Category Archives: Ghost in the Hunt

Was GHOST IN THE RING the first GHOSTS book?

A reader emailed me this week:

“Really liked Ghost in the Ring! But the backstory for Caina seemed very detailed. Are there other books in the series?”

Why yes! Yes there are!

The very first book in the Caina series is CHILD OF THE GHOSTS. It’s free on all ebook stores, and it’s also a good long read – 100,000 words or about 5000 Kindle locations. It’s a complete story on its own, not a cliffhanger, and a good introduction to Caina and the world of the Empire of Nighmar.

After that, there are many more books. A complete list of THE GHOSTS and GHOST EXILE novels are below, in the proper reading order. The short stories are included in the list, but note that those are more like “bonus adventures” – you don’t need to read them to keep up with the main plot:

Child of the Ghosts
Ghost Aria (short story)
Blade of the Ghosts
Ghost in the Flames
Ghost Dagger (novella)
Ghost Light (short story)
Ghost in the Blood
The Fall of Kyrace (short story)
Ghost in the Storm
Ghost in the Stone
Ghost in the Forge
Ghost Claws (short story)
Ghost Omens (short story)
Ghost in the Ashes
Ghost in the Mask
Ghost Thorns (novella)
Ghost Undying (short story)
Ghost in the Surge
Ghost in the Cowl
Ghost Sword (short story)
Ghost in the Maze
Ghost Price (novella)
Ghost Relics (novella)
Ghost Vessel (short story)
Ghost in the Hunt
Ghost Keeper (novella)
Ghost Nails (novella)
Blood Artists (short story)
Bound To The Eye (short story)
Ghost in the Razor
Ghost Lock (short story)
Ghost in the Inferno
Ghost Mimic (novella)
Ghost Arts (short story)
Ghost in the Seal
Ghost Vigil (short story)
Ghost in the Throne
Ghost in the Pact
Ghost in the Winds
Ghost in the Ring

-JM

 

GHOST EXILE series now in print

I am pleased to report that the entire GHOST EXILE series is now available in paperback format. Links and ISBN information are here at my paperback page. 

It is amusing to see how the books in the bottom row of the picture get progressively thicker the closer it gets to the end of the series. 🙂

-JM

Kalgri and the Voice

I don’t usually watch a lot of TV, but because of all the traveling I’ve had to do this summer, I’ve been watching more than usual.

As readers of GHOST EXILE know, one of the main villains of the series is a creature called the Voice, a malevolent spirit housed in the brain of an equally malevolent assassin named Kalgri. So I was watching TV, and I was highly amused to learn that there is in fact a TV show called “The Voice”.  This “The Voice” has nothing to do with assassins, but is in fact a musical competition show, where singers compete for the approval of judges seated upon red thrones.

It is nothing like Kalgri and the Voice from GHOST EXILE.

Though it is amusing to imagine what would happen if Kalgri appeared on the show. Grim, but nonetheless amusing. 🙂

-JM

GHOST IN THE WINDS spoiler discussion thread

A few people have asked for a spoiler discussion thread for GHOST IN THE WINDS, so here it is! Share your thoughts about GHOST IN THE WINDS below.

I’ll also mention some of my favorite scenes from the book.

MASSIVE SPOILERS FOLLOW!

###

In no particular order, my favorite scenes.

1.) I liked Caina, Annarah, and Morgant’s scenes together, both in WINDS and PACTS. Annarah usually takes the side of Caina’s conscience, and Morgant the side of her ruthelessnes.

2.) Whenever Kylon and Mazyan teamed up. I always listened to some Two Steps From Hell for that part. I also liked how Kylon didn’t completely realize how much everyone in the rebel army respected him for beating Master Alchemist Rhataban in single combat. Rhataban had a towering (and mostly deserved) reputation, and Kylon beat him with half the rebel army looking on.

3.) Speaking of Mazyan, Sulaman’s masquerading as a poet was inspired by the old story of Harun al-Raschid wandering the streets in disguise to see to the welfare of his subjects. Harun did it out of choice. Sulaman out of necessity. When he told Caina in GHOST IN THE COWL that if it was within his power he would reward her, he was telling the truth.

4.) Several people emailed how creepy they found Callatas’s lust for Caina after the Elixir Rejuvenata, which pleased me, because I wrote that deliberately. I wanted to make Callatas even more unsettling than he already was, and that was a good way to do it.

5.) Speaking of Callatas, he was a fun villain to write over the series, because he was such a dynamic Big Bad, and he was so dynamic because he made several serious mistakes. Callatas was a very human villain, because he made a lot of errors and he shot himself in the foot from time to time. His biggest mistake was not realizing that Kharnaces had set a trap for him, but his second mistake was both mishandling and underestimating Cassander Nilas, which almost (literally) blew up in his face. I liked writing the scenes in GHOST IN THE PACT and GHOST IN THE WINDS where Callatas had to admit to himself (if no one else) the extent of the problems his arrogance had created for him.

Callatas screwed up, but he never, ever gave up, no matter how serious the setback.

Though when he screwed up, Kalgri was right there to point it out. Repeatedly. And at great length.

6.) Speaking of Cassander, he wasn’t in GHOST IN THE WINDS, but he was one of my favorite villains in the series. He basically shoved aside Callatas as Big Bad in GHOST IN THE SEAL and GHOST IN THE THRONE, and he almost won. His largest mistake was trusting Kalgri. He didn’t trust her very much, but even that little bit of trust was enough to bite him.

7.) Speaking of Kalgri, she was also a fun villain to write, because she was so horribly rational. Her enemies (and allies) liked to call her a madwoman, but both Cassander and Caina grasped the essential truth about her. The Red Huntress was sane to a frightening degree, and most of the time made her decisions based upon clear, remorseless logic. Kalgri didn’t care about anything except 1.) her own survival, and 2.) killing as many people as possible. Everything she did proceeded logically from those two objectives, and when she did make mistakes (like losing her temper and fighting Caina hand-to-hand at Silent Ash Temple instead of withdrawing) she learned from them and did not make the mistake again. Or when she almost murdered Damla’s sons for the amusement of it, only to refrain when she realized that killing them might put her at unacceptable risk.

What really made Kalgri dangerous was not the Voice, but her iron self-discipline and her unwavering patience.

Kalgri was almost the most clever person in the books, but unfortunately for her, Samnirdamnus was even cleverer.

8.) Kalgri’s final scene was influenced by Ungoliant from THE SILMARILLION. After I wrote GHOST IN THE RAZOR, a  perceptive reader pointed out that Grand Master Callatas and the Red Huntress had a relationship a lot like Morgoth and Ungoliant from Tolkien’s masterwork. So Kalgri’s final scene was inspired by the fate of Ungoliant from THE SILMARILLION, where in the final madness of her insatiable hunger, Ungoliant devours herself.

9.) Samnirdamnus’s long game to defeat Callatas and Kotuluk Iblis and free the Court of the Azure Sovereign. He had been playing the game for a very, very long time, and he had been waiting just as long for someone like Caina to come along, a mortal to whom he could entrust his power at the final critical moment.

And it all came together. For the stars will go out before a Knight of Wind and Air relents in his duty. Caina has been a spy for her entire adult life, but the length of time Samnirdamnus has been a spy can only be measured using chronological terms commonly employed in astronomy.

10.) I liked the final scene with Caina and the Padishah, when the Padishah orders Caina to execute him and save Istarinmul. That was probably the single most noble thing Nahas Tarshahzon did in his life, and he got his revenge on Callatas at the same time. To paraphrase the first Sherlock Holmes story, retribution, though slow in coming, had overtaken Callatas at last.

It was fun to finally write that scene, because the Padishah was first mentioned in GHOST IN THE STORM, and he’s been missing since GHOST IN THE SURGE or so. So it was neat to finally find out what happened to him.

11.) The return of Iramis. That was seriously a neat scene to write. Poor Annarah! She knew the truth the entire time, but she could never tell anyone, because if Callatas ever realized his mistake, he could rectify his mistake with ease and destroy Iramis in truth. As Morgant said, the best liar in GHOST EXILE was the most honest woman of them all.

12.) The end when Sulaman dismisses the charges against Caina and calls for witnesses to speak for her.

13) Finally, I really did like the final scene where Caina comes back and Kylon is waiting for her in the House of Agabyzus.

I admit I hadn’t decided if I was going to keep Caina and Kylon together right up until I actually wrote the end of the book. Originally I was going to have Kylon go back to New Kyre, since he would have thought it his duty. Yet when I wrote GHOST IN THE PACT, I realized that Kylon was still furious at the Surge over Thalastre, and he couldn’t let that go. Additionally, he had seen too much in Istarinmul, and while he had once accepted slavery as part of the natural order of mankind (as indeed almost all pagan societies did on Earth), he couldn’t tolerate it any more.

Additionally, killing Kylon or breaking him up with Caina would have been too similar to the ending of GHOST IN THE SURGE.

And that line in GHOST IN THE PACT when Caina promises to wait for him at the House of Agabyzus! According to the Kindle, that was the most highlighted line in GHOST IN THE PACT. That just begged for payoff. The Iron Laws of Storytelling demanded that Kylon ask Caina to marry him in the House of Agabyzus.

14.) One last thing. A few people have asked what the new GHOST NIGHT series will be about, and this is all I’ll say until I start writing it in mid-2017:

Laeria Scorneus Amalas was not an only child. Not even remotely, and her family would make a sorcery-using Mafia clan look like the Brady Bunch.

-JM

GHOST EXILE OMNIBUS ONE special sale

BNGhostExileOmnibusOne

Next month I’m going to start writing the final volume of the GHOST EXILE series, GHOST IN THE WINDS. Because of that, GHOST EXILE OMNIBUS ONE is on temporary sale for $0.99 USD (or local equivalent). If you haven’t tried the GHOST EXILE series yet, this is a great chance to read the first three books and one bonus short story. Links below!

-JM

 

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

-JM

GHOST EXILE questions: did Callatas and Jadriga ever meet?

A reader asks concerning GHOST EXILE:

Did Callatas and Jadriga ever meet?

Good question!

No, for a couple reasons, and some of those reasons will be significant in coming GHOST EXILE books.

One, Jadriga was much older than Callatas. By the time of the GHOSTS books, Callatas was over two hundred years old. Jadriga, however, had existed in some form or another for nearly twenty-five centuries, so while Callatas was a blip upon her radar (more on that below), he wasn’t that much different than many other rival sorcerers she had crushed over the centuries, so she didn’t see him as a significant threat, and was confident she could destroy him if necessary.

Two, Jadriga always avoided the region near Istarinmul because of the loremasters of Iramis. When Callatas destroyed it, Iramis was one of the oldest cities in the world, and the loremasters of Iramis were perhaps the oldest extant organization of sorcerers upon the world. Iramis fought several wars against ancient Maat before Callatas destroyed it, so the loremasters were experts in fighting Maatish necromancy, and they knew what Jadriga was and knew how to fight her. So for that reason she avoided the region around Istarinmul and Iramis and kept away from the loremasters whenever possible.

Third, when Callatas destroyed Iramis, he did it to give himself a free hand to work his Apotheosis, but he also unknowingly removed one of Jadriga’s biggest opponents. Jadriga became aware of him then, along with his plans for the Apotheosis, but she ignored him, partly because he had removed one of her enemies, and partly because she might be able to manipulate him into doing something useful in the future. She thought the Apotheosis was folly, but didn’t trouble herself to stop it, because she knew she would complete her great work before Callatas could finish his Apotheosis.

There are also a couple of other reasons, but we won’t go into them here because of spoilers. :) But needless to say, this will turn up in future GHOST EXILE books. The evil legacy of ancient Maat has caused Caina grief before (CHILD OF THE GHOSTS, GHOST IN THE FORGE, GHOST IN THE MASK) and it will do so yet again.

-JM

my 11 favorite GHOSTS scenes of 2014

Note that this post has SPOILERS for the entirety of THE GHOSTS books to date!

In 2014 I wrote three complete GHOSTS novels – GHOST IN THE COWL, GHOST IN THE MAZE, and GHOST IN THE HUNT, along with the first draft of GHOST IN THE RAZOR.

As I mentioned with the FROSTBORN post, some scenes are more fun to write than others. Of course, this often has no bearing whatsoever on which scenes the readers enjoy most. On multiple occasions, I’ve heard something that I threw in or changed at the last minute was a reader’s favorite scene or line in the book, whereas no one notices something I planned to put in for months. It is always amusing to see how it shakes out, and THE GHOSTS books are no different.

That said, now that GHOST IN THE RAZOR has been out for a week, here are the 11 GHOSTS scenes that I enjoyed writing the most in 2014:

11.) Caina, Damla, and the lice in GHOST IN THE COWL.

10.) Caina bluffing her way into joining the circus in GHOST IN THE COWL.

9.) Caina terrorizing Ulvan and the other Master Slavers in GHOST IN THE COWL.

8.) The destruction of the Widow’s Tower in GHOST IN THE COWL.

7.) Pretty much any time Nerina Strake says something.

6.) Caina’s and Nasser’s escape from Grand Master Callatas’s Maze through the netherworld in GHOST IN THE MAZE.

5.) Caina realizing who the gladiator is in GHOST IN THE RAZOR.

4.) Nerina attempting to ask Caina how to seduce the gladiator in GHOST IN THE RAZOR.

3.) Caina realizing that she had miscalculated and that Kalgri had been hunting her, not Martin Dorius, all along in GHOST IN THE HUNT.

2.) Caina’ s confrontation with The Sifter in the laboratory of the Craven’s Tower in GHOST IN THE RAZOR.

1.) Caina’s final fight with Kalgri in Silent Ash Temple in GHOST IN THE HUNT.

-JM

a question about GHOST IN THE HUNT

A reader writes concerning the character of Cassander Nilas, magus of the Umbarian Order, in GHOST IN THE HUNT.

I like the name Cassander, did you make it up? 

Actually, I took the name from a historical figure – Cassander of the Antipatrid Dynasty, who was the King of Macdeon from 305 BC to 297 BC. Cassander and his father Antipater were among Alexander the Great’s chief lieutenants, and after Alexander died in 323 BC, Cassander assisted his father in battling the other lieutenants (known as the “Diadochi”, from the Greek word for “successors”) for control of Alexander’s empire.

The Diadochi were a hard bunch, but even among them, Cassander was known for his ruthlessness. Cassander rebelled against his father’s control to seize Macedon for himself, and later had Alexander’s mother, wife, legitimate son, and illegitimate son murdered to secure his hold on power. When I started plotting out GHOST IN THE HUNT, I wanted a Greek/Roman name for the Umbarian magus Caina would meet, and Cassander was the perfect fit.

Likely the fictional Cassander Nilas will prove just as ruthless as his historical namesake. 🙂

-JM

GHOST IN THE HUNT question & answer time

There were some good questions and comments on GHOST IN THE HUNT, so I decided to round them all up here. (My answers are marked off with “JM sez”.) Note that this post will have !!!SPOILERS!!! for GHOST IN THE HUNT.

Margie asks:

So what really happened to Kylon and his wife? Are they still alive? The comments near the end about the stormdancer that threw the huntress into the sea seems to say so . . .

Will New Kyre be woven back into future stories?

Will we ever find out what’s actually happening with the Pahdishah?

JM sez:

The beginning of what happened to Kylon in New Kyre was hinted at in the short story GHOST SWORD. We’ll find out exactly what happened between the Red Huntress and New Kyre in the next book, GHOST IN THE RAZOR.  That said, Cassander Nilas was telling the truth when he described how he had hired the Huntress to kill the archons who favored allying with the Empire against the Umbarian Order. GHOST IN THE RAZOR will reveal what exactly when down when Kalgri went to New Kyre.

Currently, there are only four people in Istarinmul who know exactly what happened to the Padishah. Grand Master Callatas is one of them.

Cassandra asks:

Every time Laertes or Nasser commented on her ‘male’ gender or about how she should get a woman, I about laughed by ass off! The Ghosts series is my favorite series I have read so far. I am really curious if Caina will ever find another person she will love like she did Corvalis. Cheesy I know, but I still wonder.

JM sez:

That’s one of my favorite running jokes in GHOST EXILE so far. Laertes has a lot of daughters to marry off, and Ciaran the master thief seems like a competent, solid fellow. A bit too grim and wrapped up in his own head, but obviously not the sort to sleep around and carry on with loose women in taverns. Of course, Ciaran is a wanted man, but if Callatas finishes the Apotheosis they’re going to die anyway, and if they defeat Callatas, Laertes will still need to find husbands for his daughters.

As for romance, well…future books are coming. Caina might intellectually think solitude is probably the best choice for her, but her heart and body disagree with her intellect on that matter.

Ashley asks:

I noticed mention of Murvain and Ark towards the end of the book. Will we see either of them in a future book? I also wonder what it would be like for Nernia and Claudia to meet, it seems to me like it would be a very amusing conversation to say the least.

JM sez:

Ark and Muravin are still alive, and working with the Ghosts in Malarae to keep the agents of the Umbarians (like the Silent Hunters and others) out of the Imperial capital. They’ll both turn up in future books, but not for a while yet.

Nerina Strake and Claudia would be hilarious together. Naturally, they will have to meet at some point (likely under conditions of crisis), but I haven’t decided when yet.

Annie asks:

I was amused when I read that the Voice made Kalgri’s new body into a mix of Caina and Claudia…But I was wondering what gave you the idea for Kalgri’s new body to be a combination of those two ladies?

JM sez:

A two-part answer. First, it amused the Voice, because the nagataaru very much enjoy trolling. (If you’ve ever read CS Lewis’s PERELANDRA, the scene where the possessed Weston pulls the wings off alien birds just for the lulz is essentially the mindset of a nagataaru.) So since Kalgri had been defeated by Caina and Claudia, it amused the Voice to rebuild her face in an amalgamation of Caina’s and Claudia’s features.

Second, Kalgri herself had something to do with it. Neither Kalgri nor the Voice are entirely in the driver’s seat, and Kalgri influences the Voice and vice-versa. Kalgri was focused on Caina and Claudia before she fell off the side of Silent Ash Temple’s mountain, so she subconsciously influenced how the Voice rebuilt her.

-JM