Wednesday, 4 May 2016


War clouds are gathering. After the last year’s defeat of the invasion of their Northern Holdings, the Taleeli Empire now has the justification to once again carry the flame of war south to their shadowed rival, the realm of Acaross. To her subject peoples, who endured both the invasion and the treacherous misrule of the ousted Dominar Sligo, the strength of Taleel no longer looks as sure as once it was. Questions regarding the fate of Commander Kaziviere and the nature of the dark god of Acaross remain. Seeking answers the Sun Shard wielder Tuan Blackstone, his comrade Bronic, the Flinter Klesh and Kaziviere’s lover Tamzine, journey eastward to find the missing Taleeli commander Kaziviere, who, after encountering the dark god of Acaross, finds himself transported into the heart of that shadowy realm. 
   As war between Acaross and Taleel draws ever nearer Kaziviere discovers the horrific nature of the Messiah of Shadows and his monstrous children, The Dead Gods. Meanwhile, northward across the Hailthorn Mountains, with the knowledge of black powder alchemy now at their disposal, do the Flint Folk seek to end their exile and take back the lands that once were theirs?

***** Please note the author is kindly giving away a signed copy *****
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winner to be drawn 11th May

Commander Kaziviere

Well, as you can see by the above, this book has many threads woven into its pages. The Dead Gods is book 2 in the Flint and Steel, Fire and Shadow series, and follows on from the first book, The Sun Shard, and starting where it left off. This book is based on the cyberpunk subgenre, clockpunk, which portrays a sort of renaissance era technology, which we see throughout the novel. However there are other elements in there, such as the Anglo-Saxon-style society which is ruled by a  Khan, and holds sway in the Cheama lands and refers to ‘thegns’ and 'huscarles'. So we have a mixture of muskets, spears and axes and also the stoneage  Neanderthal flint folk, wary of the ‘flat-faces’, and the guardians of the sun shards. All these different cultures are thrown into what is this huge melting pot, and each have their own roles to play in the war that threatens to destroy them all.

   What I loved most about this series is the way the characters are developing and the world Bayliss is building. There are many characters who play in the story of The Dead Gods, and the reader gets to know each of them. their strengths, weaknesses, their foibles and their desires. Bayliss' talent for showing depth to his characters by transporting their thoughts, albeit in the third person, to the reader, helps this process and by the end of the second book, I felt that I had more of a handle on them than the first. The world in which they inhabit is as rich in its diversity, as it is in its terrain, and physical characteristics, with vivid descriptions of the lands in the narrative.
   The narrative is cleverly written and although the author sometimes swings from one point of view to another, his technique in using thought in the third person, written in Italics, makes those switches readable, though there is one particular chapter where the head-hopping is really jarring; but, because Bayliss is capable of writing such wonderful prose, so poetic and lyrical in its form, and he creates such vivid scenes, I can forgive him anything.   
The Tower had looked impressive from a distance, but it had merged with the rock of surrounding cliffs, but now its scale was apparent to the travelling companions. Its dizzying heights caused their heads to swim as they looked up, its uppermost reaches lost in the realm of birds and clouds.

   When I read, I like to feel that I can get into the mind of the characters. The main protagonist is Kaziviere, and in the first book, The Sun Shard, he is a hard-hearted, racist commander; devoid of compassion for the Turanesci warriors, who are forced, as second class citizens, to fight under his command, for an evil Dominar. He even cuts out the tongue of one of them, so cruel is his nature. By the end of the book, he has been affected by his experiences, and the humanity that has been obviously lurking beneath his harsh exterior, is brought to the surface, helped in this metamorphosis by his love for the 'Razoress', Turanesci tribeswoman, Tamzine. He is a much changed man, and i have gone from disliking this cruel man, to rooting for him. In The Dead Gods, he has no time to enjoy his new found tender nature with his lover, Tamzine, for he has been thrust into another world, by the Dark Magic of the Accarossian God and has to find a way to escape his fate, to forever be told that he is no longer who he was, but the gladiator, Gutspiller, forced to fight disgusting monsters in a blood soaked arena. 
   As I've mentioned, there are many characters to enjoy in this book and another favourite is Tamzine. . She’s feisty, and she fights with two scimitars. I can hear them whizz, every time she uses them. And, she isn’t afraid to stand her ground and takes no BS from anyone – man or beast. 
“My company is with whom I choose it to be, Taleeli. Sit back down now. I would not wish to bloody my sword so soon after cleaning it, or abuse your captain’s hospitality with your life, “ Tamzine replied, still whetting her sword and keeping her back to the man. 
   She is known as the 'Razoress'.  If I had to be anyone in this book, I would want to be her. 
   I have followed Mr Bayliss' career over the last few years, apart from his fantasy novels, he has written a book of short stories and has had his work published in a book called Felinity and also a book of poems. Over these years, I've watched his talent grow and some of his shining moments have been his work on his blog, Rob's Ramblings, utter, utter brilliance. In The Dead Gods, Mr Bayliss has come into his own. His words leap off the page in a fanfare of description, so that a picture is spread before you as his prose plucks at your imagination like a virtuoso.
The Grand Mage stepped forward to join the inquisitor, speaking in a commanding voice, “Neshaduk Grematadi! Silence!” The torches blazed back to life, driving back the shadows that had crept across the walls of the chamber, like the tentacles of some foul beast of the deepest abyss. The screaming ceased but the head, now dry as a mummified relic, still showed jet black eyes. Its mouth opened and closed, cracking at the corners, the blackening tongue lolling.“Enough! Fire consume you!” the Grand Mage exclaimed. The head flared into flames behind the glass. The fire quickly consumed what was once flesh and bone. It disintegrated like paper, falling in on itself. 
   If you like fantasy with historical elements, in this book, Bayliss has created an amazing world, with monsters, ghoulies, giant spiders and magician - not to mention the dark world of the Dead Gods; a plague that swallows anything in its path and warriors who fight to restore sanity to a world seeped in chaos and malevolence. I wholly recommend this book, for those who simply love reading and like their prose to blow you away in a poetic, lyrical musical stylee, this is definitely for you.

    About the Author

Rob Bayliss has always read and enjoyed an eclectic mix of fantasy, historical fiction and sci-fi. Growing up in the West Country countryside the worlds of Tolkien and others came alive during long walks in the woods; a hobby which he still enjoys! After having a vivid dream, and eager to know what happened next, he felt the need to write it down. The world of Flint & Steel, Fire & Shadow was born. As well as writing Rob is also a reviewer, contributor and admin of The Review.
You can purchase Rob's book, The Dead Gods here
and you can learn more about his ramblings on his blog Rob's Ramblings.

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