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Salve Assaph!

We came to wish you felix(*) novus annus! Hope you're having a great time during this holiday season, and enjoying life. In preparation for a book-filled 2020 (just to make sure it's a happy one), I've got a couple of bookish things for you -- not the least of which is a teaser about In Victrix.

A special welcome to new subscribers (via the Askew giveaway or otherwise). If you don't know me, I'm that dude that writes niche historical-urban-fantasy: an occult detective on a background of an Ancient Rome inspired world. You can get a free novella as an introduction to the series here.

(*) It also means happy, but in this case may your year also have more of that Felix.

Other People's Books First

Because it's the season of giving.

Like most authors, I read -- a lot. Looking back at 2019, I did meet my goals on Goodreads: over 15,000 pages, spread across 50 books (pages more important, as GR lists short stories as "books" too).

Anyway. About a third of the books I read and reviewed are indie published. Most were good, but I'd like to draw your attention to a few exceptional ones. These are the ones where everything just comes together beautifully, from cover to story and everything in between.

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The first two are both Epic Fantasy. The first focused on the individual swordsman, doing an amazing job of making the reader understand both historical combat and modern weapon-forging techniques. The second is a grand military-scale epic, that is both true to the real historical period backdrop and doesn't lose sight of the importance of relationships.

(Click the sub-headings for my full reviews)

Modern Epic Fantasy

Though a sequel, the tone is quite different from the first book (Dragon's Trail). Malik builds a modern fantasy world (in the sense of egalitarian society unencumbered by stereotypes and tropes) - and still writes the most amazing personal combat action scenes.

Historical Military Epic-Fantasy

Knox's work is a tour de force of bringing to life the Roman Empire in the 4th century with meticulous historical veracity, while mixing in epic fantasy elements in a way that immerses the reader in a realistic "what if".

Even though they'd fall under the same sub-genre (military, high, epic fantasy), the stories are different and each author brings his own voice, his own focus on historical facts and modern story-telling. If you're a fan of the big-name authors writing epic fantasy, you're in for an unexpected treat.

The next set of novels are different. These two will make you laugh, while sneakily making you think about your world too.

Literary Fiction Satire

The Good Audit is one of the funniest, wittiest satires I have read in recent years, with humour and social criticism. A must read for anyone who ever worked in the corporate world, or held any sort of job at a large organisation!

Humorous Fantasy

It was a toss-up between this novel and Zack Pike's Orconomics, so I went with the lesser known one. While Orconomics has a deeper social criticism (as proper for satire), Rocks Fall is funnier -- and sometimes you just want to laugh out loud at the stupid shit characters do. But really, you should read both!

Again, these are the best of Indie-published novels from the past year. I've also read David Wishart's Corvinus series (which is hybrid published) and Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series (which is traditionally published -- full series review to follow on my blog). I thought it was important to showcase those novels that can stand on their own in the big league, with nothing to be ashamed of.

I will continue to read and review both indie and traditionally published work, because after all -- it's the stories and the characters that matter.

Speaking of which...

In Victrix - Teaser

As you probably know, I've finished the first draft of In Victrix, the third full-length Story of Togas, Daggers, and Magic (tentatively subtitled Races, Curses, and Women's Places ;-). I'm almost done with the self-editing part, which means it will go out to beta readers very soon. After that will come the professional development & line editor, then the copy editor, and then publication around September 2020.

In the meanwhile, I thought I'd tease you with something a little different. The below image is a random one I came across when looking for cover material inspiration. It won't be the actual cover for In Victrix, but it did encourage me to make some changes to the original cast of characters...

"Her Sword", (c) by Grzegorz Giebas
https://web.500px.com/photo/31777523/Her-sword-by-Grzegorz-Giebas/

While it isn't exactly right, (chainmail bikini, really?), it still captured an essence that spoke to me. The book in general deals with the place and options open for women in the patriarchal Roman society, and might challenge a few misconceptions. Politically Correct often clashes with Historical Accuracy -- but our modernist views of the ancient world are often still wrong (coloured by 19th century romanticism). I tried to present a balanced, real view of the place women took in Roman society.

Anyway, her name in the book is Hippolyta, and I can wait till you get to meet her some time later this year. I have a feeling that she will rock the world of a few Felix fans.

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Anyway. They say every newsletter should have a Call To Action button clearly visible, so readers have a clear understanding of what they should do next. So here's an obvious link, that still isn't quite "Buy My Books on Amazon"...

Buy signed Felix paperbacks and other swag that ISN'T on Amazon

That's it for now. Hope you found something for your edification and amusement. I'm going back to celebrating Saturnalia in my own unique way, guaranteed to make you snort your eggnog...

Until next time,

Videas Lumen,

Assaph Mehr

Purple Toga Publications

Sydney, Australia

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