The Bulls of War
by E.M. Thomas
As clouds of civil war gather over a dying empire, two friends and generals find themselves on opposite sides of the factional divide. Now, they must sacrifice everything to save themselves from their realm and their realm from itself.
Ten years, two months and this morning, Kyrus thought, blinking away drops of sweat. Yet still… still it’s not any easier.
For the thousandth time, his hand slid to a blade’s hilt, body braced against a gust ripping through the sweltering berry thicket. Wide eyes scanned the crush of steamy greenery all around him, ears hearing only his own short breaths and a heart that pounded like a drum. Even as the wind petered out, his anxiety held firm, held him frozen in place.
Ten bloody years of this… a wonder I’ve any wits left about me at all. He grunted. Or do I have any?
He’d grayed since then, since his first days in Valogar. Wrinkled too. Bones ached from the constant marching, mind frayed from the perpetual fear of knowing they were out there, somewhere, always itching to add another Rokhish scalp to their belts…
Welcome! Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.
I am a thirty-something with a passion for writing. I had a blast penning The Bulls of War (along with the rest of my novels) in addition to my full-time job, and I’ve been especially fortunate to enjoy both very much. I have a lovely wife and an adorable one year-old son who seemingly grows more precocious every passing day. Digging up the time to be a worker, writer, husband, and father isn’t the easiest, but it’s the life I’ve chosen!
Is a single title, or part of a series?
The Bulls of War is book one of the Chronicles of the Andervold Thrones. The number of volumes of Chronicles at this point is open-ended, but two more novels are fully story-boarded, with at least another two planned beyond that.
What were your inspirations for the story?
I’ve always loved history and creating my own worlds. Those kernels of inspiration ultimately blossomed into The Bulls of War, an epic fantasy that in many ways pays homage to the politics and machinations of Ancient Rome. On a practical level, Bulls let me write about the things I care about in a story – the action of mass battles and military tactics in a period comparable to Late Imperial Rome; multi-faceted characters who hopefully avoid the pitfalls of clichés; and most importantly, the freedom to do so without being shackled by the bounds of any known world. Writing fantasy lets the writer set the rules, although I found that comes with an unexpectedly laborious obligation to make sure the rules are followed and make sense at all times.
Please share your setting for The Bulls of War. Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most?
The world of Bulls is entirely fictional, but as mentioned above, it was in many ways inspired by Ancient Rome. In like manner did the constant political intrigue and turmoil of the Late Roman Empire provide inspiration for the frenzied state of Andervold in the 383rd year Post Cataclysm. Plenty more would have looked familiar to a Roman of noble birth in the second or third century A.D., be it the soldiery, the breadth of the realm, the military acting as a literal and figurative backbone of the Empire, etc. To that end, yes, I’ve visited many Ancient Roman sites, and hope many more are on my horizon.
When did the writing bug first bite?
I’ve been writing stories since I was seven years old; my second grade curriculum actually required it. Thus, I’ve had the creativity bug within me for quite a while, and even if that bug didn’t always manifest itself in story writing, it was expressed in other ways. As to the germination of Bulls specifically, that dates back to my teenage years, where doodles on my notebooks turned into characters, character backstories turned into plot points, and off we went. The Rokhish Empire was born.
Who are you favorite authors, book/series?
I’ll narrow the question and say my favorite authors currently are Colleen McCullough and George Martin. Both show a knack for staggering detail in their respective fields (the appendices in McCullough’s books could be treatises in their own right!), both have rich, deep characters, both make you feel as though you’re in a different, yet tangible world. Incidentally, I discovered both authors rather late in my life. As for Martin, I feel like my Andervold series (of which The Bulls of War is Book I) is an inadvertent homage to his Ice and Fire series, albeit with a more Imperial Roman twist instead of Late Medieval English.
If you could have an author roundtable discussion with any authors, who would you invite?
Both of the authors above, but to that mix I would add Steven Pressfield (Gates of Fire), James Clavell, and perhaps Gary Jennings. All have had a profound influence on my writing and approach to the same, so it would be great to have them all in one spot to pick their brains.
Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?
As is probably evident by now, I love to travel and see new places, preferably historical sites (and most preferably, ancient sites). On a more day-to-day basis, I love a good meal, a good beer, and a good game on TV. Name a Philly sports team, and I’m interested
What is the one thing that you would tell an inspiring writer to do?
Read and identify what it is that you like or dislike about what you’re reading. Not just the plot/dialogue/etc., but note the sentence structure, the adjectives (or lack thereof), the layout of the story as a whole. How do the story’s chapters typically end? How do they begin? What points of view do you like? It’s easier to write things you would enjoy reading, so it’s important to hone in on precisely what it is that you like; many readers-turned-writers have never actually considered that question.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
E.M. Thomas is the author of two novels – an epic fantasy (The Bulls of War) and a historical fiction set in Ancient Greece (Fortress of the Sun).
E.M. Thomas was born and raised on the East Coast of the United States but is a world traveler at heart. He caught the writing bug early on and has a passion for all good fiction, but especially that of the fantasy and historical variety. One of his favorite moments thus far in his young career was writing a chapter of his latest book about the great battle of Corinth – while sitting amidst the ruins of ancient Corinth.
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/emthomas
Amazon Product Page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01J0AXB74
The Bulls of War will be $0.99 during the tour.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
E.M. Thomas will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.