Saxon Knives – Map Reveal

Another book, another map!

Britannia Superior, c. 450 AD

Pre-launch promo deals, updates and news

The Shattering Waves“, book 7 of the Year of the Dragon, is now available for pre-order – and to help you prepare for it, I’ve reduced the prices of all the prior books, starting with the bundle of all first four volumes:

The Year of the Dragon, 1-4 $9.99 > $0.99

The Chrysanthemum Seal – $3.49 > $2.99

The Withering Flame – $3.99 > $2.99

The Shattering Waves (pre-order) – $3.99 > $2.99

This promotion lasts only until Thursday, so hurry up!

Part of a promotional push before the launch of “The Shattering Waves” is a little interview I did with the ManyBooks site – I’m the author of the day there.

As always, there’s a new map coming for your enjoyment in the new volume – this time it’s the Kanto Plain, a region around Edo.

Map of Kanto Plain
Kanto Plain

A finally, a bit of fun – I made a “What’s your attunement?” quiz based on the elemental magic system as described in the books.

That’s all for now – see you again on May 15th, when “The Shattering Waves” is released on Nook, Kobo and Smashwords!

The Game of Daimyos

To celebrate the long-awaited start of the new season of Game of Thrones, here’s a GoT-style map of Yamato, showing the major Clans at the time of the events in the book, along with their crests.

Game of Clans

The map was created by metruis, and will be included in upcoming The Year of the Dragon Book 5: The Chrysanthemum Seal.

Europe by Google

These two maps were based on results of Google’s auto-complete feature, on, in incognito mode.

The first one answers the question “Why are such-and-such so…” ? Not all nations came up with the result (mostly because of people unable to spell the nationalities properly), so sometimes I had to tweak the question a little, but not enough to change the spirit of the investigation.

Why are... ?

As you can see, there’s quite a lot of diversity here. The Nordic countries are generally perceived positively, while the Central-Eastern Europe is a dark hole of despair. The former Yugoslavians are, weirdly, all Tall, whereas Hispanics are Short. There aren’t that many racists in Europe as you’d think, and Rudeness seems mostly contained to the former Carolingian Empire.

This one is result of “such-and-such are” query, and it’s far more straightforward: most of Europeans are either Racist or Rude.


This time, the former Yugoslavian nations come out far worse: Evil Stupid Nazi Serbs, the lot (that’s Google saying that, not me!). There is some weird debate between Italians, Greeks and Albanians going on around their racial identity, and Belarusians and Austrians are apparently confused. Also, you’ll notice that the Welsh and Estonians remain firmly Racist on both maps, while Bulgarians, Latvians and the Franco-German alliance keep being Rude.

(PS: incidentally, if you count Google results for “… are rude” and “… are racist”, Europe’s nations are far more often perceived as rude than racist. I guess that’s… positive? At least we discriminate equally against everyone 🙂

(PPS: although, “Europeans are racist” is three times more popular than “Europeans are rude”)

Japan, according to “The Wolverine”

“Our islands are long and thin. The trains only run in two directions.”
Shingen Yashida

One of the movies I chose to watch on the flight to Japan was “The Wolverine”. It’s a bad, bad movie, with even more Oriental stereotypes per square inch than Last Samurai’s “traditional Japanese village” sequence. Since whatever little of the plot there was failed to pull me in at all, I had ample time to focus on the particularly shoddy job the Wolverine does of Japanese geography. Wolverine’s escapades around Japan are far more intriguing than even Thor’s famous Tube journey from Charing Cross to Greenwich in three short stops.

Here’s a (badly drawn) map of what Wolverine’s Japan looks like, based on what’s said and shown in the movie:


PEDANT’S NOTES (contain Spoilers):
(PS: I know geography is never a strong point in action movies, but usually the action itself is distracting enough not to care about it. In Wolverine, it wasn’t.)

1. All of Japan’s city centres are, apparently, perfectly walkable. It’s about 8km from Tokyo Tower to Ueno Station. Wolverine and Mariko run all the way (Mariko in her wedding kimono). Also, the Tokyo Tower can be visible from any point in the city.

2. There are no bullet trains from Ueno to Osaka. Why they couldn’t just run to Tokyo Station (which is half-way to Ueno) will remain a mystery.

3. Since there is no public transport in Wolverine’s Japan, he and Mariko must walk again, a few miles from Shin Osaka station to the “centre”, where they stumble upon an unexpected clone of Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower.

4. There is never any sense of Japan consisting of several islands, rather than one long one. Japan’s main geographical regions are “The South” (Osaka and Nagasaki) and “The North” (where the Yashida research facility is). As mentioned above, Japan is a one-dimensional place, with only one railway line running along it. No wonder Shingen is so angry with his lackeys.

5. The distances covered are not explained, but we do get one glimpse into how long it takes to travel between major cities, when Yukio takes Logan in her Audi all the way from Nagasaki to Tokyo in a matter of one cut-scene, and doesn’t even manage to explain him her visions along the way. In reality, the non-stop journey would take the best part of the day (also: how fast is that Audi? Logan mentions earlier that the bullet train runs at 400-500km/h, and yet it’s easier to get back to Tokyo in Yukio’s car)

6. The only actual distance mentioned in the movie is the ominously uttered “500 km” from Tokyo to Black Clan Village. It’s so far away that even the weather changes from summer to winter. Never mind that Logan and Yukio just drove some 1200 km from Nagasaki apparently without even having time to talk.

The Paperbacks :)

Me and the Dragon :) I got the proof copies of “The Rising Tide” and “The Year of the Dragon” bundle today from CreateSpace. That means the paperbacks are now available on Amazon.

I only really create these paperbacks for the fun of it, and to have tyotd2physical things as giveaways and gifts. The profits from POD are meagre: a little more than a dollar per copy, despite the price. Still, it’s nice to have a physical object to represent two and a half years of hard work. At 820 pages, the book weighs 3 pounds and is almost 2 inches thick. It’s definitely a THING. I have created a THING.

tide1The Rising Tide paperback looks nice too, of course 🙂 It all grew to a pretty substantial bookshelf, with four small books and one huge one. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m back to writing – time to create some more THINGS 🙂

PS: The Year of the Dragon bundle contains a new map, unavailable in other editions: the Map of Gwynedd.

Map of Gwynedd
Map of Gwynedd

20,000 views! Big stats post

At some point today, this blog has passed 20,000 views! 🙂

The last mini summary was at 10,000 in November. It’s taken mere two months to double that – glad to see the numbers are still growing, instead of stagnating 🙂


The world map is looking roughly the same as before – there’s little left to improve. Africa and Middle East have filled up a bit, and there’s a lot of tiny island nations too small to show on the picture. The middle of South America remains strangely elusive – don’t they have the internet in Paraguay? Or is it all proxied through Brazil and Argentina?


The Top 10 countries remain roughly the same, with Canada climbing to the unexpected 4th. Taiwan is now 11th, ahead of India.


The bottom of the chart reads like a geography test. One can only guess what guided somebody from Swaziland or Federated States of Micronesia to my blog; and the single entry from China – was that a censor reading through the list of banned sites and clicking absent-mindedly?wolrdmap


Title Views
Home page / Archives 6,328
The Year of the Dragon 997
KDP Select – a week later. The price of one’s soul. 842
The Hollow Crown: Henry V – so strange I saw it twice. 808
New BBC2 trailer 724
How to be a successful… lottery winner 675
About Author 656
Parade’s End’s End. 474
Italo-Turkish War, 1911-1912 424
Formatting an eBook in 10 easy steps – part 1 422
Asylum of the Daleks – 5 questions, 1 observation 397
A different Vienna, part 2 – Gasometer: steampunk arcologies 367

If anything, the table shows how strong the convergence between traditional media and blogging still is. Four posts in Top 10 (discounting “system pages”) are about what I’ve seen on the telly. A recent breakthrough is the New BBC2 Trailer post – by far the most successful of the year so far. And it’s not even a proper post – just a YouTube link with copied lyrics. The KDP Select post, which I predicted to climb high last time, has done just that – now safe at No. 1

Spots 11-13 are occupied by more of my self-publishing ramblings.

I’m not posting top search results this time, as they are getting a bit meaningless and monotonous: roughly, equivalent to the Top 10 posts, just more jumbled.

Top referrers:

Referrer Views
Search Engines 4,543
Reddit 1,979 509 321
Facebook 292 263
Twitter 218
WordPress Dashboard 177 155
StumbleUpon 130

The big number comes from a one-day test of one of those paid referral places. Turned out to be just a bunch of spam-bots.

Search Engines, reddit, tumblr and FB are still big: Reddit is still massive, even though I think my site was ghost-banned for a while there 🙂 I’ve recently discovered that Google+ clicks often register as “search engine” query, so there may be quite a lot of these in the 4000 number. Passive Voice clicks come from just one comment on the blog. Twitter, Goodreads and StumbleUpon are trailing behind the big guys.

Top Clicks:

URL Clicks 374
Google 245 211 174 61 53 49 38 38
Google+ 3

The blog continues to serve as decent advertisement for my Amazon books: over 420 clicks combined. BBC clicks are almost all from that New Trailer post 🙂

Totals, followers, shares:

Content: 176 Posts, 176 Comments [sic!]

Taxonomies: 18 Categories, 716 Tags

Followers (includes Publicize) : 56 Blog17 Comments

Most views per day: January 15, 351 (discounting the experiment)

EDIT: Actually, my best day turned out to be today, at a staggering 606 views! 🙂

Most comments per day:  September 14 (the previous stats post – I have such a geeky audience 🙂

Most commented post: KDP Select – a week later. The price of one’s soul.

Comments per month: 13

So, what’s the next landmark number we’re aiming for? Dare I say, 50,000 ?

Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 5 – the Lands of Orient and the Royal Marines


Hey hey! Today I got my first Amazon cheque – fingers crossed, there will be many more of these to come 🙂 2012-12-05 14.17.37

Today’s gift to you are two new pieces of lore for the Year of the Dragon world: a map and a description of the Royal Marines Dragoons order of battle.

(note that all the on-going deals are still available: Free KOBO book and half-price bundle – see sidebar)

The new map that we’ve been working on is for the Volume 4. As action grows in scope and begins to move away from Chinzei, so the map encompasses the entire region of Orient, from Fan Yu in the South to Ezo in the North. The map will also feature in the paperback of The Islands in the Mist, which I hope will come out in a few days.


The Royal Marines Order of Battle is a set of notes I wrote for the book some time around drafting volume 2. I just cleaned it up a little for ease of reading.



There are five dragoon regiments in the Royal Marines. Of these, the 1st, “Empress’ Own”, is attached to the House Guards and charged with security of Lundenburgh and protecting the ships in the Lundenburgh harbour.

The 2nd, “Gwynedd Free”, based in Brigstow and the 3rd, “Belerion Free”, based in Ictis are Colonial Regiments. Formed mostly of Prydain recruits, the two regiments are tasked with protecting the Empire’s interests overseas. Dylan ab Ifor is the commander of the 2nd regiment. The 3rd regiment is currently in operation in Africa.

The 4th, “Home Counties”,  is based in Portcaester to guard the Channel crossing.

The 5th, “the Norsemen” or “Alba Royals”, is a training and reserve regiment based in Arcaibh Islands.

Ranks and organisation

All dragoon formations in the navy and army use the following ranks and organisation:

Unit Dragons Commander
Mount 1 Ensign
Detail 2 Lieutenant
Flight 4 Flight Leader
Squadron 8 Squadron Leader
Wing 16 Wing Leader
(staff officer) Reeve
Banner 32 Banneret
Regiment 64 Ardian
Battalion 320 Air Marshal

Insignia and Uniforms

The RMD insignia is an anchor with silver dragon wings around a globe. Each regiment’s insignia are topped with a regimental badge: a royal crown for the 1st, a sprig of gorse for the 2nd, a chough for the 3rd, a walled gate for the 4th and stag horns for the 5th.

There are three basic dragoon uniform styles, and they are also in use for the Marines formation:

  • The cadet uniform is steel blue with yellow trimmings
  • The regular uniform is navy blue with white trimmings
  • The officer uniform is scarlet with blue and golden trimmings

In place of the usual dragon markings, the soldiers of the 2nd are allowed Aberffraw lions on buttons and cuff-links and the soldiers of the 5th are allowed the White Stags of Alba.


The regulation mount of RMD are Mountain Silvers, bred in the Royal Hatcheries of Alba. Also accepted are Highland Azures from Rheged and Gall Gaidel and (for recon duties) Jutish Swifts from Vectis and Hoo.

These are the Fifteen Royal Hatcheries which supply dragons for all branches of the army and navy:

1. Braeriach, Am Monadh Ruadh – Mountain Silvers “Wyrmkings”

2. Svirlehaugr, Rheged – Highland Azures “Seakings”

3. Thor’s Cave, Pecsaetan – Norse Whites

4. Eremue, Vectis – Jutish Swifts

5. Pont-y-Pair, Gwydyr Forest – Forest Viridians

6. Urra, Jorvik Moor – Norse Whites

7. Lys Ardh, Belerion – Kernow Crimsons

8. Cadair Arthur, Brycheinniog – Ancient Reds

9. Clofeshoch, Hoo – Jutish Swifts

10. Isle of Elig, Gyrwas – Fenland Celadons

11. Sniaull, Ellan Vannin – Vannin Cyan

12. Glen Trool, Gall Gaidel – Highland Azures

13. Dun Scaith, Scathach – Highland Greys “Shadowclouds”

14. Scearder, Mynydd – Purple Swifts

15. North Duns – Ebbesham – Imperial Goldens