Category Archives: Ghost in the Ashes

the complete reading order of THE GHOSTS & GHOST EXILE

Last week’s BookBub ad brought in a lot of new readers to THE GHOSTS series, which is pretty cool. A few people have asked on the proper order for reading the GHOSTS short stories, since the novels are all number and the short stories are not.

There really isn’t a proper order for the short stories, but here is the complete chronological order of all GHOSTS short stories and novels:

Child of the Ghosts
Ghost Aria
Ghost in the Flames
Ghost Dagger
Ghost Light
Ghost in the Blood
The Fall of Kyrace
Ghost in the Storm
Ghost in the Stone
Ghost in the Forge
Ghost Claws
Ghost Omens
Ghost in the Ashes
Ghost in the Mask
Ghost Thorns
Ghost Undying
Ghost in the Surge
Ghost in the Cowl
Ghost Sword
Ghost in the Maze
Ghost Price
Ghost Relics
Ghost in the Hunt
Ghost Keeper
Ghost Nails
Blood Artists
Bound To The Eye
Ghost in the Razor


Caina Amalas, coffee, and Vienna

Writers get ideas from many different places. In my case, I get a big part of my story ideas from history. Today is September 12th, which seems a good day to tell where I got the idea of Caina Amalas opening a coffee house in GHOST IN THE ASHES.

The idea came from the Battle of Vienna in 1683, when the armies of the Ottoman Empire besieged Vienna. Turning the siege, a Polish-Lithuanian adventurer* named Jerzy Kulczycki volunteered to seek aid. He slipped out of the city, disguised himself as a Turkish soldier (avoiding capture by singing Ottoman songs as he marched), and made his way to Duke Charles of Lorraine, who promised to come with help. Kulczycki returned to Vienna with the message that help was coming, and the city leadership decided to hold out rather than surrender to the Ottoman army.

On September 12th (331 years ago today), the relief army attacked under King Jan III Sobieski of Poland, Duke Charles, and several other noblemen of Poland-Lithuania and the Holy Roman Empire. During the resultant battle, which featured the largest cavalry charge in recorded history, the Ottoman Turks were defeated and Vienna saved. The people of Vienna rewarded Kulczycki with money and a house, and King Jan gave him many sacks of coffee beans captured from the Ottoman camp. Using the coffee beans and the money, Kulczycki opened Vienna’s first coffee house, and while coffee had been known in Western Europe since the late 1500s or so, his coffee house helped popularize coffee. In Vienna in particular, coffee houses became centers of intellectual and social activity.

Which explains why Caina, as a spy, would be most interested in owning one. 🙂


*Given that at various times Kulczycki was a captive, a soldier, a nobleman, and a merchant, “adventurer” seems like the best description of his career.


Shay asks:

I’m trying to organise my books right now and wondered if you could update us with a list of the books and short stories/novellas in chronological order again?

Sure. Here are all the series in order, with the various short stories inserted where they would be chronologically:


#1 Child of the Ghosts

Ghost Aria (Short story)

#2 Ghost in the Flames

Ghost Dagger (novella)

#3 Ghost in the Blood

#4 Ghost in the Storm

#5 Ghost in the Stone

#6 Ghost in the Forge

Ghost Claws (short story)

Ghost Omens (short story)

#7 Ghost in the Ashes

#8 Ghost in the Mask


The Wandering Knight (short story)

The Tournament Knight (short story)

The Dragon’s Shadow (novella)

#1 Demonsouled

#2 Soul of Tyrants

#3 Soul of Serpents

#4 Soul of Dragons

#5 Soul of Sorcery

#6 Soul of Skulls

#7 Soul of Swords


#1 The Testing

#2 The Assassins

#3 The Blood Shaman

#4 The High Demon

#5 The Burning Child

#6 The Outlaw Adept

#7 The Black Paladin

#8 The Tomb of Baligant

(Omnibus One has 1-5, and Omnibus Two has 6-8.)


#1 The Tower of Endless Worlds

#2 A Knight of the Sacred Blade

#3 A Wizard of the White Council

#4 The Destroyer of Worlds


The Old Demon vs. the Moroaica – who would win in a fight?

(Note that this post contains SPOILERS for the entire DEMONSOULED and THE GHOSTS series!)

You might recall that a while back I did a post on who would win in a fight, Mazael Cravenlock from DEMONSOULED or Caina Amalas from THE GHOSTS. Some recent discussion there has suggested an additional question about the villains of the respective series.

Who would win in a fight – the Old Demon from DEMONSOULED or the Moroaica from THE GHOSTS?

The Old Demon is the father of the Demonsouled, and over three thousand years old. He possesses all the powers of the Demonsouled – superior strength and speed, rapid healing, battle fury, shapechanging, and the ability to travel instantly through the shadows. Additionally, he knows more about magic than anyone else in his world, and can use his Demonsouled nature to augment his spells tremendously. However, he does have on serious weakness. Because he is fully half-demon, (the rest of the Demonsouled are some smaller fraction) he is partially bound by the laws of the spirit world, and therefore cannot harm or kill someone unless he is first attacked. He also has a love of cruelty that a clever opponent could exploit.

The Moroaica, unlike the Old Demon, is fully human. She is somewhere over two thousand years old (no one knows for sure, since she destroyed the civilization that produced her, along with most of their records), and has mastered necromancy and sorcery to a degree unmatched by anyone living in her world. Additionally, she is almost impossible to kill, since if her body is slain, her spirit can possess another one very quickly.

Both the Moroaica and the Old Demon prefer to avoid confrontation whenever possible, and usually work through emissaries, whether willing or unwitting. Any conflict between them would likely start that way, with both sending students and disciples after the other.

If it came to a direct fight, the Moroaica would likely start it. She would know that the Old Demon cannot attack her until she attacks him, so she would wait until she could strike with overwhelming advantage and kill him. The Old Demon is half-demon, but he is also half-human, which means he can be killed. Not easily, but he can be killed. Additionally, unlike the Moroaica, if he is killed he cannot claim a new body.

However, the Old Demon is completely aware of his weaknesses, and used to working around them. If he knew about the Moroaica’s plan to kill him, he would have a countermeasure prepared. And once the Moroaica attacked him, he would be free to strike back. Though he cannot permanently kill the Moroaica, he can trap her spirit within a particular body, as Ranarius tried to do in GHOST IN THE STONE, and proceed with his plans.

However, if the Moroaica was able to anticipate his countermeasures, she would find a way around them.

So I think the most likely outcome of a fight between the two would be long-term stalemate, fought through proxies and servants. But if they did come down to a direct confrontation, it would be a 50/50 chance either way.


Reader Question Day #70 – why did Caina go blonde?

SD asks what has, so far, been the most common reader question about GHOST IN THE ASHES:

What gave you the idea to make Caina blonde though?

Note that the answer to this question CONTAINS SPOILERS for GHOST IN THE ASHES.

Within the terms of the story, it was purely a practical method of disguise. Despite Caina’s best efforts to remain anonymous, she has been at the center of some very tumultuous events, and so certai nvery powerful people are starting to have an inkling of who she really is – and some of those powerful people want her dead, quite badly (like Decius Aberon, for one, who would kill her simply to spite Corvalis). Or Lord Haeron Icaraeus’s former supporters – using her old disguise as “Countess Marianna Nereide” would have been an invitation to disaster. So dyeing her hair was an obvious and easy way to help disguise her true identity. In addition, she needs to disappear into the disguise of “Sonya Tornesti” for some time, and the dye helps with that.

For me as a writer, it was fun to do because for all her pragmatism, Caina is just vain enough to be annoyed at having to change her hair color (not that this stops her from doing it). Also, one of the subplots of GHOST IN THE ASHES is how much Caina unexpectedly enjoys her disguise as Sonya Tornesti, and how she fears it will subsume her. The hair dye was a good physical symbol of that.

So that was where the idea originated.

Several people write to ask:

When is GHOST IN THE MASK coming out?

Before the end of the year. Ideally the end of September or sometime in October, though as ever we are subject to the vagaries of life and the weather. I’m reasonably satisfied with my outline for the book, and hope to start it as soon as FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT is finished.


Reader Question Day #69 – The order of THE GHOSTS novels and short stories

JB asks:

I am a huge fan of the ghost series… I was wondering what order do they go in? I have read all of the ones I could find on my kindle even the short stories. I am reading them again but I wanted to go in order from child of the ghosts to ghost in the ashes and I’m not sure where the short stories fit into the rest of the series. I can’t wait till ghost in the mask comes out…I feel like I have watched Caina grow up!!!

Thanks! I’m glad you liked them.

Officially, they should be read in this order:

#1 Child of the Ghosts
#2 Ghost Aria (though Ghost Aria actually takes place during CHILD OF THE GHOSTS)
#3 Ghost in the Flames
#4 Ghost Dagger
#5 Ghost in the Blood
#6 Ghost in the Storm
#7 Ghost in the Stone
#8 Ghost in the Forge
#9 Ghost Claws
#10 Ghost in the Ashes

LKM asks:

Do you write from an outline, or do you just make it up as you go?

A little bit of both. I always write an outline beforehand – usually about 3,000 words to describe the entire book. It’s pretty thorough, but I’m open to improvising if the story demands it.

A good example is Malaric in SOUL OF SORCERY and SOUL OF SKULLS. In the initial outline of of SOUL OF SORCERY, Malaric was simply the mercenary captain Lucan hired to bring him to Morvyrkrad, and then Lucan would betray him and leave him in Morvyrkrad once he had the Wraithaldr. But Malaric’s role expanded the minute I actually wrote him – first he became the assassin the Skulls sent to punish Molly Cravenlock for her betrayal, but Malaric decided his ambitions would be better served by following Lucan.

Which, of course, prompted the obvious question – what were Malaric’s ambitions? Why, to overthrow his father and his younger brothers, and claim the throne of Barellion for himself. So Malaric went from a minor character to one of the principal antagonists in SOUL OF SKULLS. Had I slavishly followed my original outline, that would not have happened.

Celia asks:

Your books rock! I love the ghost books. How did you come up with such an idea as the ghost books and all your other books.

Thanks! I’m glad you liked them. Here’s a longer essay from last year explaining where I got the idea for THE GHOSTS – as with so many things in life, it started with a rejection letter.


commerce, self-publishing, and GHOST IN THE ASHES

Andrew Fox has an interesting post about the intersection of commerce with science fiction and self-publishing.

This amused me because in GHOST IN THE ASHES, Caina essentially becomes a small business owner. Opening the Imperial capital’s first coffeehouse isn’t an end to itself, but a method to collect information of interest to the Ghosts and the Emperor. (This has a basis in history, actually – when coffeehouses began opening in the Ottoman Empire and in western Europe during the Early Modern period, they quickly became loci of political intrigue.) One of the subplots of GHOST IN THE ASHES is that Caina finds she actually likes running the coffeehouse, and is worried that her assumed identity is going to subsume her.

But to more contemporary concerns, a self-publisher writer really has to think of himself as a small business owner. Essentially, you’ve become your own publisher, and you have to think of yourself like that. Even before the advent of ebooks, I never cared for the idea of a writer as this sort of “artist” disconnected from the concerns of reality, scratching away at a notebook in a coffeehouse (perhaps one owned by Caina Amalas).

Self-publishing is an excellent way for a writer to cure himself of that conceit.


GHOST IN THE ASHES now available


I am very pleased to report that GHOST IN THE ASHES is now available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and Smashwords.

It’s also available in trade paperback here, if you prefer print books.

Click here to read the first chapter.

What’s the book about? It continues the adventures of Caina Amalas, a nightfighter of the Ghosts, meaning she is essentially a spy and an agent of the Emperor of Nighmar.  This is the seventh book, which means Caina has lots of old enemies now – but there’s always the opportunity to acquire new ones.

The official book description:

Caina Amalas is a Ghost nightfighter, one of the elite agents of the Emperor of Nighmar, and she has defeated both corrupt lords and mighty sorcerers.

As the Padishah of Istarinmul prepares to make peace with the Emperor, the Ghosts must keep the Padishah’s ambassador safe from assassins.

But when an escaped slave begs for Caina’s help, she finds dark plots stirring in the shadows.

Plots that threaten to devour the Empire and unleash terrible horrors.


UPDATE: Note that the comment thread for this post will contain SPOILERS.