Hello my dear friends,
Today I have tragic news, but also hope.
For over a year, I worked with a writer called Nicholas Appleyard. He was a phenomenally talented author writing a fantasy epic called Grimmsbane. Sadly, he passed away on Christmas Eve of last year, due to cancer, before his book could see the light of day. He is survived by his wife and his daughter.
I can’t begin to express how I feel about this. Over the course of working with Nick, we became friends. I won’t pretend we were best mates, or exceedingly close, but we shared a laugh and a love of old-school fantasy stories.
It was Nick’s dream to see his book in print. And he was so damn close. The only items left to complete were a final edit, the book’s description, and the technical process of uploading it onto Amazon. Nick was within a hair’s breadth of realising his life-long ambition.
Over the last few months, I’ve been working alongside his wife and daughter to help put the book out into the world. It is, after all, what Nick would have wanted. All the royalties will go to his daughter, whom he adored and whom the book is dedicated to.
I’m asking all of you now to support this book, so that we can remember the life and legacy of a great man: a father, a friend, and a fantastic writer.
But you shouldn’t buy this book just to support his family, or to honour a dead poet, though both of these are certainly worthy causes. You should buy this book because it’s actually bloody brilliant. In my Foreword to Grimmsbane, I wrote:
“His writing was not only passionate and rousing, as any good fantasy epic should be, but hair-raisingly supernatural, romantic, blackly comic, and deeply psychological. At times it was a struggle to edit his manuscript because I simply wanted to read on and discover what happened next...”
And if that were not enough, here is the description of the book, along with a review I wrote for Nick before he sadly passed away:
Conan The Barbarian meets George R. R. Martin in this epic revitalisation of the sword and sorcery tale…
In times past, the Grimm Horde—a cursed people corrupted and commanded the dread sorcerer Aihaab—were defeated and banished to the underground kingdom of Ash Ul M’on. Their master, Aihaab, was slain, and the world breathed a sigh of relief.
But now fell auguries whisper that the darkness has returned. Crows circle the skies. Men quarrel and worship the shadows. And a changeling warrior, Steeleye, adopted by the noble clans of the North, dreams of a vast field of destruction and death in which a beautiful red-headed woman calls to him.
Though Aihaab was defeated, his seven dark servants—great demons of old—were not. Called by the Goddess of Death, The Morriggu, Steeleye must now embark upon a quest to rid the world of these ancient terrors before their new master, a force far more terrifying than Aihaab, completes the work Aihaab left undone…
Grimmsbane is the startling first book in the intended Steeleye series, an epic sword and sorcery tale in the tradition of Robert E. Howard. Combining heroic fantasy with cosmic horror, Grimmsbane explores the psychological price of heroism, the meaning of fellowship, and what it means to face one’s death with courage.
“Most fantasy is described as ‘epic’ but really isn’t. Grimmsbane is. Somehow Nicholas Appleyard has resurrected the classical sense of epic heroism, and more than that, has combined it with profound, modern psychological insight. With rich characters and compelling mythology, Grimmsbane is a feverously passionate narrative of death and glory; page-turning fiction at its very finest.” —Joseph Sale, author of The Book of Thrice Dead
You may have noticed that Grimmsbane was intended as the first book in a series, and this may put some people off buying. I understand this sentiment, as no one wants an unfinished story. But Grimmsbane is a complete and satisfying tale. What’s more, I have every faith that the series is going to be continued, either by Nick’s daughter—who is also a talented writer—or by someone else who knew and loved him.
Ultimately, all storytelling is an act of “passing the torch”, either onto the next generation, or simply onto the next soul willing to listen. My hope is that the legend of Nicholas Appleyard continues to be told and retold for generations to come, and that his inspiring book catalysts the birth of new fantasy writers sharing his sense of heroism, of humour, and of beauty.
Grimmsbane is available here: