So I admit it. I’m on the “dope dealer” business model when it comes to my two Darbas books.

The original plan was to give away the first one in hopes of selling the second. Except Amazon won’t let you do that — not without gaming the system, anyway. And while I’m often all about gaming the system, in this case it just didn’t make sense. So I gave the book the cheapest price available ($0.99) and went with that. Which just might be the reason it’s my best-seller so far.

Cover design by Janet Edens.

Cover design by Janet Edens.

Anyway, here’s the deal: Amazon lets writers give away copies of their books a few days a month as a promotion. And since sales are slow this week (as in, I haven’t sold a book since last week), I figured, Hell, let’s just give some away!

A Madness is the first book in an envisioned five-part series called The Key To Darbas. Think of it as traditional epic fantasy with a sci-fi stinger in its tail. So far, I’ve written only the first two volumes — A Madness and its sequel, Siobeth — and these two together stand as a complete “Part One” to the series. But they’re also part of something I call The Darbas Cycle, which includes all sorts of stories from this world I’ve imagined. I even built a website for it.

The story unfolds through the eyes of four rotating point-of-view protagonists:

  • Rialta is The Lady of Gwynyr, ruler of a mystical highland theocracy that is about to be wrenched out of centuries of sly isolationism by the intrigues of two rival colonial empires. She is the first to understand that the outbreak of ethnic violence between Gwynyr’s cousins in the lowlands of Darbas is actually a plot to acquire highland resources that her line has worked for centuries to keep secret.
  • Barney Alt is an eccentric citizen of the Gheraldic Empire and a maverick general in its colonial army. He commands a regimental group of Clydish mercenaries from the Darbas lowlands, and when fate (or is it The Lady?) draws the remnants of his units back to the shores of Darbas, the general faces a hard choice: Follow orders and do nothing, or put his career at risk and use his soldiers to put an end to the violence there.
  • Old Pete Tuckard is the representative of Darbas at the Gheraldic Court — a master of words and political games who lacks a vote in the chamber, yet still works the system to protect the interests of his ethnically diverse homeland.
  • Sergeant John Tera is a scout archer serving a 20-year enlistment in Alt’s 2nd Clydish Regimental Group, and he’s been through the wringer a few times. Half-Clyde, half-Mullaqat, raised in a Sulist convent by a mother who walked the Old Path of the highlands in her youth. And along with his regular soldierly duties, Tera is a practitioner of the ancient Clydish tradition of “testimony by wound,” a psychic practice that allows him to take evidence from his fellow soldiers. Life as an enlisted judge has its perks, and in Tera’s case, her name is Tanith Powdras, a beautiful female spirit with whom he shares his sleeping hours.

vWesternWorldMap-1024It was a fun book to write back in 2002-03 (even if getting agents and editors to look at it was a challenge), and I’m excited to be offering it to fantasy readers in 2013.

So if you’ve been thinking about picking up one of my books, and you’ve got anything that will take a free Kindle app — a tablet, a smartphone, a laptop, a PC — now’s the time to get the goods. For free! For The Win!

Of course, there are three other ebooks available on my author page at Amazon, and they’re not all epic fantasy. I don’t limit my reading to one genre. Why should I limit my writing that way? So shop around! And if you have any questions? You can ask me by email (, via Twitter (@xarker) or on Facebook.

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