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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A SEA OF SKULLS by Vox Day

In Selenoth, the war drums are beating throughout the land. The savage orcs of Hagahorn and Zoth Ommog are on the move, imperiling Man, Dwarf, and Elf alike. The Houses Martial of Amorr have gone to war with each other, pitting legion against legion, and family against family as civil war wracks the disintegrating Empire. In the north, inhuman wolf-demons besiege the last redoubt of Man in the White Sea, while in Savondir, the royal house of de Mirid desperately prepares to defend the kingdom against an invading army that is larger than any it has ever faced before. And in the underground realm of the King of Iron Mountain, a strange new enemy has begun attacking dwarf villages throughout the Underdeep.

Beneath the widespread violence that has seized all Selenoth in its grasp, a select few are beginning to recognize the appearance of a historic pattern of almost unimaginable proportions. Are all these conflicts involving Orc, Elf, Man, and Dwarf the natural result of inevitable rivalries, or are they little more than battlegrounds in an ancient war that began long before the dawn of time?

Epic fantasy at its deepest and most intense. A SEA OF SKULLS is Book II in the ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT series that began with A THRONE OF BONES.

A SEA OF SKULLS is 449 pages, DRM-free, and retails for $5.99 on Amazon and at Castalia House. This is the early edition of the book; those who purchase it now will receive a free copy of the 850-page final edition in ebook format if they a) buy the book on Amazon and send a copy of the Kindle receipt to voxday-at-gmail-dot-com right away or b) buy the book from the Castalia House store.

UPDATE: just to be perfectly clear, New Release subscribers are free to download the bonus book from John Van Stry regardless of where they purchase A Sea of Skulls.

Every author faces a few decisions when he writes a book, particularly when writing a sequel. Be driven by the market or be driven by the vision. Write more of the same that has proven popular or go where the story takes you. These are not binary decisions, but a series of gradients, and while the consequences of those decisions vary, there are no right or wrong decisions per se, only more effective and less effective decisions which depend entirely upon the perspective.

I made two choices in writing the second book of Arts of Dark and Light, and I have no idea if my decisions will prove to be popular or not. The first decision was that it had to be better from my perspective and more true to my original vision than its predecessor was. That's why it has taken longer to write. Before, I was only dealing in existing human cultures. Now, I had to work in 3+ inhuman cultures as well, which proved considerably more difficult. The second decision was to increase the contrast. A moral dilemma where there is neither potential loss to the character nor moral consequence is no true dilemma. A choice that is obvious to everyone but an idiot is no true choice. Good people do bad things, and bad people do good things, but the character of a man is seldom defined by a single act. And, I decided, even the most minor character deserves to be taken seriously, presented fairly, and speak with his own voice. Or her own voice. As an example of what I mean by that, here is a sample of the text at Castalia House.

In other words, this is a "damn the torpedoes" book. It should be interesting to learn who likes it better than A THRONE OF BONES and who likes it less. But I hope you will enjoy it, and I hope those of you who read it will be as diligent about posting serious and substantive reviews as you were with its predecessor.

As a side note, I find it incredible to observe that, according to Amazon's page count, there is now more Selenoth, with 1837 pages of Summa Elvetica + A Throne of Bones + A Sea of Skulls, than there is Middle Earth proper, with 1531 for Lord of the Rings + The Hobbit. It's not as good, of course - how could it possibly be - but it is worthy of the title "epic". I should mention that there will be print editions in April-May and they will be the final edition.

Thanks very much to Matthew, Robert, and Kirk for all their hard work in getting this out before the end of the year.

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58 Comments:

Blogger Yollo December 13, 2016 4:44 AM  

You do not know how long I have been waiting for this day.

Blogger Brian Niemeier December 13, 2016 5:24 AM  

Congratulations on the launch, Vox.

You are proceeding boldly and doing right by your readers.

Anonymous 5343 Kinds of Deplorable December 13, 2016 5:34 AM  

It's mine, and I can even use the Kindle Cloud Reader at work. Should be a profitable day!

Blogger wreckage December 13, 2016 5:48 AM  

That excerpt is good stuff, Vox.

Blogger MisesMat December 13, 2016 7:04 AM  

Hey Vox, I read "A Magic Broken," because I was hesitant to invest in an 850+ page "A Throne of Bones." But I'm curious. Chronologically speaking, where should someone new to the series begin?

Perhaps a better question: What is your preferred order? C.S. Lewis had such a preferred order for Narnia and I'm wondering if you have one for Selenoth.

Also, Rod Walker liked my review of his book so much he was kind enough to post a link to it:

http://www.rodwalkersf.com/2016/12/12/a-review-of-mutiny-in-space/

My comments about Castalia House apparently were his favorite part.

Anonymous Slammer64 December 13, 2016 7:09 AM  

Purchased just a few minutes ago, got the heads up about it over on Gab, looking forward to when I have time to read it.

Anonymous SJ December 13, 2016 7:14 AM  

Was my comment removed for some reason? I purchased it from Castalia but my browser crashed, but the payment did go through paypal. Is there something I can do? I didn't receive any notifications or anything.

Blogger VD December 13, 2016 7:22 AM  

If your comment was posted as Anonymous, it was auto-nuked.

Blogger VD December 13, 2016 7:25 AM  

Chronologically speaking, where should someone new to the series begin?

I usually recommend A Magic Broken. Summa takes place before ATOB, but you don't need to read it first. The Last Witchking and The Wardog's Coin are set in different times and are probably best read after ATOB and ASOS. But opinions vary.

It's intentionally written so only ATOB and ASOS need to be read in order. Everything else is orbital.

Blogger VD December 13, 2016 7:30 AM  

Is there something I can do? I didn't receive any notifications or anything.

Send the email address you used to buy the book to my voxday email. I can arrange to have the download notification sent out again. I do see one failed transaction, but if that was yours, the Paypal account was not charged.

Anonymous SJ December 13, 2016 7:32 AM  

E-mail sent. Thanks.

Anonymous Viidad December 13, 2016 7:40 AM  

A hearty congratulations. Impressive.

Anonymous SJ December 13, 2016 7:45 AM  

Vox, I received your e-mail but not any notifications. Is it sent from Castalia to my e-mail or do I have to check somewhere in the site?

Blogger Duke Norfolk December 13, 2016 7:50 AM  

You're drawing me in, Vox! Adding to the too-long list of books I want to read. I may just have to dive in and move you to the top of the stack.

BTW, there's a small typo in book description. "Widespread" is missing an s; beginning of second paragraph.

Blogger Jack Ward December 13, 2016 7:56 AM  

At last, the Gathering.
The gathering of happy readers, that is.
Purchased!

Blogger GPMark December 13, 2016 7:57 AM  

The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!

Blogger S1AL December 13, 2016 8:18 AM  

Now I have to ask: why are 'Quenta Silmarillion' and 'The Children of Hurin' not on your list of "Middle-Earth proper?

Blogger slarrow December 13, 2016 8:19 AM  

Vox R. R. Day no longer!

Anonymous MendoScot December 13, 2016 8:24 AM  

Now the difficult choice - do I read it or sit on it until the full version comes out? Will I be able to resist?

Blogger VD December 13, 2016 8:33 AM  

Now I have to ask: why are 'Quenta Silmarillion' and 'The Children of Hurin' not on your list of "Middle-Earth proper?

Because they're not part of what made Middle Earth great from a reader's perspective.

Blogger VD December 13, 2016 8:33 AM  

Now the difficult choice - do I read it or sit on it until the full version comes out? Will I be able to resist?

I would read it. The world is big and most of the rest is story belonging to other perspective characters.

Blogger S1AL December 13, 2016 8:40 AM  

"Because they're not part of what made Middle Earth great from a reader's perspective."

Interesting. The Silmarillion is why I think Tolkien's Middle-Earth stands head and shoulders above other fantasy worlds, and I actually prefer it to LotR. But I can see why that would be uncommon.

Anonymous DeplorableCodeMonkey December 13, 2016 8:42 AM  

I just sent a receipt. If you send a receipt, this a good OPSEC process to minimize the amount of PII that is going to be sent while letting Vox verify it:

1. Click on the invoice in Amazon.
2. Get the print friendly view from their page.
3. Right click on the last four digits of your CC and select "inspect element."
4. On the right in Chrome, the developer tools will pop up and select the last four digits in the DOM view of the page.
5. Put 4 Xs in the place of your CC.
6. Repeat 4 and 5 for address and phone #.

Just leave the rest (name, order # and such) in place. Then do a print to PDF from the printer options in Chrome (it's in Chrome's print dialog).

Blogger VD December 13, 2016 8:47 AM  

The Silmarillion is why I think Tolkien's Middle-Earth stands head and shoulders above other fantasy worlds, and I actually prefer it to LotR.

It is, in part. But it makes for very tedious reading. I was extremely disappointed when I read it in high school. I have no intention of ever publishing my notes.

Blogger MisesMat December 13, 2016 8:49 AM  

Thanks for answering my question. Here's another: Do you know when the other Selenoth books: "Summa," "WitchKing," "Wardog," etc. will be coming out in Paperback?

Blogger Eruditionastic December 13, 2016 9:00 AM  

Is there a synopsis of ATOB anywhere? This always happens to me when I read books as they come out. By the time the sequel is out I can't remember the original book well enough and feel like I'm short selling the new book. Already purchased the Amazon copy, can't wait to read it either way. Thanks Vox!

Blogger Matthew December 13, 2016 9:02 AM  

Summa Elvetica and Other Stories will be published in hardcover and print sometime soon in 2017.

Blogger MisesMat December 13, 2016 9:02 AM  

Thank you, Matthew!

Blogger szook December 13, 2016 9:03 AM  

Just purchased the ebook from Amazon.

btw, you will want to correct the opening line of your sample text.

Blogger jaericho December 13, 2016 9:14 AM  

Excellent!

Blogger JDC December 13, 2016 9:18 AM  

Awesome, just purchased. I now have something to read in my blind. Congrats!

Blogger S1AL December 13, 2016 9:20 AM  

"It is, in part. But it makes for very tedious reading. I was extremely disappointed when I read it in high school. I have no intention of ever publishing my notes."

Granted, the first 30 pages or so were a bit... Bombadillic. But I really enjoyed it after that, as a sort of historical-mythos short story series.

Plus, Fingolfin.

Blogger Nick December 13, 2016 9:20 AM  

Lol. These titles are entirely generic.

A throne of bones? What does that sound like? Is the land this story takes place in called "Kresteros"?

Orcs, Witchkings, and other forces of evil facing off against the race of men, elves, dwarves. God, this in no way sounds like another popular fantasy story.

I hear in chapter 16 that Mike Cernovich makes an appearance. But this book and get Gorilla mindset free

Blogger lowercaseb December 13, 2016 9:28 AM  

The world needs to be quiet today. I am reading...

Blogger JDC December 13, 2016 9:34 AM  

Orcs, Witchkings, and other forces of evil facing off against the race of men, elves, dwarves. God, this in no way sounds like another popular fantasy story.

I suppose you prefer your fantasy creatures to be non-cis poly-amorous...spending their time covering the world with their black seed and fighting for gender inclusiveness and goblin's rights.

Anonymous ChildofOldLeech December 13, 2016 9:51 AM  

Nick wrote:A throne of bones? What does that sound like? Is the land this story takes place in called "Kresteros"?

Well, at least this time around he did more than merely taking one letter out of a tile of Brian McNaughton's collection of scatological dark fantasy stories. Vox is making some progress here!

Blogger VD December 13, 2016 9:53 AM  

Well, at least this time around he did more than merely taking one letter out of a tile of Brian McNaughton's collection of scatological dark fantasy stories. Vox is making some progress here!

I've never read Brian McNaughton's "collection of scatological dark fantasy stories" nor heard of them before I published A THRONE OF BONES. Neither has anyone else who isn't a pedophile.

Blogger pdwalker December 13, 2016 9:55 AM  

VD,

What benefits you more? Buying direct from Castalia, or from Amazon.com?

Blogger VD December 13, 2016 10:01 AM  

What benefits you more? Buying direct from Castalia, or from Amazon.com?

We make a few cents more from CH, Amazon is better for exposure. Whichever you prefer is great. What we'd really like, either way, is for you to post a review when you finish reading it.

Blogger Gunnar von Cowtown December 13, 2016 10:41 AM  

@5
Chronologically speaking, where should someone new to the series begin?

Just my 2 cents, but Selenoth is too big to get hung up on chronology. It's more fun to put the pieces together after reading each book. Just dive right in to ATOB. Despite the high page count, it freakin' flies by and you'll be left wanting more. Also, familiarity with ATOB makes the short stories more meaningful because context.

If you really want to start with a short story first, it breaks down thusly.

- If you're a hardcore fan of epic fantasy, start with A Magic Broken. I'm not, so this was my least favorite of the series. Still very good, but I couldn't fully appreciate it until I read ATOB.
- If you're a casual fan of epic fantasy and more into Robert E. Howard, start with The Wardog's Coin. I'm a huge Conan fan, so I absolutely loved this story.
- The Last Witchking is a fantastic stand alone, but if you read it before reading ATOB, you'll end up re-reading it to pick up the bits of additional context.

Blogger Daniel December 13, 2016 11:22 AM  

If you are - start with

Chronological - Opera Vita Aeterna
Military - Wardog's Coin
Epic - ATOB
Intellectual - Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy
Quickstart - A Magic Broken
Freshest first - A Sea of Skulls

Anonymous #1037 December 13, 2016 11:42 AM  

I like this one more than AToB so far. I can definitely see the "High contrast" you were going for. Will we ever see any more of the Werelion creatures that live in the desert?

Blogger Mr. B.A.D. December 13, 2016 12:08 PM  

I started it last night at work. Made it to chapter 2. So far: holy shit!

The last time you twisted my guts this bad was in The World in Shadow. But I trust that you have a grand vision again where good triumphs over evil.

Anonymous MendoScot December 13, 2016 12:48 PM  

OT but not to be missed, especially since Larry is finishing a 1st draft of Monster Hunter Siege by Christmas. Someone dug up a thread of Larry disassembling an SJW troll over the myth of the gender pay gap.

Pure AWCA material, and a bunch of rhetoric lessons too boot.

Blogger Thucydides December 13, 2016 12:51 PM  

So when do the nominations for the Dragon's open?

Blogger Durandel December 13, 2016 1:11 PM  

Looking forward to reading this.

Blogger S. Misanthrope December 13, 2016 4:28 PM  

Can't wait! Well, actually I think I can, and will. Full version or bust. Still, congrats. I'm excited to see where you take this series.

Blogger James Dixon December 13, 2016 4:39 PM  

Vox, congratulations on getting even this much of it finished. I have at least some grasp of what all you're up to, and I can merely shake my head in astonishment at how much you are able to accomplish.

Blogger James Dixon December 13, 2016 4:57 PM  

> The Silmarillion is why I think Tolkien's Middle-Earth stands head and shoulders above other fantasy worlds, and I actually prefer it to LotR.

I agree. The Tale of Beren and Lúthien alone makes it worth reading.

Blogger Publius December 13, 2016 5:01 PM  

My shiny new paperback of ATOB came in today, I have to reread it and then decide if I want to pick up ASOS in truncated form now or wait until the full version comes out in spring. Right now I am leaning towards waiting as I prefer the full story, but I may change my mind after rereading ATOB tonight.

Blogger Jack Ward December 13, 2016 5:41 PM  

@26 You could do like I will and reread ATOB before starting this sequel. Its like sipping a fine bourbon. Smell the bouquet, taste the cork, slow sips, slowly increasing perhaps. A good, expensive cheese to munch while sipping and reading. Whats not to like?

Blogger Jack Ward December 13, 2016 5:45 PM  

@42
Was thinking the same recently. That novella has all the promise of a series. I liked it immensely and was sorrowful it ended so soon.
Amor against the cats. I guess you could call it a cat fight. [ sorry; that might have been uncalled for]

Blogger WATYF December 13, 2016 6:38 PM  

Is there a synopsis of ATOB anywhere? This always happens to me when I read books as they come out. By the time the sequel is out I can't remember the original book well enough and feel like I'm short selling the new book.

Seconded. Don't have time to reread ATOB. I just want a recap of where things left off at the end.

WATYF

Blogger Kristophr December 13, 2016 7:14 PM  

Purchased. Thanx for the reminder post, VD.

Blogger The CronoLink December 13, 2016 11:46 PM  

Yes, finally! Thank you, Vox et al, for your hard work!

Anonymous SJ December 14, 2016 6:02 AM  

THe download links arrived from Castalia too, thanks VD! I'm already halfway into the book, amazing read so far!

Anonymous #6184 December 14, 2016 8:01 AM  

Congrats Vox! I will be ordering my copy shortly.

Also will be gifting myself with a hardcover AToB for Christmas, I think.

Blogger LL December 20, 2016 2:15 AM  

Vox, thank you!
Do you send a confirmation email after you receive the receipt from Amazon?

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