Book Review – Dragon Slayer 1-3 by Michael-Scott Earle

Book: Dragon Slayer books 1-3

Author: Michael-Scott Earle

Genre: Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery

Part of a Series: Yes

Finally, a fantasy series to review. Dragon Slayer is a pulp harem fantasy series following Chicago firefighter Ethan Dapaolo. While at the scene of a blaze, Ethan gets trapped in a burning building and is pulled into a magic land by a mysterious guardian. He has been tasked with killing 25 dragons who threaten the people of this world while freeing the dragons’ magic for the guardians return.

So slight spoilers from here on out. Every time Ethan defeats a dragon they turn into a beautiful woman. It takes way to long for the series to acknowledge this, well into book 2 actually. We, the audience, know all the dragons are women after the first transformation, because it is a harem fantasy after all, but after the 3rd dragon, people are still surprised they are women.

Speaking of harem fantasy… Despite the name, these books aren’t over burdened with sex scenes. That’s great as they tend to get boring after a while. It probably works better if you don’t binge read the books, as they are decently spaced out, but if you read these all in one go, you are going to find yourself skipping scenes. It’s fine as the sex doesn’t add anything to the story. No new developments or growth, just titillation. The obvious exception is that the first time Ethan sleeps with a dragon who has been changed, she decides being human is great.

As for the story, it’s fine. The world is interesting. The author does a good job at organically expanding the scope of the conflict and the size of the world. The characters are also fun, even if they are surrounded by plot armor. The magical guardian who brought Ethan to the world is obviously evil and Ethan will obviously be protecting the world from it when he is done with the dragons. It is not hard to guess how everything in this tale will ultimately turn out.

At the end of the day, Dragon Slayer is just a fun, maybe guilty pleasure, read. It is not overly complex and does a good job at recapping the reader on key points. It is not high fantasy, but it is not trying to be. Overall, I give these books the bronze stash (3/5).

Flash Fiction Friday 017 – Let There Be Light

Tom was huddled in his office. On every free surface, candles burned brightly. Their flickering lights danced over his face, giving him a manic appearance that matched his mood

Outside, night hung over the city. Gas lamps burned dimly; winds fluttered across the moon. Hooves clattered on cobblestone; the womp of beaten air grew steadily louder. Shutters and windows closed for the night; screams erupted from the streets.

It was the same every night. The mouth people came with the fading light and took their sacrifices. They didn’t care who the people were as long as they were alive.

The only thing these moth people feared was the light. Candles were barely bright enough to be of any good, and fires required constant attention. That was why Tom kept himself locked in his office under the mad gleam of desperation.

The door to his office burst open, amid he spun towards it in terror and shock. “Damn it, Edison. How much longer?” Tom breathed a sigh of relief as the mayor’s aide walked in. “You’ve tried nearly a thousand different things by now.”

Edison nodded, a sense of calm coming over him like it always did when he was explaining something. “Yes, and I have found a thousand ways it wouldn’t work. Tell the mayor I’m close. We’ll soon be safe.”

A shot rang out from behind Tom’s door. It was followed by a scream that quickly died away in a wet gurgle. The aide paled and backed further into Edison’s office. “T…tomorrow morning will be fine.” With a bracing breath, he rounded on Tom. “But this light bulb thing had better be what you promise.”

Edison smiled to himself as he turned back to his work. “Trust me Steve. It’ll change the world.”

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. If you want, make sure you sign up for our newsletter and as a special thanks, you’ll receive a short story for free. And as always, I mustache y’all to stay fantastical.

Friday Flash Fiction 015 – Judged

I knelt in the open plains, my head bowed against the sun despite the large shadow cast by my umbrella. My trinkets glimmered and jingled in the breeze. I did not feel the wind, though, as my mask covered my face and beak.

West winds bring plagues they said. My feathers were already beginning to molt from the sun’s kiss. I could not afford a plague on top of it.

How will you get the plague in that mask?

My fingers curled around the amulet that hung from my neck. “It’s the very best. Kings wish for masks like this.” I coughed, despite my words, and retreated further into the shade of my umbrella.

Fatigue, weakness, headache, light headedness. I listed the symptoms of heat exhaustion first, mentally checking off how many I had. Nausea, fever, tender skin, boils. Next was the plague. No boils…yet.

You do not have plague. I have already told you I would never allow it.

Ignoring the voice, I distracted myself from my ailments by looking at the trinkets that hung from my umbrella. I counted and sorted each one of the eleven trinkets. “Gotta collect all twelve.”

I felt my the back of my neck tighten uncomfortably at the thought of the set being incomplete. My fingers twitched towards my belt where my purse hung. Almost enough for the last piece.

The feathers on the back of my neck rose, and I cocked my head to the side. Something was coming. The stench of wrong doing.

I rose and gathered my belongings. It was easy to pack, and I was quickly on my way. I followed the stench easily enough. There was little out here to block my senses.

As I drew closer, my amulet pulsed. I felt every pump in my soul as I felt the pump of my heart. Sure. Confident. True. Trust your heart, and you will be okay is what they say. It led me straight to the man dragging a chest towards small out cropping of trees.

“Halt!” I cried out as I approached.

“What the?!” The man spun about, hand going towards his waist until he saw me. “Get out of here kenku. This doesn’t concern you.”

My head cocked to the side as I looked at the man. “That’s not yours.”

“I told you to git.” The man waved his hand at me and turned.

My fingers curled around my amulet as I looked at the man. “By the gods of Astor, I beseech thee, bind this man so that he may be judged.”

As I finished the prayer, fiery tendrils emanated from the amulet and towards the man. He screamed, trying to run, but my heavenly restraints were faster. Soon, he was bound by wrist and ankle, kneeling before me on the plains.

“You are charged with violating the laws of this land. How do you plead?”

“N..not guilty.” His eyes were slightly wide as he looked up at me.

I leaned forward ever so slightly. “I knew you’d say that.” Leaning back, I began to pray again. “Lords of Astor, reveal his crimes.”

Above my head, a blazing eye appeared and turned down onto the man. I saw how he had snuck up on the carriage in the early morning and taken the chest while everyone still slept. When the vision diminished, he was weeping silently from the effects of my patron’ s ways.

“You have committed theft and have been shown to be…”

“Wait! Please!” The man was crying openly now. “My village is starving. This would keep us fed til winter. I didn’t hurt no body. This was for the greater good.”

I could feel the flaming eye descend over my face as red-orange wings erupted behind me. “The law is greater than good.” My voice echoed the booming mental command of my patron.

“You have been accused and judged before the gods. In their names, I declare you guilty.” My feathery arms rose towards the heavens. “Great lords of Astor, carry out the sentence.”

The man cried out as one of the fiery tendrils about his wrist heated and tightened. In a blink, his hand was severed from his arm; the wound was sealed shut by the gods’ fire and power. The remaining tendrils disappeared, as did the images of flaming eyes and wings surrounding me.

With the sentence carried out, I turned to leave. The man still held his wrist and wept behind me. I stepped off to the north. There was a village near by with a good collection of items I wanted to buy.

What about the chest?

“The law does not care about property after trial.” I shrugged at the thought and scratched my arm. “My skin itches. Did they look rashy? I feel a rash.”

Today’s image is from wanderinginpixels on deviantart. Go check them out. Also, don’t forget to check out D. L. Spartan and her post from the same challenge. Tell her #teamstash sent you.

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. If you want, make sure you sign up for our newsletter and as a special thanks, you’ll receive a short story for free. And as always, I mustache y’all to stay fantastical.

Flash Fiction Friday 014 – Retribution

The sun set slowly over the city, staining the western sky with reds and oranges. L.A. sprawled out in a haze under the failing light. The harsh yellow of street lamps replaced the softer hues of the sun. Despite the transition between natural and artificial, traffic continued to buzz.

If there was one constant about life in a big city, it was that traffic did not care about sunsets or storms or natural disasters. People had places to be in L.A. and they would be damned if anything was going to stop them. It always made Azazial laugh.

Life in L.A. was like watching an ant hill. Everything crawled. Everything moved. Millions of tiny creatures hustled and bustled on pre-constructed routes.

But nothing fascinated Azazial more than watching them at sunset. Watching as they raged against the coming night. It was beautiful. Even Lucifer did not challenge God’s order the way that these people did every day.

He floated down from his heavenly hover, landing lightly on the streets below. The leather soles of his shoes whisked gently on the concrete as he moved. His deep, brown eyes scanned the shadows, searching.

After several moments, he found what he was looking for. Some tatted up man in a shirt two sizes too large was prowling the edges of the yellow light. These so called predators were always the most fun. They always had such a strong sense of entitlement.

Azazial moved to cross paths with the thug, barely giving him a glance as he moved towards the mouth of an alley. Like he expected, the thug couldn’t pass up the chance of attacking one dressed as finely as Azazial. Azazial didn’t even struggle as the thug grabbed him by the shoulder and forced him into the alley.

With his back pushed against the alley wall, Azazial watched calmly as a gun was leveled at his face. “Your money or your life!” The thug’s voice echoed off the nearby buildings.

Azazial laughed softly at the threat. “And just how are you going to kill me? With that Hi-Point? You’d be better off with a hammer.”

“Shut up and give me your wallet.” The thug placed his thumb on the gun’s hammer, cocking it back, but it started to shake lightly at the confrontation.

“Very well.” Azazial shrugged. He pulled his wallet from his pocket and held it out in front of him. The mugger grabbed it and ran off towards the far end of the alley, leaving Azazial standing in the shadows.

* * *

Mad Max ran for several streets before he finally slowed to a walk. Lighting a joint, he inhaled deeply before making his way back towards his crappy little apartment.

He kept an eye out for any cop cars as he moved. Sure he had quickly moved a few blocks away, but pigs always liked to try and mess with him. Self righteous bastards always thought they were better than the people down here.

Mad Max was pulled from his thoughts by the sounds of footsteps behind him. He ignored them at first. After all, it was a light sound, not the heavy thud of boots or Doc Martins. Two turns into his trip home, however, and the sound was still behind him.
He spun around quickly, hand going to his waist. “What do you want f..” Mad Max’s words trailed off when he saw no one behind him. “Cheap ass weed for me hearing things.”

He came to the run down building his apartment was in a few minutes later. As he was about to put his keys in the door, he saw something rushing towards him from the corner of his eye. Mad Max speed his keys and he turned, but there was nothing but shadows lining the walls of the building.

With shaky hands, he picked up his keys and stepped inside the bare apartment. He needed a drink to calm himself. Opening the fridge, Mad Max screamed as a thousand black bugs exploded from the inside the appliance.

He scrambled back away from the encroaching horde, hitting his head on the coffee table. The insects crawled up his legs and over his chest. They reached his neck… and disappeared.

“Christ!” Max was panting on the floor. “I’m never buying weed from Crazy Lou again.”

“It’s not the weed you need to worry about,” a voice laughed softly from the corner of the apartment.

Max jumped up and pulled out his gun. “Yo, you’re that joker I robbed earlier. How did you get in here?”

The man stood in the shadows of the room refusing to move or speak. Max nodded to himself as he tried to keep his hams from shaking. “Fine. I got something for you anyway.” He pulled the trigger several times but heard nothing but the click of a misfire.

The man laughed again as he glided towards Max. “I told you that you skills be better off with a hammer.” The ham paused a moment as he pulled something from his coat and raised it above his head. Max blinked as he saw the hammer hover above the horns on the man’s head. “Here. Let me show you.”

Thwack! Thwack! Thwamph!

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. If you want, make sure you sign up for our newsletter and as a special thanks, you’ll receive a short story for free. And as always, I mustache y’all to stay fantastical.

Friday Flash Fiction 013 – Raise the Black Flag

The trail of greenish light cut through the night sky. It was always the same when they came. The light was the messenger of their arrival. Before long, their ships would land, their troops would depart, and Miriam’s people would be forced to empty the warehouses that they had so diligently stocked up.

Miriam swung down from the treetop perch and landed on the forest floor. Leaves crunched under bare feet as she ran towards her village. She paused at the tree line just before the clearing. Beyond stood her village, a small collection of huts clustered around a bend in the river. The dock was nestled in the bend, though it was only used for the Romanus.

The other villagers had seen the green lights in the sky and had gathered outside, staring up towards the heavens. Miriam followed their gaze and watched as the wooden Romanus ship descended from the stars. It landed gently in the waters of the river as several men from the village ran to extend the walkway from the dock to the deck.

Once the ship was tied off, a Romanus official stepped forth, flanked on either side by a Praetor Guard. Their bronze breastplates shone in the moonlight while their capes fluttered in the gentle summer breeze, the red of the official contrasting with the purple of his guard. Miriam was too far away to hear the proclamation that the official was making, but she assumed that it was the standard address.

Every month since anyone could remember, the Romanus descended among them demanding tribute in the form of ore and precious gems. Something was off about this month’s visit, however. The villagers seemed tense as they listened to the official. Miriam also realized that the Romanus only brought one ship as opposed to the several they normally used to carry off her people’s hard earned goods.

The official had finished speaking and stared down the walkway at the surrounding villagers. There were shouts of confusion and anger from the small crowd. He listened with a look of mild disinterest before turning and stepping back onto his ship. As soon as he cleared the walkway, soldiers moved down the wooden path from the ship to the village. Cries of panic erupted as the soldiers began entering houses and villagers ran off in any direction they could.

Miriam watched in silent horror as fires lit the summer night. Screams of pain filled the air only to be cut off suddenly. Forcing herself to back away further into the tree line, she turned and ran. She did not stop running for seemed an eternity. The screams had faded away, but the glow of her village burning still glowed in the night.

* * *

Dawn was less than an hour away. Miriam had finally forced herself to calm down and turned back towards what was left of her village. Smoke still drifted lazily from the charred remains of huts. In the center of the village, several tents had been erected. The soldiers seemed to have made camp in the middle of their carnage.

Miriam felt her blood boil at the sight. How could they be so callous?

She was pulled from her thoughts by the sounds of people nearby. Silently, she crept towards the sound and discovered a few survivors from the village.

“Liam? What happened? Is there anyone else?”

A tall lad, barely younger than Miriam but still not old enough to hunt alone, sighed heavily. “They said that the empire no longer needed us. Our land is to be given to a new Proconsul who would settle it with citizens. We were the only ones who made it out.”

Miriam was shocked at the news. With a simple declaration, her people were killed in order to make way for a new settlement. All that was left of her village was a small group of barely more than children.

“Very well. If they think that we can be gotten rid of so easily, I guess that we will have to show them their mistake.” She nodded to herself as much as the band of survivors. “Listen up. You all can stay here and try to hide from the Romanus or you can come with me and fight back.”

“But how?” The question came from a smaller lad in the back. “There are thirty soldiers out there and only eight of us.”

“It’ll be ok, Sean.” Miriam smiled at the boy. “We only need to get to their ship. With that, we can get others, like us, and strike back at them at our own choosing and when they are weak. The soldiers are all asleep, so we can easily board the ship and take care of whoever is left on board.”

There was a murmur of agreement from the group before Miriam turned and led them back to the village.

She was surprised how easy it was to move past the sleeping soldiers. By the looks of the empty wineskins lying about, they had celebrated their “victory” over her people. Miriam silently pointed at Liam and then at the weapons left near the tent’s entrance. Nodding, Liam took Sean to gather the gladii and spears before joining the others on the dock.

Boarding the ship, they found only a handful of sailors. They were all asleep on the deck and were easily taken care of by the newly armed group. There was a little fumbling as Miriam’s new crew tried to make ready to sail. Their boats only traveled the waters, not the stars. Fortunately, the process of raising the ship into the air was intuitive enough and done without raising an alarm from the soldiers on land.

As they sailed into the morning sun, Miriam turned towards the cabin. Surely the official who brought the news was in there. She approached the door, gladius in hand. Little did the Romanus official know that he was not to survive the maiden voyage of The Galiani Revenge.

Miriam opened the door to the cabin and found the official still asleep in her new bed. She walked slowly towards him, a moment of doubt crossing her mind. Looking over her shoulder at the shrinking image of her village, Miriam tightened her resolve. Sometimes, one just needs to raise the black flag.

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. If you want, make sure you sign up for our newsletter and as a special thanks, you’ll receive a short story for free. And as always, I mustache y’all to stay fantastical.

Flash Fiction Friday 012 – The Persian Sand Wyrm

The Persian Sand Wyrm lifted it’s mighty head and spit forth it’s venom as the crimson clad combatants. Heinrich ducked, Rich dodged, and Tim dove, but Ulrich did not move fast enough. He screamed as the venom struck his left arm.

It quickly ate through his armor, burning into his flesh. The pain was intense, almost unbearable. Tim rolled to a crouch a few feet from Ulrich and dove back towards his injured battle buddy. He scooped Ulrich up in his arms and tackled the fellow Crusader to the ground as another burst of venom shot overhead.

“Crusader Main, Crusader Main. This is Crusader Bravo. Request immediate medevac at LZ Hawk. Elaine. I say again Elaine.”

Ulrich was family aware of the report Tim was sending up. Through the haze of pain, he recognized the code word for confirmation of the sand wyrm. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Heinrich and Rich engaging the creature, saw it slither and writhe under the hail of gunfire from the other two Crusaders.

Ulrich was pulled back to the reality of his situation as he felt something tightening on his arm near the shoulder. Tim was applying a turniquet to his injured arm. Reaching into his aid pack, Ulrich popped one of the pain potions that had been issued him and waved Tim away. “I’m good. Help them.”

Tim nodded and took off towards the wyrm while Ulrich finished applying the turniquet. A wave of euphoria washed over him as the potion took effect. After several moments, Ulrich was done treating himself. He couldn’t move his arm, but he was ok for now.

Ulrich reached for his weapon, the crossbow just a few feet from him. The bolts were specially designed and enchanted for desert dragons. Luckily, it was undamaged from the wyrm’s venom, but he only had one shot.

The other three had the wyrm’s attention. It was now or never. He lifted the crossbow, aimed, and loosed the bolt. It struck the wyrm in its venom sack, sinking deep into its neck. With a terrible cry, the creature reared its head before collapsing to the ground.

The medevac arrived a few minutes later and the team loaded up on the helicopters. Ulrich didn’t remember much after that. The medics had given him some of the good stuff, and he faded into a drug induced sleep.

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. If you want, make sure you sign up for our newsletter and as a special thanks, you’ll receive a short story for free. And as always, I mustache y’all to stay fantastical.

Flash Fiction Friday 011 – The Red Crusader

Ulrich flexed his left hand as he walked down the city street. It didn’t hurt; it was incapable of hurting, but old habits and all. The sound of traffic and the hum if humanity blared all around him; however, the commotion was muted in Ulrich’s ears. His mind was somewhere far away.

“Hey, Ulrich! Man, you want a taco or what?” Jack had stopped next to a good truck and was trekking at Ulrich.

Blinking, Ulrich moved by his friend in line. “Quite a wait for a mobile meal isn’t it?”

Jack laughed and have a shrug. “Master Monty has the best prices on tacos in the city.”

Ulrich craned his neck to see the menu. “Can’t be that good for those prices. How are drinks the most expensive item on the menu? Rat meat, that’s how.”

“A. Probably better than that shit you were eating down range. B. The food is legit. Monty has a taco storm in a jar. Fresh as magic can make it. Don’t get a drink here though.” Jack added. “Potions. Don’t want you popping hot when you get back to your unit.”

While Jack spoke, movement caught Ulrich’s eye. His head jerked around to see a woman walking her pet dragon down the sidewalk. No taller than the woman’s knee, it had it’s muzzle on to prevent accidental fires.

Ulrich tensed at the sight of the thing, his fists clenching. The edges of his vision began to black out before being filled with fire. His left hand began to tap his leg repeatedly while he stood frozen.

“Yo. You’re on leave. You’re on leave. Chill bro.” Ulrich faintly heard Jack’s words at first, but each sentence became clearer and clearer. After another moment or two, his mind cleared and he was at the front of the line for tacos.

Ulrich barely registered anything during the transaction. He knew dragons were pets. They were vey popular pets. Breeding the big ones was also a violation of several international treaties. That didn’t stop some people, though.

Some dictators just got it in their head that dragons were better when big and angry. That’s when units like Ulrich’s were called. USAMA claimed they were the Black Knights, and they could pretend. Ulrich was a Red Crusader, one of four knight forces in the US Army, trained and proficient in handling mythical and magical problems.

Jack guided him to a seat as he continued to flex his left hand. The sound of cogs and actuators was barely audible being magically powered and muted. Despite having no actual sense of anything in that hand, Ulrich could tell the moves of the metal didn’t feel right. Maybe it was just the way the shoulder joint still rubbed burnt skin. He still had a few weeks to get used to it while he finished up hid convalescent leav… man. That was a good taco.

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. If you want, make sure you sign up for our newsletter and as a special thanks, you’ll receive a short story for free.