Notes on Living in Portland


If you’ve been following me on Twitter and paying attention to any of my sporadic posts, you probably know that my wife and I moved to Portland, Oregon in October of last year. Since then, a lot has happened in the world–from CoVID to the BLM protests to protests of modern police militarization. I won’t comment on CoVID or the ongoing craziness that is going on with the pandemic in the US in this post, but after 60 days of living 3 blocks from the federal courthouse, I do want to comment on what it’s been like living here and what exactly is going on.

In October, I came to Portland for work. Since CoVID, I haven’t been working from the office but am instead allowed to work from home, but at the time that my wife and I moved here, there was no way to know that we’d be working just as remotely here as we had been in Pittsburgh previously. Since we’ve been here in Portland, though, we’ve come to love the city more and more. And as southerner transplants originally from Nashville, we have a kind of conservative meets liberal history that makes our experience here kind of different from most that get transplanted here.

The first thing to understand about Portland is that it is a liberal city that takes protesting pretty seriously. Before CoVID, I walked to work in downtown and I would always pass Pioneer Square, one of the hubs of the city, and there was always some protest going on. Larger protests sometimes happened on Park Avenue, within the green foliage of beautiful oaks and walls of roses. In Pioneer Square, some of the protests were so simple but consistent that you couldn’t help but stop and take a picture or talk with the person or persons doing them. I remember a woman who stood within the Square with a sign that said “Babies Don’t Belong in Cages” and did so everyday on her lunch break for months.

Then there’s the naked bike ride and the fact that Portland long ago allowed nakedness within the city as a form of protest. Portland is big on social movements, especially more left-leaning ones, but it tends to respect people and their humanity. It’s also as weird and unique as shows like Portlandia show, and that’s a huge attractor and very charming to live in day-to-day.

Which brings us to the BLM protests and what has happened downtown. From the beginning, it’s been a mixture of different protest messaging. Not everyone is solely focused on BLM. Some genuinely dislike cops and policing in general. At the Safeway (a grocery store chain that is popular here in the northwest), at around 6:00 pm or later if you’re shopping there, you’ll see colorful shirts with messages that are often not politically correct. To be fair, nothing in Portland really embraces political correctness. There are taco joints that share bathrooms with strip clubs here. There is nudity from time-to-time. There’s a lot of colorful hair colors (green, purple, pink, black, bright yellow). There’s also messages of “Fuck the Police.” It’s not just a protest thing. I saw those kinds of shirts when my wife and I attended “The Ghostbusters” live orchestral performance at the Portland Symphony during their pop culture series.

Now, I’ve seen videos of people throwing water bottles and yelling obscenities at cops.  And my wife and I have personally admired the graffiti around the courthouse. I’ll note that I’m using “admire”, for myself, intentionally. When I went to Berlin, I walked around East Berlin to observe the graffiti there. Tagging is an artform of the masses. It tells a story of common people, and has been used for thousands of years. We find it in 30,000 year old caves. We humans have an innate interest in drawing pictures, writing words, and telling our stories. And I, personally, as a citizen of Portland, am not offended by it, nor do I see it as violence at all. Owners are more than free to clean it up, but in cities that embrace weirdness like Portland, OR and Austin, TX, it’s more likely to become an attraction that brings in business or elicits conversation than it is seen as a blight.

And I’ve seen videos of peaceful protestors being pushed to the ground, shot in the face, chest, and arms. I’ve seen videos of the results of a woman deafened and lacerated by a grenade filled with projectiles that burst in front of her. I’m so close in proximity to these protests, that I’ve undoubtedly heard some of these events happen, but the cacophony of what’s going on in the response drowns out most individual events. The thing that sticks with me more, as a resident of Portland living just a few blocks from the federal courthouse, is the sound of the constant percussion grenades from police and federal troops, every day for the past 60 days, until 2 to 4 am. Every day. Dozens to hundreds of explosions in the middle of a concrete jungle where a woman’s normal conversation could travel blocks away. My wife, who has to get up for work between 4 and 8 am PT, depending on her job’s scheduling, receives the brunt of this effect. She’s routinely jolted out of bed by yet another grenade while she deals with a back injury that results in acute pain any time she tenses up–which happens almost every time a loud grenade pops.

I remember distinctly the days before the federal troops arrived. I remember a night of almost no bombs and no explosions. And in the morning, I asked my wife if she had been awoken at any point, and she said no. And I remember thinking, “well, maybe it’s winding down.” Then, the President ordered the troops into the city, and all hell broke loose. The videos of kidnappings in unmarked vehicles and release with no charges. No identification of the personnel taking the person off the streets. It really brought home the changes that 9/11 had made to our justice system and the organization of the Department of Homeland Security and other related agencies–how much power they have and how they view themselves in the fight against domestic terrorism. When it comes to removing constitutional rights, throwing water bottles and spraying graffiti can now, apparently, be viewed as a form of terrorism. That’s what our complacency has resulted in.

In the past 62 days, outside of the protest hours, I’ve never once had a problem with walking around Portland. And I know this is partly because of my white privilege. I genuinely am not worried, partly because I know I’ve done nothing wrong but mostly because there’s not a lot of violent activity around me and maybe I do feel a bit invincible or unworthy of notice most of the time. There is mental illness among the homeless population here. I know people who have been attacked in parks–including a gentle 6-foot-4 tall stocky guy who was attacked by a crazy homeless person. But it’s so rare for this to happen–as rare as anything like this anywhere else.

If homeless people approach me, they ask for money or food, and my wife and I have bought food for people at food carts before. We can’t give something to everyone who asks us–on the way to Safeway alone, I tend to pass at least five homeless persons in a two block walk. What’s most surprising about living in Portland and talking with homeless people has been how often they’ve been helpful. We’ve asked them for directions and even advice on where to eat or what’s going on. And it’s kind of amazing to see how friendly and nice most homeless people are and how willing they’ve been to help. With how often they’re ignored by people bustling about their day, I’m sure it’s nice to just sometimes be noticed as a human being too.

What isn’t going on here in Portland is chaos and constant looting. There have been incidents of looting, especially in the early days of the anger and protests. And there’s evidence that some of this has been instigated by outside groups who want to make it appear that the BLM protests are violent and anarchy-focused here in Portland. But what you should really know about Portland is that businesses are open, I walk to the Safeway blocks away from the courthouse sometimes twice a week, and the shelves are full of food, toiletries, frozen goods, etc. There are buildings boarded up around the courthouse as a precaution, and this makes sense with what is going on. But there’s also laughter and masked people walking around, going about their day.

The protests start here at around 7 pm PT, and they’re generally peaceful. Lots of moms, dads, children, young, old, etc. chanting together and holding hands. As the night falls, grenades start going off. You’ll sometimes see people running down the streets. Some of them are laughing. Some of them are hooting and hollering. Some idiots will park their cars and blare loud music to all the residences, because they know the police are busy elsewhere.

And at about 3 am, as the last grenades are going off–though sometimes in daisy-chains of a six or more grenades at a time–a calm and peace takes over. 3 am is about the time I go to bed, but first, I’ll sometimes go out on my deck, sit in a chair, and listen to the city in the temperate 70 degree air, just before I lie down. A siren might go off, echoing against the glass, metal, and concrete buildings. Some distant conversation. The sound of the occasional car. But not grenades. No more police helicopters overhead. No more loudspeakers telling crowds to disperse. And then the sun rises and the next day starts anew. People walk to their jobs or the stores. People shop. People play. The day continues as normally as anywhere else in America. And then at around 7 pm or so, the cycle repeats again. Peaceful chanting. Police on loudspeakers and thunderous, violent percussion of grenades.

No one in Portland wants the federal troops here. Not the mayor. Not the governor. Not people living within 3 blocks of the courthouse. Not people like myself who have voted both Republican and Democrat in US presidential elections. What they’ve done is escalated this situation to the point of absolute ludicrousness. The crowds have gone from dozens to over 5,000 a night, and the response by the feds has been to try to amplify their response to intimidate. They’ve had to use more force than before, because 5,000 people bearing down on you is even scarier than 50.

But this isn’t an “antifa-haven”. This isn’t a city of anarchy and chaos. It is at night, when the grenades start going off and people have been kidnapped off the street. But any city or town where this was happening would have a response like this from the community. And the Portland community protested injustices, as they saw them, before there were  police in military gear exploding ordinance in tightly packed concrete jungles. Portland Police watched these and laughed with people in December, January, and February. That’s all changed. The police are tired. The feds are tired. The people are not. Many of them are unemployed, due to CoVID, and to them, this feels like a cause worth fighting for–worth taking a rubber bullet to the head for.

And so, a culture of protest is meeting a culture trained to combat domestic terrorism. And the news cycle is the result. But for those living here, blocks from the courthouse, we’re just tired of the explosions and tired of seeing videos of bloody people being carried down the street from confrontations with fellow citizens about graffiti on a courthouse.

Can we stop this please? Seriously?


Audiobook Milestone (1000 sales)

I have two events to celebrate in terms of Audiobooks with the Age of Magic series. First, the Dragon Prince audiobook production has finished and is in the QA process at ACX, which is out of Adam Gold’s and my hands. The Dragon Prince Audiobook should be available soon (likely within next 5-10 days). Second, I’m happy to announce that as of today, over 1,000 audiobook copies of The People’s Necromancer and The Dark Paladin paladin have been downloaded. Additionally, The People’s Necromancer has a 4.3 rating with 107 reviews and The Dark Paladin has a 4.8 rating with 32 ratings. These are the first two audiobooks I’ve produced, and I couldn’t be happier with the results (and it seems like fans are happy too!!)


In celebration of both of these events, I will be giving away 20 audiobook codes in my newsletter. The email will go out sometime after The Dragon Prince is available in audiobook form on Amazon. I don’t know when that will be, but expect the email soon. If you haven’t signed up for the newsletter yet, you can sign up here.

And if you haven’t received a newsletter from me, make sure your email provider isn’t marking messages from as spam or putting it in your Promotions tabs on Gmail (or just make sure you check that Promotions tab).

Looking for the audiobooks for the first two books on Audible? Here are some links:

I’ll let you guys know when The Dragon Prince becomes available!


Game of Thrones Predictions (Final Season)

Well, I haven’t done one of these in years. The last one I did was a couple of episodes before the final episode of the last season we saw, and I feel like I did pretty well there.

So, let’s go through what I believe is going to happen, much of what we can see in the trailer for Season 8.

Gendry Baratheon is going to have an increased role. First, he’s going to become the main armorer for the living in Winterfell. He will likely shape dragon glass into weapons for the Unsullied and the Dothraki. But Gendry is also going to do something else. I believe he will revive the link with House Stark (remember that Robert and Ned were extremely close friends–to the point that even if Ned felt Robert might be doing something dishonorable, Ned still followed him in fighting to get back Leanna). Gendry is going to be with Arya, and they will have a child together to continue the Baratheon line. There’s a very small chance it might be to Sansa, but it’s so small that it’s not even worth mentioning, imo. And there’s no room for maneuvering in the Baratheon line since Gendry is supposedly the last remaining Baratheon. He has to have a child with someone. My guess is Arya, but I have no idea if they’ll be able to marry. He’s a blacksmith who can make the best weapons. She’s an assassin who can use those weapons to murder anyone. Match made in heaven, as far as I’m concerned, and I think we’ll see some chemistry as soon as Arya sees Gendry again for the first time.

Obvious other stuff involving Starks. Sam is going to tell Jon that he is actually Aegon Targaryen, and Ned told him he was a bastard to protect him because his dying sister Leanna made him promise to do so with her dying wish. Jon will take a couple of episodes to come to terms with adopting his actual name, but he eventually will. I think this may have a chilling effect on both the Northerners and Arya/Sansa Stark. However, they’ll be in the thick of the Winterfell battle and fighting for their lives, so no one can really leave his side.

Following the Stark storyline, I have a feeling Winterfell will fall but not because of what you might think. I think there’s going to be a battle outside of Winterfell, and the dragonglass forged by Gendry, the few Valyrian Steel weapons that exist, and dragons themselves are going to be effective in stopping the force that is coming at them. Unfortunately, there’s an entire crypt of Stark ancestors below Winterfell. And they’re all going to rise to fight for the Night King. There’s a scene from the trailer with women, children, and Varys hiding in a cellar, but I think it’s probably the crypt. They’re, in my opinion, going to be the unfortunate first line of defense against the Starks that rise from the crypts. Meaning everyone you see here is pretty much likely to die unless they manage an escape out of Winterfell. Notable deaths that are likely to happen here. I think Varys is going to die here. I think both Gilly and her baby are going to die here and Sam will escape. I think this is going to ultimately cause him to accept his role as the chief Maester in the series finale. Bran Stark will die because he isn’t mobile enough to leave. I think he might even be killed by one of the risen Starks we know well (Ned, his mother, aunt, or someone close).

Outside of the walls, I think the battle will be a success at first, but we’ll lose a few people and it will feel worth it because it will happen before the crypt erupts. I’m guessing Tormund will die trying to protect Brienne (I really want this relationship to work out, but I believe she is too tied to Jaime Lannister). Beric is probably also going to die. I think Melisandre will also appear to provide assistance to Jon Snow/Targaryen, and I think she will die in the same battle as Varys, ultimately, which will fulfill her own prophecy when she met Varys at Dragonstone in Season 7. She’ll return to her old hag form and probably catch on fire to prevent her from coming back as a walker.

Euron Greyjoy will arrive with The Golden Company at King’s Landing, using the gold that Cersei secured from the Iron Bank. They will be the main fighting force that will block the organized retreat of the northern army. When the Golden Company meets the armies retreating, they will have a few things in their favor. First, Jon Snow/Daenerys will not be expecting them, and Two, the dragons will be harassing the white walker army to the north, covering the retreat of the humans with Jon and Daeny. This means the well-armed Golden Company will be facing off against people who are mostly armed with weapons for fighting white walkers (the dragon glass), not actually good weapons for fighting plate armor or chain mail. Consequently, we’re actually going to lose quite a few of our favorite people here. I think we’ll lose both Greyworm and Missandei, likely within feet of each other, and I think we might even lose Jorah in the initial melee. About the only good thing that will come out of the Golden Company scenes will be that Euron is going to be absolutely distracted with pleasuring Cersei Lannister that Theon will be able to rescue his sister.

Edit: so the rescue of Yara happened in the first episode, mostly as I expected. So, I’ll add on here because now we know a bit more. Theon is on his way to Winterfell. I think this has a chance to complete his redemption arc. He fought the Starks instead of supporting them, and he abandoned his sister once. He saved his sister, and now he will save the Starks or at least try. It’s very possible he dies trying to help them at Winterfell, but I think he may have a role in helping them retreat from the battle. Possibly ferrying some on boats. However, if he were to die here, at Winterfell, saving one of the Stark sisters or even Bran, that would be a hell of a redemption arc. Can’t wait to see what they do with it here. End Edit

One of the dragons will die either in the Battle of Winterfell or during this encounter with the Golden Company. My guess is it actually happens during the latter fight.

And I think there are going to be four people, especially, who get really, really pissed. The first will be Tyrion. Because of his sister’s treachery and because of his history with the people of King’s Landing who ridiculed him and wanted him dead, despite what he did when Stannis attacked, I think he’s going to use his knowledge of the alchemy storage room in KL to burn the whole place down. Literally, all of KL including the Iron Throne will be burned to the ground.

The second pissed off person is going to be Jaime. I think he’s going to enter King’s Landing to kill his sister. During the Battle of King’s Landing, we should also get The Mountain battling The Hound. Jaime will start to battle The Mountain, but it will be a huge mismatch. The Hound will kill Qyburn and then will start to fight The Mountain. The Mountain will almost kill The Hound, but The Hound will kill him. I think he’s going to be missing an arm though when he leaves, and he might just bleed out and be found by Arya. He’ll have to die by fire to prevent the white walkers from taking him. While Cleganebowl is going on, Jaime will slip into Cersei’s chamber and push her out of the window, much like he initially pushed Bran. I think Jaime will die in the fire, and Brienne will be forced to watch him from below, burning through the window. He may fall outward, leaning over the windowsill that he pushed his sister/lover out of.

There’s an alternate possibility here that I think would be remarkable. The Hound and The Mountain are fighting and Brienne comes in to try to save Jaime from the fire as Jaime has gone to kill Cersei. She will have to fight The Mountain with The Hound because The Mountain will not let her pass to help Jaime, so The Mountain will mortally wound The Hound and Brienne will be forced to kill The Mountain. She’ll be injured but will make it in time to see Jaime burning in the tower. She will escape but she will be emotionally injured beyond repair.

The Iron Throne will burn down and melt into a puddle thanks to the alchemical fire that Tyrion unleashed to burn all of King’s Landing. No one will win the Iron Throne because of this, which is fine with Tyrion because he thinks the fight over it is so ridiculous and wasteful and is the true cause of the strife, and this is his solution to the problem.

After being basically surrounded by the Golden Company to the South and the white walkers to the North, Jon and Daeny will get super pissed, but they’ll both understand that the white walkers are the bigger threat. Jon will go on a suicidal mission against the Night King, and both dragons will die and Jon will kill the Night King and sacrifice himself in the process. With both main fire priests dead who have raised someone, he will be truly dead this time.

Word will reach The Golden Company that Cersei is dead and their contract is done. Daeny will rule what’s left, and she will be pregnant with Jon’s child. Sansa will rule Winterfell as it is rebuilt. She may end up marrying Robin Arryn, who has grown up quite a bit, and who she can control. Arya and Gendry will leave together with the implication that they will marry and/or just go on adventures together.

Now, what will happen to Tyrion? If he really does burn down all of King’s Landing, I have a sneaking suspicion that Daeny will try him for a combination of murder and treason. And this time, there won’t be Jaime or Jon or anyone who will speak up for him. He’ll be the imp that everyone hates and has no real friends. Podrick may or may not still be alive, but his word will not be enough to really sway anything. There will be a final trial of Tyrion Lannister and this time, he will be convicted and executed. The Tywin Lannister line will die out, and there will be an even emptier ending left for fans of the series.

Sam will chronicle everything officially as the main Maester. I think they may even show him checking out this mechanical map we see in the intro to every episode.

Anyway, let’s see how this plays out. I’m sure I’ll get most if not all of it wrong, but it’s a fun exercise.

And if you’re wondering if this much treachery is going to be happening in the Age of Magic series, well… just wait until Demogorgon makes his appearance :).

The Nations of Nirendia So Far (Book 3)

The Age of Magic focuses on events on a world called Nirendia, but really, we’ve only seen the innerworkings of two of the 27 active kingdoms that I’m aware of so far. Let’s go over the various sovereign nations that you’ll see by the end of Book 3, The Dragon Prince, which finally releases at the end of this month.

What Nations are in the Surdel Region?


The main sovereign people here are of course the humans of the Kingdom of Surdel, but within the map we see here are four nations north of the Small Sea (and I’m lumping the orc groups into one nation because when you leave orcs to their own devices they fracture into their own groups all the time until Bloodhand comes back to reclaim his territory). The oldest nation here is the Etyria Empire, home of the dark elves and Prince Jayden’s royal family. It’s at least 50,000 years old, but because of the demon invasion below Surdel, only one city remains: Uxmal. The area covered by the Nomintaur Forest is the domain of the wood elves under King Calenanna and defended by the fierce Captain Liritmear. Technically, the paladins at Mount Godun are an autonomous nation that has been denied its citizenship to the Kingdom of Surdel due to events at the dark elven city of Xhonia some 500 years ago.

What Nations are in the Visanth Region?

The Visanth Region is dominated by The Visanth Empire. Two thousand years ago, it was actually called the Visanth Kingdom, but the Rasalased family renamed its holdings the Visanth Empire after it conquered several neighboring kingdoms along the west coast of the Great Ocean and made them into vassal states. You haven’t seen these states yet, but the Visanth Empire has long been interested in expanding its holdings, including ambitions on Surdel, with raids into the Surdel mainland with increasing frequency over the past few hundred years.

Up until 1,000 years ago, a dark elven nation also existed within the confines of the region now dominated by the Visanth Empire. Whereas the northern dark elven empire was decimated by demons, the dark elven nation of Harenyadae (“Southern Shadow” in the Elven Tongue) was destroyed by the Visanth Empire in a surprise attack west of Scythica. According to the histories in Visanth, the dark elves attacked the Visanthi people. However, several tomes in the Kingarth Library mention that homed pigeons had been sent to the south from the Etyria Empire repeatedly requesting aid after the fall of Shamat 2,000 years ago and the disappearance of Selenor the Seer, who was presumed to have died at Shamat.

The Eytria Empire condemned the action and claimed the massacred people were a relief force of men, women, and children to help with the fight against the demons in the north. The Visanth Empire didn’t believe in demons and instead sensed weakness. They slaughtered the inhabitants of Suwenga and Kristil within five months of the battle. The pikemen then assaulted Halispata and Zeligawna before moving north to take out Velenztu and Vaerua. During the siege of Zeligawna, a group of human sympathizers from Corellin protested the actions, claiming the dark elves were good neighbors and traders. The army broke up the protests and sent the sympathizers into the southern desert, where they were labeled rebels and separatists by the Visanth Empire under the name “Crelloni”, itself a jumbling of the name of the Corellin protestors. Because of its remoteness, Gelzvani didn’t fall until 2 years after the battle of Scythica. The last embassy of the Etyria Empire closed in Scythica shortly after the fall of Gelzvani, and no dark elf has been seen in the Visanth Empire since (over 1,000 years).

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to lay out some of the history of the series so far and the people who populate it. Maybe I’ll follow this up with some recaps of the histories that you can read about so far in the series. In truth, the history that will be told in this series goes back to the creation of the fantasy universe, back when Mekadesh was born, many billions of years ago. But we’ll also dive into the time of Sven (10,000-15,000 years ago), and the first contact between Selenor the Seer and Mekadesh (20,000 years ago). The majority of the series will concentrate on this more recent period (20,000 years ago until now), but several important artifacts (e.g., The Eye of Maddox and the Arm of Maddox) arrived on Nirendia several million years ago, forming the craters you can see in Surdel just north of the Small Sea and forming the valley where all of the nations of Surdel thrive.

All part of the arc of the series! More to come. Stay tuned!

The Dragon Prince Preorder

The Dragon Prince - eBook smallThe Dragon Prince is up on most outlets for preorder in eBook. Paperbacks and audiobooks are expected to be released by March 31st, release day for the third novel in The Age of Magic series.

Outlining is mostly complete for The Red Poet, the Fourth Book. Initial drafting should start this month.

Get ready for a wild ride!

Catch up on the series:

The People’s Necromancer | The Dark Paladin

About the Dragon Prince

A father murdered. An empire imperiled. A son coming for vengeance.

King Jofka Rasalased of the Visanth Empire is a man who grabs life by the horns. No woman is safe from his allure. No kingdom can intimidate him. The empire prospers in his shadow… until an assassin’s blade ends the reign of the ambitious, charismatic king.

Prince Jandhar finds his dying father and the same deadly knife at his own throat. The killer utters a warning that the prince will never heed. As the assassin leaves, the Kingdom of Surdel cheers at an empire retreating, but Visanth is not a nation in decline. It is a snake recoiling.

The prince looks for a weapon to strike back at the kingdom across the sea. He finds inspiration in the volatile, winged beasts of the Dragongrounds. If he can reverse a god’s curse, the dragon riders of old may return.

Years later, Surdel burns. Undead roam the southern lands and feed on the living. A lord protector is made fiendish by the Demon Lord Orcus. Together, the master and his apprentice decimate the besieged citizens of the Croft protectorate. In the north, the Necromancer Ashton Jeraldson searches for an artifact that might turn the tide of the demon invasion. Around him, the forces of the Holy One ready themselves for the arrival of the Prince of Demons. Elves and orcs come to Croft Keep to crush the ghoulish invaders and fight a demon lord, just as a strange man from a foreign land steps onto the northern shores of the Small Sea.

The murder of King Jofka has gone unanswered for long enough. The response is finally coming, and the world will tremble at the war cry of the Dragon Prince and the might of the Visanth Empire!

Update: Dragon Prince

I’m stThe Dragon Prince - eBook smallill in the process of editing the story of Prince Jandhar of the Visanth Empire. Lots of intense action in this one, and because of how many characters that are involved in the core battles, it can potentially be confusing, so lots of time is being spent in rereads/rewrites to make things clear. Still, things are looking good. I’ll be passing this off to an editor at the end of this week. He’s ready and waiting, and I just need to deliver.

There’s a lot I can say about this book, but it’s best to let the contents surprise you. However, I’ll give you a bit of a tease.

If you want a bigger glimpse of the wood elves and orcs, you’re going to get that. You’ll get even more of a view into the wood elves in the next book The Red Poet. If you want to experience a demon lord who can raise the undead in a knock-down, drag-out fight with creatures that can fly above him and incinerate his minions as fast as he can create them, you’ll definitely get that too. If you think anyone in this series is invincible, though, think again. It’s only going to get more chaotic as the Age of Magic proceeds.

The Dragon Prince is expected to hit in late March. I’ll put up a preorder once I hear back from initial editor and betas about whether or not it’s ready.

Movie Review: Alita: Battle Angel

My wife and I caught an advance screening (2 weeks early) of the James Cameron/Robert Rodriguez teamup sci-fi blockbuster extravaganza “Alita: Battle Angel.” We were really, really lucky because we had the opportunity to catch the IMAX 3D test screening. This kind of movie was made for IMAX 3D viewing.

Let’s go ahead and get all of that out of the way.

The effects crew did a pretty remarkable job here. It has an appropriate Hollywood effects budget for the ambition of the production, and you can tell that no detail was too unimportant here. The scale of Iron City and the utopia above is on full display. The melding of real actors and sets with motion-captured actors is flawless and well done. The action scenes are some of the best filmed. You can tell that the director Robert Rodriguez felt in his element during these. Gratuitous violence is pretty much his main hallmark in a wide range of cinematic history. Robert is the guy who did Desperado, Dusk till Dawn, Sin City, etc. He’s been a frequent collaborator with Tarantino, and if you’re a fan of that genre (and I am), then you’re going to enjoy a lot of the movie.

This movie has a lot of violence, but the gore aspect is hard to really quantify. The majority of the characters that engage in combat scenes are cyborgs and the damage to parts and persons is overwhelmingly done to plastic, metal, and non-human parts of the body. You rarely see characters wince in pain. You often can’t tell if characters die. In fact, characters are so robust here that they frequently survive if nothing is left of them but their heads. This comes up as important in this film, and if the film does well enough to get sequels, I’m absolutely certain that the rest of the series will have plot elements that require this. A side effect of the near indestructibility of humanity and the absolutely frenetic pace of the battle scenes is that emotional impact is really hard to come by. My wife and I discussed scenes that we believed were meant to be emotional pivot points of the film that had very blunted impact. It didn’t kill the movie or anything, but it almost left me scratching my head about why certain things weren’t just cut from the movie and left alone.

And this is really the only problem the movie has. It is trying to do so much to fill in world building that the emotional arc of characters is often muted. There’s a dog scene in this movie that I’m sure was supposed to have a certain impact, but my wife and I discussed this and we felt like it had been so poorly foreshadowed and emotionally anchored in our minds that it might as well have been left out of the film. Characters are stabbed and destroyed so often that unless they have a weird facial expression or a completely destroyed face, you can’t tell if you’re really looking at a dead character or a character that is just at a low point that may recover. And it’s not happening a few times in the film. It’s happening dozens of times an hour. You’ll understand what I’m talking about when you watch the film: which, btw, I think you definitely should.

This script is obviously a James Cameron script, but with his filmmaking involvement mostly on the periphery. There are social issues here. There are technology issues. There is a bit of a weak love plot, and a lot of missed potential in the emotion impact of many scenes (probably 7-8). But there are a LOT of scenes between all that, and the movie has so much fast-paced, devastating action that you’re not going to feel “robbed” or upset about it. You’re likely to just think “man, if they would have just had a dramatic pause for a few seconds, that might have been a more effective scene” or “if they would have just focused on the conflict between Alita and Hugo’s activities for half the film and had them meet up in more of a less deliberately thrown together way, this would have had a lot more impact on my feelings.”

The characters here are strong and mostly developed. The lead character is very personable, and you’ll like her. There is some talent wasted here, but it’s mostly because of the pacing. Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali show what the world has done to capitalistic intentions. Christoph Waltz did what he could to fill so many different supportive roles for Alita, but there really wasn’t enough time to develop him further and show his conflicts more (e.g, the rush between soft and hard body–don’t want to give too much away here). But again, these are not completely lost moments. These are just less impactful moments than they could have been for me and my wife as we watched and discussed later. I mean a central motivator and anchor point for Christoph’s character is sort of mowed through like lightning. If you blink, you’ll miss it, and you will mostly use your imagination to understand why he’s helping Alita and try not to focus too hard on exactly what the character motivations were that caused it. It’s sort of random.

In my opinion, this is a film worth seeing and pretty solidly in the 4/5 category. I’ll probably see it in IMAX again as the 3D, sound, and action are absolutely what the format is for. However, the 1 star missing here is for what might have been with a movie that focused on the first 3/4 of the film and didn’t try to force so much of the manga source into so short of a movie. There are misfires here. And if the movie doesn’t make back its budget and marketing (200M baseline before marketing, it seems, so probably 600-800M or so to get a solid greenlight and building fan base), then you might as well throw out another star here because if the series ends with this movie, it’s a very hollow ending. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen because there’s a lot more story to tell here (and I’m not an Alita comics fan, I just see where this should be going and it’s a conversation our society should be engaging in).

Audiobook Winners

The People's Necromancer - AudioSo, the entries are in, and three winners have been selected for an Audible Code for a free audiobook copy of The People’s Necromancer. Big congratulations go out to Em, Jen, and Penny! I’ll be emailing you with your codes later today.

Thanks to everyone for entering, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you probably haven’t joined my newsletter. If you thought you did but didn’t see the giveaway notification on Sunday/Monday, check your spam filters/box for You’ll need to unspamify me to get messages on contests, giveaways, new releases, etc.!

For those who signed up to be ARC readers for The Dragon Prince, things are moving The Dragon Prince - eBook smallalong. I’m hoping to get drafting wrapped up in the next couple of weeks–depending on my workload. The robots aren’t going to create and program themselves… at least… not yet! As soon as I get the drafting done and a few editing passes, I’ll let you know. If you are as surprised about the ARC reader mention as the giveaway, well… you’re not on the mailing list then! Get to it! How else are you going to get contest and insider scoop stuff?!

The Dark Paladin audiobook recording is moving along. We’re hoping to release in September. Fingers crossed! Here’s Chapter 1.

Audiobook for Book 1 is now available

The People's Necromancer - AudioIt’s been a busy week, but I’ve got some great news for readers who have been asking about an Audible version of The People’s Necromancer. Adam Gold and I are proud to announce that The People’s Necromancer has been released in Audiobook on Audible, Amazon. I believe it’s also on iTunes or on its way!

In its first week of availability, it already has 5 reviews and a 4.8 rating with 5 stars for performance on each review. That speaks volumes to Adam’s talent in bringing the story to life. Great job, man! We’re already started on Book 2, and I’m really excited about this one. There’s so much action and adventure in Book 2!

Anyway, here’s what you need to know.

The People’s Necromancer Audiobook is now available on Amazon and Audible. 7 hours of high fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, elves, demons and undead goodness! Narrated by the amazing vocal talent of Adam Gold!


Free Audiobook Samples for The People’s Necromancer

Audiobook Prologue:
Audiobook Chapter 1:
Audiobook Chapter 2:

Universal Book Links

The People’s Necromancer:
The Dark Paladin:

The Dragon Prince Cover Reveal

The Dragon Prince - eBook smallHis name is Jandhar Rasalased. You killed his father. Prepare to die!

King Jofka Rasalased is a man who grabs life by the horns. No kingdom can intimidate him, and no enemy can predict where his armies and navies will strike next. The Visanth Empire prospers in his shadow…  until an assassin’s blade ends the reign of the ambitious, charismatic king.

Prince Jandhar finds his father and the same deadly knife at his own throat. The killer utters a warning that the Prince will never heed. As the assassin leaves, the Kingdom of Surdel cheers at an empire retreating, but Visanth is not a nation in decline. It is a snake recoiling.

Years later, Surdel burns. Undead roam and feed on the living. A lord protector is made fiendish by the Demon Lord Orcus. Together, the master and his apprentice decimate the besieged citizens of the Croft protectorate. In the north, the Necromancer Ashton Jeraldson searches for an artifact that might turn the tide of the demon invasion. Around him, the forces of the Holy One ready themselves for the arrival of the Prince of Demons. Elves and orcs come to Croft Keep to crush the ghoulish invaders and fight a demon lord, just as a strange man from a foreign land steps onto the northern shores of the Small Sea.

The Dragon knows neither friend nor foe. For him, all are prey, and the only path forward is vengeance. He hears not the screams of the desperate and the damned—only the echoes of past wrongs long festered. The response is finally coming, and the world will tremble at the war cry of the Dragon Prince and the might of the Visanth Empire!

Release expected: Late 2018.

Audiobooks Delayed

Adam Gold has fallen ill with pneumonia, and we must delay the release of the Audiobook for The People’s Necromancer. We all wish him a swift recovery!

Series Sales Update

The Age of Magic has been my most successful series launch so far. is delayed in royalty payments, but the results have been simply stunning. To all of the fans who have discovered my writing, my sincere thanks. Don’t forget to join my newsletter, as I will be doing more paperback giveaways soon!

May Sales: The People’s Necromancer (Amazon: 3474, D2D: 290)

June Sales: The People’s Necromancer (Amazon: 1474, D2D: 60), The Dark Paladin (Amazon: 1600, D2D: 118)

Thank you so much for sharing the series with friends and family. Also, thank you very much for leaving reviews and helping fellow readers figure out if the series is right for them.


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