Review: Arminius, Bane of Eagles by Adrian Cole

Bane of Eagles is an alternate history novelization of the life of Arminius, the Germanic tribal leader who rose through the Roman ranks, betrayed Rome, and massacred three legions in the Teutoburg forest.

There are some light touches of fantastical elements, and there are of course colorful embellishments, both romantic and savage, in the telling of the story. The major “alternate” in this alternate history is that a vast conspiracy with which the druids are involved were responsible for assassinating Claudius as a youth; Germanicus is not poisoned and ends up becoming Tiberius’ successor—he is determined to avenge the losses from Augustus’ day and hound Arminius to the ends of the earth in a book that’s part sword & sandal adventure and part political thriller.

This is a bloody and brutal read, not for the faint of heart—while written largely from the pagan Germanics’ perspective, there are not “good guys,” though there are plenty of bad guys. In many ways, Arminius is a monster, though he’s a human and almost sympathetic monster. Rome itself is shown no better, in some cases worse. I’m sure that both Roman trad bros and Germanic trad bros would find stuff to be mad about, but with no dog in the Pagan vs. Pagan fight, I’m content to be entertained and watch them duke it out, cut each other’s heads off and sacrifice each other to their heathen gods.

It’s an incredibly exciting and fast paced telling with a lot to love, especially if you’re a history buff. It’s obvious that Cole has put a tremendous amount of research into this book. Worth checking out if you’re a fan of historical fiction, alternate history, and sword & sorcery.

Arminius: Bane of Eagles is out now from DMR Books.

Five Stars easy.

Disclaimer: Dave Ritzlin sent us an ARC for review and Adrian Cole is a regular contributor to Cirsova Magazine. His latest New Dream Lords story will be appearing in 2023.

Review: Rags and Muffin by D.G.D. Davidson

While I’m not especially overdue on book reviews [except for a couple I’ve been sent that I just don’t know that I’ll ever get to; sorry], I think that I’ve managed to get to a spot where I can knock three out at once this week, starting with Rags and Muffin.

I picked this up last winter around the same time as They’ll Get You and read it right afterwards, but I’m just now getting a chance to sit down and write about it. This one was a bit of a surprise, I’ll admit. All I knew going in was crime-fighting catgirl with an Asian dragon dog. I didn’t know what to expect, really. Certainly not an incredibly rich fantasy setting heavily inspired by Indian mythology.

I used to be something of a Hindu Mythology wonk in my younger years, so this was a pleasant surprise. Davidson incorporates the cultural textures without overly romanticizing them, showing both the beautiful aspects which Lord Curzon fell in love with as well as the ugly and downright evil.

Rags & Muffin takes place in a fantastical pseudo-India that’s under the control of a steampunk/magitek pseudo Romano-British empire. Humans live and work alongside furry cat-people; while they are able to interbreed, the resulting hybrids invariably die before adulthood but are revered as living gods because of the psychic experience they’re able to grant worshippers. Same psychic experience can also be harvested from a gland at the base of the brain, so they can fetch good money on the black market.

The main character is one such hybrid who has devoted her life to save her fellow hybrids from being trafficked. There’s a lot of waif-fu, though the prana-based martial arts is able to somewhat justify how Rags and her friends, the Ragtag Army, are able to hold their own against powerful crime lords and human traffickers.

There’s a lot of excellent worldbuilding in Rags & Muffin, but as a book, it’s a little all over the place in setting things up. A number of seemingly unrelated events, as well as side excursions of the main characters, tie in to the world and add a backdrop to the story but go nowhere on their own in this volume. While this volume’s main story is a simple and straightforward rescue mission that, against all odds and many complications, the main characters manage to pull off, so much of this book is devoted to setting up the puzzles and mystery boxes that I find myself feeling that I can’t judge it until I’ve read the [as yet unpublished] sequels to see if any of these threads will pay off.

If the subsequent volumes are able to stick the landing and answer the questions that this first book poses about the characters, the world they live in, and the nature of their city and the strange hybrid goddess girls, then this will be an excellent first entry. If we don’t get a sequel, or the sequels don’t provide satisfactory answers on the questions about the characters, who and what they are and what choices they’ll ultimately make, then Rags & Muffin will have been a pretty fun and entertaining, though a little long and in some spots meandering, ride that could’ve stood to have been tightened up a bit.

On its own strengths and weaknesses, it’s a solid three stars. If a sequel is able to make good on the bits that it’s laying into place, it would be bumped up to a 5.

News on 2023 Offers + Kickstarter Stuff

I had some stuff I was going to go into today, maybe do some reviews, but I had some things come up, and the day job proved extra busy. So, instead, you’re getting an update on 2023 submissions.

At present, all offers on accepted submissions are out. We had a larger than usual percentage of authors request payment by check this year, so we will not be able to announce our final lineup until everyone’s checks are cashed, but we’re hoping to have the big news up in the next few weeks.

Over the weekend, we placed the bulk order for our two Kickstarters. We’re going to be fulfilling as soon as stuff shows up, An Atlas of Bad Roads first, then Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat Volume 2. Yes, I know the order is reversed, but we’re aiming to get the horror anthology out in time for Halloween.

Submissions Update!

Okay, we’ve got the entire stack read!

2nd round rejections are going out this week [sorry, folks].

I’ve got things cut down to below 300k words still under consideration out of nearly 800k word, but there may still need to be some trimming.

Offers will begin going out late this week or next.

We’re going to be placing orders for copies of both M&M 2 and Atlas of Bad Roads soon, and that’s going to take a A LOT of our current on-hand cash [but the Atlas payment should be clearing in the next few days, which will help].

We’re going to buy what we can, but money is very tight!

Speaking of money being tight, now would be a great time to buy ad space in our winter issue! Or even buy back cover space for 2023 [Summer, Fall, and Winter covers still available!}. See our rates here.

Wild Stars V Out in All Formats

Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars V is out now in all formats.

Need to catch up on Wild Stars? Really, at this point, the cheapest and easiest way is with the Wild Stars Omnibus. Use promo code WELCOME15 at checkout for 15% off. This tome contains all 4 previous volumes of Wild Stars in a single coffee table format.

Happy Monday! Submission Update and News

I’ve made decent progress on our submissions stack.

We’ve read 89 out of the 130 manuscripts up for consideration this year. For 2023, we were looking at a whopping 3/4 of a million words of fiction + to consider that we have to whittle down to a much more manageable 200-240k words.

The limits on our acquisitions for this year are a lot harder than they have been in the past, because personal expenses have meant that I don’t have funds to dip into to overbuy like I did last year out of the Cosmic Courtship profits. I’ve had to have a heart of stone, which will make this something of a bloodbath [please forgive me!], because I need to be able write checks to Jesse White for Wild Stars art, Jim Breyfogle for his share of Mongoose and Meerkat, Misha Burnett for his share of An Atlas of Bad Roads, and Progressive for my car insurance that’s coming up for renewal soon.

I should be sending out the first wave of rejection letters this week so as to not keep anyone unduly hanging…

Wild Stars News

Wild Stars V is out in print and the eBook will be available live this week.

Also, Michael says his draft of Wild Stars VII clocked in a bit shorter than he originally anticipated, which is good for everyone who submitted because it means I might be able to squeeze in one more story.

Mongoose and Meerkat

I know things feel like they’ve been going slow on this, but we had our fulfillment goal set in November for a reason. Jim Breyfogle will be back from visiting family this week and will be reviewing the proofs and filling out bookplates.

The extra time has also meant that we were able to get additional artwork from DarkFilly, so M&M volume 2 will have 4 extra illustrations instead of just 2 extra illustrations.

An Atlas of Bad Roads

We’re sending off the bookplates to Misha to sign and as soon as we get his OK on the proofs, we’ll be placing our orders. I needed to update the files for the Take a Card stretch goal to give the files a little more margin, we’ve got those nearly ready to go, too. We expect to get it out by October.

Submissions Are Closed! What Now?

We are now closed for submissions! We ended up with 129 submissions, which is 8 more than last year. Considering we didn’t do a lot of advertising, that’s really something!

So, now we’re going to be actually reading everything. We’re 45 stories in already, but that’s a LOT of fiction for us to get through.

To be honest, don’t expect to hear back from us until September at the earliest. Well, some rejections may trickle out sooner, but we’re basically going to try to read and prioritize everything we like, then make cuts until we’re down to the 200k or so words we’re looking to acquire.

I know that I always say that competition for space will be fierce, but this time, it’s even much moreso:

  • We received more submissions than ever before during our 1-week period
  • I had to replace a water-line to my house, so I don’t have a lot of extra money to overbuy
  • I owe two authors sizable kickstarter checks and one artist a sizable check for 2022 art; I have the money for those, but I WILL NOT leave myself in a position where those payments need to be delayed for any reason
  • I need to give my copy editing team a raise, and the cheapest, easiest way to do that is pay them the same while asking less of them, so I will not be cramming 7 issues worth of content into 4 issues of Cirsova again–it was a lot of time and work for me, too. Seriously, though, Mark and Xavier are the most indispensable part of the Cirsova project.


The money we raise for Misha Burnett’s An Atlas of Bad Roads is the last shot for us to get some profits in time for 2023 acquisitions! The better we do on Atlas, the more cash we’ll have on hand for offers. We’re still going to do our best to avoid overbuying to the extent we did last year, but it could be the difference between buying 200k words of fiction ($2500) and 240k words of fiction ($3000).