Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

Slither

by Melody Steiner

 

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Dragon Moon Press

Date of Publication: April 24, 2017

ISBN:  978-1-988256-59-7

eISBN: 978-1-988256-60-3

Number of pages: 310

Cover Artist: Gwen Gades

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Tagline: Her revenge is better served cold-blooded

 

Book Description:

Elanor of Onyx, enslaved by the dragons who scorched her kin and country, is determined to escape her island prison.

When the changeling dragon, Adom, demands that Elanor come with him to the mainland on a secret mission, she sees this the opportunity she’s been waiting for—a chance to exact her revenge. But when his actions take a surprising twist, Elanor begins to suspect that maybe things are not as they seem.

With a plot brewing against the mainland king, alliances are tested and Elanor discovers a secret that will forever change the way she views the slithering dragons—and herself.

 

Books2Read     Amazon     iTunes     BN

 

Excerpt:

 

“Forgive me,” he says. “But when I say the word, you really should scream.”

That’s all the warning I need. If Adom wants me to scream, he wants the others to think he’s hurting me. He wants to send fear shuddering down their monstrous, twisted spines, to dry their mouths and shrivel the pits of their cavernous stomachs. He wants to show them that he is the king, the master of this mountain, the master of me.

Adom averts his gaze. “Scream.”

In the seconds it takes him to morph from human to dragon, his chest expanding, scales popping out of his skin like boils, I’m already at the door. I scream, just as he asks me to.

The full blast of flame doesn’t hit me, but it’s enough heat to sting my lower back. Good thing I tied my hair this morning—he misses singeing it off by a few inches. The monstrous roar he releases bursts a decanter on the table. The mirror cracks. But the fire inside me has nothing to do with Adom’s monster, and everything to do with my own. Only mine burns for revenge.

 

About Author Melody Steiner

Melody Steiner is a novelist, librarian, warrior woman, and a mother. She grew up in a home where science fiction and fantasy were staples of the imagination. Her earliest novels were written in elementary school and involved rocket ships to the moon, alien life, and gumdrop kingdoms at war with other invading candy nations. Over the years, she found herself drawn to fantasy stories that empower female characters and particularly women of color. Currently, she’s based near Columbus, Ohio, along with her husband and the wild things they call “children.”

Her recent work, Slither, is a traditional fantasy about a young woman who is enslaved by a herd of dragons.

You can find her at

Twitter / Facebook / Website

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Tour giveaway

2 copies of Slither

5 dragon charms open to US Shipping

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE.

Welcome to The Friday 56 hosted by Freda’s Voice.

 

This is a really fun meme!

The only rules are to grab a book (any book), turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader and find a sentence or a few (no spoilers) that grabs you and post it.

Then go over to Freda’s Voice and leave your link so we can visit your 56!

My 56 for this week is from:

 Grim Tidings

Hellhound Chronicles

  by Caitlin Kittredge

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Genre: Fantasy / Urban Fantasy

 My 56 from the paperback.

“You’re a lucky bird,” he said in my ear. “You’re not the species I like to catch and eat.” Faster than my heart was beating, he wrapped one massive scarred hand around my throat. “But I’ll pull your wings off just the same.”

~~~~~

Read on if you want to know more.

Synopsis

In this thrilling sequel to Black Dog—award-winning Caitlin Kittredge’s dark urban fantasy series, Hellhound Chronicles—a soul catcher must stop demonic monsters from her past from infecting the world

After winning her freedom from a reaper and facing off against a fearsome demon boss, Ava is now a masterless hellhound. Her friend, Leo, has found a new life after death himself: He’s returned as the Grim Reaper—the first in centuries. As both try to adjust to their new circumstances, Ava’s dark past comes back to wreak havoc on her . . . and the entire world.

A breed of monsters as smart as vampires—but who behave like zombies—have been sighted in Kansas. Ava can’t believe these “zompires” are back. She thought she’d kicked their asses for good when she first battled them in a Nazi death camp. Now, they’re spreading their infection across America’s heartland thanks to a nasty piece of business named Cain.

Free at last after being locked up in Hell for millennia, Cain has some scores to settle. To stop him, Ava must form an unholy alliance with some old foes . . . a bargain that will lead her to uncover deeply buried truths about her past—and Leo’s future.

Amazon

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Leave your link and I’ll drop by your 56.

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

You can find a list of my reviews HERE.

For a list of free eBooks go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

 

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Cinderella: a REAL life fairytale
If a dream is a wish your heart makes then Cindee Ellis is in major trouble. There’s no way Henry Christensen will ever notice her under all those oil stains and brake fluid splattered across her shirt. Unless—she’s dead wrong about him. Join her with this real life fairytale set in the small town of Silver Creek to find out how she’ll work her guts out to make her own happily ever after.

 

 

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Beauty and the Beast: a REAL life fairytale
There’s a tale as old as time of two people falling in love, but what happens when Belle won’t have anything to do with it. Join her with this real life fairytale set in the small town of Silver Creek to find out how she’ll transform the town’s beast into a handsome prince with her heart, not her beautician skills.

 

 

 

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The Frogg Princess: a REAL life fairytale
Taya is almost there. Join her in this real-life fairytale, set in the small town of Silver Creek, as she plans to start a new life by opening a little restaurant. Only to find a few rude people that don’t seem to welcome her. But that doesn’t seem to bother Felix Frogg, a local police officer, and the love-at–first-sight reactions he keeps tossing her way. If Taya isn’t careful with the way her heart is softening towards Felix, she could be walking into a lifetime commitment of happily ever after that wasn’t in her plans.

 

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Excerpts

Cinderella: a REAL life fairytale

“Hey, Cindee, before I forget. You have a real nice day.”

I nod with about the blankest expression I’ve ever felt, and then he winks. HE LITERALLY WINKS!

My eyes are as big as I can stretch them.

Either Henry Christensen just did that on purpose, or he has something irritating his eye. I want to go with my first choice, but the second one seems more accurate. I’m the girl with no name, until just now, standing in a huge coat, so it’s gotta be the second choice, right?

“Henry? Is that you?” Priscilla’s sticky-sweet voice interrupts.

He doesn’t speak a word as he presses on the gas to slowly start backing up.

“I’ll stop by the station to pick up the trucks in a while. Make sure you’re there,” he says before quickly pulling onto Main Street where everything disappears, except for the faint glow of his brake lights that blink three times.

Is he saying goodbye? I know other girls back in high school had boys do this to them, but not me. NOT EVER. Not once did a boy tap his brake lights to me. I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.

 

 

Beauty and the Beast: a REAL life fairytale

“Thank you for this.” I whisper into Adam’s ear.

“For what?” He grins.

“For being the kind of man that makes a woman believe there’s a God in heaven.” I nuzzle into his shoulder and close my eyes as the preacher asks us to pray.

Once we finish, the rows of people begin to stand. I wipe under my eyes one more time just to make sure I don’t have mascara running down my face.

 

The Frogg Princess: a REAL life fairytale

“You probably shouldn’t be with a girl like me. I could corrupt a boy like yourself,” I tease, trying to ease the heat flooding my face. How could I push myself on him? I’m cringing inside at being so stupid.

“Nah, I’d happily go as far as you’d allow me,” he softly chuckles. “I just have a promise I made with my brother.”

“A promise?” I narrow my eyes.

“Yeah, we both agreed to wait for marriage.”

I stifle a gasp. Is he for real?

 

Praise for the Book

Five Stars: Couldn’t put this book down! This book has a way of not only making you feel what the characters are feeling, but it sucks you in where you don’t want to put it down, Not only have I read this book once, but I read it all over a second time. If you want to get lost for a few hours then I would highly recommend you read this book!!

Five Stars: Sooooo Good! I really enjoyed this novella. I was so happy with the ending. It was well written and kept my attention even when my Grandson interrupted for help on his homework. So happy he left the math worksheet at school. I will be looking for more of this author’s work. Hope you enjoy this novella.

Five Stars: A clean romance book! Jamie Brook Thompson has got some mad writing skills! She has talent that can take you to another world for a few hours! I recommend this book to anyone who needs a good chic book (like a chic flick but in book form 😉 ) to escape the real world for a bit! And who doesn’t love cowboys?!

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Author Jamie Brook Thompson

Jamie Brook Thompson is a small town girl that loves to tell a good story. She grew up as the daughter of a redneck farmer and hippie mother. Her entire life has been filled with duct tape and peace and love. She currently has 6 children, two dogs, and a handsome Prince of her very own! When she isn’t writing, you can find her out at her father’s ranch changing tires on tractors, working on motors that need repair, or adjusting carburetors on the family four wheelers to ride the high Utah desert. She’s a woman of many talents and trades, but the one she enjoys the most is writing stories to take readers into a world of hope—a world of clean romance!

Website * Twitter * Facebook

 

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amazon or paypal$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 5/3/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday hosted by Ambrosia  @ The Purple Booker.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read.
• Open to a random page.
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

My Teaser for this week is from

 Thirteen

Dark Carousel #0.5

by Anya Allyn

23622242

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Genre: YA Horror / Fantasy

 My teaser from 14% in the eBook.

Just before the heaviness in my head sent me to sleep, I saw something else. Something that couldn’t be.

~~~~~

I’m thinking I got this from Anya’s Newsletter as I can’t find a link for it to Amazon. It’s pretty good so far and I love the cover art.

Read on if you want to know more.

Synopsis

A short story prequel set in the thrilling world of Anya Allyn’s The Dark Carousel. This free story also includes five chapters of DOLLHOUSE, the first book in the bestselling horror series tinged with gothic romance. (less)

A hidden mansion. A silent carousel. Missing girls.

Hunted by her uncle, a thirteen-year-old girl flees into the woods and stumbles into a secret world of nightmarish horrors: a basement full of life-size toys and kidnapped girls forced to dress as dolls — a place where escape only exists in dreams.

In the days before she knew a toy box could be a place of dread; before her hair was curled in ringlets and her lips were painted red; before she forgot her name — she was Molly Parkes.

~~~~~

How about you? Got a tease? Tell me!

stick out tongue photo: rr-sticking-out-tongue roadrunner-stick-out-tongue.gif

 

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday hosted by Ambrosia  @ The Purple Booker.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read.
• Open to a random page.
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

My Teaser for this week is from

 The Secret Hour

Midnighters #1

by Scott Westerfeld

598661

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Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Time Travel, Romance

 My teaser from page 73 in the paperback.

The still, cold light shone from everywhere and nowhere; the silence lay total and absolute. Not even the whispering creaks and groans of a house at night could be heard.

So when the scratching came, Jessica lifter her head at once.

~~~~~

This one is actually kind of creepy. I’m enjoying it so far.

Read on if you want to know more.

Synopsis

Strange things happen at midnight in the town of Bixby, Oklahoma. Time freezes. Nobody moves except dark creatures that haunt the shadows and the few people who are free to move at midnight, Midnighters. Their different powers strongest at midnight are: Seer, Mindcaster, Acrobat, Polymath. All changes when Jessica Day comes to Bixby High with a hidden power.

Amazon

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The cover above is the one I own. Here are some other covers.

24766  590128

Which do you like the most?

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How about you? Got a tease? Tell me!

stick out tongue photo: rr-sticking-out-tongue roadrunner-stick-out-tongue.gif

 

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

 

The Penance of Pride
T.S. Adrian
(Shadyia Ascendant, #2)
Publication date: March 31st 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy

Shadyia’s Adventure Continues!

‘I will never leave you, and I will always come for you.’

Shadyia’s vow to her lover is put to the test when the Innocenti rise and envelope the sisterhood she adores.

As the magician she aided hunts for the path to an ancient city, the new madam of the Silver Rose strives to please the evil that has promised, upon its freedom, to make her a queen.

Meanwhile, the advisor to the Innocenti prepares the final stage of his strategy to crush the faith of the old gods. He needs but a bit of magic to carry out his ultimate plan.

Magicians. Zealots. Madams. Whores. It’s all the same to he who waits within the enchanted box. Soon he will unleash his servants, and every horror of the abyss will once again consume humanity.

Goodreads / Amazon

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CHAPTER 1:

IN THE SHADOW of the Black Tower, Shadyia nudged the shoulder of the scruffy, tired woman strolling by her side. When Deresi turned her head, she offered her a spirited wave. Hello, my sweet friend. They both needed a hot bath and a good night’s rest, but that hardly mattered. Deresi was alive. They had each survived the horrors of Mirrikh’s labyrinth with whole skins and sound minds.
Deresi crossed her eyes and stuck out the tip of her tongue.
Shadyia shifted her attention to the damp street. Yes, I know. I should stop gawking at you. She couldn’t help it. Her fingers ached to get lost in the tangles of Deresi’s red curls; her ears yearned for the sounds of Deresi’s passion, and her skin craved the warmth they had not shared often enough. I almost lost you. The death they had faced during the past two days made her crave another night, like the smallest fox in a litter peering at the last quail egg. Words Shadyia had spoken that morning they lay entwined in arms, legs and blankets—the morning Deresi had pledged her love—coursed through Shadyia’s veins and spurred her heart to beat. I will never leave you, and I will always come for you. Shadyia had never made such a promise to anyone before.
She yanked her thoughts from the past and listened in on the men walking a few paces in front of her. Aaron was asking his apprentice what it had been like to hear Verthandi’s voice in his thoughts.
“I didn’t know it was his voice,” Benjamin replied. “I thought it was mine.”
Aaron swept a hand through his graying hair and narrowed his gaze at the young man. “But you had no idea how to open the tower. Didn’t it seem odd to you that these thoughts were in your head?”
Benjamin shrugged. “It does now. At the time, I thought I was just guessing, experimenting. Do this, turn that, push, pull—and then the doors opened. I couldn’t believe it.”
Shadyia seized the pommel of her blacksteel sword. She couldn’t believe Benjamin had left Janell outside while he bumbled around inside the Black Tower. Janell may be a fellow sister of the Silver Rose, but for all of Madam Amrita’s training, she was a mewling kitten lost in a rainstorm. Anderholm was no city to walk about alone, even for a veteran with a drawn sword and a stern gaze on every dark alley. Shadyia tamped down her anger. If Benjamin hadn’t opened the doors of the tower and entered, she, Deresi and Aaron would now be facing a slow death from thirst and starvation in Mirrikh’s oubliette, the place the ancient magician had used to forget people who had angered him.
Aaron led them north. They followed the smooth stones of Queen’s Way, the scrape of their footfalls the only sounds in the damp streets. Shadyia glanced around. Too quiet. Today was the second day of Samprina and so the citizens were either fasting in their homes or visiting relatives in the country, but the silence didn’t feel right. Anderholm was a city of noise. The clap of hooves, the roll of wagons, merchants bellowing over one another, armed guards hollering to clear a path for a snobbish lord on horseback, the squeal of orphaned children, the bark of dogs—chaos was the lifeblood of Anderholm. Quiet did not become the trade capitol of the northern realms.
“Here, this way.” Aaron turned them down a long alley between the Ministry of Art and a pottery warehouse. As Shadyia recalled, the alley ended at the Rum Barrel Inn near the Bridge of Swans. Aaron’s Featherquill Manor, packed with the historical books he had written over his many centuries, was a short walk up a winding road past the other mansions in the Artisan Quarter. When they arrived, he had promised to treat them to an evening of relaxing and recovering. Shadyia blew a gust through her lips at the thought. After two days and a night in the dark, twisting halls of labyrinth, pits of spikes hidden under false floors and shadow beasts that drained the life from their victims, she craved a quiet evening in Deresi’s arms more than all the gold in Anderholm. I just hope Janell made it back there without trouble.
Midway through the alley, a single-horse cart, driven by two cloaked men, rolled toward them. Shadyia and the others flattened themselves against the wall. She turned her head as it passed. Some mortified soul lay wrapped in a heavy cloth in the back of the cart. Likely the men were gravediggers on their way to—The corpse! Shadyia recognized its white boots.
“Stop that cart!”
The driver snapped his reins against the horse as Aaron grabbed the air and twisted his fist. The wheels locked and dragged until the cart screeched to a halt. The driver lashed his reins again, but the horse only reared. The men, one thin and the other large, jumped back off the bench, stepped around the wrapped figure and dropped to the street. They threw open their cloaks and pulled out a pair of long knives. Shadyia drew her blacksteel sword as she and Aaron met them halfway. Aaron twisted his hands, palms outward, and the fat one was hurled against the wall by an unseen force. The other stood dumbfounded until Shadyia knocked the knife out of his hand with a downward slash and pressed the tip of her sword under his chin. “Over there, move,” she said, urging the driver, a man with dark lines tattooed on half his face, to stand next to his fat companion. He lifted his hands in surrender and complied.
The force holding the large man released, but Shadyia moved the tip and pricked the fleshy pouch under his chin. “Drop the knife.”
The knife clattered to the street and the fat man lifted his portly arms.
“Dee, check the cart.”
Deresi snatched the thin man’s knife off the ground and leaped into the cart. Shadyia heard her cut the ropes. She glanced down the alley to make sure no others were coming, but only Benjamin stood there, ringing his hands and looking as if he were not sure what he should do.
Silence from the cart drove Shadyia to risk a glance. Deresi was sitting back on her heels, her shoulders slumped, staring down at the person she had partly exposed beneath the cloth. “Dee, who is it? Is it Janell?”
Deresi’s mouth moved but no sound came out. “I…”
What’s wrong with her? “Dee!”
“I can’t tell!” Deresi briefly covered her lips with trembling fingers. “I think it is.”
Benjamin charged, jolting Shadyia as he passed, and leaped into the cart.
A freezing wave passed over Shadyia. Deresi couldn’t tell? She glanced at Aaron, who had remained at her side, then faced the portly man and jabbed him with the tip. “What did you do to her?”
The fat man’s jaw shuddered and a drop of blood leaked down his pouch. “She asked to join us.”
Shadyia nearly stabbed him again when Benjamin’s wail echoed along the alley. “Mentor, please help!”
Aaron rushed the cart as Shadyia coiled back her sword, daring either man to move. She glanced as Aaron further pulled open the cloth, stained dark red on the inside, to reveal a naked body. Benjamin wailed anew as Aaron placed a hand on her forehead. Deresi scooted back into the corner of the cart and stared at Janell, as motionless as one posing for a sculpture. Benjamin sobbed. “What have they done to her?”
“She’s alive,” Aaron said.
Movement from the tattooed man caught Shadyia’s attention. His hands came down—back!—and she stabbed deep in his shoulder.
He snarled, reeled and fell against the wall, his hand over the wound. “You bitch.” He checked the blood on his fingers.“Next time it will be your eye.”
A bellow of anguish tore Shadyia from the men. Aaron fell off the cart, hit the cobbled stones hard, and rolled on the ground. Benjamin called his name and jumped down as Deresi stood high on her knees, her face pale. Benjamin kneeled and grabbed Aaron by the shoulders. “Mentor, what’s wrong, what’s happened?” Aaron knocked the hands away and rolled on his side, agony twisting his face. He howled and thrashed as if someone had set fire to his clothing. Shadyia glared at the men. Had they done something? No. They stood with gaping mouths and baffled stares.
His hands covering his face, Aaron seemed to bring his torment under control. He sat up and turned eyes of pure rage on Shadyia’s prisoners. “Innocenti. They mutilated her,” he said through seething gasps. “That one and that one. There was a third, but he’s not here. They raped and tortured her for hours.”
He pushed Benjamin back, rolled to his feet, and brought his hands up as if he were lifting the end of a table. The men slammed against the wall and slid up until their feet dangled.
“Vile warlock,” the tattooed one said then spat. “Fate will be your judge.”
Lowering her sword, Shadyia stepped back from Aaron, the wrath on his face choking her breath. Never had she seen him so enraged. A pair of sharp metal rods, twice as long as the men were tall, materialized in the air. With a clang of metal on rock that made her jolt, the spikes plunged into the stone at feet of the men.
They drifted forward and hovered over the sharp ends.
Terror filling his eyes, the tattooed one thrashed against the force that held him. “No, you can’t do that!”
The other pissed himself.
Shadyia reached out her hand. No, Aaron no. Don’t. The men deserved it, but not at the cost of Aaron’s humanity. She touched his shoulder, and a force struck away her hand.
Aaron didn’t even look in her direction. “Her name is Janell. Say it.”
“Janell,” both men said.
“Again.”
“Janell,” they repeated, louder.
Shadyia’s heart hammered as the stance of their feet widened. She couldn’t stop Aaron any more than grasp a boiling cauldron to stay its heat.
“Good,” Aaron said and pushed down his hands. The men dropped.
The spikes pierced their trousers between their legs. The men shrieked louder than Shadyia thought a human throat capable. Blood soaked their leggings as they slowly slid until their boots touched the street. She cringed before the horror. This had to be an illusion. Aaron had said he couldn’t make actual things, not without—
The men shrieked once more as the shirts behind their necks stretched and tore. The spikes reemerged, their tips glistening in blood.
Aaron turned his back on the screaming, flailing men and stepped into the cart. He pulled the cloth over Janell, leaving her face uncovered.
“I don’t know of a physician in Anderholm who could help her. Do you have any at the Silver Rose?”
“Yes, we do,” Shadyia replied, unable to stop her trembling. “And we use jilqu oil.”
He sat in the center of the bench and took the reins of the near panicked horse. Shadyia returned the blacksteel sword to its sheath and leaped in next to a pale-faced Deresi. Benjamin quickly joined her and the cart jerked straight thanks to an unseen force. Aaron tapped the reins.
The cries of the men followed as they rolled along the alley.
Darkness that made Shadyia think of the labyrinth pressed in on all sides as the wagon made its way along the forest road in Kingsleaf. Every bump the wagon’s wheels stuck jarred her like men beating her with their fists. Benjamin lay next to Janell and stroked what remained of her hair. The Innocenti torturers had hacked most of it off, probably with a knife. Tears made lines on his cheeks as he called her name. Janell didn’t respond.
Deresi sat with her back to the corner, hugging her knees. She didn’t speak or look at Janell. She’s as horrified as me, and not just as what had happened to Janell. Shadyia had never seen men impaled. The practice had been outlawed in Anderholm more than a century ago. The stories she heard had always seemed exaggerated. No man could actually survive an injury like that for more than a few seconds. She no longer believed that.
The rising moon gave them enough light to see the road, but just barely. Shadyia sighed. Soon they would arrive at the Silver Rose. Makayla will probably blame me for what happened to Janell. The new madam of the Silver Rose had commanded Shadyia not to leave the palace without her permission, and now she was returning in a wagon with a sister near death, a coin she was supposed to be seducing, his apprentice and Deresi. Fate hates me tonight. Shadyia chastised herself at the thought. If they had been a moment sooner or later, she never would have seen the cart and those vile men would likely now be burying Janell in a shallow grave outside the city. Aaron believed there were no gods, but at times like this, when events were too grave to be mere coincidence, Shadyia found it hard to agree with him.
She reached down and touched Janell’s neck. The pulse was there, but weak. She looked at Aaron, still at the reins. He hadn’t spoken since driving them out of the city and into the forest. Words formed in her mouth, but the will to utter them couldn’t cross her throat. The magic Aaron had used to kill those men wasn’t beautiful and wondrous. It wasn’t butterflies hovering over his hand or a variety of delicious treats to eat and drink. For the first time in her life, she feared a man. They cleared the forest and approached the Dawn Gate. She unbuckled the baldric holding blacksteel sword and hid it as best she could. If anyone searched the cart they’d likely find it. She didn’t care.
Aaron stopped the cart and jumped off. He walked to the back, gathered up Janell and carried her to the gate. Benjamin raced him there and franticly rang the bell. The minutes that followed passed in a blur of activity. Guardian sisters escorted them in, calling for Mrs. Amber, the palace physician. Sisters cried out as they saw Janell. The word spread and soon a crowd of weeping, angry or shocked women gathered round. Sleepy-eyed Mrs. Amber appeared and ordered them back. She asked Aaron to carry Janell to the nearest bed, a pleasure room off the west wing. Allowing only two assistants to follow, she placed guardians outside the door and told everyone else to wait.
The doors to White Hall flew open and Makayla stormed through with Thoria—as always—close on her heels.
“Who brought her?” The madam’s voice silenced the chamber.
Aaron stepped forward. “I did.”
The fury drained from Makayla’s face. “I see.” She smoothed her black dress. “What happened?”
“Innocenti raped and tortured her,” Aaron replied evenly.
Makayla’s long black hair covered half her face as she tilted her head. “Unfortunate.”
Shadyia’s fists tightened at her side. “Unfortunate? That’s all you have to say?”
“No, Sister Shadyia, that’s not all I have to say. We will tend to Sister Janell’s wounds as best we can. In the morning, I will prepare a letter of complaint against the Innocenti and have it delivered to the magistrate. They will see those who committed these acts are brought to justice.” Makayla turned and walked toward the audience, her heels clicking.
Shadyia allowed her a few steps. Not so fast, bitch. “Maybe they’ll start with you.”
Deresi, the sisters, guardians, Benjamin and Aaron stood as statues as Makayla halted. She rounded on Shadyia. “Watch your tongue, Sister, or I will have it removed.”
Shadyia’s rage coiled like a serpent about to strike. If she had kept the blacksteel sword and not hidden it in the wagon, they’d be cleaning Makayla’s blood off the walls and floor for a week. “Give that command and I will kill you and any who try to carry it out.”
Thoria drew her baton and advanced on Shadyia. Aaron rushed forward and intercepted the blond guardian with his body.
“Madam, please call away your guard.”
“Thoria, step back.”
Her scowl locked on Shadyia, Thoria obeyed.
Makayla put her hands on her hips, her long sleeves hanging down. “Speak your mind, Sister. Why do you say such a thing?”
“If you hadn’t sent Janell to the Kaolins, she wouldn’t have sought refuge with the Innocenti.”
“And if she had carried out my command, none of this would have happened. What sort of fool asks the Innocenti for anything?”
“The sort that cannot see them for what they are,” Shadyia replied. “The sort that thinks they are knights from a fairy tale. The sort that talks about joining them—” She leveled her finger. “—as you knew perfectly well!” Makayla huffed. “You dare accuse me of deliberately driving Janell to the Innocenti?”
“I do.”
Benjamin spoke up. “She didn’t go to the Innocenti. She came to me last night.”
Makayla pivoted toward him. “And who are you?”
“I am Aaron’s apprentice, Benjamin.”
Her hazel eyes moved from him to Aaron and back. “So how did she end up with the Innocenti?”
Benjamin looked to Aaron, who shook his head once.
“We got separated in the city this morning.” The young man dropped his gaze.
Makayla faced Shadyia. “And do you also blame me for this, Sister?”
“I do not,” Shadyia replied. Damn the boy and his honesty.
“The hour is late and our nerves are raw,” Aaron said. “Madam, please take the finest care of Janell. I will personally cover any expense.”
“Consider it done.”
“Madam,” Benjamin said, getting her attention, “may I stay with Janell?” Makayla sighed. “That will be up to Mrs. Amber, but we will prepare a room for you in any case.”
“Thank you, Madam.”
Aaron stepped near to Shadyia and lowered his voice. “Why don’t you and Deresi come with me to Featherquill?” The dying rage in Shadyia still seethed, but she looked to Deresi. Did she want to visit Featherquill? Deresi nodded in agreement.
Aaron turned back to Makayla. “Madam, may I have the pleasure of both Sister Shadyia and Sister Deresi this night?” Makayla raised an eyebrow. “You wish them both, sir?”
“I have lots to celebrate.”
“These sisters look disheveled and exhausted, sir. May I ask how they came to be in this state?” Shadyia glanced at Aaron. He mustn’t mention the labyrinth or—
“It’s my fault, Madam,” Aaron said. “We played a game in some ruins beyond the forest. I wanted Sister Shadyia to hide and I would search for her. Sister Deresi was concerned when her friend didn’t return and found us this morning. I invited her to play and…well, things got out of hand. My apologies.”
“None needed, Master Aaron. The coin you’ve offered more than pays for their services. But, do you not wish them bathed, perfumed and properly dressed before they leave with you?” Aaron glanced at Shadyia and Deresi. “To be honest, Madam, I rather like them in this state and I’m not yet finished with them. By your leave, I will take them as they are.”
Makayla arched an eyebrow. “Your vigor will make you a legend, Aaron of Featherquill.” She grinned. “Very well, but have Sister
Deresi return by noon tomorrow.”
“As you wish.”
An arm around both their hips, Aaron led her and Deresi toward the main doors. The sisters dispersed, mumbling quietly among themselves. Makayla’s heels clicked away.
“Wait,” Deresi said as Shadyia put a hand on the outer doors. “I’ll be right back.”
Aaron watched her run off then turned to Shadyia. “You should better watch your words around your madam.”
Fuck her! If not for Benjamin’s blundering innocence and Aaron’s disarming remarks, there would have been a long-overdue fight here. A part of her still wished for that. “You have no idea how much I hate that woman.”
“I have some idea,” he said, his expression serious.
Maybe he does at that. Aaron had said Verthandi had seduced Makayla. “Do you still feel his influence on her?”
Aaron pressed his lips and nodded. “More than ever.”
She seized his arm and hushed her voice. “Then let’s deal with her, here and now. I’ll go with you.”
That infuriating calm crossed his features. “And what of her guards? And the other sisters? Are you prepared to fight them? And even if we could turn them to your side, what happens when the Redcloaks find out? From what you’ve told me, Makayla is the rightful heir to this palace. If we depose her, we would be criminals in the eyes of the law.”
She scowled. Damn his logic! He was worse than Sybaris.
He leaned close. “We will deal with her eventually, after this business with the ruby is completed. If Verthandi is released—” He glanced around at the walls. “—what does any of this matter?”
Shadyia hissed a sigh. “If you say so.” But if she crosses me just one more time…
Deresi returned carrying a familiar flat, wooden box.
“My dress,” Shadyia said.
“I wanted to see it on you.”
Aaron looked at the elegant box. “You have a dress in there?”
Shadyia took the box, glanced around to make sure they weren’t observed, and opened the lid with her thumbs.
Aaron whistled. “That is mag-nificent.”
Shadyia snapped closed the lid and kissed Deresi on the cheek. “Thanks, hon.”
“Where ever did you get that?” Aaron asked. “It must have cost a fortune.”
Deresi offered her an evil grin. “Go on, tell him.”
Shadyia cringed. “You know the seer in the market? The one posing as a tailor?”
Aaron nodded slowly. Just before the three of them had descended into the labyrinth, Aaron had confided that he too had had some dealings with that mysterious seer. She had prophesized that he must find Æthelmaer’s ruby in Mirrikh’s labyrinth or Verthandi would walk the world again.
Shadyia tapped the box. “She made this for me.” The seer had also told Shadyia that Anderholm would burn in a matter of days. More insanity added to an insane situation.
Aaron brushed his fingers over the flat box. “I have a feeling we have not seen the last of her. Let’s go to the stables. Our horses must be kicking the walls down by now.”
Shadyia recovered the blacksteel sword, still in its baldric, from the wagon. Careful to conceal it with her body from anyone who might be watching from the palace, she hid the fine weapon deep in the stables then roused two of the men from their cottage out back. Paying them a silver each, she asked them to bring out the Ramiero chargers, attach them to a carriage and drive Aaron, Deresi and herself to Featherquill. Xavier didn’t appreciate being employed as a carriage horse, but Shadyia rewarded him with a few carrots and words of praise until he grudgingly accepted the harness.
A swaying lantern flung their shadows along the walls as their closed carriage returned through the Kingsleaf. The rhythm of the wheels, and the peace of leaving the palace far behind, pulled Shadyia into blissful rest.
“May I see it?” Deresi asked.
Aaron unfastened the pouch at his side, brought out the ruby, and placed it in Deresi’s cupped hands.
Light from the lantern passed through the ruby and drew red marks on Deresi’s face. She made the kind of sound women usually reserve for holding a kitten. “It’s so beautiful.”
Shadyia forced open her eyes and considered the ruby. On the surface, it looked like the kind of gem an emperor would wear on his crown, but Aaron had said its true value lay within the magic it held. The ruby, he told them, absorbed the knowledge of all the magicians who had ever owned it like a cloth on spilt wine.
Shadyia leaned over and kissed Deresi’s cheek. “I can’t believe you picked Mirrikh’s pocket. You amaze me.” When Mirrikh had seized both her and Aaron in his magic, Deresi had slid to her knees, grabbed his robe, and begged Mirrikh not to harm them. It must have been in that instant that she had dipped her hand into his large pocket and fished out the ruby.
Deresi turned the tear-shaped ruby over and examined its base. The broad end had a shallow, round indention in it. “What is this for?”
“That is where you insert the end of a sagewood staff.”
Shadyia circled her finger inside the indention. Aaron had said if a staff made from sagewood touched the ruby, it would transform into a Valkyrise, an artifact of the magi lords. With this wondrous staff, a magician could triple his power and be immune to all magical attacks. Moreover, if anyone spent enough time with a Valkyrise, they could eventually learn to use magic like a magician. That last bit had particularly caught Deresi’s attention.
“Do you think we could get the sagewood staff from the Asyerian clerics?”
Aaron shook his head. “I seriously doubt it. Sagewood is as rare as any treasure in the world. We could be thrown into the Ahmeinian dungeons just for inquiring about their staff, let alone asking them to let us have it.”
Shadyia thought on that. “What if we were to tell the Asyerians about Verthandi and the Ashkhan escaping?”
The carriage jolted over a bump, making Aaron hop in his seat “That would get us tossed into an asylum instead of the dungeon.” He huffed a laugh and held out his hand in a silent request for the return of the ruby. “No, I will use this to find out how to travel to Celestrial. The archives there should have all known information about the prison of the Ashkhan.”
Deresi, her gaze locked on the gem, nodded. “Yeah, that might work.”
Shadyia nudged Deresi’s side. She had probably not heard anything Aaron had said. Grinning, he gently pried the ruby from Deresi’s fingers. She made a small sound of protest, but dropped her hands to her lap.
“Tell me something, please,” Deresi said as Aaron returned the ruby to his pouch.
“Yes?”
“What’s it like to use magic?”
The carriage tilted around a bend as Aaron seemed to consider his answer. “When you first feel the ether, it’s like being parched and drinking from an icy waterfall. It flows over you, refreshes you. You can’t imagine anything being more wonderful. But you can only drink so much and that feeling, believe it or not, passes. You want to learn where the
water comes from—and you have this insatiable desire to control the water, make it stop or fall faster. That’s the trap.”
Deresi blinked. “What do you mean?”
“A wise man once said, there is none so improvised as he who wants more than he has. Look at this.” Aaron lifted his left hand, palm up, and passed his right over it. A sphere of blazing flames appeared and hovered just above his cupped fingers. Deresi’s green eyes widened. “Whoa!” Before Shadyia could stop her, she reached for the flame. “Ouch!” She snatched her hand away and put the tips of two fingers in her mouth.
“Are you all right?” Shadyia took Deresi’s hand and inspected it.
Deresi nodded. “It’s fine.”
A wave of heat from the fire above Aaron’s hand brushed Shadyia’s face. Deresi had probably assumed the flames were an illusion. Maybe they were. “A little warning next time, if you please.”
He closed his hand and the flames vanished. “What I just did there was nothing to me. I felt no sense of wonder or accomplishment. If I were a cruel man, I would delight in hurting Deresi, but I’m not, so I can’t even enjoy that.”
Deresi glanced at her fingers. “It felt so real.”
“It wasn’t,” Aaron said, and leaned back on his seat.
He had created something to fool their minds—why? Shadyia cupped her hand over Deresi’s hand. “I still don’t see your point.” “There was a time that when I made something like that, I felt like a god. I had created fire. Do you understand? Fire I knew wasn’t real, but still I would burn my fingers if I touched it. These days, creating an illusion like that is as easy as breathing. Imagine going from feeling like a god, to feeling nothing. Every magician who has ever used magic wants to feel that initial rush again—” Aaron’s hands became fists. “—craves it.”
Shadyia nodded. “Like breathing the smoke from the black ickrus.”
He stabbed a finger at her. “Exactly. Thankfully, I’ve never tried ickrus, but from what people have told me, it’s marvelous. You feel as if you are flying through the clouds. Over time, however, the fumes no longer give the same sensation, but the memory of that experience drives one to take more and more until it consumes your every thought.”
Deresi shook her head. “All right, but that’s illusion. You said there were magicians who could create things for real.”
Aaron rubbed his forehead. “Oh, that’s even worse.”
Deresi yelped in disbelief. “How could it be worse?”
“Imagine if I snapped my fingers and created a necklace of gold and emeralds. A real one.”
She grinned. “I like that thought.”
He lifted his chin. “Why?”
“Emeralds are beautiful, and you can buy things with them. Castles and servants and nice dresses.”
“Could I buy a thousand castles if I made a thousand emerald necklaces?”
The carriage creaked and swayed as Deresi chewed her lower lip in thought. “I guess not. It wouldn’t be worth anything if there were a thousand of them.”
“Exactly.”
Shadyia drummed her fingers on the leather armrest at her side. Easy for a king with rooms full of treasure to say gold and gems have no meaning, but for the rest of the peasants, wealth was still a splendid thing. “You told me in the castle ruins that no amount of power could thwart fear. Was that true of Mirrikh? Was he afraid?”
Aaron arched an eyebrow. “Do you even need to ask? He had power I could only imagine. He once owned a Valkyrise. When we found him, he wore enchanted artifacts that preserved his life and kept him from all magical harm. Yet…”
Shadyia nodded. “Yet he hid in a labyrinth for centuries.”
“Precisely. I am certain, despite all that he was and all that he owned, Mirrikh felt inadequate, paranoid and—yes—afraid.” Shadyia shook her head against the thought. Would she be the same? If she had the power Mirrikh possessed, would she only crave more? It was difficult to believe there would come a time when working magic became as dull as doing the washing. Magic opened new worlds, new experiences. To grasp the unknown, to entertain the masses, to conquer the lands of your enemy…
To kill men who delighted in torture.
Shadyia stared at Aaron. Soon they would arrive in Anderholm and his manor in the Artisan Quarter. If she were to ever understand what had happened in the alley, now would be the time. “May I ask you about something difficult?” Aaron turned grim as if he had expected her to breach this matter. “Go ahead.”
“What happened to you in the alley?” Shadyia asked.
He briefly closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and released it. “I touched Janell’s mind to learn who was responsible for her injuries.”
“You can do that too?” Deresi asked. “Remarkable.”
“No,” Aaron replied curtly. “Foolish. I acted in haste and didn’t put up the proper defenses. I felt a portion of what they did to Janell as if it were done to me. It nearly drove me insane.”
Deresi crossed her fingers over her lips. “You felt what she did?”
He nodded. “Some of it.”
A chill brushed Shadyia’s nape. Some of it. Aaron had writhed on the ground and screamed in agony. As he had recovered, he had said three Innocenti had taken turns on Janell. One of those three men was still out there, but two of them had paid for their acts with pain and humiliation equal, Shadyia hoped, to what they had done to Janell. Or had they? “Those men in the wagon, what you did to them, was that real?”
“It was real to them.”
Deresi visibly shuddered. “I wish I hadn’t seen that. I mean, I know they deserved it, but I can’t get it out of my mind.” Aaron rubbed his forehead. “For that, I deeply apologize. I acted out of rage with no regard for you or Shadyia. I should have told you to look away.”
“I wouldn’t have, even if you’d asked.” Shadyia had wanted to see those vile men die.
The haunted look in Deresi’s eyes told she did not feel the same. “Will Janell recover?”
Aaron responded with a slight shrug. “I think she’ll survive, but she won’t be Janell any longer. At least, I don’t think so. She may prove us wrong.”
When Aaron opened the cloth covering Janell, her chin and neck had been covered in dry blood, probably form having her tongue cut out. They had pressed branding irons against her breasts until—Fuck! Shadyia quivered. Stop thinking about it! “So those men are still alive?” she asked, her tone hot with anger.
“Oh no.” Aaron shook his head. “In the morning, the city guard will find two dead men in that alley. There will be no evidence of what killed them, but to those Innocenti, they were impaled.”
Shadyia clenched the fingers on her thigh into a fist. “Good.”
Deresi soft hand cupped over Shadyia’s fist. She reached across the cabin and offered her other hand to Aaron. “I know you don’t believe in the gods, but can we pray for Janell?”
He took her hand. “Certainly.”
Deresi closed her eyes. “Hallowed Luun, goddess of strength, guide our fallen sister, Janell, back into the light. Let her know she is loved and we miss her and need her in our lives.”
“May it be so,” Shadyia said, her anger vanishing.
“May it be so,” Aaron repeated.
Shadyia lifted Deresi’s hand and kissed her knuckles. “I’ve never heard you pray before.”
She shrugged. “Can’t hurt.”
Aaron let go of Deresi’s hand. “We should arrive at my home soon. So, tell me ladies, how may I reward you for your magnificent service?”
Shadyia yawned. Enough of rewards and magic. “As I said outside the tower, a bath, a hot meal, and some rest are all I need.”
“There must be more.”
She leaned her head on Deresi’s shoulder and closed her eyes. “At the moment, I cannot see past that.”
“I know what she wants,” Deresi said.
“Tell me,” Aaron asked.
“She wants to dance at the Crystal Ballroom.”
That snapped Shadyia awake. “I do, eh?”
“Yes, and don’t even deny it.” Deresi bopped the end of Shadyia’s nose. “I saw how your eyes lit up when I told you how I snuck in there.”
Aaron arched his eyebrows as if impressed. “You did?”
Deresi bobbed her head. “About five years ago.” She pushed a lock of red hair behind one ear. “I broke in one night with some friends. Just make sure when you take her, there’s plenty of music. She has no imagination.”
Aaron pursed his lips and nodded. “I’ll see what I can do. And what about you, Dee? What would you like, besides a servant to polish your toes?”
Shadyia grinned. To lighten the tension in the labyrinth, Deresi had joked—had it been a joke?—that she had always wanted to be wealthy enough to employ someone to polish her toes. Just that and nothing else. Polish her toes.
“Oh the usual,” Deresi said with a flip of her wrist. “A castle in the clouds, a dozen flying horses and my own queendom.”
Aaron stared at her a moment then blinked. “That may take a bit longer, but I’ll get to work on it.”
Deresi exchanged her smirk for a serious look. “You know what I’d really like?”
“Tell me, please.”
“I’d like to be a magician. I want to do the things you do.” She wiggled her fingers.
Shadyia rolled her eyes. Oh, just great. Aaron would remind her that women were never trained as magicians and such power came with a price few were willing to pay. Deresi would argue and Shadyia would have to mediate. She’d get no rest on the way to Featherquill.
“I can help you there,” Aaron said with sincerity. “It will take some time and lots of hard work, but if you’re willing, so am I.” Deresi lifted her chin. “I am.”
Shadyia silently admonished herself. Aaron wasn’t the type to have his hands tied by tradition, nor was he a stuffy lord of Anderholm who needed to dominate the women in his life. But Deresi as a magician? For some reason, Shadyia pictured a cat with wings. I only hope she doesn’t fly too close to the sun.
“All right then, but tell me something, both of you. Do you wish to leave the Silver Rose?”
Shadyia was aware that Deresi was looking at her even before she turned her head so she could meet her curious green eyes. Leave the Silver Rose? It had been more than her home for six years; it was her identity. The money was easy and she loved the work, the games of seduction. She was the finest of the sisters, a gold belt, envied and respected. Why should I leave?
Even as that question coursed through her mind, she knew the answer. She had dared to enter a labyrinth of death, fought deadly shadows and had even driven her sword through Mirrikh’s ghostly face so that her companions could escape. But it wasn’t just the adventures and terrors under the Black Tower. Aaron had told her of ancient civilizations and faraway lands.
There was so much to the world she had yet to see, so much she had yet to experience. Janell needed to be avenged, Makayla needed to be dealt with—probably with the help of Sybaris—and the sisters needed to be protected from the Innocenti, but when that was done, the time had come to seek new horizons and new challenges.
“Yes,” she said.
Deresi touched her knee. “Are you sure, hon?”
Shadyia nodded. “I can’t go back to whoring, not anymore. I think, maybe, finding Janell closed that door forever. I want to make a difference in this world. It’s what my foster father would have desired for me.” Somewhere, beyond the veil where the spirits traveled, she imagined her foster father smiling. Maybe he didn’t ride celestial horses across the eternal plains of Eriensym, but Aaron said the spirits of good men continued on past a mortal death. She hoped so.
“What about the sisterhood?” Deresi asked.
“I’ll find a way to keep them safe from the Innocenti. I don’t know how just yet, but when that’s done, so am I.”
Deresi discreetly squeezed Shadyia’s thigh. “I’ll follow you anywhere.”
Shadyia kissed Deresi’s neck, just below the ear. If Aaron hadn’t been sitting there, it would have been her lips that got kissed, and more.
“You’re both welcome to stay at Featherquill as long as you wish,” Aaron said. “My home is your home.”
“Thank you, Aaron,” Shadyia said.
Deresi added her gratitude with a sweet smile.
“Listen, when we get there, you won’t see much of me until tomorrow. I’m going to be in a special room I’ve constructed under the house.” He patted the bulge in his pouch. “I want to study this as much as I can. I’ll show you how to contact me if you need to, it’s easy. Just a bell you need to ring. But please, make sure it’s important before you do.”
“I understand,” Shadyia said. “You need to save the world.”
“And you need to save your sisterhood.”
“And then we will take a long, lovely holiday,” Deresi added.
A long holiday. Shadyia hummed at the thought. That we will do.

 

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Author T.S. Adrian

The Shadyia Ascendant Book Series is the kind of fantasy book I wanted to read, but could never find. Sexy, powerful, positive.

The heroes are beaten, but are never broken.

Although this is a medieval setting (more or less 15th century Renaissance), the characters don’t scratch at fleas and trug through the book ass-deap in mud and blood and disease. I’m sure all that is accurate, but I never wanted to read about it.
I wanted magic that is rare, women that are bold and beautiful, mysterious magicians with a hidden agenda, and gods that move mortals about like pieces on a chessboard. That’s the book I wanted.

I was inspired by the fantasy writer David Gemmell in terms of pace. When you read one of his books, you get your money’s worth. He won’t spend eleven chapters with this characters arguing in a castle. The term “I could never put it down” fits a Gemmell book perfectly, and it’s what I have striven to accomplish in the Shadyia Ascendant series.

Get ready for a sexy adventure you won’t soon forget!

A graduate in history, specializing in Central-European history, I’m an avid computer gamer, reader enthusiast, and teacher of English as a foreign language. I’m American and currently reside in Poland.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Hi ya’ll and welcome to my stop on the tour for Xenogeneic: First Contact, a thrilling science fiction story.

I have much to share, including my review, an interview with Author Lance  Erlick, and a giveaway, so don’t forget to enter.

Please welcome Lance Erlick and enjoy this interview first.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was eleven and decided I could write adventure stories like those I was reading. It was a disappointing effort, but I had the bug and learned that I had much to learn. I wrote short pieces from time to time and then took up writing again in college. When I got a full-time job, I had to put writing aside but kept coming back to it until I wrote my first full novel. It was the one I had to get out of my system before I could begin to be a real writer.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

I always have stories floating around in my head. Ideas and characters grab me whenever I’m not writing. The seeds for them come from news, events of the day, and what I read or see. Often they come from imagining “what if” type situations involving people in unusual circumstances. Then my imagination takes off trying to figure out how I might handle things if I were a particular character facing these problems.

A seed for Xenogeneic: First Contact was the SETI project to communicate with potential aliens on other planets. The idea is to make contact with others to share ideas and possibly technology. But we are also advertising that we’re here for anyone who might not wish us well. That led to the central idea of first contact with such an alien species. A cornerstone of the Rebel series is a civil war between hard core believers on both sides, which was inspired by the angry politics we’ve seen in this country over the past couple of decades. The question I asked was what happens if both sides win. For the Regina Shen series, there has been much talk about abrupt climate change. I wanted to explore a world where it has already happened.

What does your writing process look like?

For some stories, I do extensive outlining and brainstorming before I write the first word. I’ve also had stories that seemed to narrate themselves because I’d gotten to know the characters so well in their situation. Often I wake in the middle of the night with scenes or solutions to story problems and then have to make notes in the dark. When I’m ready, I focus on a first draft to get the story out and breathe life into it. I liken this to putting modeling clay on the spinning wheel. Then I edit and mold the story until I’m happy with how it feels and works. While I find the editing process tedious at times, I find it vital in the process of molding the final story.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?

I wouldn’t want to be a character in Xenogeneic: First Contact, the Rebel series or the Regina Shen series because of what the characters have to face. Having said that, I can see myself as Elena Pyetrov (Xenogeneic: First Contact) and Regina Shen. When dropped into a new situation, they have an almost innate ability to assess their environments, figure out how bad it is and what they need to do, and carry on. They don’t have all the answers, but they don’t give up.

Were there any characters that you did not like?

I found General Gorg from Xenogeneic: First Contact an individual I would never want to meet and yet I understand where she’s coming from and her motivation to be so entirely focused she tramples over others. Inspector Volpe (Regina Shen series) is power hungry, driven by personal values that make sense for her and yet tread on innocent people along her path to success. In The Rebel Within, I didn’t like some of the power figures who were trying to perpetuate their power at the expense of others. I guess there’s a theme here. Yet I try to portray each villain in terms of working toward what makes sense to them (heroes of their own stories).

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Xenogeneic

by Lance Erlick

XenoGeneic First Contact cover

Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy

My Review

It’s winner takes all in the fight for Earth. When the Knoonk, an alien species, lose their civil war, they set there eyes on Earth as their new home and go about their insidious plan in unimaginable ways.

This story feels “alien.” What I mean is, the way the aliens think and act is so different from humans how could we ever hope to negotiate with them. They look like we picture them to be, grey little beings from outerspace. It’s how they think that throws us. For example, even the pinkish color of our skin is an abomination to them. Color is ugly and hurts their eyes. If how we look is an insult to them, why would they treat us humanely.

But, when Dr. Elena Pvetrov’s ship crashes on an strange planet, she’s determined to try. The Knoonk have many tricks up their sleeves to keep their human captives off balance and controllable. As she adjusts to her new life, she studies her captors, forges friendships and alliances, and tries to get back home to Earth to warn them of what is coming.

I knew this was going to be a hard one to review. So much to tell, yet I can’t without spoiling things for you. The author put me in so many character’s shoes, I stumbled my way along, conflicted about my feelings towards them. Not in a bad way though. More like a challenging one. I liked some that I probably shouldn’t and disliked some in the same way. This certainly kept me turning the pages to learn more about them.

An intriguing beginning to this science fiction adventure and one I would like to follow to its conclusion.

4 Stars

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Synopsis

Xenogeneic is a science fiction thriller about first contact with an alien race that lost their civil war and wants to take over Earth.

Dr. Elena Pyetrov’s father vanished in space 18 years ago while searching for extraterrestrial life. As an aerospace engineer, Elena travels into space to search for answers and continue his work. Her ship is pulled off course and crashes. She suspects extraterrestrial interference.

The alien Knoonk lost their civil war in a distant star system and fled to Earth’s neighborhood to hide and regroup. They seek a new home—Earth. Unable to live in Earth’s toxic environment, the aliens kidnap and use humans to genetically modify their species to adapt.

Surviving the crash, Elena and her shipmates are transported to a closed cave system where the Knoonk monitor and control everything. Elena tries to make a connection with her hosts and find ways to work together, but Knoonk leaders rebuff her and force the humans to submit as slaves. The aliens use illusions, distractions, and social experiments to learn from their hostages and keep them off balance. Resistance by captive humans brings swift punishment to break the human spirit.

While Elena continues to look for ways to cooperate with the Knoonk, it becomes apparent that there can be no compromise. The Knoonk want to capture Earth for their species. It is winner take all. With time running out, Elena must dig deep to uncover the alien plan and find a way to stop them before the human race faces enslavement and extinction.

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Author Lance Erlick

Lance Erlick

Lance Erlick writes science fiction thrillers for young adult and adult readers. He is the author of The Rebel Within, The Rebel Trap, and Rebels Divided, three books in the Rebel series. In those stories, he explores the consequences of Annabelle Scott following her conscience. He authored the Regina Shen series–Resilience, Vigilance, Defiance, and Endurance. This series takes place after abrupt climate change leads to the Great Collapse and a new society under the World Federation. His latest novel is Xenogeneic: First Contactabout encounters with an alien race aiming to take over Earth.

Connect with the Author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest

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