A Grim Take on the Holy Grail: Upon the Flight of the Queen by Howard Andrew Jones

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019 | Posted by SELindberg

flight-of-the-queen-larger-BG When comes my numbered day, I will meet it smiling. For I’ll have kept this oath.

I shall use my arms to shield the weak.

I shall use my lips to speak the truth, and my eyes to seek it.

I shall use my hands to mete justice to high and low, and I will weigh all things with heart and mind.

Where I walk the laws will follow, for I am the sword of my people and the shepherd of their lands.

When I fall, I will rise through my brothers and sisters, for I am eternal.

Pledge of the Altenerai

The Ring-Sworn Trilogy

Howard Andrew Jones’s For the Killing of Kings jumpstarted the epic fantasy Ring Sworn trilogy this February 2019, and the sequel Upon the Flight of the Queen hits shelves next week (November 19th). MacMillan’s St. Martin’s Press pitches the series as “The Three Musketeers presented via the style of Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber.” The pacing is reminiscent of Zelazny since Howard Andrew Jones (HAJ) doles out action and backstory with precision. Yet there are many more than three heroes, and the milieu has more medieval flare than musketry, so it is more “King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table” than Musketeers.

For the Killing of Kings is actually a grim take on the consequences of seeking, and finding, a figurative Holy Grail (hearthstones). The Altenerai guard had been spread out over the Five Realms searching for many hearthstones that fuel magic — the enigmatic Queen Leonara deems them holy. Twice I was completely floored by plot twists, and the last third kept me from going to sleep. I haven’t had that much fun reading a book in a long time. Black Gate’s Fletcher Vredenburgh’s review should likewise entice new readers.

#2 Upon the Flight of the Queen

Summarizing a sequel can be tough without spoiling its predecessor, but the following overview will try as it showcases why you should commit to Ring-Sworn. Upon the Flight of the Queen starts off exactly where For the Killing of Kings ends. The adventure begins in high-gear with Alten Rylin assuming his action-thriller role (~James Bond) penetrating the Naor camp disguised in magic, dragging the reader into mayhem.

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Upon the Flight of the Queen by Howard Andrew Jones: a Trailer

Friday, November 8th, 2019 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

9781250148803November, 19th is a date worth marking on your calendar. It’s the day Upon the Flight of the Queen (St. Martin’s Press), the second installment of Howard Andrew Jones’ Ring-Sworn Trilogy debuts. I loved For the Killing of Kings, the first book. You can read my review of it here. It’s a terrific swords & sorcery tale with a heavy dose of swashbuckling. If you haven’t read it yet, it should be clear I heartily recommend it. It’s felt like an age since my last post here at Black Gate. I’m still not sure when I’ll return here with any sort of regularity, but for books like this, I’m willing to make an appearance.

I’m old, so the idea of doing a trailer for a book isn’t something I’ve ever thought of. Apparently it’s a thing and it can be pretty cool. Up above is the brand new one for Upon the Flight of the Queen and it was done by Jones’ son, Darian Jones, an animator (as well as many other talents as will become clear later). As trailers are a whole new concept for me, I figured I’d ask Darian about himself and how he created the one for Flight.


Fletcher: So, Darian, can you please, tell us about yourself and your animation background?

Darian: Hello! Well, like my father, I have always been a performer and a storyteller. As a kid, he and I would be unable to watch a movie or listen to a song without taking it apart and analyzing it together. Animation seemed like the natural marriage of writing, art, and music, all things I loved to create. It started with simple comics during middle school at recess (and anytime the teacher wasn’t looking). Then I tried my hand at stop motion using stuffed animals and action figures. Over time I just fell in love with the medium. There is a vast storytelling potential in animation. I believe it is the best way to make any story visually beautiful and expressive. Unlike film, animation grants its creator the most minute control over every detail. I determine exactly what colors I use scene-by-scene. I determine how a character gesticulates and how their face emotes when they speak. I can give them shark teeth or hair made of drifting clouds if I want. My commitment to the study of animation earned me straight As and a position as Lead Animator on our class’ student thesis film. My professor said it was not only my skills with the medium but also my ability to negotiate calmly and effectively during times of extreme stress that won me the title. Now I have graduated college and I’ve been making little animations every chance I get to build my portfolio and, hopefully, win new positions at studios. Until then, I’m doing freelance work for writers and businesses.

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Future Treasures: Upon the Flight of the Queen by Howard Andrew Jones

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

For the Killing of Kings-small Upon the Flight of the Queen-small

In his Black Gate review of For the Killing of Kings, the opening novel in Howard Andrew Jones’ new epic fantasy Ring-Sworn Trilogy, Fletcher Vredenburgh wrote:

For the Killing of Kings is proof that great, modern heroic fantasy is being written. Like Doc Smith’s Lensmen or DC Comics’ Green Lantern Corps, the Altenerai are an elite band of warriors endued with magical talents and dedicated to protecting the land and ensuring justice… Heroes are a too often forgotten commodity in fantasy these days, but not here.

I think Fletcher nailed what I loved so much about this book: it’s packed with heroes you can root for. More than that, it pits those heroes against truly overwhelming odds. The courageous men and women of the Altenerai aren’t just up against a nearly-unbeatable army of their ancient enemy; they also face betrayal from within, mysterious and sinister magic, and a conspiracy whose roots run to the very highest levels of government. To win, they’ll have to emulate the Altenerai legends of old: use bravery, guile, and magic of their own, and — especially — rely on each other. For the Killing of Kings is filled with powerful moments in which untested men and women faced breathtaking odds, and somehow find the strength to become genuine heroes.

But I think the best thing about Howard’s new Ring-Sword Trilogy may be that we don’t have to wait long for the sequel. For the Killing of Kings was released in hardcover by St. Martin’s Press earlier this year; the sequel, Upon the Flight of the Queen, will be in stores in less than two weeks. It’s already getting rave reviews — Publishers Weekly calls it “a heart-racing, action-packed thrill.” Here’s the back covers for both books, and a snippet from the PW review.

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For the Killing of Kings by Howard Andrew Jones

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_53921t7oYJGMSWhen comes my numbered day, I will meet it smiling. For I’ll have kept this oath.

I shall use my arms to shield the weak.

I shall use my lips to speak the truth, and my eyes to seek it.

I shall use my hand to mete justice to high and to low, and I will weigh all things with heart and mind.

Where I walk the laws will follow, for I am the sword of my people and the shepherd of their lands.

When I fall, I will rise through my brothers and my sisters, for I am eternal.

 

 

Pledge of the Altenerai

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyrkenall, veteran of the great war that almost destroyed the realm of Darassus, and Elenai, a young squire, both members of the Altenerai, an elite corps of warriors, find themselves on the run from their comrades in Howard Andrew Jones’ rapid-fire new book, For the Killing of Kings. At an almost brief 350 pages, it moves at an astounding pace, each chapter ratcheting up the suspense and the danger until everything seems ready to spin out of control. This is exciting storytelling from one of the best and most knowledgeable writers of heroic fantasy around. If you haven’t yet read Jones, this is an awesome place to start.

A little less than a decade before the book begins, the barbarian Naor almost conquered Darassus. In the end, the Naor were driven to near collapse by the Altenerai under the leadership of N’lahr. Following their massive battlefield defeat, the queen of Darassus, against the advice of the Altenerai, offered the barbarians peace. They accepted and withdrew to their ancestral lands. As the book begins, though, it seems the barbarians are on the move, threatening to bring fire and death once more to Darassus.

During the war a prophecy had been made that Mazakan, warlord of the Naor barbarians, would die at the hand of N’lahr by his sword, Irion. Though Mazakan surivived and N’lahr died, Irion hangs in the Altenerai’s hall and has remained a totem strong enough to deter the Naor from a full invasion. Until now.

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Weird and Wonderful and Frightening: An Interview with Fantasy Renaissance Man Howard Andrew Jones

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

For the Killing of Kings-smaller Howard Andrew Jones thinks big thoughts-small

Howard Andrew Jones is a true renaissance man of modern fantasy. He began writing short stories featuring his Arabian heroes Dabir & Asim for magazines and anthologies like Paradox, Sages & Swords, and Black Gate. He switched to novels with the widely acclaimed The Desert of Souls, one of the major works of fantasy of 2011. He followed that with a sequel, The Bones of the Old Ones (2011), and a 4-book sequence for Pathfinder Tales: Plague of Shadows, Stalking the Beast, Beyond the Pool of Stars, and Through the Gate in the Sea.

In addition to writing, he’s also a gifted editor. He edited eight volumes of the collected tales of Harold Lamb for Bison Books, rescuing the early short fiction of one of the greatest adventure writers of the 20th Century from the moldering pages of pulp magazines. He was Managing Editor for the early e-zine Flashing Swords from 2004-2006, and in 2006 accepted the position of Managing Editor of Black Gate. He is the founding editor of Goodman Games’ new sword & sorcery magazine Tales From the Magician’s Skull, which published two issues last year. And in late 2018 he became Executive Editor at Perilous Worlds, where he oversees the publication of new titles for some of most popular properties in fantasy, including John C. Hocking’s Conan and the Emerald Lotus and Conan and the Living Plague.

Though that keeps him plenty busy, he has not neglected his own writing. For the Killing of Kings, the first novel in a brand new series, The Ring-Sworn trilogy, arrives today from St. Martin’s Press. It’s the top pick of the month of March for Bookpage, and Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review, saying it “will have readers laughing, crying, and cheering.” Somehow Howard found time to sit down with us for a lengthy interview about his writing process, his influences (including Zelazny, Raymond Chandler, and Leigh Brackett), and the fast-changing trends he sees from his catbird seat in the industry. Enjoy.

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Read an Excerpt from Howard Andrew Jones’ Upcoming For the Killing of Kings at Tor.com

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

For the Killing of Kings Andrew Jones

Howard Andrew Jones upcoming novel For the Killing of Kings is the finest thing he has ever written — and considering his previous books include the modern fantasy classics The Desert of Souls and The Bones of the Old Ones, that’s saying a great deal. It is the opening volume The Ring-Sworn Trilogy, and one of the major fantasy releases of the year. I had a chance to blurb the hardcover release from St. Martin’s Press, and did so enthusiastically. Here’s what I said:

For The Killing of Kings is a white knuckle murder mystery brilliantly set in a Zelazny-esque fantasy landscape. It has everything ― enchanted blades, magic rings, edge-of-your seat sword fights, Game of Thrones-scale battles, ancient legends… It is the finest fantasy novel I have read in years.

The Tor.com excerpt features one of my favorite scenes, as Kyrkenall and Elenai approach a strange tower and find it defended by a mysterious ring of obelisks… and something far more sinister. Read the complete chapter here.

If you find yourself captivated by the excerpt, you won’t have long to wait. For the Killing of Kings will be published by St. Martin’s Press in three weeks, on February 19, 2019. It is 368 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. The cover artist is uncredited. In addition to the exclusive Tor.com excerpt, you can also read the first chapter at the Macmillan website here, and keep up with the latest news at Howard’s website here.


In Search of a new Weird Tales: An Interview with Joseph Goodman, Howard Andrew Jones, and the Talking Skull!

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Tales from the Magician's Skull-small

Recently Goodman Games announced a Kickstarter campaign to fund the launch of Tales From the Magician’s Skull, a magazine of all-new swords & sorcery fiction in the classic pulp style. The first issue is a delight for Black Gate readers, with tales from popular BG contributors James Enge, John C. Hocking, Howard Andrew Jones, Chris Willrich, Bill Ward, and others. And best of all, Goodman has invited Howard Andrew Jones on board as editor, guaranteeing a top-notch product. The spectacular success of the Kickstarter campaign — more than quintuple its goal, with more than a week to go — demonstrates just how well the creators have read the market demand for a true sword & sorcery publication. I sat down with Joseph Goodman, founder and publisher of Goodman Games, and Howard — along with their undead master, the mighty Magician’s Skull — to find out more about one of the most exciting magazine launches in a decade.

My first question is for Joseph… why a magazine? How does that fit in with your laser-like focus on classic gaming?

Joseph: Thanks for the interview, John! To answer your question, I have to start with Appendix N. In the 1982 edition of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide, the creator included an obscure bibliography. It was Appendix N, the 14th appendix in the book, where he listed the works of fiction that inspired him to create D&D. That list has since become notorious. It is now a de facto “required reading list” for diehard fans of the game.

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Literary Wonder & Adventure Podcast Presents: Robert E. Howard, Master of Sword & Sorcery: A Conversation with Author Howard Andrew Jones

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Literary Wonder & Adventure Show Howard Andrew Jones

I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two audio shows from Robert Zoltan’s Dream Tower Media, a lively conversation with Black Gate blogger Ryan Harvey on Edgar Rice Burroughs, and a fascinating discussion with Scott Oden on the history and writing of J.R.R. Tolkien. So I was very excited to see that for Episode #4 the subject was the distinguished Howard Andrew Jones, author of the beloved Dabir & Asim Arabian fantasy tales, and the future bestseller For the Killing of Kings, out next year from St. Martin’s Press. The topic this time was none other than Robert E. Howard, the legendary creator of Conan, and perhaps the greatest Sword & Sorcery author of all time.

As usual, calling this a podcast doesn’t do it justice, as it’s really a professionally-produced radio show set in the dimension-hopping Dream Tower (with a talking raven). I’ve had plenty of lengthy discussions with Howard — who is the Managing Editor of Black Gate — over the years, and here he’s at the peak of his form, entertaining and highly informative. The podcast opens with a animated discussion of life in small town Texas, Robert E. Howard’s substantial gifts as a storyteller, and why he added whipping scenes to so many pulp tales. It looks at REH’s enduring creations — including Conan, Solomon Kane, and Dark Agnes — before exploring our fascination with ruins, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and the influence of gaming on modern fantasy.

My only criticism is the host’s tendency to wander off topic, and repeatedly cut off his guests to talk about himself. Robert Zoltan is a fascinating guy, and I enjoy his opinions, but that doesn’t mean that a 1-hour podcast on Robert E. Howard is the right place for a 3 minute monologue on Van Gogh, or a 7-minute monologue on narcissism and how hard it is to make a living as a musician. Future podcasts should focus more on his guests, or maybe just do away with the pretense of an interview entirely. That might set better expectations with listeners.

Check out Literary Wonder & Adventure Podcast Presents: Robert E. Howard, Master of Sword & Sorcery: A Conversation with Author Howard Andrew Jones, and all the episodes of the Literary Wonder & Adventure Podcast, here.


New Treasures: Pathfinder Tales: Through The Gate in the Sea by Howard Andrew Jones

Friday, February 17th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Pathfinder Tales Through The Gate in the Sea-smallHoward Andrew Jones’ fourth Pathfinder Tales novel, Through the Gate in the Sea, will be released in trade paperback by Tor Books next week. I made the long journey to his wind-swept writing tower to get the skinny for Black Gate readers. Here’s what he told me, in tiny script written on yak hide, lowered down on a long rope.

I love the lizardman. Everyone’s favorite lizardman Jekka is a point-of-view character this time. And there’s a pirate captain, Ensara. He’s not as bad as he thinks he is, but he’s not as good as you’d like him to be. He gets caught in the middle of things, and he has to choose between helping Mirian and Jekka, and staying with his crew. He’s down on his luck, and gets hired by a sorceress to hunt down Mirian and get these magical artifacts. I really enjoyed writing Ensara’s chapters.

It’s got a little bit of a hard boiled tone. While I was writing it, I was reading a lot of Chandler and Ricard Stark and Wade Miller. It’s got the usual journeying through weird places. If I’m reading a fantasy novel, give me interesting people in interesting places! There’s a chance to find an lost city through a magical portal in the middle of the ocean, and if they do, Jekka and his people will have a place to live.

But the devil-worshiping empire of Cheliax hasn’t forgotten its defeat at Mirian’s hands. On the other side of the portal are all these powerful artifacts. And an ancient, undead child-king wants the one that’s kept the lost lizardfolk city safe for centuries.

Whatever, man. You had me at Lizardman POV character. Through The Gate in the Sea will be published by Tor Books on February 21, 2017. It is 352 pages, priced at $14.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition.


Discovering Robert E. Howard: Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward Wrap Up Their Epic Conan Re-Read

Monday, February 29th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Conan and the Emerald Lotus-small Conan and the Emerald Lotus-back

Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward have completed their epic re-read of every complete story of Conan the Cimmerian written by Robert E. Howard. They’ve been blogging about the project at howardandrewjones.com, and we’ve been following along with the viewers at home. In their wrap-up, Howard and Bill look over the vast catalog of Conan pastiches.

Howard: Such a fantastic character practically begs to have more adventures told about him, which is probably why the regrettable Conan pastiche industry popped up. Well, maybe not entirely regrettable, because I’ve read some I’ve really enjoyed…

Bill:  I’m actually looking forward at this point to checking out the many pastiches I’ve never read — I’ve got a stack of Ace Conans that I’d started reading before we came up with the plans for this epic reread… I’ve never read the deCamp and Carter pastiches, or the other stories by REH that de Camp Frankensteined into Conan tales. It’ll be a while before I jump into that series, though, as [I’ll] be rereading all the REH tales again as well. As for other pastiches, I’ve only read a few — Wagner’s Road of Kings was good, and, of course, Hocking’s [Conan and the] Emerald Lotus is terrific.

Read the complete exchange here.

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