs to get us there?”

“It says here he ate heartily at your last stop. I wouldn’t worry if it weren’t for this blasted weather!” the gnome said. He glared at the beast, who regarded him with half-lidded eyes the size of the small man’s head. “You’ll have to be careful to not drive him too hard or fight the wind too much.”

“We’ll manage,” Elbee said, giving her steed another pat on the head. This drew a deep purr from the beast as he nuzzled under her arm. “Besides, we’ve made it through worse weather, haven’t we, boy?” She scratched the small dragon behind the horns, which turned the buzz of his purr into a loud hum that almost drowned out the howl of the wind around them.

The gnome shook his head and walked over to the crew that was polishing and sharpening the long claw at the end of the beast’s right wing.

Gods save me from crazy pilots, he thought darkly. I just hope you don’t end up falling out of the sky while I’m underneath you.

The pilot watched him go, then shivered as a gust of icy wind raced across the plain of ascension to buffet both her and the beast. “Ready, boy?” she asked her steed. “It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

 

Ruarin, Lady of Eyre and wife of the Minivandian, stepped through the door to the passenger cabin strapped to the blue and white beast’s back. She wore her healer’s cloak over a robe of fur and wool to ward off the winter’s cold, but even that only cut the chill from the night’s air. Around her, other passengers shivered as the wind whipped through the doorway, but memories of never-ending snowfields and frozen rivers made it easier for the Eyrischwoman to bear the discomfort.

She looked down at the ticket in her hand, then made her way to the seat at the very back of the compartment. She normally tried to sit closer to the front, but the summons to meet with other healers at the mouth of the Great River had arrived late the night before, and she had been lucky to find a suitable conveyance at all on such short notice.

After stowing her healer’s bag above her seat, Ruarin strapped herself in. She hoped that the message she had sent to her husband had made it through the storm. Lightning could wreak havoc on the connection between mages, and she did not want DaddyBear to worry when her flight back to the Port of Gnu was delayed several hours while the storm raged.

She had just finished saying her prayers to ask for protection against the weather when the curtain behind her parted. Snarglefist the She-Orc, resplendent in her blue and white robes of hospitality, stepped out and walked to the front of the cabin. After making sure that the appropriate number of passengers were on board and in their seats, she turned and smiled at her guests.

The flash of a nearby lightning bolt reflected off her long, sharply pointed teeth, drawing similar grimaces from nearby passengers. She was lovely, for an orc, with her broad, fuzzy chest, skin the consistency of rich, supple leather, long, well-muscled arms, and a head of course, dark hair that her mate had shaved on one side to reveal the intricate tattoos emblazoned upon her scalp. The rest of her mane had been knotted and braided so that it stood up into a crest of spikes and plumes.

Truly, Snarglefist was the most beautiful of orcish maidens.

After waiting for all of the other creatures aboard her winged beast to stop their chatter and turn their attention toward her, she called out, “Me, Snarglefist, beautiful youngest daughter of GLURG THE DESTROYER!” When Snarglefist said her father’s name, she shouted it out like the war cry it was while she pounded one knobby fist into the seat in front of her.

Her pond-green eyes flashing as if another bolt had descended from the heavens, Snarglefist continued, “Me, maiden of hospitality! You sit! No do stupid or me beat you like elf caught on shelf! Listen me when we crash! Me bring food and fizzy sweet water once we no touch earth. You pray now! Enjoy trip!”

Her duties complete, she walked back to her seat behind Ruarin and strapped herself in. Soon, the rumbling of her voice filled the cabin as she grasped at the charm around her neck and prayed to the gods of the storm for safe passage.

The Lady of Eyre chuckled to herself as she took in the shocked looks on the other passengers’ faces.

She always finds the best way to get her point across, Ruarin mused as she closed her eyes and began to recite the traveler’s prayer.

 

Elbee wiped the frozen rain from her goggles as she guided the winged beast to the end of the runway. The maintenance gnomes had been able to get a few potions of energy down his throat, but he had turned her nose up even at the barrel of salted fish they had offered him. Elbee had considered cancelling the flight, but after consulting with the mage of meteorology, she had decided they could manage the flight if she could find a way to stay out of the path of the strongest winds.

The beast paused for a moment at the end of the plain as he took several deep breaths to prepare himself for the exertions of taking off in such conditions. He stuck his nose into the wind and began a long, loping run as he tried to gain enough speed to drag himself up from the field. At the very end of the runway, he leapt into the air, beating his leathery wings against the shrieking gale to claw his way into the sky. With a roar of triumph, he cleared the high fence that separated the place of landing from the neighborhood in which the local folk slept.

Elbee cheered him on as he fought to gain altitude while frigid winds tossed them first one way, then the other. Pellets of ice quickly replaced the cold rain and snow, and they beat a tattoo against his hard scales as they soared upward toward the mountains. The downy feathers covering his body rippled in the breeze as the muscles in his wings and back fought against the wind to drive him ever upward.

 

Snarglefist peered out the window as another bolt of lightning, this one close enough to make the wiry hair on her knuckles stand on end, ripped across the sky. In its glare, she saw dark clouds towering up into the heavens, looking as if someone had released a cohort of titans to batter the winged beast back to the earth far below.

With a shrug, she rose from her tiny seat and began to hum to herself. The She-Orc pulled a basket from one of the cupboards above her head and walked down the narrow aisle between the seats in which her terrified guests sat. While even the bravest of her passengers looked worried, she kept a serene smile upon her muzzle. Where some of them swayed with the motion of the cabin, she kept a steady foot upon the floor as she walked to the front of the compartment.

“Stay sit!” she shouted over the din. “No untie from chair! I bring food! No worry! Stay sit!”

As she walked back to the rear of the cabin, she gave each of her passengers a small packet of dried bread knots from the basket and a tiny flask of fizzy drink from a pocket in her tunic. The young Chanani woman sitting two rows in front of Ruarin stopped her as she went.

“Might I have wine instead?” she asked, her voice pitched to be heard over the rattle of the cabin as the wind tried to wrestle it away from the winged beast. “My nerves are frayed from all this.”

“No booze!” Snarglefist snarled in reply. “Trip too short! Drink sweet fizzy! Make you pretty like me!” She shoved an extra flask into the surprised woman’s hand and moved on with her task.

Ruarin accepted her snack from the She-Orc with a gracious smile and shouted thanks, then settled back. She had attempted to read one of the many scrolls she had brought with her from the conference of healers, but the detailed description of a malady afflicting the people of the Aztlani highlands made her stomach do flip-flops and her head scream. She put it away for another time and lay back to try to sleep through the worst of the flight.

 

Elbee looked down, trying to find a landmark to guide her, but the ground below was masked with darkness and mist. Finally, she saw the bright blue light of the signal fire upon Widow’s Peak, and tugged at the reins to turn the winged beast more toward the north.

“First checkpoint!” she shouted into the tube next to her saddle. “It’s not going to be quite as smooth for the next little bit. Make sure the passengers are comfortable!”

 

Snarglefist took the tube from her ear and nodded. “Time for magic,” she grunted as she touched the switch controlling the mystical elven box of cooking. A few moments later, the sound of a silver bell told her that the treat she had prepared for her charges was ready. Taking care to not burn her delicate fingers or singe any of the whiskers on her chin, she took a tray of fragrant rolls out of the magical oven and walked back down the aisle.

One by one, she gave each of her passengers one of the rolls, which were filled with rich chocolate, along with a small flask of apple brandy from the second pocket of her tunic. This was received with great joy and relief by some who wished to distract themselves with something pleasant, while others looked at the treat as an ominous sign of things to come.

“Stay sit!” Snarglefist admonished the passengers. “Chalk’lit and fire apple water make happy!”

The Chanani woman took her share with trembling fingers and immediately drank her entire flask of brandy. Snarglefist reassured her with a gentle thump on the shoulder, saying, “We get through storm soon. Eat good food, for soon you stand at feet of storm god!” The young elvish woman looked up at her in shock.

Across the aisle from Ruarin, a matronly old woman dressed in blue silken robes rose to retrieve something from her bag. Snarglefist roared as she reached out and gripped her by the shoulder. With a heave that almost caused her to drop the last of the chocolate rolls, the She-Orc tossed the matron back into her seat.

“I say stay sit!” she squealed at the older woman. “You want die?” The lady in blue looked up in shock at her reaction, then quickly strapped herself back into her seat. Snarglefist humphed at her once more before distributing the last of her treats. Finally, she returned the now-empty tray to the oven and sat down in her own seat.

 

Elbee frowned underneath her thick woolen face covering. Her beast was taking in huge gulps of air, then breathing them out in long streamers of smoke and steam. She could feel the heat of the creature’s exertions rising from beneath her seat, and even more worrying, small tongues of orange and blue flame occasionally blew from his nostrils as he exhaled.

“Too much, boy?” she shouted, reaching down to pat his neck. The dragon lifted his head a bit to look back at her, then returned to straining against the wind.

We’ll never make it over the mountains like this, Elbee thought. Time to take the other path.

She squeezed down on the beast’s shoulders with her knees and tugged hard to the right with the reins.

“Come on, boy!” she whooped as she felt her steed slip lower and wheel downward. “Tonight, we fly the Tail of the Dragon!” Sensing her excitement, the beast roared into the wind as he descended toward the mouth of a narrow canyon far below.

 

Snarglefist nodded knowingly as she felt the front of the compartment dip and the shriek of the wind outside changed in tone. After glancing out her portal to confirm her suspicions, she looked up at the heavens and smiled.

“Tonight,” she muttered in the sonorous tones of cultured orcish, “we fly between the legs of the storm god!”

The Maiden of Hospitality reached down and used her thumbnail to cut through the cord holding a box made from sturdy pine shut. “EMERGENCY USE ONLY!” was burned into its wood in several languages. Inside, she found thirty spun glass flasks containing a clear liquid that seemed to glow like star fire in the gloom.

“Good news!” she bellowed as she picked up the box and made her way to the front of the cabin. “We no go over mountain!” Several passengers, who probably thought that this meant a safe return to the place of embarkation, cheered at her words.

With an exultant sigh, Snarglefist turned to regard her charges. “We get big honor tonight!” she roared. “Elbee take us between mountains. Only best flyers do this on good days!”

Ruarin realized what the She-Orc meant a moment before the Chanani maiden did. “Do you mean we are going to fly through the canyons?” the she-elf demanded in a high squeal.

Snarglefist grinned broadly as she handed the first bottles of moonshine to the young couple seated in the front row. “Yes!” she shouted back. “Drink deep and pray to wind goddess! We ride Dragon’s Tail while she rend sky!”

Ruarin closed her eyes and intoned a prayer for protection and forgiveness of sins as Snarglefist passed out corn liquor to the rest of her passengers. When she reached the Lady of Eyre, she lifted the last flask as if it were a holy offering, then whispered, “Drink deep, lady. This give you strength for what come soon.”

Ruarin nodded in thanks and uncorked the flask. She had taken her first swallow of the harsh, raw whisky when the beast wheeled over to the left and flew between the two tall rocks marking the entrance to the canyon. Snarglefist barely had time to strap herself in before the cabin floor bucked up, then slammed down as Elbee guided the dragon through the first of the mountain path’s obstacles.

 

Lightning flashed high overhead as Elbee hauled on the reins to turn the beast away from a jagged rock that seemed to leap out from the canyon wall. Beneath her, she could hear the beast grunting as it fought to overcome the shrieking wind at their backs, but the heat from his fires was lessening beneath her saddle.

Praise the gods, she thought as she squeezed her knees to urge the dragon downward to avoid a stone bridge spanning the canyon. He’s not as tired as he was before.

We’ll need everything he’s got, she added grimly as she again wiped the sleet from her goggles.

Thunder boomed as a bolt of lightning split the canyon face immediately behind them, throwing the beast and the air around it into a ball of white light that temporarily blinded Elbee as they plunged deeper into the canyon.

Elbee whooped in glee as she felt the beast rise beneath her, catching his claws for a moment on an outcropping before leaping off into the darkness once more. The beast answered her call with a roar as he spouted blue-white flames from his nostrils. Their cries echoed from the walls, chasing the thunder as they flew onward up the canyon.

 

Ruarin felt her stomach turn over again as the cabin shuddered around her. She clutched the empty whisky flask as if it were a talisman, while around her the other passengers cried out in fear.

Over the noise of the wind and the shrieks of the terrified, she could hear Snarglefist singing at the top of her lungs in a flat baritone:

Over mountain we go!
Through the wind and snow!
Wind no drive us from the sky!
GLURG people never die!

Suddenly, their flight smoothed as if they had passed through some barrier beyond which the winds held no power. For a moment, everyone gaped at the lack of tumult and noise, then their cries began anew.

“We’ve died!” the Chanani maiden sobbed, burying her head in her delicate hands. “That maniac has ridden us into the side of a mountain!”

“We no dead!” Snarglefist said cheerfully, clapping her hard on the back. “Captain Elbee just get us through mountains. We almost home!”

Indeed, out her window, Ruarin could make out the lights of a city far below them. Thin wisps of cloud slipped past them as she felt the dragon gently wheel downward toward the place of landing.

Soon, the lights of the city blurred beneath them as she heard the wind rushing around the beast’s wings. Then, with a bump and another roar from the dragon, they were on the ground.

 

Elbee stretched down and scratched the beast behind his horns as he trotted toward the twinkling torches of their resting spot. A cohort of gnomes waited for them in the freezing wind next to the debarking ladders, mule-drawn carts for the passengers’ baggage, and a large barrel of fish.

The beast let out a final, contented puff of steaming breath before settling down on his haunches and folding his wings underneath the passenger cabin on his back.

“Good boy!” Elbee exclaimed. She unstrapped herself from her saddle and clambered closer to the dragon’s head. She scratched with both hands while heaping praise upon her steed. “You made it!”

One of the maintenance gnomes tugged a hand cart bearing the fish barrel close to the beast’s muzzle, then gasped as he thrust his head into the food. Within moments, the barrel was half empty, and the flying beast showed no sign of slowing down.

“He must be almost empty, my lady!” the gnome squeaked as Elbee carefully climbed down from her perch. The pilot nodded as she tried to work the kinks out of her legs.

“He certainly had to work at this night’s journey, that’s for sure!” she said tiredly before turning to greet her passengers as they descended from the cabin.

 

The passengers waited until Snarglefist signaled that it was safe to stand before untying themselves from their chairs and gathering their things. The She-Orc ran a hand through her stiff hair and made her way to the front.

“Me know you could have walked through storm or taken carriage over mountains instead of flying with us, and me thank you for opportunity to face death with you tonight!” she intoned as the passengers lined up at the door. Outside, they could hear the gnomes unlocking the portal and preparing the ladder for them.

“Me wish all good travels and luck to you this night!” she exclaimed as the door opened with a creak and the passengers surged forward. The Chanani maiden, her face an ashen white, took wobbly steps toward the door.

“You brave!” Snarglefist growled to her, admiration showing in her gravelly voice. “Me wish to fly with you again!”

The elvish woman gaped at her in shock before she nodded and stammered, “Thank you. Perhaps we shall meet again, maybe even in this world.” Snarglefist gave her a belly laugh as she helped her out the door and onto the ladder.

Finally, the Lady of Eyre came to the door. She was the last of the passengers, so Snarglefist followed her down. The ladder was slick with ice, but after the flight through the mountains, that seemed but a little danger to them.

“Thank you,” Ruarin said once they were safely on the ground. Banks of compacted snow showed where someone had shoveled the flagstones clean, and tall drifts obscured the outline of the hall into which the rest of the passengers were trudging. A glaze of ice covered everything else, and several of the gnomes slipped as they brought their carts over to unload luggage from the nets slung alongside the passenger cabin.

“Me have good news, lady,” Snarglefist said quietly. “Me and mate buy farm just down road from you.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful!” Ruarin said, reaching out to the She-Orc and embracing her. “New neighbors.”

“Yes, we take cave in hill next to water,” Snarglefist said as she and the Lady of Eyre walked toward the hall. “Maybe you bring boy to play with daughter?”

“Nothing would make me happier, Snarglefist,” Ruarin agreed. “I shall tell my husband once I get back to the inn.”

Together, the Lady of Eyre and the Maiden of Hospitality walked into the welcome warmth of the hall of flying. Behind them, Elbee watched as her flying beast finished his meal and burped out a long tongue of blue flame to show his appreciation.

100 Years On – Passchendaele

In August, 1917, the British 5th Army attacked German positions around Ypres in Belgium.  Initial British objectives were to take critical ground in Flanders to reach the Dutch border, followed up by amphibious assaults on the coast.  They also hoped to draw German units away from French lines further south, giving the French some breathing room after the failed Nivelle Offensive and the mutinies that occurred earlier that year.

Passchendaele was a follow-up to the Battle of Messines, in which multiple British mines, dug underneath higher German positions, were filled with explosives and detonated. This, along with extensive training on how to clear enemy lines while staying just behind a creeping barrage, allowed British and Commonwealth units to clear a salient in the German lines with relatively light casualties. (‘Relatively light’ being a rather flexible term.  Almost 25,000 soldiers were killed or wounded taking Messines Ridge)

British forces had early success at Passchendaele, especially where they employed “bite and hold” tactics, where local objectives were limited to what could be taken and then defended against German counterattacks.  In fact, at some points in the battle, the Germans did indeed consider a general withdrawal from Flanders.  However, unusually wet weather, along with the need to provide troops to help the Italians in the fall, turned the British advance into a slog through mud, gas, and barbed wire.

In the end, Canadian forces took Passchendaele in November, 1917, bringing the battle to a halt, although sporadic fighting continued for several weeks.  The British were able to push the Germans back through several layers of their defensive belt, but were unable to dislodge them from Flanders or reach the Dutch border.

As bad as the battle’s results seemed to the Allies, though, they were disastrous for the Germans.  They could not sustain the casualties the new Allied tactics inflicted upon them, losing between 200,000 and 400,000 dead and wounded, depending on who did the counting.  Estimates of British casualties were higher, but the British Empire had a larger base of manpower to draw from, while the Germans were being forced to supplement or replace Austrian strength more every day.

Passchendaele began a new act on the Western Front, in which the Allies continually attacked the German lines, giving German forces no time to rest between battles or to mass large numbers of troops to repel the Allies.  It also forced German leadership to reconsider their defensive strategy, beginning the road to the titanic battles of 1918.

Book Review- Familiar Tales

Alma Boykin has come out with “Familiar Tales“, a collection of several short stories all set in a world that will be familiar to the reader, but with just a touch of magic thrown in.

Here’s the blurb:

Smiley Lorraine: Wolverine. Rosie Jones: 100-lb. Skunk. Morgana Lorraine: Witch with Editorial Problems.

Welcome to a world where Familiars choose magic workers, and a few others, as their partners. A world of adventure, tax-deductions, bad publisher tricks, and odd veterinary clinics, where wolverines wear glasses and iguanas sing along with the radio—badly—while casting spells and keeping their chosen humans out of mischief.

Or try to.

Several stories revolve around the consequences of bad editing and proofreading on textbooks for young mages, while others deal with the care, feeding, and integration of magical animals, or familiars, in people’s lives. The characters, as much as can be done in such short works, are well developed and immediately recognizable as folks you might run into every day.  Except for the wolverine.  Well, maybe the wolverine, but probably not the skunk.

Boykin brings humor to the table in heaping helpings, but these aren’t ‘funny’ stories.  Her wit is focused and sharp, but not cutting, and it brought just the right spice to her tales.

This was a quick read, taking an hour or so to get through, but I found it immersive and entertaining.  These stories are perfect for a lazy summer afternoon or for a cold night in front of the fireplace. I hope that Familiar Tales leads to more stories, because I’m already curious as to what happens next.

 

Rumblings

  • In these times of strife and ugliness, remember, folks:  The guy in your group who wants you to blow up a building or steal weapons is probably a fed.
  • With the rush to destroy any public commemoration of the Confederacy, I wonder how many statues, buildings, and institutions dedicated to Woodrow Wilson will be torn down.
    • He was a racist bastard who segregated everything within his power, and oh, yeah, was quite OK with a movie about the KKK being shown in the White House.
    • He was instrumental in pushing through legislation that penalized Americans for expressing their opinion of World War I, the government in general, and him in particular.  And by penalized, we’re talking hard prison time, not community service hugging kittens down at the no-kill shelter.
    • Of course, he was a son of slave-owners, having been born and raised in the midst of some of the most famous battlefields of Northern Virginia.  And I don’t mean “His family went to visit them for picnics”.  I mean he was born in the Shenandoah Valley, was eight years old when the Civil War ended, and he actually met Robert E. Lee during the war.
    • Then again, a lot can be forgiven for the man who ushered in the first failed attempt to control what substances grown adults could imbibe, and was instrumental in drafting the Treaty of Versailles, setting up the rise of Adolf Hitler and the murder of 12,000,000 people during the Holocaust.
      • Just to summarize that, let’s just call him a proto-fascist, pre-Nazi sympathizer.
    • But I guess when you’re an OP (Original Progressive) who mouthed the right words, you can pretty much get away with anything, can’t you?
  • Now, don’t get me wrong.  I believe with all my heart that there is enough stupidity and douchebaggery to go around on all sides of the current kerfuffle.  A pox upon both their houses, as I’ve become wont to say lately.
  • Irish Woman and I were discussing the possibility that our property might be purchased for road improvements.  She’s quite worried about it, but I’m not.  As far as I can tell, not enough bribes have been paid to the right people environmental and hydrographic studies, as well as considerations of traffic flow and control, to get something like that to happen anytime soon.
  • Just when I start to believe that humanity might have a chance, folks start needing warnings to not stare at the sun and to not point their binoculars and telescopes at it during tomorrow’s eclipse.
    • I’ll feel bad for kids under, say, 12 who don’t have decent eyewear and don’t know how to poke a hole in a shoebox.
    • But if you’re older than that and don’t know to not concentrate direct sunlight on your retinas, I’ve got nothing for you.
    • I look forward to puff pieces on the news about this over the next year or so.  Heck, we might even get some feel good legislation passed just in time for the 2018 elections.
  • Now, if you all will excuse me, I gotta get up to work tomorrow.  Or, as my daughter’s professors would put it, I have to get up early so that I can have a full day of despoiling the earth and oppressing my fellow man in order to earn more than my fair share.

Musings

  • Nothing like a night of nightmares to put you in a jolly mood the next day.
    • Having the same nightmare at least four or five times in one night is a special treat.
    • Funny thing is, they all involved a morgue in Germany, a funeral home in Kentucky, and a cemetery in Arizona. Sprinkle in a few scenes from <REDACTED> and <REDACTED>, and I really want to now what was going on in my brain last night.
  • Blessed be the coffee, for it maketh me into a human being on days like this.
  • Blessed be the coffeemaker, for it maketh the coffee to descend into the carafe.
  • Blessed be the chicory, for it maketh the coffee into a rich, dense brew.
  • Blessed be the bee, for he maketh the honey to sweeten my coffee.
  • Friday night, I wanted to watch Flash Gordon, while Irish Woman and Boo wanted to watch Harry Potter and the Flaming Ashtray.
    • We compromised and watched Harry Potter.
    • Not that there’s anything wrong with Harry Potter, of course.  They’re fine, well-crafted books and movies.
    • It’s just that I’ve been listening to, reading, hearing about, and watching young Master Potter for nigh onto twenty years.  I’m about spent on the subject.
  • Flash Gordon makes for excellent Saturday morning television.
    • Maureen O’Hara might be the reason I fancy red-headed women, but Ornella Muti is the reason I also fancy dark-haired women with smoky eyes.
      • Irish Woman commented that she doesn’t watch movies just because the actors are hot.  She then purred that she’d like to go see the new Stephen King movie with Matthew McConaughey in it.
    • While watching the movie, I realized that I have never disliked a movie or TV program with Brian Blessed in it.
    • It occurred to me that all of the women loyal to Ming wore pantsuits, while Dale Arden always wore skirts.   I’d make a pithy political comment about that, but I’ve had too little sleep and too much coffee for that.
    • You know your battle scene is going to be awesome when Brian May plays the guitar riff for it.
    • Yeah, it’s cheesy and campy, but then again, Shakespeare occasionally had to paint in broad strokes and pander to his audience, too.
  • Thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of The BoogeyMan.  Sales have been steady since its release, and I already have three reviews.
    • If you enjoyed it, please consider leaving me a review on Amazon.
    • If you didn’t care for it, please do me a huge favor and leave a detailed review on Amazon.

Musings

  • It’s never a good sign to lose power at the house for about 30 seconds, then a few minutes later hear the firetrucks down the street head out at speed.
  • The highlight of my week was when I bought a 4 DVD pack that included Dune and Flash Gordon.
    • I’m such a wild child.
    • I’ve always said that one of the side benefits of having children is that you get to watch all of the movies again.
  • Boo and I went camping with his Cub Scout group last weekend.
    • A good time was had by all, but I still wonder where the boys get all their energy.
    • Boo now wants me to start every fire with flint and steel.
    • A self-inflating air mattress is only going to work if you leave the air valve open long enough and make sure it’s closed securely before you climb onto it to sleep.
    • By the way, did you know that the sound of an air mattress being manually deflated excites beagles and makes them want to pounce on their owners?
  • I’m not sure what this means for winter, but it’s about 10 or so degrees cooler than normal here, with low humidity, and I have started seeing ducks and geese flying south.

Book Review – The LawDog Files: African Adventures

Following up on his debut book, LawDog has come out with his second work, African Adventures.   The book contains his stories of growing up in Western Africa, including the multi-chapter Ratel Saga, which tells the tale of the time he and his brother ‘captured’ a rather aggressive example of African wildlife.  My favorite, though, was the tale of when one of the village peddlers presented LawDog’s mother with a rather slithery example of said wildlife, which brought the family mongoose to fits of excitement.

African Adventures gives us a more personal side of the author’s life than what we saw in the first installment of the LawDog Files.  The author comes alive, as does his family, their pets, and all of their adventures.

This is a fast, easy read, told in a conversational tone that makes you want to know what happens next.  Read it in an environment where giggles, chuckles, and outright bursts of laughter will not be frowned upon. This is definitely going to go on my list of books which will be read over and over.

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