Since then, however, we have become firm friends and one of the things I have discovered is that Toneye is not just loyal to a fault to those he considers his friends, but also that he is not just a thoroughly downright decent bloke (even if he is Australian - joke!) but also a consummate professional when it comes to both his writing and editing skills.
So, as you can no doubt well imagine, when I had the pleasure of reading the first two books in his Sacred Blade series recently for review, it came with a certain sense of trepidation.
What if they were no good? I asked myself. What if I didn't like them?
Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about...
The sacred Blade series begins with The Scarlett Curse and deals with Scarlett, the chosen carrier of the Sacred Blade - a weapon with a mind of its own that has a thirst for blood that must be regularly sated. The blade has chosen it's next target - a local nobleman named Joshua Melkerin - but when Scarlett moves to take his life, things do not go as planned and in return for her failure, Scarlett is forced to pay a penance that soon ends in tragedy.
Joshua's Folly, the second book in the series, is more of a prequel than a sequel and instead of continuing the story, instead takes us back in time to show us what happened prior to the events in The Scarlett Curse, depicting all that came before leading up to Scarlett's failed attempt at Joshua's assassination. This second book goes into more detail about The Sacred Blade, and sets everything up nicely for a third instalment, leaving the reader with many questions that are yet to be answered...
With these two books, the first two instalments in what looks like will possibly go on to be a much bigger series, Toneye Eyenot introduces us into a world that is scarily all too believable. It is a world where magic has not yet died, and one where mankind, it seems, plays only one small part in a much bigger battle between forces we cannot hope to understand.
These two books together are amongst one of the strongest openings to a fantasy series I have yet had the pleasure of reading. They are best described as High Fantasy, written in a not dissimilar style to George R R Martin or Robin Hobb, though with a much darker hue hanging over them that threatens to only get darker as the series progresses.
From conversations with Toneye, I am led to understand that are plenty of times when he nearly gave up on writing The Scarlett Curse and, at times, thought it would never live to see publication. I, for one, am very glad if did and think this has the potential to be one of my favourite ever fantasy series.
Toneye has an easy style and personally, I can hardly to read book 3 - due out at the latest, early next year.
If I had one comment, it would be that perhaps you might like to read these books out of order.
Though Joshua's Folly was obviously written much later, given the extra detail it goes into regarding the background behind The Scared Blade and its creation, finishing it, I found myself wanting to re-read The Scarlett Curse to remind myself what came next, even having read both books close together.
Joshua's Foly essentially is the set-up for The Scarlett Curse, so to my mind reading that first makes more sense than reading these in the order they were written.
Regardless of which order you chose to read them in however, one thing is certain - if you haven't read Toneye Eyenot yet, you are certainly missing out and this could well be the series you are looking for while you're waiting for your next George R R Martin fix...
And I think we all know how long that may take....