The Black Bag

Gaslamp Fantasy Excerpt: The Order of the Dark Rose Pt 3

Read an excerpt from The Order of the Dark Rose and find out more about the book, including the exciting news – paperback has arrived!

Good morning everyone! Along with another excerpt from The Order of the Dark Rose this week, there’s additional news for the book – paperback has arrived! This book has been well-received already and so it’s wonderful news that print has arrived. Along with the excerpt and the added reading format, it’s also time to share the print cover.

As a matter of note and also a reminder, there are two former excerpts linked just below which highlight Wish often being caught in the middle of magic to his danger as originally discussed in the character highlight post for Wish entitled: A Wish and a Prayer.

Gaslamp Fantasy Excerpt: The Order of the Dark Rose Part 1

Gaslamp Fantasy Excerpt: The Order of the Dark Rose Part 2

Let’s move on to the newest excerpt from the book which is a little longer today just because of the paperback release:

The blue hood of my companion’s coat framed her lovely face in the warm light of the foyer like an artist’s painting. Her fragrance set my thoughts alight, and I longed to kiss her ruby lips. Her presence left me light-headed. “May I take your coat, Lady Stroffage?”

“No. I prefer its company, if you don’t mind the damp remains of the weather.” The melody of her voice entranced me anew, like a trained singer at a show. Her demure smile seemingly invited me closer to her full lips. The porcelain hue of her oval face, slightly flushed at the cheeks, drew my attention. The glimmer in her dark eyes spoke of a lady of wit and charm. Lady Stroffage withdrew the hood, which revealed her brunette tresses coiffed in a thick weave of curls, some of which hung about her neck enticingly.

What a glorious day for meeting such a client, regardless of the rain. More than four months with few useful cases and cold leads regarding the Watcher or the assassins. Without direct link between the two and nothing of Manny’s witness, we left the Kantar unpaid for more than a month, and his supply of needles dwindled to just a few. This and actually taking some of Cyrus Lofton’s work might send us toward solvency. But a beguiling lady of wealth promised better prospects for more than one reason.

I cleared my throat and drew my mind back to the matter at hand. It had been too long since a rendezvous with any of my lady friends. Perhaps a step up might be in order. This lady smiled at me often on the trip to meet Manny. I imagined that a bit of heroic effort to solve her problem would put me in her good graces. I cleared my throat a second time. With a wave of my hand, I directed Lady Stroffage to the stairwell. “Just this way, then.”

We soon arrived at Manny’s door, where I peeked in at him. Good, he was hard at work on some project, not engrossed in one of his crazed information binges. Better yet, he still appeared in his regular form, as it were, rather than a child or doddering old man.

I opened the door wide and led our lovely new client into the room. “Manny, we have company.”

My business partner never looked up from his table where he examined some of the magic residue collected wherever he travelled. He whirled away and searched for a book on his crowded shelves. “Just a moment, and I shall attend, Wish.” He withdrew a book from a shelf and flipped through the pages without pause as he muttered to himself. With his back still to us, Manny partially turned and tossed the book on the table without paying much mind to our new client.

The lady offered me a smile at my hesitant glance.

I dipped my head and returned the lady’s sunny expression with one of my own. “Manny, she’s here about an item that needs—”

“Another moment or two, if you will, Madam.” Manny reached high on the shelf and retrieved another book. He flipped through the pages with quick glances and muttered sudden approval. He turned to us and caught sight of me and our new client, one eye comically covered by his Seeing Stone strapped about his head. “Now, this may well hold the—.”

A moment of stunned silence passed as Manny gaped.

“Lady Stroffage, if I may present Mr. Mandeheim, my esteemed part—”

Manny’s book fell from his hands and slammed to the floor.

The sudden noise whirled my head toward him in surprise.

Manny fumbled with the numerous casters on the table before him. He finally found the one he wanted and ducked below the level of the tabletop, his arm extended and the wand pointed directly at our new client. As casual as the intense gleam in his eye, he peered over the table behind which he crouched. “Wish, now would be a good time to run.”

It was now my turn to gape. “What?”

Lady Stroffage set about tugging at the fingers of her gloves as she removed them. A casual smile spread upon her face, and a twinkle danced in her eyes.

“I’ll deal with this one. Just run before you get hurt.” Manny’s wand never wavered. Neither did his voice.

I stepped between him and the lady with a determined set of my jaw. At least, I thought so. My knees wobbled at the sight of what I took to be a lethal wand pointed at me. I’d rather be fleered. I worked some wetness into my mouth and found words. “Manny, this is a client, Lady Stroffage, who is in need of our services.”

“I know exactly who she is, though the name is an obvious fake.”

“And who is she, then?”

“I know her mainly by reputation and description. A dubious woman of unsurpassed beauty. Am I not correct, Ms. Vyara Vladimirova Bliznakova?”

Lady Stroffage cleared her throat, and her melodious voice sounded from behind me. “An insult and a compliment in the same sentence, but no appreciation. One wonders how you recognized me. If it weren’t for such talent, perhaps I should find another—”

“That won’t be necessary, Lady Stroffage.” My eyebrows dove into my line of vision at my frown. Vyara what? “We can handle the search for your missing item.” To Manny, I added, “It’s a magical item. An heirloom.” My eyes fixed upon the wand pointed at me.

“Indeed, I’m sure it’s quite magical. Likely dangerous. Wish, this is a most dangerous woman. Perhaps the most dangerous in this entire city. You should run.” He reached for another wand on the table.

My frown deepened. Two wands? Who did he mistake Lady Stroffage for?

The distinct poke of something in the small of my back sent a chill along my spine. My frown disappeared as my eyes widened. I gasped.

“You should have run, Mr. Ackford. Except I’m actually here on business to recover something I’ve lost.” The melodious tone fluttered with the same beauty as before while the wand prodded my back.

That’s a fun little excerpt that underscores how Wish frequently finds himself in trouble. Find out why and how he gets out of danger in the book:

The Order of the Dark Rose, Volume 1 of The Cursed Mage Case Files:


An arch-mage can handle almost anything. Unless he’s cursed, lost his job and facing an unknown enemy.

The Gallantean Empire relies increasingly upon magical technology which cleans sewers, runs trams and much more. Within the capital city of Cal Rindon, magic is pervasive, but not necessarily used without criminal activity. The bustling metropolis boasts constant innovations mixed with growing pains. Amid the good lurks the bad with unrest and growing crime.

Arch-mage Manny Mandeheim fell under a curse, watched his fiancé die, and then lost his job as a spy. So what’s an arch-mage to do? Start his own magical investigation service while he works to clear his good name and maybe avenge his lost love. With his very un-magical partner, Wish Ackford, Manny discovers the menace of a much larger conspiracy than he expected looming behind his curse. The limitations from the hex leave him at a distinct disadvantage as he and Wish investigate.

Assassins lurk at every corner or in every tram car. The threat of an unknown mastermind with murky intentions lingers just out of sight. A questionable source offers the hint of a secret order hounding Manny’s footsteps. A murder leads to wrenching discoveries.

Nothing an arch-mage can’t handle…

Unless the curse limits how much magic he can use or kills him outright.

A mixture of gaslamp fantasy and Sherlock Holmes-like cases, The Order of the Dark Rose is a sleuth private detective mystery set in an alternate fantasy world where magic is both commonplace and dangerous. Mysteries abound in this original, new fantasy from P. H. Solomon, author of the award-winning, best-selling epic fantasy series, The Bow of Hart Saga.

Can Manny survive long enough to break his curse? Or will the arch-mage’s hidden foe escape him?

Click one of these buttons for more information (print at Amazon only at this time): 


About the Author:

Multi retailer Bestselling Author, Fantasia Reviews Book of the Year Author 2017 & 2018

U. S. author, P. H. Solomon grew up with a love of books including fantasy. Always interested in odd details, history and the world around him, P. H. has found an outlet in writing where he mixes a wide range of interests from the regular world, history and anthropology into his fantasy books.

His epic fantasy series, The Bow of Hart Saga, brought a fresh viewpoint to the genre where magic, myth and mysticism mingle. Described by readers as a “mixture of the classic fantasy past with new ideas.”

Trading Knives (0.1)

What is Needed (0.2)

The Bow of Destiny #1

An Arrow Against the Wind #2

The White Arrow #3

The latest series, The Cursed Mage Case Files is a mash-up of classic Sherlock Holmes, The Dresden Files and Harry Potter into a unique fantasy world where magic is both an arcane practice and a technological power to be harnessed. Join Mandlefred Mandeheim and Wishton Ackford as they team up to investigate magical mysteries.

The Order of the Dark Rose #1

The Unseen Hand #2 (upcoming)

The Nine Jewel Heist #3 (upcoming)

More books:

Curses Dark and Foul

The Black Bag

See the entire book catalog at P. H. Solomon’s Amazon Author Page.

Find more about P. H. Solomon as well as articles and research notes, plus a free stories, at

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Fantasy Friday! Why I Like Fantasy

I’ve read fantasy for a long time. I’ve been known to take a break and read other genres but I always seem to come back to fantasy. I guess it’s the kid in me and the love of a good yarn that keeps me reading these stories. But there are other reasons the genre interests me as both a reader and a writer.

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Fantasy 2I got into a conversation after completing my interview the other night about speculative fiction and why it’s useful for story-telling. One of the main points noted about fantasy and science fiction is how flexible these genres can be. A writer can explore all kinds of topics through setting and situation. This is done in science fiction by using technology and in fantasy through magic systems.

As a reader, fantasy attracts me for several other reasons, one of which revolves around courage. So often, fantasy characters – main, secondary or otherwise – are faced with dire circumstances regardless of their magical assets (spells, weapons, etc.). It’s at this point that courage becomes the factor in the story with outcomes that can be either victorious or disastrous. I like to see how a character of any kind might react courageously in the face of these extreme situations.

For instance, in The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf refuses to budge in the presence of both the balrog and the Lord of the Nazgul. Likewise, Eowyn stands up to the Lord of the Nazgul just to defend King Theoden. That’s gripping as well as courageous.

Additionally, I like to read about characters who take on leadership and just do what’s necessary. In such stories, a character might make decisions because they have nothing to lose and nobody else is willing to make that call. free photo for Maintaining Wind in Your Writing Sails free photo for Maintaining Wind in Your Writing Sails

And then there’s the pure adventure of a fantasy tale. One recent book that captured adventure well was Michael J. Sullivan’s The Emerald Storm which is a tale that largely takes place on a sea voyage. It captures elements of Treasure Island in a fantasy setting. And who doesn’t like adventure on the high seas.

So for me, fantasy is a way of examining people in extraordinary circumstances all with in fantasy settings that add to the wonder and excitement of the story. Sure, I could watch Saving Private Ryan to see the defense of the bridge and the courage it takes – and love it. But put that in a fantasy setting and you can come up with some really good stories. I could read or view ocean voyages like Moby Dick or Master and Commander but add magic and some monstrous critters and it gets doubly interesting.

Why do you read fantasy? What book or movie would you like to see converted into a gripping fantasy novel?

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

The Bow of Hart Saga Release Notes:

BOD Final

The Bow of Destiny is now out on Audible (available in Whispersync for those who like reading and listening) and available on Amazon (and yes, it’s free in Kindle Unlimited).

An Arrow Against the Wind is due out on audio 10/22 and is also free on Kindle Unlimited.

The White Arrow will be released on audio on 11/27 but it’s currently available on Amazon and free on Kindle Unlimited

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Fantasy Friday! Can Your Character Survive A Flaw?

These days, all characters have flaws be it physical, mental or emotional. So if you give your main character a flaw that is integral to your story can your character survive said flaw?

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George R. R. Martin gives us a great example in Tyrion from A Song of Fire and Ice series (better known as HBO’s Game of Thrones). He’s a dwarf with physical limitations to his legs. Not only this but he’s viewed negatively by most everyone around him because of his flaws. He even gains a few more during the course of the series through battle as well as toting a load of emotional baggage. As effective as this characterization is, could he actually survive this flaw as long as he has in real life?

FightingI’m glad you asked. There’s a more recent archaeological discovery that has subsequently brought just such a real-life case to light. Richard III of England’s grave was discovered under a parking lot 2011. For those who are unfamiliar with Richard, he died in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 which pretty much ended the Wars of the Roses. One way he was identified was by a specific physical handicap – severe scoliosis or curvature of the spine. By severe I mean a 30% curvature – very noticeable. The unusual thing is that all accounts of the battle indicate that Richard fought with great skill and nearly won the battle. He unhorsed a jousting champion, killed Henry Tudor’s standard-bearer and almost killed Henry.

A recent episode of Secrets of the Dead actually examined whether Richard III could actually have functioned as a knight on the battlefield. They found a volunteer with very similar scoliosis and began to determine what his physical capabilities were. They realized that Richard would have needed specially designed armor and that the medieval saddle would have benefited him with greater support. In the show, they were able to outfit their volunteer and give him some basic training as a re-enactor. They were even able to show that Richard would have been able to ride in the charge and effectively use weaponry.

knights fightingHowever, physical limitations were also discovered. The re-enactor had less stamina due to the scoliosis affecting his ability to breathe well during exertion. In spite of Richard’s skills and training he may well have been just as limited.

Richard lost the battle for a number of reasons one of which was Lord Stanley’s failure to advance behind the initial charge. But Richard favored fast charges and ending battles quickly. If you lacked stamina for long physical exertions you would likely choose the same strategy. However, in this instance the charge actually took much longer. I could see Richard almost making it to victory only to be thwarted by his own malady as much as other circumstances. This one time, Richard likely misjudged the circumstances due to “the fog of war”. Had he known or thought it through better he might have chosen a different strategy. But maybe all outcomes would have been the same if Lord Stanley was indeed a traitor.

So as a writer of fantasy, I’m looking harder at my future characters and the flaws I can give them just to twist my plots tighter. Can my character’s survive their flaws? Will they be trapped into exposing their difficulties to enemies through lack of choices – political and otherwise? It’s certainly a way to add more spice to conflict in a story.

Book Cover Green Top & Bottom Cover - CopyPlease share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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