From the blood drenched depravity of The Wounded King, the ancient curses of The Elder, the sadistic betrayal of Red and Gold and the cruel heartbreak of The Tall Priest, we now follow The Magi as he begins his descent into destruction and madness.
It begins with doubt.
Blessed with powerful magic, shrouded in savage infamy in a land one thousand years before Christ, the immortal Magi is feared and revered. The counsel to shamans and kings. His authority unquestioned. But when faced with a dangerous choice, he stumbles.
Driven by false hope, he walks into the darkest of magic. Encouraged by the whispered promises of an impossible priest, he’s witness to monstrous sights. Ignoring the dire warnings of an ancient witch, he kneels, the goal at hand but his soul broken. And, the journey at an end, the most dangerous of deeds having been done, he stumbles again, burdened by a regret that follows him for millennia.
A man battered beyond repair. An immortal desperate to reclaim his darkness. A legend trapped in a nightmare without end borne by the consequences of choice.
Two books dropping in the next four months? Yep. The Magi (May) and then a collection of all five Martuk Series shorts (July/August). Cover reveals soon.
Can’t say I haven’t been busy. 😁
Here’s a taste from The Wounded King, Book One in the series.
And now back to work on Eidolon Two. 👍
In all honesty, I’m not big on reviews. I mean, obviously it’s nice when you get great ones – and I’ve been extremely lucky to get more than my fair share – but I’ve also gotten some not-so-nice ones. So, eh, it’s all a crapshoot, right? Best to not take it too seriously or let it define you or what you can do.
I just keep on writing.
But sometimes, only sometimes, does a review come in that makes me sit up and pay attention. That makes me break my standard “don’t read reviews” policy and actually sit down and – gulp – read the review. And sometimes, only sometimes, do I get an opinion of my work from someone who is becoming one of the preeminent voices when it comes to reviewing horror.
And that’s what happened recently. That it happened for Martuk…the Holy, the first book that started this whole writer journey for me way back in 2012 makes it just that much more special.
Intrigued? Here’s a snippet:
I love this world, I love this writer. It is dark, it is brutal … I found it all too easy to be whisked away by the sands of this world. Martuk is a must-read.
You can read the rest right over here.
And the book? Why, here you go!
Ah, stumbled upon this the other day. A chat with the titular Martuk . One of my favorite interviews. It ran a few years ago when I was releasing Martuk the Holy: Proseuche, the sequel to Martuk the Holy.
Always loved this one.
He glanced around the cafe. Noticed the group of German tourists scanning their maps, a jumble of shopping bags at their feet. The mother chatting on her cell phone, her eyes fixed on the baby sleeping in the stroller. He watched the waitress, an older woman with thick hips and thin arms, as she leaned on the counter. And the young couple tucked away in the corner, their fingers clutching stout porcelain. “I’ve watched the world change,” he said. “Civilations rise and fall. Whole worlds end. Yet it still remains the same. Always the same.”
For a moment, I’d forgotten who he was, this Martuk. Had forgotten about his birth in the sun-blasted Zagros mountains one thousand years before Christ. Had forgotten the centuries he’d seen. The bloody chaos he’d caused and the agony he’d endured. Reminded myself that this was a man who’d had a long life, a long immortality, even before something as unremarkable as a cup of coffee even existed.
I gave him a moment. “If I may, why the second book?” I said. “Why Proseuche? Was it something as simple as the story continuing?”
“Nothing’s that simple.” He finished his espresso in one final swallow, his finger raised to order a second. A small nod from me, and a second finger lifted to indicate two. “Writing doesn’t excorcise the ghosts. It emboldens them.”
“So why write?”
A moment of silence followed by a brief shrug. “Who am I without my ghosts? In this world that changes yet remains the same, they are one of my few constants. Their anger, their rage. Their fear and regret and sorrow. These things, I know them. They are familiar. Even here, even now, they walk with me.
“They are amaranthine. A word I now love, by the way,” he said with a grin. “Endless and forever and constant.”
Not only will this push the envelope, it will guild that envelope in gold, hone it to a razors edge and use it in a beautiful & brutal ceremony. It so heavy and beautiful and I loved every moment of it, Martuk is going to strike nerves.”
– Zakk @ The Eyes of Madness
In honor of the upcoming “Great American Eclipse” August 21st, I thought I’d offer an excerpt from my book The Wounded King (blurb below) where – surprise surprise – there’s a total eclipse! And in ancient Uruk one thousand years before Christ, if the sun disappeared during the day, it was never, ever a good thing.
Certainly wasn’t for the Wounded King.
There was no crown.
They surrounded the city, their swords raised, their shields ready.
They kneeled in the streets, young and old, their hands clasped in prayer, the words, the pleas, the begging, the cries, spilling from their lips.
High above, I sat, surrounded by Priests, an orphan.
And soon the day would grow dark as the Gods ate our sun.
I was told there were stories.
It was said my mother, the Queen, had flown down the countless steps of the Temple that day, her gown in flames.
It was said my mother, the Queen, was herself in flames, her arms, her legs, her head and lovely hair, all on fire as she ran through the streets that day surrounded by screams.
There were even those who said they heard my mother, the Queen, call to the Darkness to save her that day, the words lost in the terror of her torment.
And then it was said she, my mother, the Queen, had stopped in the marketplace, a great torch alight with massive flames, and simply fallen, crumbled to ash before the winds lifted the pile and scattered it to the sky, a delicate cloud of grey carried far from the city and deep into the mountains.
Yes, there were stories.
Those barbarians in the streets also said the Old Woman, the Ancient in the Temple, had called on those Gods older than the Dark Gods. Willed Them with secret words to do her bidding, her power so strong, so deep, that it conjured a Great Thunder which rattled the stones of the city and shook the very ground itself.
And there were those who had lived long and seen much who said she, this Ancient, had shouted prayers not heard since the Time Before the Moon, her power so fearful it made my mother burn. So ancient it called the deadly flames from deep within the poor Queen’s soul.
Then she had grown wings and flown away, this Old Woman, escaping the Elder yet again.
Yes, that’s what they said.
But then there were those who insisted that, no, she had not grown wings. The Old Woman had instead called a great daemon, a lesser Dark God perhaps, who had stood behind her, looking like a man, quite like a man, yes, but who then unfurled his wings, great feathered wings, which rose high to arch above his head, the tips meeting in the air.
It was he, this winged daemon, who had lifted her out of the Elder’s grasp. Who flew her out of the courtyard, away from the Temple, and into the sky.
That’s what was said in the streets of this great city.
None of it mattered.
I was now King.
I was now alone.
And the Gods were going to eat our sun.
They stood near, the Priests, the Elder watching me.
The Army had not supported his desire to rule. They had loved my father, the First King, a warrior like them. They had respected my brother, the Dead King, a man who had fought alongside them in many a battle. With more power than mere Guards, and less likely to do the bidding of the Priests, these true warriors, this Army, would ultimately decide who ruled.
And it was to be me.
The Elder’s victory had been short lived.
A din rose from the streets outside.
The Priests turned to the open walls, a rustle of expensive fabric as they peered below.
Incense choked the air as the prayers grew, the day growing dark. From the walls, swords beat shields and warriors screamed and shouted and cried and bellowed as the light dimmed, the sun in a celestial war with the approaching darkness.
Of course, It was here.
Were I to close my eyes, I could smell It, sense It, feel It, the moist heat now gentle as It stroked my arm.
Beneath the feet of those many men in red and gold, It waited. It moved when they moved, stopped when they stopped. Waited, Its knowledge secure, trusting Its victory was near.
They surrounded me, they did, this prison of red and gold.
I glanced at the wine in my hand.
The skin on my arm grew warm as it blushed. A small red blister appeared, wept, and then disappeared, the tender, round wound sinking into the flesh.
I am here …
I have always been here …
The shrieks, the cries, the prayers, screams and shouts from below swallowed us while swords clanked and warriors bellowed and day turned to night.
The Elder watched me.
I will never leave …
I thought of my father then, his eyes sunken and bleeding. Not even a great warrior like him could win this fight.
And of my brother, a greater warrior still, his tongue thick, his teeth blackened, his eyes sealed shut with dried puss as he sobbed, his hand on mine.
And I thought of my mother at one with the Darkness. Robbed of her health, her sanity, her soul. Haunted by the regret that was her life as she ran, burning.
What could I, an Almost King, a Pretend King, do?
The barbarians below erupted in a full-throated panic as the dark deepened.
I was no warrior.
Those on the wall shouted and threatened, swords raised high.
I could not fight.
The Priests calmly waited.
I put the cup to my lips.
You are mine …
And the whole world screamed as the sun went out.
A sacrifice. A dying King. Bones in the stone, blood in the wine. A Queen consumed by the Darkness.
From ancient Uruk, The Almost King tells his tale. Of The Elder and his cunning Priests in their robes of red and gold. Of an Old Woman who can call the power of the Dark Gods. Of his mother, the Queen, and his dying brother, the King.
And of the Darkness, an evil from before the Time of the Moon. Inescapable, its hunger never-ending, its shadow fed by the Priests, slowly overwhelming his family.
Drowning in a sea of red and gold, the Almost King battles an unwinnable war as he navigates the wreckage towards his fate as … The Wounded King.
The Wounded King is the first in The Martuk Series, a collection of Short Fiction based on characters from the full-length novel Martuk … The Holy.
Hard to believe everything I have now started with this mad dash of a book I decided to write on a whim five or six years ago. Imperfect? Yep. Great story with great characters? Yep. Am I proud of it? Yep! Who wouldn’t be? It’s a damn good read! 😊
That being said, here’s an excerpt from Martuk…the Holy: