Kindle Countdown Offer – The Initiate

A Kindle Countdown price promotion will be running from 30th August to 5th September on Amazon UK and Amazon.com

The Initiate:

Adventures in Sacred Chromatography

The Initiate is the first book in the Triad of Albion series, an adventure in the landscape of the sacred heart of England… Albion… a place where giants dance in stone, where trees whisper secrets and ancient sites are layered deep in the earth.

“We are… without question…going to get locked up!”

BookCoverPreviewinitiate forntA trip to the ancient White Horse at Uffington, carved into the chalk in millennia past; a track, five thousand years old, that through the mists to a magic of Wayland’s Smithy and the gnarled stones of the circle at Rollright… overhead the hawks wheel… it is just supposed to be a day out in the landscape for Don and Wen.

But a chance visit to a medieval church leads the friends to the discovery of a strange phenomenon; a rainbow of coloured light that defies explanation….

Their adventures lead them down the straight paths of the leys and the more convoluted ways of myth, legend and symbolism, as they explore the strange coincidences that will lead them to the Feathered Seer and the Ninth Knight….

…and to the Riddle of the Initiate…. Can you solve it?

Wayland's Smithy

Wayland’s Smithy

“Those stones at Wayland’s would be covered with earth.”
“I know.”
“So no one could see them.”
“I know, but it isn’t so very different from decorating the inside of a tomb with intricate and resplendent illuminations and hieroglyphs.”
“Like the Egyptians.”
“Like the Egyptians… and others. Some of the best art their cultures ever produced would be seen by none.”
“And what about the Hill Figure.”
“What about the Hill figure, dear?”
“It’s only properly visible in its entirety from the air?”
“I know.”
“So no one could see that either.”
Wen sighs, “We have to entertain… the very real possibility… that these people… were not, oh how should I put it…they were not… as body bound… as we are.”
“And the stones in the earth… ”
“…are exactly the same thing.”
“Jeez…That’s a seriously crazy thought… which is probably why I like it so much.”

Face in the stones

Spirit stone…


Review Extracts:
“…I like to classify and label things up neatly. Those analogies that I can think of would be books like `The Zelator’ and perhaps even `The Da Vinci Code’, but it is a stretch. `The Initiate’ defies being boxed, labelled or classified and probably rightly so, as it is a work of brilliance.” Dr G.M.Vasey, Author of ‘The Last Observer’ and ‘Inner Journeys’

“Layers of mystic delight.” R. Amber

“Although a very mature, serious and in many ways learned study and in no way to imply a simplistic form, there is also about it the originality, freshness, zest and sheer joie de vivre of some of the much beloved adventure stories of my childhood – an irresistible and all too rare combination.” B.Terrier

The promotion runs from 30th August to 5th September on Amazon UK and Amazon.com with savings of up to 87% on normal prices.

Kindle Countdown Deals start at the lowest possible price and rise which rises in increments for the duration of the promotion until they reach the normal sales price. This is a limited time offer and the book will display a counter with the current offer price and time remaining for that price.

Did you know? You can download a free Kindle app for PC, Mac, android and other platforms that allows you to read the books available, even if you do not own a Kindle.. and there are thousands of books to choose from, including many classics, and hard-to-find volumes! With a huge catalogue of free, discounted and rare books to choose from it is a treasure trove for bookworms. You can download the free Kindle reading app for your device here in the UK, or here in the US.

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Lost in the landscape

autumn 015My head was not where it was supposed to be last night; in fact, I could have wished it anywhere other than here, so I ended up abandoning pretty much everything I’d had planned and going early to bed with Terry… Pratchett that is, before any eyebrows start lifting. I keep a pile of books beside the bed, but night time reading these days tends to be the old, familiar friends that take little effort.

fleetwood with stu (1)Gone are the days when I would regularly devour a book cover to cover in a sitting before sleep; by the time I get to bed these days I usually manage a page or two before lights out, so any reading done at this point of the day needs to be familiar enough to keep the plot going even when I have lost it. This, just at present, happens with alarming regularity as both I and the internet run at the pace of an arthritic, nonagenarian tortoise and I’m getting halfway through a job only to find it giving up the ghost with a sigh. This is not good. I’m busy. Even the dog is in the throes of the late summer moult and is not on form.

nick north days 047Mind you, I have found something guaranteed to cheer me up when the frustration sets in. Between growls and grumbles I am reorganising my image files bit by bit. Not a lot to cheer anyone up there, you might think, not with the volume of stuff I have in there these days! But honestly, if you could see them, I promise you couldn’t help but smile.

bluebells 0301There are a lot of old files, of course, and they are always good to revisit, but the bulk of the pictures are more recent. Since the birth of the Silent Eye I have travelled much more than I have in the whole of the past twenty years put together. Nowhere exotic, you understand; no warm, tropical beaches, no far distant climes or rainforests… but across the length and breadth of England, with an all too brief foray into Scotland. In all manner of weather…and strangely enough, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

sunday 062Most of the pictures have been taken over the past year and a half, traipsing round the landscape with Stuart gathering information and following the trail of tantalising clues that led us to begin… and continue… writing together. The books really do document our adventures, even though they are written as fiction. The treasure trail of knowledge and understanding and oddly synchronous events is real. Not only do the pictures show the places we have visited, but they document a human journey of discovery; one of a growing connection to the roots of our home.

X heather weekend 163There has always been, for both of us, that love affair with the land. For me it has been the hills and moors of Yorkshire, my heart’s home, even though I have lived in the south for the last two decades. Yet our travels have opened that for me, and ripples of love for the land now spread out from that centre to encompass a much wider landscape. These isles may be tiny when compared to many countries, but they are incredibly beautiful. An American friend summed it up perfectly when she said that Britain’s beauty is on a human scale. It is small enough for the heart to hold, but big enough to be loved for a lifetime.

nick north days 083It is an odd thing, really, we started writing because of how the land spoke to us and in the books we speak, perhaps, for the ancient life of the land. And so we write…it is a two way relationship. Like any writers we would love to see our books do well, but the biggest prize, the greatest joy is to feel the land come to life for us, and in its voice, we find ours.

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Dear Wen VIII

Dear Wen…

I Saw a Heron myself over the weekend… in flight… following the path of the river…the river Don actually… may have to start referring to it as the river Me… he he he…

X ilkley weekend 093Looks like we’ll be going into and under the hill-fort this time which will seem a bit strange, although, we have already been led a little way down that particular path: what with Odin Mine and all.

I still think that would make a great setting for The Green Chapel but it is not that easy to get people up there.

It all reminds me of Dashwood and the hell-fire caves from the first book: he certainly appears to have had all the bases covered.

Don’t get me started on the High Crosses.

I am nurturing an overwhelming desire to return them all to their original positions in the landscape which would doubtless make for interesting reading in the next cycle of books.

fox 037Chester is probably not that easy to fit in at present but we could take another look at the Eyam cross…

I am starting to think they may also have served as portals and doorways.

The links would be the scenes on the iconographical panels… so for example you could enter at a beast-master scene on a ‘cross’ at Taddington and come out at a beast-master scene on a ‘cross’ at Sandbach… ingenious huh?

At the very least it would make for a good guided journey… or video track…

Goodness knows where such ideas originate from.

We probably need a name for the beast-master…?

sheffield chesterfield hare 104Obviously there are a number of candidates in the tradition… all of which we have looked at in the books.

Poor Anu, he looks like the dog that bet on black when up came red, except that dogs don’t frequent casinos… more is the pity…

ani1

Double oh K9 anybody…?

Don x

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A new book by Dean F. Wilson – Children of Telm: The Chains of War

deanToday see the official release of Dean F. Wilson’s third book in the Children of Telm series… The Chains of War. Dean kindly agreed to write a guest post which appeared on the blog earlier today.

The Chains of War is the third book in the Children of Telm series. I would say ‘third and final’ but who knows…? There is enough possibility left at the end for the story to continue beyond the pages and into the imagination, as good stories always do.

The first thing that struck me when unpacking the book was the cover. The artwork for this first edition of the trilogy by Soheil Toosi is superb. They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but here the illustrations are perfect to set the tone for what lies within. On another note, I feel I should mention that the books are clearly presented in a good sized typeface which makes for easy reading by a bedside lamp… quite lethal…

I would say, right at the start, that as with any other such series, you will need to read the two preceding volumes to get the full feeling of the world that the author has created. Iraldas is a complex place, where magic is part of life, the impossible is normal and where the gods are both out of reach and infinitely reachable… a dichotomy that Wilson explains as an attempt to show that mortal and divine may be more closely linked that we realise.

Those acquainted with the Mysteries will recognise Wilson’s own knowledge of the subject, from which he draws inspiration to create some truly beautiful details in his world.

“…I’ve had plenty of time to count all the stars in my eyes and though new ones won’t grow for me, no, they certainly will grow for you.”

The book opens with the return of a god, carefully, delicately picking his way amongst the living. But Corrias is no warrior and the darkness of Agon cannot be defeated through his agency, so although there is triumph, the journey is far from over. Ifferon is armoured ready for battle, yet exchanging the robe of the cleric for a warrior’s garb serves to disguise his true identity as the chains are placed on his wrists…The story leads on to the final confrontation with Agon and the speaking of the Words… but to see what happens you will have to read the book…

“… there is always room for the heart to grow…”

A superb third book in the series. Highly recommended.

Review based on a pre-release copy of the paperback.

 tcow_frontThe Chains of War;

Book Three of the Children of Telm

by Dean F. Wilson (Dioscuri Press)  is available in paperback and ebook from Amazon UK, US and worldwide.

Dean writes at Dean F. Wilson where a free ebook, The Memory Magus: The Leech of Love is available to download.

You can also find Dean on Goodreads where there is a chance to win a copy of the Children of Telm: The Call of Agon.

Book trailers are available on Youtube.


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Guest Author – Dean F Wilson

Today sees the official release of Dean F. Wilson’s new book… The Chains of War, the third book in the Children of Tem fantasy series, which I highly recommend. It gives me great pleasure to welcome Dean as a guest.

tcow_front

“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”― Lloyd Alexander


Fantasy… the heir of mythology

by Dean F. Wilson

Fantasy is the modern heir of ancient mythology. It is a genre in which we can create and live in alternate worlds, where gods and goddesses come to life, where mortals mix with immortals, where epic battles are fought against epic foes, and where even the very earth itself has a tale to tell.

Many tend to think of fantasy as something that isn’t real, and the same goes, to some degree, for mythology, which some dismiss as the beliefs of the irrational in bygone days. Yet mythology was very real to many people in those times, so real, in fact, that similar myths sprang up in distant places, where the only connection appears to be a kind of collective consciousness.

Myths are one of the many ways we try to understand ourselves and the world around us. If the river floods, is the river god dying? If the sky thunders, is the sky god angry? While they may not be literally true, there is a certain truth in the archetypes behind them.

For example, there is the Biblical tale of the flood, where God decided to essentially “start over,” and humanity only survived through Noah and his Ark. A similar tale is found in the Epic of Gilgamesh and even in Plato’s Timaeus.

Tolkien took this seemingly universal concept and used it as a basis for his tale of the flooding of Númenor, after the last king of that island tried to invade the Undying Lands. The complexity of his tale is essentially no different to that of other texts, some of which have been taken as literal truth in the past.

Why then do we need these kinds of stories? With the rise of science, one more attempt to understand ourselves and the universe, are these fanciful tales outdated? Are they the reserve of children’s imaginations alone, or are they important for adult minds too?

Tolkien struggled with this kind of dismissal of fantasy, which even extended to epic myths like Beowulf. He saw the fantastical elements of such tales as vital to them, and he emphasised the poetical aspects over the historical. His works, and the arguments he made, were pivotal in reclaiming the honour of the genre.

As humans, we respond to many different stimuli in many different ways. Words lift and lower, create and destroy, empower and enfeeble. Symbols speak to parts of us that cannot be reached by anything else, not even by words with their many powers. In these symbols, therefore, we can find answers to life’s many mysteries that might otherwise lay hidden.

While science and history are essential, they alone do not answer the nagging questions we all have, even on a subconscious level. There are parts of human existence that can only be explored and understood through a kind of mystical vehicle, through a poetic vessel. On what waters we sail, whether they are the waters of the subconscious, or waters where magnificent and terrifying creatures swim and sink ships, we can be sure that there are depths to them that only the fantastical and mythological can explore.


deanThe Chains of War;

Book Three of the Children of Telm

by Dean F. Wilson (Dioscuri Press)  is available in paperback and ebook from Amazon UK, US and worldwide.

Dean writes at Dean F. Wilson where a free ebook, The Memory Magus: The Leech of Love is available to download.

You can also find Dean on Goodreads where there is a chance to win a copy of the Children of Telm: The Call of Agon.

Book trailers are available on Youtube.


 Be kind to authors – make their day and leave a review

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Dear Don VIII

Diana and co north 009Dear Don,

Hope the weather up there is less miserable than it is here today. It hasn’t been the best of weeks so apart from walking the dog and trying to find somewhere to park and catch the heron that is wandering the roadside I haven’t really been out all that much.

On the other hand, staying in has allowed me to do a fair bit of research for the hillfort and its environs, and I even managed to dredge up a back issue of an archaeological magazine that reports on the original excavations there. Fascinating reading after what we had come up with, I have to say. I’ll bring it up with me for the Ilkley trip. The walls there must have been quite something, but far from being just an Iron Age site, the finds go all the way back as far as human history in the area… which accords well with what we had suspected; that these places meant more than just safety to our ancestors.

Diana and co north 088
Meanwhile, I’m working on the video again for The Initiate… I’m not happy with what I put together for the second one, so I’m trying to do something with it. There is so much in that book, though… So I will be getting the Kindle promotion for it sorted too, as we discussed. As well as working on the free e-book for the website.

Meanwhile, did you know there are further remnants of Saxon crosses in the church at Sandbach as well as the ones commemorating Penda in the town? I found a pic on Google and they look well worth a visit at some point. There is a cairn called the Bridestones close by too. Of course, that would take us into yet another county… though we know Chester has been on the cards for a while, especially with Æthelflaeda being so prominent in its history. We are going to run out of time before we run out of sites and clues to follow, you know.

Anu sends his regards. The daft dog is building his own cairn with the sofa cushions at the moment. He still hasn’t got over the loss of that ball, you know. Ferrets and hedgehogs he can manage, but barely a ball in sight. Really strange. Seems quite unlike himself.

Love,bath 020

Wen and Anu x

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To be a Fool

Sue Vincent:

Gary Vasey… from the heart.

Originally posted on The Wacky World of G. Michael Vasey:

If I were God I think I would be devastated by the acts of humanity.

But maybe thats the wrong way to think about things?

Maybe I would look upon my creation with a parents’ love and understanding and perhaps I would see the good things rather than the bad? Perhaps I would chose to look upon the little acts of kindness, the attempts to understand another’s point of view and the innocence and wonderful imagination of children and marvel that such kindness, such beauty could exist at all.

Perhaps I would puzzle over why people seem so deeply burdened when in fact they have life, choice and freedom of expression. Perhaps I would understand that sometimes it is difficult to see the light in the darkness if you have never been shown what the light actually looks like. Do most people really live in darkness?

In many meditations over…

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Communication

ani1Quite why Ani thinks I would really like a squashed spider I don’t know. Be that as it may, it is, with great care and delicacy, dropped on my lap. Perhaps she is working on the same principle that makes her alert me to the baby birds blown from the nest early each summer, or maybe she thinks I can fix it the way her other toys are magically restored with needle and thread when the stuffing ‘falls’ out. This one, sadly, is beyond my aid. Yet she keeps her nose glued to the lifeless creature as I take it out into the garden. Some things you just can’t fix.

AniFor all my questions about what moves her to do certain things, we understand each other pretty well, she and I, in spite of an obvious absence of a common language. Her various barks, rumbles and cries, though I can’t read them word for word, I grasp in essence. Some things are very clear, others mere generalisations where my comprehension is concerned, but I know the difference between, ‘that ruddy cat is in my garden again,’ and ‘I’m not happy with that strange noise out there’. Some things are as clear as if I had learned a smattering of her verbal language, as she has learned to understand the incomprehensible collection of sounds that constitute English.

ani3Ani recognises her toys by name, but that doesn’t mean she understands entirely all the connotations and associations I have with, for example, ‘duck’ or ‘ball’. She obviously has her own and her relationship with each toy is entirely different. Some furries she will happily unstuff, some are carried around gently, lovingly, and the Ball of Power… the Ball of Love… has a deep significance to her that goes way beyond a game of fetch, encompassing things of which I may only ever manage to understand the merest fragment. Yet, there are points common to each of us where understanding touches, enough for communication.

ani2

It doesn’t stop with verbalisation, of course. The communication goes deeper, exploring other senses as well as a certain indefinable awareness of each other. Body language says a good deal more than we give it credit for as a rule. With a dog, you soon learn to give it its proper place in the range of communication skills.

ani poorly 026The eyes too speak volumes… as anyone who has been directed to the ball by Ani could attest. Eyes say so much in any language, so does a smile… and you can clearly tell the difference between the hot and happy smiles, in just the same way that a fake or warm smile on a human face is easy to read. Scent… dogs outstrip us at every turn. They can read us with their noses in ways we can barely imagine. But even here it is a two way communication, as anyone who has ever sat with a dog on their feet, a dog moreover who is intent on emanating more noxious gases per cubic centimetre of air than should be possible, will tell you. Illness too you can smell… that doggy aroma may not be to most people’s taste, but it does have its uses.

ani 006Touch, of course, always transmits far more than words alone could say and though the human and canine interpretations of the need for comfort and affection, the need to express and share love may be different in detail, there the essence of the communication is the same. Her head on your knee and those big brown eyes speak volumes.

ani4Of course, this only works between Ani and those who know her… who take the time to see her, be aware of her and learn her ‘language’. Others may just see an over-bouncy, demanding animal and miss the sense of humour… for she has one… and all the other little details that make her as unique a being as the rest of us.

ani 009The danger is that we try to project our own emotions onto the animals we know, expecting to understand them in our own terms… because, after all, those terms are all we have and they are limited. The interspecies communication, however, seems to work somehow; perhaps because we take notice of each other, take the time to learn each other’s ways and are open to all the minute signals that allow that communication to take place. And because we want to. Communication and understanding do not need a common language. It helps, but there are other ways.

balls 202

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Voices

memory-puzzleThere was a moment of panic, as if a hole had opened in the world and swallowed something precious. I looked at the photo and there was an empty place in memory where the voice should be. You would think I would be used to it by now, but I never am. It is a real grief to me that I cannot fix voices in memory in the way that I can faces and places. The things I remember most vividly and easily are visual and tactile … but although I can replay a piece of music in my head note perfect, even hearing the singer’s voice, some of the people I have most cherished in my life I can no longer ‘hear’.

Don’t misunderstand me, I can remember any voice when I hear it, either in reality or in the mind; but to deliberately call up the sound of that voice is a different matter. Some I can; they are, for some unknown reason etched in memory; friends I have not seen in years, family members whose voices are forever stilled still speak in the mind. Some voices I cannot call up, no matter how I try and there seems neither rhyme nor reason to whose… it is often the dearest I cannot ‘hear’. I can almost taste a voice in imagination, I can feel it… sometimes it comes unbidden and is simply there, yet if I try to reach for it, to listen to it, pitch and timbre, laughter and word will simply vanish.

A lot of research has been done on how the brain is wired for these things, but I’ve never really come across an answer as to why some people can and others cannot dredge these memories up from the basement levels of the mind where they seem to be buried… and why some voices remain spontaneously and others are simply a void when you reach for them. I can only surmise that some of us are wired for sound, and others predominantly for visuals, yet that only answers half the questions at best. Not that it matters, of course, when you are reaching for the unattainable sound of a much loved tone and cannot find it.

For that split second of grief at an unexpected loss, as I gazed at the picture, I was conscious that I had a glimpse of what it must be like to lose memories, through age, illness or injury. Yet the photo was of someone I see often, it didn’t matter after all, or it shouldn’t. For goodness sake, I only have to pick up the phone… I even have a recording… yet, for that split second I can only say I felt utterly bereft.

Which, under the circumstances, sounds a tad melodramatic even to me, but emotions have a knack of doing pretty much whatever they want.

Thankfully these things are never utterly lost. I think we just misplace them in the vast storage facility of the mind. The things that have made our memories… all the tiny details that have, for whatever reason, impressed themselves upon our consciousness, all the things that matter to us… seem to be housed in the dusty, cobweb filled recesses somewhere. We may not be able to recall them voluntarily… we may not know in which filing cabinet in the archives to look … but the memories may be triggered by some subliminal stimulus and return unbidden when least expected. Perhaps, sometimes, we simply try to hard… like looking for a lost set of keys in a hurry and finding them in your pocket after all.

And, bizarrely, as I type, that ‘lost’ voice comes to mind, and with the inner ear that familiar, much loved voice gently mocks my fears.

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Review: Red Clay and Roses by S.K. Nicholls

At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking this a ‘woman’s book’. Its characters revolve around women and some of the issues raised are certainly primarily feminine; though even there the writer challenges preconceptions for these issues should be primarily human. It is not the literary equivalent of a chic flick… it is a book that makes you think. It is not always a comfortable read, but it is well written, well told and engrossing.

I saw a post by S.K. Nicolls on her website. Susan tells a good story, even within the limited scope of a blog post, and the details of her personal journey of discovery intrigued me. I bought the book.

Without giving the story away Red Clay and Roses explores the culture of the Southern States at a time in history when the various strata of society were as distinctly separate as oil and water and, as a rule, mixed less readily. Yet human emotions, both the good and the tragic, transcend these artificial barriers and you are not left with man and woman, black and white, but simply with people. That these people acted in ways we today might condemn raises the spectre of preconception and mirrors the changes in society; they were the creations of an era, acting from their accepted position, their ideas deeply ingrained. Do we, you wonder, do exactly the same and will future generations look back at us and wonder how we could behave as we do? This is a book that raises such questions.

Drawing on her own life experience, the author paints her characters in authentic colours. There are no saints or angels, no idealisations. Just real people… real lives, taken from history and cast in fiction, making one of those books that, once begun, you will find yourself continuing to read, engrossed in the individual stories that weave a tapestry of human experience.

There is an obvious reality to the description of place; the writer is familiar with her landscape and its people. That reality is also tangible in the way the characters are handled in many instances and you hear in the written word the veracity of the nurse who has handled these situations and the resulting emotional upheavals of those concerned throughout her career. It is this melding of personal experience and imagination that gives the book its credibility.

Reading in England there is the perspective of the outsider; our culture did not admit so readily to prejudice and division, though it was undeniably as prevalent and is arguably just as bad today, though less overtly so. It raises questions about racial and gender perceptions and, above all, about personal freedom… the freedom to choose.

Susan Nicolls addresses some difficult issues with this book and yet manages to maintain a position of non-judgemental neutrality as its writer. For this, and for the articulate, imaginative story that is Red Clay and Roses, I applaud her.

Highly recommended.


512BRQZ0j5LRed Clay and Roses

by S.K.Nicolls Available in Paperback and for Kindle via Amazon worldwide.


Susan Nicolls writes at: Mybrandofgenius

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