Taha’Leeth, elven ranger and former slave of the Cyphan Confederacy.
Eli, the elven ranger going into battle.
The third installment of the award-winning Chronicles of an Imperial Legionary Officer series is here!
A nobleman from an infamous family, imperial legionary officer, fighter and a right proper bastard of a man…Captain Ben Stiger has successfully thwarted the attack from an army of the Cyphan Confederacy. Now Stiger, his men, and his new dwarven allies have fallen back behind the great walls of Castle Vrell. Stiger finds himself named Legate of the Vanished, the long lost 13th Legion. This title and his own word binds him to the terms of the Compact, an ancient and mystical alliance formed nearly two thousand years before. The snows have come and the mountain summit into Vrell is impassable. On one side of the pass sits an army of the Cyphan Confederacy some twenty thousand strong. On the other sits Stiger, his company, the remnants of the 13th Legion and a dwarven army. Each side is waiting for the spring thaw.
Abandoned and cut off from friendly lines, Stiger takes the fight to the enemy! A nobleman from an infamous family, imperial legionary officer, fighter, and a right proper bastard of a man…Captain Ben Stiger captured Castle Vrell and rid it of a minion of a dark god. Now he finds himself cut off from the empire with a hostile rebel army marching on the legion’s fortress where they guard the entrance to the Vrell Valley. It is not in Stiger’s nature to simply wait for the enemy. Badly outnumbered and facing odds greater than twenty to one, he sets out to impede the enemy’s advance and show them the steel that the legions are made of. To help him on his way he has the services of his friend, Eli one of the last remaining elven rangers. As if matters could not get worse, an army of dwarves is preparing to retake Castle Vrell, a sacred place they name Grata’Kor.
There are forces at play greater than Stiger can imagine. To survive, he must not only contend with a well-supported rebel army, but a hostile dwarven nation intent on fulfilling a mysterious prophecy that has the potential to shatter the world and bring ruin to the empire.
The empire has endured many centuries but is now threatened by multiple wars and a major rebellion in the South. A nobleman from an infamous family, imperial legionary officer, fighter and a right proper bastard of a man… Captain Ben Stiger finds himself reassigned from a crack legion to the rebellion simmering in the South. Placed in command of a truly terrible company, the 85th Imperial Foot, he is unknowingly sent on a suicide mission to resupply an isolated outpost, the garrison of Vrell. Along the way he must rebuild his new company, gain the respect of the men he leads, survive an assassination attempt, fight bandits, rebels, and an agent of an evil god. His companions on this journey of discovery and adventure are one of the few remaining elven rangers and a paladin on a quest for the High Father.
The battle to save the empire and the world begins here in the first book of this exciting new series!
Writing is hard work. Leading up to publication it is exhausting work… especially if it is your hobby, you have a deadline and you have a full time job and a family with three little girls all demanding the attention they rightly deserve. It means that after everyone gets put to bed and read to… (Harry Potter for the oldest and Goodnight Moon to the youngest) daddy goes back to work, putting in four to six hours of work. Then you wake up… walk them to the bus stop… go to work… rinse and repeat.
I saw JJ Abrams recently interviewed on Star Wars. He was asked what he would be doing when Star Wars premiers. His answer, “sleeping.” I would normally have considered that a joke… but after having put so much time and effort into writing… publishing two books in less than a year… I got it! He was mostly serious. Of course… if you have a passion for something and want to make it good… it requires hard work and that is exhausting. Translation… hard work = success.
For me… I love writing. It is my passion and with a little effort and some work… perhaps it will become my full time occupation. I am currently working on three books… scratch that… two books. The Tiger is officially out of my hands… this week heading off to be formatted for Ebook and Print. Yes!!!
Last night… was the first time in a good long while I had to myself. I logged into Armored Warfare and played a handful of games with a few friends before climbing into bed at 10… fully 4 hours early. I actually woke up this morning requiring less coffee. ?
Well… if I want to be successful at this thing called writing… I guess I had best get back to it! My goal is to deliver Book 3: The Tiger’s Curse Fall 2016… along with two other unrelated books!
Oh… and make sure you sign up for my newsletter on my website… I am considering releasing a few shorts… covering some of Stiger and Eli’s earlier adventures prior to release of book 3.
Marc Alan Edelheit
The life of a legionary sounds exciting, dashing perhaps. Even today there is a mystique and sense of excitement surrounding the Roman legions of the ancient world. Many roman youths thought so too and willingly volunteered for service, others used it as an opportunity to escape the slums and crushing poverty of the cities, some were even condemned to service for petty crimes. The simple truth was that a hard and difficult life waited for all who served with the legions. The life of the legionary was far from dashing. Excitement, in the form of a fight, was something nearly every legionary wished to put off but could never truly avoid.
The lives of legionaries were pretty regimented and rather boring by nature. They saw near daily drilling and training, supplemented with all kinds of backbreaking labor and duties. Drill could be quite brutal, seeing everything from minor wounds, to contusions and numerous blisters on the hands and feet alike. Chafing from armor was a constant problem and irritant.
The legions regularly trained their men to exhaustion and frequently continued beyond that point. Combine that with harsh unbending discipline and you produced one fine soldier willing to put up with incredible hardships, particularly when it mattered on the battlefield. It was sometimes joked that the real difference between drill and battles was that in battles there was simply more blood.
Legions typically had qualified engineers attached and as such were capable of building a wide variety of structures. Outside of drill and the occasional route march, examples of work could involve fortification/fort and general construction duties. Legionaries could also expect to be involved in road construction and infrastructure maintenance. One of the primary reasons for roman road construction was to make it easier for the legions to move rapidly about when needed. Should the Legate desire it, even assisting the local harvest of crops was not beyond the duties of a legionary. (Translation: the Legate was paid to loan out his men as a cheap source of labor)
Most of the time, it was drill, work, drill some more, stand your watch and then enjoy a nice watered down and heated jar of cheap wine with your comrades. (simplifying here but pretty close) If you were under punishment detail, then the legionary could expect to be knee deep, shoveling out the latrines and living on a diet of barley and water, making frequent visits back to those very same latrines he just cleaned out. Sounds rather fun doesn’t it? A real dashing life…
The legions went where they were ordered. Legionaries left the politics up to the politicians. Questions of right or wrong, righteous cause or not rarely if ever made it into their calculus. They were professional soldiers and were there for a reason, whether it was to put down a rebellion, invade some foreign land, repel an invasion, act as a deterrent or provide security for a province.
I’ve heard it said and argued that the legionaries believed that when Rome invaded a land they did so with the understanding that they were bringing civilization to the barbarians. This is a distinct possibility and likely entered into their thinking… though to be honest I don’t think the average legionary gave it too much thought. The grunts were more concerned with their (not in any particular order) salary, ability to regularly visit a prostitute among the camp followers, tending to their informal family (again amongst the camp followers… if they had one… they were usually not permitted to marry… hence the informal part), having a customary drink(s), increasing their pension, loot and making it through their required term of service to retirement, where having made something of themselves they could finally settle down and enjoy life.
Battle in the ancient world was a terrifying experience and in a number of provinces a very infrequent occurrence. For hours on end, a legionary could be expected to preform extremely gruesome work. Battlefields were filled with screaming, yelling, the cries of the wounded, rattle of armor, sound of sword on shield, shield on shield, or a mix, horns blaring… essentially think of the worst possible cacophony of noise, throw in no little amount of terror and you are pretty close.
The average legionary, in the midst of battle, generally had no idea how the battle as a whole was going. Sometimes the general did not even know. Battles were confusing to the extreme. The larger the battle the greater the confusion. The side that was the better trained, organized and disciplined generally held an advantage. (Please note: I am not omitting/excluding a discussion on morale, but saving the subject for a later blog.)
The real killing typically began when one side broke. Gruesome cannot adequately describe what occurred on the ancient battlefield. In the space of a few hours thousands to tens of thousands could be cut down in a small confined area. For those who lived through it, this was the kind of experience that in today’s modern world would require years of counseling and therapy.
It was this sense of the ancient world… the soldier’s perspective… a small cog in a great machine… the common legionary and the officer who led them, that I tried to bring you… with a touch of realism.
Writing is fun, until it becomes a job and then well… it becomes work. So to be successful at writing you need to work at it each day and for me it is that simple. When I start a project, a novel or new podcast… I make sure that each day, no matter how I feel I spend some time writing or working on the project. It does not matter what you write or how bad it is when you type out those pesky words or put pen to paper… just that you do write something… anything. Who cares if it is terrible? Just keep writing awful line after awful line. Life is too short to get held up on one line and when you move beyond that troubled line… or lines I find that my writing eventually begins to flow. The beauty of writing and putting something down is that you can always go back and improve upon it! Don’t get depressed, angry or distressed… just put your words down and move on, just move on. If it means you have to take a break do so. Just write each day, a little or a lot. Get into the habit of writing. Put on some classical music, some R&B, or angry German metal rockers… whatever your flavor… have a glass of wine or a beer… a warm cookie and milk… whatever. Just keep writing. Revisit those troubled and tormented lines another time, another day. Just keep writing. Just keep writing.
I get asked a lot about how I came up with Stiger’s Tigers.
My family and I take an annual road trip to Florida. Imagine 3 little girls in a car for many… many hours. LoL We make the trip more about what we see and do along the way rather than just getting to the destination. There are plenty of stops along the way… We see and do a lot, everything from alpine slides, to aquariums to military museums, like the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Savanah. (That one was for daddy!) It becomes quite the adventure!
I do nearly all of the driving and while I drive, I think. I have a very strong background in history and host a successful history podcast: 2centhistory. (check it out) At the time, I had been reading and doing a great deal of research on Rome. This was in preparation for a show. I was also reading a fantasy novel and I thought… “Perhaps I should write a fictional book set around some of the roman wars! That could be fun!” Then it hit me. “What if I write a story about the roman legions and added in dwarves, elves, magic, etc.???”
In all of my reading, I could not ever recall it being done! That night I jotted down some basic notes. I knew that writing a novel would be a massive undertaking and before I began I wanted to be sure about it. I thought on it for a few more months, fleshing out ideas and thinking along various story lines. Finally, I made the decision to commit to the project and the serious work began.
From the beginning I intentionally set about to write a fantasy novel that was different from the norm and did not rehash much of what others have done before me. The story had to be fresh and far from predictable. It also had to include surprises and most important keep the reader guessing until the very end. To accomplish this I put my history show on hold and spent a tremendous amount of time mapping out the world, cultures, history, etc. I then came up with a number of story lines taking place on this fantasy world. Some of those storylines are very cool and I plan to revisit them at a later date, particularly one about General Treim. (If you recall Treim is Stiger’s patron and taught him a lot of what he knows about war and leading men.) In the end I elected to tell the tale of adventures belonging to Stiger and Eli. It was then that I realized I had more than just one book. I had the makings of a series, perhaps even an Epic!
Back to work on Book 2!
I thought for my first post… I would touch on Stiger’s character a little and give some background to help my readers better understand the man.
Stiger is a man who has been hardened by war, and the politics of the Mal’Zeelan Empire. He is a gifted fighter, a bastard of a man, master manipulator and a born leader of men.
Though many of his peers would wish he had not, Stiger has made the legions and service to the empire his life. He comes from a very powerful, yet infamous imperial family. (You will learn a little more about this in The Tiger) His father was one of the empire’s great generals… who made a poor choice… Stiger is living in his father’s shadow or really a dark cloud. (I don’t want to give too much away here… more coming on this in Books 2 & 3)
Stiger takes his honor seriously, even though most of his peers question it. He has already been tested in the fires of combat and suffers as a result… at times running hot and others cool. (If you have not yet guessed… he suffers a little from post-traumatic stress.)
The first book picks up in the middle of his story after the conclusion of a major campaign in the forests of Abath that dragged on for years. Think of the forests of Gaul with a more determined and organized enemy and you have some idea of what he has been through. (I plan on telling this story someday)
Stiger and Eli’s friendship began before the campaign in the Forests of Abath. I expect I will tell that story as well.