Hello Sasquan!

Greetings Sasquan Attendees and other assorted passersby!

Its been an honor attending Worldcon this year and meeting so many of this community. I have a few postcards and bookmarks in the Worldcon freebie area there so I thought I’d introduce myself and my work to anyone who graciously followed those links or found their way here through other means.

I’m Thomas Alexander, a fantasy author with one book under my belt, Mistress of the Dancing Bones. The sequel, Mistress of the Midnight Sky, is coming out soon. These are the first two novels in the Sang Noir series set in the world of Avenesse. I have plans for another Sang Noir book and if all goes well, other series and standalone novels that expand the Avenesse setting and characters in bold new directions!

I wrote a pitch for Dancing Bones just for Sasquan that I’d like to share with you here:

Mistress of the Dancing Bones is the story of Ashia, a young woman with necromantic powers in an empire ruled by vampires. That empire borders the Deathlands, ruled by even worse undead that don’t just want to drink mortals’ blood, but to exterminate them. Ashia’s father is the vampire lord who protects the Empire and its mortals from the Deathlords. With the help of a gunslinging witch hunter, his mischievous changeling familiar and a laconic demon horse, Ashia must uncover the secrets of a deadly conspiracy that threatens the fragile peace between mortal and vampire. In this land, blood is currency, and Ashia’s is more valuable and dangerous than any.

You can read an excerpt here.

I’ve been fortunate enough to get some positive reviews, most notably from Black Gate’s Donald Crankshaw.

Readers have been very generous with their praise, which I appreciate, scan the amazon reviews.

I did some pinterest boards with images and brickabrack that reminds me of my books and characters.

As for me I’m a lifelong geek. I served as a Nuke in the Navy, I started game mastering DnD at 7 years old, mostly because my older brother forced me. I play video games, I write stories, I go to conventions, and I get to be unironically enthustiastic about stuff. Please take a moment to poke around this blog and check out some of the stuff and stories I love. With any luck, you’ll find something to love here too. Enjoy.

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Review Roundup

First a few updates. I’ve been silent for a little while working feverishly on a few things. I’ve revised Mistress of the Dancing Bones and I’ve completed the rough draft of its sequel, Mistress of the Midnight Sky. In the meantime, Dancing Bones has picked up a few pleasant reviews here and there, and I’d like to share them with you.

First up, blogger, educator and fellow Human Wave enthusiast Stephanie A Souders reviewed the book as part of her series on Human Wave authors. She’s tough but fair, a sort of sci fi fantasy Simon Cowell, so I was quite nervous to read it. All in all I think it’s a very positive review.

Alexander’s premise is uncomfortable — but in a good way. Essentially, several centuries before the start of Mistress, the human race entered into a compact with vampires who dub themselves the nephilim: military defense against the monstrous creatures who walk the Deathlands in exchange for mortal blood. As revealed in Mistress, the society that grew from this compact is quite exploitative if seen from mortal eyes. Leaving aside the worst of the nephilim aristocracy – who treat the humans in their midst as either sexual playthings or cattle – even the main character’s father must accept human sacrifices to feed his hungry forces. It’s a cruel universe — but also a fascinating one worth exploring.

Read the full review here. Next, fantasy author Sheri J Kennedy gave a very gracious and generous review.

From the instant I began reading, Ashia, our heroine was captivating and her situation compelling. Her intensity and that of her world grew throughout the story keeping me engaged. I was rooted to the page withstanding disgust, terror and horror to see her stand strong. Alexander is masterful in the integration of the intricately built fantasy world with this powerful coming of age story. Magic is in her blood and the politics of her world are her inheritance—she must come to terms with them to know herself, and she embraces them fully in an unexpected and oddly triumphant way. At first I wished the novel carried more inner dialogue so I could know the character’s better. But when I was done reading, I found I missed them and had come to know them well, especially the unquenchable Ashia. I’m so glad the next in the series will be coming soon!

Thank you Sheri and Stephanie for your reviews!

Black Gate review of Dancing Bones

Mr. Donald Crankshaw of Blackgate.com has given Mistress of the Dancing Bones its first professional review:

I am generally not a fan of vampire novels. I prefer my vampires as antagonists rather than as love interests. And for the love of God, sunlight better burn, or at least weaken, them, not cause them to sparkle. So I was taking a chance on this novel, but I’m glad I did.

It would be a mistake to consider the vampires the good guys. Mr. Alexander has created a dark world, where humanity’s only defense against annihilation by the Deathlords is submission to the nephilim. Admittedly, you can take a positive view of the Code Sanguine, and Marcel Boucher is something of an idealist when it comes to vampire-human relations. But the fact remains that humans are subservient in this world, their blood is demanded by their betters, and their only chance of rising is to be embraced by the nephilim themselves. As Ashia soon discovers when she travels out into the world, many of the nephilim are less concerned with their duties under the Code Sanguine than their privileges, and they are more than willing to take advantage of their position. Of course, this sort of thing is common in fiction that attempts to deal with class distinctions, though usually the upper class living off of the blood of the lower class is a little less literal.

In this world, even the best of people are morally ambiguous. Marcel Boucher may believe that the nephilim have a duty to protect the mortals, but he still takes advantage of them. And even Ashia believes that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Dusang is so focused on his mission that he ignores other injustices. And Tama can be cruel and indifferent to mortal morality. What is right and wrong in such a world isn’t always clear, and Ashia’s struggles to do what is right by her family and their subjects is part of what makes this story interesting. I appreciate that Mr. Alexander made the questions difficult, and that while Ashia tries to do the right thing, she often lacks the wisdom to make a real difference. It gives her character a chance to grow through failure, which helps bring her to life.

Read the whole thing.

World of Avenesse

I’ve finally made a large scale map of the vast majority of the world of Avenesse. This covers the three grand empires from the novels: over the Avenesse Empire, the Dragon Empire and Orun Aye: the Deathlands. These empires in turn cover the majority of three continents: Eirenna in the north, Anara in the south, and Assuwa in the far east.

World-of-Avenesse

Here is a blowup of a little more of the Avenesse Empire minus the arctic regions of Umtlond and Thula, the mysterious unnamed province in the map in the book. It covers most of western Eirenna and surrounds the White Sea.

Avenesse-Empire

The Dragon Empire, which dominates large parts of the continents of Eirenna and Assuwa, separated by the Golden Channel, a very shallow sea. Khirek and Parset continue far beyond this map in near endless grasslands and deserts until they collide with the distant eastern lands of Kyoushou. Which probably won’t come up in the novels. Probably.

Dragon-Empire

And last but certainly not least, the mysterious Deathlands. The locals don’t call it that of course, they call it Orun Aye, a blasphemous name that in the Yoruba language means something approaching Heaven on Earth. The Deathlands covers most of the continent of Anara and has pushed into southern Eirenna in the region called the Auwali, which is Swahili for ‘border’ or ‘boundary’. The Avensh call this region ‘the Doomed Kingdoms’ as they were conquered and slaughtered by the armies of the Deathlords so quickly. Back when living mortals lived here, it was referred to as the Illgarian subcontinent. It pushed into the Eirenna continent and formed the massive Dragonspine mountains (roughly equivalent to the Himalayas), which for now serves as a natural barrier to the advance of the armies of Unlife. I’m not entirely sure how much I’ll reveal of the inner workings of Orun Aye in this series of books.

Orun-Aye-The-Deathlands

 

Reviews are in

Reviews for Mistress of the Dancing Bones are starting to come in and people have been very generous with their praise. Here are some of the highlights.

“Once I read the description which includes a strong female protagonist, blood as currency, and vampires as part of the norm I couldn’t wait to jump in.” – Chenelle Bremont
“She travels with a Don Quixote sort of hero, aged a bit rugged, and a naughty languorous two-tailed cat.” – Victoria Bastedo
“There is adventure, excitement and romance and it keeps you turning pages wishing to know the whole story” – Paul D Bacon
“The setting and the characters are so much a part of the landscape that I do not question their existence but instead ache as they thrust themselves into danger and am giddy when any trickles of romance play out.” – Rachel Barnard
“The vampire/nephilim weave is instantly reminiscent of Anne Rice and the fantasy world build up reminds me of Stephen R. Donaldson’s style.” – Kevin W Smith
“The take on vampires was different enough that I didn’t feel that it was just more of the same old same old.” – Charles R Harris
“The author has created a rich and complex universe in this book: Worlds within worlds.” – Doc
“I particularly liked the way that the nature of the world was shown rather than explained.” – Charles R Harris
“The characters were distinctive and robust and became increasingly intriguing to me as the web of relationships and allegiances was revealed, like a world shrouded in mist that becomes clear piece by piece as the mist drifts away.” – Rachel Barnard
“Vivid descriptions of magic that were as unique as they were enthralling. Moments of horror from which I could not tear my eyes away.” – Doc
“I spent about four hours yesterday solid finishing this great read.” – Kevin W Smith
“I’m excited that this is just the first in a series and I look forward to spending more time with them.” – Jenna Normandy

Thank you all for the kind words.