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The Sleepless Sands

The High Fantasy Challenge

  The Dragon Tower - sketch by Katy Jones

"Please, no more magic sword romps," they say. "Elves, dwarves and rustic spirits have had their day. High fantasy has scraped the barrel clean, there is no more."

“To win this competition, prove them wrong!” We said, “send us a new fantasy story or poem that feels as magical as one of the old favourites, but isn't just a rehash.”

This book celebrates the work of those who we feel answered the challenge with heroic success. 

First among them is R D Gardner’s “The Binding of the Sleepless Sands”. The elements of the story are traditional, and true to their mythic form; the story is well-crafted and original; and the plot is excruciatingly applicable to the political, social and psychological dilemmas we face today.  As for poetry, Gardner’s “Wizardry and Second-Hand Romance” is a clear demonstration of our problem – why some people think high fantasy has outstayed its welcome! – But Steve Mann’s “…and here he is, himself…” gives us the solution:  We see the modern seeker tentatively approaching our mythic hero, and coming back with something new.  And Mann’s “Kizmet” closes the collection on a note all high fantasy should end with – doubt, paradox and possibility.  The range of poems, stories and artwork in between is enormous.  Traditional, modern, comic, romantic and deadly – but every one adds something to the recipe book.  Enjoy them and take heart – the sun is not yet setting on high fantasy!

Kay Green, August 2006




The Binding of the Sleepless Sands - R D Gardner

Last-Cloud-of-the-Rains and the Fire of the Gods - R D Gardner 

Peredur and the Crystal Cup - Caroline Clark  

Silver Stream - Caroline Clark

The Good Knight and the Castle of the Bears - Douglas Bruton 

*I Have a Daughter - Catherine Edmunds*  

* From April 2008, an audio version of this story will be available from clonepod

Gandeel - Sue Hoffmann

Little Teeth - Jenny Black

The Doom of Mournshire - Benjamin Sperduto

The Path Less Travelled - Charlotte Bond

Why the Stars are the Way they Are - Felicity Bloomfield

The Hurl and the Stone Rose - Perry Mc Daid

Which Way is Heaven? - Natasha Monroe



Wizardry and Second-Hand Romance - R D Gardner

Word Weaver II: The Rock of Silence - Helen Francis

Yellow Leaves - Anne Murphy

…and here he is, himself… - Steve Mann

Unicorn - Derek Adams

Did You Hear the Sword Sing - Derek Adams

Dreams, Visions, Reflections of the Lady of Shalott - Sally Richards

Oh To Be Silver - Dee Gordon

Victorian Cadence - Carly Dugmore

Kismet - Steve Mann


Cover and details:The Sleepless Sands’ by Katy J Jones

after ‘The Binding of the Sleepless Sands’ By R D Gardner

In text:

Knight by Nikola Temkov

Dragon Slayer by Nikola Temkov

Comic by Jenna Whyte

Elemental Telecommunications by Suryan Philip

Diamond Throne by Suryan Philip  


A Review by Tamara Sellman


You can buy your copy now with Paypal:


£7.50 now only £4.99 

  free delivery to UK addresses



£7.50  £4.99   + £1.50 p&p to Europe


£7.50 £4.99   + £3 p&p to USA and ROW

Or you can pay by cheque or PO: Please post cheques payable to Kay Green to:  Earlyworks Press, Creative Media Centre, 45 Robertson St, Hastings, Sussex, TN34 1HL