Category Archives: Ghost in the Razor

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

 

a 10k day

Yesterday was a successful writing day, because I wrote 10,000 words of FROSTBORN: THE SHADOW PRISON.

I write relatively fast, but even for me, 10k days are extremely rare. Everything has to go just right in Real Life – no computer problems, no home maintenance tasks, my brain has to be firing on all cylinders, and so forth, but yesterday was one of those days.

In fact, the last time I hit a 10k day was November 30th, 2014, when I wrote 10,000 words of GHOST IN THE RAZOR in a single day. It was right after Thanksgiving, and I was snowed in with nothing else to do, so I just kept going and going on GHOST IN THE RAZOR. I think the section I wrote was the part where Caina and Kylon reunite under the Ring of Cyrica and run into their old friends from the Kindred.

Some people really like that scene, so I think it worked out. 🙂

-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

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

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

GHOST EXILE – Sicarion vs. the Red Huntress vs. the Balarigar

Note that today’s post has !!!SPOILERS!!! for the entirety of THE GHOSTS to date.

A couple of questions came up in email about GHOST IN THE RAZOR, so let’s answer them here!

“I really like Kalgri the Red Huntress as a villain and glad she is coming back. Who would win in a fight, her or Sicarion?” 

Sicarion is an extremely capable and dangerous assassin, and not too proud to withdraw if a fight doesn’t look like it’s going to go his way. In addition, he is a sorcerer and a necromancer of middling skill, so he can both use sorcery in a fight, and then employ necromancy to repair wounds to himself after the battle.

The Red Huntress, by contrast, is an insane murder juggernaut.

In a straight fight, Kalgri would probably win. Sicarion would assume that she is a sorceress, and use his favorite tactic against sorcerers – a spell that produces a sphere of shadows around him that disrupts spells. Kalgri, however, is not a sorcerer, since all her superhuman abilities stem from the Voice, the nagataaru within her. The nagataaru would not be affected by the spell, and Kalgri would walk right through it.

This assumes that it’s a straight fight, and neither Kalgri nor Sicarion like straight fights. If Kalgri had time to prepare, she would almost certainly come with a plan to kill Sicarion. Her first plan to kill Caina, after all, failed only due to sheer dumb luck.

If Sicarion had time to prepare, he likely would come up with an effective trap or ambush for Kalgri. That said, it would still be an extremely risky venture, and Sicarion would try to avoid fighting her at all if possible, or (better yet) manipulate someone else into fighting her for him.

“Does Caina believe that she is really the Balarigar?”

She doesn’t. She thinks the entirety of it is a myth that as been misapplied to her and distorted by rumor, and doesn’t think that she has been chosen by gods, God, or destiny to kill demons and evil sorcerers. She thinks the “Balarigar” is a legend that started in Marsis and sort of accreted around her over the following years. In truth, she is rather irritated by it, since it makes it harder for her to disappear when necessary.

That said, she is completely willing to use the legend to her advantage when necessary.

-JM

GHOST IN THE RAZOR Questions & Answers

Note that this post CONTAINS SPOILERS for GHOST IN THE RAZOR and numerous other GHOSTS books.

A reader has several questions about GHOST IN THE RAZOR.

“I wanted to ask when is your next book coming out. Can you betray something that will happen in it?”

The next GHOST EXILE book I’m writing is GHOST IN THE INFERNO, which I hope to start writing in March (when FROSTBORN: THE GORGON SPIRIT is finished). So if all goes well I’ll have GHOST IN THE INFERNO out sometime around Memorial Day.

In GHOST IN THE INFERNO, Caina and her allies will try to break into the Inferno, the hellish fortress where the Immortals are made and trained.

“I can’t wait and I really, really, really want to know what will happen with Kylon.  I don’t know why, but when I read your books, I keep thinking he will get killed around every corner!”

Thanks! I was quite surprised at how popular he has been. When I wrote GHOST IN THE STORM (Kylon’s first appearance) back in 2012, I intended him to be a one-off character. But then I got a lot of emails asking “when is Kylon coming back?” So I brought him back for GHOST IN THE FORGE, got even more emails about Kylon, so then I brought him back in GHOST IN THE MASK…and here we are three years later and I’m still writing about Kylon. 🙂

“1. What are daevagoths?”

Normal humans twisted into insane monsters by alchemical sorcery, equipped with absolutely lethal venom in their stingers. The Alchemists typically use them as guard dogs.

“2. How are they made?”

Alchemical sorcery. Think a lot of vats and vile elixirs and madness-inducing transformations, that kind of thing.

“3. What do they look like?”

Dog-sized spiders with human heads and scorpion tails. Their heads are hairless and gray, and their eyes and blood glow with a pale blue light.

“4. How do you spell the word? daevegoths? deavagoths?”

Daevagoth.

“5. What is Ulvan? (master trader, sorcerer…I know WHAT he is I just don’t know how it’s called)…(Ulvan and the others, in what category are they in? Did I say guess right? Master sorcerers or traders or else?)”

Ulvan is a Master Slaver of the Brotherhood of Slavers of Istarinmul. The Master Slavers wear cowls of black leather as formal, ceremonial garb (similar to how certain legal officials in Britain wear black robes and white wigs when in court), and so the Master Slavers are informally known as the “cowled masters”.

The Brotherhood of Slavers is the only organization that has the legal right to sell slaves in Istarinmul. (Even when people sell slaves to each other, the Brotherhood is technically supposed to record the sale and receive a cut, though transactions often happen under the table.) Because of that, the Brotherhood is richer and more powerful than many nobles, the way a modern international corporation is sometimes richer than smaller national governments. Callatas hired the Brotherhood to supply him with the thousands of slaves he needed to murder to create wraithblood, so they became even wealthier and more powerful.

That said, by the time of GHOST IN THE RAZOR Caina has spent a year and a half harassing the Brotherhood and disrupting their operations, and the Brotherhood is in a lot of political and financial trouble. They are having a very difficult time finding new slaves, and so the price of slaves have skyrocketed. This in turn is disrupting Istarinmul’s economy and ticked off Grand Master Callatas, which has made the Brotherhood desperate. They’re legally forbidden from kidnapping Istarish citizens to sell as slaves, but the Brotherhood has been kidnapping Istarish peasants to meet the demand for slaves. That in turn has seriously angered a lot of powerful rural Istarish nobles.

So Caina hasn’t fully realized it yet (Morgant and Nasser have, though), but she has been pushing Istarinmul towards a major civil war…and there is your hint for what might happen in GHOST IN THE INFERNO. 🙂

-JM