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The Magtone Saga

I’ve started a new story-cycle starring Magtone the Poet-Thief, a lyrical lowlife who inherits a gift of ancient sorcery along with a sentient flying carpet. These stories are high fantasy meets sword-and-sorcery, with an ancient-world flavor and a heavy dose of magical weirdness. The saga of Magtone’s wanderings will run mainly in the pages of WEIRDBOOK, but he may show up in a few other publications as well.

The first Magtone story is “The Veneration of Evil in the Kingdom of Ancient Lies.” It appears in WEIRDBOOK #37 (slated for a November 2017 release). This innaugural tale introduces Magtone and the fantastic city-state of Karakutas, a metropolitan Babylon built by the power of ruthless wizard-kings. As the Doom of Karakutas approaches, Magtone strikes a deal with the only person that can save him from the coming apocalypse–the same wizard who is about to bring civilization crashing down.

Art by Rowena Morrill

The second Magtone story is “Clouds Like Memories, Words Like Stones.” It will also appear in an issue of WEIRDBOOK (sometime after #37). This tale follows the transfigured Magtone’s adventures in a primal world where he must keep the Legend of Karakutas alive while trying to find a place to call his own. I don’t want to say too much more about it for fear of giving away too many secrets.

More Magtone stories will follow as inspiration strikes.

Meanwhile, don’t miss WEIRDBOOK #37 featuring Magtone’s infamous origin.

Get Your Weird On.

Art by Sanjulian

Greetings, Boils n’ Ghouls…

Another of my gruesome fantasy tales has slipped the bonds of its sarcophagus and fled back into the world to astonish and terrify readers of WEIRDBOOK. And if you’re going to read fantasy, why not make it Weird Fantasy? It’s the best kind, really.

“Strange Days In Old Yandrissa” is a tale of cursed fools and foolish curses, a demon-haunted beard, and a Romanesque world plagued by inconstant eruptions of magic. This wandering space-mummy of a tale is appearing in the first-ever WEIRDBOOK ANNUAL #1. On sale now.

The annual’s theme is “WITCHES.” It’s a big ol’ candybag full of dark fantasy, weird fiction, and sinister poetry. Coming just in time for All Hallow’s Eve, 2017.

What would Halloween be without a few witches?


—-Table of Contents—-


Art by Sanjulian

“Thou Shalt Not Suffer” by Matt Neil Hill
“No Holds Bard” by Adrian Cole
“Laying The Hairy Book” by Josh Reynolds
“Here Is Where Your Proud Waves Halt” by Erica Ruppert
“Vicious Circles” by Paul Dale Anderson
“Assorted Shades of Red” by Franklyn Searight
“Strange Days in Old Yandrissa” by John R Fultz
“Fertility Rites” by Glynn Own Barrass
“The Witch’s Heart” by Rachel Bolton
“Hag Race” by Andre E Harewood
“Best Friend Becky” by Wayne Faust
“The Rat in the Rabbit Cage” by Ashley Dioses
“Two Spells” by Neva Bryan
“Pulled Over” by Paul Spears
“The Witch of Skur” by LF Falconer
“Cat and Mouse” by Duane Pesice
“Last of the Ashiptu” by Paul Lubaczewski
“Nora Witch” by Brandon Jimison
“Firestorm” by Richard H Durisen
“The Witch of Pender” by John Linwood Grant
“The Broken Witch” by Scott Hutchison

Art by Sanjulian

“The Desert Rose Inn” by Maurits Zwankhuizen
“The Ballad of Blighted Marsh” by David F Daumit
“The Witch-Queen” by S L Edwards
“A Witch’s Work is Never Done” by Lori R Lopez
“Halloween Witch” by KA opperman
“Remembering the Peculiar Effects from the Sugar Witch’s Goblin-Brew” by Clay F Johnson
“Sea Witch” by Vonnie Winslow Crist
“Oracle Bone Script” by Frederick J. Mayer
“Little Youkai at the Witch House” by Chad Hensley
“Mother Persephone” by Oliver Smith
“A Warlock Slips Into My Dreams” by Darla Klein

Get Your Weird On.

S.E. Lindberg has posted an in-depth interview with me at his “Beauty In Weird Fiction” blog:


Art from Ralph Bakshi’s

Click to Enlarge

WEIRDBOOK #35 marks my third appearance in that esteemed magazine. This time around my contribution is a weird horror piece called “The Man Who Murders Happiness.”

[Click here to order the new issue.]

Every now and then I like to step outside the boundaries of fantasy and go for straight-up horror; this story is exactly such an excursion into the macabre. It was born out of the angst and anxiety of 2016, and hopefully it reaches into the deep core of human existence to explore the abiding darkness there. Or maybe it’s just a glimpse into a dark world that is a distorted parallel of our own.

Here is the complete Table of Contents:

The Pullulations of the Tribe by Adrian Cole
The Dead of Night by Christian Riley
Mother of My Children by Bruce L. Priddy
The Man Who Murders Happiness by John R. Fultz
A Handful of Dust by Tom English
Revolution à l’Orange by Paul Lubaczewski
Fiends of the Southern Plains by Patrick Tumblety
The Pyrrhic Crusade by Stanley B. Webb
The Migration of Memories by Charles Wilkinson
Maquettes by Paul St John Mackintosh
In the Shadows by J.S. Watts
The Spot by C.R. Langille
Schism in the Sky by Donald McCarthy
To Roam the Universe, Forgotten and Free by Janet Harriett
Rejuvenate by Lily Luchesi
Vigil Night by Lorenzo Crescentini
The Tale and the Teller by Darrell Schweitzer
Dead Clowns for Christmas by by L.J. Dopp

A Queen of Carpathia by Kyle Opperman
Queen of the Bats by Kyle Opperman
Taken from the Tcho Tcho People’s Holy Codex by Frederick J. Mayer
When Wolfsbane Blooms by Kyle Opperman
The Dinner Fly by James Matthew Byers
Strange Jests by Jessica Amanda Salmonson

Click for Larger Hi-Rez Version

This just in! Feast your eyes, my friends:
Alex Raspad recently delivered his finished cover for SON OF TALL EAGLE. It is a thing of beauty.

I love how Alex evokes the colorful sky and alien rock formations of Ispiris. THE TESTAMENT OF TALL EAGLE chronicles how Tall Eagle’s people left their war-torn world and escaped to the Land Beyond the Sun. In SON OF TALL EAGLE the entire story takes place in this strange new world. It’s a realm of mysterious creatures, titanic forests, crystalline mountains, and chromatic skies.

Here we see Kai, Son of Tall Eagle, facing down a Sesthi Lord while Athri, Daughter of Thu, leaps in to join the fray. Athri is a half-human, half-Myktu warrior woman who grew up alongside Kai. She is fiercely loyal to the Son of Tall Eagle, even though his heart belongs to someone else.

The Sesthi (Horse People) are the main antagonists this time around. Kai believes peace with the hoofed horde is possible, but there are others among The People who long for the old days of endless war and red-handed glory.

Dark forces linger in the deep places of this world, ready to be set free by blood, hate, and ancient Sesthi magic.

SON OF TALL EAGLE is set for release in the first quarter of 2018 from Ragnarok Publications.


My latest article at Black Gate explores Vol. 4 of the collected SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN.

“Whenever anyone steps in to replace John Buscema on pencils, SAVAGE SWORD becomes the Tony DeZuniga Show. And what a terrific show it is.”

Click HERE to read.

Goin’ Down To Texas

Art by Jeff Jones

Hey! If anybody’s still reading this blog–which I admit to not updating regularly–thanks for your ongoing interest. I tend to only blog when I have something to say, something to announce, or something to shout about. I have two newsworthy bits today:

WORLD FANTASY CONVENTION 2017 – I’ll be attending WFC for first time since 2011. This’ll be my fourth time attending the convention–this year it’s in San Antonio, Texas. Makes me wonder if there will be some special Robert E. Howard panels going on since Cross Plains is only about 220 miles north of Alamo City. When I first discovered WFC in 2009, I immediately dubbed it my “favorite convention.” The only trouble is that it “leaps” across the globe to a new location every single year–which is part of the reason I couldn’t attend the last five conventions. So it’s great to be heading back there–I hope to see many friends old and new–and WFC tends to fire up my creative engines.

Art by D’Achille

SON OF TALL EAGLE has been moved to an early 2018 release date by Ragnarok Publications. The good news is that artist extraordinaire Alex Raspad is returning to do another spectacular cover illustration.

Will there by a third TALL EAGLE book? I’d love to write it. But we’ll have to wait and see. Each of these books is a self-contained adventure; you don’t have to read them in order unless you’re a stickler for that kind of thing. (I usually am.)

Meanwhile, in short fiction news, my story “Ten Thousand Drops of Holy Blood” will be appearing in SKELOS #3-due out later this year. There was an unexpected delay between the first and second issues, but SKELOS #2 is going on sale in about a week or two.

I also have two stories scheduled for upcoming issues of WEIRDBOOK: A horror tale called “The Man Who Murders Happiness” in WB #35 (coming soon), and a rollicking fantasy called “The Veneration of Evil in the Kingdom of Ancient Lies” scheduled for WB #37 (this fall).

Meanwhile, it’s time to ask: What am I going to write this summer? It will either be a completely new novel, or a summer “off.” I really don’t know at this point. Uncertainty isn’t a bad thing: It’s the gateway to freedom.


We’re All Mad Here…

mad-hatter-makeup-tutorialI wrote a piece for the RagnaBlog about how writers are mad–gloriously mad!–and why that’s a good thing for people who like to read books. 

Click Here to Read It…

Weirdbook #33 now available

WB33WEIRDBOOK #33 is now available.

The River Flows to Nowhere by John R. Fultz
The Amnesiac’s Lament by Scott R Jones
Trance Junkie by Bruno Lombardi
Bad Faith by Will Blinn
Dwelling of the Wolf by Franklyn Searight
The Ruby Palace by Jessica Amanda Salmonson
The Screams at the Keyhole by Garrett Cook
Diary of an Illness by C.M. Muller
Teatime With Mrs. Monster by James Aquilone
Train to Nowhere by Adrian Cole

Plus plenty of weird verse from Donald W. Schank, S. L. Edwards, Ashley Dioses, K.A. Opperman, Darrell Schweitzer, and Frederick J. Mayer.


The Blade and the Audient Void

14364708_1356773477667986_3783836956982702527_nTHE AUDIENT VOID #2 is now available. Among the various dark treasures inside you’ll find “The Penitence of the Blade.”

Set in the World of Zang, it is the story of Torador, a warrior who wants to lay down his sword—to forget the terrible things he’s seen and done. Retirement brings him to the decadent metropolis known as Emeran Thah, the City of Sultans, where addiction is a way of life and dreaming is a full-time job. The dark secret he discovers there will bring him face to face with infinity.

shattered-shields“Yael of the Strings” from the SHATTERED SHIELDS anthology explores in greater depth the society of Sharoc, where Torador fought his wars in the name of the Griffon Queen. These two stories are a subset of the Zang Tales, the “Sharoc Tales” if you will. I have an idea for a novel set in Sharoc. That idea may or may not grow into an actual book, but it will almost certainly inspire more Tales of Zang. They seem to rise from my subconscious every few years like ocean pearls. Zang is a great place for return visits, especially when you’re looking for magic.


Art by James Ayers

Art by James Ayers

The past few weeks has been a real whirlwind of psychic, creative, and personal energies. I have finished the first draft of the new book, SON OF TALL EAGLE, which continues the story of The People after their migration to Ispiris, the Land Beyond the Sun.

Taking a few days away from the manuscript right now before I dive into the revising/editing phase. This is when I get the story and the words and everything else ready for the world to see. Finishing the first draft is an endurance race, then it’s time to slow down and refine that raw energy that I’ve captured on the page.

Art by James Ayers

Art by James Ayers

Getting back into the TALL EAGLE universe after six years was NOT easy, but it turned out to be extremely rewarding. I had been “carrying” this story around in my head for years, and yet it still surprised me in the writing of it. There was one character who wasn’t even in my outline/notes who came out of nowhere and became vital to the story, taking on a central role and driving the action in a way I had never expected.

That’s the great thing about writing: It’s always a process of discovery. When I wrote THE TESTAMENT OF TALL EAGLE, I didn’t use an outline at all. For this sequel (which is also a standalone book) I did start with an outline, but halfway through I realized that the outline wasn’t complete–there was now more to the story than I had planned. It grew organically, like a sacred herb in rich earth.


Art by SanJulian

The story takes place 22 years after Tall Eagle broke the Circle of War by leading his people into the Land Beyond the Sun (with the help of the Gray Ones known as the Myktu). The People were changed not only by their transition to a new world, but also by the mental bonding they experienced with the Dreamers of Mharinu. Now Gray Ones and humans have blended into a sub-society sharing River Village with Tall Eagle’s transplanted tribe.

I don’t want to give way any of the plot details, but the story is told from the point-of-view of Kai, the Son of Tall Eagle. He is twenty-two years old, having been inside his pregnant mother’s belly during The Crossing, and is about to begin his adult life as a husband and father. Like his own father, Kai has been trained to ride the great Opyds of Mharinu–the giant eagles who willingly serve the Gray Ones. This sets him apart from the other men of River Village as a sky-riding hunter.

Art by Enrich

Art by Enrich

The appeal of making this a series was the thrill of exploring Ispiris, a world with many fantastical aspects that were barely touched on in the first book. THE TESTAMENT OF TALL EAGLE was firmly grounded in actual Amerindian history and culture–whereas SON OF TALL EAGLE sprouts from strong fantasy-based roots. It’s the “other side of the coin,” so to speak. Once I got comfortable with the world and its rules again, it was full speed ahead. When the new lead characters came to life, the story took on a shape and a form all its own.

As soon as I’m finished with revisions and edits, the manuscript goes to Ragnarok Publications, who will hopefully have it in stores sometime next year.

Upcoming Tales…

bf9edf12606bea940f7fb335240f9cde_originalThe 3rd issue of SKELOS is set for release sometime later this year.  My sword-and-sorcery tale “Ten Thousand Drops of Holy Blood” will appear in the issue, along with a whole bunch of other cool stuff. SKELOS #1 is available now.

WB33WEIRDBOOK #33 will also feature a story of mine–a slice of Weird Noir called “The River Flows to Nowhere.” This one slides more toward the horror side of the dark fantasy spectrum, but the neo-contemporary setting did not limit the potential for deep weirdness. WB #33 is slated for an October 2016 release (#31 and #32 are both available now).

13239199_1255059254506076_4924653734446977298_nAlso coming this fall, THE AUDIENT VOID #2 will feature my “long-lost” Zang tale “The Penitence of the Blade.” Set in the universe of THE REVELATIONS OF ZANG, this tale was accepted at three different markets over the years—all of which went bust before they could publish it. So it’s great to finally find a home for “Blade,” and one that supports a great new dark fiction mag. “Blade” is loosely connected to “Yael of the Strings” from the SHATTERED SHIELDS anthology, as it stars a Knight of Sharoc who has forsaken the ways of war. Yet it’s not so easy to leave one’s past behind, especially in the corrupt streets of Emeran Thah, City of the Dragon’s Breath. Look for it in September/October.


To Write Or Not To Write…

Art by Alex Raspad

I know–I haven’t posted anything here in quite awhile. Why? Haven’t had much to say.

So what’ve I been up to?

A period of soul-searching and contemplation. Another year of full-time teaching—this makes 10! Now summer approaches with its blessed late mornings and the siren call of a writing project humming in my brain.

Wasn’t sure what I wanted to write next. Or if I wanted to write anything at all.

THE TESTAMENT OF TALL EAGLE has been out a whole year now. During that time its publisher Ragnarok signed a big distribution deal with IPG. What does that mean? It means Ragnarok books now get major-league distribution in bookstores across the world. Ragnarok stepped up its game.

TE-CoverWithLogoI had a dream when I wrote the first TALL EAGLE book–a vision of a series that could be read in any order. Together each novel would form part of a bigger picture, but each one would also be a stand-alone saga. TESTAMENT OF TALL EAGLE ends with the People living in the Land Beyond the Sun—the land of the Myktu, the Sesthi, and the Opyds. So there is literally a whole new world to explore and discover in a second book.

This is how SON OF TALL EAGLE was born. I’ve pondered the possibility of writing it for several years. Now it’s official: This summer I’m writing a second book in the TALL EAGLE series–pursuing that dream of a series of standalone novels. A sequel, yes, but also far more than that. A fresh perspective and a broadening of vision.

Art by Enrich Torres

Art by Enrich Torres

It took awhile to make up my mind; a while for the stars to align; an even longer while for me to figure out the right path. I always thought I could do way more than four books in the TALL EAGLE series. And maybe I will.

The trick is to do them one at a time.

Take your time, do it right.

So TALL EAGLE is now officially more than just a novel, at least in my mind. It’s a series. The first one I’ve done since the Books of the Shaper. Here’s a new chance to do a series the way I’ve always wanted to do it—thanks to the support of Tim Marquitz and Team Ragnarok.

Now is the time for SON OF TALL EAGLE.



DTW3“The Rude Mechanicals and the Highwayman” is the third Urbille story. Springing from the pages of FUNGI magazine like wicked mushrooms, all three stories have now been audio-adapted by Far Fetched Fables.

Here are the links:

“The Key To Your Heart Is Made Of Brass” – Urbille 1

“Flesh of the City, Bones of the World” – Urbille 2

“The Rude Mechanicals and the Highwayman” – Urbille 3

I have finished the Urbille novel A FEW ODD SOULS. It is currently drifting through the mysterious realms of submission and aquisition, finding its weird way into our world like some alien visitor poking and pawing at the membrane that separate our universe from the next one. Since the book’s journey through the maze of publishing potentiality is far from finished, it will reach the public when the stars are right, the cosmos is in balance, and the proper contracts have been signed. One cannot rush the advent of a storm, the turning of history, or the publication of a book. All of these things move at their own inevitable speed.

These three Urbille stories are only the tip of the metaphorical iceberg. A FEW ODD SOULS is an epic Weird Fantasy that spans hundreds of alternate realities, yet the core of the odyssey was born in these three short stories. It’s great to have all three of them adapted by the talented team at Far Fetched Fables, who always do spectacular work.


levels-of-consciousness“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
— Lao Tzu


SSConan29Third entry in a series running now at

It was Big John Buscema’s house, but giants named DeZuniga and Chan came to play in it.

The third volume of Dark Horse’s collections of Marvel’s SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN covers the late 70s, when the magazine was being driven to new heights by John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, Tony DeZuniga, and Ernie Chan, all under the leadership of writer/editor Roy Thomas.

This third volume contains several all-time classic issues…

SSConan17Second entry in a series running now at

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN was the grooviest 70s sword-and-sorcery magazine–and possibly the greatest such magazine or comic of all time. Stellar work from Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, Neal Adams, and more…

I’m re-living this series that I started reading when I was 8 years old in 1978. It’s as fun to write about these first 24 issues as it is to read them.


SSConan28Over at I’ve posted the first in a series of articles exploring/celebrating the SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN, as collected by Dark Horse in the past few years.

This first post takes an in-depth look at Volume One, where the unmatched art team of John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala began weaving their pencil-and-ink magic with the help of writer/editor Roy Thomas.

Sword and Sorcery doesn’t get any better…

Some Heads Are Gonna Roll…


Cover of HEAD LOPPER #2

Reading Andrew MacLean’s new comic HEAD LOPPER was an exhilarating experience. It’s great to have a new fantasy-adventure comic–or Sword-and-Sorcery if you prefer–and this book is the best book of its kind since James Stokoe’s gonzo-brilliant ORC STAIN.

As you might expect from the title, HEAD LOPPER involves a lot of decapitations. Yet its cartoon-art style is so colorful and brilliant the gore factor never overwhelms the narrative. If Jack Kirby had done a CONAN comic, it might have been a lot like this. There’s a whole lotta Mike Mignola influence here too–which is always a good thing.

HEAD LOPPER also reminded me of the infamous fantasy tradition of the Severed Head. Reaching all the way back to the story of Perseus and the Medusa, perhaps even farther, this gruesome scene shows up again and again. Perhaps it has something to do with how our ancestors lopped off the heads of their enemies with great pride, often displaying them as trophies that eroded to skulls over time. Hell, the French lopped off so many heads at one point that they built a machine to do it faster! And yet they seem so civilized today…


Artwork by Enrich Torres.

It’s no coincidence that the climax of CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982)–probably the single best Sword-and-Sorcery movie ever made–is when Conan takes the head of the evil Thulsa Doom and brandishes it before the brainwashed masses. That moment of revenge breaks the wizard’s dark spell, but it’s really just payback for Doom’s beheading of Conan’s mother in the film’s first act.

I saw the movie as a 12-year-old, and I was shocked at the violence of that scene. But I’d already seen my share of severed heads on the covers of fantasy magazines and even a few novels. As early as 7 or 8 years old I was grabbing copies of SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN directly from the local convenience store rack. There were also mags like CREEPY, EERIE, and 1994–from the twisted geniuses at Warren Publishing. Thankfully Dark Horse Publishing has brought all of this great stuff back into print in terrific collections.


Artwork by the great Ernie Chan.

Enjoy these classic covers featuring the grand tradition of the Severed Head motif. Nothing says “Sword-and-Sorcery” or “Savage Tales” more than this particular pose. In this type of artwork horror and fantasy meet, mingle, and combine to form a chilling effect. Even Shakespeare did the Severed Head in MACBETH, and he kinda did it in HAMLET with Yorick’s skull.

This weekend I watched the first two episodes of BBC America’s THE LAST KINGDOM–a terrific historical drama based on the works of Bernard Cornwell–and there it was again at the end of ep one: The Severed Head motif. What better way to taunt your enemy than to display the head of his slain cohort? What single image says “conquest” more than the Severed Head shot? Call it Dark Fantasy, Sword-and-Sorcery, or Grimdark. Doesn’t really matter.

Whatever you wanna call it, one thing’s for sure: Heads will roll.


Artwork by Sanjulian.


Artwork by Big John Buscema.


Artwork by Enrich Torres.


WEIRDBOOK #31: Get Yer Weird On


Front Cover

The huge new issue of WEIRDBOOK (first issue since 1997!) is now available on Kindle  for only $3.99. The paperback version is also available for $12 + S&H. It’s a massive eldritch tome, as you can see from the Table of Contents below.

I’m honored to have a new dark fantasy tale, “Chivaine”,  appearing in the issue. The front cover is a painting by Dusan Kostic, while the back cover features work from the great Stephen E. Fabian, who did all the covers for the original WB run.

Editor Doug Draa calls this new issue ” a bridge between the magazine’s past and it’s future.” Doug has moved Heaven and Earth to bring Paul Ganley’s classic weird fantasy magazine back to life. Doug has partnered with John Betancourt at Wildside Press to make it possible. Get your weird on…

Full Table of Contents

Chivaine by John R. Fultz
Give Me the Daggers by Adrian Cole
The Music of Bleak Entrainment
by Gary A. Braunbeck 
Into The Mountains with Mother Old Growth
by Christian Riley
The Grimlorn Under the Mountain
by James Aquilone 
by Paul Dale Anderson 
Gut Punch
by Jason A. Wyckoff 
Educational Upgrade
by Bret McCormick
Boxes of Dead Children
by Darrell Schweitzer 
The Forgotten
by D.C. Lozar
Coffee with Dad’s Ghost
by Jessica Amanda Salmonson
Missed It By That Much
by Gregg Chamberlain 
A Clockwork Muse
by Erica Ruppert 
The Rookery
by Kurt Newton 
Wolf of Hunger Wolf of Shame 
by J. T. Glover
Zucchini Season
by Janet Harriett
The Jewels That Were Their Eyes
by Llanwyre Laish 
The Twins
by Kevin Strange
Princess or Warrior?
by S.W. Lauden
The City in the Sands
by Ann K. Schwader
by Frederick J. Mayer
Walpurgis Eve
by Kyle Opperman 
Sonnets of an Eldritch Bent
by W. H. Pugmire
Castle Csejthe
by Ashley Dioses
The Shrine
by Wade German
Bride of Death
by Dave Reeder
Modern Primitive
by Chad Hensley

 Visit the WEIRDBOOK homepage.