The Madness of Queen Dany

Hey, everyone! Now that Game of Thrones is approaching its final episode and, given the very mixed reception the penultimate episode has received, we thought we’d share some of our thoughts about that “twist” in Dany’s character.

KC: Well, it’s no exaggeration to say that the fans (and some critics) have taken vehement issue with the transition of Dany from savior to Mad Queen. I know that I’ve been seeing this coming since the very beginning, but clearly others haven’t been watching the same show.

Kellen: I can understand some of the problems people have had with everything being rushed this season- it WOULD have been nice for a lot of the other arcs to have had a little more time to play out than they were given. But I feel like this is the obvious and inevitable conclusion to an arc that started way back in Season 1. I’m starting to feel like maybe I’ve been watching a different show this whole time or something.

KC: Exactly. Like, yes, it is a bit rushed but, frankly, I’d rather have things be a bit rushed than have to endure the interminable side-tracks that have really damaged the quality in the most recent two books. Because, let’s be real, both A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons were not, despite the retconning by some of the fans, in any sense “good.” So, if that means that the pace is a little breathless in these last two seasons, I’m personally fine with that.

Kellen: I know the fandom keeps going on and on with “subverting expectations” jokes both in reference to the way some arcs are playing out and the pace, but honestly I would have been more shocked if Dany didn’t do at least SOMETHING horrible by the end of the show. How many time has she been on the edge of something and she only gets talked down because of one of the supporting characters? And it become more and more common for her to NOT get talked down by them in the last couple of seasons- see burning the Tarlys.

KC: OMG, so much this. I’ve been thinking a lot about the fans’ reactions to “The Bells,” and I’m actually rather disturbed by the way they’ve justified Dany’s actions in prior seasons. Basically, it seems to boil down to some variant of: “Yes, it was awful that she crucified the Masters, torched one (whether or not he was innocent), burned the supply wagons, and burned the Tarlys and the khals, but they DESERVED their horrible, ugly deaths for opposing her.” I, personally, find this line of reasoning repugnant and disturbing, and I think that it reveals a lot more about how we justify violence than it does about the strengths and weaknesses of the show or its writers.

Kellen: I think if nothing else the Tarly Torching should have been everyone’s big clue if they hadn’t figured it out yet. I mean yeah, I probably would have torched at least Randyll, but 1) I know precisely what kind of jerk he is in general and how he treated Sam, and 2) I am well aware that I am not suited to being a wise and noble ruler who just wants to make everything better for everyone. Tyrion tried to tell her it was a bad idea, but it didn’t work. Which brings me to another point about her: everyone complaining Tyrion and Varys got dumber. I feel like Tyrion and Varys realized they were past a point where Dany would only listen to them up to a certain point before she executed them next.

KC: I think, honestly, that part of the reason that people are responding so violently to this narrative turn is because it forces them to acknowledge that, all along, Dany has been a cypher for what they wanted her to be, rather than what she actually was. Relatedly, I also think that her turn into Mad Queen really challenges our deeply-held desire for a hero that will save us, either in the fictional worlds that we invest our energies in or in the real one. When that fantasy comes crashing down, either in fiction or reality, the response is often anger, both at the failure at the fantasy and at ourselves for failing to see it for what it was in the first place.

Kellen: I think the big failure and the big success of both books and shows is that everyone is either grey, fallible, an idiot, or a combination of any and all of those. Sure, Dany in the books and until the last season of the show- all of her Essos parts- is the Good Guy because it’s easy to say “Well, she burned slavers. So that’s a net good.” and coming up with reasons that it’s ok that innocents also got caught up in that. Through all of that, Dany has always said she wants to break the wheel, and she feels a little bad here and there, locks up her dragons, and so on. But she does nothing to actually change these things about herself. Like, ever. She just says she wants to be a good person and goes on mucking everything up. Maybe if she had stayed in Astapor for a little while instead of just kind of dipping out and leaving everyone in the lurch, Cleon wouldn’t have taken the city over almost immediately.

KC: Right. And, speaking of breaking the wheel. It’s worth pointing out that, brutal as her actions are, the reality is that the Westerosi are reluctant to ever acknowledge anything other than brute might. So, even though her actions are horrific, the reality is that burning King’s Landing to the ground and rebuilding may, in fact, be the only way for her to start over. I think that, at least in part, is what she realizes when we get that great look at her face as she gazes at the Red Keep. While some have read it as the moment when madness takes hold, I think it may also signify that this is the moment when she realizes that nothing less than absolute destruction will ever cement her undisputed claim to the throne.

Kellen: I think it’s at least the moment when it really cements for her that what she said to Jon about people loving him and fearing her was the best she’d ever get and she completely loses what little rein she had over some good old fashioned Targaryen madness. It’s also when we come back again this season to Season 1, as it turns out Robert was right about pretty much everything. Robert has been a better prophecy than any of the actual prophecies. Dany turned out to be precisely what everyone said she would turn out to be, and no one wanted to believe it because they were the bad guys or the drunk king with no interest in ruling. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that the two biggest characters to have defended Dany to others in Westeros are Ned and Jon, both of who are idiots completely blinded to anything else by honor. All the rest of the Westerosi in Westeros have been saying this exact thing would happen all along, people. Foreshadowing.

Well, it seems we’re at least in agreement about Dany! We don’t know about y’all, but we’re pretty psyched for the final episode. Stay tuned for our thoughts on that, as well as other Game of Thrones stuff!

Kellen and KC

An excerpt from “To Seek the Flesh”, the first part of the Filliquian Chronicle

Hi everyone, Kellen here. As we start the final edit and clean up of our first novella in our new series, The Filliquian Chronicle, I’d like to share an excerpt. The main character of this part of the arc, Nicholas, has left home for the first time and is finding that things in the world aren’t the same as they are back home.

It took me less than an hour to gather all that I needed for my journey. In addition to a week’s worth of food—dried meat and fruit, cheese, bread, and skins of water. I also took a map. It was an old, crumbling thing, but it still had most of Troyeis laid out in some detail. I had never been further than a day’s ride from the castle, and if I wasn’t careful I’d soon be hopelessly lost.

When I went to the stables, the lads went quickly about their business, but every so often I thought I saw one of them give me a knowing look, as if he could somehow sense that I had given myself to Alric. I knew that I was probably just imagining things, but I couldn’t shake the feeling, even after I had ridden out of the city and started making my way south.

When I was several miles beyond the city walls, I stopped and turned back. The castle reared above the city, and I almost wept with the loss of leaving it for who knew how long.

Goodbye, Father, I thought to myself. I promise that I won’t fail you. Keep those bloody Glokstadters and Khoranthines at bay, and I’ll be back when I can.

With that, I turned my face to the south and began my journey.

The days passed as I rode away from all I had ever known. Our lands were sparsely populated, with only an occasional village to break up the bleakness, and the only thing connecting us to the world outside was the Kingsway. I had no idea what king it was named for or who had ordered its construction, but for time out of mind it had connected our little outpost to the rest of Troyeis, and to the capital.

At the thought of my ultimate destination, the splendid city of Yvelian, I felt a faint tremble of fear. What will I ever do when I reach the south, where there are actual cities? I thought to myself. Just the thought of being hemmed in by so many buildings, surrounded by so many other people, caused a nervous fluttering to start in my belly.

I began to wish, as I rode through that desolate country, that none of this had ever happened: not Alric, not Father’s revelation about the relic. None of it. I wanted nothing more than to just be a simple country lord again, content to spend my days riding through the fields and hunting, listening to my tired old tutor drone on about things in which I had no interest whatsoever.

At the same time, I also found myself enjoying being out in the wild, camping in the open at night. These days the lands were largely at peace, the last war with Glokstadt having been concluded over a decade ago, when I was still a boy. I didn’t have to worry about being attacked as I camped each night, nor did I fear lighting a fire.

A week away from Father’s castle—and beyond his domains—I came to a village that was significantly larger than any I had seen up until this point. Consulting the map, I learned that it was called Avay-du-ser. By now, I was far enough south that the weather had already turned somewhat milder, and I had noticed the change in architecture. Gone were the stern buildings that I was used to, replaced by more sinuous designs that showed the clear influence of the south.

As I rode through the well-laid streets of the village, I noticed the brightly painted storefronts and the well-tended homes, each with their little garden out front. This was the type of town that had probably rarely seen incursions from Glokstadt.

I also noted that there were two temples, one devoted to the God and one to the Goddess, and I frowned. Even though I knew I was beyond my father’s domains, it was still startling to see the worship of the Goddess so openly embraced. At the end of the main street stood the only inn in town, and there I tied my horse to a post and walked in.

It looked to be a well-kept establishment, with the floor swept clean and the tables reflecting the ample light that streamed in from the windows. It smelled remarkably homey, with the mingled scents of baking bread, beer, and beeswax.

The innkeeper, a plump man with an apron that seemed to strain against his girth, came forward to greet me, his face breaking into a wide smile. He took immediate note of the fine cut of my clothes, and nodded his head in recognition.

“My stable lad will take care of your horse, my lord.” He gave me an appraising look. “Be sure that you keep an eye on him. He’s a bit of a rascal.”

“He is?” I asked with a nervous laugh, wondering why the inkeep would keep a stableboy that was such an obvious problem. “Am I that obviously an easy mark?”

The man smiled in return and clapped my shoulder. “Oh no, my lord, it’s not that obvious, but I know how Stefan is. He never met a man of noble birth who he didn’t try to seduce. He’s worse than a woman.”

I stirred uneasily. I had assumed the innkeeper had meant the stable lad was a petty thief or tried to beg coins from rich guests; I was obviously wildly off target. Things had clearly changed significantly the further south that I came. The people here had no more adherence to the Order than I heard that they did in Yvelian.

What have I gotten myself into now? I wondered.

“I’d like a room for the night,” I said to cover my discomfort, “as well as a meal.”

The innkeeper nodded vigorously, clearly happy that I was about to put some coin in his purse.

“Very good, very good, my lord. Will you be taking your meal in your rooms, or would you like to join the rest of our the guests in the common room? The trade is a bit small at the moment, but I’m sure there are many who’d like to hear some word of the north.”

I debated for a moment. While I was tired and would have preferred to stay in the comfort of my own room, I didn’t want to arouse suspicions by appearing to be unsocial.

“I’ll join everyone in the common room,” I said. “I’ll just take my horse to the stables, and then I’ll take a rest in my room.”

“Aye, that’ll be just fine by us,” the innkeeper replied. “Oh, and you can call me Guiot.”

“Thank you, Guiot. You’ve been very kind, and I much appreciate it.”

With a final smile at him, I went back out to my horse. “Looks like we’re going to finally be spending the night indoors,” I said, and though I might have imagined it, I could swear that he gave me a grateful nod.

When I entered the stables, I breathed deeply of the smell of horse-flesh and hay, a pleasant mix that reminded me of happier days spent among Father’s horses and grooms.

The stable-lad was as dark-skinned as Alric had been, but where the singer had exuded a potent masculine air, Stefan had something…almost feminine about him. His hips swayed with a sensuous grace, and several times as we set about stabling my horse, I saw him shooting me knowing glances, and once I could swear he winked at me.

As I bent to gather my saddlebags I sensed him moving up behind me. “Where are you from?” he asked, his voice honeyed and smooth.

I tensed and paused for a moment. Something about that voice called to me, and for a moment I had a glimpse of what Alric must have felt when he saw me, a raw, vital desire to feel his flesh wrapped around my cock, to know that I was inside of another man and to feel that sense of raw power.

“The north,” I said shortly as I stood back up, feeling a flush of anger at his presumption in questioning me.

He was not at all discouraged by my terseness, and as he moved about the stable he continued to eye me. When I was satisfied that he was treating my companion with care, I gave him a final glare and went back into the inn. After Guiot showed me to my room, I threw myself on the bed without even getting undressed and within a few moments, I was asleep.

When I woke, the sun was already sinking into the west, and I felt as if I had slept for days. Getting groggily to my feet, I descended the stairs to the common room. As Guiot had said, there weren’t many people there, but there was still a steady hum of conversation that ceased the instant that I appeared. As each face turned toward me, I felt a growing urge to flee back up the stairs, but I forced myself the rest of the way down the stairs and seated myself in a corner table. After a few minutes more of scrutiny, nearly everyone went back to what they were about before I came, and I was left in peace.

Guiot appeared with a tankard of a very dark beer, as well as a loaf of warm, crusty bread, a tart cheese, and a bowl of sliced apples. “I think these should do to start you off, my lord,” he said. “The main course will be out directly.”

Before I could say anything else he whisked away, making his way from table to table with the ease of one who was born to talk to people.

How I wish I had that gift, I thought to myself.

Sitting there, I took the chance to study the men and women seated around me, wondering exactly what kind of place it was into which I had wandered. In many ways, it was not different than an inn at home. There was the usual sort of clientele: the locals in their homespun, the occasional prosperous merchant smoking a pipe in his silk and velvet, and even a few who had come from somewhere further away. But still, I couldn’t help but to think of the temple openly dedicated to the Goddess and the brazenness of the stable boy and how accepting Guiot was of it.

Now that the initial surprise of my appearance had worn off, the rest of the people had turned back to their own affairs, although I would occasionally see one of them give me an appraising look, and one or two of them looked as if they would actually get up and join me at my table.

Before any of them could do so, however, Guiot returned with my dinner, a huge platter filled with roast beef swimming in gravy, peas lathered in some sort of white sauce, and broiled potatoes. “I hope that our fare is suitable for my lord’s palate,” he said, bowing his head just slightly. “We might not be the wealthiest village, but we do take pride in our table.”

“I’m sure that this will suit my tastes just fine,” I said kindly, smiling at Guiot and his obvious desire to please.

The meal was so good that for a time I simply gave myself up to the pleasure of it. When at last I was finished, I felt a peculiar tiredness settling over me. Bidding Guiot a good night, I made my way back to my room and, taking my clothes off, I slithered into bed. Though I hated to admit it, even to myself, I was a little disappointed not to have seen the stable boy Stefan in the common room.

What’s wrong with you? I asked of myself. You’ve gotten into enough trouble already, so don’t go looking for more.

For some time, I tossed and turned, sleep continuing to elude me. Gradually, however, I felt my emotional and physical exhaustion beginning to overwhelm me, drawing me deeper and deeper into the warm embrace of oblivion. Of course, I was finally on the edge of sleep when I heard it: the deliberate scratching at the door of someone wanting admittance.

Don’t answer it, I thought to myself, turning to the wall. Don’t do it. You know who it is and what he wants. You made a vow to God. You can’t go back on it now. Again.

While my mind might be saying these things, my cock was saying something else altogether.

The scratch came again.

“My lord?” Stefan’s breathy voice came through the door. “I thought…I thought that you would like to see me.”

I tried to shut out the sound of his voice, to pretend that he wasn’t there, but it was no use. I knew that if I didn’t let him in, I would never get back to sleep. My cock was already so hard that it ached, and all I could think of was the feel of him brushing against me, of what it would feel like to be inside him, his warmth embracing me. I climbed slowly to my feet and made my way to the door, feeling all the while as if I were wandering through a dream.

Please, that voice inside me whispered again, don’t do this. It’s not too late to move away from this path. There’s still a chance to save yourself!

But my body refused to listen to these commands, moving steadily forward. My hand reached out and opened the door, and I stepped back to let Stefan come inside.

I knew as soon as he stepped into the room that I was doomed. He was barely inside before he was taking off his clothes, revealing the exquisite smooth skin beneath. His whole body was as hairless as polished marble except for a triangle of curly hair around his cock. He was lithe and beautiful, and I found myself wanting to be inside him, to possess him body and soul. And from the look on his face, I could tell that he wanted that as well.

He walked across the room, his hips swaying, his cock already hard. Though it wasn’t as large as mine or Alric’s, if was almost perfectly proportioned. I yearned to touch it, to feel its silky length. I found that I could do nothing more than stand there, watching him approach, my own cock already leaking precum. My entire body tingled with longing.

Hardly knowing what I was doing, I opened my arms and he stepped into them. Our lips met, the silken feeling of his mouth on mine stirring my desire to ravish him, to make his body my own.

His hand reached down and started stroking my cock in expert motions, forcing an unwitting moan to escape my lips. “Does my lord like this?” He whispered, his hand moving first fast and then slow. Even though I didn’t want it, I could feel my climax mounting, and I definitely didn’t want release just yet. There was far too much that I wanted to do with—to—him to want that.

I put my hand on his. “If you keep that up I’m going to come. And I’d hate for this to end so soon.”

“My lord doesn’t have to worry. I trained for a time in the Courts of Love. I know what it takes to pleasure a man and to keep the pleasure going.” He smiled. “Even with someone from the north.”

I felt a momentary flush of anger at the way he spoke of my homeland. Well, we would see just how much this youth would enjoy being fucked by a barbarian. I turned him roughly around and pushed him over the bed. He immediately looked over his shoulder at me and wiggled his arse, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to find any peace until I was inside him.

Moving up behind him, I spit on my cock and then on my fingers, using them to open him up. If I had thought that using only spit would be painful for him, I was immediately disabused of that notion when the moans that came from him were ones of pure and absolute pleasure; he writhed on the bed, arching his back.

“Please, my lord,” he groaned, “please fuck me.”

Unable to retrain myself any longer, I pushed deep inside of him, desperate to feel our bodies unite.

At first, he was so tight and warm that I thought I would come too soon, but whether the boy did indeed have some power from his time in the Courts of Love or whether my body just began to grow accustomed to these new sensations, I soon found myself slipping into a powerful rhythm, the immediacy of my climax receding.

We settled into a powerful rhythm, me driving deep into him with slow, purposeful strokes, coaxing out each and every moan and whimper of pleasure. I had never imagined that feeling myself inside another man could be so intoxicatingly pleasurable, but as our bodies moved together, I felt the last bits of my old self draining away.

But as that happened, a small knot of anger—of rage, even—began to take shape in the back of my mind.

I pulled my cock out and moved to lie on my back.

“Ride it,” I commanded, more than a little surprised by the tone of power in my voice. Who am I? I wondered. And who am I becoming?

But Stefan climbed up, grabbed my cock, and sat down on it in one smooth motion, his warm tightness stretching out and causing a new wave of sensation to sweep up through my cock and through the rest of my body.

I was in awe of the look of absolute pleasure that passed across his face. I knew how much I had enjoyed the experience of being fucked by Alric, but it had honestly never occurred to me that another man would find it so pleasurable. Seeing those beautiful, warm brown eyes of his close and his pink tongue poke out from between those pouting lips, however, I realized that it wasn’t just the physical sensations that he was enjoying, but also the simple fact of submission to my needs, my desires, my wants.

I reached out and began stroking his cock, relishing the silken feel of his flesh.

He leaned down and kissed me, and for the first time since Alric and I had come together, I felt an extraordinary connection with another human, one that seemed to be as much about the spirit as of the flesh.

I don’t know how long we moved together. We had entered into a place unlike any I had ever known, one almost of pure feeling. For those precious few moments, I lost myself, and I knew, perhaps for the first time in my life, absolute happiness.

Suddenly, however, I remembered my father, and the rules of the Order, and I felt anger bubbling up within me. I saw Father’s stern face and a frown crease his forehead as he took in what he was seeing. I saw Mother Henriette’s frown of disappointment. Suddenly a fierce, vicious anger swept through me.

How dare this impudent youth use my body so? He was no better than Alric, for all that he was the submissive one and this time I was the one perpetrating the deed. I pushed him off of me and roughly positioned him so that he was on all fours on the bed. As if he anticipated my  want, he arched his back, and the sight of that beautiful smooth flesh posed so perfectly nearly drove me mad with longing, and this in turn made me even angrier.

When I entered him again it was with such force that I was sure it would cause him pain. He managed to surprise me again, however, as his moans of pleasure reached new levels of intensity.

“Oh, my lord,” he groaned, “no one has ever fucked me like this before. Harder, oh please, harder!”

I reached out for his hair and, as Alric had done with me, I pulled his head back so that he was bent almost double. I leaned in close to his ear. “I’m going to fill you up like the dirty little whore that you are.”

I kissed him roughly and then pushed his head back into the pillow. He continued to moan, writhing beneath me as if my angry words had merely driven him even further into the arms of desire.

The more the boy moaned the angrier—and the more aroused—I became. I thrust harder and harder, not sure whether I was hurting Stefan or not and frankly not caring. I was caught up in something larger than myself, some vast untapped reservoir of desire and rage that threatened to undo me completely unless it found release.

I felt my climax building through all of my body, until I heard him moan, “Oh please lord, fill me with your seed. I need it.

His pleading pushed me over the edge, and with one more powerful thrust I came. I reached around him and feverishly stroked his cock, until I felt his own warm load splattering my hand. Despite the fact that we had both found release, I found that I wanted to continue, and based on the sound of Stefan’s moans I thought that he did too. And so I continued to thrust, his insides now coated with my seed. Stefan writhed and whimpered, his fingers clawing desperately at the bed.

My second climax came upon me almost before I knew it. At the same time, beneath me I felt every muscle in Stefan’s body also go rigid, and knew that he was coming as well. I let my climax sweep all thought away for a few precious moments, but as soon as it was gone I felt all of the jumbled emotions come crashing down on me. Worse than all of them, however, was the feeling of emptiness that came behind them.  

I lay on my back, Stefan beside me, his body an unpleasant reminder of everything that had just happened. When he tried to kiss me, I pushed him roughly out of the bed. “Get out,” I said.

If I had thought that my roughness would hurt him, I was mistaken. He smiled, lazy and lascivious.

“My lord’s wish is my command.” He winked at me and left.

After he had left…I wasn’t sure how I felt. Dirty, possibly, stained by the same act of canal desire that had led me to abandon myself with Alric. But there was something else, too. Now I knew what it felt like to have sexual power over someone, and I wasn’t at all sure that I liked it. Still, I couldn’t quite shake the image of that lithe young stable boy, with his back perfectly arched as I fucked him. The imagine in my head made my cock come to life, and I stroked it lazily until I shot another load.

Even then, it took me far too long to get to sleep.


The next morning, I prepared to set off for the next stage of my trip. I knew that the quickest way to get to Yvelian was to pass through the Greenwood, but when I mentioned my route to the innkeeper, he gave me a look of horror.

“It’s very unwise to go there, young master,” he said, as he served me a rich breakfast of eggs, sausage, and crusty bread. “There are all sorts of creatures said to dwell there, and there have been reports that folk have seen things in the edges of it that haven’t been seen in the world in living memory. Satyrs and spirits and the like. If you were here on market day you’d hear the stories the farm people bring in with them about it. You’d not hear them all if you were here for a month of markets.

He lowered his voice even further. “They say there are still other remnants of magic and darkness left there, shadows of some old time. We worship the God and the Goddess both here, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, and we know to respect their ancient powers. There have been far too many who’ve gone into that forest and never come out again, and if they do come back they don’t seem to have all of their wits. If my lord will forgive my saying so, I don’t think that you should go in there.”

I stifled my impatience with the tales and superstitions smallfolk spread around. “I understand and appreciate your concerns, Guiot,” I said, “but it’s the path I must take. Urgent business calls me to Yvelian, and I can’t afford the time it would take to ride around the forest, and even if I could those lands aren’t particularly safe themselves. If I want to get there, I must go through the Greenwood.”

Guiot looked as if wanted to argue further, but instead he shrugged. “I’m sure that my lord knows best in these matters. But please, keep your wits about you while you’re in there.”

I smiled and clapped him on the shoulder. “You don’t need to worry on that count,” I said heartily. “I know what I’m about.”

You’re such a liar, I said to myself.  Still, there was nothing more to be gained from standing here arguing, and so I took my leave of Guiot and went to the stables.

I called into the shadows at the back of the stables for someone to saddle my horse, and Stefan emerged a moment later with my tack over his shoulder. He gave me several knowing looks as he began to get my horse ready, and though I tried to ignore him, there was that same sort of irresistible sexual energy about him that had been about Alric.

His hand gently brushed my thigh as he moved past me in the close confines of the stall. “Please,” I said, and though I meant it to come out authoritative, it came out much to breathy to be convincing. “Don’t do this. You’ve already led me astray once. I…I can’t do it again. I won’t do it again.”

He flashed a smile at me and moved closer. The smell of him—a mixture of horse and leather and musk—filled my nose, and it was all I could do to not grab him right then. His hand strayed down to my cock, which was already slowly growing harder and harder.

“Why should you go away without a little bit of a present?” he asked, his voice oozing lust. “You certainly seemed to enjoy yourself last night. Why shouldn’t we have a little encore performance?”

Before I could keep him from doing it he dropped to his knees, his hand unlacing my trousers. My cock, eager and yearning for release sprang out immediately. Without thought, my hands went through his delicious curls as he took me into his mouth.

He looked up at me, and I could see joy in those warm brown eyes. This was a man who felt that his true calling was serving other men.

Would I be happy in such a role? I wondered.

“Ooooooh, fuck,” I groaned as he continued to bob up and down my length, his tongue flicking all over my shaft. “Oooooh fuuuuuck.”

I knew from the beginning it wasn’t going to take me long to come. Part of it was Stefan’s obvious skills, but there was something else as well, something about the sexual energy that seemed to crackle between us. Perhaps it was the power of the Goddess—as frightening as that was to contemplate—or perhaps it was just the fact that I was beginning to discover and accept that I liked the pleasures of the body.

Whatever it was, with one last groan, I felt my cock erupt into his mouth. Stefan took a moment to savor and milk every last drop, then got to his feet and kissed me, the taste of my cum still salty on his lips. “I do hope that my lord will pay us a visit again soon,” he said, his eyes glinting mischievously. “I would love to feel that again.” He gave me a squeeze.

“You’re a demon,” I said, but even I knew that I didn’t really mean it.

Without another word, I mounted my horse and rode away.

I didn’t look back.

We Ride the Storm Review, Part One

Hi everyone, and welcome to the first installment of our review of We Ride the Storm, the first book of The Reborn Empire by Devin Madson. First, we’d both like to thank the author for writing such a compelling book, and second, we’d like to thank Mark Lawrence for creating the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off (SPFBO), through which we discovered this book.

KC Winters: I have to say, I REALLY enjoyed these first six chapters. There’s a gritty realism to the opening chapter that drew me in at once, but I’m also very intrigued by the complicated politics that are already emerging.

And besides, who doesn’t like a kickass assassin who also happens to be a courtesan?

Kellen Darcy: I’m honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed the first six chapters, and how invested I already am in what happened. It’s not unusual for it to take me half a book or more to get into something, and I was definitely in by the end of the third chapter.

I’ve abandoned a few series that I ended up enjoying later in just the first bit- some of the more popular examples being The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire- but I made it through our allotted first part with pretty much a lack of drama on my part.

KC Winters: I feel like this is one of those stories where the enigmas are only gradually going to be revealed, and I like that. I relish the feeling of always feeling on the edge of my seat, wondering when the next shoe is going to drop, when the next aspect of the mystery is going to be revealed.

I also like that there is clearly a vast history to this world, one that is only gradually being revealed to us.

Kellen Darcy: I agree with that feeling of a vast world still coming out, and I want to add that I appreciate the pace that it’s unfurled so far. I love fantasy, but one thing that I think a lot of fantasy writers have a hard time with is a decent pacing when they’re unfurling that world in their writing.

I feel like quite a chunk of works I’ve read go too fast or too slow with relatively few hitting that sweet spot in the middle. I’m reading fantasy for the world building as much as the plot, to be clear. But you can’t dump a thousand years or more of your world’s history in my lap all at one and expect me to keep up or not abandon ship in frustration. At the same time, you can’t just leave the entire scope of the world out until halfway through the series.

KC Winters: Exactly. Like you, I find that it is very hard to find that in a lot of fantasy. Tad Williams is one who does it very well, and of course the greats like Robert Jordan. I also find it to be one of the things I struggle the most with as a writer, juggling the generic demands of fully-realized alternate world and engaging present-day plot.

Obviously, you’re going to discover aspects of your world that you didn’t know before (when you started writing), but you also have to make sure that you have a firm enough handle on your own mythos to bring it into your own work. Madson seems to have the knack of it.

So, who was your favourite character so far?

Kellen Darcy: I don’t honestly know yet. Miko, so far, especially by the end of Chapter 6. She seems so confident in herself and what she’s doing at so many points, but then at other times it’s obvious that she’s a flawed person and realizes that she doesn’t have all of the pieces.

I feel like I know more about her than I do the other POV characters at this point, so I feel more of a connection with her. That may or may not change as we go further through the book.

KC Winters: Yeah, I agree. She definitely seems cut from the Arya Stark mold, and it’s precisely because she’s so innocent (compared to the other POV characters) that I feel like she has a lot of room to grow. And, since I’m partial to the political part of a lot of fantasy, I always find myself drawn to those particular parts of a given novel.

Kellen Darcy: If we’re going with an ASoIaF comparison here, I don’t know that it would be Arya I’d compare her to. She seems much more aware of the reality of things than Arya was in the earlier parts of the series; of course, it turns out she isn’t as clever as she thought, but still. She lacks that almost innocence Arya seemed (at least to me) to hang on to until much later in the series, long after she should have lost it many times over. (I feel like it was hard for the lesson to soak into Arya’s thick skull all the way.)

I can’t actually think of a good ASoIaF comparison character. She’s tough like Arya, sure, but she also has a kind of naiveté like early Sansa did, but without the constant whining and victim complex even before she was a victim. And a lot less yammering about lemon cakes.

I feel like so far, ALL of the main characters have been lacking that poor judgement of literally everything pretty much everyone in ASoIaF exhibited for too long. Thankfully.

KC Winters: Oh, that’s definitely all true. I didn’t really mean to draw a one-on-one comparison, just to point out that she’s a certain TYPE of character, one that I usually find more appealing.

I really feel like Madson has a control over her characters that very few other authors of epic fantasy (ahem, Martin and Jordan) don’t seem to have. She allows us into their heads, yes, but she doesn’t allow them to be as self-indulgent as so many other epic fantasy characters. Which, let me tell you, is like a freaking breath of fresh air.

Kellen Darcy: Fair enough.  Even though it’s been over two decades I’m still easily irritated by how dense some of the ASoIaF characters were.

I enjoy the way Madson is presenting her characters to us. They’re not stuffed shells of blandness, they’re not acting like they’re in a vacuum, they’re not the only thing happening in the world. I like them as characters, even if I don’t know them well enough to like or dislike them as people.

KC Winters: I completely agree. I can’t wait to see where they go from here and, really, isn’t that the best thing about a fantasy novel?

Kellen Darcy: It’s precisely why I enjoy fantasy, especially compared to historical fiction- which I also really enjoy. I never have an idea where it IS going to go- I always know the world didn’t end with historical fiction. I don’t think.

I think this is as good of a spot as any to cut off this time- unless I have been reading historical fiction wrong and the world is over. Join us soon for the second installment!

Why We Write Erotic Epic Fantasy

Why on earth are you writing erotic epic fantasy?

We get asked this question a lot when we tell friends and family what we’re doing, so we thought we’d take a few minutes to inaugurate our new blog by talking about why we write what we do, as well as some of our plans for the future.

There’s no doubt that the erotic plays a very fundamental part in a lot of epic fantasy, though not always in an obvious way. Sometimes, of course, it is an explicit part of the narrative, as is the case with Jacqueline Carey’s excellent Kushiel series. Other times, though, it’s more subtle, often cloaked in the more respectable guise of the romance subplot that is almost (though not always) a key part of any hero’s journey. Who would deny that the erotic is a part of Robert Jordan’s enormously successful Wheel of Times series. Just because it’s submerged beneath (rather juvenile) romantic elements doesn’t mean that it’s not important. And, of course, there’s all the sexy bits of A Song of Ice and Fire–and on its HBO counterpart Game of Thrones–but that more often slips into the merely prurient.

What we want to do is to bring this awareness out into the open, to explore in an honest, frank way the ways in which sexuality affects human nature and behaviour while also exploring the themes familiar to any fan of high and epic fantasy: the nature of heroism, of good and evil, of the power of the individual to effect change in a cosmically huge and sometimes indifferent universe. We want to engage all parts of your mind, your heart, and your body, and bringing erotica and epic together allows us to do this.

Let’s be clear, here. Our work is going to be sexually explicit. There’ll be no beating about the bush with us. However, our novellas will about more than sex; you’ll find yourself immersed in the typical fantasy world, with its own history, religion, peoples, and mores. There will be gods and goddesses, priests and kings and emperors, poets and singers and peasants. And all of them, from the highest to the lowest, is going to be having a lot of sex. You’re going to find yourself immersed in all of the pleasures that these two genres offer their readers, and we fervently hope that you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy writing them.

Though it might seem strange to say so, epic and erotica actually have a lot in common. Both modes tell us something about how we live, how we love, and how we look at the world or, conversely, how ewe would like to do these things if only we weren’t beset by limitations of all sorts. They both immerse the reader in a world where the normal rules that bind us do not apply, where people can engage in magical escapades and sexy goings-on (sometimes) without fear of reprisal. Both reflect and refract the world that we actually live in, allowing a safe space to explore vexing questions that cannot always be addressed directly in the real world.

And both, it is worth pointing out, are immensely popular, even if people are ashamed to say that they like either of them in polite company. No one wants to admit that they read erotica, both because as a culture we still struggle to talk in a mature way about sex (and about having it) and because I strongly suspect that it’s seen as inherently feminine (and thus not worth taking seriously and certainly not worth bragging about reading to one’s intellectual acquaintances). Fantasy, likewise, has always struggled to get a fair shake as a work of serious writing

The other question a lot of other people ask is: why the novella? Isn’t the short form antithetical to the genre of the epic?

Well, to that we say: yes, and no. Sure, epic has an enormous scope, a great canvas upon which the writer can sketch the grand cosmic conflicts that are at the heart of the genre and its pleasures. But we also think that sometimes the expected length of an epic can be a limitation, and it can encourage writers to pad, either with plot threads that end up going nowhere or in reams and reams of description that end up being skimmed rather than savoured.

So, we believe that the shorter form of the novella allows us the flexibility to write both self-contained narratives while also contributing to some part of a greater whole. Each of the planned novellas that we’re writing can be read in isolation, though obviously we hope that those who read one will find themselves devouring more and more of the other entries in the series. The novella has experienced something of resurgence in popularity at the moment, and we believe this is because of its strengths as a form.

Think of it this way: it’s like a really solidly-written television drama, in which each episode functions as both part and whole (as the TV critic Emily Nussbaum recently point it). There will obviously be narrative through-lines that run from beginning to end, but you’ll be able to dip your toe in at any point and enjoy an entry. To put it in TV parlance–which seems to us the nearest equivalent–we’re trying to straddle the line between episodic and serial narrative. We rely on you to tell us how successful we are in this effort.

The series, and this website, and in fact our entire apparatus as writers, is still very much in its fledgeling stage, but we really do look forward to engaging with our readers as we explore this new world that we’ve created. We’ll be updating this website fairly often, so continue to check back to see what we’re up to. Mostly, we’ll be chatting about writing and doing book reviews of our favourite fantasy and erotica. At some point, we hope to launch a separate website devoted exclusively to this world we’ve created.

There’s lots in store. We hope you’ll join us!

Kellen and KC