Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus! “The Shadow of Black Wings” Podiobook Launch

podiobooksToday – quite aptly, on the Day of Saint David, the Patron Saint of Wales – I’ve launched the FREE audio version of my book “The Shadow of Black Wings”.

Narrated by Kate Sherrod, with music by LoMelkiyLo, the audio book is available on Podiobooks.com in 17 episodes, each roughly half an hour long. It’s also available on iTunes.

Hope you will enjoy this one. Don’t forget to leave a comment if you like it, and if you want to know the rest of the story – buy volume two of the saga, “The Warrior’s Soul”, available on Amazon and Kobo! 🙂

Episode list:

  • Episode 1 – The Graddio

    It is the sixteenth year of Queen Victoria Alexandrina; Bran ap Dylan o Cantre’r Gwaelod, young student of Applied Dracology prepares for the final exams at the Llambed Academy of Mystic Arts.
  • Episode 2 – The Farmer’s Fancy

    Bran celebrates his graduation with a few friends; but not everyone is as happy with the exam results.
  • Episode 3 – The Hottest Summer

    As the summer heat dries out the marshes and riverbeds, Bran stumbles upon a relic of ancient wars.
  • Episode 4 – HMS Phaeton

    Bran discovers his Grandfather’s diary and learns the truth behind his blue stone ring.
  • Episode 5 – Farewell to Llangyfelach

    Inspired by his Grandfather’s adventures, Bran joins Dylan on board the MFS Ladon, the greatest ship ever built.
  • Episode 6 – The Songs of Distant Ocean

    The Ladon sails towards the great empire of Qin, and Bran has the greatest adventure of his life.
  • Episode 7 – The Thirteen Factories

    The Ladon finally reaches its destination – the Western Factories of Fan Yu – and Bran learns that there is always war in Qin.
  • Episode 8 – The Llambed Seal

    The Second Dragoons is ordered to sail North, to assist the Qin capital against the encroaching rebels. But war is closer than anyone expected. In the heat of the battle, there is only one way for Bran to survive: to invoke the power of the Llambed Seal…
  • Episode 9 – The Day of the Ship

    In the great harbour city of Kiyo, in the reclusive kingdom of Yamato, live Sato Takashima, the samurai wizardess, and Nagomi Keisuke, a shrine apprentice from the family of physicians.
  • Episode 10 – Jewels Three

    Sato’s father joins the conspiracy against the ruling dynasty. Nagomi learns about the dark prophecy concerning the fate of the Yamato.
  • Episode 11 – It Fell From Heavens

    A beam of light falls from the sky near the harbour. Sato and Nagomi run to the beach to find out what happened.
  • Episode 12 – This Is Not Qin

    Bran wakes up in a strange place, surrounded by unfamiliar faces. It looks a bit like Qin… but something doesn’t feel right.
  • Episode 13 – He Rides Dragons

    The mysterious boy speaks a language unknown in Yamato. The initial investigation into his arrival seems to bring more questions than answers.
  • Episode 14 – The Streets of Kiyo

    It is forbidden for Westerners to come to Yamato without permission. Bran’s hiding place is discovered, and he has to be moved to a more secure location… but where?
  • Episode 15 – The Crane Room

    Tokojiro wasted his best years learning a useless language of a country nobody’s heard of. Now it’s his time to shine, as he is summoned to the great Suwa Shrine.
  • Episode 16 – The Myriad Year Clock

    Sato’s lessons end abruptly as Keinosuke decides to confront her about the stranger seen at Nagomi’s house. To forget about her worries for a day, she goes to see the Myriad Year Clock – Master Tanaka’s mechanical masterpiece.
  • Episode 17 – The Scent of Wisteria

    Somewhere in Yamato, an old man descends into an ancient barrow…

Birthday Boys – Keisuke Ito and Philipp Von Siebold

A man from Dejima, his wife and his child. Could be von Siebold himself.

Two very important people were born on February 17th and February 18th. Important for Japan, for science – and for the events described in my “The Year of the Dragon” books.

Bundespost_Philipp_Franz_von_SieboldIn 1796, on February 17th, a child was born into the family of von Siebolds, Wurzburg doctors and professors of medicine. Christened Philipp Franz Balthasar, the boy studied natural sciences under some of the best names at the time, and by 1820, he became a medical doctor.

A friend invited him to join the Dutch Navy, and in 1822 Philipp Von Siebold embarked on his first journey to the Orient, on board of a Dutch frigate Ariana. It was to be the most important decision of his life; while recovering from illness at the Batavian governor’s villa, he impressed his peers so much they invited him to visit the secret jewel in the Dutch colonial crown: the Dejima Outpost in Japan.

Dejima, where von Siebold spent seven years of his life (modern reconstruction)
Dejima, where von Siebold spent seven years of his life (modern reconstruction)
Kusumoto Otaki
Kusumoto Otaki

He arrived in Nagasaki on August 11, 1823 as the new resident physician and scientist. The mutual first impressions must have been great: von Siebold stayed in Japan for the next seven years, establishing a medical school and teaching modern Western science to 50 students; in turn, the Japanese taught him their customs, and welcomed him among themselves as equal. Eventually, as often happened with the lonely residents of Dejima far away from home, he found love: a Nagasaki woman by the name of Otaki.

Monument to Carl von Thunberg, von Siebold's predecessor, set up by von Siebold himself.
Monument to Carl von Thunberg, von Siebold’s predecessor, set up by von Siebold himself.

Siebold’s legacy today lies mostly in his botanical interests; his collection of Japanese flora was unparalleled at the time. His name is remembered in many of the plant species he first described for the benefit of the West. Alas, his varied interests proved his downfall, when in 1826 he was discovered to be in possession of detailed maps of Japan and accused of spying. In 1829 he was forced to leave Nagasaki, abandoning his wife and his two year old daughter, Ine. He had to wait thirty years before the transforming Japan allowed him to return. By then, Ine had grown up to become Japan’s first female doctor, and established a gynecology clinic in Nagasaki.

Von Siebold's gardens at Dejima
Von Siebold’s gardens at Dejima
Ito Keisuke
Ito Keisuke

One of Siebold’s 50 students was another birthday boy: Keisuke Ito. Born February 18th in 1803 in Nagoya, thanks to the knowledge he had gained in Nagasaki and his own talent, Keisuke became one of early modern Japan’s most prominent physicians. In 1852 he returned to his homeland to study smallpox – and developed an effective vaccine to the disease which ravaged Japan for centuries, killing peasants and Emperors alike. In 1868 he established a medical school in Nagoya which formed the basis of what is now Nagoya University. By the time he died at the grand age of 98 (only two years before the death of his mentor’s daughter), he was a baron and the professor of University of Tokyo; his long life having spanned the age of greatest change and turmoil in Japan’s history.

Happy Birthday, Phillip Von Siebold!

Happy Birthday, Keisuke Ito!

Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – The End – Goodreads Giveaway


The world has survived, and the new sun dawned after the longest night of the year. Happy Yalda! 🙂

To those who got here, here’s the last present of the year: a Goodreads Giveaway of “The Shadow of Black Wings” paperback. Follow the link below to enter:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Shadow of Black Wings by James Calbraith

The Shadow of Black Wings

by James Calbraith

Giveaway ends January 06, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

And now I’m logging off for the rest of the year. See you in January!