Every once in a while I’ll post here on The Hayride to update our readers on my other writing project, that being the Tales of Ardenia novels. Those have quietly begun building a loyal, if fledgling, readership. And since there’s a new publication in that series, namely Part Three of Perdition, the second novel, I figured it’s a good time to talk about what’s going on.
In case you’re not aware of the series, here’s the elevator pitch: there’s a continent on some world somewhere which is an awful lot like Earth but with a different map, and on this continent are two very different societies who really don’t get along.
The south side of the continent is occupied by the Udar, who come off as a bunch of primitive savages – but as you get to know them, you realize they’re more sophisticated than they first appear, much like a lot of societies in the real world not derived from the Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian civilizational tree. The Udar have values and customs which smell a little bit like what you might expect if you took the Antifa and Black Lives Matter value statements and carried them to their purest and most absurd form. They don’t do the nuclear family, they don’t do private property, they aren’t much for the rule of law, and their personal habits would make them perfectly comfortable in 1960’s Haight-Ashbury or in modern-day Greenwich Village.
Yesterday when Ilhan Omar belched out her ridiculous demand to “dismantle America’s system of oppression,” I laughed, because the things Ilhan Omar would impose on us if she was able would make us look exactly like the Udar.
But while they’re squalid and backward and perverse and not particularly independent thinkers, the one thing the Udar have going for them is their entire religion and social structure is built for violent conflict with their neighbors the Ardenians. And while they’re at a major technological disadvantage, they make up for that in sheer fanaticism and bloodlust.
The Ardenians, on the other hand, are a whole lot like a Gilded Age United States or Great Britain. Their side of the continent is vast, full of natural resources and well set up for commercial development with huge river valleys. As such, the Ardenians have developed a technological society with Industrial Age conveniences. They’ve got tractors on their farms, they have a relatively decent rail network, there are big cities – the Udar capital, Qor Udar, is the only truly large city in all of Uris Udar – and they’ve developed a state religion which is similar in many respects to Christianity. Throughout history the Ardenians really only fought the Udar when they had to; they’ve always played defense against enemy raiders, pirates and so forth.
But a generation before the series begins, there was a major war between the two countries in which the Ardenians posted a big win, and as a result of the war they took over a large swath of territory that had been something of a no-man’s-land. Over the 25 years or so that followed, the Ardenians settled that territory and built farms and ranches and a few towns, plus they established a series of forts along the area representing the new border.
And they figured since they had so severely thrashed the Udar and were so far ahead technologically, the threat from the Udar was pretty much at an end. A little like we figured it was the end of history when the Soviet Union fell.
Ardenia decided on a peace dividend, just like America did. A new political party, the Peace Party, took office with all kinds of promises to invest the proceeds of the country’s newfound security in societal advances. But 10 years on, those promises are empty, and the Ardenians aren’t all that secure. Worse, a series of bad public policy decisions and an increasingly corrupt societal elite have left Ardenia a bit hollow – economically, culturally and militarily.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
All that said, the Ardenians are some very kick-ass people. And when all hell breaks loose and the Udar come screaming across the border with everything they have, leaving the good guys very unprepared for the war which follows, the Ardenians rise to the occasion and spit out some tremendous heroes who lead the fight to save civilization.
Animus, the first novel in the series, is really a rescue story arising from the Udar executing a diabolical plan to inflict a crushing blow on the good guys at the outset of the war. Perdition, the second novel, is a far larger tale – it covers the first stages of that war, from the first battles as the bad guys advance on and begin sacking towns and cities to the political implications in the Ardenian capital and the fast ramping-up of the Ardenian military effort. Animus is $6.99 in e-book format, $14.95 in paperback format and $17.46 for the audiobook.
Perdition is almost 1,000 pages, so I decided to break it up into four e-books I’m releasing separately. Part One was published in April, Part Two went out in May, Part Three popped over the weekend and Part Four should be out sometime around the first of August. After Part Four goes out, I’ll publish the whole of Perdition as an e-book and as a big, thick paperback.
There is also an audiobook version of Animus, voiced by the great Kevin Gallagher of Baton Rouge radio fame. Kevin is working on the audiobook version of Perdition as well; there should be some news on a release date for the Perdition audiobook soon.
I’m already getting started on Retribution, the third book in the Tales of Ardenia series, in which there will be lots of references to current events, most of which offer the great benefit of making things plausible in the novels which otherwise would not be. If I didn’t have Jeffrey Epstein, Antifa and the Wuhan virus to work with I would have to invent them, and I don’t know that anybody would have believed me. But before Retribution is published, which hopefully will come before Christmas, we’re going to do something interesting with the Tales of Ardenia books.
Namely, I’m going to turn them into a book app. It’ll be membership-driven, the cost of which will be something like five or 10 bucks as a one-time cost, and it’ll offer interactive reading of the books in the series. There aren’t that many book apps out there, which I find perplexing but also a terrific opportunity to do something different than most authors have done. Hey, anything to grow a readership!
For example, let’s say you’re reading Animus on the app and you finish Chapter 4, You need to wash the dishes, but you don’t want to stop reading. No problem, says the app – at the beginning of Chapter 5 you’ll see a button you can tap that will bring up Kevin’s audiobook read of that chapter, so you can switch back and forth as you want.
Further, there will be an instant glossary/wiki feature, in which certain terms used in the books which bear further explanation or readers may not remember or understand right off the bat won’t remain a mystery. You’ll be able to just tap the word and up comes a glossary entry, illustrations, maps or other content on the subject in question – so you’ll be able to make a quick detour to brush up on items that might otherwise keep you confused.
Something else we’re considering with the app is to have a feature by which readers can read by story line. The Tales of Ardenia series is a compendium of a lot of individual stories; somewhat like the Game of Thrones books there isn’t really a main character – readers might decide they like Sebastian Cross but not so much Randall Thurman, for example; so you’ll have the option to read the whole thing from Cross’ perspective, start to finish.
The app will have all kinds of cool things like merchandise (eventually we’ll sell real-life versions of that knife on the cover of Animus), a podcast, exclusive content that might not even make it into the books, discussions and, eventually, a computer game and, if we manage the Holy Grail, a TV series. Many of our readers have told me Animus and Perdition just absolutely beg for someone to put them on film, and all I can do is smile since they’re written with that in mind. If the app becomes a truly big deal, it might just be a vehicle by which the TV series could be distributed – and if that happens it could be very interesting in that we wouldn’t really need a green-light from Hollywood at all to produce it.
But that’s way out over the skis. We’re going to start with the interactive reading part with the Tales of Ardenia app and see if folks like it.
In the meantime, Part Three of Perdition is available at Amazon now. With this being officially the dog days of summer and with folks being stuck with nothing much else to do thanks to the COVID-19 panic, it’s a great time to pick up the Tales of Ardenia series and get started reading!