Friday, 28 April 2017


Don't, for the love of God/your chosen deity/beer, let it stop you buying the book, but I am giving away a signed, doodled copy on Goodreads!

Here's an example - not the actual copy in the giveaway (I will doodle that when I know if the winner should have a US or UK edition,

Entering these giveaways helps raise the profile of the book, so give it a shot even if you have a copy already. It just takes a click or two.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The SPFBO final results

300 contestants have been narrowed to 10 finalists.

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off has a winner and that winner is...

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French!


Here's the scoreboard. The reviews, the books, and the blogs are all linked on this table. (click scores to get reviews)

I give some analysis below.

* = Blogger chose this finalist
*= Blogger's top book.

Last year the ten bloggers/teams gave three scores of 9 among their hundred scores and they went to three different books.

This year there were nine scores of 9+ and six of them went to the winner! Including the SPFBO's first ever score of 9.5 and first ever perfect 10.

Last year the winner was the favourite of just one blogger and the books placing 5th and 6th were the favourites of two boggers each.

This year the winner was the favourite of six bloggers.

Last year the spread of scores was from 6.25 to 8.

This year the spread was 5.1 to 8.65.

All in all The Grey Bastards is a runaway winner and I must commend it to your attention.

2nd placed Path of Flames by Phil Tucker was favourite with three blogs and I've read it and can see why!

3rd placed Paternus by Dyrk Ashton was favourite with one blog.

All of these books were someone's choice for finalist and they all scored 7+ with two or more bloggers, so check them out. You never know what will hit a chord with you.

Huge thanks to all ten bloggers/teams for their very considerable efforts and to Katharine of Ventureadlaxre for stepping in to fill a gap. The bloggers are the stars of this show so be sure to keep checking them out now we're done.

Our most generous scorer this year was Fantasy-Faction, taking the crown from Bibliotropic last year. The Elitist Book Reviews remain the harshest scorer, though they were slightly kinder this year.

Anyway. That's my job done. Remember, this is only a success if you allow yourself to be moved by the exercise to try some of these titles. They are cheap to buy, and the top 3 are the 1% of the 300 entries to #SPFBO2. There's even a celebratory giveaway of Paternus audiobooks.

Will we do it again? I don't know. If there proves to be enough interest among bloggers and authors then probably. Let's just give the thing a moment for the dust to settle and the winners' confetti to be swept away.


In case you're interested, we have 5 male and 5 female finalists, from a field that was 49% male, 33% female and 18% unknown (initials).

I'm encouraging bloggers to give their finalist a score that allows them space to reward any even better books that come along.

I'm also encouraging bloggers to use the range of marks since if they mark all the books between 7 and 8 they will have a smaller impact on the final result than a blogger who scores between 2 and 9. (the range is 1 to 10).

On Fantasy-Factor Laura Hughes discusses the SPFBO at the half way point.
On Pornokitsch Jared covers 4 books in one go and agonizes about the vexed business of numbers.
On Fantasy Book Critic a general round up and stock take.
On Laura Hughes's site, a general SPFBO assessment.
Jared does a three in one on Pornokitsch.
Lynn enters the final round and targets her first victim!
Exit interviews with three runner uppers.
Exit interviews with two more runner uppers!
Sarah starts her final round campaign on Bookworm Blues.
phase 2 round up from Fantasy-Faction.
Bibliotropic's Ria on ratings vs rankings.
Pornokitsch is first to the finish post, reviewing their last 3 finalists!
On Kristen Reads Too Much a review of Grey Bastards.
Elitist Book Reviews on the business of writing good.
SPFBO interview on Shona Kinsellas site with me!
SPFBO interview on Shona Kinsellas site with Dyrk Ashton!
On defining character, from Elitist Book Review.

*Bibliotropic is having to pass the torch to Ventureadlaxre for the last 4 finalists. Thanks to Ria for sterling work, and to Katharine for stepping up to help out!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Spreading the word.

Publishers help sell books. They lend their name as a stamp of quality. They send out early copies to bloggers. And they get the books into book shops. It's a big help.

But the real engine that sells any book after that initial push to give it a chance is word of mouth. It's you the reader recommending the book to a friend. It's you being enthusiastic about it on forums. It's you leaving a review or two.

And here's another thing you can do if you're on Goodreads. You can click the recommend button. A small thing but also a really helpful thing.

Go on, give it a go!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

REVIEW: The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey


The last book I read (which was very good) took me 16 weeks to get through.

This one arrived yesterday morning. My wife got her hands on it first and finished it by the evening. I took over and have finished it 8pm on the next day (today). It's not a short book, 460 pages of reasonably small font. It *is* a very compelling book. The opening is the strongest I've read in an age.

It's the first book I've bought in a long time. Publishers and authors send me free books in the hope I'll read them and say something nice, so I've a stack of books waiting that I didn't pay for. However, I only manage 10 or 12 books a year and once in a while it's nice to pick something myself.

A friend, whose tastes I trust, has recommended this book forcefully and frequently for a couple of years ... so I caved and got it. 

It's the sort of story that's best come to cold. If someone spoils if for you it ... spoils it. It's not that the whole thing rests on some massive twist (I see dead people), just that it's so much nicer to experience it the way the author wanted you to, a slow reveal widening from claustrophobia to agoraphobia.

It's a book set in modern times, written in the present tense, and moving quite frequently from the main character's point of view to those of several others around her. The prose is of very high quality, powerful, direct descriptions that put you there, understated emotional scenes that drag you in, and violent action scenes that get the pulse racing. It's also clever and well structured enough to suspend what disbelief needs suspending.

I'm not going to say more than that other than, believe the hype, read it.

You can go and 'like' my review on goodreads, if you like.

Friday, 21 April 2017

The Big Six-Oh, oh, oh, oh

I have a long-standing tradition of celebrating Prince of Thorns hitting multiples of 10,000 Goodreads ratings.

Well ... I did it for 30,000, then 40K and 50K, and yesterday Prince of Thorns passed 60K.

The first of these was a piece defending the right of any book to feature a cast that was overwhelmingly one gender.

Since this coincides nicely with the release of Red Sister and with Prince of Fools passing 15,000 ratings, I thought I'd blog on those too.

I held a trio of polls asking simply:

Is Prince of Thorns a grimdark book?

Is Prince of Fools a grimdark book?

Is Red Sister a grimdark book?

The results at the time of writing stand thusly:

Red Sister is my fastest selling book and highest rated series opener, and has been getting very encouraging reviews. It's human nature though to look at the negative reviews too.

First let me note that there is an option on those polls above to vote neither yes or no and to record the fact that you don't know what grimdark is. I would have taken that option. I have noted my confusion over what exactly grimdark is on several (1 2 3 4) occasions!

However, the interesting thing seems to be that contrary to some distressed opinions bemoaning that by moving from a main character that's a wise-cracking young man to one that is an earnest young girl I have stepped away from the true path of grimdark ... it seems that according to these polls the step away came in 2014 with a book that most readers considered not to be grimdark.

Some male reviewers have made a clearer distinction. It wasn't the departure from grimdark (a term I had never heard until after finishing the Broken Empire trilogy) that upset them, it was simply that they didn't want to read a book that focused on girls. And I can't argue with any reader's personal tastes. To me it does seem strange though. I could better understand if it was an objection to the type of story they were involved in. But girls are hardly a different species. And even if they were ... I loved the hell out of Watership Down.

Anyway. The reaction has been generally excellent and I was surprised more by quite how large a portion of my existing readership took so enthusiastically to this new tale than by those left behind.

I'm excited to see how readers take to Grey Sister next year and Holy Sister the year after. And of course I continue to be heartened by how many new readers are still coming to Prince of Thorns and following Jorg on his bloody path through the Broken Empire.

Here's to 70,000!

Monday, 10 April 2017

REVIEW: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


I read this to Celyn but the 5* are from both of us. I think I probably enjoyed it more than she did in fact.

It's a fine book. I can see why it's done so well. The story is well structured, the brutal opening providing an orphan, a mystery, and an ongoing threat. Thereafter the book slowly cycles back around to its beginning and in the mean time raises our young Bod, equipping him with the skills to deal with his problem.

Bod's life in the graveyard is very interesting, with him learning various bits of magic and magical lore from the dead. With hundreds of ghosts spanning several thousand years there's all manner of opportunity for interest and I enjoyed Bod's interactions with them.

We watch Bod grow up, be educated, and make ventures into the living world. The whole thing crept up on me. I was gently entertained throughout but by the end I found myself really caring about the story.

The end was really quite emotional in that Toy Story III sort of 'leaving the nest' way that punches parents in the gut. I think Celyn got a bit irritated as I kept pausing to gather myself to read the next line.

Anyway. A curious and highly entertaining book thick with inventiveness and written with deceptive skill.

You can go and 'like' my review on goodreads, if you like.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Muggles and the elitism of fantasy.

Every now and then you'll see someone post about why magic and science are the same thing, and by extension imply that fantasy and science fiction are ends of the same stick.

And while these arguments may well be true they don't speak to an important difference of a more societal nature.

Let's talk about muggles.

The main difference between fantasy and science fiction is the nature of the fake science (magic) they present us with. Generally the technology resulting from science is available to anybody to buy or discover given sufficient reserves of money, intelligence, infrastructure etc. It's an egalitarian form of "magic". To use a warp drive or phaser gun doesn't require you to be born special.

Magic, on the other hand, often requires you to be born "magic". Fantasy is rife with chosen ones, singular heroes whose talents allow them to change the course of history, wielders of magic that is  available to them alone or to some elite that were born special.

Star Trek offers us a universe full of wonder where anyone has the potential to experience and use magic-like technology. Harry Potter offers us a world where the vast majority, through no fault of their own, are born muggles. It doesn't matter how good a person's heart is, how hard they try ... they will always be a muggle. The wonders of magic are not for them. Live with it, muggle.

It seems harsh. It echoes with the class systems of yesteryear. You were born a serf and you will die one, irrespective of your skills. Though here that class system/elitism is replaced with a binary genetic talent.

And this general structure pervades most fantasy to some degree. You are born to use magic or you aren't.

There are, of course, softer approaches where ability to use magic might be linked to some quality that we are used to seeing have an impact in the real world, intelligence say, and anyone has a shot at it.

Why, you might ask, is being born intelligent or not, any different between being born a muggle or not?

It's a question of degree. Intelligence is a spectrum and can to some degree be compensated by things such as hard work. Being a muggle is binary You are or you aren't. And the difference between the two is huge.

Now, I love fantasy. I'm perfectly happy to read about special individuals whose powers will level mountains. I don't need an equal opportunity socialist utopia before I can enjoy a story... I have written books about people born with special magical talent. But something in the concept of muggles has always rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it's that we're not talking of a divide between the mass and a scattering of exceptional individuals, but between two societies,the haves and the have nots, with one looking down upon the other (even the kindly wizards who study muggles for a living still seem to see them as a separate thing rather than fellow humans for whom saying wingardium leviosa does not float a feather.).

one of us

Maybe it boils down to me being more comfortable with heroes than with a heroic class, more comfortable rooting for an ultra rare individual who can do what I can't than for a 1% who can. I think maybe I want my fantasy heroes to live among the people rather than to live in secret wizarding societies and call me a muggle.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Red Sister, reader art!

Red Sister has its first reader art! These from Mayticks.

There's no sex in Red Sister, and no romance. There are, however, a lot of relationships, and a small number of those are gay. I'm very glad when readers find this well portrayed, and are pleased to see diversity/representation etc. But if you go into the book with your head filled with whatever images the phrase "lesbian nuns" conjures up for you ... you may be disappointed.

What I hope the book does is present a small number of gay characters in an understated and indirect manner that doesn't make a big deal of the fact.

Sister Apple - Mistress Shade by Mayticks

Sister Kettle by Mayticks

Sisters Cage and Thorn
by Francesca Tacchi

Nona Grey by Craig Houghton

Yisht by Mikaela Brennan

Some alternative covers:
From Petros of

A draft of the Voyager ARC cover

A mashup cover

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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

REVIEW: The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker


Found this in the parents' room at the hospital.

So I've seen a lot of Bakker-talk online and you'd think to read it that the man was either the devil incarnate or a seven-fold genius come to show the true way. A phrase I'm used to hearing is 'marmite book', another is 'you'll either love it or hate it - there's no in between'. All as much bollocks here of course as when applied to my own work. A simple click of the ratings button shows a vast number of in betweens. In fact most people are in between the 5* and the 1* on this book (as on mine). Most people give it 4*, 1* is the least popular rating.

There are plenty of good things to say about the book.

I've heard it comprises 'dense philosophy'. To my mind that would make an awful work of fiction. I've read philosophy text-books, and the fiction of Satre, De Beauvoir, and others. This is nothing like that. This is a fantasy story with a complex plot and plenty of action. Yes there's a little more introspection than typical for the genre. But philosophy? Very little. Bakker wisely opts for aphorisms and a measure of psychology to scatter around and create the ambiance.

The prose is powerful (can be long winded in places), there's an abundance of cleverness and insight on offer, the much talked of darkness of the book didn't strike me as particularly dark at all.

At the end of the book the threads converge and a pretty decent 'climax' is delivered, ending without a cliff hanger and with a (for me) mild impetus to continue.

The intricacy of the many part plot ... well, I admired it but I can't say it really did it for me. I guess it's a ton of material for the epic side of epic fantasy to play with over the course of the next however many books. I perhaps wanted more focus and more character-time.

There's great imagination here and Khellus' methods are a fresh and entertaining idea. All that really pushed this a touch below 4* for me was the fact that the whole book lacked the emotional content I enjoy. I don't need nice characters. I don't need to cheer their every move. And Bakker's character list certainly includes interesting characters - which is great. But I never really felt emotionally involved and that blunted my enjoyment. 

The Mandate Schoolman was the most involving character for me, then Esmenet.

In short then, a book with depth, complexity, written with skill, and well worth a look. Personally I wasn't as swept up and held by it as I had hoped to be, but your mileage may well vary!

You can go and 'like' my review on goodreads, if you like.

Monday, 27 March 2017

On being a girl.

I wrote about 'writing women' back in 2015, while I was writing Red Sister but before anyone except my reader, Agnes, had read more than the first 15,000 words that got me the book deal.

Basically I was wondering whether I would be able to do a good job of it and had decided that all I could do was try to write interesting individuals. There was, I decided, no formula to it. Despite the fact that readers so often talk about how an author 'writes women' I would just write people and be done with it.

And now over a hundred readers have finished Red Sister and left reviews on Goodreads I get the chance to have a look at some of the feedback.

The following four extracts are from female reviewers.

As an aside, Lawrence is uncannily accurate in writing a lifestyle based in a convent where the girls are taught by nuns. I attended a convent school and while the curiculum was definitely different to that of the Sisters of Sweet Mercy (we weren't taught battle skills and poisons for instance - well not deliberately) the dynamic between the nuns, and the nuns and the novices , and between the girls themselves, was spot on. You would almost think Lawrence had been a convent girl himself. For that matter, he writes a prepubescent girl and her friendships with remarkable accuracy too. 

Red Sister was ultimately a coming-of-age story, not something that I’ve expected from this author, and especially not one which dealt so deftly and realistically in the intricacies of young female interactions in a confined, isolated and competitive environment.

The other novices in Red Sister are pretty cool too, and the friendships that develop over the course of the story are really well-executed. Considering he's never actually (I assume) been a little girl moving towards puberty, Mark Lawrence does an amazing job of conveying what it feels like to be a girl who's not quite on the brink of womanhood.

And boy, does Mark know how to write women! Although I think he's a follower of the rule "just write real people", rather than making men/women that different.  <snip>  It's a book that should be mandatory reading for all young girls.

So that's all rather encouraging. But the thing that interests me most is the idea (posed playfully here, but in more earnest elsewhere and about other authors) that you have to be something to write it successfully. It's certainly true that to give a high-fidelity portrayal of a real-world experience of something like what it is to be a minority in a particular society, encompassing all the political and social nuances of that situation, you do need to have been part of it or to have done a vast amount of research. But there the author needs to capture a particular situation that others have lived. In fantasy there's nobody to jump up and say "It wasn't like that!".

I certainly wasn't method acting to write this book. I didn't try to inhabit the role of a young girl (and her friends). The lesson here is perhaps not how hard it is for a man to write women or vice versa, but just how similar we all are, or rather how different we all are but how gender really isn't the key to those differences.

I haven't been a young girl on the verge of womanhood. But equally I haven't been a violent young prince or a womanizing dandy. The answer seems to be: write people.

Jack Nicholson is given a funny line about writing women in As Good As It Gets, but that's all it is. The film itself has a great female lead and the writer/s responsible really weren't thinking like that.

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Friday, 17 March 2017

REVIEW: The Vagrant by Peter Newman


I really enjoyed this book. 'loved' may not be too strong a word. Best thing I've read in quite a while.

It's an original tale. Every review will mention that it focuses on a man (our 'vagrant') who doesn't speak, and his co-stars are a baby and a goat. More importantly, the man's non-speaking is backed up by a text that spends no significant amount of time in his head - so he remains an enigma, illuminated only through his interactions. A second story thread begins eight years earlier and proceeds to explain the parlous state of the world we're dropping into. This past thread advances by leaps and bounds, revealing the Vagrant's backstory and seeking to wed it to the present action. It's cleverly done and works well.

I should mention the writing. It's very good. Sharp, efficient, full of observation and pleasing turns of phrase. None of it wordy or over-wrought. The writing doesn't try to milk emotion from you - just shows you what's what and leaves the reaction to you.

The world is 'new weird' - demonic-types have entered the world through a breach and proceed to warp, corrupt, co-opt, and take-over. We have all manner of monstrous constructs and most people are warped to some degree.

The goat provides a welcome edge of comedy, as does the baby. Newman clearly knows a lot about babies. I suspect him to have been a new father at the time of writing!

Although the demons do terrible things they're so alien that they don't fill the role of 'baddie' in quite the same way that a person doing terrible things or seeking to end our heroes would. They compensate that lack of someone to really blame/hate by being diverse and interesting, focused on their internal fights as much as they are on taking over the new world they've entered.

I found the story intriguing and the writing's 'voice' a fresh and compelling one.

For me The Vagrant started strong, and kept strong. Endings are hard and I wouldn't call it the perfect ending. It's difficult to avoid anticlimax at the end of any tale and it wasn't wholly avoided here, but there was a lot to like. And it left plenty hanging for a sequel.

Looking at my friends' reviews and the general rating I see the book has got a good reception but not the acclaim I would have expected. I guess this might be because the lack of a (human) head to watch events unfold from doesn't allow us to bond with a hero and their goals in quite the same way we might in more traditional tales. Possibly the weirdness is too much for some readers. And some may seek tighter plotting rather than a sprawling journey punctuated by 'random' encounters. But I really liked the journey, seeing it as canvas onto which the characters and world could be projected. I enjoyed the slow reveal of backstory and agendas.

All in all, very good. Something fresh and new. Give it a try!

It's also worth noting that this is a swift read, a book of modest length at ~90,000 words, which makes a nice change after Big Fat Fantasies over-topping 200,000 words. 

You can go and 'like' my review on goodreads, if you like.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Red Sister - I has it!

By lucky happenstance my brand new bookcase arrived an hour after my consignment of author copies of Red Sister from Ace.

On the same day I was sent these photos of the special edition!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Hype is a three-edged sword!

Hype, eh?

You need hype to get someone to pick up a new book these days. There's just so damn much to choose from. What's going to get someone to pick up Book A rather than Book B? Well, lots of people raving about book A will generally help.

And to get a lot of people raving about Book A you do need Book A to be pretty damn good. Nobody is going to rave about a book that was so-so or just decent.

But there's a second edge to the sword that cuts through all that noise, and that second edge can cut you instead. If a book gets too brilliant a press, if the readers are too hyped up, too excited ... then they expect to open the book and sit there twitching and slack-mouthed as each line sears itself unforgettably into the back of their skull, filling them with the kind of literary ecstasy that can only ever be remembered from your first great fantasy book and never recaptured no matter how many times you revisit that same story.

And if your new novel does not leave the hyped reader in a spent and satisfied pool of their own juices. If it turns out merely to be a great read, merely a 5* novel ... then there is always the risk of backlash, always the risk of it being rated and reviewed against what they had imagined it might be from the hype rather than against the competition.

So, hype, a necessity and an evil.

What about the third edge? Oh, I just tossed that in to hype it up. Who wants to read about a boring old two-edged sword?

Friday, 10 March 2017

Outlining a novel.

**Spoilers, of course.**

I am often asked how much planning I do for my books. I generally answer that I'm a gardener rather than an architect and that I follow where the story leads me. I find it more interesting and motivating if I don't know what's going to happen next.

However, publishing is a business and publishers, particularly the accounts department, like to feel they are in control of where things are headed. A business needs to manage its risk, or convince its shareholders that it's doing so.

So, "I'll make it up as I go, trust me!" doesn't really fly with them. At least not until you've earned that trust.

When I was nearing a three-book deal with Ace (and Voyager) on the strength of Prince of Thorns (titled "The Hundred War" at that point), I was asked for an outline for book 2, and 3 if possible.

I sent one back for book 2 the same day. I think it took me an hour or so to write. I didn't do one for book 3.

This is what I sent them for King of Thorns, as it's now known.

I never referred back to it, but clearly some of the ideas stuck and made it into the finished novel. Others were left out entirely, and large sections that appeared in the book weren't included at all here.

Anyway, it did the job. I got the deal.

King of Thorns outline.

Issues -

Queen Sareth births competing heir, Jorge's half brother

Gog becoming fire-mage - likely to die - Gorgoth plays a role

Has grandfather on the Horse Coast (mother's father) - will seek an alliance there

Insert more modern tech issues.

Very powerful faction will threaten Renar and Ancrath kingdoms - possible alliance with father.

Chella and Sageous to return.

Jorge's death magic to grow and cause problems.

(2 threads one now (18) one 3 years earlier (15) - the now finds him about to be overwhelmed by the army of Arrow (with Katherine leading/featuring in it) and also about to get married to 'some girl'. Also he is haunted by the ghost of a child (3 years old) and has a terrible memory in a box.

The current thread is desparate preparations for defence.

The past thread is the below where we learn why Katherine uber-hates him, why the child is haunting him and toward the end find out who his bride is and where his help to withstand/defeat the Prince of Arrow comes from.

Jorge needs more men - Renar is a copper-crown kingdom. There is a power moving in the Ken Marshes. Baron Kennick has been over-run by his neighbour the Prince of Arrow and this huge army now threatens both Renar and Ancrath.

Jorge wants an alliance with his Grandfather's people on the Horse Coast and sets off leaving Coddin and Makin to guard his throne. He's travelling as a Road-Brother with his old crew because no amount of soldiers is going to keep him safe, it will just attract attention. Gog and Gorgoth stay at the Haunt. The wild fire is growing rapidly in Gog and threatening to destroy him. Jorge sees a parallel between Gog and himself. Both haunted by a lost brother, both with something wild burning in them, threating destruction.

Whilst skirting Ancrath border he learns that his step-mother has given birth to a son. Jorge decides to pay a call on his half-brother and maybe renew acquaintances with his aunt Katherine. This will require stealth and subtlty - skills that have not been top of Jorge's list this far

Jorge meets Katherine in woods near the Tall Castle. She turns down his advances. She isn't attracted to him.

Jorge watches Katherine from her window ledge sleeping. He moves on and with a little throat slitting gets his hands on the new-born heir. He holds the child agonizing over whether to kill it. The child dies in his hands - the death magic just seeps into him and stops his heart. His horror at what he has done feeds into rage and Katherine wakes to see him racing from the child's room. He nearly strikes her down. He escapes, rejoins the brothers, and sets off for the Horse Coast, haunted by the baby.

The ghosts of Jorge's life blow wilder than the wind - they follow him. On the journey he starts to go insane. They cross a rad-desert and Jorge encounters a seer, a traveller from the Utter East, possibly tutor Lundist's father. The seer helps him recover his way - the bad memory is put in a box.

Takes ship the last leg of the journey to avoid an unwholesome section of the coast where the corpse-eaters live.

Arrives at grandfather's castle on a rocky prominentry (shaped like a horse's head). Insinuates himself into service to learn about his relatives. Discovers they have a machine beneath the castle that in addition to powering some lights and doors will also replicate a non-functioning mechanical version of any animal placed in a chamber. It also generates a hologram of an annoying Builder who evades questions. Eventually Jorge tricks it into powering up a stainless steel wolf.

At the castle Jorge saves his uncle (mother's younger brother and heir to the throne) from an assassination and reveals himself to grandfather. The alliance is sealed with a marriage to his cousin and grandfather pledges ships and men to Jorge's aid.

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