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This is my site for information about the fantasy world known as the LoH_kg_2_map A5Lands of Hope. I have the usual bio and buy pages, also Maps and a free Compendium of lore, plus a cool notification feature if you want to see posts in your email box. Sign up for that and you get two quick Tales for free. Because no one should have to wait for a little Hope.
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I-Do Review: The Plane of Dreams

Indies need the job done right.

So, who else is going to do it!

People say they love the tales, but for various reasons, they don’t wish to review. Fine then. I’ve helped with cover design, proofed, passed on edits, used social media and handed out book cards. Why not this? So my One-Word Wrap-Up and the Short Summary will give you undecided readers the quick peek you’ve needed. More detail if you want it, and links to other themes and ideas because I can!

I hear you, dog in the fight, but don’t worry. I’ve got the Maybe Not section in each; painful as they will be to write, I promise to give you the downside of the book I review as well.

No further ado, the I-Do Review for

The Plane of DreamsĀ  plane_of_dreams_rm

One-Word Wrap-Up: Faithful

Short Summary: Heroes Galore, Most Peril Possible

One of the biggest adventuring groups ever chronicled in fantasy hangs together, just barely, and deflects a threat not only to their lives or the kingdom, but the entire waking world. I mean without them, YOU would probably never sleep again.

More, There’s Always More:

(BTW, that line is first quoted in this book, though it’s always true!)

So I said ‘biggest’, and the number you’re looking for is eleven. Nearly a dozen heroic characters who get detailed attention, and who have a substantial impact on the plot. The adventuring band comes to be known as the Tributarians, a name given them by an enemy. Some you’ve already seen, by which I mean quite literally I’ve shown them to you:
qerlak2Qerlak Barleybane, third son of an Argensian noble who cannot inherit, adventures with the commoners and falls into enough treasure to afford enchanted armor and the downpayment on a foef of his own. The young Pious Warrior thinks he is retiring from the group at the very beginning of the tale.

Gelethiel Nomenseer, human Mage whose as-yet untold encounters on the Shimmering Mindsea drew her to the study of dreams. This seeming eccentricity turns out

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to have a major impact, as the title of the tale indicates! She goes with Qerlak to his foef, thinking as he does that they will no longer have to risk their lives in remote places.

Others of the group have only been referenced in passing, as with Meandar, the Stealthic who seldom appears, but is always there throughout the book. I can say no more, but the villain in this case is also the hero. Another protag guest-starred as an example, namely the incredible strength and stamina of the warrior Spitz in my calculations on hauling a golden skeleton-statue.

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Two heroes have lesser mentions, though not smaller contributions. Engurra the martial wizard is almost spooky quiet, competent and calm, yet captures the albino animal-handler Petekris El. One of my favorite chapters is told from the point of view of the magic-jack, the Halfling Trillien, who quietly turns the tide against the Scarlet Contra single-handed.

This leaves a set of four directly in the midst of the plot, the quartet who between them lead the Tributarians if anyone does. In no particular order, Sallinj’r the Elven Bard, Cheriatte the Elven Preacher, Zoanstahr the human Mage and Solo the Dwarven Pious Warrior are the most experienced and driven heroes of the group. The tension and enduring friendship they display is at the heart of the tale.

Still two left! But they need less introduction to anyone familiar with the Lands, especially mon-crulbagh-detnow that other tales have published. The Plane of Dreams was the first complete Tale of Hope I ever drafted; its events took place in the year 2001 ADR but I set it aside for a trio of shorter works before I published it: one of those was the sword-and-sorcery novelette Three Minutes to Midnight, set back in 1992 ADR and featuring the legendary Stealthic Trekelny. After next publishing PoD, I turned back in time again to the year 1995 ADR for Judgement’s Tale and its sequel The Eye of Kog, where one of the great heroes of this or any other saga was introduced in the Woodsman Treaman. These two veteran adventurers rounded out the Tributarian roster, one by joining and another by leaving (or so he thought), near the beginning of the tale.

barleybane_crestThat’s only the heroes mind you. Minor and supporting characters include a captain of the city guards who stars in a couple of chapters; previous lords of Qerlak’s new keep in Mon-Crulbagh, who have taken note in the castle journal of certain menacing events that inform the newest tenant; various regulars in the tavern who are absolutely certain what’s going on (and in fact have not the slightest clue); a beleaguered castellan, paranoid merchant, pet panther, and three haply-met youths taking their first steps down the adventuring path and skirt the edge of the plot (but will later come into their own in the novel The Test of Fire). Don’t get me started on the villains.

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And BTW? The Man in Grey.

Maybe Not: Reasons you Might Pass

When I said the one word for this novel was “faithful” this is where it could leave some readers behind. If it does, the words they will use include “uneven”, “disorienting” and maybe just “too long”. This is the novel that the pros would look at and immediately declare, there must be five fewer hero-characters, maximum three supporting names, and combine at least the two major villains into one. Then cut 20k words and it’ll be fine.

pete-closeNot happening. Death before dishonor. I am a Chronicler and these are the people who were there. There are indeed many points-of-view you need to be in on to understand the tale. Lord of the Rings started with nine, but never took solo PoV when you think about it (Tolkien was firmly rooted in omniscient third-person).

If you don’t like getting clues from centuries-old wine-stained writings or a blood-spattered letter, watching a fight through a panther’s eyes, or following people into their dreams (the title, duh!) then this tale could really frustrate you. But that is what happened, and I exerted my utmost skill, not to dazzle or educate, but to remain faithful. I invite you to judge on that basis.

The Plane of Dreams is available at Amazon in e-book and now paper formats.



It Figures: Vuthienne

Because in the end you need to show, not tell.

The third of my so-called “warm-up” pieces in the return to painting showed me some cheering success, and some warning failure. Fitting that it was a female figurine…


Vuthienne is Primara of the lost city of Oncario, a significant supporting character in the upcoming novel The Eye of Kog. Her city, hidden in chaos deep in the Percentalion, is home to a thriving post-medieval economy and the gateway to Reghalion, the capital where the destiny of this kingdom will finally be decided. I tease her appearance at first, and it’s some time before Treaman and the party lay eyes on the city’s leader and the lover of their friend Januelus who brings them to her presence.

vuthienne1The door opened behind one side of the throne, and Treaman saw then, what they all had waited for.

His first impression, as he stood with everyone else for the Primara, was one of striking beauty. Vuthienne was tall and long-limbed, with a lustrous shock of red-brown hair spilling around a golden circlet and a slit scarlet gown that left no doubt about the breadth of her curves. A smooth and unhurried pace allowed no choice where everyone should look, for whom everyone should wait to speak.

-The Eye of Kog, Downfall


Vuthienne is important to the plot of the tale in ways that don’t make it onto paper. The careful reader can gather hints of her power and policy and the way things have moved because of her presence. I thought it was very important to paint her, because that makes me spend more time thinking about those “background scene” issues. I’ve just received the galley from editing and will be able to read more closely now, with things I’ve learned while contemplating her figurine. Crazy, fine, you don’t have to believe me. But it’s true– I know her better now.

Vuthienne took up the rule of Oncario after her father’s death and wanted to return the city vuth1to its days of glory. Cut off from trade, she decided to take up the Scepter of Law, which in custom is only wielded by the descendants of Areghel the king. The artefact continually sparks and pains her (something Treaman experienced when he briefly held the Sword of Air), but with its abilities Vuthienne was able to expand the physical boundaries of the city-state out into the chaos, and bring increased fertility to the crops, greater efficacy to the key industries practiced within the city. Thus even before the ruin of Oncario, Vuthienne was sacrificing her life for her citizens. This informs the cruel choice she must make at the end of the novel, when the Eye of Kog also falls within her ambit and brings her to heroic ruin. Yet Vuthienne’s unhesitating courage, and the masquerade she conducts to pull off her ruse, are key to any hope for Treaman’s party when they are captured by the undead. Spoiler-alert? The tale will be out soon.


Since I’ve restarted my painting hobby, this section deals mainly with the use of the brush, not the camera. Vuthienne proved remarkably difficult to undertake, and I wasn’t fully successful. Let that be a lesson to me when I try for the big-figs next.

First off, I just didn’t have the right colors and my attempts to mix what I needed were comic failures. So I’ve added another half-dozen bottles to my growing palette (you can get them on ridiculous sale at the craft stores if you watch) and in a couple of cases just took the shade straight-up, which simplified matters greatly. Her clothes and adornments are fairly well described in the text so that was a good guide. Vuthienne is shown here before she took up the Scepter of Law or tried to wear the Eye of Kog, so you see the staff traditionally used by the Primara of Oncario in her hand.

vuth3That was my first minor success: you can’t see it in the picture, but the top of the staff shows Solar, Unal and Aral and I was able to put the proper colors on each. The sun disk at the top is gold-on-bronze, nearly invisible to your eye but it’s there. Beneath that the smaller disk of Unal is in silver, and the crescent-slice of Aral is in silversteel. Nice bit of detail work, but my camera skills were not up to the brush: I discovered that I can show more of a portal-view by letting the disk of my magnifying lens show in frame, so I have a few shots like that this time. Just couldn’t get close or bright enough to reveal it, you’ll have to take my word.

The biggest failure, of course, was the face. I aimed to shade her fair, noble skin tone with just a light blush around the lips and cheeks, but failed disastrously. It looks like cake make-up to cover wrinkles, it’s thicker than clown face. Plus, I didn’t realvuth6ize it, but any figure with an open mouth immediately looks undead! Check it out, I was definitely fighting and losing an

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uphill battle here. Several attempts did little to improve matters. Also I could not get the white around the pupils to show, the smallest dot I could make still looks like she’s a spice-addict from Dune. Had to cut my losses again.

The typical black wash technique and a little dry-brushing worked well to make the gown and hair look a bit more realistic. I tried for a cloth-of-silver effect with her green strophion, but metallic hues don’t dilute readily and I couldn’t stop it from clumping. I was shading at first, dry-brushing near the end! But it was stubborn; still the effect is there I’d say.vuth4

Another aspect of this figure that made it tough to shoot was her stooping posture. Vuthienne quite literally casts shade at herself, and if that’s not a metaphor for the action of the plot I don’t know what is.

So once again I come away from an encounter with a beautiful woman both edified and embarrassed, which is the story of my life. I hope you’ve enjoyed Vuthienne here and will look her up in The Eye of Kog when it publishes. You don’t see her right away, nor for long enough if you ask me, but she’s worth it. Shevuth-jan1‘s on my display shelf near a werewolf character for some inexplicable reason… and also up there are Final Judgement and the Bell-Ringer, my latest additions to a collection long stalled by the needs of the Alleged Real World. Next up, the Big Three!