Category Archives: Book Releases

Book release information for novels by James Hockley.

Beagle’s Blot 17 | Hoarding the Edge

It was nice to be walking again, and here, the roads were fine.  Finer perhaps than those in Mandaria.  Cobbled, with drainage along each side and a curvature, they really were fine.  We walked amidst a steady flow of traffic.

After a day, we stopped at an inn and bedded down for the night.  I was ordered to change my appearance again, and this time opted to trim my hair right back and shave my beard to stubble.  I actually looked slightly rough I have to say, though my skinny arms rather ruined the effect.

I changed my clothes too, adopting the colourful garb of the local populace.  The land around was undulating and green, great mountains rearing to the north and south.  It appeared that ‘Zon had been built on the western coast at the point of a break in the Spine.  Travel was therefore easy and Hop-Man was walking briskly at my side.

“You called that town Allazon.”


“I got near-ground for using that name.  I was told in no uncertain terms that the name of the town was ‘Zon.”


Continue reading Beagle’s Blot 17 | Hoarding the Edge

Beagle’s Blot 16 | Rotting

Time is something I’ve had for a while now, but in here, it is something else entirely.  A whole huge amount of time.  On the roads, or even hopping, the mind is distracted with the act of progression.  In here, there is no progression.  Only time.

Why have I been hauled into the cells?  It really is confounding.  My best guess is that it is to do with the lot of gold I owe a Mahani prince, but does that really deserve such treatment?  I am such a fool.

Continue reading Beagle’s Blot 16 | Rotting

Beagle’s Blot 15 | Making ‘Zon

We hopped for twenty-seven days and twenty-six nights.  Twenty-six.  Fifteen of those evenings were spent in suitable establishment hovels along the boggy coast, but eleven were spent under the stars.  In the open.  Exposed to the elements.  That was both incredible and terrible.

What was incredible?  The stars.  Only the Uncle knew it was that breathtaking.  Being a keen enthusiast of Celestia, I’ve always prided myself on my knowledge of the heavens.  But out there, with no man-made light to interfere, the effect was truly stunning.  It is actually difficult to identify a patch of true-dark.  The depth of the star blanket is staggering.

And then the terrible.  I woke one night to find huge lizard-like eyes peering down at me.  Huge.  My instinct told me it was a dragon, so I leapt up and scampered from the rock right into the boggy water.  Squelching around in the middy filth, the huge dragon-lizard proceeded to settle onto the rock and close its eyes.  Sleeping.  I had apparently stolen its spot.

“A dragon!”  I pointed at the vast scaly bulk and Hop-Man opened an eye.  Then closed it again.

Continue reading Beagle’s Blot 15 | Making ‘Zon

Beagle’s Blot 14 | Hopping

Two days later, I was ready for my first hopping experience.  I had studied the map extensively and done numerous calculations, but could only conclude one thing: it was a long way.  A damned long way.

Now, the official measurement in Mandaria is called a quart, though they don’t seem to be aware of this in the First Fist.  A quart is what you get if you split the island of Mandaria into quarters and then measure from the centre along the line of one of those quarters.  A quart is therefore about half the width of Mandaria.  Go on, try it out.  It’s true.

The other thing about a quart is that it’s not strictly defined, but it is always about the same size.  About twenty-five kilo-skips in old-Mikaetan money.

Anyway, I digress.  The journey from Callij to Mallis was more than a quart, but I also took a rather mad route.  The trip through the mountains was draining, so in reality a quart is probably a little more than my journey from the merchant’s abode up to the tip of Mandaria.  That took me a good couple of days, but it was a pretty casual pace on solid roads.

So, time for a comparison.  What is the distance of this trip I am about to embark on?  It looks, by all my measurements, to be about twenty quarts.  Twenty!  That is a lot of days of travel, and I haven’t got to the worst of it yet.

Continue reading Beagle’s Blot 14 | Hopping

Beagle’s Blot 13 | The First Foot

It’s fair to say that my first impressions of the First Fist are not great. This is First Foot, the place where it all began, and yet it is nothing to speak of. There was greater luxury on the boat.

Now, to put this in context, when the Jinq landed in Ahan, the place at which they landed eventually became the city called Jinalas. I have heard a great many things about Jinalas, but now I think on it, I have never heard anything fine about First Foot. Or indeed anything about First Foot. I now see why.

In fact, even calling it First Foot is becoming wearisome. First Foot. First Fist. How are we to make sense of any of this? I shall call this town Shithole.

Continue reading Beagle’s Blot 13 | The First Foot

Beagle’s Blot 12 | Leaving Mandaria

It turns out that escaping Mallis was nowhere near as troublesome as I had feared. I needn’t have stayed so long. Then again, without my stay, my pockets would not have rattled with so much coinage, and so I’m not disappointed. It is good to feel flush.

I now have several golds in my pocket, interspersed amongst a host of silver and iron. Lots of sizes and weights, good for honest cash transactions. But I am no fool any longer. Most of my golds and all of my steels are stashed in private places – my underwear for example. Society may be the pinnacle of civilisation, but poverty is still a problem. And a poor man will go to extraordinary lengths.

After all, I’m now fleeing my home for that very reason. It would be a lie to say that this isn’t unnerving. It is. Very.

Continue reading Beagle’s Blot 12 | Leaving Mandaria

Beagle’s Blot 11 | Flip-Coin

So, that was a bit unexpected.  And indeed, it was as unexpected for me as it was for you!  But yes, it is true.  I am deeply indebted to a prince of Callij.  Deeply indebted.  You may call me a fool, and I would agree with you, but when you hear the odds I played, I challenge anyone to claim they would have done otherwise.  My losses are an utter farce, but the problem is that I cannot prove that.  There was no way to rig the game.  No way.

Or so I thought…  The Lady has been kind, and I now have my chance, however remote it may seem.  I will unravel this mystery once and for all.  I am an investigative mercenary, and I am excited.  Yes, this is genuinely exciting.  And it changes my travels somewhat, too.  No longer am I flying from debt.  Now I am moving forward with intrigue.  This is genuinely exciting!

Continue reading Beagle’s Blot 11 | Flip-Coin

Beagle’s Blot 10 | The Lady

What follows is a transcript of the meeting between myself and the Lady.  I still tingle at the experience.

[Beagle]: Good afternoon, my Lady.  It is an honour.  I have heard so much about you, and yet I never imagined I’d have the privilege.  You honour me.

[The Lady] On the contrary.  It is only correct to dignify your eloquent letter with an audience.

But you must get hundreds of audience requests?

Oh, nonsense.  Who would want to come and see this wisp of a woman.  I am not lonely by choice.


Don’t be silly.  And anyway, I have heard much about you too.  I have been eager to make your acquaintance.

Continue reading Beagle’s Blot 10 | The Lady

Beagle’s Blot 9 | Mallis

My goodness.  My goodness.  Oh my.

Rather naively, I believed that Callij was irreparable in this mortal realm of ours.  In one sense this is true – nowhere else can the pure excess of Callij be matched.  But I believed more than that too.  I believed that Callij was an architectural beacon.  I believed it was a jewel.

But if Callij is a diamond, then Mallis is a sapphire.  And which is more beautiful?  It depends on your perspective, surely.  This truly is a remarkable place.

Continue reading Beagle’s Blot 9 | Mallis

Beagle’s Blot 8 | Essol Ranella

I’m moving once more!  Yes; yes – I’m back on the move.  Two seasons I have been holed up in the home of the merchant, but I find myself in a much stronger position.  I am ready this time.

And I am sated.  Certainly that.

The female hospitality on offer truly was delicious, and my living wage was enough to keep me in flesh for a long time to come.  But that is my old life – that is the mark of Callij – and I am trying to break free of that mould.  Yes indeed; I have grown my friends.  Grown!

That being said, it was mighty hard to pull my path thus.  I really have enjoyed my time.

“Are you certain you want to leave?  You have been mighty valuable to us.”

My esteemed employer evidently values my wok highly, too.  Oh my goodness, it is hard to leave this comfort.  In Callij I was a failed architect, but out here, in the Between, I am almost a master engineer.  It is praise I could get used to, but there is one small problem.

I know the reality of it.

“I must continue my journey.  That is my true differentiator.”

And the journey is my differentiator.  I am not a spectacular architect – I am barely mediocre.  In the wilderness I may cause merchants to go bleary-eyed with demand, but in Callij – or any hub for that matter – I am merely an underqualified noble.

But I am also blotting my way across Society.  That is different, and that is unique.  That is the path I must follow.

Continue reading Beagle’s Blot 8 | Essol Ranella