First artwork for THE OUTLANDER WAR shows the final battle to save Avalon

Half-demon mercenary Abdel Ben Faust challenges the Gil-Gamesh, Lord Bryan MoonDrake, and his Shield Maiden, Amelia Pomodoro, in the Elven Temple of Eternal Starlight in the ancient city of Alfheimer. (Art by Pam Hage)

I am so proud to show you the first artwork based on my third novel, The Outlander War. This is the pivotal fight between Abdel Ben Faust, the half-demon mercenary swordsman, and Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh and Eternal Champion of Avalon, along with his Shield Maiden, Amelia Pomodoro. Thanks to Pam Hage, better known as the Queen of Eagles, for her beautiful artwork! You can check her out on Instagram and on Deviant Art.

Here’s an excerpt from The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series to lay out the scene depicted above.

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From the highest points on the mountains flanking the two sides of Alfheimer, the Wrath Legion poured down the mountainside and into the city. Thousands of armoured wraiths ran down the sheer cliffs into the defenders below. The two sides clashed instantly, steel clanging against the phantom weapons of the wraiths.

The shield maidens held their own against the Wraith Legion, living up to their reputation as legendary warriors. The Dragon Guard matched well against the ghostly warriors. Hunter’s spell shot proved most useful against the wraiths, breaking through their armour and shattering their heartstones with a blast of fiery light.

As the battle raged around them, the Gil-Gamesh watched and waited, looking for their leader to appear. The sound of a demon hole opening behind him assured him that his wait was over. Bryan spun around as Abdel Ben Faust lunged at him, bringing his broadsword Deathsong down at the Gil-Gamesh’s head. Bryan crossed his swords and blocked his attack. Amelia stepped in and, true to fashion, used her shield to pummel Faust, hurling him away and to the ground.

Faust got up slowly as he ran his hand under his nose. He saw the dripping blood, caused by Amelia’s blow, and it angered him even more. “You’ll pay for that, you little bitch!” he cursed.

“Take another step closer, braggart, and I’ll knock you down again!” Amelia jabbed back at him. The three circled each other, there in the foyer of the temple, and jockeyed for position.

“I don’t know who or what possessed you to commandeer the Wraith Legion, Faust, but it ends today. You’re putting all our lives at risk from the demon hordes of Hell, and for what? For some foolish master with eyes on the throne of Avalon?”

“You know not of my master, Gil-Gamesh, and when you do…you will only find your death!” Faust lunged at the two again, slashing wildly. Like a precision machine, Amelia and the Gil-Gamesh worked in unison, trading blow-for-blow with Faust. Amelia blocked his attacks with her shield while Lord MoonDrake struck back at Faust.

Bryan knew that the best way to take down a formidable swordsman like Faust was to keep him off balance. The Gil-Gamesh pressed his attack, keeping Twilight high and Dusk low. Faust swung mercilessly at the two of them, cutting out chunks of marble from the floor and columns with his massive broadsword.

When one such blow briefly lodged Deathsong in it, the Gil-Gamesh saw his opening. He leapt into the air and spun, his blades extended. Bryan sliced at Faust’s chest with Twilight and connected. The unearthly dragonfire of Twilight engulfed the broadsword’s blade, hilt and beyond, burning away part of Faust’s tunic, not to mention Faust himself. The half-demon stepped back and snarled in pain. It was then that Bryan saw the source of Faust’s power.

The Gil-Gamesh looked at the heartstone attached to Faust’s chest. It looked just like the ones on the wraiths and glowed with a heavenly light. “You…insufferable bastard,” he said. “You captured the essence of the heavenly host in that stone to control the wraiths, didn’t you?”

Faust spat on the ground and smirked. “Nothing gets by you, does it?”

“But how, how can a lowlife half-demon like you get command of such magic?”

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This great piece of art will have a place of honor in my Fan Art link, along with other great artwork highlighting the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. There is an additional piece of new art on The Outlander War Fan Art page, but it’s a bit of a SPOILER so I won’t post it here. No sense in spoiling things for those who haven’t read it yet.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

Fantasy Maps help expand “world building” for a writer to take the reader on a journey

High resolution map of Middle Earth - Album on Imgur
Map of Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Writing has nothing to do with meaning. It has to do with land surveying and cartography, including the mapping of countries yet to come.”

― Gilles Deleuze

World Building is a skill every writer needs, especially in the fantasy and sci-fi genre. Luckily, as a former D&D DungeonMaster, I have some background in this area before I became an author. Creating the world to take my friends on their many adventures was a part of my life, whether it was Dungeons and Dragons, Space Opera, Rift or any other RPG, I had to create the world in which we were roleplaying.

I used to try and create my own maps using PowerPoint or Adobe InDesign to help me imagine these brave new worlds, but they were poor substitutes and not marketable. Thank God for the independent author and artist community online. They have the resources needed to help bring my imaginary world into a reality.

World building is defined as “the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe. Developing an imaginary setting with coherent qualities such as a history, geography, and ecology is a key task for many science fiction or fantasy writers.” You don’t know how true that is! As writers, we have to imagine everything from landscapes to cityscapes and everything in between. That means political structure, currency, races, religion, etc. It all has to be accounted for, but the biggest factor is the landscape.

In writing, you need to talk about the cities, forests, roads, and everything else when describing your story. If my protagonist is heading east along the Vanir Road, following the Blackbriar Forest on his way to the Gilded Halls of the Dwarves, I have to know where those places are in relation to his current location. In a sense, you could be writing about going one way and then mention somewhere you protagonist has been, and you say east instead of west so then your world becomes confusing.

Think of it this way… Would you have understood the journey Frodo went on in Lord of the Rings without the map of Middle Earth? Maybe, but the map helped me (as the reader) understand the journey they went on through that map. I like to think about that when I look at world maps from the 1600’s, seeing how they thought of the Earth 400 years ago and how different it is today. Even maps from the 1960’s and 70’s are different from what they are today.

The Island of Avalon
Map of Avalon from the Forever Avalon series, designed by Amy Kruzan.

Mapping is essential which is why, as a writer, I am happy to employ mapmakers in helping me create my worlds. The first one I used was Amy Kruzan, known in Instagram as fantasygraphicsbya. She took my description of Avalon and mapped the enchanted island, as told in the Forever Avalon fantasy book series, into a working map. Now, she helping me with a new layout of Avalon following the aftermath of The Outlander War (I won’t spoil it, so please read it to understand why). Imagining it was one thing but seeing it is something completely new. The layout reflects the ideas I had more than 20 years ago when I started writing the first book in the series.

I found many map artists on Twitter and Instagram. They are quite prolific in creating these myriad of worlds for dreamers like me. The ability to take the words and descriptions to design the forests, mountains, lakes, seas, rivers and cities is designed down to the ridges on the cliffs to the pine trees swaying in the wind. It makes it difficult to formulate things like trade routes, ship ports, rivers and canals, roads, etc. These are all essential for a vibrant or lackluster economy, which makes your fantasy world believable. I mean, how can you take care of an entire island without farmland, shipyards, and all the necessities to feed the populace, export commerce, and transport goods from one place to the other.

“You can’t map a sense of humor. Anyway, what is a fantasy map but a space beyond which There Be Dragons? On the Discworld we know that There Be Dragons Everywhere. They might not all have scales and forked tongues, but they Be Here all right, grinning and jostling and trying to sell you souvenirs.”

― Terry Pratchett, The Color of Magic

So, besides the regular social media crowd, there are artist websites like Art Station, Deviant Art and others allow artists to showcase their work so it makes for a great place to research styles, designs and artists. Although many maps, especially fantasy maps, look similar in many respects, but its the fine details that make the map into something special and unique for your story. You can find the artist you’re looking for to take your story into the world you’re creating.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

The right book cover is what draws in the reader

When an author finishes writing a novel, beyond the editing and polishing that comes next, an important decision is staring them right in the face… The cover! The cover of a book is what draws the reader to your novel. Anyone who has shopped for books, whether online or at a bookstore, is drawn to the book by the first thing they see, the cover. Yes, we then turn the book over and read the synopsis to see if its worth reading, but we’re not going to pick up the book if the cover doesn’t attract my eye.

“Aspiring authors, get this through your head. Cover art serves one purpose, and one purpose only, to get potential customers interested long enough to pick up the book to read the back cover blurb. In the internet age that means the thumb nail image needs to be interesting enough to click on. That’s what covers are for.”

― Larry Correia

When I finished each of my novels, the first thing (besides a loud sign of relief) that came to mind was the cover. What was I going come up with to draw readers in? For my first novel, Forever Avalon, I knew exactly what I wanted. The image of a flying galleon was the big magical reveal and I knew it would draw people in. Luckily, the artist saw through the words of my book and brought my vision into life. My wife says it looks “cartoonish” and makes it look more like a children’s book rather than an adult novel. We agree to disagree because I love my cover.

For my second novel, The Dark Tides, the cover art was a stock image. I had millions of images to pick from and this one just stood out to me. The dark lightning tied it into the idea at the heart of the novel, an all encompassing spell called The Dark Tides. The ship ties it back to the first book, and so in this stock art, I found the perfect cover to express the ideas behind my novel.

“I always think that it’s wrong to put images of my protagonists on the cover of my novels because readers can identify with characters only if they are given the chance to imagine them independently.”

― Orhan Pamuk, The Innocence of Objects

For The Outlander War, I finally wanted to show the floating island of Emmyr. For those who may not be familiar with my fantasy book series, Emmyr is the Dragon Isle. It floats in the sky above Avalon due to the concentration of magic due to the dragons that live there. Emmyr is front and center of the war between the modern military forces and Avalon in the novel, so I wanted to show that. I also thought a silhouetted view of the island and the battle going on around it would be easier to display. This conflict is the heart of the story and you see it all in this cover.

As I write, the story goes through my mind like a Broadway play in stage, and I translate that performance into the words of my novel. At the end of the process, I take all of that imagery and try to find one thing that will catch the eye of a reader. Just one thing to tell the story and make someone say, “I want to read that book!” Remember these words…

“Good cover design is not only about beauty… it’s a visual sales pitch. It’s your first contact with a potential reader. Your cover only has around 3 seconds to catch a browsing reader’s attention. You want to stand out and make them pause and consider, and read the synopsis.”

― Eeva Lancaster, Being Indie: A No Holds Barred, Self Publishing Guide for Indie Authors

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Forever Avalon!

Sending out the warmest of holiday wishes to all my friends and fans alike from the world of the FOREVER AVALON fantasy book series! I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed Happy New Year 2021!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

New Book Reviews from ‘NerdyBibliophilee’ for the FOREVER AVALON Series makes my December

This is a great way to start off the holidays! I would love to receive more Christmas presents like this (if you’re listening out the Santa Claus!) The three books in the FOREVER AVALON fantasy book series–Forever Avalon, The Dark Tides, and The Outlander War–were reviewed by Instagram book reviewer, avid reader, and supporter of independent authors everywhere Nerdybibliophilee! Here’s a snippet of the reviews:

It has been a great fantasy week. Ever happened to you that after reading a book it took some time to get back into reality. Was in such wonderful wizard world created by Mark Piggott. The fantasy book is called Forever Avalon. Starting with the title of the book, I feel its a relevant one for such an amazing storyline. Taking about the cover on the other hand, as you all see is a very creative one. It gives a very comic like vibe and I feel it’s a fun read for both children and adults who are looking for a soothing, adventurous and a fun read.

“Talking about the plot of the book, the plot is very well designed and written. I would like to talk about narration of the book first, the way book starts gives a hype to the upcoming story. Stephanie with three of her children end up on a mysterious land after hit by a storm. Now as the story proceeds we get to know about the mystery land which is full of very different creatures and wizards. Trust me if I was a child I would have gone crazy while reading the story because I feel children have a great power of imagination. If not books like these give them a great way of expanding their imagination. I being an adult could film the story in my mind while reading it. Now as the pages turn we get to know more about the island and the creatures living there, Avalon has been a sacred place for 3000 years and now Stephanie and her children ended up here. Being from the outside world they are unaware about all of this and that’s the same for the life of Avalon. Now they are struggling to find their way out.

“To be very honest, I personally love reading about such islands and sacred places even if it’s a fantasy because as the pages turn the story takes a different way revealing more about the Avalon. Trust me if you are a fantasy lover you are definitely going to thank me for recommending it to you. I would highly recommend it to all the readers out there.”

“Just as I told you before I am going to complete the Forever Avalon series and after a very positive response from you guys I got a lot of requests regarding the review of the Book 2 and if it’s worth reading. So let’s start my way. Starting with the title of the book The Dark Tides the story being in continuation of the last book that is Forever Avalon. After reading it I feel the title was a perfect fit. The cover on the other hand is as creative as the first one. Overall the other appearance of the book was not compromised just for the sake of response from the book 1.

“Talking about the content of the book, The Drake family is travelling by sea to lay a wreath in honor of the patriarch of the family, Bryan. Unfortunately, they run into a big storm and soon find themselves trapped on a desolate island. Fortunately, that’s where Bryan and his new life on the island of Avalon find themselves. It’s an island full of characters and places that you would usually find in a mediaeval version of a fairy tale. It’s known to Bryan as Lord Bryan MoonDrake. Now the storyline has been amazing as we all know but at this point I felt like the characters created by the author were pretty amazing. I was really wondering what if how beautiful and creative the mindset of author would be while writing the book. The story line did really hook me up but in the middle somewhere I felt I was a little off but that too was compensate with the story ahead. I feel the book 2 slows down a bit. While the book 1 was really an amazing and stormy read, book 2 is more of a steady read. It has a page turner. I totally liked it and I would definitely recommend it to all the readers who are looking for a series with an amazing storyline. For the storyline I would rate this book as 2.8/3.

“Talking about the words and the language used in the book in terms of difficulty, personally I didn’t face any difficulty while reading the book. Also the editing was on point so if you are the one waiting to start you have a green signal.”

“Forever Avalon series, after such a wonderful response to both the books, I didn’t want to skip the book 3 of the series, while reading the book I had some experiences that I would like to share with you all. Starting with the title of the book, The Outlanders War. For the people who are have read the book 1 and 2 it was easy to guess what’s going to happen next, however it was just a hint but a relevant one. So the title is totally on point. Cover on the other had has a very different vibe from both other books, I liked the thought of changing it in 3rd book. Overall the outer appearance is really appealing for a viewer who sees the book for the first time so I would like to give it a 2/2 for it.

“Talking about the content of the book, for those who haven’t read the book, basically the story is about a mysterious Island, where mysterious creatures exists, where there is no such thing as time, which is ruled by King Arthur. There a thing about the book I would like to mention that it gives a very different vibe when something in real world is connected to the fantasy world just as this one the concept of Bermuda Triangle gave that spice. Now what happens next is suddenly the Avalon reappeared in middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

“The U.S. Navy, circling the mysterious island right now needs answers. On Avalon, they fear that Outlanders will invade their home; and Lord Bryan Moon Drake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, Knight Eternal and champion of the magical realm, is caught in the center of it all. Now here while reading it I was really hooked to the story because after reading book 1 and 2 there was no point in building the story line like the characters were set and everything was turning out to be in favor of reader, I mean being an avid reader all I want is flow and then I am just reading to experience what author wants me to and it happened while reading the book. I loved the experience this book gave me, not just this book but this series. I am a fan of the author and looking forward to read more from author, if you haven’t tried it yet what are you waiting for. I am sure the series would not disappoint at all. So for the content and plot I would like to give it a 1.8/2.

“Talking about the words and the language used in the book in terms of difficulty, I personally didn’t face any difficulty while reading the book also the choice of words was amazing, which helped mention the feel and the flow. I would highly recommend it to all the readers out there. So yeah!

“Happy reading!”

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

Grab a FREE copy of FOREVER AVALON this weekend!

This weekend, Sept 18-21, I am giving away FREE ebooks of my first novel, FOREVER AVALON! These ebooks will be available to download through Amazon! I hope you take this opportunity to experience the world of FOREVER AVALON from the beginning! It’s “captivating and addictive” and a “new spin on Camelot” for any fantasy reader! CLICK HERE to get your copy today!

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TAKE AN ADVENTURE THROUGH TIME! Stephanie Drake and her three children were glad to be alive after a sudden storm slammed their boat onto an uncharted island, but it’s not where they think. They found themselves in another world, frozen in time. For more than 3,000 years, the magical island of Avalon remained hidden from the outside world. It was a place of eternal magic, where the descendants of King Arthur ruled over a land filled with magical creatures, wizards, Elves, Dwarves and dragons. On Avalon, Stephanie and her children were being hunted by bounty hunters, thieves and brigands. They found themselves caught in a power struggle between Lord Kraven Darkholm, a powerful wizard descended from the sorceress Morgana le Fay, and Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon.

The people of this magical isle have been protected for centuries by the Gil-Gamesh, a descendant of Sir Percival Peredyr, the last Knight of the Round Table. But who is Lord MoonDrake and how does he know so much about Stephanie and her children? Now, it’s a race against time as the Gil-Gamesh must protect these Outlanders—as they are called—and get them home to the outside world. All the while, Kraven Darkholm continued his schemes against the people of Avalon, vying to achieve his ultimate goal of becoming ruler of this enchanted island.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

For the first time, Avalon has been mapped!

The Island of AvalonFor the first time in more than 20 years, you can actually see the island of Avalon as I mapped it out in my mind when I started writing the Forever Avalon series. Thanks to artist Amy Kruzan (follow on Instagram at fantasygraphicsbya) you can follow the adventures of the Gil-Gamesh and the rest of the MoonDrake family, from the dragon isle of Emmyr in the northwest, eastward across the Fenris Mountains to Merlin’s Pinnacle, and south to New Camelot. So, let’s take a quick tour of Avalon, starting due south:

Candletop Lighthouse and Elkwood Forest — This is where the Gil-Gamesh’s family first arrive on Avalon. Elkwood Forest is not as dense nor as dangerous as Blackbriar Forest (to the north) but it is nor an easy place to travel through. You have to go around the forest to reach Candletop Lighthouse. This lighthouse sits on top of a ridge overlooking the ocean below. It was built, not for ships, but rather to draw in Outlanders (people from the outside world) that passed through the rift in the Bermuda Triangle and arrived on Avalon.

Etheldreda — This is the capital city of Eldonshire, the “bread basket” of Avalon. Eldonshire encompasses the southwest corner of Avalon. This part of the island has smooth flatlands and rolling meadows for farming and raising animals to feed the people.

Alfheimer and Lake Ouroboros — Alfheimer is the ancient home to the Elves of Avalon. This sacred land is only accessible to those invited by the Elves, otherwise people will become lost, confused, or dead. Alfheimer is built into the valley walls between two small mountains. A waterfall pours down from Lake Ouroboros into the valley below. The lake provides and endless supply of fresh water from an unknown source deep within Avalon, hence its name meaning “infinity”.

Nottinghamshire — The largest port in Avalon, Nottinghamshire is the shipping capital of the magical island. Besides being a shipping magnet for Avalon, the city also has the largest shipyard, building ships to send cargo around the island, via the ocean or down the rivers.

Emmyr — The “dragon isle” sits off the coast of Avalon, but not like a normal island. Emmyr floats in the air, surrounded by a sheath of clouds just below its rocky shores. A large mountain encompassed the center of the island as dragons fly out and about the peak, with lush trees covering the landscape and waterfalls flowing from the rocks into the clouds below. Beneath the mountain sat a city, Port Charles, carved out of the mountainside. This is the home of the Gil-Gamesh, Lord Bryan MoonDrake, and his family.

Northern Tribe of Kéntauros — The home of the centaurs of Avalon, the Northern Tribe of Kéntauros lived on the fringes of the Blackbriar Forest, giving them room to hunt and to run free.

Steinfisk — The capital of the North Highlands, Steinfisk is the home to the great fishermen of Avalon. These northmen, the descendants of Vikings, navigate the treacherous northern sea above the Orcus Abyss where the fish are abundant. They traded in their pillaging heritage for the peaceful life as fishermen, providing the abundance of the sea to the people of Avalon.

Fenris Mountain — The northern mountain range resemble the fangs of the wolf they’re named after. It hugs the northern coastline, dropping as a sheer cliff into the Orcus Abyss  of the northern sea. The mountains are divided by the Lóni River (Lóni means lazy, as the river is slow flowing from west to east).  From Steinfisk to Hursag, the mountains are virtually impassable.

Idlehorn Mountain — Idlehorn is the highest peak in the Fenris Mountains. Located in the center of the mountain range, Idlehorn is home to many evils. The goblins call Idlehorn home, living within a massive system of caverns below the peak. There is a single castle built into the side of the mountain, overlooking Blackbriar Forest. This is the home of Viscount Kraven Darkholm, a descendant of Morgana le Fay and rival to the Gil-Gamesh, Lord Bryan MoonDrake.

Blackbriar Forest — The largest forest in Avalon, Blackbriar got its name from the giant trees that keep the entire forest in darkness, day and night. This allows for all sorts of dark creatures to thrive within, from goblins, trolls, ogres and the Dökkalfar, or Dark Elves. Because of the nature of the forest, most travelers take the long way around instead of going through the dark woods. At the center of the forest sits Mordred’s Gate, the crossroads of Blackbriar Forest. It’s only place where the forest canopy parts to allow travelers a safe haven. Legend says it was here that Mordred was hunted down and killed by Sir Percival, the first Gil-Gamesh, to avenge the death of King Arthur.

King’s Crossing — At the edge of Blackbriar Forest, sitting along the Vanir Road (the main thoroughfare through Avalon), King’s Crossing is a simple farming town. The advantage of this thriving community is its location in the heart of Avalon. It’s proximity to Blackbriar Forest make it a meeting place for adventurers seeking riches and reward from the depths of the forest while being a rest stop for those travelling along the Vanir Road.

Hursag — The  ancient home to the Dwarves of the Gilded Halls, Hursag is a mountain containing the riches of all of Avalon. The Dwarves mine everything from gold and gems to steel and coal, bringing up the riches of the mountain for the people of Avalon. The port city of Dvallin sits at the base of the mountain, where ships by both sea and air arrive.

Strongürd Keep —  The home to the Wizard’s Council of Avalon, Strongürd Keep is a single solitary tower. The structure is an imposing tower, surrounded by an impenetrable wall, that stretches to a height nearly 1,000 tall of smooth granite. The keep is immense in stature, with jagged parapets coming out of the tower at indeterminate intervals. Within these walls, the secrets of the magic of Avalon are kept within the hands of those wizards deemed worthy of the knowledge.

Merlin’s Pinnacle — The tallest mountain in all of Avalon, Merlin’s Pinnacle sits at the end of the Fenris Mountain range, separated by the Arkengarth Vale.  The mountain is so named as it is said to be the final resting place of the first wizard of Avalon, Merlin the Magician. It is also home to the Jotunn, the race of giants in Avalon.

Togo — The island of Togo sits just off the east coast of Avalon. This is the home to the descendants of African slaves from a slave ship that crashed into Avalon centuries ago. The slaves rebelled against their masters and took refuge on the island of Togo, not trusting the people of Avalon. They have lived there, isolated for centuries, until the Gil-Gamesh reached out a hand of friendship, wiping away the hatred of the past.

Glennish Hills — The home to the Convent of the Shield Maidens of Avalon. The Shield Maidens are a holy order, created by Queen Guinevere herself, to serve alongside the Knights of the Round Table. They devote themselves to God, to Avalon, and to the knight they fight with, side-by-side. The Lady of the Lake is the patron saint of the order. The Gil-Gamesh brought Sarafina to the convent, where she was trained as a Shield Maiden. Dame Sarafina is now the Headmistress of the Holy Order of Shield Maidens.

New Camelot — The capital city of Avalon, New Camelot is the largest city on the magical island. When Avalon was first founded, New Camelot was the first city established. Over the centuries, the city has grown to a population of more than 10,000 with a diameter of nearly five miles. At the heart of the city is Castle Pendragon, the seat of power when the descendants of King Arthur have ruled since its founding. New Camelot is home to the Knights of the Round Table, the defenders of Avalon. The city itself is protected by the Armiger Corps, knights-in-training who one day hope to join the Round Table.

South Essex — A city of artisans, South Essex had the finest craftsman of all mediums—wood, metalwork, or fabric—as well as exceptional tailors, tinkers, musicians, actors and other tradesmen. It is a city of the best shops you could ever find outside of New Camelot, with the finest restaurants and most entertaining theaters for everyone to experience, from the poor to the rich.

Thank you again Amy Kruzan for your great work in putting my thoughts and ideas of the world of Forever Avalon down on a map for the first time.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Building a world, from the ground up, isn’t as easy as you think

Worldbuilding: How to Create a Believable World for Your Fiction ...

Worldbuilding is defined as “the process of creating a fictional world that can be as complex as designing an entirely new and unique location with exotic creatures, societies, religions, and governments.”

Most people think creating the story is the first step of a writer. Wrong. The first step is creating the world. Sure, the story is the idea, but you can’t have a story with the world it exists in. Whether that be another world like Middle Earth or a dystopian future, version of the United States, you need to create it first so you know the elements you’ll need in your story. We’re talking people and races, type of government, land masses, bodies of water, etc. Your cities will need names, what religion do they worship (if any), even the technology used (medieval, steampunk, cyber-tech, etc.) all need to be considered.

In the Forever Avalon series, I had to create the island of Avalon, from the various races, land masses, creatures, etc. It was a daunting task. I started with the capital, New Camelot, and worked out from there. A lot of my world building included a lot of research on myths and legends. From the Elven city of Alfheimer to the Dwarf mountain of Hursag, these are places within the our world mythology when it comes to Elves and Dwarfs. Since Avalon became a repository for all magic in the world (in my story), I wanted it to accurately portray the legends while adding my own touch.

When writing, you set your characters out on quests and journeys, and to do so, you need to know where they’re going and what lands or obstacles are in their way. Forests, mountain ranges, towns and cities all need to be identified with unique names and their own personality, for lack of a better word. In Avalon, the Fenris Mountains were named because the jagged peaks resembled the teeth of the legendary creature. Blackbriar Forest so named because, in the deep recesses of the woods, no light can pierce the canopy, leaving it a dark and dangerous place to travel. Merlin’s Pinnacle is a lone peak that stands separate from any mountain range, said to be the resting place of the eternal magician. These are just some of the places I created within the world of Forever Avalon, and even now, I’m adding or changing things as the story progresses.

One of the best tools in world building, for me, was Dungeons and Dragons. I played the RPG religiously as a young adult. As a writer, I found it to be a great tool in world building and character development. In fact, I took some of the characters and places I used as a Dungeon Master and player in D&D and used them in my novels. For example, in my latest novel, The Outlander War, there  is a new character named Abdel Ben Faust, a half-demon mercenary. This character is based on a half-orc fighter I played in the game. I had to make some adjustments since Orcs don’t exist in my world, but the basis for the character came from D&D.

A Brief Intro To Worldbuilding – Alexandra Peel

I also took inspiration from other fantasy novels, which I’m sure many authors do. In the Forever Avalon series, the home of my protagonist, Lord Bryan MoonDrake, is the floating dragon island of Emmyr. I took this from my love of Michael Moorcock and the Elric series, in which Melniboné (The Dragon Isle) and only surviving city is Imrryr, known as The Dreaming City. For many of us today, it’s the authors of these series that has inspired us to write our own stories. As they say, imitation is the most since form of flattery.

Another great tool for world building, especially when it comes to names, is Google. Searching through the different names in different cultures, whether its a Surname list or using Google translate to look up words in different languages for a town name, it becomes a helpful tool for writers. For example, when I named taverns and inns in Avalon, I always named them after an animal with an adjective to make it more colorful:  The Grinning Toad, The Weathered Wren, The Green Griffon, The Crooked Goose. This kept my thought process in line as I was writing the stories.

Maps are also useful. I’m no mapmaker, but as I put things together in my novel, I made a makeshift map of the world I was creating. I just marked the major points so I could figure out directions and to ensure consistency as I wrote my novel. I didn’t want to say they went north one time, and the next time they were going to the same place but I said south instead. You need to be consistent in your planning.

So, you need to think long and hard about the world you’re creating. The landscape is as essential as character development.

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SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Positive reviews of THE OUTLANDER WAR keep rolling in!

This has been another stellar week for the Forever Avalon series, in particular for The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon series. I received some great reviews and I wanted to share them with all of you!

First is from Jennie Rosenblum at jenniereads.com. Now, Jennie’s from New Jersey, like me, so we have a lot in common. Her website says it all about her as a book reviewer. “This is to answer all those requests for my opinion on books.  I read, I suggest, I review and I BLOG.  My reviews, as you will read, are a little different.  It really irks me to see reviews that are a page summarizing the entire book and then giving very little comments on the book.  My reviews are more along the line of – well written – great characters that seem like real people – plot made sense.  One thing you will not find on my blog is me trashing a book.  Authors work really hard creating their books and I respect their work.  It’s like telling someone their kid is an awful creation – even if he/she is tearing apart your living room – you just don’t use those words.”

She has reviewed the entire Forever Avalon series, and her review of The Outlander War is no exception.

“From the moment I got this book into my hands, I knew the author had upped his game.  The cover is intense and eye-catching.  And then I started to read—–  I have enjoyed this series from the first book.  I would hand it to anyone over the age of 13 that wanted a great adventure, escape, or to travel to another land.  In this, Book 3 – Avalon has entered the real world.  The conflict and discourse of the two worlds were realistically portrayed.  What happens when your world conflicts with another or totally changes, how would you react?  The reader gets to experience several different reactions as well as processes that the characters go through to deal with their new situations. “ — Jennie Rosenblum, jenniereads.com

Next is a young lady going by the name NewBookReviewer from Mumbai, Maharashtra in India.It’s amazing the people you meet on social media. Her Amazon profile says it all about her. “I’m just like any other girl who is trying to be a bibliophile. I love reading books, as I find myself lost in them and I create a whole new world in my head by reading what the Author has described. I think having a hobby helps you to cope with the work and family pressure. I sometimes read just to escape reality. 🙂 I have read many books and most of them had good reviews and it helped me to choose and read them, but recently I came across a new book without any review, at first I was not sure if I should read it or not, but being a book lover you cant really stop your curious self, so I read it and I found myself amazed. The book was great. So after reading it I saw there were many other new books with interesting stories and covers. So I started this blog so that I could post and review about the new books released and motivate the new Authors to write more, as there are some book lovers like me, who value writing and content.”

She reviewed all three books in the Forever Avalon series and I appreciate her kind words and appreciation of my series. It means a lot coming from someone from a different culture and history who recognizes the story behind the myths and legends.

“The story has an amazing start, which starts with a mysteries and attention-grabbing dream and once you read it you will know that you have picked the right book that’s going to be adventurous. The story is filled with a fascinating adventure to a magical island that is shielded from the outside world for 3,000 years frozen in time and space. The book contains from Kings to knights, from magical creatures like elves to dragons, from wizards to dwarves, from adventure to mystery, from action to drama, from suspense to truth the book is a captivating and addictive storyline.”NewBookReviewer.com review of FOREVER AVALON

“The story is continuous of the first book, and the way the author has maintained the flow of the storyline it’s commendable. Author Mark Piggott is a talented writer and you can see his hard work and passion for writing through this series. A truly amazing and must-read book. The highlight of the book is, the grasping storyline, as soon as I was done reading the first book I couldn’t wait to continue reading with the next book. The author has done tremendous work in describing characters, from their feeling to their personalities, every bit of their nature is described in detail and expressed beautifully.” NewBookReviewer.com review of THE DARK TIDES

“The Outlander War is the 3rd book in the Forever Avalon Series written by Mark Piggott and its a series that you will never find anything thing like it. What would you do if you find a magical island that is frozen in time and space for more than 3,000 years and you soon accept it as your new home, but suddenly the real world comes knocking, ready for war; A war is fixed but whose side you will be on? Well, the answer to this is in the book The Outlander War. This is the third book in the Forever Avalon series, that I m reading, and I m just obsessed with the storyline and the expressive writing skills of the author Mark Piggott.” NewBookReviewer.com review of THE OUTLANDER WAR

This is genuinely humbling for me to receive these wonderful accolades and feedback on my novels. It’s expressions like this that make he happy that I chose to be a writer and share all my stories with people. That’s why I am a writer!

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SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Racism in a medieval fantasy world… An excerpt from THE DARK TIDES

Today is “Juneteenth” all across this nation, a day to honor the day President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and freed those still held in slavery in 1865. In honor of this day, I wanted to share something with you. I wrote about this very subject in my second novel, The Dark Tides. When I created the world of Forever Avalon, the concept was based around the Bermuda Triangle and where the ships and aircraft that disappeared ended up. In my world, they traveled through a rift in the magical barrier and found themselves on the island of Avalon. So, with that premise, it was possible that a ship carrying captured slaves from Africa ended up on Avalon.

So now I had to mix a world of medieval magic with people, ripped from their homes, and now in a world unknown to them. To me, they would be quite cautious of people and set themselves apart from the rest of Avalon. So now, the stage was set as the Gil-Gamesh, Bryan MoonDrake, a sailor from the modern world who lived through the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, and racial integration, enters into this new land. He hopes to bridge the gap of fear and mistrust with what he’s learned and experienced in the outside world.

Here is an excerpt from The Dark Tides as I use the teachings of Dr. King to make a difference my own medieval, fantasy world.

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As T’Ronga led the Gil-Gamesh through the streets of Togo, Bryan was amazed by the people here. They were very simple folk, dressed in animal furs and cloth woven with colorful designs. The one thing Bryan noticed was how strong and muscular everyone looked, including the women and children. It was as if the entire nation were bred to be warriors.

“I meant to ask this before T’Ronga, but you and others speak English better than I expected. Why is that?”

“One of the first great Chiefs of Togo, Elewa, made our people learn the white man’s language. It is best to know one’s enemy through the language they speak.”

“You really think of us as your enemy? The people of Avalon I mean?” T’Ronga stopped and stared down the Gil-Gamesh.

“It was the white man that captured my ancestors, took them from their homes, their family, and their people and brought them to the white man’s world. Why shouldn’t we consider the people of Avalon our enemies?”

“Avalon is made up of many different races, different cultures and we respect that which makes each of them unique. I’m not your enemy. I hope there comes a day when you will consider me a friend.”

T’Ronga said nothing as he turned and continued on their way. The Togo people stared at the Gil-Gamesh with curiosity and surprise. Most of them had never seen a white man walking freely through the streets without being bound in chains nor allowed to carry weapons. It was completely unheard of on Togo.

As word spread across the city of the arrival of the Gil-Gamesh, people began to line the streets as the crowds fell in behind T’Ronga and his warriors, following them to the Gathering Mount. In the center of Togo was what appeared to be a mound of earth, approximately 500 feet in diameter and over 100 feet tall. In reality, it was a dome of stone, wood, thatch and tar with large crystals embedded in the structure to reflect the light inside. A large opening at the top of the dome circulated air inside through the four entrances at the base, each facing North, South, East and West.

As T’Ronga brought the Gil-Gamesh inside the Gathering Mount, Bryan was again amazed as to how a medieval society could build such an impressive structure with no modern tools or equipment. Stone arches reached up from the floor to hold up the ceiling, connected by wooden beams. There were no chairs or seats for anyone to sit in. At the back of the dome sat a raised dais, made solely of human skulls, with a throne of bones at the top. A shadowy figure sat there, staring out into the darkness. It was a gruesome sight, something made to invoke fear and dominance over people. Bryan wondered if he’d bitten off more than he could chew.

From the throne, the shadowy figure stepped down. He was a heavy-set man but very muscular, adorned with silver and ivory jewelry. He wore a cloak of various animal furs sewn together, clasped around his neck by an ornate broach of gold and rubies. He wore a leather bodice while the rest of his body was painted like the others. Atop his head was a headdress made from the feathers of a variety of birds with a small skull with precious gems in the sockets centered. He held a staff adorned with metal rings, one representing each of the chiefs of Togo, and a human skull at the top of the staff. It was said that the skull was that of the captain of the slave ship that brought them to Avalon.

“That is B’Rrak, Great Chieftain of Togo,” T’Ronga told Bryan. Chief B’Rrak walked down and stood in front of the as he glanced back to see T’Ronga and his men with the Gil-Gamesh. T’Ronga gave an order to the warriors around the Gil-Gamesh and they closed in tight. “You will wait here,” he ordered Bryan as he walked over to Chief B’Rrak.

Bryan stood in the Gathering Mount, awaiting his fate at the hands of these outcasts of Avalon. He watched closely as T’Ronga spoke with Chief B’Rrak; their conversation heated and quite vocal at times. T’Ronga seemed to plead for the Gil-Gamesh to speak. Bryan hoped he found an ally in this Togo warrior. Finally, Chief B’Rrak relented and returned to his throne.

T’Ronga signaled his men to bring the Gil-Gamesh forward. The Togo warriors nudged Bryan toward the throne, still surrounded as he approached the Skull Throne. Chief B’Rrak waved them off as they stepped back behind Bryan. The throngs of people who lined the streets started to file into the Gathering Mount. Their curiosity had brought them inside to see what Chief B’Rrak will do with the stranger.

“Gil-Gamesh, you stand in the presence of B’Rrak, Great Chieftain of Togo,” T’Ronga proclaimed. “Step forward and be heard.”

Bryan bowed to the Chieftain. “I am honored Chief B’Rrak. I am Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon. I humbled to be able to speak with you.”

“Do not thank me Gil-Gamesh, thank T’Ronga,” B’Rrak denoted. “The only reason you are still alive is because he says you are a man of honor. You asked for an opportunity to speak, so speak!”

Bryan collected his thoughts, carefully putting together his words so as not to offend B’Rrak or the people of Togo. “I have been overwhelmed by everything I have seen since I arrived on Avalon and Togo is no exception. You have truly built a wonderful life for yourself here.

“I will not pretend to understand the hardships you or your ancestors went through when they arrived on Avalon. I have read stories about the slave trade at that time in our history. It was barbaric and unforgiving; but while you have lived here with the hate and contempt for the white man for hundreds of years, slavery of your people ended in the real world. You see, I am not from Avalon, I am an Outlander.

“So much has changed since your ancestors survived their journey and arrived on the shores of Togo. Africans now live, work and worship side-by-side with the white man. In fact, the barriers between the different races are practically non-existent. It happened in the real world and it can happen here. As the Gil-Gamesh, I can help bridge the gap between Avalon and Togo and build a new and lasting relationship.”

“Togo has prospered without the help of you, Gil-Gamesh, or anyone in Avalon,” B’Rrak shouted from atop his throne. “We will not bow down and pay tribute to the white king.” The large gathering of people cheered loudly, encouraged by the Chief’s words.

“And no one is asking you to Chief B’Rrak,” Bryan continued. “All I have heard since my arrival on Avalon is praise and respect for Togo. You have the fiercest warriors equal to any knight and powerful shaman on par with the great wizards on Avalon. We would love the opportunity to learn more from each other. The potential is unlimited.

“I didn’t have to come to Togo as part of my Grand Tour of Avalon, but I wanted too. I wanted to reach out to you, to all of you. The time to open relations between Avalon and Togo is now. All I ask is that you give us a chance.”

“A chance? A chance for what? To stab us in the back and return my people to a life of slavery? That’s all the white man has ever wanted!” B’Rrak condemned.

“With all due respect Great Chief, you’re wrong!” Bryan interrupted. A hush fell over the audience. No one had ever spoken to the Great Chieftain before. “This is the time for us to prove you wrong about the people of Avalon, to show you that we are not like the people who enslaved your ancestors.

“A wise man once spoke of a world where his children would be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. He said, ‘Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.’ His name was Martin Luther King, a son of African slaves, who believed that all people of all races could live together in peace. It was a dream he was willing to die for. Don’t let that dream die here too. You cannot live in hate when there is an opportunity for peace.”

T’Ronga was moved by the Gil-Gamesh’s words, as were some of the people in the audience. Never before had they heard anything like this from anyone from Avalon. “Your words touch many here Gil-Gamesh and though your heart may be true, there are many on Avalon who are not as willing as you,” Chief B’Rrak said. “Maybe someday there can be peace with Avalon, but I do not think this is such a time.”

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you Great Chief. May I have your permission to leave Togo in peace?” Bryan said as he bowed to Chief B’Rak.

Chief B’Rrak sat in silence then motioned to T’Ronga. “You may go Gil-Gamesh. May the Gods smile upon you through the rest of your journey,” B’Rrak blessed as T’Ronga led Bryan out. The crowd parted as they moved through, allowing them to leave the Gathering Mount. Some of the people bowed their heads in respect to the Gil-Gamesh, something never done before on Togo. Chief B’Rrak watched his people as he considered what the Gil-Gamesh said.

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I try my best not to get political in my books or on my own social media. I think that people who enjoy fantasy come from all walks of life, not just one ideology. This, however, is a time when we all have to think about the status quo and how we can talk about it and, hopefully, change it for the future. I don’t know if my books can make a difference, but I hope it does bring a voice of clarity in these dark and tumultuous times.

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SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.