Welcome to the World of Aylosia

Once upon a time, in a land far away (well, northern England: that may or may not be far away for you) some bloke was lying in bed at night with an image in his mind. The image was of a young man sitting alone in a dilapidated flat in some nameless English city. And the most remarkable thing occurred. For the young man was transfixed by a strange crystal. Then he was suddenly in a magical land with creatures beautiful and fearsome, with powerful magic, and surrounded by both deception and astonishing possibilities.

And thus The Aylosian Chronicles was born.

For visitors who are already familiar with the story, click here for a map, glossary, and links to other stories set in Aylosia. Articles about my thinking behind the books, chapter-by-chapter are here (note: most of these are for newsletter subscribers only).

For those new to my writing, read on to discover whether you think you'll enjoy it. There are links on each of the books allowing you to read a sample.

What type of books are they?

Well, The Aylosian Chronicles is fantasy of course. But within that broad genre, there are tons of sub-genres. From Stephen King's horrors, to the Urban Fantasy of Twilight and Harry Potter, through to classic Epic Fantasy in Lord of the Rings; these all fit within the fantasy genre. It's their sub-genres that tell them apart, and even then different people will have different opinions? What genre does my writing fit?

It's actually a mix of at least two or three, but here's where I think it sits:

1. High Fantasy

It's difficult to get a good explanation for the difference between "Epic" fantasy, and "High" fantasy, and often the terms are used interchangeably. Often I will say The Aylosian Chronicles is Epic Fantasy.

But this article on bestfantasybooks.com gives a great definition, and fits Dreams and Shadows perfectly. The key points that make it so:

  • The world we live in is acknowledged, but the story proper takes place in a new, parallel world. Dreams and Shadows begins in modern England, but we only stay there for three chapters before Michael is in Aylosia. There are still references back to his life in England though.

  • Magic is common-place: something of a commodity. At least, it is amongst part of the people. Another part of the world has no magic, and that difference is an important part of the story.

  • Characterisation and the journey of the main character is at least as important as the actual quest. The real story here is about the journey Michael must make in learning about himself. The magic, lore, creatures, etc are all there to support that much more important tale.

  • There is violence, but not graphic enough to offend most people. This point speaks for itself really. I would say it's similar in violence to Fellowship of the Ring.


2. Literary Fantasy

By this, I don't mean literary with a capital "L". But the approach I've taken fits much of the description of this - again from bestfantasybooks.com. Here are the relevant characteristics:

  • There are themes within the book that develop, and could be considered uplifting: themes that are relevant outside of the story itself. The story is filled with symbols and allegories. They're discreet, so you'll have to look for them, but they're an important part of The Aylosian Chronicles.

  • Use of stylistic, or even poetic, language. My prose isn't as poetic as many important fantasy writers, such as Tolkien or Pat Rothfuss, but I have enjoyed throwing the occasional line here and there. And the Wisdom of Ashael certainly fits that description.

  • Use of magic is a normal part of life. As I've already said, amongst part of the people, at least. They don't even understand the word "magic", as it's simply part of who they are as individuals.

  • Often enjoyed by people who don't normally like fantasy. That's certainly been the case so far. Though it has also gone down well with those who do enjoy fantasy more generally.

3. Young Adult Crossover

The main character, Michael, is in his late teens. And his journey has him meet and interract with various people of his age. So that puts it squarely in the YA category. Technically, at least.

Most YA books are very fast-paced, are told in the first person and don't go over about 90,000 words. None of that describes The Aylosian Chronicles.

But, although his age is important to the story, it's not about his age, and people of all ages (from 12 to 80) have enjoyed it. That's what makes it crossover. The one group who haven't found it quite so satisfying are those who read almost exclusively (and quite voraciously) books categorised as YA.