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Mark Smylie

While The Barrow marks his first published prose novel, Mark Smylie has worked as a writer, illustrator, editor, and publisher for over a decade. His epic military fantasy comic book, Artesia, was first published by Sirius Entertainment in 1999. Mark was nominated for the Russ Manning Award for Best Newcomer that year, and for an Eisner Award for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition in 2001. His illustrations have appeared in works from Wizards of the Coast (for Dungeons & Dragons), White Wolf (for Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse), Brigand Publishing (for Avlis), Kobold Press (Kobold Quarterly and the Midgard Campaign Setting), and collectible card games from AEG (L5R and Warlords). He also designed and illustrated a roleplaying game based on Artesia that won the Origins Award for Role-Playing Game of 2006, three Indie RPG Awards, and was nominated for six ENnies. Mark founded Archaia Studios Press (ASP) in 2002 as a self-publishing home for his comic book, and with business partner Aki Liao expanded the company to include a wide variety of creator-owned and foreign titles, including the Eisner-Award winning Mouse Guard, Robotika, Eisner-nominated The Killer, and Okko. Archaia was acquired in 2008 by Kunoichi, Inc., and then in 2013 merged with BOOM! Studios where it continues as an imprint devoted to quality comic books and graphic novels. Mark still serves as the Founder of the imprint.

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The Barrow

The Barrow — (2014-2015) Publisher: Action, horror, politics, and sensuality combine in this DEBUT EPIC FANTASY novel for fans of George R. R. Martin and Michael J. Sullivan, set in the world of the Eisner Award-nominated Artesia comic books. To find the Sword, unearth the Barrow. To unearth the Barrow, follow the Map. When a small crew of scoundrels, would-be heroes, deviants, and ruffians discover a map that they believe will lead them to a fabled sword buried in the barrow of a long-dead wizard, they think they’ve struck it rich. But their hopes are dashed when the map turns out to be cursed and then is destroyed in a magical ritual. The loss of the map leaves them dreaming of what might have been, until they rediscover the map in a most unusual and unexpected place. Stjepan Black-Heart, suspected murderer and renegade royal cartographer; Erim, a young woman masquerading as a man; Gilgwyr, brothel owner extraordinaire; Leigh, an exiled magus under an ignominious cloud; Godewyn Red-Hand, mercenary and troublemaker; Arduin Orwain, scion of a noble family brought low by scandal; and Arduin’s sister Annwyn, the beautiful cause of that scandal: together they form a cross section of the Middle Kingdoms of the Known World, united by accident and dark design, on a quest that will either get them all in the history books…or get them all killed.

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The Barrow: Will have you by the teeth

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The Barrow by Mark Smylie

At first glance at the cover and blurb for Mark Smylie’s prose debut The Barrow, you’ll notice that something sets it apart from a significant portion of recent fantasy. There are no warring states, no fight for the throne. There is no greater evil or battle between light and dark. The Barrow, at its heart, is a treasure hunt — an adventure. Sure, it’s got fae and curses, a band of anti-heroes, and a very Dungeons & Dragons-esque feel, but it didn’t feel like the kind of bland story you might expect.

Stjepan Black-Heart and his crew have found a map that will supposedly lead them to an ancient barrow, where they hope to find an equally ancient sword worth an unimaginable sum of money. Among Black-Heart’s crew are Erim, a woman disguised as a man, a very sly brothel owned by the name ... Read More