The Rot’s War – Ignifer Cycle 2

MJG Books, Ignifer Cycle Leave a Comment

The Rot’s War is Book 2 in the Ignifer Cycle.

Only 99c June 13-17!!


No world can stand…

Moments after Sen stepped through the revenant arch, an inky darkness flooded out across his world. Over the wreckage of a city broken by revolution it surged, engulfing the grand Grammaton tower, smothering the King’s Aigle palace and drowning every last caste in the dark. Sen alone escaped; a young man prophesied to raise the Saint and save his world for good.

But he failed.

Now his world is gone, and his friends are just memories swallowed by the endless dark?

Now those memories haunt him, trapped in a strange white cell with no possible means of escape?

Now a lost figure is watching, a clocksman who claims to be three hundred years old, seeking to fulfil an ancient vow?

And now the Rot is resurgent, its great black mouth spreading wide across both the future and the past, unleashing a terrible hunger that no world can withstand?

The Rot’s War, Book 2 of the Ignifer Cycle, is available in print and ebook formats now:

Amazon USAmazon UK Amazon CA


Reviews for The Saint’s Rise:

Michael John Grist is a magnificent story teller. He creates fantastic worlds and weaves them with adventure and intrigue. – Amazon reviewer

The characters, the worlds, the epic adventure were excellent. I strongly recommend it! – Amazon reviewer

“The Saint’s Rise is a very different fantasy book. The book goes from quiet to fast-paced easily (without feeling choppy) and puts our hero and his friends in many situations you wouldn’t expect, in ways you wouldn’t expect.” – Joe Z

Summed up in one word – Epic.” – Katy Page


IGNIFER CYCLE full series

Book 1The Saint’s Rise
Book 2The Rot’s War

MJG Spring update – Newsletter April 2

MJG Blog, Last Mayor, Writing, Zombie Ocean Leave a Comment

Well well well.

The Zombie Ocean/Last Mayor series is finished, and now it is Spring. The old things are dead and it’s time for some new growth to creep in – and what better way to keep the zombie theme alive than with a zombie book…

But not about zombies. Though actually there are zombies in this book, just in an epic fantasy setting, but the point is the book itself is sort of a zombie.

What am I blathering on about?

The Rot’s War, book 2 of the Ignifer Cycle – more below. Also I have epic news about coming audiobooks, several books on special offer, and some adorkable photos of my cats Churchill and Lincoln, because why not 🙂


The Light

I’d like to say a huge thanks to everyone who bought The Light, shared it, reviewed it, and/or emailed to let me know what you think. The response has been so incredibly heartening! The journey Amo and pals went on was immense, and spanned some big changes in the last 4 years in my life:

– Moving country back to the UK

– Buying our first house

– Getting a new job

– Getting kittens

Amo et al were with me throughout – and now they are off on their own, trying to make something of the world that’s left to them.

Numerous readers have told me the book made them cry. Someone described it as one giant fight scene from start to finish. Most of all in these books I think I’m aiming at a kind of inspiration. Happy tears, we might call it, or even awed tears.

I love that feeling myself. I get it in movies like Interstellar, Gravity, Forrest Gump – where the human spirit just shines through in faith and self-sacrifice. If I can make you feel that in my stories, then I’ve succeeded :).


I was contacted by a big audiobook publisher for audio rights to The Saint’s Rise and subsequent books in the Ignifer Cycle series.

This was extremely exciting news. This publisher produces some of the best epic fantasy in audio out there right now, as well as all-round huge books like The Martian.

To that end I’m working hard now on The Rot’s War, sequel to The Saint’s Rise, which will be out June 8.

Is it a zombie book? Well, it and The Saint’s Rise both are really. I wrote them something like 8 years ago, put them out and sold one or two hundred all told.

Then last year I re-wrote The Saint’s Rise and it took off – since December 2017 it has become easily my biggest seller! The Rot’s War is the follow-up. It’s a zombie book that won’t die, and is now re-animated.

I’m excited. It’s taking epic fantasy to places I’ve never seen before. Imagine The Neverending Story crossed with Back to the Future.

Yeah. Watch this space for audio updates, and look out for the June 8 launch!

Now some cat pictures:

Churchill presides over the TV.

Lincoln stalks twigs in the garden.

And that is it for this update.

In a month’s time we’ll be in the run-up to The Rot’s War release, so I’ll have news on that, along with some more special book offers for you. At some point soon you’re also going to see the gorgeous new covers for my cyberpunk trilogy!

In the meantime keep it real and enjoy the spring,


The Light – Last Mayor 9

MJG Books, Last Mayor, Zombie Ocean Leave a Comment

The Light is Book 9 in the Last Mayor series, bringing the series to its end.

From the darkness comes the light.

Ever since the world broke apart, ‘Last Mayor of America’ Amo has known what kind of world he’d like to build.

Until now.

Now there is no light at the end of days. Only darkness. And darkness will rule over all.

The end is here.

The Light is the heartbreaking final book in the Last Mayor survival horror series.



The Light, Book 9 of the Last Mayor series, is available as an e-book now.

Amazon USAmazon UK




LAST MAYOR full series

Book 1The Last
Book 2The Lost
Book 3The Least
Books 1-3Box Set 1
Book 4The Loss
Book 5The List
Book 6The Laws
Books 4-6Box Set 2
Book 7The Lash
Book 8The Lies

Ha ha OF COURSE Walking Dead s8 mid-season finale was terrible, but…

MJG All Reviews, TV, Walking Dead Leave a Comment

Ha ha ha – of course the Walking Dead season 8 mid-season finale ‘How It’s Gotta Be’ was terrible!! It is not even interesting to talk about the bad things in it because they are basically all of it! So now I am going to pick out the good things:
– When the trash heap wankers scuttled away at the first sign of trouble. Yes! F off back to the shitheap you came from, and stay there until Rick comes round (again) to kill your stupid spiked walker. Like a goddamn metronome…
– When Carl listened to the house (house-whisperer) and it told him a grenade was about to land on the roof (and blow up from the interior), so he had time to RUN CARL RUN!
– Negan getting misty-eyed at Carl. Actually, genuinely liked Negan’s response to this. The whole Carl dying thing is obviously utterly stupid, but there is something touching the way Negan quite likes him. Best relationship on the show.
– Enid killing the Oceanside woman!! Ha, serves you right for creeping around in the dark like a walker. Leave that shit for Rick.
– Hanging out in the sewer. Those are some really massive and comfortable sewers, for sewers underneath a really rural neighborhood. Big enough for Pennywise. Maybe he’s there too?
– ‘The Widow’ rolling over like a coward, not even trying to fight. Negan obviously has the right approach in repeatedly trying to cow these people. They are clearly all as lily-livered as hilltop leader Gregory. Such cowards that, when their lives are on the line, they won’t go down fighting, but when they have the power, they will execute randoms, for no meaningful reason.
– ‘The King’ loping around like he didn’t get shot in the leg so bad the other day that he couldn’t even walk through toxic sludge. Have him dive off some rooftops in a hood too, to fulfill the Assassin’s Creed-y feel.
– Consistency of Negan’s tactics. Block roads with trees. Kill one person as an example. You have to love someone who plays the favorites, again and again.
– Wine-shotting Eugene. What a F-ing pansy. Shoot the wine, gulp it down big boy! Yeah, that’ll help you sleep. Gulp it DOWN!!
– Carl getting bit. About damn time. He’s been emo for too long. Time to trim some deadweight, methinks. I hope they kill everyone left except for Rick, Darryl, and Negan. Negan has to wear like gimp suit or something, but Rick and Darryl bring him along because there’s no TV, and he’s good for entertainment. Especially kill Tara, and Enid, and the priest, and the King unless he bucks up his ideas, and Gregory, and the Widow, and Judith, and just basically start over, on the road again. “Well, I guess we really learned some lessons, huh?” Rick says to Darryl. Darryl grunts. They kiss. Fadeout…
– Who else could survive? Maybe the leader of the trash people? She joins Negan in the back seat, obviously wearing gag. She could be fun in the final road trip. Not Morgan, too sanctimonious. Not Simon, too much like Negan-lite. Bring along, like, Glenn’s skull or something. Put it on the dash and tap it reverently every now and then, for good luck.
– I wanna see Rick go mad. Like, properly mad. Not just phone calls from his dead wife, but like totally slaughter everyone mad. Run around just killing people, his team, the other team, until Darryl grabs him and brings him down. Give him a hug. A quick kiss? I don’t know, it’s just ideas…
– Roll on the next half-season! ALL OUT WAR, BABY!!

The Saint’s Rise – Ignifer Cycle 1

MJG Books, Ignifer Cycle 1 Comment

The Saint’s Rise is Book 1 in the Ignifer Cycle.

Free June 13-17!


No heroes endure…

Three thousand years ago the world fell into darkness, when the great black mouth of the Rot savaged the land. Only a single child survived the devastation; an infant with a prophecy carved into his skin, promising the rise of a hero powerful enough to slay the Rot for good: the Saint.

Now that child is a young man, beginning to question the meaning of his many scars?

Now those scars are hunted by a jealous King, ruler of a bizarre industrial city, where a thousand strange castes toil away like slaves?

Now a dark beast is watching, an Unforgiven, seeking to fulfill a promise made long ago?

And now the Rot has returned, its great black mouth growing large again in the sky, bringing chaos and fear to a world where no heroes endure?

The first book in The Ignifer Cycle, a new fantasy saga.


The Saint’s Rise, Book 1 of the Ignifer Cycle, is available in print and ebook formats now:

Amazon USAmazon UK Amazon CA


Reviews for The Saint’s Rise:

Michael John Grist is a magnificent story teller. He creates fantastic worlds and weaves them with adventure and intrigue. – Amazon reviewer

The characters, the worlds, the epic adventure were excellent. I strongly recommend it! – Amazon reviewer

“The Saint’s Rise is a very different fantasy book. The book goes from quiet to fast-paced easily (without feeling choppy) and puts our hero and his friends in many situations you wouldn’t expect, in ways you wouldn’t expect.” – Joe Z

Summed up in one word – Epic.” – Katy Page


IGNIFER CYCLE full series

Book 1The Saint’s Rise
Book 2 – The Rot’s War (upcoming)

Walking Dead season 8 premiere review – ugh!

MJG TV Leave a Comment

Saw Walking Dead season 8 premiere. Ugh.
I didn’t like it. The old feeling that they were just barely scraping by, and surviving by the skin of their teeth, has been long gone. Seems they just take actions in a vacuum now. It was damn easy to take out those watchmen. Why not do it earlier? It was damn easy to roll up to Negan’s gates with an army, and he didn’t even know what was happening? Why did he not have a garrison at each of those settlements, watching over them? He has dudes in the satellite station, to what end? That no one just sniped Negan while he was holding forth was very annoying. That they wasted hundreds of bullets basically shooting out windows in the building is plainly ludicrous. I didn’t get that at all. What kind of assault just shoots bullets at a building? That Rick counted down from 10, it just didn’t make any sense. Did he really think one of Negan’s lieutenants was going to turn on him, then and there, because a bunch of useless people with mudflaps turned up outside the gates, he was crazy. If any of them turned, Negan would just kill them. Now Rick has handed over about a dozen fully functional vehicles with batteries and gas. That is insane. Getting a vehicle to use-ready status cannot be time- or resource-cheap in the apocalypse. Massive win for Negan!
Their whole attack plan was really not an attack. It was just turn up outside and make some damn noise. Why? Negan just needs to close the inner doors, and Rick and co have killed no one, just given Negan a minor inconvenience of walkers outside the door.
So many bad points. Rick says “Only one person needs to die”, then goes along killing watchmen and shooting indiscriminately at a building full of non-combatants, and not even sniping the one guy who needs to die. In the middle of his zombie assault, Rick allows himself to be pulled away from directly trying to kill Negan, because why? ‘It’s not about Rick’, the priest says, but what does that even mean? It’s about NEGAN! Kill NEGAN and this whole thing will be over! That’s what Rick is doing, trying to KILL NEGAN!
But no, it has to wait until another day.
Then the priest’s actions with Gregory are inexplicable. Completely impossible to explain. The shoe-horning in of the zombie horde as an aggressive tactic is dumb. Rick has already showed how ineffective zombies are when he killed a horde of them single-handed a few seasons back. If they had all those explosives and weapons, the ability to sneak up on the base completely unseen with the sentries out, why didn’t he attack Negan’s base properly, storm in, and kill Negan!?
What strategy meeting was there when someone surely said – ‘Let’s sneak in at night, get inside, kill all the bad guys especially Negan before they even know what’s happening, then liberate the people?’ Then someone else said – ‘Yeah I take your point, but instead of winning like that, why don’t we do all the same steps required to get there unseen and silent, including a guy inside the walls, but once we arrive just stop at the gates and make a huge noise with wasting bullets, then talk to Negan, then let him get away, and run off ourselves?’. Everyone goes ‘Yeah, son!! Do it!’
It makes no sense. It’s like they’re not trying to win, they’re just trying to psyche themselves up for a bit more fighting. When they went to the satelite station and killed everyone at night while they slept, that was badass. Why are they not doing that? Plot armor for Negan, only? It’s not good enough. If Negan is truly unkillable by any conventional means, it has to be because he has prepped so damn well that they literally can’t lay a hand on him. Not because they’re too dumb to bust out a sniper rifle. I know they want this conflict to last al season, but you need to do that by escalating properly. If it’s genuinely hard to kill Negan and wipe outn the Saviors, make it GENUINELY HARD! As in, not easy to approach his fort unseen, not easy to lead zombies in, not easy to blow open his gates, not easy to take out sentries in one fell swoop. It’s just so lame on both sides. Negan is weak, Rick is weak, it’s like watching two wet strands of spaghetti trying to punch each other.
Ugh. Who is writing this show any more?

Appendectomy and stellar SF/fantasy deals… Oct NL 2

MJG newsletter Leave a Comment

Hello from windy London,

Perhaps my biggest news is there in the title – this week I had an appendectomy! It was all rather sudden, with me getting admitted to hospital on Monday after work, tested and operated on on Tuesday, then released on Wednesday.

Now I’m recovering at home, doing some pottering around, and putting finishing touches to my upcoming epic fantasy The Saint’s Rise.

I’ve got news on that after this – a whole slew of excelent deals I want to tell you about.


– This is your last chance to join the SFF Book Bonanza 52 novels competition, where you enter your email and stand a chance to get 52 classic sci-fi and fantasy novels in print format. If you’re a power reader this is great not only for all the books you get, but also because you’ll be getting newsletters from a bunch of authors (like me) letting you know about their latest works. If all those newsletters sounds like craziness – definitely don’t join up :).


– Holly Hooke has a 5-book box set in her Abnormals series going for only $2.99 – the books?have great reviews, so if you like paranormal/urban fantasy, I think this is right up your street.




– Felicia Starr has her book The Huntress on sale for only 99cents, a brand new release already collecting strong reviews. It’s also paranormal/urban fantasy, about the goddess Artemis and a shifter.

The Huntress


– Marilyn Peake along with a host of stellar sf and fantasy authors are still selling their mega-anthology Dominion Rising for the discounted price of $2.99 – it’s been called the Box Set of the Year, hitting the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller lists. I can’t imagine it’ll be on sale for much longer, so if you didn’t get it yet, now’s the time.


– J.T. Williams book Winemaker of the North, book 1 of the Saints of Wura series, is on sale for 99cents. It’s an epic fantasy that seems to have something in common with Alec Hutson’s Crimson Queen, telling in part the story fo how magic returns to the land. It has stellar reviews and is available at lots of different vendors.

Amazon, Itunes, Kobo, Barnes and Noble.


News on The Saint’s Rise

Finally, I have news on my upcoming epic fantasy, The Saint’s Rise. It is finished!!

That said, there is still plenty of beta-reading to come (ARC Squad, you’ll have it within days). It is 160,000 words long. It is currently on pre-order at Amazon for $5.99, but I advise you to wait until Dec 15th, when it will be launched and discounted briefly to 99cents.

I will remind you of that, for sure. In the meantime, feast your eyes on the cover:

Awesome, right? I’m really pleased. You may be interested to know that the tunnel and railroad images are my own photographs, taken from ruins in Japan.

Next time I’ll let you know the blurb. Then it’ll only be a month until launch!

Why are scars a sentence to death? Oct NL 1

MJG newsletter Leave a Comment

For today’s newsletter I’ve got a sweet deal, and a free deal, and a big smile. Here’s the big smile.


Well, it’s a normal smile. If you move your head closer to the screen it’ll be big.

I’ve also got an update on my epic fantasy novel The Saint’s Rise.

Sweet deal

Here’s the sweet deal – 100 novels for 99 cents each, all Sf and fantasy, on only Oct 7 and 8 (today).

My book Mr. Ruin is included. For myself, I picked up Keith Soares’ On a Black Wind Blows Doom – the 3rd book in his superhero series. Awesome cover, great blurb, now I’m getting the whole series.

I’m sure you’ll find something you like too.

Free deal

The first book in my bestselling apocalypse series, The Last, is currently free on Amazon. You probably already have this book because I gave it to you when you signed up for this mailing list.

But, if for some crazy reason you don’t have it, get it now, because it will be going up to $2.99 in a week.

News on The Saint’s Rise

I am so close to finished with this book. If you like The Neverending Story, or Ender’s Game, or anything by China Mieville, or Game of Thrones, or Wheel of Time, or the Crimson Queen, then I think you’ll dig it.

It’s about a boy who’s covered in scars, scars that were carved by his mother as part of some crazy prophecy to save the world.

Except Sen, that’s the boy’s name, doesn’t believe that. The scars are nothing but trouble. In his city, the King is hunting every person with any kind of scar and having them skinned alive. He has a room full of all the scar bits, which he tries to link together and decipher, as if they’re all part of a giant conspiracy.

Into Sen’s life of hiding, five children come. Their names are written down in his scars. They’re also real, and from a mixture of different castes (a rock boy, a Moleman, a Blue girl, etc..) that would never cross paths in the city, on pain of death.

Now they’re crossing paths with Sen, and trouble is going to go down.

That is not the final blurb, by the way 😉 Just a tease. I’ll send the real blurb soon, along with the cover. In the meantime, here is a snippet of the cover.

Oh – one thing before I go – are you watching the new Star Trek? How about Rick and Morty? I’m loving them both!



MJG Newsletter Oct 2017a

MJG Blog, newsletter Leave a Comment

Hello Ocean fans!

For October’s first newsletter I’ve got some news about the epic fantasy novel I’m revamping, a couple of holiday snaps, as well as a special offer on my favorite collection of short stories, which I’m confident you won’t want to miss!

First up, the epic fantasy:

Epic Fantasy revamp.

For the past month I have been hard at work revamping the novel once titled Saint Ignifer’s Rise, the very first book I wrote, and the first I ever published!

I always loved it, but after promoting it a few times after launch (way back in 2014) I lost confidence in it as a product, and never pushed it again. At that point I’d already spent 4 years writing and rewriting, and not only couldn’t stomach altering it any further, I also had no idea what to do to make it better.

Approaching it now in 2017, I figured I could make those improvements. I’ve written over 10 books since then, been through maybe 20 cover design processes, and know more about marketing overall. So…

First up, rebranding!!

The old title was first Saint Ignifer’s Rise, which I trimmed to Ignifer’s Rise, but both of those are a mouthful, right? I love the call out to fantasy fans with a made-up name in the title (actually ‘Ignifer’ is Latin and means volcano), but it really gives no clue about what’s to come 🙁 .

So, I have switched to- The Saint’s Rise.

This is simple and clean. I believe it says fantasy, and the cover and blurb should make that super clear.

So what about the cover? Well, I’m still working on that with my artist.

Here’s the old cover:

Maybe it wasn’t clear what kind of story it would be, or the illustrated style was a turn-off, or the scars, or a combo? Nobody knows. It never sold, and I didn’t push it again.

The new cover is shaping up to be way clearer. I’ll share that in a pre-release newsletter later in October. It’s pretty gorgeous so far.

As for the rewriting, I thought I’d be mostly cutting, but instead I’ve been adding! To make the story work, the world had to be more fleshed out, character arcs straightened, story mechanisms consolidated.

I’m now looking at 2 weeks of final edits and proofread, before launch at the end of October. And I’m already really proud of this book, and confident it offers a great experience. It’s going to be long, twice as long as my zombie books (160,000 words), but it packs in the action and reversals.

Next time I’ll share the blurb and cover!

Holiday snaps, anyone?

Last time I promised a few pictures of my holiday in Penzance, Cornwall (southwest England), in particular the stunning views over Land’s End, the southern or western-most part of England. Here are a few:

Yours truly in front of a stunning Land’s End view.

A view back without me in the way.

The view over the rooftops in the little town of St. Ives.

It was a really wonderful holiday, and I can’t wait to get back to Cornwall some time soon.

Short story offer

In a previous newsletter I mentioned getting new covers and blurbs for my two short story collections. Like the epic fantasy, these ones went out early and I didn’t revisit them, thinking collections were not what people wanted.

That said, again, maybe it was the cover, or the titles, or the blurbs, so I retitled, repackaged, and re-blurbed them both!

The collection I have on offer for you this week, from $5.99 down to 99c (sorry, the offer is only available in the US Amazon store at the moment, if you’d like it anywhere else just email me back and I’ll sort it out!) until Oct 6, is Death of East.

It was originally titled the potentially off-putting Bone Diamond (XXX rated?), and had an unfortunate cover that hinted even more at XXX action (when there is basically no XXX at all!). I won’t share that image here, if you don’t mind.

I retitled it Death of East after another story in the collection. Here’s the new cover:

It’s got three short stories that were previously published in professional fiction magazines (Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Ideomancer).

If you like short stories, and fantasy, and the surreal, I’m certain you’ll enjoy it. Here’s the blurb for the title story:

The direction East is dead.

When the direction East, a giant living atop an island at the far Eastern ‘pole’, is murdered, the Empire falls into disarray. The compass can no longer be trusted, and trade with the colonies falls apart as merchant fleets founder on rocks and get lost on the open ocean.

Only the Lady Arabella, a legendary explorer and captain of the fastest ship in the fleet, can help. She knew the giant East before his death, and only she suspects the true identity of his killer.

But she must act with haste, as the men of the Empire seek to turn its great bureaucracy against her, even as a new and terrifying challenge rears its unlikely head – love, while she seeks to solve the question of the age.

Who murdered the giant East?

Get Death of East for 99c here.

Here’s the beginning of the title story:

The giant rock hurtled through the sky a thousand fathoms high. Seawater and sludge boiled off at its hot red edge, burning a smoking trail above the clouds high over the Armorican continent. At the Pacifac Ocean’s edge its great arc began to slow, and it dipped towards the ruffled grey waves, drawing within sight of a vast grey figure seated upon a vast grey throne, alone at the heart of the ocean.

It hit the water only miles from the throne’s pedestal, burst froth and brine a hundred fathoms wide, then sank.

Hundreds more followed, each on different arcs. Some soared far above the orange-sand barrens of Abindia, others over the sweltering deltas of the Mesopotame, some even above the ice-packed tundra of Ancharcita. Every day for a hundred days the rocks circled the world, until at last one struck its target.

Then everything changed.

* * *

“There’s something wrong with the East,” announced the Empire’s Minister for Trade, his bald pate slick with sweat in the cardamom gas-lights of Lady Arabella’s sitting room. “Our compasses no longer function, our maps are all useless, and we are at a loss as to why. The Empire is desperate, Lady, and I beg for your help.”

The Lady Arabella eyed the slender gentleman before her. He was dressed in brown tweed with tartan-patched elbows, perched like an anxious figurehead on the edge of his chair. For such a high-ranking Cabinet member he cut a rather guileless figure.

“Steady yourself, sir,” she warned, turning the brass musket-tamping rod she used as a cane idly in her hands. “The Empire is never desperate.”

“I’m afraid in this matter it is,” the Minister said, and drew a sheaf of papers out of his valise with pink and spindlish fingers, spread them across the low table.

Lady Arabella leaned in, studied the lists and charts before her. “Nautical reports?”

The Minister nodded. “We have lost hundreds of ships in the last three months alone. Some were bound east for Armorica or the Panamian passage, others lost in transit from the west, and distant Abindia. Of those few that landed safely, all claimed that the direction east, along with the lines of longitude you discovered, are no longer apposite to the task.”

Arabella stopped swiveling the musket-rod, focused her steely eyes on the Minister. “East is immutable, sir, as are the lines of longitude. The problem must lie in the navigation. Have the compasses of these ships been tested?”

The Minister ran a white pocket square across his queasy brow. “I mean not to offend, Lady, but have you viewed a compass of late?”

“Of course not,” Arabella snapped. She remembered well the indignity of Parliament men storming her apartments on the day she was cast from government. “Not since mine were stolen. Now I must license a geomancer when I set out to hunt.”

“Then I hope you will forgive this,” said the Minister, and drew from his valise a brass-cased oil-compass. “Do you recognize it?”

Arabella regarded it coolly. “Of course, It is my own.”

He proffered it, and she took it.

“Would you state it an accurate instrument?” the Minister asked, rubbing again at his hot pate.

Arabella turned the compass in her white-gloved hands. Many years had passed since they’d seized it from her, for refusing to disclose how she’d fixed the lines of longitude. The brass was well polished, the oil within yet liquid, the compass rose and azimuths segregated and clear. She looked up. “It seems well. At the least you have taken fair care of it.”

“Then it will confirm that East is this way?” said the Minister, pointing to a wall resplendent with bizarre animal heads, the trophies of her hunts.

“Of course, man. Any compass denotes the cardinals.”

“Then may I suggest a test? Pray stand and cup your eyes about the instrument, then proceed directly East from there.”

Arabella frowned. She had not parleyed the natives of Abindia into trade-bondage to play the fool now. “I shall do no such thing.”

“Apologies, Lady, but I do not think you will believe it any other way. Humor me please, and I shall cover my eyes with this scarf.” He pulled from his valise a black silk stole.

“You came prepared, I see,” Arabella observed.

“I come in supplication, at the request of the Prime Minister himself.”

“An idiot of a man,” muttered Arabella, as he wound the stole around his eyes. When it was done, she spoke again. “Will you now have me pin on your tail? I do not think your head shall mount very well to my wall.”

He chuckled uncomfortably. “Only the bearing, Lady, I beg it.”

“Very well.” She stood, brushed her flowing leathern dresses to the side, and cupped her eyes about the compass. In careful strides, lest she come unseen upon the trestle table, she headed east.

Yet she did not stub her shin on the table, nor did she arrive at the antler-prongs of a taxidermied ibex, as she expected. Rather she came to rest by the portrait of old Galilee, whereupon she lifted her head and surveyed the room behind her.

“Have you yet done?” asked the Minister.

She studied the compass again, but there could be no doubt. She had followed east, and arrived north. She looked to the Minister, who was removing his blindfold. “Do all the Empire’s compass malfunction so?”

“Lady they do, and hundreds of ships lost.”

Arabella set the compass down and moved to one of the map-chests lining the sitting-room walls. From within she withdrew a vellum cartograph, which she unfurled across the low table. It depicted a topographical array of the world, with countries marked on longitudinal lines like entries in a ledger. She snatched up a scrap of paper and wrote out terse calculations, ignoring the Minister at her side, until at last she sat back in stunned silence.

“My lady, what is it?”

She ignored him, went instead to the sitting room’s door, where a valet stood in attendance. She handed him the scrap of paper and gave a terse command, “By telegraph, at once.” He bowed, strode away.

The Minister watched this transpire befuddled. “Might I be let in on this secret, Lady? Will you explain yourself?”

Arabella cut him a steely smile, then slapped her musket-cane down upon the cartograph, at a point in the midst of the Arrantic Ocean. “I will explain it, sir, to a gathering of Ministers in Parliament itself. For the giant East is dead, and the others yet are sure to follow.”

Well well, what do you think?

I hope that is enticing. If so, please head along to Amazon US and pick up your copy (or email me for other areas.)

Very best for now, and look out for the cover reveal of The Saint’s Rise coming soon!

Michael John Grist.

The Lies – Last Mayor 8

MJG Uncategorized Leave a Comment

The Lies is Book 8 in the Last Mayor series.

7 billion dead. 1 truth.

The apocalypse killed almost everyone on Earth. Only 700 out of 7 billion people survived.
It began with love, and loss, and lies.
It will end in blood.

The end is coming.

The TV show ‘LOST’ hammers into the end times in this unrelenting thriller, oozing dystopian pseudoscience and blood-soaked punishment for the wicked.

A tale of post-apocalyptic survival mystery that brings the Last Mayor series up to the precipice, to be completed in the final Book 9. Burning questions will be raised and answered, like:

– Who started the apocalypse?
– How did the apocalypse start?
– Why?

The Lies, Book 8 of the Last Mayor, is available as an e-book now.

Amazon USAmazon UK Amazon CA

– Google Play

– Kobo

– Barnes and Noble

– Apple iBooks



Reader reviews for Last Mayor 1, The Last:

“A thoroughly enjoyable zombie romp unlike any other piece of zombie lore I’ve come across.” – Dominic McCann

“Not your typical Zombie apocalypse book! Loved the ending.” – M. Barker

“By far this is the BEST zombie book I have ever read.” – Cherie Unsworth

“I loved it. You never know what is coming next.” – Shelly Newkirk


LAST MAYOR full series

Book 1The Last
Book 2The Lost
Book 3The Least
Books 1-3Box Set 1
Book 4The Loss
Book 5The List
Book 6The Laws
Books 4-6Box Set 2
Book 7The Lash
Book 8The Lies

The Lash – Last Mayor 7

MJG Books, Writing, Zombie Ocean 4 Comments

The Lash is Book 7 in the chilling Last Mayor series.

7 billion dead. 1 war.

Twelve years after the apocalypse ravaged the world, Amo’s dream lies in ruins, obliterated by the great white eye. New LA is forever gone, and with it any hope of peace.

All that remains is the lash.

Every drop of blood drawn shall be repaid tenfold. Every atrocity meted out shall be answered in kind. The vengeance will be epic, and brutal, and good.

What kind of world will survive?

The Lash, Book 7 of the Zombie Ocean, is available from these sellers:

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA


– Google Play


Barnes and Noble

Apple iBooks



Reader reviews for Book 1 in the Last Mayor series, The Last:

“A thoroughly enjoyable zombie romp unlike any other piece of zombie lore I’ve come across.” – Dominic McCann

“Not your typical Zombie apocalypse book! Loved the ending.” – M. Barker

“By far this is the BEST zombie book I have ever read.” – Cherie Unsworth

“I loved it. You never know what is coming next.” – Shelly Newkirk

LAST MAYOR full series

Book 1The Last

Book 2The Lost

Book 3The Least

Books 1-3Box Set 1

Book 4The Loss

Book 5The List

Book 6The Laws

Books 4-6Box Set 2

Book 7The Lash

Book 8The Lies

Zombie Ocean Box Set 2: Books 4-6

MJG Books, Writing, Zombie Ocean 3 Comments

Zombie Ocean Box Set 2 comprises ebooks 4-6 in the Zombie Ocean series, The Loss, The List and The Laws, and tells a zombie apocalypse aftermath story with a twist: only a few hundred in 7 billion people survive.

It has over 900 pages (270,000 words) of unique and thrilling post-apocalyptic survival adventure.

The Loss

7 billion zombies. 1 man.

Ten years after the zombie apocalypse destroyed civilization, ‘Last Mayor of America’ Amo faces the loss of everything he’s built.
He wants to be a good man. He wants to save his people. But what is good, and who are his people any more?
Now the demon is coming.
Who will survive?

‘The Stand’ smashes into the zombie apocalypse like you’ve never seen it before, packed with gore, action and heart-wrenching twists.

The List

7 billions zombies. 1 little sheriff.

At five years old Anna survived the first zombie apocalypse, but lost her father. At fifteen she survived the second, but lost even more. She won’t allow a third.
She has a list of the 11 remaining bunkers. She has the skills to take them down. But the bunkers have a secret, and won’t go down without a terrible, world-shaking fight.
Who will survive?

‘Kill Bill’ meets the zombie apocalypse like you’ve never seen it before, packed with gore, twists and blood-splattered revenge.

The Laws

7 billion zombies. 1 paraplegic.

Twelve years after the zombie apocalypse, New LA is finally at peace. 3 bunkers have signed the treaty, the demons are gone, and Amo’s people think they’re finally safe.
They’re wrong.
Lara falls sick, hit by destructive hallucinations that threaten her life, just as The Laws arrive in New LA, fellow survivors with a very different idea of what survival is. Nothing will be the same again.
Who will survive?

‘House of Cards’ crashes full-throttle into the zombie apocalypse, crammed with gore, twists and political carnage.


How would you survive the end of the known world?

Measure yourself against Amo, Anna and Lara- get all three books now.

If you like ‘I Am Legend’, ‘The Martian’ or ‘The Walking Dead’ you will love the Zombie Ocean series.

The Zombie Ocean Box Set 2 is available in e-book format for $9.99.

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA

– Google Play

– Kobo

– Barnes and Noble

– Apple iBooks

– Smashwords


Reader reviews:

ZOMBIE OCEAN full series

Book 1The Last

Book 2The Lost

Book 3The Least

Books 1-3Box Set 1

Book 4The Loss

Book 5The List

Book 6The Laws

Books 4-6Box Set 2

Book 7The Lash

Book 8The Lies

The Laws – Last Mayor 6

MJG Books, Kindle, Writing Leave a Comment

The Laws is Book 6 in the thrilling Last Mayor series.

7 billion dead. 1 law.

Twelve years after the apocalypse, New LA is finally at peace. 3 bunkers have signed the treaty, the demons are gone, and Amo’s people think they’re finally safe.

They’re wrong.

Lara falls sick, hit by destructive hallucinations that threaten her life, just as The Laws arrive in New LA, fellow survivors with a very different idea of what survival is. Nothing will be the same again.

Whose law will stand?

The Laws, Book 6 of the Zombie Ocean, is available from these sellers:

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA


– Google Play

– Kobo

– Barnes and Noble

– Apple iBooks

– Smashwords


Reader reviews for Book 1 in the Last Mayor series, The Last:

“A thoroughly enjoyable zombie romp unlike any other piece of zombie lore I’ve come across.” – Dominic McCann

“Not your typical Zombie apocalypse book! Loved the ending.” – M. Barker

“By far this is the BEST zombie book I have ever read.” – Cherie Unsworth

“I loved it. You never know what is coming next.” – Shelly Newkirk


ZOMBIE OCEAN full series

Book 1The Last

Book 2The Lost

Book 3The Least

Books 1-3Box Set

Book 4The Loss

Book 5The List

Book 6The Laws

Books 4-6Box Set 2

Book 7The Lash

Book 8The Lies

Mad Mark’s Castle, Albany Bulb

MJG Abandoned Art, Grafitti, Ruins / Haikyo, USA, World Ruins 1 Comment

Mad Mark’s Castle is a glorious achievement, a hand-built faerie castle made of scavenged rebar, concrete and plaster that stands proudly atop the Albany Bulb in San Francisco Bay, offering a fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Completed in 2000 and adopted ever since as an ever-changing graffiti canvas by the numerous artists haunting the Bulb, it remains a stunning piece of one-man art in itself, and the culmination of ‘Mad’ Mark (Marc)’s life’s work.

Mad Mark’s Castle by Peter Merts.

Mad Mark’s Castle interior (Great Hall) by Peter Merts.

I’ve never been to the Albany Bulb or even to San Francisco- I heard about the Castle from a reader of my book Mr. Ruins, which features a similar kind of castle, built on a similar kind of wasteland from similar waste materials like rebar and concrete, by a similarly mentally-damaged and homeless man (akin to Marc) for purposes both cosmic and un-explainable.

This real-world parallel to the events of my story intrigued me- not only for the parallel but also because I have always loved ruins and follies and crazy constructions. When I discovered the Gankutsu cave in Japan– a complex ‘hotel’ cave carved into solid rock by a single man with a chisel- I was likewise fascinated.

So I asked my reader Pamela Deering for more details, and she really came up with the goods. It turns out she knew Marc well, had spoken with him often in his heyday through the 80s and 90s, and could even shed some light on why he’d built what he’d built. Pamela shared pictures with me and stories, which spurred me on to research Marc and his creation further. There isn’t much on internet about him though. Some photos, some stories, but there the tale ends.

But let’s start at the beginning, in Pamela’s own words:

“Madman Mark […] was a denizen of the Albany Bulb for years, back when there was a fairly well-developed homeless encampment there. (later chased out by the city, of course.) I knew him fairly well at one time, but that was before he built the tower. I don’t know what became of him. He had a fairly sad story: he was young and with a lot of promise, then he was hit by a car and was very badly hurt. He told me he had a steel plate in his head. (another semi-parallel to the book, actually.) He was never, uh, he wasn’t quite right, after that, that was clear. But he still had the remains of a high intelligence that seemed to have lost its way. One of those people that had a lot of crackpot theories — or maybe they weren’t. Hard to tell.”

Some background- the Albany Bulb was constructed as a landfill site on the eastern edge of San Francisco Bay, started in 1939 when the Santa Fe Railroad blew up coastal hills to build the Golden Gate Fields racetrack, and shoveled the debris into the Bay to create parking lots.

Dumping continued sporadically after that, with the bulb forming as a globular landfill hill at the end of a narrow peninsula causeway in 1963, when the City of Albany and Santa Fe signed a contract to dispose of construction waste. Thus the ‘bulb’ is made primarily of demolished concrete and rebar- the twisted ruins of which still jut organically from the upper layer of clay like desiccated bones.

Dumping ended in 1983 when environmental Save the Bay legal efforts forced it to end. From that point forward, the homeless and the artists moved in, and the Albany Bulb became a kind of artistic homeless commune paying host to some 60 souls at its peak (Wikipedia). These Bulb-denizens took joy and pride in developing their own amenities and beautifying their trash-pile island with mural, stencil, graffiti and sculpture art.

One notable feature was the Landfillian Free Library, constructed later in 2006, run by Jimbow the Hobow, a friendly and cheerful librarian. According to Montgomery Rene who met him and toured the library in 2009:

“The Landfillian Free Library could, for all purposes, serve as The Albany Bulb Historical Society. Maintained by a friendly, smiley man, Jimbow the Hobow. You are encouraged to borrow and contribute both books and conversation, knowledge and compassion, and, for a certainty, smiles and beer. Jimbow is a welcoming librarian and poet. You will not be disappointed with his conversation and book collection.” (ArtSlant)

Of course, Jimbow and any others living on the Bulb, most likely along with Marc, are long gone now, ever since Albany City Council voted to evict them in 2013, ultimately offering a $3000 incentive if they would leave their homes. Some of them had lived there for up to 20 years.

But back to Pamela, and back to Marc:

“To get to the castle, you have to get to a parking lot that is behind the racetrack. This lot is at the bottom of Marin Street in Albany, but it is very confusing trying to get there because of a lot of freeway cloverleaf stuff. If you don’t know, Albany is the city immediately north of Berkeley, California. Next exit on the freeway. I went to google maps to try and get you a clear route, and discovered to my amazement that “Mad Mark’s Castle” is actually on the map! Amazing! That makes me happy — poor guy always felt like his life and potential was so suddenly and unfairly interrupted by a disaster that was not his fault. And now he has achieved something, uh, concrete. No pun intended. .. okay, yes it was.”

Mad Mark’s Castle even marked on Google Maps.

You can clearly see the Golden Gate Fields racecourse here- clearing which began construction of the Bulb via landfill.

Mad Mark’s Castle and Forecourt by Peter Merts.

Mad Mark’s Castle and Viewing Platform by Peter Merts.

Mad Mark’s Castle and Entrance Hall by Peter Merts.

Mad Mark’s Castle with Occupants, and possible Marc himself in front (source unknown)

Continuing with Pamela:

“I have a strong suspicion that the bearded guy in the foreground of the pic [above] is Mad Mark himself, especially as he is holding a sort of introductory hand out towards the castle. To explain how I met him, I must first tell you that although I came from a suburban California family and did very well in school, I came of age in the 1980s, and was more interested in music and art than in a stifling career in an office somewhere being someone I am not. So I spent much of my youth having a band, falling in love (mostly disastrously), and moving house a lot. […]

I had a large circle of friends who lived at the [Albany Bulb] encampment which was literally on the wrong side of the railroad tracks, and one of them was Mad Marc. (research informs me that he spelled it with a “c.” Never knew that.) I will tell you about the most interesting of his theories, one of the most lucid and internally consistent: he believed that many physical disorders or even disease could be treated by shining light of various colors into the retina of the eye. This was in the mid 1990s.”

To interrupt Pamela here, my research pointed up a few other unusual beliefs Marc held, one in particular being that Marc built the ‘Fairy Castle’ entirely by night. He held conspiracy theories on the subject, and perhaps believed he was being watched, though he may have been trying to sidestep the local authorities, who had cracked down hard on the ‘homeless’ population there in 1999.

In that earlier attempt to sweep the Bulb of its inhabitants, Marc’s castle had survived demolition (along with all other constructions) only because he petitioned it be considered a piece of art rather than a dwelling. It seems he alone was successful.

Every account I read of him described how he was clearly an intelligent man (, Pamela goes on to describe this hauntingly:

“What made Marc’s situation so tragic is that you could clearly see that he was trying to be the person he was, and his brain was trying to work in its accustomed way, but was sabotaged by the physical damage which left him with serious impediments to maintaining a linear train of thought. A good idea would be derailed by countless detours and cognitive cul-de-sacs, and unfortunately the end result was that he sounded crazy; but really he wasn’t, not entirely.

“He would have a notebook full of clippings and notes and xeroxed pages, everything related, but his power to collate it all into a coherent conclusion had gone. Hard to watch, because the process of collecting salient data, hooking it up through experience and intuitive leaps, and then pulling out that brilliant idea, is difficult for the best of us, and we are subject to the same danger of being swamped by too much information. Without a steel plate in our heads.”

? Mad Mark’s Castle Servant’s Entrance by Peter Merts.

Mad Mark’s Castle Turret Steps by Peter Merts.

Another tale of Marc’s adventures on Albany Bulb comes from Persis M. Karim, as written about in Bay Nature magazine in 2002:

“After making your way around the westernmost point of the Bulb (either by circling the lagoon or by way of the hillside), you reach a small cove where two shipwrecked, lopsided boats lie hauntingly broken and decaying in the shallow, muddy water. Mark says he lived in one of these boats until an ‘authority’ shot a hole in it and sank it.”

It makes me think of something from the book Swallows and Amazons. Or perhaps even the Lord of the Flies, but not so negative. From all that I’ve read the Albany Bulb in the 80s and 90s sounds like a very genteel and kind commune/camp, stocked with out-sized characters very happy to give you a tour, give you a free book, or stand around chatting about the art.

I don’t know Marc and am sure that I never will, but hearing the real life recollections from Pamela, and reading up on the place, it gives me some of the feeling I used to get when walking through ruins in Japan, taking photos, experiencing some leftover fragment of the life remaining in the place, now left behind. Every thing we build leaves a trace of us behind. Though Marc’s castle is now bedecked with an ever-changing facade of graffiti art, it is still his.

He is in there, along with all the disjointed thoughts he was thinking as he wove rebar together and filled it in with pounded and damp concrete, under the light of the moon with the San Francisco Bay waters lapping off the pier nearby. In its final shape there is something of the struggle he faced as he fought for control over the disparate, broken parts of his mind.

I find something oddly comforting in that, and I always have. There’s something comforting that, as of December 2016, Mad Mark’s Castle still stands.

Mad Mark’s Castle in Fresh Regalia (photo credit)

Mad Mark’s Castle when the Squid Came (photo credit)

Mad Mark’s Castle as Seen by Drone in 2014 (video credit)

7 reasons why The Walking Dead season 7 sucks

MJG TV 4 Comments

Mostly, it’s Negan.

Apparently viewing figures for AMC’s The Walking Dead have dropped off a cliff since the season 7 premiere- 17 million down to 11 million or so. Some attribute that to more people binge-watching on Netflix or Amazon, others say it’s down to the incredible violence of the premiere episode, while I say it’s because of Negan.

And that opens a whole bucket of worms. 7 worms, in fact.

1. The zombies are not the threat any more.

Wholly, squarely- the fault rests on Negan’s shoulders, and the reason for that is because, after Rick cleared Alexandria of zombies SINGLE-HANDEDLY in season 6 (an awesome episode), the entire weight of the show’s tension fell on his shoulders.

In earlier seasons it was always the zombies, and the zombies were implacable. They killed without any thought or reason, and every time we saw them there was a chance someone might die. Now we just don’t buy that. If any person now died from a regular zombie attack, we’d be dismayed. It would look ridiculous. They’re so slow. They can’t have eaten in years. You’d have to really back yourself into a damn tight corner to actually get killed by them. You’d have to try.

So we don’t fear them. They were always the go-to backup threat, if things with the Governor were chilling, if we were on the road to Terminus, if the prison-plague was getting you down, there was always the zombies. But not now. Now it has to be something else, and that something is Negan and his boys, and…


2. Negan is not the physical threat he should be.

There are so many reasons why Negan is failing us. Let’s take them one by one, stating with physique, which is easy. Jeffrey Dean Morgan used to be a bear of a man. In Watchmen he was huge. He had charm. Being huge AND having charm made him special. Being huge is important to physical power. But now he’s not huge.

He’s thin, like a hipster. He wears a scarf. He’s snake-hipped, dammit! Michonne could probably beat him in an arm-wrestling competition. He needs to impose with just his sheer mass. His childish taunts would carry way more weight if he didn’t look like such a boy delivering them.

If he had mass. If I believed for one second that he could stand down any physical threat from amongst his own people. Could Rick beat him in a straight fight? He shouldn’t be able to! That’s the whole point. But as is, my money would be on Rick. It’s that physical power PLUS the other stuff, the mental domination, that makes him scary. But on that note…

3. Negan is not the mental threat he should be.

In the season 7 premiere, Negan was amazing.

I could say that again, I so strongly believe it. It was awesome TV. After him mincing around at the season 6 finale, talking talking talking and killing no one, I thought he was a fail. Then he stormed in and killed two major characters. He mentally crushed Rick- all because he wanted to get that ‘look’ out of his eyes. He wanted Rick to be truly broken.

He knew what broken meant. He knew the importance of it. He insisted on it, dammit!

Then, pfft, that went away. What the hell, episodes 3 and 4?

The threat backing up his clown-act never materialized. The fact that Darryl kept eyeballing him, kept defying him, it’s just dumb. Hasn’t Darryl learnt a damn thing yet? I believe he would have. And I believe Negan wouldn’t have approached Darryl with his offer until Darryl really was broken. Did he really thing a few days in solitary would break a man like Darrly?

But they can’t let Negan do anything to Darryl. Or to anyone, it seems, certainly not to a major character. And that is a fault of the writers.

4. The writers aren’t writing Negan correctly.

It’s the only answer.

A true Negan would have killed a lot more people already. Look at this man and what we’re supposed to believe about him. He killed every male in a village, and for what? Almost certainly for lesser crimes than Rick’s group committed. He hung a guy off a bridge as an example to Rick in season 6. He said he would make Rick cut off his son’s arm just to get the look out of his eyes!

And then he does nothing. I know the argument – Negan is just fascinated with Rick because he’s so defiant. That’s why Rick et al are still alive. But that is such BS. It’s a huge inner flaw in Negan, too big and too obvious. It means our characters are not going to beat Negan- he’s going to beat himself, and where is the fun in that? Villains who self-collapse, it’s such a terrible bit of writing. It’s also not true.

The bad guy doesn’t just wilt and die because you want it. You have to beat him, to death, with his own bat. But the writer’s turbo-powered Negan so much, there is no way to beat him without weakening him first.

No. Make Rick et al stronger. That is the only acceptable way.

5. Negan should be far worse.

So what should Negan be doing? Look at the examples.

Darryl mouths off – He should already be on that walker fence, doing whatever those walkers are doing. Or he should have had his arm cut off. Negan should have made Rick do it, or made Darryl do it himself.

Spenser stink-eyes Negan at the gate to Alexandria – Are you kidding me? This guy is a no-brainer to die. Make Rick do it with Lucille. Obviously. Negan rolls up and sees defiance in some E-list dude. Look what he did to crush that look out of Rick- is he really gonna accept it from some nobody? He’d make Rick his lieutenant. He’d make Rick kill him. And Rick would do it. How much more awesome would that be? Give us a good reason to feel for Rick. A good reason to hate Negan even more.

Guns missing – Kill the stock room woman at once. Just kill her. Or get Rick to do it. Or have him cut off an arm. Then look for guns.

Carl shoots at Negan’s man – Again, are you kidding? Negan explained this whole thing once already. Carl loses an arm. It would happen. Clearly these people are not cowed. What Carl says- you should be afraid of us or some such guff, are you f-ing serious? Negan would be on that in a hot second. Carl on the ground, at minimum Rick cuts off his arm. At minimum. Instead he just lets it slide? It’s not the Negan of the premiere, not at all.

Rosita stink-eyes Negan and Negan’s men – Same thing. We know Negan doesn’t like hurting women, but we also know he has no problem hurting them emotionally- even reveling in their suffering when their male partners die. He obviously did it en masse to the Amazon ladies. He squeezed joy out of Maggie and Rosita’s suffering. Surely he would do something similar here. Just pick a random male to suffer for their stink-eye.

I can see the arguments against him being so hard in Alexandria. People will say this is his judgment, his finesse. It’s not always about violence. So that should be true. But the impression it left in the Alexandrians’ minds was of a guy they should be fighting against. Somehow, they didn’t get the message when Rick, the very hardest of them, came back broken.

Good judgment would tell him he needs to break them directly. He’s broken worse for less before. At least get them all to kneel!

6. Negan rolls to Alexandria not in force.

The trouble here is, he was in force. He had all his boys with him. But it would have been so easy for the Alexandrians to make a war of it, and win. They could have easily taken on Negan in that situation. Bunch of guys cooped up behind the gate, with an armory? They did it in Thermopylae with 300 against many thousands. Ask Gerard Butler. It can be done.

Negan should have had some plan to over-awe. Not just expect to walk in. It made our guys look weak. Negan who made such huge efforts to set up road blocks earlier, just turned up without any siege gear at all? Just knocked?

I believe he would have rolled up in a tank and broke open the gates. Just started firing shells randomly. Smash things up good and proper. Stop any thought of a possible insurrection right there. At least make as much effort as he made for Hilltop. this was pathetic. Any single person could have shot him. Carl had the gun almost in his face, boasting about how badass he was!

Negan is not invincible. Those were mistakes. Our heroes, if they were acting true to character, would have seen the slip and taken advantage. Or the writers/director should have made it look to us, the audience, that Negan had come better prepped. It really just looked like a dumb horde.

7. Negan never takes off the clown-mask.

Combine his lack of punishment with his childish, clownish taunting, and you basically get a clown.

That’s it. He seems ridiculous. He acts ridiculous. He doesn’t kick ass. What else can we say? The silly stuff only works paired with the sense of imminent threat. take the threat away and he’s simply annoying. We wonder why our heroes are all so cowed.

Though- in the piere- he did briefly take the mask off with Rick in the RV. It was great. It was threatening. It was an honest bit of leveling with each other. But he hasn’t done that again, not in a meaningful way. Every interaction he had with Darryl in episode 3 made him seem weak and needy.

How to fix it?

Retroactively, I’d make Negan kill and overawe every chance he got. Everyone on their knees as he passes. Any stink-eye and Rick needs to administer a beating at minimum. Turn up at the gates in an unstoppable way. Make every offense cost.

If that was done- it would give the show much more of a humming spine of tension. It could sustain all these trips away to establish the other settlements. As is, since episode 1 all we’ve seen are allies and help. There’s been no real obstruction or loss at all. We see Hilltop coming round to us. We see The Kingdom start to rebel. We see the Amazons with their few who’d like to fight. It’s all HELP.

We need that far better balanced with the threat of Negan. It’s nice to hear he killed every man there. What a legend! But we haven’t seen that Negan with our own eyes for hours of screen-time by now. We forget- especially since the fallout and grief from the loss of Glenn and Abraham was so glossed over. He’s the clown. And without zombies as a believable threat- there’s nothing left.

No spine. Nothing but a boneless Walking Dead flesh pudding, slumped on the pavement.

I hope they figure out how to present Negan soon.