Where Next?

With the release of The First Blade of Ostia, I plan on moving to a different part of the Middle Sea World to explore for my next few books. The Empire didn’t swallow up the entire world, even at its peak, and the other side of its ancient borders is where the next trilogy will start off. It’s a place where magic and the gods are viewed as one and the same; a place where men still believe they walk the land.

From a writing perspective, it’s been a really fun way to look at some of the Middle Sea concepts from a completely different perspective, and also a great chance to really expand on the world I’ve created, to give it more depth, character, and colour. The first book of this series is with my long suffering alpha readers at the moment, and the second is well under way. I’ll reveal more about this series in coming weeks, as it will be my focus for 2015.

For those who enjoyed the setting of the Society of the Sword books, worry not! That part of the world is still very much open for business, and I have a further series plotted out that will take place in those regions, and focus on a more minor character from the Society trilogy who seems to have been pretty popular. He’s certainly one of my favourites, and I was constantly looking for ways to give him a more prominent role. He’ll finally be taking centre stage in this series, and working through his backstory has been a huge amount of fun. That’s all I’m giving away about that for now!

I hope everyone has had a good start to 2015!

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Things I watched over Christmas

My Christmas viewing revolved around a few box sets and some stuff on Netflix. First off was an A/B session of ‘Borgia’ and ‘The Borgias’. Coming to the European-made Borgia from the US-made The Borgias was a bit jarring, and initially I wasn’t at all impressed with the former. I like Jeremy Irons as an actor, and think he’s one of those actors who has gravitas to burn. However, after a few episodes, I thought John Doman—despite an American accent I gather a great many viewers were put off by—was far better suited to the role of Rodrigo Borgia/Pope Alexander VI. As my esteem for him grew, so to did my opinion of Borgia as a whole.

The supporting cast were excellent, if they can be called that. Any of the major parts, from Cesare and Lucrezia to Alessandro and Giulia Farnese, could be considered leading players. Across the board, I thought the actors in Borgia were far stronger, and far better suited to the parts they played.

Both shows portrayed the period well, although once again I felt Borgia got it a bit closer to the mark. I like watching shows like this in an attempt to immerse myself into that atmosphere, as it is, broadly speaking, the period that the Middle Sea world is set in at the time of The Tattered Banner and The First Blade of Ostia. My inspiration files for weapons, clothes, and architecture are filled with pictures of things from the 1450-1650 period.

Overall, I think both series are worth watching, but if you only have time for one, I’d go with Borgia. This is the area of history that most interests me, and I can definitely see myself watching Borgia again in the not too distant future.

I also watched the new Netflix show ‘Marco Polo’ which I really enjoyed. We go from an area of history that I know quite a bit about, to one I know very little about. I’ve not made anything more than a cursory reading of Asian and Mongol history, which is something I’m going to have to rectify this year, as it really is fascinating. A very good show, with solid acting across the board—I thought Benedict Wong playing Kublai Khan was particularly excellent—and one which I’m eagerly anticipating the second season of.

I have the first season of the recent BBC version of The Three Musketeers next in the queue, which I’m looking forward to. I’ve mentioned before I think that The Three Musketeers is one of my favourite stories, so I’m interested to see what they do with it. From the bits I’ve seen, it looks pretty encouraging.

As a reminder, there are still signed copies of The First Blade of Ostia up to be won over on Goodreads. You can enter the competition by clicking here.

Well, I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and is having a very happy new year!

The First Blade of Ostia now available!

I’m happy to announce that The First Blade of Ostia went on sale last Friday. To be notified as soon as I release a new book, you can sign up for my New Release Newsletter.

The First Blade of Ostia is set a little more than a decade before The Tattered Banner, so you’ll see some familiar faces (albeit younger!) and some new and interesting ones also. It follows a young man called Bryn as he embarks on a duelling career after graduating from Ostenheim’s Academy. He’s accompanied on this path by his best friend, a young aristocrat named Amero…

Writing this book gave me the opportunity to explore the role dueling plays in Ostian society, something I’ve been eager to do ever since first developing the world for The Tattered Banner. It was a lot of fun to write, so I really hope you enjoy the story!
You can pick up a copy from the following vendors. iBooks and Barnes & Noble will follow shortly, and the paperback should be available soon after.

The First Blade of Ostia – Cover Reveal

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Here’s the cover for my impending release, The First Blade of Ostia. I hope you like it. I’m very pleased with how it’s turned out, and think it captures the atmosphere of the book perfectly.

There will be more updates and announcements over the next couple of days. I hope everyone’s well!

The First Blade of Ostia Back Cover Copy…

Here’s the back cover copy for the upcoming ‘The First Blade of Ostia’.

The ‘First Blade of Ostia’ is an accolade few will achieve. In Ostenheim, a city obsessed with duelling, it is one that nobody forgets.

Bryn’s earliest memory is of watching duels in the arena. His earliest dream is of taking his place there.

Amero has no dreams. His life has been about fulfilling the expectations of others. In search of a path of his own, the dreams of others are too tempting to resist.

After years of sacrifice and hard work, Bryn is finally a professional duellist. Becoming the First Blade of Ostia no longer seems the childish fantasy it once did. To find the man standing in his way is also his best friend will test him in ways he would never have believed.

 

Cover design is progressing well, and I’m really happy with the initial concepts, which are being tweaked as I write. Hopefully they’ll be ready for a cover reveal in the next week or so!

The First Blade of Ostia

Well, that’s the title reveal for my next book taken care of! Set about 12 years before The Tattered Banner, The First Blade of Ostia is a stand alone novel set in the highly competitive world of Ostenheim’s professional duelling circuit. Those who have read the Society of the Sword trilogy will recognise a few of the characters involved, who are joined by a few new—and I hope—interesting individuals. I hate committing to firm release dates before I have everything ready to go, but all things being well, it will be available before Christmas!

Stay tuned for the back cover copy, which I’ll post here in the next few days. Cover reveal and excerpts will hopefully follow shortly afterward!

In other news, I was delighted to see that Maureen O’Hara, the female lead in many of my favourite swashbuckling movies (The Black Swan, The Spanish Main, Against All Flags—anyone remember this series of posts?) has finally been awarded an Oscar!

I hope everyone is well!

Review time…

Hope everyone is having a good run up to Christmas!

Reviews for The Huntsman’s Amulet are starting to come through the works. I’ve been meaning to mention these for a little while now, but things have been pretty hectic on my end so…

The first of the reviews is from the Terraverum blog, by Nicua Shamira. In my usual self congratulatory fashion, I’ve pulled out a snippet that caught my eye:

Duncan is a brilliant writer who really knows how to capture the reader’s attention and hold it.

To read the full review, head on over to Terraverum to by clicking here.

Review time once again…

Another review has been posted for The Tattered Banner, over at the Terraverum blog.

Again, I’m going to excerpt a bit that makes me look good:

Mr. Hamilton has done a fine job creating a believable world with interesting characters and relatable emotions. ‘The Tattered Banner’ is an exciting book which keeps the reader on their toes and is filled with adventure and excitement.

I have to admit, every time someone calls me Mr. Hamilton, I think of that scene in The Big Lebowski (possibly the most quotable movie of all time, ‘I’m not Mr. Lebowski, you’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m the dude, so that’s what you call me…[yes, I spend way too much time watching movies])

Anyway, the full review can be found here. Now I’m going to go and watch The Big Lebowski again. (Is 13:30 too early to drink White Russians?)

Modern (ish) Swashbucklers

After my post Christmas series of blogs about the great swashbuckling movies from the golden age of Hollywood, I’ve been keeping my eye out for some more recent examples. I’m a big fan of this type of movie (if you couldn’t already tell), so if anyone has any other suggestions of movies worth checking out, please let me know.

So, here’s my list of favourites, in no particular order:

1. The Princess Bride (1987). Starring Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright.

This is a great movie, based on a great book. The sword fight between The Dread Pirate Roberts and Inigo Montoya atop the Cliffs of Insanity is absolutely brilliant, and is worth watching the movie for by itself. It’s not so much the actual swordplay, which is great, but the wit in the writing behind it that really sets it apart as an absolute classic.

Pretty much every character in this film is worthy of a full movie of their own, from Fezzik the Giant to Vizzini and Peter Cook’s ‘Impressive Clergyman’. This movie, and the book it’s based on ooze brilliance from every pore. Just writing about it makes me want to go and watch it again. (Which I’m probably going to do as soon as I finish this post!)

2. Alatriste (2006). Starring Viggo Mortensen. (Spanish, with English subtitles)

Alatriste is a Spanish film, based on the Alatriste series of books by Spanish author Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Pérez-Reverte is one of my favourite writers, and is well worth checking out. His work covers quite a range of subjects (the Johnny Depp film, The Ninth Gate, was based on Pérez-Reverte’s ‘The Dumas Club’ for example) but this movie is based on his series about early 17th Century soldier Diego Alatriste, set against the Dutch Revolt and various other events of the period.

The film provides a fantastic picture of period Spain; the costumes, settings and whole atmosphere of the film are really impressive. I don’t really want to go into too much detail about the sword fights for fear of spoilers, but there’s a pretty good one in it, and for a fan of swashbuckling films, I’d consider this  a must-see.

3. The Fencing Master – El Maestro de Esgrima (1992)(Spanish)

Another adaptation of a Pérez-Reverte novel of the same name. I saw this movie on TV quite a few years ago now; it was what put me onto Pérez-Reverte’s books in the first place. It’s been some time since I saw it, so I don’t remember all the details. I’ve been trying to track down a copy of it ever since as I really enjoyed it, but with no luck. I’ve kind of put it here in the hope of adding to web-traffic interest for a DVD release (assuming there hasn’t already been one that I’ve missed)!

It’s the story of a fencing master at a time when the noble arts of swordsmanship are of declining popularity in Spain, who gets caught up in various intrigues when a beautiful and mysterious woman comes to his salle for lessons. The book is excellent if, like me, you have no luck in tracking down the movie (it’s worth reading even if you do find the film though!).

4. Stardust (2007). Starring Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Robert De Niro.

Based on the excellent Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, this is another one where both book and movie should be looked at.

Not an outright swashbuckler, but the persona taken on by the main character, Tristan, and De Niro’s Captain Shakespeare give it enough of that flavour to get it on the list. All round, it’s a really enjoyable film and well worth watching.

5. The Mask of Zorro (1998). Starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones.

Essentially  a remake of what is perhaps the greatest swashbuckling movie of all time (see my earlier post here for that one) with Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone, arguably the two best swashbuckling stars of all time, this one was always going to be up against it.

However, I think they did a really great job. Banderas is brilliant in the role, Hopkins is equally brilliant as always, and Zeta Jones rounds off a pretty excellent cast.

No point in rehashing the story, but safe to say, if you enjoy swashbuckling adventure movies, this one is unlikely to disappoint!

If anyone has any other more modern swashbuckling films to suggest, please feel free to let me know, either in the comments or via my contact page, as I’m always on the look out for new ones!

All images were sourced from Wikipedia and are © their respective copyright holders.

The Tattered Banner Available for Kindle

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The Tattered Banner will be available on Kindle from Amazon from tomorrow. Be sure to get yourself a copy before it sells out! (oh, wait…)

goodreads_fTo coincide with the Kindle launch, I am giving away two more signed copies of the book over on Goodreads. I’ll post the link when it goes live!