Tag Archives: the seven circles of hell

Monday Morsel: Doors to Nowhere and Everywhere – an excerpt from BECOMING THE DEMON

Wrong Way Around

I know this is supposed to be a Touring Scotland post–in fact, last post was supposed to be a Touring Scotland post, and you got a new cover reveal instead–but I’m in the throes of writing the last few thousand words of the first draft of Becoming the Demon, and I really don’t have the headspace to write it. Sorry! Here, have another Monday Morsel instead.Be warned, it’s a long one!

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Wrong Way Around

In the brilliantly lit main Hall, a circle of doors stood end-to-end around the room. They looked innocent enough, if strange—they were doorframes with no doors, standing on their edges: doorways to nowhere. Except they weren’t. They looked like a step through the doorway would take you one step deeper into the room, when in reality it would take you, maybe, millions of miles across the world. Some of them led to similar rooms in other citadels, where there would be a door you could step back through to your origin. Some of them deposited the user in locations without doors—and no way home, except the long way, unless the user was a wizard capable of building his own permanent or temporary portal.

This room had been Alloran’s original inspiration for the hell-gates, when he was younger. What if the door didn’t just lead somewhere else on this plane? What if you could step through to another plane? What if you could step through time? The ‘what-ifs’ made him twitch, especially the last one—he never had gotten on to that question, and now that he was researching again, that old thought made him twitch like a rabbit scenting the hawk.

The Hall was empty, though of course at any moment that might change, due to someone stepping through a Door, or entering from outside the Hall. His use of magic to open the lock might go unnoticed, since the Hall was a constant epicentre of magic, or they might send someone to investigate. He could enter a false name in the log on a small table by the door to coincide with the time he used magic, but then he had no way of knowing who was currently within the citadel. A false entry might be more suspicious than no entry.

He turned away, brushing past Gisayne to close the door to the back hall, and locking it again against detection. Then he took the right hand passage, counting the racks as he went. One, two, three… At the fourth, he stopped, and counted the second door along. Its frame was metal, and pressed cold against his palms as he got a good grip and slid the door from the rack.

Portals were lengthy and complicated spells, requiring much preparation. A dormant portal spell could be started, and then suspended at a certain stage, to give a wizard quick access to a portal to anywhere at any time, but they could be volatile around other magic, and they weren’t portable—they had to be fixed to a certain location. The portals in the Hall were permanent, and portable, and thus designed to solve that problem. They could also be recalibrated to new destinations, although that was a specialist field currently practised by only a handful of wizards.

The doors were of a uniform height and size, but their frames were as per the taste of its maker. This one had a shining silver frame, though the exact metal was indeterminate in the blue shadows, in straight, simple lines, with no decoration. It was a common design for makers of portals who were practical and fuss-free, who attached no sentimentality to their doors, and therefore a design shared by the majority of portals. The only ornament was the rows of polished stones, five each on the left and right frames, their facets reflecting shards of light from the glow on Alloran’s finger.

He frowned, leaning closer to examine the stones. They looked like a random combination of precious jewels, rubies and diamonds and sapphires, but the stone was actually a rare mineral mined from the far western mountains on the main continent. Chakrin, or sorceress stone as it was sometimes called, was sensitive to magic, and so in high demand amongst wizard artificers like Alloran.

“How do you turn it on?” Gisayne leaned closer, blocking the light.

“Illiterate barbarian.” Alloran rolled his eyes and pushed her back so she wasn’t crowding his space, but the fact was most wizards would ask the same; they didn’t see the point in knowing how to do for themselves what they had specialists to do for them. Short-sighted. There was value in knowledge for its own sake, although sometimes too much knowledge was equally dangerous.

Then he straightened abruptly. “This is the wrong door.”

“What do you mean, the wrong door?” Gisayne didn’t so much as twitch, but there was tension in her voice, and her hand dropped to her sword. Uneasily, she glanced behind her, towards the exit. “Then where is the right door?”

“I don’t know!” Alloran shoved the door back into the rack, too hard. It clanged against the shelving, sending clamorous echoes rolling through the storage unit. “It might have been moved, or destroyed. Doors destabilise over time, and then they are dismantled.”

“Can you change the destination of another door?”

“Not these ones.”

Cover Reveal: Makeover for CONFRONTING THE DEMON

For some time now I haven’t been especially happy with the cover art for Confronting the Demon, my debut novella. If there was something letting the book down, it was the cover. Not that the art is bad, per se–just not right.

People would mistake the book for a romance, when it’s high fantasy, or a fantasy mystery. And then, of course, there were the people asking me if the protagonist was based on Matt Bomer. He wasn’t–not on my instructions, anyway–but when it was brought to my attention, I realised there was a striking similarity! I’ve not officially changed the cover on Amazon or elsewhere on this site, so you can still go check it out if you want.

But now, here, we have new cover art, brought to you by Worlds Beyond Art (who also did Stalking the Demon and who will do the upcoming Becoming the Demon).

About CONFRONTING THE DEMON

For Alloran, who practised the fine art of frivolity for decades, life just got serious.

Framed for the heinous crime of demon summoning, he is forced to flee his comfortable life of silk sheets and nightly carousing in the wizard’s citadel for the stinking back-alleys of the city of Ehsan. There he poses as a common labourer to hide from his lover, his best friend and the wizarding authorities.

But beneath the garbage of the backstreets he discovers a new horror: a trail of gruesome bodies, gnawed on by hellcats, and left gift-wrapped for him to find with taunting ‘love notes’ attached. Someone is brutally murdering people from Alloran’s past and threatening all those close to him.

As the body count rises, Alloran must confront his personal demons and risk losing himself to a powerful addiction in order to expose the true villain. Failure means the destruction of the city at the hands of the deadliest demon to inhabit any of the seven hells – or worse, Alloran himself.

Buy Links

iBooks

Amazon

Nook

Kobo

Other

Do You Want To Contribute to a Fantasy Heist?

Wrong Way Around

I’m writing Becoming the Demon, the third installment in The Seven Circles of Hell. This one’s a heist story, where Alloran finds himself contracted to steal from the world’s most secure magical vault.

What magical security do you think he should face? What puzzles must he solve? What traps imperil him?

Write your suggestions in the comments and I’ll consider them for inclusion!

About Becoming the Demon

Not all doors lead to places a man should go.

Desperate to rescue Dek from the fifth circle of hell after abandoning him, Alloran’s task is complicated when he is forced to go on the run again. Bereft of all resources, Alloran enters into the shady world of loose morals and stitchers—black wizards hiring out their services to the highest bidder. When a strange woman presents him with a lucrative but criminal opportunity, he must ask what Dek’s life is worth to him—or is it the chance of a challenge he cannot defeat that tempts him into darkness?

Gisayne is fixated on avenging her father’s murder, but Alloran, consumed by his need to rescue Dek, will not help her. Alone, she hunts the deadly wizard Ladanyon, but when the trail leads her back to Alloran, she must fight to save him—but from the black wizard or himself?

Blinded by his determination, Alloran risks crossing a line to become the very thing he fights against.

Giveaway Winners Announced!

Here are the winners of the giveaway!

1. $30 Amazon Gift Card – Linda Trinklein

2. In the Company of the Dead Limited Edition – Brent Strassburg

3. Signed Set of The Seven Circles of Hell – Nicole Martin

4. Complete set of Ballintyne ebooks – Mary Ann Cloud

If you’re a winner, I’ll email you shortly!

Confronting the Demon (Fantasy Mystery) ON SALE 99c This Week Only

Confronting the Demon with new text and star

For a limited time, you can get my fast-paced fantasy mystery for 99c! For lovers of Jacqueline Carey, Brent Weeks and Storm Constantine – fantasy with mystery, romance and a paranormal twist.

About the Book

For Alloran, who practised the fine art of frivolity for decades, life just got serious.

Framed for the heinous crime of demon summoning, he is forced to flee his comfortable life of silk sheets and nightly carousing in the wizard’s citadel for the stinking back-alleys of the city of Ehsan. There he poses as a common labourer to hide from his lover, his best friend and the wizarding authorities.

But beneath the garbage of the backstreets he discovers a new horror: a trail of gruesome bodies, gnawed on by hellcats, and left gift-wrapped for him to find with taunting ‘love notes’ attached. Someone is brutally murdering people from Alloran’s past and threatening all those close to him.

As the body count rises, Alloran must confront his personal demons and risk losing himself to a powerful addiction in order to expose the true villain. Failure means the destruction of the city at the hands of the deadliest demon to inhabit any of the seven hells – or worse, at the hands of Alloran himself.

The story continues in Stalking the Demon, available now, and with Becoming the Demon, which I hope to release in early 2017.

Praise for Confronting the Demon

“…fast-paced and enthralling. I was amazed by how swiftly I got caught up in Alloran’s situation. The author uses just the right combination of description and action to get her readers immersed in her fantasy world, causing them to hit the ground running along with the beleaguered wizard. I was surprised and thrilled by how much I was enjoying reading Confronting the Demon. Ballintyne’s work shows flashes of inspiration from Robert E. Howard’s sword and sorcery stories…. an accomplished and impressive debut offering, and it is most highly recommended.” – Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

“Ballintyne is a masterful storyteller who manages to get you caught up in the book almost instantaneously… I actually enjoyed a good fantasy novel that didn’t take days and days to read, but still offered the opportunity to get caught up in its world and story.” – Tracy Riva Global eBook Awards Judge

“This story wasn’t quite what I expected; it was better! The first pages surprised me, reminding strongly of THE WAY OF SHADOWS by Brent Weeks (the scenes, setting and story feel)1. I was immediately drawn in.” – Dr. S. Drecker

“Ballintyne gives wonderful descriptions and I found myself becoming lost in the magic of her words in a picturesque world with every turned page” Bella Doerres

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks