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Barbara Ashford, author of Spellcast and its newly released sequel, Spellcrossed, is holding a release party this Sunday, June 24th, 2012, 1-4pm, at Spectator's Pub, 219 North Avenue, New Rochelle, NY. I'll be there as well, and we're both looking to sign some books. There will be some food (free), drinks (not free), and books for sale at the event (not free in case "for sale" didn't register with you). It should be a grand old time. So if you're in the area and are looking for something to do Sunday afternoon, swing on by and chat with us both!

Release Party!!!!
Spectators Pub
219 North Avenue
New Rochelle, NY

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I just had to share this great review of my book Well of Sorrows by Bill Capossere over at Fantasy Literature Reviews, especially since the sequel Leaves of Flame is set to hit the bookshelves in another week. (It's probably on some bookshelves actually, but you can certainly preorder it.) Please link to the review or this post! You have to scroll down the page to the review at the bottom if you go directly to the site, but here's the review in its entirety.

One’s enjoyment of Well of Sorrows, by Benjamin Tate (pen name of Joshua Palmatier) will depend greatly on two issues: one’s patience for slowly developing stories and the amount of “fantasy” one is looking for in a fantasy novel. But by all means, give this book a try. It turned out to be one of my top ten fantasy reads of the year, though having been released in 2010 it can’t go on my official list for 2011. It can, however, go on my “Why do I start reading compelling series before they are completed; will I never learn?” list.

The story’s opening setting is Portstown, a “New World” colony still riven by old “Family” feuds from the mother kingdom across the ocean. In short order, things fall apart and after a quickly quelled riot (starkly, realistically violent and well-handled), the out-of-favor Families end up on a forced emigration, forming a wagon train heading out into the unexplored/unsettled plains. With them are the main characters — a young boy named Colin; his fiancée, Karen; his parents; and Walter, the local Lord’s son and representative, who has been brutally beating and tormenting Colin for some time back in Portstown. We follow their movement across new lands, past a geographic obstacle known as the Escarpment, and then we watch their first contact on the upper plains with several groups: first the Alvritshai, led by a young heir to one of their Houses, Aeren; then the Dwarren, and finally the horrifying Shadows.

After a surprisingly dark turn, the book skips ahead several decades to a transformed Colin, one now able to wield a form of magic associated with the titular Well, magic which has basically allowed him not to age but which has also come at some cost and possible threat to his humanity. Many of the characters from the first 200 pages are long gone (a real risk on Page’s part), though the Alvritshai being a long-lived race, Aeren is still alive and eventually becomes Colin’s close companion, blooming into a major character in his own right. The rest of the novel, another 300 pages or so, deals with two eventually intertwined issues: the hostile and combustible relations between the three races — humans, Dwarren, and Alvritshai — and the growing threat of the Shadows and Wraiths to all three races. A threat that few beside Colin seem willing to give credence to and a threat that Colin, thanks to his use of magic, is uniquely positioned to do something about, though not without personal cost.

That’s not a lot of detail, but I really don’t want to give much of the plot away. As mentioned above, you’ll need to be a patient reader for this one. This is a novel that really takes its time, unfolding slowly yet engrossingly. In its pacing, its level of detail, its quiet use of magic, Well of Sorrows reminded me a lot of some of Robin Hobb’s work (not in any derivative sense), which for me is great praise. I was pulled into the story from the start and while I recognized its slowness, I reveled in the pace rather than chafed at it. Not once did I feel the urge to skim or skip ahead; not once did I bemoan the lack of a stronger-minded editor. It was a long, slow book and it was just as long and slow as it needed to be. I wouldn’t be shocked to find some people, maybe even a lot, thinking it too slow, but definitely give it some time to see if its pace wins you over.

The other possible issue for some fantasy fans is the delayed arrival of the “fantasy” aspect and the relatively restrained amount of “fantasy.” Until one meets the Shadows, almost 200 pages in, it may as well be an alternative historical novel retelling the story of Jamestown (not literally or exactly, just the basic idea) and then the story of the Oregon Trail. Even then, and even with Colin’s transformation into one who can wield powerful magic, the fantastic elements remain light. The Dwarren are obviously dwarf-like (smaller of stature, living underground), but they are not dwarves. The Alvritshai have Elvish aspects (taller than humans, longer-lived), but they are not elves. Tate has taken the racial tropes and put his own spin on them, making them feel wholly original and separate and their placement in the New World setting increases that sense of originality. Colin’s magic is a bit vague (purposely so, I’d say, as more gets explained in book two), but what we see is relatively unique, involving not just some potency against the shadows (the more common sort of fantasy magic), but observation and eventually manipulation of time, albeit it in quite constrained fashion.

Eventually the magic gets ramped up, we get a battle or two, but a lot of the story deals with political intrigue and maneuvering. The major goal turns out to be the prevention of a battle rather than leading us to the same old climactic battle scene, and the magic-user mostly tries his best to avoid using magic. It’s a light, restrained overlay of fantasy and a refreshingly enjoyable approach.

The characters are mostly well drawn and if there isn’t a lot of change in them, I’d say it’s not for lack of good characterization but mostly due to the slow pace. What does change, though, are the relationships among characters, again at a slow but realistic pace. The cultural details are plentiful and make the different races and characters feel fully formed and realistic, as do their interactions with each other. Finally, while there aren’t a lot of lines you’ll linger over for their stylistic panache, the prose is smooth, precise, and mostly effortless with some nice descriptive lines throughout. Dialogue is probably the weakest aspect of the novel; it isn’t bad, but it doesn’t crackle.

The main storyline is resolved, but ends with an obvious lead into the next book, Leaves of Flame, due out in January 2012. While this second book isn’t quite as good as Well of Sorrows (there are more pacing issues), it’s still quite strong and the latter third just as good. If you start Well of Sorrows now, you can pick up Leaves of Flame when it’s released right after the holidays. Both are highly recommended. According to his website, book three will be entitled Breath of Heaven. I wish I already had it in hand. —Bill Capossere

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Bwahahahaha! I have the cover art for the upcoming Leaves of Flame, the sequel to Well of Sorrows. And I also have the back cover copy. And I also have a never before seen (by me at least) review of well of Sorrows! So lots of fun things to share today.

First up, the cover art:

What do you guys think? I think the colors and such will make it pop on the shelf in the fantasy section. I like the swirling effect in the leaves, as well as the lightning strike with the ominous purple colors at the top. And it works well set against the cover of the paperback of Well of Sorrows, too. But even better is the cover copy on the back:

Cover Copy: One hundred years have passed since Colin Harten--transformed to something more than human by the magic of the lifeblood contained in the Well of Sorrows--used his new powers to broker a peace agreement between the human, dwarren, and Alvritshai races of Wrath Suvane. Since then all three races have greatly expanded their empires. And Colin has continuously sought ways to defeat the dark spirits known as the sukrael--and the Wraiths they have created to act for them in the physical world. Yet Colin has not been able to prevent the dark spirits from reawakening more and more Wells, thus extending their power across the lands.

Having mastered three of the five magics of Wrath Suvane, Colin has gifted each race with a magical Tree to protect them from incursionso f the dark forces. He has also realized that unless a certain number of the Wells are left open, their magic can never be stabilized, and the land will be torn apart by this uncontrolled force.

But now the enemy has located the one Well that is key to controlling the entire network, and if Colin can't find a means to stop them from claiming and activating this Well, it could mean the end of all three races. . . .


I'd have picked up that book (and the first book) in the bookstore in a heartbeat if I'd read that cover copy. But if that isn't enough to convince you to pick up the books (if you haven't already), then consider this great review for Well of Sorrows from Gina Bowling at VOYA:

WELL OF SORROWS: "After fleeing their homeland, Colin and his family escape to a new world where they are second-class citizens at best. Colin runs into trouble with the ruler's son, and in order to save Colin from unjust punishment, his father agrees to lead an expedition into unknown territory. When the group is attacked, only Colin survives, aided by the Faelehgre, mysterious shadow-beings. Colin comes to learn of the struggle that has taken place for hundreds of years between humans, the Dwarren, and the Alvritshai. With the special powers he now possesses, he alone may have a chance to bring peace to this war-torn land. Benjamin Tate's debut novel is fantasy reminiscent of classics like J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy (Houghton Mifflin, 1994) with its other-world and fantastical peoples. The shadows of Light and Dark also call to mind the mysterious black shadow on the popular television series Lost. Colin is a strong protagonist who refuses to be bullied, and the secondary characters are developed well enough that readers come to know them. There is a touch of romance, but overall, this is a story of finding one's strength to survive in spite of hardship and great loss, and giving of oneself to right the wrongs of generations past. While the sheer volume of this tome will intimidate some, fantasy readers will be drawn in and likely make quick work of this debut work, pleased to learn that a sequel is hinted at in the final pages."

I mean, "reminiscent of classics like J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings triogy"? How cool is that comparison? It actually makes me tremble a little, because it raises expectations and I'm not sure how comfortable I am with it. I mean, Tolkien. I don't think I'm at that level (yet). I'm still learning, experimenting, etc. But still, a great review and I'd love for people to think I was even close to Tolkien.

In any case, check out the books, and perhaps preorder Leaves of Flame if it catches your fancy. I noticed that doesn't have the mass market paperback for Well of Sorrows listed on their site at all, which annoys me, but you can find it at B&N online and can order it into your local stores. It's certainly readily available, no matter what thinks. You can also get any of my books (Benjamin Tate or Joshua Palmatier) directly from me, signed and personalized and everything. Contact me at if you're interested.

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I'm in the revision process for Leaves of Flame and made the hard decision to cut the following scene completely. Even though the scene adds some interesting elements--giving some motivation for Vaeren's actions and providing some setting and color to the Alvritshai's past--I didn't think it was necessary for this section. Plus, my editor asked me to shorten/tighten/streamline some of the "travel" scenes in the novel and cutting this section certainly shortened the travel scenes. (At the same time, I'm supposed to bump up the history of the Old Continent and New Continent regarding the humans, and I haven't figured out how I'm going to do that yet.) In any case, I hope you all enjoy. Colin, Aeren, Eraeth, and a bunch of other characters that none of the readers of Well of Sorrows have met yet, are traveling through the ruined Alvritshai city of Taeraenfall in the northern wastes--the lands that the Alvritshai were forced to abandon because of the encroaching glaciers and snow. They're searching for a Well that's farther north. You get some of the tension between Colin, Aeren, and the members who are part of the Order of the Flame here.

A Cut Scene from LEAVES OF FLAME )

Preorder LEAVES OF FLAME on here.
Or catch up by ordering WELL OF SORROWS here.
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Today, April 10th, Barbara Ashford and I (plus Ben Tate) will be signing copies of AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR at Spectator's Bar and Grill (and/or Pub) in New Rochelle, NY! We'll have some bar food out for people to snack on and the books to buy if you don't have it already. Feel free to stop by! We're there from 1-4pm, and since both of us have books coming out in May (SPELLCAST from Barbara and WELL OF SORROWS in paperback from me), you can come chat with us about those new releases as well. The address is below. If you're in NYC, take a break and do an outing up to Spectator's for drinks, bar food, and a good long friendly chat with two fantasy authors. We'll be searching for the perfect Gilgamesh impersonator among the crowd. *grin*

219 North Avenue
New Rochelle, NY
(Exit 16 off I-95)


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