The sheep-eating (and people-eating, dwarf-eating, etc.) ansarks described in High Iron are very similar to Andrewsarchus, an extinct predator that lived around 40 million years ago in Mongolia. Five or six feet tall . . . formidable neighbors.




Heroic fantasy novel: High Iron

Aiman Shearer and his family are content to live on the edge of their world, far from the empires of wizards and the cities of young industry, slowly building a prosperous farm after decades of plague and fire. But marauding dunters are exploiting steam power to seize land, and the cities of wizards are determined to consolidate influence in this new age of rails and cannon. Neither can ignore Aiman’s flourishing alpine village of Emmervale. Aiman and Emmervale must seek allies where they can find them; this may mean reclusive dwarves or eccentric outlaws. 


The dwarf clasped my hand. I am sorry to say that I jolted, somewhat, because I realized he was missing a finger. He held up the hand; the smallest was indeed gone.

“Lost in the trade,” he said. “Hope you don’t mind.”

“Of course not,” I said.

“We were diggers, once. Now we are blasters as well. I could greet with my left, but that’s no improvement,” he said. He held up that hand, and it too was short a finger, or most of one—the pointer in this case. He nodded down toward his explosives. “There’s the problem. But they have not taken the rest of me yet.”

Keeping Shakespeare alive!


As we get farther and farther from Shakespeare, chronologically, English continues to change, and his language will be continually harder for modern readers to follow. One way to counteract this is to revive now-uncommon words that he used. 

“Brabble” is an old word for a fight which Shakespeare used in Twelfth Night and Titus Andronicus. It is defined on this amazing site:

Brabble appears in some current dictionaries as an obsolete word, but in its sense of prattle or jabber. But this meaning of “quarrel” is clear in the plays as cited, and is given by

Brabble is used this way in my new fantasy novel, High Iron. I give it to a dwarf, who is talking about a long-ago schoolyard fight (although he wasn’t actually in a schoolyard).

The word sounds like a fight already, doesn’t it? Easy enough for our brains to latch onto. 

Another old word I revive is bourn, which means boundary — either in a figurative sense, or literally a land boundary. It appears seven times in Shakespeare, according to the site above. Once again I give it to dwarves, in High Iron. Dwarves just seem Shakespearean, don’t they?

This word “bourn” doesn’t seem as intuitive to me as brabble does . . . but now perhaps my readers will grasp it with no second thoughts when they see it in Shakespeare. 

High Iron has a third Shakespearean word, also, which is . . . I can’t remember, and didn’t make a note. But readers will get it at least from context when they come to it, trust me!