James Maxey started his first novel at age seven, a sea-spanning tale of ghosts and pirates. He only managed to get about 100 words in before encountering his first case of writer’s block. He’s now a bit more proficient at finishing what he’s started, having gone on to publish over a dozen short stories in Asimov’s, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and numerous anthologies.
His four novels to date are the cult-classic superhero tale NOBODY GETS THE GIRL and the Dragon Age trilogy of BITTERWOOD, DRAGONFORGE, and DRAGONSEED.
Orson Scott Card praised BITTERWOOD as ‘…a book that feels like fantasy but is, at core, smart science fiction. It feels like — and is — a magnificent hero story …’
While his Dragon Age trilogy blended fantasy with science fiction, Maxey’s new series – The Dragon Apocalypse – is pure epic fantasy, with each book pitting mythic heroes against primal dragons, creatures so strongly proficient in elemental magic they’ve become forces of nature. The series launched with GREATSHADOW , in which a team of twelve battle-hardened adventurers face off against the primal dragon of fire. GREATSHADOW was published in both the UK and US by Solaris in 2012. The sequels, HUSH and WITCHBREAKER, followed in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
For progress updates on Maxey’s writing, news, convention appearances, and book signings, visit his blog. In November 2013, James stopped by the Speculative Scotsman blog, to discuss The Once and Future Dragon.
While his Bitterwood trilogy blended fantasy with science fiction, Maxey’s new series is pure epic fantasy, with each book pitting mythic heroes against primal dragons, creatures so strongly proficient in elemental magic they’ve become forces of nature. The series launches with Greatshadow, in which a team of twelve battle-hardened adventurers face off against the primal dragon of fire.
For progress updates on the series and news about Maxey’s con appearances and book signings, visit his blog at dragonprophet.blogspot.com.
Translation Rights Available – please inquire for details.
- DRAGON APOCALYPSE Omnibus - Solaris (UK & US, 2013)
- WITCHBREAKER - Solaris (UK & US, 2013)
- HUSH - Solaris (UK & US, 2012)
- GREATSHADOW - Solaris (UK & US, 2012)
‘It’s very rare to find a novel packed to the brim with heart-pumping action, laugh out loud humour, and a protagonist who wants cake. GREATSHADOW is a brilliant book… It has a great premise, great characters, great secondary world, great world-building, great pacing, great everything. This is pretty much a perfect book for me, because I loved everything about it, and hated nothing.’ — Founding Fields
‘I think this is the most fun book I’ve read in months. It plays with archetypes, it’s intense with just a bit of silly, and there’s a nice romantic arc. In short: win. Lots of win.’ — Ranting Dragon
‘GREATSHADOW was a fabulous read, which kept me turning pages and just finishing one more chapter before doing whatever I was supposed to do. Besides, any story that can legitimately clothe its main character in a chain mail bikini and make it functional can only be genius! If you like straight up adventure novels, kick ass heroines and dragons – lots of dragons – then you can’t miss GREATSHADOW. I know I’m already impatient for the second book in the series called HUSH.’ — Fantastical Librarian
‘… solid fight sequences, heroes of epic proportions and of course a plotline that doesn’t let up from the start to the end. All that and more was present within and when you add solid prose alongside characters you care about, it’s really a tale that’s hard to put down. All in, this tale took me back to my Forgotten Realm days and reminded me how much I miss some of those titles. Thanks to James and Solaris for bringing back not only fond memories but also allowing giving me another series to treasure.’ — Falcata Times
‘A magnificently entertaining romp bursting with charm.’ — SFX
‘Non-stop action, memorable characters and a cleverly imagined world combine for an edge-of-your-seat adventure.’ — Gail Z. Martin, author of The Fallen Kings Cycle
‘… a good, old-fashioned, straight-up quest adventure, complete with magical artifacts, inhuman races, and truly epic dragons. He amused me, entertained me, and amazed me on several occasions. Much to Maxey’s credit, he maintained both my interest and my smiles the whole way through, more than ensuring I’ll be back to discover what happens with HUSH.’ — Beauty in Ruins
‘GREATSHADOW is a clever, funny, goofy read… This isn’t your bog-standard intro quest: GREATSHADOW is a skip-to-the-back-of-the-book epic-level adventure … level 30+ adventure is charming, not po-faced, with a group of flawed, sarcastic, quick-witted and oddball adventurers that are equally comfortable with set-piece battle and rapid fire sarcasm.’ — Pornokitsch
‘James Maxey’s writing style is straight to the point and reads like a berserker on steroids. There are a few breathing points throughout the story, but most of the time it’s just plain fun action you get to read about… GREATSHADOW is an original, funny and most of the time entertaining novel with some fun (but also very painful) magic systems and over the top characters that you gonna love.’ — Fantastical Imaginations
‘Dragons. I do not like dragons. I have not enjoyed reading about dragons for a long, long time. You’ll imagine my surprise then, when I completely fell in love with James Maxey’s GREATSHADOW… Dragons. Groan. Magic. Yawn. Mercenaries. Curse you conventions of fantasy! But then I start to read GREATSHADOW and I realize that it is far from a traditional adventure… sort of pirate-aesthetic goes a long way toward separating GREATSHADOW from the endless masses of Tolkien knockoffs. The inhabitants of this world range from pygmies to ogres and all manner of fantasy creatures. Most surprisingly of all is just how cool Maxey’s take on dragons is. Multiple magic systems are also present and though they are only vaguely defined they all operate within the constraints of fictional universe. And the characters! The eccentric band of adventurers that set out to slay Greatshadow resemble exactly the sort of team of heroes a kid might gather from his favorite action figures. The cast is really an accumulation of superheroes plucked from comics and plopped down in this fantasy setting where they flourish. Under a lesser author this approach would be really cheesy but rather than being campy it comes across as endearing… Stagger, the narrator, is not the main character of the novel. Instead he dies in the first chapter and follows around Infidel, the lead protagonist and his heart’s desire, for most of the story. As a blood-ghost Stagger is primarily an observer but he also occasionally has the ability to act over the course of the story. I found this distinctive PoV style to be very compelling, especially when it comes to developing a bond with Infidel and the world as a whole. GREATSHADOW is a remarkably charming quest, set in an invigorating new world. As the opening to a series, GREATSHADOW succeeds at grabbing the heart and piquing the interest for future entries.’ — Elitist Book Reviews
‘Original, humorous, sometimes crude and silly but filled to the brim with likable characters and non-stop adventure. From the very first page, this was a joy to read. There were enough typical fantasy elements to satisfy me, and lots of original new ideas and creatures… The story of the book was so much fun. It could have ended up being a typical quest, but the cast of weird and wonderful characters and all the original ideas kept it fresh and exciting… Dragons are amazing anyway, but James Maxey gave them his own creative spin and their lore was great. I also loved learning about the history of the different characters. They were such a mixed bunch, and I liked them all. Even the characters who weren’t particularly likable at face value had some facet to their personality that made them interesting… I thought Maxey’s writing style was great. Fluid and descriptive, perfect for the story. He’s really good at writing dialogue as well [and] had me totally sucked in.’ — Cry Baby Reviews
‘One interesting thing about GREATSHADOW is the choice of POV character–a ghost. This does allow him to tag along and be an everyman character with some heavy hitters with strange powers. The real Stagger would have real difficulties surviving some of the stuff thrown at the expedition. And at points, his ghost is given more autonomy and agency, avoiding the threat of having a POV character without any ability to affect the proceedings. Regardless, it allows the author a chance to mix a first person POV’s internal dialogue with a third point hands-off narrative, and for the most part this bold and innovative approach works… The action beats in the novel also work well. The combats in the book are high energy cinematic rather than gritty realism. Opponents getting knocked for miles, Exalted style action is the general rule of the day. Readers looking for gritty swordfights are going to be sorely disappointed. Maxey’s rule for how much cinema to put into his encounters is ‘more dakka’… The author captures the risks and problems of a team of adventurers going into hostile territory against a primal dragon very well indeed… All of the adventurers in the expedition can kick tail in sometimes unexpected ways and with unusual abilities. The universe of GREATSHADOW is stuffed with ideas, magics, and just cool stuff. And I didn’t mention even stranger things that pop up, like the time traveler. All of this is good.’ — Functional Nerds
‘This ain’t your standard fantasy adventure, so if you’re ready for something new, check this out… This book is in the top 10 of my favorite new reads of the year [and] I thoroughly enjoyed this… Trust me. This books kicks ass and will have you calling in sick to work and family engagements… the mix of serious and humor was perfectly balanced…’ — Dab of Darkness
‘A striking mix of adventure, fantasy and lurking menace, GREATSHADOW promises to be the beginning of a stand-out new series in 2012, written by a real master of the genre.’ — Horror Society
‘[I was] very happy to see it turn up in my review pile. Maxey has made a great choice, telling the tale in from a third party perspective, as seen through the eyes of a ghost connected to a weapon being carried by the magically enchanted super strong, and almost indestructible Infidel, possibly my new favourite heroine/anti hero. The setting is pretty much spot on, easily described without ever becoming a labour to read, and the cast of characters balance perfectly with each other. The attempts at mystery, the twists and turns, are all pretty obvious, but this in no way detracts from the enjoyment I found myself drowning in from the first page to the last. Magic, monsters, adventure and most important of all DRAGONS are all present, en masse. There’s not really much to say apart from that. Every page was a treat and I’m content in the knowledge that GREATSHADOW lasted me a day cover to cover because I just couldn’t bring myself to put it down and can’t wait for book two to be released.’ — Mass Movement
‘Each character is incredibly colourful, entertaining, and well fleshed out… GREATSHADOW is a thoroughly unusual book, and while it may not be perfect, it’s still one of the most unique and entertaining reads I’ve had in recent memory…Do yourself a favour and read it.’ — Superior Realities
‘… my high expectations weren’t disappointed. I loved Hush, perhaps even more than I loved GREATSHADOW… Despite its sometimes a little more serious passages, it was still a fun romp and anyone just looking for more of what made GREATSHADOW such a great read (no pun intended) will definitely find it in Hush. For those who found GREATSHADOW to be mostly light entertainment, I think you’ll find more heft in HUSH, with a world that has more depth, a narrator given to more serious introspection and some more rounded motivations for its characters. HUSH’s ending left me spinning and I can’t wait to see where Maxey will pick up Infidel’s tale in the next book, WITCHBREAKER.’ — Fantastical Librarian
‘… the most original and colorful fantasy world I have encountered in recent memory… Maxey has talent and just as importantly (and even more rare) is that he can generate truly novel ideas. As a sequel, HUSH expands upon the world introduced in the first book.’ — Elitist Book Reviews
‘There is a growing trend for fantasy novels to be grim, gritty and filled with knights who swear and monsters so evil that they take all the joy out of being scary and are simply nasty. Luckily, HUSH isn’t one of those books; it’s a fun, well-thought out fantasy romp which is packed with clever one-liners and plenty of action… Maxey proves that fantasy doesn’t have to be po-faced and serious in order to be fun, whilst at the same time tells a story with depth and emotion… intelligent fantasy that doesn’t waste it’s time trying to prove how smart it is… feeds the reader with plenty of fuel for the imagination whilst delivering on its promise of action and fun… it’s an exceptionally well done example of its genre, and a breath of fresh air for anyone sick of swords and sorcery stories covered in mud, blood and misery.’ — Starburst
‘… a story that fantasy readers will love with solid prose, some decent swordplay… a high octane pace backed up with an author who knows what the reader wants and gives it to them in spade[s].’ — Falcata Times
‘… an incredibly fast-paced and action-packed book that never gives the reader a chance to catch their breath… as comical and off-the-walls as its predecessor… a wonderfully unique read… you’d be a fool not to read it.’ — Superior Realities
‘… great fun and packed full of dragons and magic… matured into a much deeper and darker tale than its predecessor… a brilliant continuation of the story established in its predecessor, and just like the first book, ends with the perfect opening for the next instalment. Maxey has, in this novel, firmly cemented himself as a top notch fantasy writer.’ — Mass Movement
‘James Maxey is a freaking genius. I want more. HUSH is a perfect sequel to GREATSHADOW and it has one hell of a cliffhanger ending… epic fantasy with a twist, quite unlike most other epic fantasies I’ve read to date… a really vibrant and engaging world in the book, populated with nuanced and colourful characters who were a joy to read… the stakes are raised ever higher and the scope of everything – the characters, the world, the story, etc – is that much grander… Maxey delivers a wonderful, snappy epic fantasy story with Hush, featuring two of my favourite fiction characters ever: Stagger and Infidel, a most mismatched romantic couple if there ever was one… James also returns with his trademark variety of humour, in all its forms, whether dark or morbid or otherwise… the entire final act of the novel is one long, grand adventure of the type I remember reading in Raymond E. Feist’s various Riftwar novels… the climax was, unreservedly, mind-bending… Maxey portrays everything with an eye to detail and nuance so that nothing is ever one-dimensional. That would have been an easy pitfall to slip into, given the kind of story and characters that he is writing, but he is able to tackle the challenge head-on and win through… In the end, it all comes down to this: HUSH is a fantastic, and perfect sequel to GREATSHADOW, far better than I expected in fact since I was continually surprised by the decisions that James Maxey made with respect to both the narrative and the characters.’ — Founding Fields
‘James Maxey goes all out with HUSHin terms of magic. We get to read about quite a few interesting magic users like Blood magicians, Weavers, Shapeshifters and dragons who are nothing less than primal forces like fire, ice and thunder. The world itself is drenched in magic and is one of the most fantastical places I’ve read about in fantasy. You might think that so much magic in one book is way too much to enjoy the tale, but believe me when I say that that isn’t the fact. Maxey has enough writing talent to make this a very believable world. A world where there’s a marvel behind every corner. Even the characters are wonders of their own. Take a look at the Romers and you’ll see what I mean: that crew of sailors exists, among others, of a boy who swims through the air and a guy who has the mouth of a shark. All this gave me the feeling that I was walking in an RPG world like the computer game Diablo, with all its enchanted weapons and armor. Maxey’s writing style consists of a charming prose full of witty and sarcastic dialogues from characters that are well developed and a pleasure to read about. One of the author’s favorite topics is religion and, like in book 1, he touches some delicate points of the real world church and implements them brilliantly into this story… HUSH takes all the good things from GREATSHADOW and combines that with a much better ending than we read in book 1. So, for my conclusion I can say that I enjoyed HUSH very much. Book 2 of the Dragon Apocalypse is a very enjoyable read of a magical world full with some over the top, but lovable characters. With Hush being a slightly better book than GREATSHADOW I think that, if Maxey can stay on this curve, book 3 will be even better. After finishing HUSH I’m convinced Maxey can do that.’ — Fantastical Imaginations
‘Infidel is such a kick-ass character; Aurora gets a guest appearance in the second half; Menagerie provides an interesting plot point; Stagger’s sense of humor comes through loud and clear for a dead guy; once again, this book is the perfect mix of humor and seriousness.’ — Dab of Darkness
‘Mr. Maxey again delivers a tightly constructed plot interwoven with engaging characters. He could have made a typical story about how unrequited Stagger’s love is for Infidel. Instead, he took unusual characters and created a strong story-arch which is a pivotal standalone force to be reckoned. A more thoroughly enjoyed novel in a series is seldom seen by this reader. The characters are just as fully-developed as the plot… A better dragon story I’ve yet to find. It has all the elements of a great story: a tight plot, a wide band of bizarre characters, and a love story on several different levels.’ — Night Owl Sci-Fi
‘Maxey hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to inventive casts… This is an incredibly eventful book, and I honestly don’t know how Maxey crammed so much into just four hundred pages. One thing that hasn’t been lost from the previous books is the breakneck pacing and thrilling action. This is a book without a single dull moment. Also preserved from the first two books is the incredibly inventive world-building. This is most definitely not your standard high fantasy, and even the more cliché aspects are given fresh spins and fun twists, or else made intentionally cliché as a tongue-in-cheek parody. This was a very fun book, and I enjoyed reading it a lot…’ — Superior Realities
‘In previous reviews I’ve gone on and on about Maxey’s originality, his ability to stretch the typical ‘ogres and dwarves’ platform to entertaining limits and his unique ability to mix sex, violence and fantasy in just the right ratios… [Maxey] has a very solid way of just letting things go once they’ve played out. In a lot of modern books characters and plotlines carry on far beyond their welcome… Authors seem to get married to their characters and drag them on and on through book after book. In Maxey’s books when a character’s work is done they just die. You mourn for a moment and then, like life, Maxey comes along with something else to entertain you. He’s an author who’s in love with his world, but like any God he’s willing to just let bits and pieces go for the benefit of the whole. It’s surprisingly refreshing… There’s just something that rings true about Maxey’s work, a richness that’s missing in almost of all of his modern peers.’ — The Tattered Thread
‘The good news is that WITCHBREAKER is just as fun as the other books… I’m hoping that Maxey will return to this world in the future to give us the rest of the story… Maxey’s dialogue in WITCHBREAKER is again quite snappy and funny and he manages to mix lots of humour in with some genuinely touching and emotional scenes… We see even more of the various dragons and of the powers at play in the world Maxey has created here, and both the dragons and the closer look at other parts of the world were fascinating… As the next book in the series and as part of the Dragon Apocalypse series it was a great book and a wonderful continuation of the story.’ — Fantastical Librarian
‘In the third and final installment of The Dragon Apocalypse, Maxey once again comes up trumps, as with the previous two novels the worlds and realities created are expanded upon and stretched to their absolute limit. From the opening chapter, Maxey delivers faultless high fantasy in an effortless fashion. The characters that were previously essential to the massive story lines aren’t all necessarily kept on for the sake of familiarity or convenience, instead the author pushes old and new to the forefront with perfect results and the interaction between dragons, spirits, men and women and everything in between is as sharp and entertaining as I’ve come to expect, the action is second to none and while the end of The Dragon Apocalypse is left open, this adventure is neatly wrapped and as far as I’m concerned, one of the most the essential books of the last eighteen months. I really hope there’s a follow on or another chapter in the series in the making…’ — Mass Movement
‘If you liked the first two books in this series, you’re definitely gonna like WITCHBREAKER. Just like its two predecessors, book three is an intelligently written fantasy tale… We [also] finally find out who’s behind all the scheming and plotting against the primal dragons… an intelligent story with great dialogues by wonderful over-the-top characters… My conclusion is largely the same as those of the previous two books: if you like superheroes, huge dragons, RPG’s and magical weapons and armor, then you won’t be disappointed when you start reading the Dragon Apocalypse. I loved all three books and definitely want to read more about this fantastical world that James Maxey has created.’ — Fantastical Imaginations
‘… following the continued storyline of Sorrow, a young witch who featured large in the second half of Hush. She’s been using the technique of nailing various primal materials into her skull to gain mastery over the materials, and may have bitten off far more than she can chew with her latest nail. We’re in for more inventive powers, creative magic, and of course Maxey’s deeply human characters, with their flaws, passions, goals, mistakes, and costs.’ — BullSpec