Friday, 13 June 2014

Shadows and shadows

Recently, the SplatterGeist has been quite busy; I've been reading Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire Trilogy (currently busy with the final instalment; Emperor of Thorns), I have decided to re-read Peter V. Brett's blood-splattering Demon Cycle Trilogy, and lastly I've been skimming through a local (South African) author's debut novel. 

Basically I became a temporary hermit. 

In this post I'll be reviewing said local writer, Dave-Brendon De Burgh, and his novel called Betrayal's Shadow (which ultimately forms part of his Mahaelian Chronicle). If his name sounds oddly familiar to you, dear geist, fear not - I wrote a post about a short story he wrote earlier this year called A Song of Sacrifice. If you haven't yet read the novella and would like to have a bit more information about the world and such, I suggest you get the ebook from Amazon and start reading. Otherwise, if you can't be bothered, sit back and enjoy.

To business, shall we?

Currently living in Pretoria, South Africa, De Burgh has recently had his very first novel published by Cape Town-based publishing house Fox & Raven and has presumably still not stopped celebrating his success as a writer. If you're South African you can purchase his book at any Exclusive Books stores and if you're not, hop onto Amazon and get a copy.

Malice author John Gwynne was asked to read De Burgh's novel and said that the world Dave-Brendon had created was similar to Steven Erikson's Malazan series "in terms of its complexity and depth". Read about customer reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and you'll soon see why De Burgh's friends and acquaintances adore it.

De Burgh writes with a tone that's well-used in fantasy books regarding grammar and structure. His characters are interesting and the way in which he describes his action scenes are perfectly executed. There are elements of magic modern fantasy writers have forgotten. The protagonist and antagonist both contribute to the darker setting of the story and an intricate lore system weaves in and out according to the flow and tone of the novel in general.

If Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, and Peter V. Brett had to co-write a novel within a certain amount of time, then this is something which wouldn't be too far off the mark. Unlike others who have already reviewed Betrayal's Shadow, I'm afraid that I have to state that I feel its missing something.

Being a grammar Nazi, I can't handle it when I'm reading a book and halfway through there are over a dozen spelling and sentence structure flops. How does that even happen? Statistics show that your average novel has at the most three spelling errors - or anything similar. Shadow, it seems, has broken that record. I'm not saying it's a terrible book because no one bothers running the manuscript through a spell-check, mind you. For what it is, it's good. There are a few other minor mistakes here and there you wouldn't really notice - Brice suddenly thinking about something when he isn't physically there and this intrudes upon the scenario of two characters busy infiltrating a castle. 

On the other hand...

Betrayal's Shadow has set the standard for future South African writers who specialize in the fantasy genre. It is, without a doubt, SA's most hardcore and gritty dark fantasy novel it currently has to offer - as per my knowledge and not including various sub-genres thereof. Not to be overlooked, De Burgh has rather acutely written a novel no fan of the weird and supernatural should avoid, even if only to read about some of the action sequences.

Friday, 25 April 2014

A Short Fantasy

Welcome to A Song of Sacrifice, we greet you with many hearts.

SplatterGeist here. 

Let me warm you up for Fox & Raven Publishing’s latest projects; A Song of Sacrifice and Betrayal’s Shadow – both written by South African author Dave-Brendon de Burgh. The first is a novelette and the second has been published today (yes, de Burgh’s debut novel) which forms part of a trilogy. I have not yet had the opportunity to read the latter, fortunately Fox & Raven were generous enough to send me an available copy of de Burgh’s novelette “A Song of Sacrifice” (this has nothing to do with George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series).

(Breath-taking scenery written with well-structured prose!)

The novelette takes place thousands of years before the events in Betrayal's Shadow and acts as an introductory of sorts to the epic fantasy world de Burgh has created. So, without further ado, the SplatterGeist presents A Song of Sacrifice by Dave-Brendon de Burgh...

Another product of the epic fantasy genre, de Burgh paints a colourful and vibrant landscape easily favoured by fans of Tolkien or Tad Williams. With a sympathetic yet strong protagonist, the lines between good and evil are slightly blurred in this setting as conflict looms between Wielders – individuals trained in the ability to ‘unmake’ certain objects – and Singers – those trained to do the exact opposite. As clashes amongst siblings go, A Song of Sacrifice has some hidden potential no doubt with an original background setting, characters who seemingly leap from the pages and all while delivering an interesting perspective on what it means to be human.

The story follows an individual with a peculiar physiology called Ordaefus; he is the self-appointed leader of his people and brother to Mahaelal (another individual whose morals we see conflict against each other). Ordaefus is faced with a coming war with his brother and as stress levels rise, our protagonist stumbles upon a discovery which might shape their very future for the better or worse.

Step into a mythical world of teleportation, trees that possess telekinesis, and ethereal magic.

Until then, geists.

*A Song of Sacrifice is available as a digital copy on
*Betrayal's Shadow is available for purchase on worldwide and Exclusive Books SA.

Thursday, 10 April 2014


'And so, Fox jumped over the moon...'

Let me introduce to you, by taking all the pleasure in the world, something completely different and new to the South African fiction writing scene. Yeah, I've said it - something new (yay!). Put down your latest copy of Manhattan In Reverse by Peter F. Hamilton, give George R. R. Martin's Dreamsongs a break, let slide Clive Barker's gritty blood, guts, and galore feast of skin-tingling stories and let your gaze linger on . . . "Ravensmoot: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction". 

(See? I even got you a picture!)

A little background might be adequate; Fox & Raven is an upstart indie publishing house located in Cape Town, South Africa. If you go onto their page ( immediately you'll find one of my favourite things; an uncanny and humorous introductory page splattered with wit. Now, I said that this is a South African publication. There are a few submissions in this anthology of which the contributors are foreigners (British, American, and Ugandan). Don't let this hinder you, however, for lying dormant in the pages of this new anthology lies a treat not to be missed by any book-lover.

You keen to know what the SplatterGeist thinks about this?

Very well then, cublets, keep reading...

For starters, if you're looking for character development don't bother here - instead you should berate yourself for not making this discovery sooner. The variety of the stories included in Ravensmoot fill enough boundaries and expectations (plot, context, etc.) to satisfy some of you critics (I'm one myself).

With an introduction by Charlie Human (author of Apocalypse Now Now) the anthology sets off with a skin-crawling novelette called Passing Visions (written by Martin John Stokes) which creates the opening stage for tales you really don't want to miss out on - seriously, you don't want to miss this. (If you miss this Pennywise the Clown might gurgle "We all float down here" tonight in your bathroom sink while you're brushing your teeth. Yes. Be afraid.) 

As I was saying (typing, actually), the first entry sets the stage for what is to come as you progress through a series of original and respectable works of fiction each as original and thought-provoking as the last. From a classic thriller to a secret order of assassins, from demonic nightmares that come to life and prowl in the dark, to dream-punk and everything else in between.

If you're itching to read something new and interesting or whether you're in the mood to add a few names to your favourite list of authors, then do yourself a favour and give Fox & Raven's Ravensmoot a chance - even if you just skim through it, you're bound to find an experience worth your time.

Until then, geists!

Ravensmoot: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction is available for purchase on Amazon (, Exclusive Books [( South Africa], and Fox & Raven Publishing itself (just send an email to Marius du Plessis).