When Dragons Die is the epic transformation of the world of Ahmbren from an Age of Religion into a steam-powered Age of Reason.
In the void left by the slain God-King, one by one the Old Gods return and race to capture mortal hearts for the power to shape the future according to their will at mortal expense. Torn between prophecy, family and duty, the champions for mortalkind journey through love and loss as they seek to uncover the final secret of the Archdragons: the lost magic of Artalon.
In the struggle for the right for mortalkind to shape its own destiny, three factions emerge: those who would use Artalon’s magic to bring balance to the pantheon of gods; those who would use its power to control and subjugate the gods; and those who would destroy all peoples in order to starve the gods of the faith on which they feed.
When Dragons Die is written in individual volumes:
✯✯✯✯✯ “Tolkeinesque in its scope and vision, the volume of fantasy themes and iconography encompassed in Lightfall is both mind boggling and enthralling.” – Amazon Review
Aradma is born from light on the frozen slopes of Windbowl, emerging as a grown woman with nothing more than the broken memories of a dead faerie people. She is taken by trolls and heralded as the long-awaited priestess of the Moon Goddess, where she is forced to choose between the truth of the natural world and the intoxicating lure of their Matriarch’s adoration. Aradma must pierce the lies of a goddess before her lover murders half her tribe.
Meanwhile, the immortal God-King who ruled the Artalonian Empire for a thousand years sacrificed himself to defeat the Black Dragon. The Archmage who raised the God-King to power now mourns his loss, even as he falls to madness and threatens to break the very world he saved.
✯✯✯✯✯ “…the consistent turns and surprises in this series will keep every reader glued to the pages.” – Amazon Review
Nine years after the fall of the God-King, the gods have resumed their great game for mortal hearts and minds. The paladin Arda has joined the war against the vampire lands, but things become complicated when she’s tempted with the Covenant’s promise of eternal life. She is joined by the sorceress Anuit, driven from her home when the might of the Covenant converts her town. They journey into infected lands to find the living incarnation of the Gold Dragon, who will lead them to unlock the greatest secrets of the gods themselves.
Meanwhile, the vampire queen hunts for the druid Aradma, who has withdrawn from the world to raise her daughter. The light elf must join with the paladin and sorceress in order to cleanse the lands of the vampire contagion and prevent the Goddess of Desire from consuming the world.
✯✯✯✯✯ “For fantasy lovers this is a must read series.” – Amazon Review
✯✯✯✯✯ “you are certain to feel elated as well as drained by the epic journey you’ve taken” – Amazon Review
In the stunning conclusion of the epic struggle between dragons and gods, the champions must find the hidden throne of Artalon before the Black Dragon seizes its magic for himself and destroys the world.
Before the end, demon legions will descend from the heavens, troglodyte swarms will rise from the depths, dragons’ fire will melt armies, and the gods themselves will walk the land as each vies for control of Artalon. Through it all, the four champions must reunite to unlock the magic city’s power before the Black Dragon ends all life in his bid to destroy the gods.
But only one champion will be able to sit upon the Stag Throne. Only one will be able to chose to balance or bind the gods. Only one will determine Ahmbren’s fate.
When Dragons Die is also available on Kindle as a single-volume set.
About This Story
I began this story somewhere around Christmas 2010 in Kabul, Afghanistan. It was my second deployment there, and what better way to spend the evening hours off duty than opening the word processor and starting over—for real this time—on the fantasy story I’d been tinkering with since I was a kid. I told myself: “Self, you’re going to finish this book. And it’s not going to suck. You’re going to leave some things open to interpretation so that when you grow and change in your views, the book’s world can grow with you.”
When I was a child, my mother read to me tales of Greek, Norse, and Celtic myths from a book called The Firebringer. Those old tales awakened an interest in epic stories of heroes performing remarkable deeds for remarkable purposes. Still young when we moved to Italy, I was fascinated by old Roman shrines, classical art, and the grotto in Sperlonga where they discovered a villa of Tiberius containing life-size sculptures of Odysseus blinding the Cyclops. Eventually, reading Tolkien’s works in the sixth grade all but sealed the deal for a lifelong love affair with epic fantasy.
From then on, I started writing stories and mapping out my own fantasy worlds. I scrapped and restarted the mythos many times, but through them all I carried forward some elements and characters into new incarnations. At first, Valkrage the Violet was a purple dragon who appeared as an elf. Then I used his name for one of my computer game characters in The Bard’s Tale II, Destiny Knight on the Apple ][c. He also made appearances as a mortal magic-user in our neighborhood Dungeons and Dragons games. For over a decade of story-telling, he remained a normal, but notable, mortal wizard in Artalon’s lore. I eventually developed darker edges to his character concept, making him one of good intentions but perhaps not all that sane. Thus, he was returned to the concept of an incarnation of a calculating god-like dragon, for whom the ends justified all means, and it wasn’t until this latest incarnation that he turned out to be gay. All my characters have similar lines of development, their stories and concepts evolving over time.
The concept of Artalon worked its way into the lore while I was in high school, as the imperial seat of the Shadowlord Aaron. Aaron was originally a good guy, a sort of demigod who was nearly perfect and almost all powerful. Making such a character interesting proved difficult, and he quickly became relegated to supporting cast in favor of mortal, imperfect characters who struggled. His concept also darkened over time, influenced by my own growth beyond seeing the world in terms of black and white.
For a while, I relegated the city of Artalon to the sidelines, a convenient historical backdrop for other fantasy adventures. It evolved into a sort of undefined Atlantis, a magical city that has been used for good and bad, with cycles of rising, being cataclysmically destroyed, forgotten in time, and then returning. It is now again a central force in this world’s lore.
I never before finished any of the books I started. The problem usually stemmed from projecting too much of my own religious or philosophical beliefs into the story. As my own worldview evolved—as worldviews tend to do when we grow—the stories ceased to resonate. I no longer cared for characters that were mouthpieces for visible gods… visible gods who were essentially mouthpieces for my discarded views that beat the reader with a big “This Is How It Is!” stick. Ugh.
Although Artalon and the primary characters endured as constants through various incarnations, the world itself was renamed several times. As I sat down to reboot the mythos yet again in that winter in 2010 in Kabul, I imagined a new name, Ahmbren, to signify the reboot of the world, with new maps, new places, and new characters. And a new direction: the narrator is only as smart as the character, and characters’ opinions are just that, and the reader can disagree with them. The narrator should never decide, for the reader, the big questions: afterlife, transcendent Higher Power, or the like. Different characters will have different takes, and maybe one view will “win” and leave its mark on the world in one book, with a different character’s view impacting the world in another book. And that’s okay.
I carried forward the main epic story: the idea of the three good dragons working to raise a champion, Aaron, to destroy the evil Black Dragon. I kept most of the central themes of Artalon as an Atlantis/Avalon amalgam, and the characters of Valkrage, Kaldor, and Graelyn as incarnate avatars of these three good dragons.
And so, in Afghanistan after each duty day ended, while others were watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy, I opened my word processor and started thumping out Valkrage’s journey as a young man, before he knew he was the incarnation of the Violet Dragon. I was determined to write their story, and hopefully finish it this time!
But then I got distracted. For a moment I thought, “What happens after the Black Dragon’s death? Do any of the dragons survive? No.” And with the intention of quickly jotting down some notes lest I forget, fully intending to get to the aftermath story only after finishing the tale of Valkrage and the other avatars, I opened a new file and Aradma made lightfall on the slopes of Windbowl…