Category Archives: Reader Question Day

Reader Question Day #83 – GHOST IN THE MAZE, parallel universe Caina Amalas, and Frostborn prequels

Bryan asks:

Is Ghost Exile different then your choose your own story ghost stories?

Yes. I fear THE GHOSTS has sort of evolved over time. When I wrote the short stories for SWORD & SORCERESS, I had no idea there would be Choose Your Own Adventure, and when I wrote CYOA, I had no idea there would be as many GHOSTS novels as there have been – ten so far, and I’m hoping to start on eleven in April (more on that below).

I tried to keep the continuity of the novels and the continuity of the CYOA stories in sync, but doing so required increasingly elaborate contortions in the novels. So I finally decided the CYOA stories and the SWORD & SORCERESS stories would be a parallel continuity.

Tory asks, concerning FROSTBORN:

Call me naive to this series, but is First Quest like a prequel then?

It is indeed a prequel. I usually do a tie-in short story every time I release a new novel, and for the FROSTBORN books, the short stories have each been about one of Ridmark Arban’s companions – THE ORC’S TALE, THE MAGE’S TALE, THE THIEF’S TALE, and so on. FROSTBORN: THE FIRST QUEST was originally supposed to be THE KNIGHT’S TALE, and it would tell the story of Ridmark’s fateful meeting with the Warden of Urd Morlemoch in the Year of Our Lord 1469. But that was way too much plot to fit into a single short story, so THE KNIGHT’S TALE become FROSTBORN: THE FIRST QUEST, a prequel novel for the FROSTBORN series.

Many people asked:

When is GHOST IN THE MAZE coming out?

Frankly, I’m just glad enough people read to the end of GHOST IN THE COWL that I’m getting this question! :)

First I’m going to finish FROSTBORN: THE MASTER THIEF (currently on chapter 6 of 24 of the rough draft), and then I’ll start on GHOST IN THE MAZE, probably in the end of April. So May/June release date for GHOST IN THE MAZE, if all goes well.

What will GHOST IN THE MAZE be about?

Two words: heist novel.

Also, there will be a maze. :)

BP asks, concerning the repetition of certain scenes in THE GHOSTS:

Why do you repeat certain descriptions from book to book – Caina putting on her nightfighter clothes and so forth?

I do repeat certain bits from book to book – the nightfighter gear, some of Caina’s verbal and mental tics, and so on. I do that because I’m never sure where people will enter the series. I occasionally get emails from people who started at, say, book number 7 or 8 because they happened to like the cover or the first chapter drew them in, and only then went back and read the rest of the books. So while each book is obviously part of a longer series, I do want each book to contain a complete story for people who happen to jump in at book 5, so I try to have complete descriptions at least once in each book.

Marilyn says, concerning GHOST IN THE COWL:

Only one word – lice I never laughed so hard before while reading a book.

I suppose that’s not really a question. :) But GHOST IN THE COWL had quite a bit of mood whiplash – it veered between very scary, very sad, and very funny.  So I’m glad I hit the funny bits, at least.

Of course, if you want to know why the lice are funny, you’ll just have to read the book. :)

-JM

Reader Question Day #82 – How To Create An Ebook

Bettina asks:

Was wondering – how does publishing actually work ? How do you get your books out as ebooks? If I have a novel I want to have published as an ebook, how do I make that happen?

In a thumbnail, you need to turn your book into an ebook file, and upload it to the appropriate vendor sites.

Now, the longer version. :)

To get your book on Amazon, you upload it through the Kindle Direct Publishing site. To get your book on Barnes & Noble, you upload it through the Nook Press site, and to Kobo, through the Kobo Writing Life site. To upload a book to Apple’s iBookstore directly, you need a Mac and a program called iTunes Producer. Fortunately, if you are a not a Mac person there is a way around that- there are websites called “distributors” that will distribute the book to Apple for you in exchange for a small percentage – Smashwords and Draft2Digital are the biggest and most reputable two right now. (I have used both – Draft2Digital is easier, but Smashwords has more features.) You can also have Smashwords & Draft2Digital distribute to B&N and Kobo for you, but since I get a larger percentage from uploading direct to B&N and Kobo and there are no technical obstacles in my way, I upload directly.

(I’ve just started experimenting with Google Play, which also offers a direct upload site. To my knowledge, no distributors currently distribute to Google Play, though given that there are something like a billion Android phones in circulation that will undoubtedly change.)

Amazon requires that ebooks be uploaded in the MOBI format, while almost everyone else requires EPUB. There are programs that allow you to create MOBI files, but doing so is complicated and difficult. It is much, much, MUCH easier to create an EPUB file, and then convert it to MOBI, so that is what I do.

To turn my books into EPUB files, I use a free program called Sigil. Sigil works both as a WYSIWYG editor (what you see is what you get), and it also lets you see the underlying HTML file of the ebook, since an EPUB file is basically just a collection of smaller HTML files bundled together. Honestly, the easiest way to learn to use Sigil is to find a non-DRM protected EPUB file (Project Gutenberg has tons of them), open it up in Sigil, and then see how everything is put together.

Once the EPUB is done, I use another free program call Calibre to convert the EPUB into a MOBI file.

Getting on Smashwords is a bit more difficult, since Smashwords requires a specifically-formatted Word document which their own software then converts into all the major ebook formats. I’ve done the formatting by hand, but to be perfectly candid, it is an enormous pain in the neck and it’s easy to miss things. In the start of 2013, I bought a program called Jutoh Ebook Creator which can automatically convert EPUB files to Smashwords-ready Word documents, and it has made uploading to Smashwords much easier. I heartily recommend it for ebook covers.

You’ll also need an image for your book cover. For my novels, I hire out the covers from Clarissa Yeo. For short stories and nonfiction books, I do them myself in GIMP. I’m adequate at it (some of my nonfiction ebook covers have been #1 in their category on Amazon US, UK, and Germany), but the ones I buy from Clarissa are vastly superior since I have absolutely no sense of aesthetics. When I do the book covers myself, I buy suitable images off stock photo sites, making sure to include proper attribution in the legal & copyright page of the ebook. Also make sure that the licensing for the particular stock photo includes the right for use as an ebook cover – a few photographers forbid it. (Though after you have browsed stock photo sites for a while, it is fun to walk through a bookstore and see how many traditionally published books make use of stock photos for the covers. Some models might achieve a form of literary immortality simply by turning up on so many ebook covers.)

I should note that there are companies that offer to do all this stuff for you in exchange for a percentage, but I don’t recommend that, since you are then legally obligated to pay out that percentage forever (and many of these companies are quite shady).  Better to learn to do it yourself and then to keep that percentage forever!

And it’s possible to do everything yourself using free software – you can even write the book in LibreOffice instead of shelling out for Microsoft Word. (GHOST IN THE STORM and SOUL OF TYRANTS, in fact, were written in LibreOffice Writer.) There is a learning curve to self-publishing, but it’s not a very steep one – and once you’ve done it a few times, the knowledge stays with you, and the next time is all the easier.

This isn’t the only way to do it – many writers swear by Scrivener and have developed clever ways to automate ebook creation in the program, and you can create EPUB files using Apple iWorks and Adobe InDesign (though, honestly, using InDesign fees like a cruel punishment, though in fairness it is much, much less unpleasant than QuarkXPress used to be in the 90s, back before there even were EPUB files). Sigil can also be a bit finicky. But this is the way I do it, and it’s worked for me so far. As an added bonus, with the exception of Jutoh all the programs I use are free, and Jutoh did not cost that much.

-JM

Reader Question Day #81 – Word Count & Aleister Crowley

I had a bunch of questions about the nuts & bolts of writing on Facebook this week, so I thought I would answer them all here.

PDR asks concerning GHOST IN THE SURGE:

How often are you able to produce such a story?

Diligence, mostly.

When I’m writing something new, I try to hit between 3,000 to 4,000 new words a day. I don’t always make it – I have a lot of very random responsibilities that sometimes creep up unexpectedly, and often life just happens. But some days everything goes right and I do more. It tends to balance out, in the end.

I do most of it over my lunch hour at my day job and at night. It helps that I don’t watch a lot of television – I’ve noticed that compared to many of my contemporaries, I do not watch a great deal of TV (the downside of this is that a lot of social small talk goes right over my head, since I don’t usually know who got into bed with whom on GLEE last night or whatever). Additionally, I pay no attention to sports, and someone once pointed out to me that the amount of time I spend writing is roughly equivalent to the amount of time most American men of my age and background put into watching professional sports and managing their fantasy football teams.

(Not that I have anything against professional sports, but I just don’t pay attention to them.)

So it’s like anything else – effort over time gradually adds up to results. It does help to train yourself to write in small bursts when you can grab the time (I have actually written sections in Evernote on my phone and copied and pasted them into the document later), rather than demanding uninterrupted two or three hour blocks for your writing sessions.

TSM asks:

Would you prefer to have your books traditionally published?

No. Which is funny, because I spent a lot of time trying to get traditionally published. I had wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, but by 2010, I was pretty disillusioned with publishing in general, and had decided to stop writing novels after CHILD OF THE GHOSTS. Why did I make this decision? I am pleased to report that I have nothing else in common with Aleister Crowley, but his experience when he decided not to become a competitive chess player was similar to mine with traditional publishing:

“I had been to St. Petersburg to learn Russian for the Diplomatic Service in the long vacation of 1897, and on my way back broke the journey in Berlin to attend the Chess Congress. But I had hardly entered the room where the masters were playing when I was seized with what may justly be described as a mystical experience. I seemed to be looking on at the tournament from outside myself. I saw the masters — one, shabby, snuffy and blear-eyed; another, in badly fitting would-be respectable shoddy suit; a third, a mere parody of humanity, and so on for the rest. These were the people to whose ranks I was seeking admission. “There, but for the grace of God, goes Aleister Crowley,” I exclaimed to myself with disgust, and there and then I registered a vow never to play another serious game of chess.”

(There are many traditionally published writers I respect, but I wouldn’t want to be them.)

So in 2010, I thought CHILD OF THE GHOSTS was the last novel I would write. Then ebooks came along and changed things.

Could my mind be changed about traditional publishing? Yes, by a very large sum of money. But that’s not going to happen, because the dynamics of book publishing have changed.

Print books are not going away by any means, but ebooks are replacing mass market paperbacks as the format of choice for regular readers. So most new books will be ebooks. And when it comes to the publication of ebooks, there is literally nothing – nothing – that a publisher can do for an ebook than I cannot do myself more cheaply, efficiently, and effectively.

I think a lot of writers crave traditional publication because they crave approval, crave a Gold Star from Teacher, and I have no interest in that. (Life, as many straight-A students are disappointed to learn, is nothing like school.) Or to put it another way – a stranger buying one of my books for $2.99 or $3.99 is a vastly superior kind of approval than an editor or an agent asking for a complete manuscript.

TSM also asks:

Do you consider other self-published authors to be competition or rivals?

Neither. The fact is a truly voracious reader can consume far, far more books than I or any other writer can produce in a year. Books are not a form of vendor lock-in, where because someone buys a Ford means they won’t buy a Toyota. Books are not a zero-sum game, and just because someone read my book doesn’t mean they won’t go and read a book written by someone else. The proof of this is the Also Purchased bar on a book’s Amazon page – a casual look at the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section on GHOST IN THE SURGE revealed fifteen different writers before I stopped counting.

And who knows? Someone scrolling through my “Also Boughts” might take a chance on a new writer and discover they liked his book – and the same thing might happen to one of my books on someone else’s “Also Bought” page.

-JM

Reader Question Day #80 – all about GHOST IN THE SURGE

Reader Question Day #80: all about GHOST IN THE SURGE

Since GHOST IN THE SURGE came out a few days ago, it is only appropriate that all the questions this week are about the book! Note that there are no spoilers in this post, though I cannot vouch for any resultant comments.

LS asks:

What happened to the ghostsilver spear from CHILD OF THE GHOSTS, and why hasn’t Caina used it again?

That spear will actually turn up again in GHOST IN THE SURGE. After CHILD OF THE GHOSTS, Halfdan took it for safekeeping. The reason he did that is because ghostsilver is incredibly rare. If it wasn’t, the Ghosts would probably start mass-producing ghostsilver-tipped crossbow bolts and keep the magi in line that way.

But the spear will be back in GHOST IN THE SURGE.

LNC asks:

Will GHOST IN THE SURGE be the last book in the series?

Well, I’ve already ordered the cover art for the next the GHOSTS book, so no. :)

Seriously, the next book will be called GHOST IN THE COWL, and I’m going to start writing it in February. While GHOST IN THE SURGE is not a cliffhanger by any means, it would nonetheless be a jerky place to end the series, certainly. :)

NM asks:

When exactly will GHOST IN THE SURGE be available for iTunes & Kobo?

Soon, I hope. Basically, to get a book into iTunes, there are these steps:

1.) Upload the book to Smashwords.

2.) Have the book approved for Smashwords’ Premium Catalog.

3.) Have the book appear in iTunes the next time Smashwords uploads the updated version of its Premium Catalog to iTunes.

So step one is done. Hopefully Steps 2 and 3 won’t take too much longer. Usually about one to two weeks.

Kobo is opening up to new books again this weekend, so if all goes well GHOST IN THE SURGE should be available there in a few days.

-JM

Reader Question Day #79: Overpowered Characters

MAM asks:

When you create characters, do you ever worry if you make them too powerful?

Not presently, no. Long-running series about superheroes and wizards face this problem – if Superman is invincible and can fly, how does he face compelling dangerous and foes?

For Caina Amalas in THE GHOSTS, it’s easy to keep her from becoming overpowered. She is, as she occasionally points out, simply a woman with a knife and a shadow-cloak. Ridmark Arban in FROSTBORN is much the same – he doesn’t have any magic, and in fact lost the magic he formerly possessed before the start of FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT. Additionally, they both face foes who possess far greater power.

Mazael is more powerful, since he is the Demonsouled son of the Old Demon, and therefore has superhuman strength and speed and healing. That said, he faces a lot of foes – his own all-consuming rage, tremendously powerful wizards, other Demonsouled, hordes of Malrags and undead – to say nothing of the fact that the world is ending. So he regularly faces villains more dangerous than himself.

The biggest challenge I had was how much political power the characters in DEMONSOULED accrued. Many of the main characters acquired significant amounts of political power, which made it harder to do stuff with them. The President of the United States does not lead troops into battle – he has people who do that stuff for him. That said, medieval and ancient leaders often led men into battle personally. The Roman Emperors Decius and Valens were killed fighting the Goths, the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus II ended his days with his silver-lined skull becoming a drinking vessel for the Bulgarian khan Krum, and as late as 1483 AD, a King of England was killed in battle. So the various politically powerful characters in DEMONSOULED were still in a great deal of danger.

Anyway, I think the amount of power (in whatever form) a character has is irrelevant, so long as he faces an appropriate challenge. THE KING’S SPEECH is an excellent example of this. The main character is wealthy and powerful, and at no point in the film is he in any kind of physical danger with the possible exception of excessive cigarette smoking. Yet he faces an adversary that no amount of money and power will defeat – his speech impediment.

Therefore, the amount of power a character has doesn’t matter so long as he faces an adversary or a challenge that actually tests him and pushes him to the limit.

I suspect the perception of “overpowered characters” comes when a writer relies too much upon a character’s magical abilities or superpowers to solve problems rather than the character’s own efforts.

Nicole asks, concerning DEMONSOULED:

There is a king mentioned, but I have no clue where he is or why he is not involved.

Concerning the king, I’m afraid there was a bit of continuity drift over the years. I wrote DEMONSOULED in 2001, and the final book in 2012, and there was a gap of six years between the second book and the third book. So when I started writing SOUL OF SERPENTS, some things that I had thought were good ideas in 2005 I had changed my mind about by 2011.

Having a king was one of them – I decided the realm of DEMONSOULED was better as a set of warring feudal lords rather than a unified realm. Originally I sort of envisioned a High King ruling over the realm, but instead the realm of DEMONSOULED is more like early Capetian France if the last Carolingian king died and no one bothered to replace him.

-JM

Reader Question Day #78 – werewolves and omnibus editions

MAM asks (or comments) concerning the lupivirii in FROSTBORN: THE EIGHTFOLD KNIFE:

I am relieved to see that those Lupivirii creatures don’t sparkle and go to school.

Heh. I’m definitely not writing TWILIGHT here. :) But the funny thing is, I didn’t realize the lupivirii were actually werewolves until about halfway through the book. I had originally envisioned them as basically humanoids with wolf heads – somewhat bestial, but still in control of themselves. But I decided that was boring, and made the lupivirii more enslaved to the bestial side of their natures, to the point where they refused to use any kind of tools or shelter.

Of course, werewolves are often romantic figures in modern fiction. But the lupivirii are not the sort of werewolves that transform into shirtless, ripped, well-scrubbed twenty-year-old fashion models. The lupivirii are frequently malnourished, and prone to extreme violence at the slightest provocation. Additionally, they live outdoors and subsist entirely upon raw meat, so you can imagine what they smell like.  Needless to say, these are not figures of romance :)

JDA asks:

Will we see an omnibus of THE GHOSTS series and DEMONSOULED any time in the future?

If by “future” you mean “right now”, then yes. :) I have omnibus editions of the first three books of THE GHOSTS and the first three books of DEMONSOULED.

SP asks:

How many books will there be in FROSTBORN?

14 to 16. I have it all plotted out already. That said, I won’t really know how long some of the later books will be until I actually get there. So I might combine some of them, or split them up, if it seems necessary. But the plan right now if for 14-16, not counting FROSTBORN: THE FIRST QUEST (which sort of happened organically).

TB asks:

Should I read FROSTBORN: THE FIRST QUEST or FROSTBORN: THE EIGHTFOLD KNIFE first?

Either way. THE EIGHTFOLD KNIFE is the second book in the series, but THE FIRST QUEST is a prequel to the first book.

Which, I suppose, technically makes it the first book. :)

So if you’ve already read FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT, you can read either one next.

-JM

Reader Question Day #77 – all about the Kindle Fires

This week’s Reader Question Day actually has nothing to do with writing.

MLM asks, concerning Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets:

Tell me everything you know about Kindle Fires. I’m coveting…

Everything I know? This will take a while! :)

Basically, there are choices. Four models are available currently:

The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, at $139 with 8 GB of storage.

The 9-inch Kindle Fire HD, at $229 with 16 GB of storage.

The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX, at $229, with 16 GB of storage.

The 9-inch Kindle Fire HDX, at $379, with 16 GB of storage.

(Models with higher storage and cellular connectivity are available, but obviously that drives up the price.)

The 7-inch HD Fire has a 1200 x 800 display and no camera.

The 9-inch HD Fire has a 1920 x 1200 display (basically, more pixels so the screen looks prettier and more things fit on it) and a front-facing camera for Skype and such.

The 7-inch Fire HDX has a 1920 x 1200 display, which means it basically packs the same of pixels as the 9-inch Fire HD in a smaller space, so the screen looks very, very good. It also has the front-facing camera for Skype and so forth. It will have a lighter and thinner build than the HD Fires, and a better battery life.

The 9-inch Fire HDX has a 2560 x 1600 display, which is a lot of pixels and one of the best tablet displays currently on the market. It also has front and back cameras, so you can take pictures with it, though I imagine that would be rather awkward. Basically, the nine-inch HDX is the nicest of the lot, but the most expensive by far.

Both the HD and the HDX Fires come with Special Offers – Amazon sets the lock screen to show ads and featured deals on products it thinks you’ll like. Some people find it creepy, but I suspect you would not object. You can pay more for a Fire without Special Offers, but most people don’t.

The HDX Fires have better battery life and are lighter than the HD models, but the HD Fires aren’t particularly heavy and get good battery life.

Both the HDX and the HD have good speakers, and you can use them without headphones in a quiet room. Both make unexpectedly good portable stereo systems.

The HDX Fires also come with a feature called MayDay – you hit the MayDay button, and within seconds an Amazon rep appears for a video chat to solve your problem (assuming your Internet connection is working). I personally think that’s a bit creepy, but I think most people will love the feature. Don’t know if you’ll ever use it.

The content offerings on all the Fire models are very heavily geared towards Amazon – they work well with Kindle, Amazon MP3, and Amazon Instant Video and so forth. There are Netflix and Hulu Plus apps available for the Fires, but the Fire tablets work best with Amazon’s media services. Obviously, you won’t be able to install the Nook app on a Kindle Fire, or anything from Apple.

Speaking off apps, the app selection is somewhat limited for the Kindle Fires. The only source to get new apps is from the Amazon Appstore, not the Google Play store. The selection isn’t terrible, and most (but not all) of the popular ones are in there. However, certain Android apps might be missing, so if there’s an app you absolutely MUST have, it’s good to check to see if it is there first.

Related to that, the Kindle Fires do not have a lot of offline storage. The baseline model, the HD 7-inch, comes with 8 GB of storage, and after the OS and various apps are installed, I believe only 5 GB or so is available for user files, and 10 GB on the HDX 7-inch model. Additionally, the Fires do not offer microSD slots for storage expansion. One HD movie can weigh in at about 6 GB, so if you have a big music or video collection, you’re not going to fit a lot of it on any model of Fire. (I think Amazon prefers that you stream everything anyway.)

Ebooks take up a comparatively small amount of space, so you won’t have to worry about filling it up with ebooks unless you have something like 4,000 books or more in your library.

In the ads Amazon has been touting how you can work with Microsoft Office documents on a Fire HDX, but practically speaking, it’s hard to actually do work on a tablet. You can probably use the Fires to read a long Word document or spreadsheet or something, but if you actually need to sit down and compose a long document or a PowerPoint presentation, you’re going to use your laptop.

So, to sum up, if you want a 7-inch Fire, go with the 7-inch Fire HD on cost, or a 7-inch Fire HDX if you’re willing to spend the extra $100 for a nicer screen. If you want a 9-inch Fire, get the 9-inch Fire HD – I don’t think the 9-inch Fire HDX is sufficiently improved over the 9-inch HD to justify the extra cost.

And that is all I know about the Kindle Fires.

-JM

Reader Question Day #75 – World of the Demonsouled and technical books

A reader using the name of Sherlock Holmes asks:

Will you be making more short stories for Demonsouled? If so, when?

First, let me say that it is an honor to receive a visit from the Great Detective himself. :)

Second, I’m going to write a DEMONSOULED short story next month, right after I do THE THIRD SOUL short novel I’ve been planning for a while. It’ll be called THE WANDERING ARCHER, and will be from Romaria’s point-of-view.

Bob asks:

Why haven’t you written any computer books lately?

Math.

Let me explain. The last computer book I wrote was THE WINDOWS 8 BEGINNER’S GUIDE. It took several months to write and do all the research for it (complete with over 100 screenshots), and it finally came out in November of 2012.

It sold 19 copies that month, and since then has sold a grand total of 219 copies.

Immediately after I wrote THE WINDOWS 8 BEGINNER’S GUIDE, I started writing SOUL OF SKULLS. That book came out in January of 2013, and its first month sold 569 copies, and has sold a total of 3,021 since then.

So, when it comes down to it, fiction is a better use of my writing time than nonfiction.

And I cannot tell you how incredibly weird it is to say that. When I got into self-publishing in 2011, I thought I would do mostly computer books, with an occasional dabble in fiction. Instead it’s the other way around.

It’s just as well. I do like writing technical non-fiction, but I like writing fiction more. :)

-JM

Reader Question Day #74 – additional character duels

I didn’t do a Reader Question Day last week, since I focused on finishing GHOST IN THE MASK, so let’s have one this week!

(Note that the answers have SPOILERS! for GHOST IN THE MASK and DEMONSOULED.)

Joseph N asks:

A sorcerer of ancient Maat vs a high king of Old Dracaryl (nonspecific general scenario…since I can’t think of much specific ones in the stories other than Randur).

A showdown between a high lord of Old Dracaryl and a Great Necromancer of ancient Maat would be fairly epic, and would probably reduce most of the surrounding countryside to molten waste. One on one, a high lord would likely prevail over a Great Necromancer, since the high lords tended to be more individually powerful.

In a group, however, (like if Old Dracaryl and the Kingdom of the Rising Sun went to war) the Great Necromancers would defeat the high lords of Old Dracaryl. The Great Necromancers were always fairly collegial with each other, while the high lords were viciously cutthroat. The Great Necromancers, after all, believed themselves representatives of a divine order, while the high lords tended to be ruthless megalomaniacs. Because of that, they chronically could not cooperate with each other at critical moments, which was why Randur Maendrag’s Great Rising failed and destroyed Dracaryl in the first place. (And why Dracaryl never managed to conquer, say, Knightcastle and claim the Door of Souls under the castle, or why they never managed to conquer Deepforest Keep and claim the Door of Souls atop Mount Tynagis.)

The Great Necromancers, by contrast, cooperated collegially right up until the Moroaica destroyed them.

Vance S asks:

Who would win in a fight between Ridmark and Mazael?

As of the end of FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT, Mazael. Mazael has Demonsouled strength and speed, and Ridmark, for all his skill and strength, still has the limitations of an ordinary human man.

That may change as the series goes on, though. :)

Demonsouled or demonborn?

Demonsouled.

Unless the demonborn is an Adept of the Conclave of Araspan or a blood shaman. A demonborn magic user in the world of THE THIRD SOUL is very dangerous (in practice, demonborn infants tend to be killed). Raelum from THE BLACK PALADIN and THE TOMB OF BALIGANT is a bit of an anomaly, I hope to have the chance to write a bit more about him next year.

-JM

Reader Question Day #73 – more character duels

The topic of which character would win in a fight seems to be evergreen! Here are a few more:

Ivan K asks:

Caina vs. Romaria?

It would depend on the environment. Caina is more comfortable in an urban setting, and Romaria in a wilderness location. Physically, Romaria is stronger and quicker (and can also change into a giant wolf), and her senses are far sharper. That would be an advantage in the countryside, but Caina could turn that into a massive liability in the city – if she lured Romaria into a tannery or a dyeworks, for instance.

So, in a city, Caina would likely be able to to outwit and defeat Romaria after luring her into a trap. In the countryside, though, Romaria would win very quickly.

Lord Richard Mandragon vs. Halfdan?

In straight physical combat, likely Lord Richard. They didn’t call Richard Mandragon the “Dragonslayer” for nothing (he did kill a dragon in his youth), and in the world of the Grim Marches, leadership is heavily tied to physical prowess. It doesn’t work that way among the Ghosts or the Empire of Nighmar.

That said, both Richard and Halfdan are fairly cerebral, and they both basically have the same objectives – order, peace, and good government. They both subscribe to Clausewitz’s idea that war is simply policy pursued through a more extreme method, and both prefer to obtain their objectives via the least amount of bloodshed possible – better to assassinate one man than to fight a war that kills ten thousand. I suspect that Richard Mandragon and Halfdan would be more likely to work together than to fight.

Joseph N asks:

Molly Cravenlock vs. Kylon of House Kardamnos?

If Molly stabs Kylon in the back in the first few seconds, she would win.

But after that, the odds are increasingly against her. Kylon’s water and air sorcery lets him match her Demonsouled speed and strength, and even exceed it for short bursts. Additionally, Kylon’s ability to sense sorcery means he can also sense Molly’s teleportation ability – and that means he can sense where she is going to appear a split second before she does. That would be a lethal advantage.

However, Kylon doesn’t have Molly’s Demonsouled healing ability. So if she manages to wound Kylon, the odds tilt in her favor. But the longer the fight goes on, the more likely it is that Kylon will win.

-JM