Of Metal and Magic – Various, ed. J.M. Williams & Anna Civolani

*I received a free ARC of this compendium, with thanks to Richie Billing and Fiction Vortex. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Blurb: Forged from the abyss by the elder gods, the history of Soria spans over 10,000 years.

In this time, the people of the world have seen bloody wars, the rise and fall of divine empires, and pitched struggles between dragons and unicorns—the very children of the gods who created men. Though the seed of civilization was planted on the continent of Elitor, people crossed the wide oceans to other lands, and to divergent evolutions. Today the world revolves around two great powers: Telsemar in the east, and Drumnaught in the west. It is from the dusty volumes in the duty halls of these cities’ grand depositories, that we look back on the tumultuous history of Soria and the tales of Metal and Magic.

This collection features the opening chapters (or episodes, as we call them) of the upcoming 2021 CORE novels. Not only will this give you a sense of the wide narrative range our CORE stories offer, but will allow you to pick out and follow your favorite OMAM author.

Included in this volume are the opening episodes for:
•Call of the Guardian, a novel by JM Williams
•Pariah’s Lament, a novel by Richie Billing
•Scion of the Oracle, a novel by E.A. Robins
•To Wield the Stars, a novel by Douglas W. T. Smith
•The Mad Reign, a novel by Chris Brock
•The Fierce, a novel by JM Williams
We expect to start releasing these books, one a month in the order listed above, starting in February 2021.

All CORE stories take place in the same epic fantasy universe, and are penned by dozens of authors, whose tales of adventure and intrigue overlap, reference, and influence each other. All official CORE narratives are part of a single unified canon. Though each book is an independent project, designed to be a stand-alone work that can be enjoyed all by itself, the real magic comes from reading multiple series and discovering the many points of intersection and convergence that our many authors have created.

Of Metal and Magic is epic fantasy at its finest. Come dive into one of our expansive fantasy worlds!

This compendium collates a mixture of short fiction, poetry, ‘historical documents’ and samples chapters from full-length novels soon to be released, all set in the shared epic fantasy world of Soria.

There is a little something for every classic fantasy fan here – unicorns, dragons, new beasts, high- and low-born adventurers, magic, swords and sorcery.

Six of the sections in this compendium comprise the opening chapters of six new fantasy novel series, set in Soria. Each of these full novels are due to be released in 2021, from February onwards, so fans won’t have long to wait before they can sate their curiosity as to what happens next.

Interspersed with these longer fiction samples are some fully-formed short stories, poems, documents, maps and character art.

All of the writing features different subjects, characters and different writing styles, but all is well-written and helps to draw you in to the rich new world of Soria, with its detailed history and unique (and some familiar) fauna. I was particularly interested in hearing more about ‘monsters’ like the Kamani, and in the mystery Edvar investigates in Richie Billing’s Pariah’s Lament, but all of these stories are immersive and form a perfect introduction to the way Fiction Vortex’s collaborative universes work and to the writing of the authors featured.

Epic fantasy fans will want to pick this up and bookmark their favourites ready for the first release date in the new year! Those new to fantasy will find this an ideal introduction to the traditions and some of the talented voices in the genre.

Why is that bastard always right? Edvar thought, cursing Mag. Soldiers emerged from doors, pulling on armour, buckling belts and baldrics. Officers yelled orders and led men and women up the motte. How did they get to him? Poison seemed most likely. Always poison. Edvar had interrogated those working in the kitchen and stores to ensure they could be trusted. Guards were stationed day and night at the well and in the wine cellar, and teams checked the food that came into the keep. Had someone betrayed him? Had he missed something? He must have. I’m as useful as a fingerless archer.

– Richie Billing, ‘Pariah’s Lament’ in Of Metal and Magic

Of Metal and Magic is available on Amazon right now, and the individual novels (samples featured within) will be released from February 2021 onwards.

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