Introducing my upcoming epic fantasy: meet The Blood Scouts!
You may have seen me mention here, there or elsewhere that I’ve been working on a new epic fantasy series. I started the first novel a good few years ago but between submission windows and focusing on existing projects, it’s taken a while to creep towards completion. But it’s almost here – and it’s rather different. Get ready for The One War, a global conflict with Great War-era technology in an original, strangely populated fantasy world. And to navigate this war we’re following The Blood Scouts, a platoon of women embarking on a brutal assignment into the very nastiest places.
All this and more is coming in my next novel: However Many Must Die. Here’s everything you need to know about the book, the series, the characters and the monsters!
A New Fantasy World
This novel introduces the Rocc, a vast world of varied races and empires, but dominated by humans and their machinations. The series opens in the middle of the greatest conflict the world has seen: with technology and communications making international travel easier, vast empires have formed, and those empires are now clashing. No country or people are exempt, and as the scale of fighting rapidly escalates, new and more terrible weapons are being devised to speed up the killing.
Naturally, this takes inspiration from a World War One-style conflict, and shares many similarities with that era: the advent of poison gas, tanks, automatic rifles and mounted machine guns. But all this alongside otherworldly creatures folded into the imperial effort: battlefields are rife with giants, winged monsters, halflings and spider-folk. To say nothing of the magic-wielders; the dual schools of witlacing and dirt-minding, long feared and oppressed, come into their own as military commanders find new ways to exploit their terrible skills.
This war is a perfect explosion of melting pots, and our hapless humans are starting to experience quite how huge, diverse and dangerous the Rocc is.
A Cast of Eclectic Characters
However Many Must Die follows a unique platoon of female soldiers. The Blood Scouts are a group of forty women who’ve wheedled their way into the military ranks and gradually been lumped together, to now form an elite but overlooked fighting unit. With the team split across four rough squads, our focus is the girls of Boot Squad, and most particularly Wild Wish, a deadly sniper with a happy-go-lucky nature. She wants to end the war so she can take her new friends home to start a farm.
She’s killed a lot of people to make that happen.
Wish isn’t alone: in support she’s got a stern commander; highly competent fellow snipers (who she might be a little jealous of); her tough (but scary) friend Rue; the religious medic, Fixit; a bunch more cheery companions and the highly unstable, highly dangerous dirt-minding mage, Emi. There’s also new blood on the way with Newk, a swordfighter from far, far away.
On the other side of the divide, we’ve also got spy hunters looking to thwart insurgents like the scouts, and follow the ambitious intention mage, Constans Maringdale. Her attempts to tackle more important threats bring her small crew (including frightening supervisor Sin Sight Panderlair and their hapless assistant Donut), into contact with the ferocious Dread Corps.
Expect personalities to clash, fights to be fought and new dangers to be exposed, as these once-ordinary people are thrown into ever more devastating situations and ever darker decisions.
A Different World
The Rocc is home to a range of creatures, new and old. There might be the odd goblin or giant knocking around, but you’re more likely to see insectile centaurs, great flying lizards, civilised arachnids and more chillingly bizarre beasts besides. There’s also a dual magic system where mages have been in conflict with each other, and the wider world, for centuries. Some magic affects people and the mind, others the environment, and it all comes at a cost.
A Thrilling Saga
Finally, there’s the story that brings all this together.
The scouts are heading deep behind enemy lines on a hellish mission, to stop a weapon few believe exists – but which may have the potential to do more damage than anything yet seen. For Wild Wish and friends, this means venturing through perilous mountain ranges and monster-laden forests, to try and reach the world’s most inhospitable region, Low Slane. There, the horrors of war take a backseat to the horrors of a nightmare realm, and along the way they have to question their loyalties, priorities, and consciences.
Expect a fast-paced, twisty and dark adventure.
Where did all this come from and where’s it going?
Why this era, why this story? I’d been toying with the idea of a women’s soldiering story for a while before I decided it was time to jump with both feet into a fantasy realm. This is the first all-out fantasy I’ve written in about ten years, and I wanted a blank canvas for some wild creativity. I also wanted an accessible, familiar romp of a story, pairing a classic fantasy quest with a military adventure. The very simple premise eventually emerged as: what if Lord of the Rings, but during World War One?
The end result has diverged an awful lot from that concept, mostly because The One War is not a simple conflict of good vs evil. It’s not clear, from the start, exactly where right and wrong lie in a war that’s tied up everyone, but one thing is for sure: if the scouts don’t reach their goal, things are going to get a whole lot worse.
The result is an epic adventure with a lot of ups and downs along the way, and a great deal of scope for more to come. Not just in this era. I’ve got a handful of other Blood Scouts tales to tell, as well as various unrelated stories set in the same world (at least one taking place a few centuries before). But for now, I’ll leave you with the knowledge that this book is coming as a complete, self-contained story, and it’s coming soon (most likely for a late summer release). I’ve also hired a tremendous artist for the cover, so watch out for that reveal!
To be the first to learn about more details of However Many Must Die, be sure to sign up to my mailing list – and if you’re a reviewer and want to get in ahead of the crowd, let me know if you’d like to be added to my ARC list for an early review copy.