Frolic on the Amaranthyn (Sable Star Press,4/6/2022). Cover art by Goran Gligović
Frolic on the Amaranthyn will be published by Sable Star Press on April 6th, 2022. It is 130 pages, priced at$7.99 paperback and $2.99 in digital formats (available soon from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others). Cover art by Goran Gligović. This post announces the release and previews excerpts.
Chase A. Folmar has been demonstrating his command of Weird Fiction, Sword & Sorcery (S&S), and the English language in various short fiction entries (primarily via Whetstone: Amateur Magazine of Sword & Sorcery & Witchhouse: Amateur Magazine of Cosmic Horror online magazines). This novella, Frolic on the Amaranthyn, seems to be his print debut. If you are not familiar with his previous work, you may misconstrue the contents from the title as being a fantasy romance (which it is not; and, you can check out his stories in Whetstone #1 #2 #4 or Witchhouse #1).
If you are familiar with his works there, you will need to read Frolic on the Amaranthyn. Chase A. Folmar (CAF) style is very reminiscent of Clark Ashton Smith (CAS). Clark Ashton Smith was a contemporary of the Father of S&S, Robert E. Howard, and Father of Cosmic Horror, Howard Phillips Lovecraft (most of CAS’s fiction is online, as well as his nonfiction like his essay on Atmosphere in Weird Fiction). In short, do not expect fantasy romance; expect an engaging, literary adventure.
Official Book Summary:
Channeling the artistic stylings of weird fantasists such as Clark Ashton Smith and Jack Vance, Chase A. Folmar utilizes lush prose and archaic vernacular to craft a wholly otherworldly setting for readers to explore in this, his debut novella. We follow within the duo Uralant and Emrasarie, brigands who employ their respective talents of swordsmanship and seduction in the pursuit of precious coin. After the spoils of an orchestrated heist are lost to them just as success seemed assured, the pair’s misfortune only increases when, stranded in a strange city neither are familiar with, it is revealed that their target had also been pursued by a sorcerer of the worst and most dreaded kind, and that all his attention has now been directed towards them. In order to escape the severity of his vengeance, they are forced to comply with his fanatic whims and take part in a theft that will hopefully strike clear the debt he has placed upon them. But that same theft will lead them towards a dark secret behind the city’s beautiful façade, a secret tied to a mysterious ark that travels down the waters of the Amaranthyn River on certain nights, and upon which takes place what is known only as the Frolic.
Style & Excerpts
“My own conscious ideal has been to delude the reader into accepting an impossibility, or series of impossibilities, by means of a sort of verbal black magic, in the achievement of which I make use of prose-rhythm, metaphor, simile, tone-color, counter-point, and other stylistic resources, like a sort of incantation. You attain a black magic, perhaps unconsciously, in your pursuit of corroborative detail and verisimilitude.” — 1930 letter to Lovecraft, by Clark Ashton Smith
Within Frolic on the Amaranthyn dialogue is sparse and the narrative is filled with obscure, abundant vocabulary. It is surprisingly easy to read. As per the teaser quote above, CAF follows CAS’s approach by stringing together words & feelings as if casting a strange spell, a cadence, that will enthrall you. So, he’s sort of a thaumaturgist. He’s on the radar now to corner about his thoughts on Beauty in Weird Fiction (that’s a series of interviews we run here on Black Gate (link to interviews).
Frankly, the title and blurb do not convey the intentional weirdness you will experience. The literary prose-poetry will appeal to weird fiction fans, and the vivid melee will appeal to Sword & Sorcery readers. Check out these excerpts:
…and soon did Emrasarie find herself surrounded by a flock of revelers similar to those she had earlier left. They had paraded up the same hill as she, and now fell playfully to the grass about her, as if flower petals cast aside by an infatuate pondering the affection carried their way by the one whom they so ardently desired.
Emrasarie had not the strength, nor indeed the will, to retreat this time. She simply watched as arms fumbled lazily through the air, legs entwined with one another, and faces alight with the unearthly fire overhead coalesced like streams of wax dripping from a weary candle. The other face, so prevalent in her mind’s eye only a moment ago, had completely disappeared. With it went the name it carried, and the affection she had felt towards it. Nothing remained in the void of its absence. Nothing but beauty seeking to smother her in its embrace. Beauty so much more preferable to all that was ugly, coarse, and unforgiving in the world beyond…
…Uralant spied several that had veered aside and were instead making towards Emrasarie. Leaping with furious bounds, he hurled himself across the distance separating them, and thrust like a battering ram his sword at the nearest threat. Its length plunged clear through the enemy’s torso, releasing a heavy spume of embers from its back as it crumpled from the blow and collapsed.
Quickly pulling his weapon free, Uralant noted a thick, glistening fluid of purest black now coated its tapered edges, bearing a gaseous stench that lingered even as he leapt clear from a subsequent attack. More talons cut through the air in a whirlwind of steel, and as Uralant dodged about and kept the slashing monstrosity at bay, he realized no other sounds came from any of these approaching demons. No roars or shrieks of fury, no grunted breaths from exertion, no muttered curses or vows of vengeance for its fallen companion; just the tearing of its hands through empty space, and red eyes glaring at him, bright as the blood they were so desperate to spill.
Spying an opening, Uralant took the chance and swung high. He felt the shattering of steel beneath steel, and the subsequent tear as a rigid neck was severed through. When the head finally fell and crashed near his feet, the eye set within it dimmed to a vacant black, and did not ignite again…
Expect More Folmar
Without spoiling, it is clear that Uralant and Emrasarie will have more adventures to chronicle. The epilogue works in a mysterious, angelic sorceress that begs for more attention as do the fates of some rare, papyrus magic scrolls.
Chase A. Folmar Bio:
Chase A. Folmar is a writer of speculative fiction, especially in the vein of weird fantasy and horror. He is one of the associate editors of Witch House: Amateur Magazine of Cosmic Horror, and a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Hampton Roads writing group. A graduate of English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Chase has pursued his writing ambitions ever since, having been published in several online magazines and amateur zines. Inspiration for his writing comes from all across the literary spectrum, as well as the music he listens to and art he invariably stumbles upon. He currently lives in Virginia with his wife and their ever-growing horde of rescued pets.
S.E. Lindberg is a Managing Editor at Black Gate, regularly reviewing books and interviewing authors on the topic of “Beauty & Art in Weird-Fantasy Fiction.” He is also the lead moderator of the Goodreads Sword & Sorcery Group and an intern for Tales from the Magician’s Skull magazine. As for crafting stories, he has contributed five entries across Perseid Press’s Heroes in Hell and Heroika series and has an entry in Weirdbook Annual #3: Zombies. He independently publishes novels under the banner Dyscrasia Fiction; short stories of Dyscrasia Fiction have appeared in Whetstone and Swords & Sorcery online magazines.