Goblin Mire is now available in trade paperback, published by Parallel Universe Publications. 318 pages long, it is £8.99 in the UK and $12.00 in the US. European copes are 12. Euros. There is also a kindle version.
"Many years have passed since Elves defeated and killed the last Goblin king. Now the Goblins are growing stronger in their mire, and Mickle Gorestab, one of the few remaining veterans of that war, is determined they will fight once more, this time aided by a renegade Elf who has delved into forbidden sorcery and hates his kind even more than his Goblin allies. Murder, treachery and the darkest of all magics follow in a maelstrom of blood, violence and unexpected alliances. Facing up to the cold cruelty of the Elves, Mickle Gorestab stands out as the epitome of grim, barbaric heroism, determined to see the wrongs of his race avenged and a restoration of the Goblin King."
British Fantasy Society: review by Simon Ives:
"Had enough of trying to get your brain round the latest sci-fi epic, chockfull of phantasmagoria? The sort that leaves you, well, frankly confused about what you have just read? Then jump aboard this roller coaster of a tale, firmly grounded in old style fantasy and primarily told from the viewpoint of goblins and elves."
Order Direct from Parallel Universe Publications
|Cover by Joe Young|
"The country around Cyramon was well cared for and hilly, with streams meandering from the Blue Domed Hills to the west, before seeping across grassy plains and ending at the broad expanse of the Mire far to the east beyond a half-hearted range of featureless hills. Over the centuries, ever since Cyramon was founded by its first king, Ortor the Farseeing, most of the forest that surrounded it had been replaced by ploughed fields and tiered vineyards. What woodlands still abounded, though, mainly as preserves for hunting, were densely packed with wildlife. To the west, as the ground rose from the steppes towards the hills, the country became wilder, with towering trees and lonely homesteads inhabited by foresters, though sometimes by grimmer, less wholesome things.
A route of sorts headed westwards, winding through desolate passes to the coastal flatlands beyond, where the seaport of Malvery stretched along the mud flats of the Misty Sea.
This was as far as old Mickle Gorsestab's meagre knowledge of the outside world went, his mind wandering as he listened with half an ear to the proceedings of the Goblin Grand Council, more aware of the ache in his scrawny buttocks from sitting too long on the wooden bench than the garbled charges levelled at various malingerers and malcontents. Mickle's dark imagination tried to picture the land beyond the Blue Domed Hills. One day, once they'd beaten the elves and made Cyramon a city fit for goblins to live in, they could march beyond the surrounding hills and spread along the coast as well. A Goblin Empire, free from elven arrogance and greed, where goblins could reign over the known world, now that was a dream worth havin’, he thought. His eyes narrowed, losing some of their mistiness as he became aware once more of the heated debate in front of him. As one of the senior captains of the host he sat at the head of the council meeting along with eight others, including Ograff Bludrip and Garblat Pittspittle. The rest of the captains faced them in an untidy semicircle, forty strong. Adragor, present for his advice, was seated to one side, much of his face concealed by the cowl of his cloak. The meeting was sealed from the rest of the camp within a wicker wall. The bare earth was covered in straw, while wooden benches provided them with seats, though a crudely fashioned table had been set before the goblin leaders. It was this that Ograff Bludrip, who had been unanimously elected chairman of the meetings, was pounding with his massive fist.
A terrified goblin, held with chains about his scrawny ankles, was trying to explain in a stuttering, high-pitched, terrified voice that he had not been deserting when he was caught last night heading towards the mire by sentries posted beyond the edge of the camp.
"I w-were j-jus' out lookin- f-fer s-somethin- t-to eat," the abject creature whined at the end of his rambling defence.
Outraged goblins growled their disbelief. "Flog him!" some of them bellowed as they jumped to their feet in a fit of fury and shook their fists at the cringing goblin. "Deserter! Flog him! Flog him till his skin's in tatters!"
"Hang him!" bawled another, more bloodthirsty faction, almost hysterically hoarse.
Mickle glared down the table at Ograff Bludrip.
"Silence! SILENCE!" Ograff leaned his massive bulk forwards, the table creaking beneath his weight. "The next to speak'll feel my knuckles in his friggin' face. D'yer hear me, yer noisy bastards?"
A silence of sorts, in which mutterings continued behind scowls, came over the throng.
Ograff grunted his surly appreciation, then growled at the accused: "By yer own admission yer left yer mates and set out in the dark beyond the camp, even though yer knew full well that orders were that all of us had to stay inside, ready to fight in case the enemy attacked in the night. Yer knew this. Yer cannot deny it."
The goblin nodded miserably, overwhelmed by the menace of Ograff's bulk.
Ograff raised his eyes to the captains facing him, then along the table to those on either side.
"I see no reason why we shouldn't pass what we've passed afore fer this crime. Are we agreed?"
A growl of approval rose from the goblins, their eyes full of hatred for the crestfallen deserter crouched before them in a pool of his own urine.
Ograff rose to his full height. "As chairman o' this meetin' o' the Goblin Grand Council I sentence you, Ulbig Snorgor, to two hundred lashes o' the cat. And the warnin' that if yer desert again yer'll face brandin' and maimin' and castin' out as a traitor, spurned ferever by the Goblin race." Plainly exhausted at the lengthy recital of the sentence, Ograff sat down, reached for his tankard of ale and drank it down in three long gulps as Ulbig was dragged away for punishment by his smirking guards.
Mickle stifled a yawn. Ten cases like this had already passed before the Council today. Any more and he'd be ready to desert himself, Mickle thought with a grimace as his eyes passed down the line of goblins sat beside him till they rested on the elf. The foul-faced bastard hadn't said a word so far, Mickle brooded. Not one single word.
Distracted by a commotion outside, Mickle looked up as three warriors burst past the guards at the gate, calling out that the elves were attacking. Mickle's hand snatched at the hilt of his sword as he and the other captains leapt to their feet, overturning the table as they rushed from the meeting.
Confusion met them outside as goblins raced in all directions at once, some heading towards where the fighting was raging, while others crashed into them, panicked and screaming in terror. Mickle caught hold of one small, fear-crazed goblin by the scruff of the neck, his anger overcoming him as he ran his sword through the creature's body with a snarl of contempt before hurling him away.
"Kill any that flee!" Mickle growled above the hubbub.
Throwing his square-shaped body in front of one group, Ograff Bludrip raised his sword in both hands. He swung it at one terrified goblin that tried to duck past, silencing its screams with a blow to the neck that threw its head into the petrified faces of its shrieking companions, instantly stemming their flight.
"Any more of yer want a taste o' steel?" Ograff roared, challengingly, his round face pulsing with outraged anger at their cowardice.
The other captains gathered behind him, faces grim as they brandished their weapons.
"Let's see what's happenin'" Mickle ordered, striding through the confusion and heading straight for the worst of the uproar. Knowing that the rest of the leaders would follow him, he forced his way on till he came to the edge of the camp, his eyes scanning the last of the attack as the elf knights swung through the skirmishers, cutting them down, before heading back for the city. It was not long before he realized what had happened, his anger becoming more intense when the facts became obvious.
"See how little it took to panic these bastards," he complained to Ograff who was stood beside him, listening to the roars of anger that rose from the goblins as the knights returned to Cyramon. "They sound brave enough now but if those stinkin' elves had realized just how much they'd panicked them, they'd not be goin' back to their city now, they'd be callin' out the rest o' their horsemen to finish off what they'd started."
"We should've been here," Ograff grumbled. "We should've left enough o' the leaders out here to keep control in case somethin' like this happened. We've been spendin' too much time spoutin' hot air in there when we should have been gettin’ on with flattenin' that cesspit once and fer all."
There were murmurs of agreement from amongst others of the captains who had gathered behind them.
Adragor stepped forwards, his cowl thrown back from his dead-white face.
"Perhaps we should finish it tonight," the elf interrupted; his flesh gleamed with a cheesy ripeness as he stared above their heads at the looming city.
"And how will we do that?" Mickle asked sarcastically as he pointed a stubby, claw-tipped finger at the walls facing them. "Can yer magic teach us how we can fly above them walls?"
Adragor smiled through the goblins' growls of agreement, their faces showing all the scepticism and distrust they felt towards him. One word would have been enough to have the pack of them down on him, ripping his deathly, bone-thin body into shreds. "Why should you need to fly," Adragor asked, the merest shade of contempt in his voice as he stared back at them, "when you can ride through the gates - opened in welcome?" The sorcerer smiled at their blank faces as they listened to his words. "Tonight we can complete what we came here for - once and for all."
Mickle stared at the city - at the doomed city, he thought to himself, drawn against his will by the elf's words. A smile touched his dark lips as he thought of its end - of its flame-ripped, blood-drenched, violent end - unable to comprehend that what he and the rest of the goblins had dreamed about so long could at last be in their grasp, ready for the plucking.
As if reading his mind, the Corrupted One nodded his skull-like head.
"Tonight," he murmured; hatred throbbed in his voice. "Tonight they will feel our wrath." His long fingers felt at the scar on his face. "Tonight, Cyramon, tonight!""