When writing (and reading, not least) you usually get a lot of visuals in your head. Which is one of the purposes of a text, to be honest. I love how text can do this and still retain the freedom of the reader in a way that images and video never can. Sometimes, however, it may be useful to get some illustrations – some pointers, if you like – to what some characters or places could look like. And this can especially become quite powerful if there is a defined artistic style to the expressions – it may shape entire generations of readers of popular works.

Lately, I have been exploring the possibility of having some illustrations in my book. I am by no means capable of doing this myself. But now it seems technology has finally caught up on this field as well. I have experimented with using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to generate some meaningful illustrations. We will see which actually make it into the book, but here are some examples:


Approaching the final stretch of the first book

After having written on this book for quite some time, I am approaching the final stretch of the first book. There are still some pages left to write, and I am uncertain how long it will really be. But I have a clear overview in my head regarding what pieces that will be on the remaining pages. It is an interesting feeling. On one side, I can’t wait to get it done and have the first complete story from the Ardalaar universe on paper. On the other side, I am scared for the moment when I don’t have more story to write in this book, as I really enjoy writing and telling the story. I am guessing that there is a fair chance that there will be more books after this first one. Or some other format. I definitely have more story to tell after this first part.

As usual, the mountains of Vesterålen in the North of Norway is a fabulous place of inspiration.

Short story 3: Unfair revenge

Mardin couldn’t sleep that night. His conversation with Sir Anthubas was repeated in his mind;
“It’s not a big favor I ask of you. I only ask that you verify my story as I tell it to the City Warden. And for your courage in such an event, you will be richly rewarded.”
But Mardin would not risk being part of a plot with illegitimate or immoral intentions. He sensed that Sir Anthubas was not being quite honest with him. Why would he be offered money for telling the truth?
“I am sorry, My lord,” he had replied, “but this I cannot do. If you were asking me to defend you for noble deeds, for dealing justice to criminals or for aiding the poor or less fortunate, I would gladly do so without any form of payment. But I will not twist the truth for you, no matter what you offer.”
“I am sorry to hear that,” Sir Anthubas replied. “I was hoping we could keep our good relation. Good day to you.”
Then he turned and left.

Mardin was uncertain what to expect from Sir Anthubas. He didn’t know him very well, but he knew enough to know that his intentions weren’t always true. He had gained some honor in a fight with some bandits that had ravaged the area some years ago, and for this he had been dubbed “Sir” Anthubas. He clearly was an ambitious man, and Mardin deemed that ambition combined with low integrity was a dangerous combination. Mardin was sweating. What would come of this? Sir Anthubas clearly hadn’t been satisfied with his answer, and he had even ended the conversation with a poorly concealed threat.

A couple of days later, Mardin was summoned to the City Warden’s office. He didn’t know why, but he feared the worst. Could it be something Sir Anthubas had set into motion?
“Come in and sit down,” the city warden said as Mardin entered the room. He didn’t look up from his papers.
“It gives me no pleasure to do what I am about to do, because you have a good record in His Grace’s service. But the latest events leaves me with no alternative, I’m afraid.”
Mardin had been in his Grace the Duke of Bargens’ service for many years. He had begun his career as a soldier at the age of sixteen, being the youngest of five brothers with little hope of inheritance. Four years ago he had been appointed sergeant and he did now command a troop of twenty three men in a regiment designated to guard and protect the walls of the city. But what could this be about?
“There have been reports of you breaking in and stealing from people in the city, and then abusing your position as a sergeant of the city guard, intimidating people to be silent about the matter. Normally I would dismiss such allegations as evil tongues wanting to smear your reputation, but it has been confirmed by several eye witnesses and not least by a nobleman.”
Mardin was lost for words. So this was what Sir Anthubas meant by “I’m sorry to hear that”. Of course! Since Anthubas had misjudged Mardin’s willingness to participate in his schemes, he had now become a liability because he knew about Anthubas’ plan. The City Warden continued:
“Sergeant Mardin, son of Hundin, you are hereby discharged from your station, starting immediately. Please deliver your weapons, shield, armor and uniforms to the weaponmaster tomorrow morning. You will no longer be allowed to enter the military buildings here in Bargens, and you will be considered a civilian in all respects. In addition, you will have ten days to leave Bargens, not to return while I am still warden here. Should you be seen in the city after ten days, you will be charged and prosecuted for your actions.”
Mardin knew his punishment was mild for this kind of transgression. He suspected it to be because of his unblemished service record through many years. Yet, the punishment still was harsh to him as he was not guilty. But there was no point in arguing with the City Warden, he was only doing his duty. The fault rested with Sir Anthubas and his intrigues, he had no doubt.

Five days later, he was riding his horse northwards. The summer was young and the grass was bright green. Birds were singing and the air was warm and fresh after a nightly shower. But the sadness in Mardins heart overshadowed all the beauty of the land, and he hardly noticed any of it. He was angry and sad because of a cold-hearted man that had now made him loose his home, his job and his friends. Never again would he set foot in the city of Bargens. All the people that he knew and loved there would now be lost to him. Although some of his closest soldier friends had stated their conviction in his innocence, he wasn’t sure if he would ever see them again.

He had decided to travel north to unknown lands and to settle down and build a farm somewhere. Maybe he’d find a wife and live peacefully and quietly for the rest of his life, far from the intrigues of noblemen and city life. Little did Mardin know at the time that his wife was already waiting for him a bit further north, and that the village Burno would be his home for the rest of his life. But many years later, two young boys fleeing from their hometown’s demise could thank Sir Anthubas for his actions. As the Elder of Burno, Mardin would save their lives because of his well-organized defense of the village.

Landscape of inspiration

There are many things that inspire me to write my stories. One of them are the breathtaking landscape and nature in Vesterålen, Norway. Every time I come there, the mountains, the ocean, the forests, marshes and not least the midnight sun makes me bring out my computer and start typing. And even when I don’t have my computer handy, my mind starts spinning around ideas and plots.

To make it easier for you to understand how this beautiful landscape affects me, I have put together this video sequence for you. My brother-in-law, Kai Freddy Evensen, has made some great footage from one of the mountains in Øksnes with his drone, and he has given me permission to use it here. The video clips are captured in the middle of the night, so the sun here is the midnight sun (and even a midnight rainbow a the end of the video).

The music in this video is a piece I made for Emergence. It is called “Thilonar”, and when you are able to read part two of the book you will understand why. Enjoy!

Emergence: The Prologue

Here is the preliminary prologue from the book:

The River Talmi has three sources, although the smaller rivers from the two lesser lakes down to the Field of Talim have other names before they join the Talmi. Lake Golon lies north of Furdiar, on the outskirts of the empty plains in that region. The river flowing from lake Golon is called Golonia. There are few rapids and falls there, it is mostly running slowly eastwards through the brown desolate lands north of the great desert. 

The Silvar is the lake deep in the Gwarnakh mountains. The river falls rapidly south from the mountains, clear and cold as ice and white with foam. The Dwarves call it the Sûkh-ar-Nizam, which means “one that battles with nature”. The name refers to the river being so wild that it looks like it is battling its way out of the mountains. But after a while, the Silvar slows down and makes a wide turn towards the east. And even further away from the mountains, the Silvar and Golonia join in a larger river, called the Surni. The Surni is full of fish, and most of the few people residing here make a living by fishing in the river and selling their catch in Barsas, further south. The best place for fishing, though, is right south of where the Surni joins Talmi. Fish from all the three rivers gather there, and the place is called Fisherman’s Dream. 

The greatest of the three sources of the Talmi is the Lake Lorin, on the western border of Lorenia. From there, the Talmi flows southwards, east of the Ilkêth Mountains. And it continues in that direction until it meets the Surni and the two rivers continue as one. It flows steadily south and east as a huge snake. There are no falls or real rapids after Fisherman’s Dream. 

After plowing through the Nilkîth, the “Threemountains”, in a deep ravine, the Talmi passes the city of Barsas some miles to the east. Barsas is one of the major cities in Talimar, the southernmost and most populous of the three human kingdoms in Ardalaar. The river continues in a giant turn south and east before it flows straight through the city of Bargens. And finally, after a turn north and then back east it divides into three and flows into the Bay of Tal. The northernmost of the branches of the estuary misses Tanzegrim, the capital of Talimar, by less than a mile. 

Talimar is a strong and proud country, and so are many of her inhabitants. Most people live in the capital or one of the other the major cities. The inland rural areas in Talimar are scarcely populated, the density of people is generally higher close to the coast. But scattered about, there are villages and some estates and castles. One of these villages, lying north of Bargens, on the road to Barsas, was called Alfar. It was a small village with no more than a hundred people living there. They were generally poor and lived off the land. This village is the starting point for our story. 

Please note that the prologue may change before release.

Part one of Emergence ready in first draft

I am glad to say that the first draft of Part One of the book is now ready. I am looking forward to follow the stories into the next part, and to continue working with part one, getting feedback from my friends, rewriting and polishing. Hopefully, it will flow smoothly once it’s done.

I am not going to spoil anything from the tale right here and now, but maybe I will give some glimpses into the story later on.

Part one will probably end up being about 40k words.

The first book: Emergence

I have started writing my first fantasy novel; Emergence. Hopefully, this is the first of several books from the universe of Ardalaar.

Without revealing too much, the book is about a boy named Bregon and his journey towards growing up and discovering his fate in the world. He experiences much and eventually finds a new home in the North. But that is not all…

I hope you will read the book when it comes out, it will be made available primarily as an eBook. (Hopefully, there will be some printed copies as well.)  Being my first book, I cannot promise that this will be a book of brilliant excellence. But I can promise an honest attempt to tell this story (which is growing inside me), and I think that it may be enjoyable and hopefully exciting to those who like fantasy, like myself.

Stay tuned for more!