Bryn hasn’t much to say about herself. Ask her about her book. Nor does she often talk in third person... you know I wrote this, right? They tell you to do these bios in third person.
I’ve lived a purposely dull life, in order to concentrate on fiction. It’s true your life seeps into your fiction, but in outrageously escalated ways. For example, Temujin on Bagtor came out of this guy at work once. In real life I didn’t murder him, yet I had the steps of the psychology. I wish I’d lived a life like my hero Dostoyevsky, but instead I’ve spent my time lost in Dostoyevsky. Or in speculative fiction or in medieval romance (I mean romances in the old sense. We might call them fantasy).
I think I first met Turks in Anna Comnena. Her Turks at Byzantium’s walls I found highly romantic, and I’m proud to say I still have a notebook from my teenaged years with lists of Turkish words – and a mention, among books to explore, of the Secret History of the Mongols. Why I then took twenty years to do so I don’t know, but I’m glad. Maybe I pottered in those years. In hindsight, though, they feel like an apprenticeship – while I wrote sf with a Mongol pope and aliens, titled in homage to Gibbon’s Decline and Fall. I was a devout if undisciplined writer who never finished a novel. Now I’ve finished two of six and seven hundred pages, and I attribute that to my material. It’s dream material and there ought to be more novels from the Secret History of the Mongols.
#1 Of Battles Past
#2 When I am King
Amgalant One: The Old Ideal is these together
#3 Me and Atrocity
#4 The Sheep from the Goats
Amgalant Two: Tribal Brawls is these together
As for the usual facts, I'm an Australian Pom and a happy single.
Where to find Bryn Hammond online
Where to buy in print
The Sheep from the Goats (Amgalant #4)
By Bryn Hammond
, Book 4.
Published: September 12, 2012.
Is he Saint Tchingis? Has he grown a monster? Perceptions differ. From the arse end of the steppe, out of nowhere, now he towers over other kings.
Me and Atrocity (Amgalant #3)
By Bryn Hammond
, Book 3.
Published: September 12, 2012.
‘Jamuqa had witnessed, aged fifteen, his tribe strung up on trees. Perhaps you have to go one further.’ Jamuqa is mad, and commits an atrocity in challenge of Temujin.
When I am King (Amgalant #2)
By Bryn Hammond
, Book 2.
Published: September 9, 2012.
“Imagine you had a prophecy you’re the advent of the Promised One, the Right Guide and the Champion of Light. You’d believe that, right? And if you didn’t, you’d love to meet people who do.”
Of Battles Past (Amgalant #1)
By Bryn Hammond
, Book 1.
Published: September 9, 2012.
China has executed Ambaghai, the Mongols’ khan, on a hurdle with donkey ears and tail from the theatre, in mockery of the horse peoples of the steppe. It cries for hachi.
Bryn Hammond’s tag cloud
Bryn Hammond's favorite authors on Smashwords
Smashwords book reviews by Bryn Hammond
- Lancelot And The Wolf
on Jan. 20, 2012
The angsty love between Lancelot and his king... how can I not get into this? A dark, dirty, very sympathetic Lancelot (always my fave Arthurian) and King Arthur, when at last we meet him, in a bad way, a tarnished legend. The ups and downs of forbidden love. And there's a sequel. Great stuff.
- Promised Valley Rebellion
on Jan. 21, 2012
I'm fascinated by prehistoric fiction, but haven't found much I'm happy with... so glad to come across this set of novels. What I liked: the characters are fully human, intelligent, with attitudes we recognise, either to go along with or argue with. Stories set in the distant past can assume people were dumber than us, which is unscientific I believe. The characters are engaging, I like and admire our young hero, who's a bit of a fighter for free speech and rights; and the crisis situation turns out to be a sort of conflict of nobility on both sides. I hope that isn't a spoiler. The end is heart-warming. I like the portrait of war, people's attitudes to war (again, we can assume people of the distant past were savage bloodthirsty idiots). I like the shamans - they're called tellers here - and their way of life, distinct from the community. And I like the pitting of hunter-gatherers against early farmers: the issues, the prejudices each has against the other. There are questions also of kingship and what tyranny is and isn't; and questions on religion and the gods. It's an examination of these matters, through a story that's strong and easy to get involved in. Best, we don't have to leave the world: there's a sequel and more to come.
on March 08, 2012
What jolted me awake on the first page was the prose and the character-depth; then Rose won me over and I had to read to the end. The prose is often more ordinary, and at times her experiments, for me, went wrong; but she can write.
Rose is a mad old lady. Not mad in the intellect, as she tells herself once almost for sure - it's her emotions that have gone mad (in a lesser way this has happened to me and I made that distinction). Still, she's crazed; she abandons her house with its memories, she packs a bag and there she is, a bag lady. When we meet her she can't stand to sleep indoors. Because the inside of her head is a rant she rants at other people; she's rude even to the sympathetic, and the writer tells you intimately why.
I think Sophie the librarian is meant to be conventional in every respect, except that she fell in love with Barbara: this gives her a little practice and the ability, later on, to question and defy other conventions. It's a chisel to open her mind - just a crack at first - rather as E.M. Forster designed the character of Maurice. Sophie's grief for dead Barbara, and the fact she cannot even tell her workmates she's in grief, are terrible for us to experience. I ought to warn you about the tragedy in the book.
Zak, a fourteen-year-old girl, didn't convince me the way the others did, and Rose remained the most original.
These three, two women and a girl, are thrown together, and the book's about what comes of that. The setting is Chicago 1968. On every street corner there's a prejudice: black/white; we're in a Polish neighbourhood, with much on when and how you use Polish, use English; the homeless; Sophie who doesn't call herself a lesbian; the hippy guys' treatment of the hippy girls is woeful. Then there are the humane, like Jake who gently and most steadfastly stands up to officialdom and the police, as only the runner of a soup kitchen knows how; and of course Rose.
on April 03, 2012
Too wonderful, I don't know how to talk about it. The spiritual insights of schizophrenia; Irish legends earthily told; artistry, of the sort that only needs a sentence or two, to make you look twice. I have to read this again. I feel inadequate to comment. - Not that you can't gain much, much, on a single and even fast read; the story hastens you along.
- Not Wisely but Too Well
on Feb. 07, 2013
I loved this. It worked on me, in that funny way you can’t define or account for: I believed in this young Shakespeare, and feel I’ve spent a few days in his presence, with the intimacy of those eyes of his on the cover. And I’m reluctant about first person, which often doesn’t do its job for me, doesn’t bring me close. Not that this is a huge character-study; it’s just a realistic Shakespeare in whom I believed.
I’ve surprised myself with this. I’m keen on Sh, the works, but I haven’t read biography - what biography? I always think – and I haven’t tried biographical fiction, either. I detested the film Shakespeare In Love (possibly unfairly, and I remember nothing).
It’s since I read the Sonnets this year that I have a sense of Shakespeare the person, and an interest, I guess, in the very life-issues that come up here, so no wonder I loved the novel. To my mind, the Sh who wrote the Sonnets was gay or mostly gay – to use our terminology – and that’s that. Those who don’t like it... say the Sonnets aren’t evidence. But how on earth do you write and publish such sonnets in the social context? This novel treats of Marlowe – what on earth he meant to do, or say, when he wrote Edward II for the public stage. It starts to answer questions that I had, and in the novel, alongside Marlowe, Shakespeare is a lover of men.
In the novel their names are written Christofer Marley and Will Shakspere. Because that’s how they were known or written in these early days. And that leads me to talk about the flavour of authenticity you get here. There is enough ‘thou dost’ to have a feel of the old language, but not enough to be in the least difficult. For me, that balance is just right. I like how she sets out speech as in a play - in Shakspere's hand, for this is a novel of letters.
There’s a level of detail that may, in patches, be dull. For instance, I skipped over finances, as I have a severely unfinancial brain. But I’ll take this detail, any day and every day (with reader’s discretion to skip) in order to build up a realism. Which it does.
Realism, too, was what I thought in the story of his marriage to Anne Hathaway. It might have happened exactly like this, only too easily. His family life, or lack of, isn’t made into what it wasn’t but seen for what it more than likely was. In short I admired the honesty, against the temptation to romanticise. Of course he must have had a heart’s commitment. Why? Because he’s Shakespeare, and he wrote what he wrote. The author has speculated on who the focus of his love life is (I won’t tell you, because she hasn’t in the blurb) and that makes for great story – again, I’d say, without too much romance. There’s no explicit sex.
Much else is covered. Theatre life, the politics of theatre, religious conflict. It was a dangerous time for playwrights; Kyd’s put on the rack; other known names sell their quills to dirty politics, or whatever. Our lad Shakspere isn’t as out-there bold or contentious as Marley (we knew that) but he’s on the humane side of every question or controversy (we knew that too).
The frame, where an academic finds his letters, didn’t win me, there at the start; it’s a device, and the novel doesn’t need a device. I even felt I’d have happily dispensed with the letter set-up; I’d take first person Shakespeare without explanation or excuse; but I can see it serves a function.
I got well lost amongst Richards, Johns and Ellens; too frequently I had no idea who these people were. That might be my fault, as I opened this book in casual curiosity, and didn't pay due attention until I discovered I'd love it.
I'll follow, eagerly, into the next instalments of Stuff of Dreams.
- Arauco: A Novel
on June 23, 2013
A fabulous shaggy beast of an epic novel.
I was won when Juan sets out on life under the influence of the romances of chivalry that turned Don Quixote’s brains – Amadis of Gaul, Orlando Furioso. Hey, I love those books myself; I’m glad they get a look-in as the culture of the times, even if, inevitably, their function is to contrast with the reality. Yes, as in Don Quixote. Still, I liked to have an innocent, idealistic main, on the Spanish side, but if you want more earthy sorts, there’s no shortage of them – beginning with Pedro, the aging swashbuckler who takes Juan to his garishly-costumed bosom.
Then on the Mapuche side I had Namku, a shaman of his people. He’s a shaman because he’s strange – an albino – and ‘weye’ too, that is, of the sexuality that was worse than the worst sin and blasphemy to the Spanish of the time. I rarely, or make that never since I can’t name any – see shamans that step from the pages of anthropology, not vaguely made up but as they exist/existed within their cultures. In himself Namku was worth three anthropology texts on the subject. Along with that I liked him and his story, and Lleflai, another outcast due to her face being melted in a fire, just to start on the large cast of Mapuche. It’s often the case that the more familiar side, the European, gets a more catchy story, but not the case here: the Mapuche story is every bit as thoroughly invented.
I’ve only talked about what snared my interest, because I read chivalric romances and anthropology on tribes. As I say, though, it’s a epic, that means ample, inclusive, and you’ll find quite other things of interest.
I’d better attempt general comments. In spite of the hideous events of the Spanish invasion, he gives you the opportunity to enjoy the high adventure the Spaniards thought it. As they swashbuckle their way into Chile and crack the grim/gallows jokes known to war, that you have to find hilarious at the time. Importantly, too, for me, there’s a kindness behind the whole. When we have Mendoza dogging natives, I need to be in a kind hand – that’s the author’s. There are nail-biting moments – a few when Mendoza’s off dogging – and don’t miss the Mapuche ball game that’s as thrilling as a battle. I was often glued to the page, and if I snoozed in Mapuche language lessons, that’s fine and right, that, to me, is epic – a word I don’t use in the debased sense. It’s written with wit and charm and frequent humour, which qualities endear a book to me. Deserves a second read – there’s so much here.