Indie Book Review: The Empire of the Dead by Phil Tucker

There’s only one word I can think of to describe this book: fun.

This is a different kind of story from Phil Tucker, who has written the excellent Chronicles of the Black Gate series (three books out, with two more to go, I believe). That series is epic fantasy with a capital E. This one is less epic, more tightly focused. It’s basically a heist story, though the object being stolen is a person rather than some treasure. But it also becomes much more than that.

It’s a story of a world where most of the gods have died and only the goddess of death remains. As such, necromancy is all over the place. That might seem like a tired trope of fantasy, but I think Tucker did it very well, putting some new twists on old ideas.

The biggest positive out of this book was the action. I already knew that Tucker could write great action scenes, and he delivered again in this one. I found myself frantically flipping virtual pages for much of the book. The beginning was a bit slow, and it took me a while to warm to the characters, but once I did, I was along for the ride. And it was a great one.

The only real issue I noticed with this one were a few more typos and editing issues than I’ve come to expect from Tucker. They weren’t egregious by any means, and I don’t think they should detract from anyone’s enjoyment of the book. I do think it could have used one more proofreading pass, though.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. I didn’t like it quite as much as The Path of Flames, but that’s a high standard to live up to.

Rating: 9/10

If you’re looking to give some self-published authors a chance, I highly recommend Tucker. My enjoyment of his stories is right up there with some of my favorite trade-published authors. Tucker knows how to tell a great story.

Indie Book Review: Mist Falcon by Ryan J. Doughan

It’s been a while since I’ve done any book reviews here, but I thought I’d start that up again. I actually read this one a while back and really enjoyed it.

Here’s what I wrote on Goodreads:

Took a chance on this one because I know the author on Twitter (but not in real life). It had generally good reviews, though not a lot of them, so I was a little skeptical going in.

As it turns out, I had no reason to be skeptical. It’s not a perfect book (occasional awkward sentences and minor editing issues), but these issues never pulled me out of the story.

I connected with Aiden and Willem right away. It took me a bit longer to connect with Tako, but his story has a lot of potential to become very interesting in subsequent installments. Rem and Lem were a lot of fun.

The best thing about this book was the action, especially toward the end of the book. I had that frantic feeling reading the last thirty percent. When I get that feeling, I know a book is good.

If I had to take a guess, I’d say fans of Weeks and Sanderson would find a lot to enjoy in this story.

Rating: 9/10



I’ll see if I can add a bit to the review here. I feel like the biggest strength in this book was the pacing. It rarely let up, and that made it an enjoyable read for me. The characters weren’t the most complex or interesting I’ve ever seen, but I felt like rooting for them, and that’s the biggest thing an author has to do for me to enjoy a book.

If you’re looking to give a self-published author a chance, this book is good option. I feel like it hasn’t been noticed as much as some other self-published titles, and I think that should change.

World in Chains is complete!!!

Well, the first draft of the fourth and final book is complete. I still have a lot of revision and editing work to do.

For anyone’s who’s been following my blog recently, you’ve seen that I’ve done a lot of back and forth on self-publishing. Well, with the series nearing completion, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge and stop letting fear get in my way.

I’m not expecting to get rich immediately (or at all) from self-publishing. I think I can manage to write enough to keep my readers happy without pushing myself too hard. If I do enter a dark period mentally, I will be sure to keep everyone updated and let them know that I do intend to finish my projects.

Note that I’m not expecting this to happen, but I always find it best to be prepared.


As for the series itself, it is four pretty hefty books. The first one goes about 165,000 words, the second 140,000, the third 120,000, and the fourth 170,000. I wouldn’t be surprised if the second and third get longer in revisions.

Most of the series I have planned will probably be shorter than this one, but you never know. I’m just excited to get this out there and ready for everyone to read. This series has been with me in some form for more than 11 years now. With each iteration, I’ve stepped up my game as a writer, and now I think it’s what it always should have been.

I currently have covered are scheduled for this June, so you can expect to see the first book published sometime this summer. I would expect the others to follow at roughly four-month intervals (possibly faster depending on how smoothly edits go and how quickly I can get the cover art done). I may not be able to keep up that kind of schedule indefinitely due to school and work obligations, but I’ll try to be fast (without sacrificing quality, of course).

A Tough Decision

I’ve had more time to think about my writing and self-publishing plans, and in the end, I think it will be best if I put off self-publishing for the moment. I have a lot on my plate between school, work, and family obligations. Adding extra pressure doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do, especially when I consider my mental health.

I’m doing okay right now, but I never know when a bad period is going to start. If that does happen, I don’t want to feel like I have to right or market or do whatever. I also need some time to relax and recharge, and I’d prefer that writing remain fun for me.

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing. By the time I do decide to self-publish, I’ll probably have a lot of material ready.

If anyone is really interested in what I’m writing (and I do plan to update my blog more regularly with writing-related stuff, books reviews, and such), I’m always happy to have alpha and beta readers take a look at my books.

Writing Progress

I’ve spent the last three days doing a lot of writing on my first draft of The Winds of Time (book 4 of World in Chains). In the last three days, I’ve written about 10,000 words. It has been nice to get back into the flow of writing, and I’m feeling more confident about my chances of success in self-publishing, as I mentioned in my last post.

Right now, The Winds of Time (the final book in the series, I should add) is probably about three-fourths complete. I’ve finished parts I, II, and III, and now I’m writing the fourth and final part. If all goes according to plan, I should be finished with the book before the end of January. I should also send out a request for cover art for the series later this month, which will probably result in me releasing the book in the late spring or early summer. Depending on how long it takes me to edit each book, I’d expect the next three to follow over the course of the next year.

While I’m editing those, I will get back to work on my other two ongoing series. I will probably start with Sunweaver because I’ve already finished one book in the series and started on the second. I expect Sunweaver to be a trilogy, though it could be four books if I find I have enough material.

There’s also my third series, The God War. I’ve written the first book, which I’m titling Song of Shara for the moment. It’s more of a gunpowder fantasy, and a story I’m really excited about. I need to get more information about the stories onto my website here because I don’t think it’s doing me any favors right now.

Any books in these two series will most likely be released after I finish the entire series. This may occur before or after I finish publishing World in Chains. It all depends on how much time school and work suck up.

Thanks for reading. I hope to get some more concrete updates on here soon.

Defining initial success in self-publishing.

I recently made the decision not to go with self-publishing for the moment, and like always, I’m doubting that decision. Part of it, I think, is the expectations I’m placing on myself. I’m looking at authors who are finding success in self-publishing, and I think of all the work I’ll have to do to get to that point.

But perhaps I’m not using the right measuring stick. I’m not saying I should abandon my big goals, but perhaps if I make my goal simply to earn back the money I’m putting in, then it may be a lot more conducive to me taking the plunge.

Self-publishing is very rarely a ticket to great money, but it is a chance to make some income while giving readers the chance to read your books. That’s what I should focus on now. I’m tired of my stories languishing on the computer. They deserve readers.

But then I wonder if I should give trade publishing another chance. At the end of the day, though, I’m a bit of a control freak by nature. The idea of having complete control over the product I put out there is appealing. Even the marketing, although it may be a bit outside my comfort zone, is a chance to experiment.

After all, self-publishing is still very much an experiment for every author. There’s no magic bullet that works for everyone. For some, it’s writing a lot of books very quickly. For others, it’s becoming very involved with fans on social media. Then there are those who just put the book out there and readers somehow find it.

The point of all this is that there are many different routes to success and many different standards for success. I may do terribly at self-publishing, but that’s still better than never trying at all.

Even if I only make back a fraction of what I put into my first few books, that’s okay. Self-publishing is a long-haul. Some writers find success immediately, but it’s more common to build up momentum as you build up your backlist. Since your self-published book never goes out of print, the backlist can be a very powerful tool for success.

So I guess I’ve changed my mind. We’ll see how long that lasts…