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AGE OF IRON by Angus Watson

AGE OF IRON Angus Watson

Bloodthirsty druids and battle-hardened Iron Age warriors collide in the first volume of this action-packed historical fantasy trilogy.
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SYMBIONTMira Grant

The second terrifying novel in the Parasitology series by New York Times bestselling author Mira Grant!
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Posts Tagged ‘Ice Forged’

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Stalking the Shadow Side

Historian Bruce Catton, in one of his many books about the American Civil War, notes that civilization is a mask, and war gives permission to remove the mask and reveal the beast that always lurks beneath.  I wager that one reason post-apocalyptic stories are so enduring is that the end of the world is one of those times when you find out what you—and your neighbors—are really made of.

ICE FORGED (US | UK | AUS) is a post-apocalyptic medieval adventure, set in the unlucky kingdom of Donderath.  A devastating war with its neighboring rival has the unexpected—and unintentional—effect of destroying the bonds that made magic a power that could be controlled by people.  Not only is the kingdom devastated by fire and storm, but the magic upon which their culture depended is now no longer controllable.  In the chaos and anarchy that follow, my characters not only find out what they’re made of, but they discover a world that is now theirs to remake.  Of course, they’re not the only ones who have ideas on what the new reality should look like—and that’s when things get interesting.

Whether you call it Catton’s “beast,” Freud’s “Id” or Jung’s “Shadow,” there’s always tension regarding the choices to be made.  Perhaps Dumbledore said it best when he talked about the choice “between what is right, and what is easy.”  Or maybe Babylon 5 was onto something in the dichotomy between the Vorlons, who asked “Who are you?” and the Shadows, who asked “What do you want?”  When there are no rules, no law and no social constraint, men (and women) either rise to be the hero, or sink to their baser nature.  Lord of the Flies is always just one catastrophic power grid failure away.

Blaine McFadden, in ICE FORGED, is acquainted with his shadow side.  He killed his father, a minor lord, to stop him from abusing Blaine’s sister.  Blaine expected to die for his crime, but the king was “lenient” and sent Blaine instead to a brutal prison colony in the arctic north, a place from which no one ever returned.  Blaine survived six harsh years, first as an inmate and then as a convict-colonist, during which he learned just what he was made of and what he would do to survive. When the homeland is destroyed and magic fails, Blaine discovers he might be the only one who can restore the magic and put things right.  He’s got a choice to make. Read the rest of this entry »

Sneak Peek for REIGN OF ASH by Gail Z. Martin

The Hawthorn Moon Banner

ICE FORGED (USUK | AUS) launched the popular new Ascendant Kingdoms Saga in January 2013, and Book Two, REIGN OF ASH, is coming in early 2014.  Author Gail Z. Martin is doing her annual “sneak peek” Hawthorn Moon event featuring REIGN OF ASH beginning June 21 with an international blog tour, podcasts, excerpts, readings, giveaways and more.  We asked her what readers should expect from Reign of Ash and afterwards show off the fantastic cover of the upcoming novel.

Reign of AshQ:  What can you tell us about where Reign of Ash will take Ascendant Kingdoms readers?

A:  Reign of Ash picks up right after Ice Forged, with Blaine McFadden’s quest to restore his homeland of Donderath.  As Ice Forged readers know, the quest isn’t completed at the end of Book 1 because there is so much more to do, so much damage to overcome.  It’s going to take all that Blaine and his friends have to give to survive!

Q:  How have Blaine, Kestel, Piran and the other Ice Forged characters changed going into Reign of Ash?

A:  Exile and prison brought Blaine’s group together, so they’re used to having each others’ backs.  That serves them well in the very dangerous and unstable conditions in post-war Donderath.  Now that they’re free, there will be choices to make.  Blaine is still very much at the center of the group, and in Reign of Ash, several new characters get added to the circle, some old friends and new allies.  Going forward, they will be at the heart of bringing the ruined kingdom back to life, and the paths they choose will determine Donderath’s future.

Q: Will we see more of Connor and Lord Penhallow?

A:  Absolutely! Bevin Connor remains an important viewpoint character.  We met him in Ice Forged fleeing for his life when Donderath fell, and see him emerge as an unexpectedly heroic person.  No one is surprised at that more than Connor himself!  In Reign of Ash, Connor grows into an even more important role, playing an enormously important part in the book’s life-or-death climax.

Q:  Will Ice Forged’s bad guys be back for more?

A:  Bet on it! Pentreath Reece and Vedran Pollard have their own agenda for the post-war wreckage, and their vision involves seeing themselves emerging as the ultimate power players. Anarchy breeds opportunists, so Reece and Pollard are in their element, and the only thing standing in their way is Blaine McFadden.  Expect serious fireworks! Read the rest of this entry »

Epic Fantasy Interview Swap: John R. Fultz interviews Gail Z. Martin

Today John R. Fultz interviews Gail Z. Martin about epic fantasy and her new novel ICE FORGED (US | UK | AUS). If you’re just joining us, here is the first part of the discussion.

Seven Kings, the second novel in John R. Fultz's Shaper series, an epic fantasy series of huge proportions, perfect for fans of Dungeons and Dragons     Martin_IceForged-TP

John R. Fultz: ICE FORGED is a “fresh start” in a new fantasy world, one that is separate from your previous five books (which were all set in the same world). Why start fresh after six books’ worth of fleshing out your first fictional universe? Along those lines, what was your initial inspiration for ICE FORGED and the Ascendant Kingdoms?

Gail Z. Martin:I love my characters and the world I created in my previous series (Chronicles of the Necromancer series and The Fallen Kings Cycle), but the action had come to a natural resting point.  I still hope to tell more stories about that world, but there is a natural break in the action for the characters, so it seemed like a good time to go do something else myself for a while.

I got some of the inspiration for Ice Forged and the new Ascendant Kingdoms Saga series by turning a few elements of my original series upside-down.  In my first series, my main character is a necromancer, with very powerful magic.  In Ice Forged, my main character has very little magic, more on the hedge witch level of power.  In the Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings books, my main character keeps magic from failing.  In Ice Forged, the magic upon which the civilization depends becomes impossible to harness and wipes out much of civilization.  In my original series, my main character was wrongfully hunted as an outlaw.  In Ice Forged, my main character not only actually committed the murder for which he is exiled, he is unrepentant about it.

Stories, for me, begin with the question, “What if?”  What if…a civilization depended on magic like we depend on the power grid—and the magic could no longer be controlled?  What if…the only one who might be able to restore the magic was someone exiled to the farthest reaches of the world? What if…the future of the kingdom depended on a handful of convicts?

My other favorite question is, “And then what?”  As I think through a plot, I always ask myself, “And then what?”  So they have a battle—and then what? So there’s a confrontation with the forces of the opposition—and then what? So they win a battle—and then what?  Even after a victory, there are messes to clean up.  For me, that’s where the story starts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Epic Fantasy Interview Swap – Gail Z. Martin interviews John R. Fultz

2013 is off to a great start, and if you’re a fantasy reader there are a ton of great books to choose from. With the releases of A MEMORY OF LIGHT (UK AUS), ICE FORGED (US | UK | AUS), and  now SEVEN KINGS (UK |US | ANZ),  you have a lot of reading to do.

Today let’s talk epic fantasy with authors Gail Z. Martin and John R. Fultz. Below is the first of a two part interview about writing in the genre and the most recent projects of these two authors. Come back tomorrow for the second half.

Seven Kings, the second novel in John R. Fultz's Shaper series, an epic fantasy series of huge proportions, perfect for fans of Dungeons and Dragons     Martin_IceForged-TP

Gail Z. Martin: SEVEN KINGS is your second novel, and you’ve said that you think it is even better than your debut work.  What did you learn writing your first book, and how did that affect your new book?

John R. Fultz: What a great question… I think that writing SEVEN PRINCES was very freeing for me because at the time I wrote it I had no guidelines, no publisher, no deadlines, no expectations except those I built myself. I remember telling a friend: “I’m going to write this story and let it be as long as it wants to be, and take as long as it needs to take.” After years of writing short stories it was time to make the transition to novelist, and all the advice I’d been given said “First, you must write the novel—everything else will follow.” So I took a “damn the torpedoes” approach and wrote the novel that I most wanted to write, with all the elements that had fascinated and attracted me to epic fantasy for decades. I came up with some fascinating characters, dropped them into an interesting setting, and basically let them run. It was very cathartic, and I finished the novel in far less time than I thought I would—I had built up some serious momentum. I usually write novels over the summer when I’m not teaching, and I’ve written three more “summer novels” since then. Of course the “idea work” begins months earlier, but summer is my official “writing season,” when I go nocturnal and spend as much time as I want in front of the keyboard. With SEVEN PRINCES I also had some great advice from a local writing group to help me get the early chapters just right.

With SEVEN KINGS, things had changed. New challenges presented themselves, and my priorities were quite different. I had already established a great cast of characters that I loved writing about, as well as the world they inhabited and most of the major conflicts that drove the narrative. The rules of sorcery were there (if not fully revealed yet), as well as the threads of many plotlines that would carry throughout all three books. So my job with Book II: SEVEN KINGS was to “deepen” the pot. I wanted to introduce some new characters, and to reveal more of the mystery that is Iardu the Shaper, including his role in the history of the world. I had always planned to explore the dichotomy of Lyrilan and Tyro as the Twin Kings, two very different brothers attempting to rule the same kingdom. And I knew I would stay with Vireon and Sharadza, the Children of Vod. My Book I antagonists had been defeated but not completely vanquished in the first book, so I needed to take them to a new level. Finally, I wanted to explore more of the deep history of the Shaper’s world, and reveal some heretofore obscure regions of it. This is why I decided to begin SEVEN KINGS deep in the jungles of Khyrei, a nation ruled by wicked powers that the rest of the world hates and fears.

There were also some “happy endings” in SEVEN PRINCES that I always intended to reveal were far from “happily ever after.” For example, Sharadza’s marriage to D’zan seems like a fairytale ending in the first book, but in the second book you find out the marriage is a failure—and for a reason that Sharadza refuses to reveal. Likewise with Vireon and Alua’s seemingly “perfect” family…there is more going on here than either of them suspects and it takes seven years to manifest. Life rarely serves up genuine happy endings, and I wanted to reflect that in this series by going back and showing the consequences of the new situations established at the end of the first book.

I guess you could say my goal with SEVEN KINGS was to raise the bar on the conflict, the characters, the threat, and above all the sorcery. Someone told me that SEVEN PRINCES was really all about sorcery, and I agreed. If that’s true then it also applies to the entire series. In some ways I wanted to subvert all the victories of the first book and show that the real story is far more vast and complex, like magic itself. Hopefully this mirrors how difficult it is to be a King, as opposed to a Prince. A King actually has to rule the kingdom, fight the wars, confront the overwhelming threats, and live with the terrible choices he makes. Kings rarely get second chances.

In many ways SEVEN KINGS is the “Act Two” of the trilogy, and traditionally the second act of any drama expands and complicates the elements of the first act. This is also why the second part of any trilogy is often considered “darker,” and I expect that to be said of SEVEN KINGS as well. It is decidedly darker: The worst is yet to come for these characters and the world they have built. Also, Book II: SEVEN KINGS takes place seven years after Book I, but Book III will take place only seven DAYS after Book II. So there is a much more immediate connection between Books II and III than between I and II.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wallpaper: ICE FORGED by Gail Z. Martin

Ice Forged wallpapersThe world is ending. The adventure begins. Outfit your computer and favorite electronic devices with these wallpapers and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime.

ICE FORGED (US | UK | AUS) is the first book of The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga – new series by Gail Z. Martin. Look for it online and in stores now or read an excerpt here from this exciting new fantasy series.

1024 x 768 1280 x 800 | 1440 x 900 | 1680 x 1050 |1920 x 1200 | iPhone | iPad Facebook

Want to know more? Check out our interview with the author or head on over to her blog for recent news, reviews, and events.

 

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Martin_IceForged-TPWhat does a good book have in common with the Godfather?

They’ll both make you an offer you can’t refuse.

That first line has to grab the reader and offer him the lure of an adventure so compelling he or she can’t walk away.

It can grab you by the heart strings if it’s a tear-jerker, or by the throat if it’s an adventure.  Sometimes it takes you by the hand and leads you, and sometimes it gets you by the hair and won’t let go.

A great first line makes you keep reading—and then you’re hooked.

What makes a great line?  For me, it’s the promise of something exciting and unexpected.  If the action begins in the middle of a battle, I want to know who is fighting whom, and why.  If the statement is confounding, my curiosity is aroused and I want to know more, like Alice following the rabbit down the hole.

A good first sentence can transport a reader to a different world, or tilt the real world enough to make it a strange and foreboding place, the kind of place where magic and hobgoblins just might exist.  It’s the siren’s song and the Pied Piper, the fairies luring you into the mist.  Once you set foot along the path, there’s no going back, and if you do return, you’ll be changed.  In fact, that’s the bargain.  When a reader follows the trail of bread crumbs into the woods, he or she wants to be changed—as well as excited, enthralled and maybe even enlightened.  If you’re not different when you come back from an adventure, after all, what was the point?

My new novel, ICE FORGED (US | UK | AUS), begins with a man who has reached his breaking point.  “This has to end,” Blaine McFadden says.  He means the abuse his father has doled out to everyone in the household.  But in fact, everything is ending: his life as he knows it, his kingdom, and the magic of the realm.  Blaine’s rage sets into motion a chain of events that send him into exile, subject him to grinding hardship—and just might make him the only man who can bring back the magic that was destroyed.

I wanted the reader to ask, “What has to end?”  Then, as the next sentences unfold to explain the reason for Blaine’s rage, I want to catch the reader up in the urgency—and the consequences—of the actions he takes.  With that sentence, the reader steps onto my roller coaster, and the ride picks up speed with every sentence.

Now that it’s my job to seduce readers with a tempting first line, I find that I have even more respect for the masters who add joy to my life by luring me into their own fictional thrill rides.

So in no particular order, here are some of my favorite first lines from some of my favorite books.  These are some of the first lines that led me down the path to adventure.  Just reading them brings a thrill of remembered excitement, and the warm feeling of homecoming.  A few of my favorite first lines: Read the rest of this entry »

What has THE HOBBIT meant to you?

The long-awaited day is almost here! In a few short hours, The Hobbit will be hitting the silver screen. To mark the occasion, we decided to ask several of our Orbit authors with recent and upcoming books what Tolkien’s The Hobbit has meant to them. We hope you’ll also share your own story in the comments below, and if any of you are going to the movie in costume, we’d love to see pictures!

ICE FORGED

I was introduced to The Hobbit and to Lord of the Rings in high school by the same friend who got me into Dungeons and Dragons (gee, think there was a connection?).  While I had been a Star Trek and Star Wars fan for a while, and had read a few sci-fi novels, I had never read anything with the scope of The Hobbit and LOTR.  I was totally hooked, and I credit it with giving me another nudge toward growing up to write epic fantasy.

Gail Z. Martin, author of ICE FORGED (US | UK | AUS)

THE QUEEN IS DEAD

I have to admit a shameful secret — I was a late bloomer as far as Tolkien is concerned. While I knew of his work, I’d never read any of it until I was 25. I was introduced to the incredible world of Middle Earth by my then-boyfriend (whom I later had the good sense to marry), Steve. My older sister is a fantasy and science-fiction fan. Without her I don’t think I would have developed a love for either genre. She has in her possession, an illustrated, hard cover, gorgeous edition of The Hobbit that I … liberated from her library for a brief time. Steve couldn’t believe I’d never read it, so it then became a ‘thing’. Every night one of us would read The Hobbit to the other. Mostly he read to me, because he would comment on things characters did, make up voices, and basically make the entire experience wonderful because of his love for the story.

Now, 25 wasn’t yesterday, but there are things about The Hobbit that linger for me. As a small-town (I’m talking mud puddle small) girl, I instantly related to Bilbo. In fact, I’m pretty certain my maternal grandmother was a hobbit. Poor Bilbo was so outside his comfort zone, but he found so much courage inside himself. Who wouldn’t love such a character? Of course finding ‘the’ ring was a big moment in literary history, but I remember the trolls more than the ring. I remember loving the character Beorn, even though I can never remember his name. And despite having a deep-seated crush on Richard Armitage, I think I’d love Thorin no matter who played him, because his character was just so… great. Of course, who can forget meeting Gollum for the first time? In the end, The Hobbit is — literally and figuratively — all about the little guy taking on seemingly insurmountable problems to triumph at the end. But there’s a cost. There’s always a cost. I think what I took away from The Hobbit are two lessons I try to remember in my own writing — 1: It’s the journey, not the destination, and 2: Bittersweet endings are sometimes better than happy ones. Oh, and I guess there was a third as well, though it doesn’t apply to writing —  second breakfast is the most important meal of the day. :-) Thank you, Mr. Tolkien.

Kate Locke, author of THE QUEEN IS DEAD (US | UK | AUS)

FADE TO BLACK

I can’t recall how or why I first picked up the Hobbit – I suspect one of my brothers left it lying around. I can recall how it inspired my son into reading voraciously, something he still does even now he’s a teen. It was the first proper book he’d ever read on his own, and it was that and the new and unexplored vistas that utterly captivated him.

For years afterwards, every book report that he could get away with was on the Hobbit. Every book he read was compared to it, and most often found wanting. He reads, I sometimes think, to try to rediscover that sudden realisation that the world is a different place, that things and people are strange. He reads because he wants to fall for a world, a story, the same way he did with Middle Earth. It was his first literary love.

As legacies go, I think that’s the best one to hope for – Bilbo and his friends inspired my son to read.

Francis Knight, author of FADE TO BLACK (US | UK | AUS

AMERICAN ELSEWHERE

The Hobbit is, more or less, the distillation of the purest, deepest of wish of the child (or of any adult who still has a spark of curiosity smoldering away in them, for that matter): the wish that one day, while you’re bumbling through your silly little routine, adventure will walk right up your front path, knock upon your door, and refuse to be turned away.

When I first read the Hobbit, I yearned so much for the leafy, cool shadows of Middle Earth that one summer, in an attempt to recreate that world, I carried a hefty bag of wax myrtle seeds to my grandmother’s house – for she had a much bigger yard than ours – and planted them all over her property, as well as the piney properties of the people on either side of her. Wax myrtles, as it turns out, can be wildly invasive, so within several years the damn things were popping up everywhere; but by then, unfortunately, I was a bit too old to enjoy them properly. I still hope that some child may come along, rest in their shade, and feel, for an instant, a bit more hobbity than before.

Robert Jackson Bennett, author of AMERICAN ELSEWHERE (US | UK | AUS)

THE FOLLY OF THE WORLD

In a word, what The Hobbit means to me is Fantasy, with a capital F, for the same reason that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy means Science Fiction in Bullingtonese—my parents had book-on-tape versions of those two novels when I was a kid, and long before I even understood most of what was going on in the stories, I adored the broad strokes and general cadence of the narratives. The Hobbit was actually a radio play version produced by the Mind’s Eye in the late seventies, and to this day I can’t talk about the book without imitating some of the silly voices that imprinted the text on my young brain.

When I was older and read the book on my own I was delighted to discover all the content which had been abridged from the radio play, but my progression to The Lord of the Rings was not met with the same enthusiasm—I found it a colder, less-engaging read. Although with age I’ve grown to appreciate a lot about the trilogy, its epic, fate-of-the-world action and dully black-and-white ethics can’t hold a light of Earendil to The Hobbit’s comparatively small-scale adventures and petty moral dilemmas, at least for this particular Sackville scribe. Like many of my peers, I owe a great debt to Tolkien; he still has a lot to teach, both by his strengths and his failings, and The Hobbit is the text of his that keeps pulling me back, even after all this time, and always with a smile on my face.

Jesse Bullington, author of THE FOLLY OF THE WORLD (US | UK | AUS), available now 

An interview with Gail Z. Martin on ICE FORGED

Who would you be, if everything you were and everything you had was stripped from you? Blaine McFadden will find out when Gail Z. Martin’s latest novel, ICE FORGED (UK | US | AUS), releases this January.

ICE FORGED is the first book of Gail’s new series – The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. Check out the interview below to find out what you can expect from this series debut including tidbits about about the magic and world of the Ascendant Kingdoms.

Your previous five novels, including the Chronicles of the Necromancer trilogy and the Fallen Kings cycle, were all set in the same world and featured many of the same characters. ICE FORGED marks the beginning of a new series. How much of a departure are we in for? How did the new series come about?

This is a whole new enchilada!  Brand new world, completely new characters, totally new magic system and gods.

I love my Fallen Kings Cycle and Chronicles of the Necromancer series characters (and do plan to come back to tell more stories about them at some point), but let’s be honest—after everything I’ve put them through,  in what for the characters is a little over 2 years, the survivors really deserve to put their feet up and have a few beers for a while.

So I’d been playing with the idea of what if magic broke (as it nearly did in the Chronicles books), and what if we had a post-apocalyptic medieval world, and what if a world sent its convicts to the northern rim (instead of, in our world, Australia)….and I was off and running.

Read the rest of the interview…

author post

Gail Z. Martin’s Days of the Dead tour kicks off today! For exclusive excerpts from her upcoming novel, ICE FORGED (UK | US | AUS) and other literary goodies, keep an eye on www.ascendantkingdoms.com and her partner sites for the next week. Visit her website for further details or head on over to Goodreads and participate in a week-long Q & A with the author! 

Ice Forged, which debuts in January, is my seventh epic fantasy novel, and it’s definitely the darkest and edgiest so far.
My main character Blaine McFadden is exiled to a prison colony at the northernmost edge of his world, a place where the weather itself is a remorseless enemy.  Ice, snow, bitter cold and darkness pose as deadly a threat as the wild magic, assassins, and sadistic prison guards.  Extreme conditions tend to show what someone is really made of, because life or death hinge on luck and choices.

I suspect that Ice Forged feels edgier than some of my other books for a variety of reasons.  To some extent, that edginess is probably a product of our times, which have been tumultuous—to say the least.  I imagine it also reflects the changes I’ve experienced in the almost 10 years since I wrote my first novel—perhaps some of that “youthful enthusiasm” has worn thin on the edges.  Mostly, I feel that I’m bringing a different perspective to these books, one that’s a little grittier than before.  It’s a fitting feel for the book, which hinges on a few questions my characters have to answer—and ones that I hope my readers will also try on for size:

Who would you be, if everything you were and everything you had was stripped from you?

When there’s nothing left to lose, what would you do to survive?

How much would you give for a chance to put things right?

Blaine McFadden gets to find out.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event with Gail Z. Martin

Gail Z. Martin, author of The Fallen Kings Cycle series (THE SWORN and THE DREAD), unveils her sneak peek of ICE FORGED  Book One in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, coming from Orbit Books in 2013.

Gail’s giving everyone a first look at the cover art for ICE FORGED, as well as book excerpts, author Q&As and more as part of her Hawthorn Moon Online Sneak Peek Event.  She’s got exclusive goodies spread out across more than a dozen partner sites, and you can find out about it all on Gail’s site, www.AscendantKingdoms.com.

Here is the cover. Gail also answers some questions about ICE FORGED and about her writing life.

***

Q:  Tell us a little about  how you came to write ICE FORGED.

A: I’d been playing with the idea of what if magic broke (as it nearly did in the Chronicles books), and what if we had a post-apocalyptic medieval world, and what if a world sent its convicts to the northern rim (instead of, in our world, Georgia or Australia)….and I had an idea of where I wanted to go.

I like stories that test the mettle of a character and reveal what he/she is made of.  In Ice Forged, the main characters have lost everything when they were disgraced and sentenced to a harsh prison colony.  When the magic dies and the Continent is destroyed in the war and the resulting apocalypse, the life they’ve made for themselves as colonists is jeopardized.  The discovery that Blaine is the only one who can restore the magic set him and his friends on a dangerous journey that will pit them against powerful immortal enemies.  The fate of their world rests in the hands of a group of convicts.  Succeed, and they win not only their freedom, but the ability to shape the future of the world.  Fail, and face the wrath of the gods knowing you have condemned your world to darkness.

Q:  What is your Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event?

A:  I started doing the Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event back in 2008, and it’s become something my readers have come to expect.  The solstice (aka the Hawthorn Moon) was an important event in my first book, The Summoner, and the name and timing just stuck.  It’s my online unveiling of the cover art for the new book, along with excerpts, interviews, all-new guest blog posts and lots of fun stuff spread out over a dozen or so sites.  To find out all the goodies and all the partner sites, please visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com.

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