How to build a real fantasy castle

What do you need to build a real fantasy castle?
Madness, imagination and a royal fortune…

On November 1st I shared a blog article with you “On location in the Kingdom of Valendo” with pictures and a video of a unique waterfall in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland that inspired locations in The General’s Legacy. The article was popular. I promised a follow up article about Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria that inspired Dendra Castle in The General’s Legacy. Disney also based the design of the Cinderella Castle on Neuschwanstein and some others.

Neuschwanstein was build in the late 1800s as a palace by King Ludwig II of Bavaria – a pure flight of fantasy since castles have been almost pointless for military purposes since the invention of the canon.

I’ll hand over to Fred Mills of the youtube channel The B1M to tell you this tale of fantasy construction and deadly conspiracy!


Up close and personal – Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau from youtube channel Amazing Places on Our Planet.


Now take a horse drawn tour of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau in this next video from youtube channel NorthValleyArtStudio.

On location in The Kingdom of Valendo

If you have ever read my author profile on Amazon or “about bio” right here on this website you will have read this:

“My early years in continental Europe meant family holidays immersed in the bewitching beauty of Bavaria, the Swiss and Austrian Alps. These locations inspire some settings and even events in my stories.”

The part of the world that most inspired The Kingdom of Valendo setting is the Jungfrau region of Switzerland near Interlaken. Covering an area similar in size to Disneyland, Florida it is a playground stuffed with mountain railways, cable cars, hiking and mountain biking trails, winter ski slopes and some of the worlds most breathtaking scenery. In the late 1970s early 1980s my parents took me here twice, I took my new bride there on our honeymoon in September 1992 and in August this year (2018) we returned with our three train-mad boys to share it with them. For the boys it was the best holiday they had been on except perhaps for Disneyland the year before.

A few shots that inspired the landscape from Tranmure to Dendra Castle in The Kingdom of of Valendo


Approaching Kleine Scheidegg

From Kleine Scheidegg

View of Jungfrau from Kleine Scheidegg

Kleine Scheidegg to Wengen

The “waterfall like no other” in The General’s Legacy Chapter 5 Diplomacy and Espionage

This one is a video – the only way to do the waterfall justice.

Edit November 11, 2018: In one place in The General’s Legacy I described the waterfall as jetting horizontally out of the rock. This description was inspired by the following photo featuring me on my honeymoon in 1992.

You can find the Jungfrau region right here on Google maps.

There is one key location I have not covered in this post because it was too far away for us to visit with children but my wife and I did visit it years ago on our honeymoon with a 3 hour each way car drive to get there. I’ve found a great video on youtube documenting the making of a real life fantasy castle. Follow this blog or join my email newsletter to get notified when I publish a new blog post about this soon.

Why Fantasy Swords belong in Fantasy (not elsewhere)

Fantasy swords look cool, but are they any good?

Realistic "medieval" FANTASY for HEMA & Military History Nerds

Mega swords, super swords and all other kinds of made-up dragon-slaying swords belong where they rightly exist–in fantasy! But why do they belong there, and not in real life? In Earth’s historical reality, the European one-handed arming sword has become a well-known and predictable symbol. But in popular medieval fantasy, whether it be in video games, books, movies or comics, the European sword has become a target for unpredictable creative reinvention!

historical swords verses fantasy swords

Unlike real historical swords, fantasy swords, in a generic sense, don’t care about proper weight distribution, an important factor medieval swordsmiths took seriously. The classic medieval arming sword, shaped like a cross, has developed into a very specific shape that is the optimal design for hand rotation when you consider key pivot points in the sword’s geometry.

The two YouTube videos below by Roland Warzecha explain the secrets of sword geometry in way more detail than I’ll be…

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Book Review: Blackwing by Ed McDonald


US and UK book covers.

“The sky was sobbing, long purrs of sharp, cold nightmare as the dawn broke. At least the rain had abated.” 
This is a description of the dawn sky over the Misery. There are other descriptions of the Misery involving the wind howling through cracks in the sky, bronze and purple bruise colours and more. Descriptions of the Misery are as elusive to their precise meaning as they are evocative. I love it this way and I’m content not to have a full grasp of what the Misery looks and sounds like – I enjoy the sense of mystery and depth.

The Misery is the region of the land left “polluted” after Nall’s Engine does its worst. The engine is a super weapon with an immense destructive power. It is the only thing that can hold back The Deep Kings, beings with god-like power, their massive armies and other magical nightmares such as the Darlings. The Darlings appear as delightful children that are actually horror novel type creatures with sickening magic that can rip through men and other wielders of magic like the proverbial knife through butter. They feel no remorse.

Our hero Captain Galharrow commands his Blackwings, a group of men and women soldiers and a sorceress in the hopeless defence of their land. It’s hopeless because Nall’s Engine is a hoax – it no longer works and the Deep Kings are learning this. Their armies and agents are moving to conquer.

I love Blackwing as it is a hopeless quest full of emotion with a hero who is downtrodden, a drunk, has lost almost everything he cares about (wife, children) and is but a pawn played with by his masters. His great redeeming quality is that he cares deeply about those under his command and will sacrifice almost anything that is his to save them. They are all he has left to cling onto.

For me, the “Holy Grail” of stories is one that gives me an ending I don’t see coming. Blackwing does just that. Great job Ed!

Normally I find stories written in the first person like Blackwing don’t work that well for me as I know the protagonist who’s words I’m hearing must survive the tale or be speaking from beyond the grave. Given how merciless life is on the wall by the Misery death for Galharrow would seem like a gift. I assume he will never get this gift as he is the narrator.

Blackwing is fine grimdark fantasy with plenty of gruesome scenes that will not suit every reader. Lovers of dark fantasy will have a great time in the Misery.

No question, 5 stars from me.

BIG charity anthology book launch on Facebook March 3rd to March 4th

Please join me at the BIG charity anthology book launch event on Facebook featuring 3 books:

OMP Fantasy at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited
OMP Thriller at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited
OMP Fiction at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

The One Million Project is a collective of creatives offering their work to raise money for international charities engaged in Cancer research and supporting the homeless.

Register your interest here on Facebook for the BIG charity anthology book launch

As a contributing author (look out for The Silver Warrior in OMP Fantasy) I will be hosting on Saturday, March 3rd from 4pm to 5pm US Central time, 10pm to 11pm UK Time when there will be a chance to win an eBook copy of my recently released fantasy novel The General’s Legacy

Book Review: Mistborn The Final Empire

I’ve heard the Mistborn series described as swords and sorcery. It has sorcery “in spades” – the fascinating and innovative Allomancy. Think magical power from metals. I’m not sure the swords part really qualifies. The setting strikes me as more 19th century than the traditional psuedo-medieval worlds we most often find in fantasy. The Final Empire is a fun magical romp through a world broken by past events still shrouded in mystery that I’m keen to penetrate by reading more books in this series.
The overall style and the age of the heroine (16) make me think YA Fantasy but with enough sophistication to appeal to an adult audience. I would have liked more showing in the writing style, especially in action sequences, than the telling we often get. As a result, there were times I felt force fed events rather than experiencing them. I’m done with criticisms now.
The Final Empire was thoroughly enjoyable. The main character Vin is a wonderful blend of strength and naivety with a special but unschooled ability in Allomancy. Her world view is delightfully distorted by her tragic backstory. This gives her an understandable problem trusting anyone and she must overcome this on her quest to end The Final Empire. The Lord Ruler (the Emporer if you will) is immortal and apparently invincible. How can they possibly succeed?
This is a trope Sanderson also uses in Steelheart. If you love Mistborn The Final Empire and have not read Steelheart yet I recommend adding it to your “want to read” list.
Ever envied Spiderman’s ability to swing through the buildings on his web strings? Wait until you discover how the Allomancers use their ability to travel with speed and style…
Vin’s mentor Kelsier teaches her much about Allomancy and sends her to learn from others with different specialist skills. The story never gets bogged down in this training. It’s woven into the storyline. Of course, there are some things a true hero/heroine is going to have to figure out for themselves. Kelsier is a key player in this story are there are many scenes from his point of view. The grand plan at work in this story is his, but he can’t do it alone.
Mistborn The Final Empire takes a street urchin and member of a gang of thieves into a world of nobility and espionage, magic and mist. Vin takes on a second identity, Vallette, the only identity her love interest, a son of the enemy ruling class, knows her by. What could possibly go wrong…
The right questions are answered in this book by the end but there are plenty of others left open for future books. Vin grows as a character but there is still plenty of room to see her grow more.
This is a fantastic story that will keep you guessing until the end – how can you kill the invincible Lord Ruler and exactly what is the power of the eleventh metal?

4.5 stars from me overall, but rounded up to a well deserved 5 for Goodreads etc.