Magic, Mystery, a little Whisky, and a Cat

Novel Magic goes Swashbuckling

Ah–the clash of steel on steel, the smell of battle, the blood, the tights! Like my featured author, J.B. Dane, I grew up on a steady diet of sword fights on castle stairs, sword fights in a merry woodland, sword fights on a Caribbean beach. A rapier is dandy, but a nice, solid claidheamh mòr is mighty fine, as well.


I just might have been a swashbuckler in a previous life because there is nothing I like better than watching blades clashing, those wielding them slashing and parrying, and…well, looking durn dashing. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to handle a sword myself. I went to an all girl’s Catholic school back in the unenlightened era when our uniform skirts had to touch the floor when we knelt down although miniskirts were in fashion. One year we had a gym teacher who asked if any of us would be interested in doing fencing. Hands went up like crazy. The nuns shot her down. It wasn’t ladylike to take sword in hand. But Mrs. Emma Peel on The Avengers did just that! However, it made no difference. Apparently, while sexy and deadly, (or maybe because she was), she wasn’t ladylike enough for the nuns.

That doesn’t mean I lost my hunger for sword fights, even if I couldn’t do them. I’d watched Guy Williams as Zorro with my eyes gleaming. Adored the 1973 Three Musketers and Four Musketeers movies with Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Michael York, Charleton Heston, etc. It happened to be written by one of my favorite historical fiction authors, the extremely funny and historical fact fanatic George MacDonald Fraser. But his fixation on accuracy really makes this the best representation of what a real sword fight would be like in that period. While I know it was choreographed by a stunt dictator to avoid insurance payouts, and it doesn’t match the sword play in the more recent Three Musketeers series (which I also loved, of course), it was what I needed for when my urban fantasy PI magic slinger, Bram Farrell, ended up doing a retrieval of The Retaliator, one of the treasures of the Tuatha Dè Danann, which had been stolen from Tara. The Irish goddess Danu stuck him with the job.

Fortunately for Bram, who has spent all but 5 months of his “life” as a character in a book, and thus lived in a fictionland version of Detroit, there were two bars where folks like D’Artagnan could be found, and he’d been the musketeer’s sparing partner. Trouble was that musketeers would have used rapiers and The Retaliator likely resembled Viking grave goods.

Ah, but this was a magical sword that would only go to the hand of a master swordsman. It also liked to change its looks. Having boned up on how to use a rapier as a musketeer might, I certainly hoped the Sword of Light (one of its other names) might be willing to become a rapier, and that it would consider Bram a master swordsman.

So, what happens when you want sword fights in a non-sword fighting modern world? You do a lot of reading Renaissance sword fighting how-to books, watch swashbuckling movies then transfer the moves into something that (hopefully) sounds as awesome on paper as it did when you watched it in your head!

Name’s Bram Farrell. I’m a PI – well, used to be. Michigan doesn’t think I have the requisites for a license in this world. My experience is nearly all within the pages of a set of fantasy books written by Calista Amberson, who I thought died shortly after yanking me into the real world but hadn’t. Currently, I rank at the top of her Erase These Idiots list. The feeling is mutual.

As St. Patrick’s Day dawned, I thought the only dangerous thing on my social calendar was meeting Naomie Enright’s family. It wasn’t, though downing green dyed potato salad took courage. No, it was finding the Irish goddess Danu waiting for me at the Enright Pub’s bar. She wanted me to find an enchanted sword. Someone had nicked The Retaliator, a blade that could kill with just a scratch. Except this ancient Tuathan treasure would only go to the hand of a master swordsman.

Not many of them around in 21st century Detroit.

Except, Mack Enright, Naomie’s brother, has a friend who likes to buckle on some swash and dazzle crowds with sword play. And he’s vanished, only the scents of ghoul and vampire lingering behind in his wrecked apartment. That’s never good.

And it’s headed for even worse. I definitely need an edge to solve – survive – these cases!

Meet J.B. Dane

J.B. Dane is the author of the urban fantasy PI mystery comedy series, The Raven Tales, which includes novels published by Burns and Lea Books, and a series of Indie published novellas that are prequels and also “between the books” adventures of her main character, Bram Farrell. The latest novel in the series is RAVEN’S EDGE. Quite a few 5* reviews have followed for the novels, in particular, singing praises that should make her blush though she’s too busy proudly polishing her nails against her lapel to do so. She also writes shorter fantasy fiction, many tales of which have appeared in anthologies, particularly her Nick Claus, North Pole Security stories. She writes historical and contemporary romantic mystery and speculative twisted 19th century fiction under two other names, just to confuse people. Or so they seem to think.

Find and Follow J.B. Dane

An Excerpt from The Raven’s Edge

Danu hooked her elbows on the bar as she posed, tumbler of whiskey balanced lightly in her hand. “Isn’t there but one reason why any from the other worlds seek you out, Raven? I need someone to recover a stolen item and you’re the perfect boyo for the job.”

I’ve gotten suckered into working for an old god in the past. They don’t like it when you try to turn them down and, though Danu is one of the old Irish goddesses, that doesn’t mean if she threw a snit fit in the Enright bar a bunch of Irish and Irish posers wouldn’t get hit by the fallout.

“What did you lose?”

“Fiach dubh,” she chided in a husky voice. “Lose it, I dinna do. ’Twas stolen by a low rascal. You, fiach dubh, will find it for me and punish the thief.”

I did not want this job. “How do you know the thief is here?”

“Because that which was stolen is here. It sings to me.”

“But not loudly enough to supply an address?”

She doubled the heat in that royal glare. “Ask what I will give you in exchange for the recovery. T’will be something you will wish me to grant.”

“And what might that be?”

“My protection for your Naomie. The warding of an earth-bound goddess will further strengthen what you have already given her.”

Nomes’ safety from any and everything on or off the planet was of paramount importance.

I might have groaned, conceding the payoff was worthy of my time and attention. “Okay. What went on walkabout from your coffers?”

Danu smiled. Sliding her barely touched drink along the bar my way, she took my drinking hand between hers like she was making a Raven sandwich. My palm tingled, meaning she’d magically bound me to the deal. “‘Tis one of the Tuatha’s great talismans,” she said.

“Which talisman?” Maybe I snarled it. I was not a blithe bivouacer.

Danu released my hand with a final pat. “The one belonging to Nuadha.”

“The friggin’ sword! The one that will kill you with a papercut?”

She nodded regally. “I recommend that you be very careful in the handling of it, Raven. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for your demise.”

Nice of her to care. “How do I find you once I’ve got it?” Let’s face it, I had to find the frickin’ thing. The only way everyone would be safe from the sword was if it was buried deep in the Halls of Tara. Wherever they are.

“I’ll find you, fiach dubh,” she said. “All you need to do is wrap this hand around the hilt.” She indicated my drinking hand. “I will come to you to retrieve it.”

“You’ll know just like that, huh?”

“I’ll know because of this,” she said, and turned my hand over.

You know in that pirate movie where Johnny Depp’s hand gets this black spot in the palm? Well, I had a smear of green in the same place.

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