Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Leave a comment

Another (great) review for Bloodwood

The central group of The Raiders of Bloodwood are a lovely bunch though, and the fact that they’re mostly just normal people makes their interactions and their journey the real highlight of the story. The small moments when they’re travelling together, telling stories around the campfire at night, or helping each other down a steep hill without falling down, make for some of the best moments. Mana gives you a chance to get to know them, to see them as regular people so that you come to like them and care about them; and so that you begin to worry about them when their lives come into danger.

UK based blogger Amy Walker posted a beautiful, in-depth review of The Raiders of Bloodwood – and she really liked it!
And I an particularly happy that Amy actually appreciated my choice of characters and the way I wrote them. I might start to think that I am actually really good.

You can find the complete review on the Trans-Scribe Blog.


Leave a comment

The (paperback) Raiders are out in the US

The paperback edition of my latest novel, The Raiders of Bloodwood, is out in paperback format in the US from Aconyte Books – and you can order it from Amazon, or from your local friendly bookstore, if you are so inclined.

In Europe we’ll get the paperback only in September, but if you are in the States (or get your books from Amazon.com), now you can get a physical copy of my book.
The ebook edition is already available worldwide.


Leave a comment

Advance review copies

Early reviewer copies of Secrets in Scarlet, the new Arkham Horror anthology that includes my story City of Waking Dreams (set, just imagine, in Shanghai) are available via the NetGalley platform.

If you’re on NetGalley and wish to take a look at the book for free, then please leave a honest review of the book.


Leave a comment

Dark Schneider is back: Netflix’s Bastard!!

I admit I was worried.
Bastard!! was one of the anime/manga series that I remembered from the ’90s – over the top, seriously silly, filled with bouncing breasts and juvenile humor, together with a setting straight out of AD&D and a plot that was basically an excuse to show more violence and, yes, more toned thighs and bouncy breasts. The brainchild of a guy that was a self-admitted fan of heavy metal music and roleplaying games, it was the quintessential late ’80s/early ’90s … thing.
And it was all right.

But now?
We are in 2022, and Bastard!! is back, and on Netflix.
And I heard a few people worrying about the dread effects of political correctness and “wokeness” (I heard grown men cry because in one snippet of preview they caught sight of two women kissing), but I was much more worried about the fad for “grimdark” – after all, with a main character that’s called Dark Schneider, and a tagline that reads “Heavy Metal Dark Fantasy”, Bastard!! is the sort of anime that could easily get the grimdark treatment, for the viewing pleasure of all the sociopaths out there.

So yes, I was worried.
And I was not happy at all with the Italian dubbing, so I dropped the series after about 5 minutes.

But I was able to finally get an English dub (not my first choice, I prefer subs myself), and while Dark Schneider still sounds too damn youthful for my tastes – and the dub fails to capture the surprisingly and hilarious vulgar Japanese of the original – I finally sat down and watched the series.

For the uninitiated, Bastard!! (the two exclamation points are required) is a sword & sorcery series set in a post-apocalyptic world that’s regressed to medieval level. The four kingdoms are being menaced by a dark army hell bent on resurrecting an ancient goddess, and the only hope for humanity is Dark Schneider, a centuries old evil wizard that was once the leader of the dark army – but has been trapped inside a kid’s body these last 15 years.

The series follows Dark Schneider’s exploits after he’s been brought back – and he has to face his former allies to protect the few people he’s come to care for.

And I am happy to report that the new incarnation of Bastard!! is still a lot of fun, it is still incredibly silly, and nicely padded with bouncy breasts and juvenile humor. It is violent, stupid and inappropriate, but it is happily free of angsty grimdark trappings. Bastard!! winks and laughs out loud too much to be grimdark. It does indeed look like something that reached us from, say 1991 via some rip in space-time.
It is also pretty close to the original comics as I remember them from thirty years ago.
The character design is very ’90s, but the animation’s better – and we get new music on the soundtrack.

All in all, silly entertainment – not the sort that shakes the pillars of civilization or changes the life of the viewer, but in this time, in which TV is trying to feed us fake memories of how it was to play AD&D in the ’80s, it is good to find a show that actually captures with surprising accuracy the mix of cliché, silliness, wanton destruction, inappropriate jokes and loud music that characterized those saturday afternoons, so many years ago.