I've been putting my mind towards creating a board game that covers the events of the Heir to the Crown series. At the moment, it's only designed for two players, but if it works out, it should be easy enough to add additional players. My inspiration for this was an old Avalon Hill game called Kingmaker, in which each player controls a faction of nobles struggling to gain control of the crown.
My game, however, will be quite a bit different. I'll use a map of Merceria broken down into regions, some representing cities, others wilderness areas. The idea is that the players struggle to claim the Kingdom's throne by either a military victory (destroying the other player's armies) or by holding enough nobles to control the Nobles Council (in this case, two-thirds of the nobles' votes)
Even though it uses cards to represent the major characters, players are not restricted to having a particular hero from a specific faction. Thus, for example, the character of Gerald or Beverly could just as easily be employed by the King's side should the player draw the right card.As the game is meant to be enjoyable, it may result in extra characters needing to be created to help balance things out.
I have a very rough draft at the moment but have yet to print out the markers representing the various companies of warriors.
I must admit, though, the map looks fantastic!
Until next time,
Happy reading! (or perhaps I should say happy gaming!)
This week my computer decided to sabotage my writing. Well, to be exact, it was OneDrive that caused the problem. I was halfway through the afternoon and sixteen hundred words into writing a new chapter, when a message popped up indicating that OneDrive wasn’t responding. The problem, of course, is that OneDrive is my primary storage for all my stories. Moments later, Scrivener errored out along with my work in progress.
This by itself is not a catastrophe because the program backs up regularly. I rebooted my computer, opened up Scrivener and rapidly discovered that the entire afternoon’s work had mysteriously vanished. OneDrive was now working again, but my automatic backup had failed somewhere along the line. It was frustrating, to say the least, especially since I had been deep into an important scene that I now had to try to recreate. (Yes, we did try looking for backup files, but they were nowhere to be found.) I did manage to get out another 1500 words, but the result wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.
The next morning, Carol discovered that OneDrive automatically makes backups, though they are only available through the web-based interface. Through her diligent work, we recovered the missing chapter, and everything is now looking much better. She has once again saved the day with her determination and perseverance when I was ready to throw in the towel. I shall ever be grateful.
Until next time, happy reading.
This week marks the four-year anniversary of publishing my first book, Servant of the Crown. Back then, I wrote part-time while still working as an IT instructor. It wasn’t my first stab at writing, for I’d been trying to finish a novel for years, but I always ended up losing my way in terms of plot. Servant of the Crown was a big turning point for me because I actually developed an outline first.
Using this as a roadmap, I was able to finish the tale, though I didn’t publish it immediately, moving on, instead, to Sword of the Crown. It wasn’t until I’d completed book two that I went back and made some changes to my original story.
The most significant development, however, was my wife, Carol, agreeing to join me as editor & marketer. Together, we were successful enough that two and a half years after releasing Servant, I quit my job and became a full-time author.
Now, here I sit, four years later with twenty-plus books to my name, and I’m having the time of my life!
I finished Temple Captain last week, and it got me thinking. Cyric’s origin story introduced the character of Captain Giselle. Giselle, in turn, became a mentor to Sister Charlaine, thus setting off a chain of events in Temple Knight.
In addition, Giselle’s actions in that same origin story come back into focus in Temple Captain. Not only that, but A Midwinter Murder, another Cyric story, introduced yet another character who plays a prominent role in Temple Captain!
It seems the Temple Knight of Saint Mathew has more influence on the world of Eiddenwerthe than I had thought.
I can hardly wait to see what else he’s been up to.
I was doing some research this week and found myself reading about the history of playing cards. They appear to have started in China, sometime around the 9th century. There are also references to Mamluk cards in Persia and Arabia. Perhaps of more interest, though, are the suits used, with some examples being coins, clubs, jugs, and swords.
In Europe, the first reference seems to be 1367 (some say 1377 is the first). These were likely adapted from the Mamluk cards, with the suits now consisting of cups, coins, swords, and polo sticks. Interestingly enough, polo sticks were a relatively unknown item in Europe, so this evolved into batons or cudgels (or clubs, as we now call it).
This is, of course, a quick overview. The actual history of cards is far more interesting than my simple summary.
Until next time,
Writing a fantasy series does lead one down some intersting research paths. Today, as I was writing, I had to stop and figure out how my main characters would decide how big of a ship they needed. This led me to learn this interesting fact.
King Edward, I of England was the first to place a tax on ships. At that time, it was calculated on each “tun” of imported wine (a tun being 252 gallons and weighing about 2,240 pounds or just over 1,000 kilograms in today’s measurement). In those days, the carrying capacity of a ship was based on “tonnage”, calculated by multiplying the length of the ship by the beam (width) and then multiplying the result by the depth. The resulting number was then divided by 100 to calculate the area available for cargo, known as the tonnage.
This held sway until 1678 when a new method was introduced by shipbuilders on the Thames River. This calculation, which is too complex to write here, assumed that the cargo capacity was actually only 3/5’s of its displacement.
This new formula and various derivatives held sway until the coming of steamships in the mid-1800s.
Now, I have to get back to work. I have a tun of work to do (or is that ton)?
War of the Crown marks my twentieth published book, a journey that began back in October 2017 with Servant of the Crown. Since that time, the Heir to the Crown series has grown considerably (nine main books and four Mercerian Tales, so far). I have also added two more series, The Frozen Flame and Power Ascending. Oh, and I almost forgot, there's The Chronicles of Cyric too.
Looking back over the almost four years, it’s quite satisfying to see how readers have embraced the characters I created. The Heir to the Crown series is not over, of course, and is projected to end up being fifteen books, not including the side stories told in Mercerian Tales. After that? I shall have to see. Something tells me the characters may not be done telling their stories at that point.
In the meantime, I have lots of other stories to keep me busy.
Until next time,
Some time ago, after the release of Embers, a fan reached out with some nice comments about the series. Hidden in among the remarks was his opinion that Athgar and Natalia were spending a lot of ‘quality’ time together, and yet no children were produced as a result.
I had always envisioned them having a child or two later on in the series, but this got me thinking about moving up the timeline. So much so, in fact, that I introduced Natalia’s pregnancy in Flames, where it becomes a significant plot point.
This continues in Inferno, in which the child is born (I won’t give away any of the details), and once again, it becomes an integral part of the storyline.
This is just one example of how reader feedback can inspire me on occasion.
Until next time, happy reading!
I had an email this week from one of my readers asking why (in the Frozen Flame series) the mages didn’t use Water Magic to flood a river or fire to light up the ground. Both good ideas, but ones that just won’t work using the magic system that exists in my books.
Magic, in the world of Eiddenwerthe, calls upon a limited inner power possessed by spellcasters. This magic, though powerful when used against individuals, cannot perform miracles. Natalia, who is touted as being extremely powerful, still has limitations, chief of which is the inability to produce things out of thin air.
In Ashes, she manages to fill a bathtub with water, but it takes multiple castings of her spell. This has more to do with volume than anything else. Freezing water is, relatively speaking, easy as it is only the surface of the water that is frozen. On the other hand, holding back a stream would be quite a different matter, requiring her to keep the water somewhere, creating a dam of sorts, building up the water over a long period of time.
So why did I place such limitations on magic? I have nothing against powerful magic in books, but I wanted my books to place the emphasis on individual actions, not just a group of powerful mages. If a spellcaster were able to wipe out whole armies, why arm men in the first place?
For the record, I also developed this magic system as a role-playing game, giving it a consistent ‘science’ to explain its effects. Writing this blog post has got me wondering about something though. Who is the more powerful mage—Natalia (from The Frozen Flame), or Albreda (from Heir to the Crown)?
Until next time, happy reading!
I always find starting a book the most challenging part of writing. Knowing what I want to get into the first chapter isn’t the problem, it’s deciding on what angle to use to begin the narrative. This typically involves a decision as to who’s point of view the work will begin with. Some series are easier than others, but for something as lengthy as Heir to the Crown, the number of possibilities is relatively high.
Luckily, this time out, the decision wasn’t as difficult as some others have been, but I did have to decide among two different characters—one from book three and the other a brand new character. I won’t give away who they are, but I will give you a hint; it’s not one of the usual suspects.
Until next time, happy reading!
Paul Bennett, Writer of Epic Fantasy Stories.