new release

I am pleased to announce that The Making of a Mage has now been released and can be bought from Amazon as an ebook and paperback. It is also available in some bookstores.

It is the second prequel to The Wolves of Vimar and tells the story of the early life of Carthinal, the main character in the Wolves books.

Here is the blurb:

Carthinal is alone in the world. His parents and grandparents have died. Without money and a place to live, he faces an uncertain future.

After joining a street gang, Carthinal begins a life of crime. Soon after, he sees a performing magician, and decides he wants to learn the art of magic.

But can he break away from his past and find the path to his true destiny?

You can buy by following this link, which will take you to Amazon where you are.
Or you can use the ISBN numbers to request it from your local bookshop via the Ingram’s catalogue.

9781034314059 (6×9 Hardcover)
9781034314028 (6×9 Softcover)
9781034314035 (5×8 Hardcover)
9781034314042 (5×8 Softcover)

I am currently working on the third prequel, which tells of Asphodel and how she came to become a priest of Sylissa, Goddess of Life and Healing. I’ve finished the first draft, and had it critiqued, but it still needs work. I’ll keep you up to date with how that’s going.

I’m also almost ready to send the second book in my historical novel series, A Family Through the Ages, to the publisher. It follows a descendant of Adelbehrt from Vengeance of a Slave.

Helgha is a young girl living in the Danelaw, a part of Britain ruled by the Vikings. The book is titled Jealously of a Viking.

All my books can be bought from Amazon by a simple click on the cover.

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I am always delighted to hear from you. Please add any comments in the comments box.

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Leaving the Land

This was written in response to Sue Vincent’s photo prompt. The word was RETURN and here is the photo.

Leaving the Land

“I want to go to university and study economics.” I sat with my fork poised to put a piece of Mum’s delicious roast beef into my mouth.
My father put his knife down and looked at me. “I always thought you’d take over the farm when you left school. You’re a good farmer. You love the animals and they like you.”
“Yes, Dad, that’s true, but there’s no money in it. You know that better than anyone.”
He sighed. “You’re right there. But it’s still a good life. Out in the fresh air, growing food for people to eat and being your own boss.”
I nodded. “And getting up at the crack of dawn every day. Sometimes during the night when a cow’s calving. Then working hard all day, so that you’re too tired to do anything in the evenings. And you can’t go on holiday without arranging for someone to come in and feed the animals and milk the cows.”
Mum stood and took our plates. “It’s home-made treacle tart for pudding. Your favourite.”
I grinned. “What do you think, Mum?”
“You should do what you want, darling.” She carried the plates through to the kitchen and called back, “I only want you to be happy.”
Dad called back, “So do I, Lily. If he want to go to University then he should go. He can earn a lot more as an economist than a farmer.”
“Then why did you say that about thinking he’d take over the farm?”
Dad shrugged. “Dunno, really. I think I always knew he was cut out for something more than we’ve got here.”
Jenny, my sister, interrupted him. “Are you being sexist, Dad? What’s wrong with me taking over the farm?”
Dad raised his eyebrows. “I’d not thought about that. I kind of assumed you’d marry and not want to.”
Jenny pressed her lips together. “Well I can do just as well as Tom. And I’ll prove it if you let me.”
Dad agreed to let Jenny help. She was only two years younger than me, and strong. She also loved the cows and had recently been raising a few chickens and selling the eggs.
After my A-Level results came in, I had done well enough to be offered a place at the London School of Economics, and so that October I packed my suitcase and set off for London.
The excitement I felt as I waved to my parents, standing on the station platform was like nothing I’d felt before. I was off to the capital city. All the freedom in the world was mine. I no longer had to tell anyone where I was going or why, nor when I would be back.
I had found a place in a Hall of Residence only half a kilometre from the College, so felt lucky.
Freshers’ week began. I joined the rugby club straight away, and was persuaded to join the hiking club and rock climbing.
I had brought my clarinet in anticipation of there being an orchestra. Of course, there was, and a jazz band too. I joined both.
In spite of all the people trying to persuade me to join their society, I thought I would have enough to do with my course and the societies I had already joined, so I declined the others.
Well, the academic year began. I went to the first orchestra rehearsal with some trepidation. Would I be good enough? What if I couldn’t play the works they chose?
I took my seat with the other clarinets and looked at the music. Gershwin. Yes, I liked that. They were doing Rhapsody in Blue, of course. Then there was Beethoven and Mozart. Good I’d be able to cope.
I looked around at the other members of the orchestra. One cellist caught my eye. She was beautiful. Black hair cascaded to her waist. She tossed her head to remove it from her eyes as she tuned her instrument. I found myself staring. Then the conductor tapped his baton on her lectern and the rehearsal began.
At the end, I looked for the girl with the black hair, but she was nowhere to be seen. I would have to wait for the next rehearsal to see her again.
At least, that’s what I thought. But as I entered the canteen at the College, I spotted her. She was sitting with another girl. Luke, who I had met on my first day, and who had become my friend, followed my gaze.
“She’s lovely” His eyes lit up.
I was about to say, “Hands off, she’s mine,” when he added, “I love blondes. Let’s go talk to them, but remember, the blonde is mine.”
That was how I met my beautiful Mandy. After we introduced ourselves, I asked Mandy out. She accepted and soon we were inseparable—except for when we had lectures, of course. We had so much in common, besides music.
It turned out she was also a member of the hiking club and we went on walks in the city. There is a thing called the London Loop, and we walked much of that besides other walks in and around the capital. I was surprised how much ‘countryside’ there is in London.
We played in the orchestra, of course, and I gave up the rock-climbing. It took time away from Mandy.
Three years passed quickly. I got my degree, a 2:1, which I was pleased with. Now I needed a job, and so did Mandy. Eventually I found a place with an investment bank in the City. Just what I was looking for.
Mandy found a research job at Imperial College.
We decided that now was the time to move in together As new graduates we could not afford to live in London, so managed to find a flat in Croydon on the main line into Victoria.
We went into London as often as we could. We met for drinks with collegues on Friday evenings after work. Visited museums and art galleries, went to concerts, and the theatre and, of course the clubs. Life was good.
We married eventually and bought a house in Tandridge, near Reigate in Surrey. By now we could afford a large house in a sought after area. We had expensive clothes and cars, and holidays. We had friends of like mind and entertained a lot.
Then Mandy became pregnant. We had twin boys and it seemed our lives were now complete. We made plans for the boys to go to private schools, and put their names down almost as soon as they were born to ensure their education.
I stood looking out of our kitchen window one day at our garden. We paid a gardener to come and do it, but I suddenly got the urge to get my hands dirty.
I opened the back door and walked along the path. I spotted a dandelion. Now I know how difficult it is to get dandelions up, so I went to the shed and found a hand fork. Kneeling by the offending weed, I probed the fork into the soil by its side and wiggled. I felt it come loose and then, suddenly, it shot out of the ground. I almost fell backwards.
Grinning, I took it to the compost heap and began to look for other weeds.
The next hour I spent weeding the garden. When I went back indoors, Mandy exclaimed, “What have you been doing? You’re filthy, Look at your trousers.”
I looked down. Soil clung to my knees and when I looked at my hands, under my nails was black soil.
“I was doing a bit of weeding, my sweet,” I answered.
She put her hands on her hips. “We employ Geoff for that job so we don’t need to. Are you trying to get him out of a job?”
Well, I’d now got the gardening bug and I did tell Geoff we no longer needed him. Mandy was furious. She did not think we needed, or should, be doing what she called ‘menial tasks’ when we could afford to pay someone to do it for us.
But I felt satisfied—no, happy—to look at our garden and know it was all my own work.
The boys grew fast and went away to school. I missed them. Mandy said it was best for them. It would teach them independence, and besides, we could carry on with our lives as before we had them.
I began to spend more time in the garden. I dug up a patch of perennials and turned it into a small kitchen garden. Mandy did not like the time I spent out there, but did appreciate the vegetables I grew. She said they were much better than those from the supermarket.
“That’s because they’re fresh,” I told her. “Speaking of fresh, why don’t we have a few chickens? Then we could have fresh eggs.”
But Mandy drew the line at this idea. “And how would we be able to go away on holiday? We can’t ask our friends and neighbours to come and feed our livestock.”
Then one day Mandy felt a lump. “It’s nothing,” she insisted. “It’ll go away.”
No matter how much I argued, she would not go and have it checked out. Then, of course, it was too late. She died in my arms. The boys came back from school for the funeral. They were only fourteen and were devastated at their mother’s death. I looked at them. They were the image of her.
I walked around the house where we had been so happy for all those years. It was dead. It no longer belonged to me.
As soon as the legalities had been completed I put it on the market. I gave up my job in the city, too. What to do now?
Six months later I got of the train, suitcase in hand, at the railway station I’d departed from so long ago. I called a taxi and gave the address of my parents’ farm. As we turned into the long drive leading to the house I wondered what reception I’d get. Oh, I’d phoned often, but hadn’t been home for years.
The taxi drew up and I paid him and strolled up to the door. As I reached for the handle it flew open and my mother grabbed me in a bear hug. I thought she’d never let me go.
“Tom, Tom, Tom,” was all she seemed able to say.
Then she called out “Brian, it’s Tom. He’s come home.”
Dad came out of the cowshed wiping his hands. He looked around. “Where are the boys?”
“At school, Dad. Remember they’re at boarding school, but I’m going to take them away, I think.”
He nodded. “Of course, it’s still term-time.”
“How long are you staying?”
“As long as you’ll have me.”
“Well, get yourself changed, you’re just in time for the milking.” He smiled and turned to my mother. “Cook a special meal tonight. Our boy’s come home.”

Cover Reveal

I had a different post in mind for today, but then I got the cover from my publisher so thought I’d let you see it instead.

This is the second prequel to The Wolves of Vimar series and tells how Carthinal came to be a mage in spite of his tragic childhood.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the cover.

I would be interested to hear what you think of it? Do you like it or not? The mage on the front has longish auburn hair, as has Carthinal. One person in the book tells him to get it cut, so of course he’s all the more determined not to do so!

I’ll let you know as soon as I know when it’s out, but at the moment it’s out of my hands.

I also got the information that the first prequel, Jovinda and Noli, is now available in bookstores. That’s great news.

This one tells about Carthinal’s parents. How they met and about their tragic love affair. Of course, Carthinal’s birth is part of it. The ISBNs are below.

9781034257639 (6×9 Dust Jacket Premium Hardcover)

9781034257622 (5×8 Dust Jacket Premium Hardcover)

9781034178323 (6×9 Large Print Hardcover)

9781034178316 (6×9 Large Print Softcover)

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Thanks to All the People. A poem

I don’t usually write in free verse, but this time I’ve made an exception. Here’s my poem of thanks to a variety of people.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Thanks to all the people
Who broke the lockdown rules.
Thanks for spreading the virus.

Thanks to all the people
Who went to parties at New Year.
Thanks for spreading the virus.

Thanks to everybody
Who ran away from London as Tier 4 arrived.
Thanks for spreading the virus.

Thanks to everybody
Who wears masks below the nose.
Thanks for spreading the virus.

Thanks to everyone
Who fails to wash their hands.
Thanks for spreading the virus.

Thanks to the man
Who removed his mask to cough.
Thanks for spreading the virus,

Thanks to the people
Who fled Switzerland to avoid quarantine.
Thanks for spreading the virus.

Thanks to everybody
Who does not obey 2 metres.
Thanks for spreading the virus.

Thanks to everyone
Who filled the beaches in summer.
Thanks for spreading the virus.

Thanks to the people who went on demonstrations.
Thanks for spreading the virus.

Thanks to all those people
Who kept us all indoors.
Thanks to all the people
Who ruined kids education.
Thanks to all the people
Who made life more lonely
For all those living alone.
Thanks to all the people
Who made those with mental illness worse.
Thanks to all the people
Who spoiled Christmas and New Year.
Thanks to all the people
Who flew away for a birthday.

But

Thanks to all key workers
For putting your lives in danger.
Thanks to porters, and ambulance drivers.
Thanks to nurses and doctors.
Thanks to cleaners and radiographers.
Thanks to physiotherapists.
Thanks to all who work in our hospitals.
Thanks to farmers and supermarket workers.
For putting food on our tables.
Thanks to teachers
For working hard
To continue educating children
On line.
Thanks to refuse collectors
For keeping us safe from disease.
Thanks to the police
Who continue to protect us.
Thanks to everyone who is still working.

Another present for you.

After the Crown Prince of Ponderia starts behaving strangely, his best friend Pettic discovers that the prince has been replaced by a doppelganger, and the real prince kidnapped.

Unable to accept the loss of his friend, Prince Torren, nor the cruel impostor to become the new king, Pettic sets on a quest to rescue his friend. After he sees the fake prince meet a mysterious man, Pettic discovers that the prince has been imprisoned in another plane of existence.

With the help of Blundo, the court magician, Pettic finds out that the only way to enter this another world are four keys, each of them associated with a different element. As Pettic sets on his seemingly impossible quest, he discovers that the four lands that hold the keys are all vastly different… and more dangerous than he could have ever imagined.

The book is currently just outside the top 100 in Fantasy Adventure Fiction (#135).

Don’t miss your chance to get your ebook version absolutely FREE.

The book is also available in paperback and audio if you prefer.

Click on this link to go to Amazon where you are and get your book absolutely FREE.

Book 2 is also available as paperback and audio, as well as ebook. The ebook is only £1.99 or $1.99. Click on this link to get the end of the story.

After his return from Aeris with the gem of air, Pettic receives a letter from the king. He is to see Torren and rekindle their relationship.

Soon after, Torren and Pettic meet a strange man and their lives change drastically, as they’re dragged into a mystery surrounding the red dragon Monarlisk and his former mate.

But will Pettic’s magic be enough to help them finish their quest in time – and in the end, will the rightful king be crowned?

Here is a 5* review The Stones of Fire and Water received.

Marilyn J. Collier 5.0 out of 5 stars 

A Fantasy for all ages.

Reviewed in the United States on 25 September 2020

Verified Purchase

Pettic has returned two of the key stones to free his prince Torren from the magic place he has been hidden and unmask the usurper to the throne. He departs for the next to find the stone representing fire. It’s a world that once was filled with dragons and volcanoes. He finds a black dragon that has lost his mate and really is a lonely soul.

Pettic manages to find the other two dragons, escape from them eating him, finding the other dragon’s possession and the stone he has searched for. He helps all three dragons and their young to relocate and returns with his dog to his world.

He decides to leave his dog in his world when he searches for the final stone. On this world he is given an amulet that changes him into a merman. After many adventures of meeting Sea Hags, sea dragons, and other dangers, he finds the amulet and the trident for the dying merman king.

He returns to his world and discovers the king has died. It’s a frantic search for the hidden prince. Rescuing him from the magicians and then deciding how to unmask the imposter who has been changed by magic.

Will they succeed in time to stop the false coronation? Will Pettic win the heart of his true love?

my christmas present to you.

I’m giving away the ebook version of The Wolf Pack, Book 1 of The Wolves of Vimar series, between today, December 22nd and Boxing Day, December 26th.

This is a fantasy adventure. A group of unlikely people are given the task of finding a long-lost artifact that a prophecy has said will be required to save their land from an as yet unspecified evil.

They meet with danger and near-death in their quest, and receive help from the most unlikely sources. Surprises await them, as well as facing their innermost fears. None of them will return unchanged.

Here is a review from Amanda Griffiths Jones

4.0 out of 5 stars A Perfectly Set Scene

Occasionally I step out of my comfort zone & read a book that takes my into unknown literary territory. This was one of those times. Within a couple of chapters I was drawn into a world of mages, elves & mystical creatures & thoroughly enjoyed the ease with which the author breathed life into her characters. The scene is set perfectly as a quest unfolds, allowing the reader to become absorbed in a fantasy world that holds many surprises. I’ll definitely be looking out for book two in the series.

Feel free to reblog this if you wish. I would greatly appreciate it.

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My favourite christmas carol

As it’s almost Christmas, albeit a different one than usual for many of us, I thought I’d tell you what my favourite Christmas Carol is.

It’s not one that’s often sung these days, but I love it for its tune and the words that seem to resonate in modern times.

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.

It came upon a midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

This is a poem by Edmund Sears written in 1849.

Here’s a link to King’s College Chapel choir singing it.

And my least favourite?

In the Bleak Mid-Winter.

My main objection to this one is that it’s not true to what the weather would have been. We’re talking about Bethlehem in Israel. That’s the Middle East. Temperatures there are between 10 and 20, on the chart I looked up. Hardly ‘Bleak mid-winter’. No ‘frosty winds’ moaning, nor ‘water standing like a stone.’ Certainly no ‘snow on snow.’

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

These words were written by Christina Rosetti, an English poet, in response to a magazine request for a Christmas poem in 1872.

Here’s a link to a performance by King’s College Choir, Cambridge, England.

What are your favourite and least favourite Christmas Carols? Let me know by writing in the comments box.

And to join my quarterly newsletter where you can find out more about me and my books, click here

Review of Dragon Train by RJ the Story Guy

Overview.

I enjoyed reading this book by RJ the Story Guy. It is a Young Adult story, but can be equally enjoyed by ‘fully grown’ adults. It fits the clientele it’s aimed at very well.

Blurb

Jaiden, a 15-year-old farm boy, lives near Hilltop, a Medieval-type village and has never been more than a few miles beyond his home. He lives with his widower father who works the boy hard and treats Jaiden rather abusively. In this world, people have enslaved dragons as beasts of burden and as something like guard dogs and soldiers.

There are three kinds of dragons characterized by their various colors: gold (dog-sized) dragons trained to hunt and serve as guards; silver (about the size of a cow) trained to carry gold dragons on their backs and to serve as soldiers and hunters; and blue dragons (somewhat larger than an elephant) who are trained to tow Dragon Trains (powered by a low-flying dragon rather than a steam engine). The gold and silver dragons aren’t very intelligent, but obedient to humans and easily trained. The blues however, are very intelligent and can communicate with each other telepathically although most humans are not aware of their ability to communicate. For many centuries dragons and humans were enemies, but in the last couple of generations, humans have become clever enough to overwhelm and enslave the dragons. But the blues long for freedom and escape from human control. Jaiden and Skye, an escaped blue dragon, encounter each other and a close, friendly relationship develops as the blue dragon, with the young man’s help, escapes servitude towing a Dragon Train. The pair avoid capture while they are pursued through the forests and caves of the Emerald Forest. Eventually, they travel to Portville, a large city where the Dragon Train camps and training grounds are located.

But can the pair free her family and escape to a far northern land where dragons may live free?

Story

The story follows Jaiden and Skye through their adventures, where they meet problem after problem. It is a tale that makes you root for Jaiden and the blue dragons.
The humans are not, on the whole, shown in a very good light. Most that we meet seem cruel, rather stupid and selfish.

Characters

Jaiden begins the tale as a rather innocent 15 year old. He has been no farther than his village and consequently is rather innocent. However, his adventures with Skye improve his self-confidence and he develops well in the book.

Writing

The writing is good. The descriptions place us in the world without it being over descriptive, which I think would be a bit off-putting for YA readers who want to get on with the story.
The only thing I would quibble with is that RJ uses the word ‘lay’ wrongly when it should be ‘lie’. Otherwise, grammar and spelling are excellent, with no typos.

Conclusion

An excellent read, and a book I would recommend if you want an idea for a Christmas present (or any other time present) for those difficult teens.
I have given it 5*.

Audiblegate

Recently there have been a few posts on various sites about something that has begn to be called Audiblegate.

You can read one of them here.

It seems that Amazon is at it again. This time using it’s audio books.

This is what they are doing:

 In order to persuade people to sign up for audio books, they are telling them, that they can return a book if it doesn’t meet their expectations. They then get a credit for another book.
 This sounds great—for the reader. Not so much for the narrator and author as they have their royalties removed when it happens.
 There seems to be no limit to the number of times a reader can return a book, nor do they have to have an unfinished book. Audible don’t question. So a reader can read a book from a series, or by a particular author and enjoys it. So much that they think they want to read more.

 They return the book and get book 2 in the series, or another by the same author absolutely free. The author and narrator get NOTHING. ZILCH. NADA. ZERO. The reader can go through a whole series and pay nothing. And they have 365 days in which to return the books.

I will explain to you now, in simple words why this is so unfair. (Although unfair is a rather weak word for what is going on.)

It costs money to produce a book. Yes, you can get it published on Amazon, Lulu etc for nothing, but that’s not all of it. If the writer has a publisher, the publisher spends money.

 Let’s start with the narrator. A narrator doesn’t sit down in his/her bedroom with a pc and any old microphone. They need a professional standard studio, soundproof and with professional standard equipment. That cost a lot of money.
 The narrator receives the book from either the author (indie) or the publisher and reads it. He/she then contacts the author to discuss any pronunciations or anything else the author wishes.
 Then the narrator begins to narrate. Sometimes he/she will send each chapter to the author as it is finished, but sometimes it’s the whole book. This takes weeks of work.
 Now let’s look at the author, and what happens when a book is written.
 First the author gets the idea and plans how they are going to tackle it. This might be detailed on paper, or it might be in the author’s head.
 The author writes the book. This might take anything from a few months to a few years, depending on the book and the author, of course.
 The author begins editing. He/she checks for spelling/grammar, places where there needs to be more in the way of describing the world, so we’ve not got people acting in a vacuum, and the opposite, cutting parts that don’t add anything and are probably boring.
 There are checks needed to ensure the correct names are used throughout. It’s not uncommon for an author to change a character’s name and miss the odd place where it’s the original name. And they need to ensure they’ve not got a character with blue eyes at the beginning and brown at the end, or a dead character miraculously returns.
 Then it can go to a professional editor. These don’t work for free. If the author is with a publisher, the publisher bears this cost.
 Design of the cover is also a cost. Professional designers cost money! Again, this is something the publisher will bear this cost.
 After this, the book will probably go to one or more beta readers who will pass their opinion and say where they found things confusing, boring etc.
 Only then does the book go for publication. But that’s not the end. No one will find a book just because it’s been published. There are millions of books out there. Books need promotion. Publishers do some. (Some more than others) but the majority is up to the author. There are some free marketing websites, but the vast majority require money.

So I ask you. Is it fair that Audible is removing royalties from authors, narrators and publishers for books returned and allowing readers to read as many as they wish without giving the people who produced said books any payment for their hard work and cash spent?
Can you buy a book at a bricks and mortar bookstore, then return if for another, saying you didn’t like it, getting the next, and subsequent books free? No! So why should you be able to do this on Amazon (both book store and

I appeal to all readers. DO NOT TAKE PART IN AUDIBLE’S RETURNS.

There are dragons and magic in the world if only you look for them… V.M. Sang

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